DETACHMENT from the city’s multitude of distractions is only possible in small oases of isolation in City of the (Re)Orientated. In this city the ‘map’ has long been useless, its streets continually reshaped by their walkers, vendors, sponsors, hobby street-artists and salvation-sellers. In this anthill of possibilities only the most elastic orientation software can direct the city’s inhabitants through its myriad of shifting, tangled streets. As private dwellings of the city connect to this mobile space, more parks, institutions and cinemas detach themselves from mobile invasion.

Two interdependent territories grow back to back: the first is a mobile, shifting space that is continually intent on becoming ever more stimulating, responsive and distracting. In the shadows of the mobile territory grow the immobile spaces. They become ever more out-of-reception and are intent on appealing to the focussed eye.

“These days, the old ivory towers are networked. The internet’s lost its earthbound nettiness and flies wirelessly higher and higher. But that prosthetic nervous system of instant connections has its own blind spots and phantom limbs. We want to ask what kind of pleasures and pains might be generated in the dead-end spaces that are severed from the throb of GPS guidance & internet connection. We’re inspired by Spengler’s exuberant creations because we see them as bringing two worlds together. One in which a master craftsman carves ivory painstakingly in concentrated isolation; another in which the same craftsman materialises wild visions that wouldn’t look out of place in the sci-fi universe of online gaming.”


“Choosing a life of seclusion is perhaps easier nowadays than it ever was. If there are no more wastelands, the anonymity of our cities provides perfect cover for the hermit preferring to clamber up the steep ladders leading to the ivory tower of detachment. Up here the clear thin air carries no smell or sound from the outside world. This is the place for serene contemplation and detached observation. The scholars in their towers think up beautiful plans and paradigms and present them to the world, among other places in the museum. Beautiful in their regularity and predictability, these truths continue to calm our seeking souls even though the world outside the ivory tower rudely refuses to fit into them.”

“[…] many experiences little by little destroyed all the faith which I had rested in my senses; for I from time to time observed that those towers which from afar appeared to me to be round, more closely observed seemed square […]. And not only in those founded on the external senses, but even in those founded on the internal as well; for is there anything more intimate or more internal than pain? And yet  I have learned from some persons whose arms or legs have been cut off, that they sometimes seemed to feel pain in the part which had been amputated, which made me think that I could not be quite certain that it was a certain member which pained me, even although I felt pain in it.”


The ivory towers were made by the Swiss artisan Lorenz Spengler, who worked at the court of the Danish kings Christian VI and Frederik V. Several members of the royal family spent part of their considerable leisure time as pupils in Spengler’s workshop. Much of the work is purely ornamental, and some of the articles nominally for everyday use are so frail that an uncontrolled breath would cause them to break into pieces.

An avid conchologist and art collector, Spengler became manager of the Royal Kunstkammer and thus one of the first museum professionals in Denmark. The complex ornamental lathe-work of these ivory towers from Lorenz Spengler’s workshop testifies above all to the refinement of late 18th century tastes. The delicacy and exquisiteness of detail, as well as the choice of materials and subject matter, allow us a glimpse of life at the summit of absolute monarchy in Europe.