Now all that was needed was the ‘fine-tuning’. After months of pushing, tilting, lifting and calculating, the approximation to the camera standpoints became so close that each individual spot in the photographs could be retrospectively projected, plotted, measured and, since it was defined by more than one source, back-checked.
The subsequent work was a matter of laborious, patient realization: a reconstruction based on drawings and technical work, but also increasingly inspired by Schwitters’s own working method, which only slowly became apparent to me during the painstaking manual work executed with the aid of skilled craftsmen.
To give an idea of the time invested: from 1981 we had one year for reflection
and research and one year to translate this into three dimensions, with the
fourth, time, at our heels. An obsession for which time was running out.
What was important was the regular contact with Ernst Schwitters. He was
able from memory to supply many details about yet unclear spatial correspondences
in the Merz Building; where colours were concerned, his help was essential.
I was moved by his enthusiasm and his faith in the success of the project
(‘a dream is coming true’) and that this work restored to him, as he often
asserted, the contact not just to an important object of his youth, but above
all to his father.
Incidentally, the aforementioned Kurt Schwitters seemed (without wanting
to offer any psychedelic theories here) to be present during this work and
intent on making his presence more and more strongly felt: at first merely
disruptively, in the form of ‘Schwitter-storms’[Ge/SCH/witter: untranslatable
play on words, Gewitter being German for ’storm’] that broke upon us and produced
trivial mistakes and divergences; then from a particular moment on (after
Ernst Schwitters’s second visit to the developing Merz Building, when I felt
the merest breath of a sense of a trace of hope that we would avoid a total
disaster) increasingly as a helper, but as one who could not stop playing
games, right up to the end.
Anecdotes abound; here is one example:
In one of the photographs, one could see the base of a Römer wine
glass. Schwitters still knew perfectly well that this was green. We repeatedly
searched for a correspondingly green glass, once even in the company of Schwitters,
but our search was always fruitless.
Well, on the day before the opening of the exhibition in the Kunsthaus
in Zurich, the glass had still not been found, and in the evening we all went
to a neighbouring restaurant The Green Glass:
and there it was, or there they were, dozens of them, on every table!
- (Kilroy) - Schwitters was here......