Tower / Torony
Christian Reder

The tower, a construction whose height basically surpasses the measurements of its base, is found less frequently than other building designs.
Besides cost and construction problems, this could have much to do with the power of symbolism.
Even today not everybody can build his own tower, most probably because it has always been subjected to the powers of various ruling lordships.
There is the wish to stand above others, to show strength, to have supremacy, to be best in defense, to be seen and yet not seen.
What is seen externally is often the opposite of what is inside. Inside there is a field of fear, of hiding or meditation.
As the original military purposes of supervision, protection, supplies and signals, became sacralized ( as in church tower, minaret) they fit perfectly into this sense of being split.

While defending the enemies from within and the enemies from without a spiritual attraction should be pulled toward a center point.
As modern warfare technology evolved, the tower became superfluous and its romantic transformation made the rise of ruins, museums, watchtowers possible.
Electronics, except for signal towers, radar screens, no longer need impressive military hardware. Even the factories have lost their proud chimneys.
Instead of that, due to new technology and high land prices, skyscrapers became accepted worldwide as civilian demonstration of economic power.
Even in Austrian villages, the Raiffeisen – silos which tower above all churches remind us how circumstances have changed.
Unaffected by these developments, even formal ones, watchtowers have remained, as is usual, in prisons, camps or painful borderlands; mounted on stilts, protected platforms, from which suspicious movements in the surrounding area can be controlled.
They were a typical part of the Iron Curtain until 1989. Beginning in Hungary, their function became superfluous through objects that had in the mean time been erected on the Western side.
At least these give a temporary impression, and because of that are like watchtower blinds used on a hunt.
The more stable towers on the other side of the frontier should have helped to force good fortune on people, the new ones on “our” side should keep them away.
Progress lies in legality and within that, there will be no more shooting.
Both Hungarian watchtowers, out of which Peter Pilz made a new construction, have become a purpose-free observatory, which leads the symbolism of its origin to absurdity.
Something similar could not have been possible with a Mauthausen-tower. That he would never have thought about this, shows very clearly, that someone should more finely define totalitarianism.
Such daily experiences as these, become the theme of this border which, viewed from outside of itself, is not in danger of becoming understood as rejection.
This silent aggression will be released without the need to explain its usefulness.
The new tower, only noticed by its proximity, stands in a pond, its highest platform is as high as the nearby hills. One cannot see farther than is possible from there. The transparency of rods, steps and platforms permits no threatening thoughts.
At most the height and the unsteadiness of it all speak of a slight uneasiness. The artificiality of the situation will be equalized once more and turned into joy.
In chess, the tower rules the straight lines; the bishop directs the diagonals. The queen combines both.

© Christian Reder 1996/2001

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