Interviewing Mr. Stefan Haberkorn, the brain behind “Magdeburg in Light”!

When our eyes dazzled at the spectacle that the “Festival of Lights, Berlin” [1, link at the end] was, little did we know that, during the 500th year of the completion of the Magdeburger Dom (Magdeburg Cathedral), we would have “Magdeburg in Light”, a similar 3D projection mapping festival here, in Magdeburg! Just, instead of the Brandenburger Tor [2], it’s going to be the iconic Magdeburg Cathedral!

Trial of Magdeburg in Light. Photograph courtesy: Magdeburg in Light.

Interested? Here are the details:

Duration: September 27, 2020 till October 5, 2020 (5 AM).

 Ticket price for adults: 0€  

Tickets available at the following places from September 14, 2020, from 9 a.m.:
– Offline at Volksstimme office
 Online at Bieber ticket.  

For Stefan, the founder of “VISUALIMPRESSION”, the organizer of Magdeburg in Light, the enormity of the Cathedral was just enough to overwhelm him the first time he visited the place. After organizing beamer festivals in other cities [3], it’s just the right time to do something on a structure as mammoth as the Magdeburger Dom. “The idea of it is around 10 years old. It took 10 years to be technically, organisationally, and financially ready to use the cathedral as the screen!”, quipped Stefan. 

While in conversation, he mentioned that while during the first part of the event, from 27th September till the 28th ,  the history of the cathedral  is told artistically on the west façade, the second part of the event from 1st October, it would be an abstract presentation. 

The central theme of the abstract presentation is  “Development of Human life” .  I wondered that it must be a little difficult with the intricate designs on the wall of the Dom. “Well, it is. When we try to do something like this, we need to consider a lot of factors like how many windows there are, closed surfaces, the area, the structure of the façade”, Stefan responded. 

“In the first part, from 27th September till the 28th, the history of the cathedral is told artistically on the west façade. Various graphic 3D technologies are used. Among others, classic key animation, but also fluid simulations and physical scattering technologies. In the second part, i.e. 1st October till the 4th, no concrete story can be told on the north side (Domplatz) due to the many window areas, the beamer light can only be made very faintly visible on glass. Therefore we play with music and abstract elements on the north side.  

The theme of development of human life is pretty abstract and gives us the freedom to be purely abstract and play around a bit. Within this theme, we developed scenes, for example, childhood, puberty etc. If we have a lot of closed surfaces I can tell more figuratively, with concrete forms and objects, that is why we have chosen to tell the history of the Cathedral on the west façade. On the north side, because of the many windows, projections and recesses and the few closed/smooth facades”, explained Stefan. 

North face of the Magdeburger Dom during a trial | Photograph courtesy: Magdeburg in Light.

“Would an international student be able to enjoy this event with limited knowledge of the German language? What would be their takeaway?”

 “No spoken language is used at all.  Our language is universal, international because it is purely visual/musical. The visitor will experience an event in Magdeburg that offers a unique mix of history and high-end beamer festival. This would be a very special experience, only be available in Magdeburg and this is exactly what the visitor will take with him.” 

I shot my next question to him about the health concerns during the pandemic and how he was ensuring the safety of the visitors. “Unfortunately due to the pandemic situation, large areas would be fenced and we have limited seats. We would have to have ticketed entries. Should there be a cost involved, it would be made public in advance”. “Would there be student discounts?”, I scratched my head thinking how much it would cost. “Should there be a cost, yes there would be a student discount!”. Sigh! 

 [Disclaimer: There is no entry fees. The interview was taken before the cost of the ticket was decided.] 

There’s a lot of things going on in Magdeburg. One such is bidding in international forums to become the European Capital of Culture in 2025. It is shortlisted in top 4 in Germany and the hopes of it becoming the cultural capital is pretty high. This year also marks the 500 years of completion of the Magdeburg Cathedral (Magdeburg Dom) which is the oldest Gothic structure in Germany. The Cathedral has always fascinated me since the first time I went inside it. Above all, there are enough investments in the region and the city is more vibrant now than it was 3 years ago when I came to Magdeburg. I wondered, with events like this, how is Magdeburg positioning itself on the international map. Stefan shared his insight into this, saying that the event is strongly positioned in the sequence of events that should open Magdeburg to the international audience. To quote his response, “the event sets new technological standards and combines culture, art and music with international DJs and mapping artists. A first step towards the development of a lighthouse effect, a mapping scene and the internationalisation of Magdeburg”. 

I’m really looking forward to this event! And  I would wish every one of you, reading this, would buy a ticket and come to this event , witness this, experience this. In a way, assist Magdeburg, get on the map. I’m sure this is going to be something unique. 

Disclaimers: I am not paid to write this article. I would like to thank Mr. Stefan Haberkorn (Founder, Visual Impression) for taking his time out to respond to my questions. I would like to thank Carl Stermann-Lücke for his assistance to translate my thoughts to German and Stefan’s response to English! This blog post is a reconstruction of an interview from a series of email exchanges between me and Stefan. 

[1] https://festival-of-lights.de/en/ 

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArHejB5KQIg 

[3] https://www.visualimpression.de/3d-visualisierung/videomapping-projection/#mapping-11  

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