Turning German Legalese into Strung-Out Sculpture

February 19, 2013 | Andy Cush

There’s something oddly poetic about the complexities of governmental bureaucracy and law–just ask David Foster Wallace and Terry Gilliam. German information designer Oliver Bieh-Zimmert has taken that idea to its logical, literal conclusion with his Network of the German Civil Codean installation piece that puts the titular country’s notoriously complicated Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch ca. 1896 up on the wall (all 2,385 paragraphs of it), then connects each paragraph to any other paragraph to which it refers with a strand of red thread. Confusing enough for you? Good, that’s exactly the point.

Bieh-Zimmert explains:

After a lot of hours worked the overall structure of the law is visible. What you can see are local clusters of references between the paragraphs and if you take a few steps back you can see patterns through the symmetry. We used two walls to fill the room and because of this effect a triangle of references is visible.

(Photo: Oliver Bieh-Zimmert/Visualizing)