ID: 154

MATT, Werner


Werner Matt: Born 1962, Director of the city archives in Dornbirn (Austria). Member of the board of the Austrian towns archives association.
Research interests: History of photography; oral history and regional history

Publications: Un panorama sobre les col-leccions de fotografia a Àustria I sobre els drets d’autor austriacs en l’àmbit de la fotografia. In: Imatge i Recerca. Ponències, experiències i comunicacions. Girona 2006. Gisinger, Arno/Matt, Werner (Hrsg.): Visuelle Geschichte. Dokumentation zur internationalen Tagung „Geschichte sehen, Dornbirn 1997.. Constructed reality. Reading photoraphs. In: Doelker, Christian / Gschwendtner-Wölfle, Ruth / Lürzer, Klaus: The learning eye : contributions to visual literacy. Sauerländer 2003, Matt, Werner/Rabitsch, Roman/Rhomberg, Martin (Hrsg.): 50 Jahre Rock - Die Popularmusik in Vorarlberg,, Dornbirn 2007. Letting People Speak. A Guideline to Conducting Interview Projects,.In: Tinta Education Ltd.(Hrsg.):Where culture meets vocational education. Sundbyberg/Sweden 2012


Invisible city. Investigations & observations in the city

Brief summary:

Invisible City

The project attempts tracking in the city. A select group of buildings is rediscovered from various angles. The photo artist Arno Gisinger, the architectural author Robert Fabach and the archivist Werner Matt illustrate their perspectives of these buildings and provide their own individual interpretations of the existing urban space.


About the City

Cities are perfect examples for the accumulation of the unseen. Between the buildings urban space develops, where culture and everyday life is created, and therefore fields of meaning, signs, anecdotes and history generate the purlieus of the city. These interactions and the synchronism of the various interpretations are the nature of the city. Complexity and concentration force a selective perception out of the users as it were. To orient oneself, to find a way through the forest of signs and meanings, one has to choose, suppress and therefore make invisible.

Outsourcing is a special form of invisibility. Archives save, as an image of a city, a multitude of references and intersections to the real city. At the same time they are a storage area of a collective memory, that stores its unconscious and subconscious there.

 The project

The book and exhibition’s aim is to affect the window of attention of every city user within the perceptual field between the visible and invisible, the conscious and unconscious. The project does not pursue scandal, but rather exposes evidence via the overtly trivial for the fascinating complexity and concentration of the urban – as well as the provincial -. Deliberately chosen excerpts and photographic details allow one to delve into the object; they evoke questions, which lead farther into the texts.

It is probably a particularly European perspective, which often roots its identity within the individual complexity and historicity of its buildings and urban space. This rootedness and these references have often been abused in politics and ideology. In our society one’s own access to a deepened perception and to history is left open.

Scientific contribution:

The Invisible

The unseen is a provocation to the modern and enlightened mind. Something is here, but it is not here after all. It has potential, it makes an impact sometimes, but it defies an overview. Science and history replace this lack of presence within their systems with signs and references, documentations and illustrations.

At the beginning of the project there was the paradox of the archivist, who has to experience for the others the enormous wealth of his archives and the city they depict as a giant invisibility. Thus, the archivist approached the photographer and the architectural author to uncover invisible layers of fourteen buildings together, developing a city of its own, complementary at one time, a fatal alternative draft the next. The difference between the two cities, the visible one and the unseen one, form something similar to a psychograph of the urban identity.


Archivivist - City - the Invisible - Buildings - Visual History