Hall of Fame of German Research

Staging the prize award ceremony

1 day

Researchers follow their vocation in creating something out of the ordinary. Accordingly one of the mottos of this Hall of Fame of German Research was ‘My Vocation.’ Conjured up in 2009 by Manager Magazine, this Hall of Fame is being hosted by the Merck Group for four years. Jazzunique was commissioned to stage the induction of new laureates before an audience of 140 guests coming from science, industry and politics.

From the invitation in the form of a statuette that was sent out to the prizewinners, to the programmatic planning and spatial and technical design of the prizegiving ceremony, Merck and Jazzunique focused the evening on the researcher as human being, on his or her unique creative path. The imposing stairway, for example, ushered the visitor symbolically into the Hall of Fame by presenting an exhibition of ‘Moving Stills’ on massive screens – ten animated portraits of six laureates and four young researchers in quadruple slow motion. At the end each portrait confronted viewers with the question, ‘What is your vocation?’

The subsequent organisation of the gala dinner, the show elements and the prizegiving ceremony itself in the great hall of the Darmstadtium made it plain that everyone attending the evening was following their vocation with the fullest commitment imaginable – from the moderator Daniel Boschmann to the joint hosts, Merck CEO Karl-Ludwig Kley and Steffen Klusmann, editor in chief of Manager Magazine, from the two dancers Olena Yalyeyeva and Michael Maciejewski to the star chef Hubertus Tzschirner and the pianist Hai’ou Zhang, whose expressive performance on the grand piano was captured as he played by four cameras, and relayed in detailed close-ups to giant screens on the stage.

These screens – there were ten of them in all, each of them three metres high – were the central element of the presentation in design terms. Depending on whatever was happening at the time – a lecture, a moderator’s address, a eulogy – the screens were moved around by human hand and assembled into ever-changing visual scenarios, in combination with the content that was projected onto them. True to the leitmotif idea that ‘human beings move technology’, Jazzunique’s presentation symbolised the symbiosis of humanity and technology which is lived out by the Merck Group in practice.

Even the award itself incorporated the idea of creative vocation by which the evening was orchestrated. Made up of numerous superimposed life rings with varying strength of colour, the statuette represented the linear and yet irregular stages of the creative path of the prizewinners. This year’s laureates of the Hall of Fame of German Research are Gerhard Ertl, winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2007 and Professor Emeritus at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Berlin, and Manfred Weck, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and for many years Director of the Machine Tool Laboratory at RWTH Aachen University.

Project team: Dominique Klar, Guido Gutenstein, Marja Stratbücker, Damiano Heil, Giuliano Heil, Paul Wiedeler