Aleph or Alef (א), is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and the number 1 in Hebrew. Its esoteric meaning in Judaic Kabbalah, as denoted in the theological treatise Bahir, relates to the origin of the universe, the primordial one that contains all numbers. In Borges’ story, the Aleph is a point in space that contains all other points. Anyone who gazes into it can see everything in the universe from every angle simultaneously, without distortion, overlapping, or confusion.
The Aleph is a challenging story to rework and translate into visuals. The power of language and imagination is greater than visuals that are served, but the potentials of the story can be applied to a different context, such as a bunker. The reworked version of Aleph takes place in the woods of Vienna and concentrates on the one-man bunker. The one-man bunker is the historic-physical body which encapsulates a human body like a secondary thick concrete skin. It is the portal to the past, present and future, to the Aleph. The intention is to play with the extreme spatial conditions on one hand, a claustrophobic space – bunker – and on the other hand having the chance to observe the universe.
As a further matter, a one-man bunker is a powerful artifact – physical trace of history – to understand the topology of a place/region/city. The word topology standing for intelligence of place is derived from two words, topos meaning “surface” or “place” and logos meaning “intelligence” or “study” – is a helping word to capture the past and the future of a place! The realities!
When the Nazis came to power, busily persecuting ‘degenerate artists’ and architects and extolling the stability of materials and the durability of monuments, their resistance to time and to the obliviousness of history, they were actually putting the new psychotropic power to good use for propaganda purposes.
-Paul Virilio, The Vision Machine