Robert Kuśmirowski, GRADUATION TOWER (2016) Sokołowsko
Graduation towers, occasionally referred to as thorn houses, are wooden structures covered with blackthorn bundles, which originally served to make the water in the saline solution evaporate to produce salt used for kitchen and medicinal purposes. The first graduation towers used in salt production were erected in the seventeenth century. With time, it was noticed that the air around them is highly saturated with the saline solution aerosol as a result of the solution draining through the elements of the towers and also due to natural evaporation. The mineral-rich water droplets in the air have been regarded as having beneficial health effects and their use for medical purposes dates back to the nineteenth century. The first and the largest in Europe graduation structure, designed by Jakub Graff – a professor at the Mining Academy in Kielce, was built in Ciechocinek and is still in use. It is 15.8 metre high and 1741.5 metres long. Its main purpose is to make solution of NaCl in water achieve 16% at minimum (and approx. 27% at maximum). However, the process is highly weather-dependent. During sunny and windy days the vaporization is most intense which gives the best result; during rainy and foggy days the process does not occur almost at all.
Graduation towers have been used for decades in the prevention and treatment of diseases and conditions of the upper respiratory tract, sinusitis, emphysema, high blood pressure, vegetative neurosis and in general exhaustion. Inhalations used for prophylaxis are a great immunity-booster. In a room where the structure of such type is situated, an aerosol rich in a wide range of valuable micronutrients, such as iodine, bromine, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, sodium is produced. This aerosol is of negative charge, which has bactericidal features. In the treatment, it is the solution at a concentration of 3-5% that is most beneficial. The towers act as a giant air filter. In 1996, in the sludge and salt from the towers in Ciechocinek the cesium isotopes (Cs-134 and Cs-137) were detected which came from the nuclear power plant disaster in Chernobyl (1986), but their concentration have not posed a threat to human health.
The Graduation Tower of Art is structure built of wood from coniferous trees, a system of various joints, wooden supports and girders, and above all a triumph of an accumulation of post-exhibition objects and devices, which I have collected for over 12 years. They are collected and arranged are according to their size and monochromacy of their colour and there is an inventory attached – a feature characteristic of the museum works and collections. The structure has been designed with an utmost care of our optical sensations and exposed to our visual perception are the changes that are taking place within the object. This work is dedicated to its environment with its conscious conquest. The exhibited items, which are close to my own morphology, are also undergoing a certain transformation, from their existence in a storage space, they come onto an exhibition level, lifting the eye and trampling the nostalgia (due to feeling that the works are being destroyed and their end is near). Such a set of the artifacts that I no longer need, allows me to record these items and grouping them for the purpose of aesthetics and a fetishistic insight.
As in the case of graduation towers, the weather will play a major part in forming the final shape of the structure. The colour changes on the corroding and rusting objects, gravity stains on a freshly built wooden structure and other materials will form a unified organism. This is an inhalation of art and art being inhaled (having been taken out of the warehouses) at the same time. An initial observation / inhalation of a single set of the Graduation Tower will only lead to an differentiation between the constituting elements of a single object, then it will also cover the relationships between the elements, eg. their system, their proportions, spatial relations and the colour. It will be this process that will enable an accurate reconstruction of the analyzed whole, that is a correct synthesis of the arts being graduated and its essence becoming gradually concentrated.