the dark goes much further than how it appears

2023, mixed-media-videoinstallation, 3 screens, 3 videos (screen 1: 15'00'', Screen 2: 15'00'', screen 3: 15'00''), color, sound, omnidirectional spotlight, objects

A forgotten sea of which there is no memory at all. On its oxygen-poor bottom, a rotting layer of fine sediments from eroded mountains, plant remains and dead animals. The layer is covered by the next and subsequent layers. Heat and pressure compress over time. The sea disappears, leaving behind vast quantities of deposits, including limestone and salt. 
Lifting and sinking of the plates that carry these layers. Washouts, faults, building up and covering of the layers.

At the edge of a valley, slate comes to light at its edges. Perhaps someone throws a piece of slate into the fire and something melts - copper. It can be processed. Tools can be formed from it. Fire and blows - heat and pressure, additives and mixtures make the copper better. New things can now be created much more easily, so copper is needed all the more. It is traded as a raw material.

The layer, the former bottom of the past sea, can be recognized by many and ever better. People are already digging for it. The bottom is being dug out from ever deeper depths. What lies above piles up next to the holes. At least in the Mansfeld. First, lines of small mounds were created, later large flat heaps directly next to the ever-deepening shafts. Underground, men and often children would lie down and hew out the copper slate. Above ground, women also sorted the stones again according to their copper content. By the end of the era, conveyor belts were taking deaf and less rich rock from underground and turning it into cone-shaped mounds of overburden, much higher than the church steeples in the country and higher than the pyramids in Africa. In the heyday of industrialized mining in Mansfeld until its end around 1990, the copper slate was transported to central smelters. The molten slate flowed from their furnaces into crucibles. The liquefied elements were separated by weight. Everything heavy sank to the bottom. At the top, the slag boiled liquid copper in between. It was skimmed off for refining and further processing.

The slag, which was initially unusable, was transported away hot and glowing like magma in lorries and tipped onto the slag heap at the Helbraer Hütte while still liquid. The slag heap stretches from the plateau towards the valley floor like a giant tongue of deep black mass. Its slopes consist of solidified dark streams. Their edges are lined with boulders and lumps. Their surfaces are riddled with cooled pores and furrowed with hardened veins. On the slag heap level lie quantities of slag crushed into glassy splinters by heavy equipment. Pebble-sized, opaque black, sharp-edged, polygonal. Their sides facing the light glitter and flicker, like thousands of stars, for nothing. For your eyes. Fingers feel the smoothness of the cinderstone. A hand feels its sharp ridges and throws it back into the crowd. Does it clink or crackle on impact?

A boat cuts through the waves, the Lipari islands in front of its bow. The first island flies past, then the second. The boat docks on Stromboli, a volcanic cone in the sea. Feet in the fringe of black sand, high up on the left edge of the caldera, like a little flag, yellow smoke. Eruptions at dusk - golden-bronze spray, fountains of bright sparks. Rugged black slopes with sparse vegetation, solidified magma flows run steeply down from the top of the cone to the sea. Pitch-black, sharp-edged stones are laid out in baskets for sale. Marked with a white chalk pencil at €1 or €2, depending on size. Obsidian - volcanic glass, broken, emerged from magma at the bottom of Stromboli. Even before ships transported grain from Egypt to Rome, obsidian was a commodity in the Mediterranean region, a raw material for making tools - sharp blades and points.

In the darkness lies an almost black floor of broken slag. It moves slowly, lurching or turning a little. Is its depth coming towards me or am I following it? Pale light from my direction illuminates the sides of the slag fragments facing it. They glitter and flicker, like stars, for nothing. For my eyes. Crickets chirp in the darkness. Something cracks and rumbles. Perhaps I hear a heavy shifting and settling of the heap mass. The camera's gaze leads me across its surface. Further accumulations of slag are joined by individual bricks and fireclay as well as other man-made traces and artifacts - vehicle tires, sheet metal, shaped bricks.

The breaking and rumbling remains. In one room, there is a stone - a lump of slag. The camera turns and me around the stone. The room rotates. On its ceiling trapezoidal sheet metal, its sides made of galvanized struts planked in grey and white. Roll-down doors, a pallet truck, stacks of cardboard, wooden pallets and a packing table - a handling hall for goods and raw materials. At its center is a lump of slag, larger than a human being. Its surfaces glisten and pulsate. Crackling and dripping can be heard, perhaps even a distant bark. No human being. No workers, no security, no guard dog. Nothing is being packed, loaded, weighed, labeled or assigned. Nothing is being processed, nothing is being collected and nothing is being delivered. Time without people. Time in which the stone cannot be measured, evaluated or shipped. Enough time to memorize the smooth surfaces, jagged furrows, protrusions and ridges of the stone. It is constantly turning. The gaze constantly revolves around it. Multiple sparkles - golden and silver like precious jewelry or ultraviolet and metallic blue, like the spectrum of an oil film. Its surfaces seem to coagulate, they become liquid. Glassy and mercurial reflections. A vibration, even a slight pulsation. The lump of slag is alive. Its heart beats from some depth. A throbbing can also be heard. The stone is fading with time.

Daniel Hermann

the dark goes much further than how it appears