Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts.
The first part is called “The Pledge”. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course… it probably isn’t.
The second act is called “The Turn”. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back.
That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call “The Prestige”.
These are the words that Christopher Nolan, director of the film “The Prestige”, chose for the beginning of his magic story.
When we started to think about this project, about this place, we discovered that River Tower had something magical that attracted us, something present in other magical places: there are many uses attached to this tower, but we don’t really know what it was built for.
If we consider this situation, we can find other well known cases, like Stonehenge or the Egypt Pyramids. We know the use of these places, but there are many mysteries that involve them. However, there is something in common between all of them: the curiosity woken up by geometric forms, put in a concrete order.
The project becomes a magic trick and decisions made feed the curiosity of the spectator. We show the Pledge as volumes buried in the hill. The position of these geometric volumes, with the same orientation, makes the spectator asking himself “Why this form?”, “How to enter?”, “What they contain?”, “Are they independent?”.
The second step is go inside the function, The Turn. They can discover what it is, what is inside those geometrical forms. But there is something that they continue asking themselves: “What about the last Cube?”.
The Prestige come to them, appearing after having been walking on a narrow crack. It is the principal use of the building, a big exhibition space in which the spectator feels small and absorbed by the natural light, like if the magician had destapped his trick in front of him.
When they leave the show, they appear in the same reality they were some time before, in front of the River Tower, but with renewed sensations, new knowledge, and a new capacity for analyzing things that seem to be normal for any other people, but that actually contain mysteries yet to be discovered.