Crystal Cube of Serenity for Tin Ujević


Project not implemented

Year of designing:



Competition, Culture


Varšavska ulica,
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Vladi Bralić, Zdenko Sila (†), Zvonimir Kamenar

Additional projects:

Text: Aldo Paquola
Photography: Ranko Dokmanović

THE CONCEPT: To create a monument for Tin Ujević means to discover the art of answering to the requests of time and also, the question: How to portray a great man of a bright, poetic personality, a living sensibility of mind, desire, erudition and independence (defying all metastasis, deceit, cheap and mediocre viability) while remaining outside the reach of a double-edged sword. The phantasmagoria of a box containing letters of led from all academic and academically proscribed neurosis of the Croatian vocabulary and sour nostalgicaly-anegdotal rusty atavisms about a bohemic maestro who was Tin; the Chaplin of remembrance and the burlesque noise of a tavern. The strict sharpness of a convent cell in a voluntary exile of Arcadia, in the body of doubt and strong curiosity of the 20th century, which is what the poetry and the entire artistic habitus of Tin Ujević signify for us. The Dionysius of words and patient nocturnal meditations, of questioning destiny and the velocity of life: motor cars, airplanes, telephones... as well as the cataclysms and silences of man and mankind. A man devoted only to the magic of poetry and energy of serenity. Serenity? One might ask if we haven’t misplaced the Heraclitic darkness of melancholy into Disneyland rather harshly. No. In fact let us use Tin himself as a reference:

...and the only thing I wish for the offspring to take as heritage would have to be – SERENITY. A crystal cube of serenity...

Serenity, especially for Tin has nothing in common with trained easiness. Serenity is defiance and hope for the artist’s pain. Serenity is joy of energy and creativeness. The tragic sense of life does not exclude serenity. On the contrary, let us remember Nietzsche and Zarathustra. Serenity is a synonym of sharp persistency, it does not domesticate suffering, but rather – it makes it an artistic pledge. Serenity is amor fati and it cannot be made on wood or gold or steel but can just be uncatchable in its cosmic splendor. In a SF novel Solaris by Stanislav Lem, the planet-ocean Solaris inscrutably attracts and challenges people.  In a state of continuous change, a change of unknown and repetitive systems, the oceanic space ball that is the mind changes severely, and this evokes the name and the relation to the life of Tin Ujević. To those imperial men of might, blood and arms, there are fitting monuments which can be called no other than Copper Horsemen (Bakarni konjanici). A crystal becomes Tin, light and archetype forms of a cube and a sphere. They are human as well as cosmic, modern as well as current, worldly yet simple, unburdened with décor or ornaments such as Tin’s significance and his poetry. Tin’s fluent house is Solaris. The simplicity is still and spirituated versatility and plentitude; it stands for the lived and expresses depth of desire and of experience. That is why the cube consists of radial plates which spread turquoise-aquamarine shifts of darkness and light. The sphere enables the contact of the person, the personality and perfection.

Using the principle of ionization, the emission of electrons creates lightning sparks: the atoms and the worlds, the existences, history and future. The sphere is a lamp of serenity and a planet of Tin Ujević, a reminder for the eye and the spirit, a monument. In this conception of a monument for Tin Ujević, the starting point is accenting the artist’s humanism, genius, knowledge and culture surroundings as well as cosmopolitism of gathering the pensative and affective forces. Ujević’s translations can never be exhausted or canonized in form of labor, regardless of the great achievements; they primarily stand for Tin’s philosophy: a real, literal and symbolic, Freedom of Work. It has been foreseen in choosing the proportion of the Golden Ratio when viewing the pedestal and the cube, while the cube itself and the sphere in currents of the world and consciousness, correspond Tin’s lucidity, prometeusness and openness towards everything becoming to the concepts, emotions and temptations: Humanitas et Universitas. The pedestal is Labrador Granit stone, strong and irredundant, tied to the structure of the crystal and the breach towards a clean air shining peak. Here we can also reflect upon Tin’s quote as a greeting:

These are the words black and come from deep, these are the poems mature, without hold, They all have just bursted out from their sleep, and are now hanging as two arms unfold.

THE SCULPTURAL SOLUTION: The sculpture is conceived as reduction of real shapes down to the archetypal shapes. The crystal and glowing nucleus, shaped as a correct sphere is placed in the centre axis of the sculpture and is wrapped in the mantle of the crystal sphere. These basic elements are placed on a solid Granit surface shaped as a cuboid. The lighted crystal core is conceived on the basis of lumino-dynamic phenomenon that appears due to ionization of the gas by the electric field. Uneven emission of the lightning sparks in all directions towards the crystal calotte directs itself towards people when they touch the surface of the crystal sphere. The mantle of the crystal sphere is made in radial transparent lamellas of aquamarine color. On the imagined surfaces the cuboid lamellas appear arrhythmic (a, b, b, a). Because of their transparency and the visual overlap, the aquamarine tones get darker as approaching the core. The granite base is a correct, dark cubiod. The height of the cuboid is placed towards the height of the crystal cube according to the Golden Ratio. We would like to introduce a sculptural solution in two variations.

TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION: The sculpture consists of three formal, functional and technological elements: crystal mantle, crystal core and the granite basis. The mantle consists of lamellas which imaginarily define the volume of the cube spatially surrounding the crystal core. The lamellas are placed in vertical radial planes and they nodaly connect on the vertical axis of the sculpture. Given the lamellas are spatially separated from the crystal core, their radial constellation enables a visitor to touch the core with his/her hand. The lamellas are made in cast glass additionally strengthened with glass threads. The glass is colored in a light blue color of the aquamarine crystal. The static stability of the lamellas can be achieved with them installed into the basis of the sculpture, using a ring connection. Although we think the lamellas in question would be properly resistant to mechanic, unforeseen hits, we could account for the possibility of their simple replacement in case of eventual damage. The thickness of the lamellas would be 4cm. There is a possibility of making the lames out of a transparent plastic mass (acrylit) usually used for model making. The crystal core is a glass sphere with an integrated generator for illumination which creates a specific effect. The generator for illumination functions on the principle of gas ionization with the help of the electric field. The investigation of this phenomenon dates from 19th century with Farraday, Crookes, Geisler and others who have pointed to the lumino-dynamic phenomenon of ionized gas through using an electric field. Inside the hermetically shut crystal sphere there is diluted air in the state of under pressure (50mm Hg or 6.5kPa), being ionized with two electrodes connected to a source of high voltage. The first electrode is located in the centre of the sphere and is coated with graphite dust.  The other electrode is in fact the entire indoor surface of the glass calotte. The first electrode continuously emits light rays with flickering in all directions towards the calotte. The electric mechanism which powers the electrodes with a special electric current is a high-frequency, high-voltage transformer (30-40kV). The transformer is placed inside the basis of the sculpture. When touching the core with your hand there a shift of the electric field occurs, so the light rays direct themselves towards the hand. Touching the sphere with one’s hand is completely harmless. The crystal sphere would be made from massive blocks of polisher granite (dark Labrador). The entire sculpture would be placed on a shallow pedestal tiled in grey stone.