Our Delta Experience opens at DeltaPark Neeltje Jans

So far only positive reviews for our big permanent installation “Dutch Delta Experience” in Zeeland. DeltaPark Neeltje Jans commissioned Todd van Hulzen and Studio Louter to create a large, dynamic visitor experience in their visitors’ center located on the great storm barrier accross the delta of Zeeland. Our answer was to create a filmed panorama of 270 degrees. Here we immerse the visitor in the dark world that was the disastrous night in February 1953 when a succession of dykes broke during a severe storm, thereafter permanently etching itself into the Dutch psyche. When one refers to the “flood disaster” we know they speak of 1953. Todd van Hulzen, as artistic director and de

signer, determined the size, shape, feeling and historical integrity of the whole. Studio Louter created the storyline and directed the filming and Sho Sho in Amsterdam created the digital animations.

First seen from the viewpoint of a child’s room as the storm gathers momentum, then from upon the sea-dyke as waters rush in and sweep away everything in their path. Finally we see the determination of the Dutch people to protect their country through heroic engineering and (heroic) unanimous cooperation.

In this video, in Dutch, you can get an idea of the elements of the experience.

The concept of the Panorama is actually quite old. We were inspired by the big Panorama Mesdag in the Hague, an original painted 12 meter high Panorama, following the rage in the late 19th century. At the time it was the closest you could come to an immersive artificial experience. What we add to the experience is the element of time.  This means that our panorama contains a story that unfolds as you stand before it. WInds blow, shutters creak, children scream, waters lap at your feet.

We went through many phases to arrive at our end product, but we are quite satisfied. Thank you Neeltje Jans.

 

Amsterdam Light Festival 2014-15

Amsterdam Light Festival 2014-15 This year’s edition of the Amsterdam Light Festival will include another work by Todd van Hulzen and Studio Louter.  This year we’ve created a projection on the round surface of Renzo Piano’s NEMO Science Center, which people also call the “bow”, as in ship’s bow.

The objective was to make a sliding graphic for a beamer that projects through rolls of acetate, something like a cross between a conventional slide projector and a film roll.  The result is an analog scrolling animation. We did the work on invitation from NEMO itself and were supplied with a projector from the vendor Pani.  We were asked to make a design that was relevant somehow to the current exhibition “Wereld van Vormen”, an exhibit on the subject of mathematics and geometry. Since we were the ones to actually do the design of that show, it all just kind of fell into place. Although, not without due effort.

The concept is that the world can be broken down into mathematical elements and pure shapes.  We’ve chosen to create an abstraction of the city, in particular a city like Amsterdam.  There are some bridges and stepped gables, and at the end the buildings pull out of frame and reveal the piles upon which they are built.

See this fantastic time-lapse film of the festival.  Our project is at 1:01.
 

Soft Opening of a World Wonder

P9255888World of Shapes is the name of a big, new, permanent exhibition designed by Todd van Hulzen Design at NEMO Science Center in Amsterdam.  Wereld van Vormen, in Dutch, is all about geometry, mathematics and the world we live in.  The “soft” opening was Thursday 24 September, and even though there are a few elements that need fine tuning after the work crews leave, it’s up and running and can already be visited during normal hours.  When the final batch of spotlights arrive we can put the cherry on the cake, as it were.

Everything around us is either made of geometry of can be reduced to a kind  of mathematics.  But the world of mathematics, particularly from a classical standpoint, encompasses more that just numbers and angles, it also includes such almost arcane subjects as proportions, perspective and optical illusions. Even phenomena that seem to be mere matters of perception can be explained through the clarity of mathematics and accurate measurement.

Todd van Hulzen design created the designs for the ‘decor’ of the exhibition.  But first we came up with the overall “total concept” in cooperation with our dependable creative partner Studio Louter.  Studio Louter also created the marvelous digital applications and interactive games. Drumming up a complete concept is harder than it may look, considering all of the disparate parts involved. We unified it in this case with the Universal, meaning we created a kind of self referential world all constructed out of triangles and hexagons.  In fact we created something that had never really been done at NEMO, and that is create an exhibit that is truly a sum of its parts instead of a collection of loose interactive elements.  The client was thrilled, the visitors are entertained, and we are taking a deep breath until the next project.

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Fantastic Floor at NEMO

That marvelous, terrifying moment has arrived for our project at the NEMO Science Center: the first concrete installations are taking place.  No longer a design process in which to endlessly vacillate between possibilities, we now have incontrovertible real objects being installed and constructed.  The exhibit furniture and elements are being constructed  in Nüremburg, Germany, while the new inlaid linoleum floor is being installed on location at NEMO.  Progress, people!  After September 20 on view for the public in all its glory.

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And the winner is….

Over2-974x584Het Geheugenpaleis (Palace of Memory) in the National Archives in the Hague has won the award in the category “Best International Exhibition”.  We jaunted off to London on a lark to be there when the winners were announced, and were totally over the moon when we heard that in spite of the steep competition, we had actually won. I say “we”, but the award truly goes to the team that conceived of it all in the first place, and that would be the folks at the National Archives themselves.  So even though I like to claim the award as the chief designer and artist, it will be proudly standing on a mantle in the Hague somewhere.  Congratulations especially to Nancy Hovingh at the archives who enthusiastically ferried the project through 3 years of development and production, and a big high 5 to our favourite team at Studio Louter.

The committee reviewed the design thus (full review here):

“The cardboard design solution is not just sustainable, it looks remarkable too. The cardboard carries one of the central tropes of the exhibition: a memory palace created of stacked archival boxes. By stacking hundreds of boxes in an oblique bond, patterns are created that catch the coloured light in continuously changing waves. The graphic material is all printed on layered honeycomb panels. The effect is controlled and subdued, in spite of the enormous amount of information and a variety of lighting effects. It’s all tied together by that one core element: the archival box.

Het Geheugenpaleis is shortlisted for the Museum+Heritage Awards

DSC_2593The National Archives inaugural exhibition Het Geheugenpaleis (the Palace of Memory) has been shortlisted for the 2014 Museum and Heritage Awards in London.  Apparently our designs for this project were innovative enough to garner attention from abroad, and we are rather proud of that.

Our competition in the category International Award (the award is a primarily British affair) will be: The Olympic Museum in Switzerland, The Springbok Experience in South Africa, The Gemeentemuseum in the Hague, and The Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp, Belgium.

The winners will be announced in May and Todd plans to be there with our colleagues at Studio Louter and Het Nationaal Archief.  A good excuse to iron the tuxedo!

Mariapark in Sittard: “Round Trip Netherlands” gets its second wind.

Several weeks ago we dismantled our exhibit in Münster (see below) and now we’ve just built it back up in Sittard in a very different location. The very secular exhibition has gone to a remarkably godly place: in the cloister of the Mariapark in Sittard, which contains some of the most stunning examples of 19th century religious architecture and sculpture in the Netherlands. So after 2 days of hard work on the exhibit about the Dutch annexation of German territory after the War, we were filled with an extasis of a different Passion altogether. Not to diminish the pain of Dutch occupation, but the stations of the cross at the Mariapark are hard to outdo in suffering. It also offered some interesting contrasts and disconnections, as if Jesus of Nazareth was looking out from under the weight of his cross saying, “top this, whiners!”.

For images of the show as it was first exhibited in Münster, Germany see the album on that subject.

Thanks to Manuéla Friedrich for spearheading this whole project and for persevering when the prospect of ever getting this show off the ground looked increasingly bleak, and to Studio Louter for production.

Exhibit “Einmal Niederlande und Zurück” opens in Münster, Germany

“Einmal Niederlande und Zurück” is an exhibition that Todd van Hulzen Design created at the Haus der Niederlande in Münster, Germany about German areas under Dutch control after the Second World War. Artifacts and archive materials tell the story of Dutch indignation, retribution and dreams of expansion after the war, as well as the life of Germans living under Dutch rule, cultural shifts and enduring identity.

The exhibition was achieved on a limited budget using a system of standard plot-cut panels printed on a flatbed printer and then fitted together without the use of hardware or tools. Panels were cut from single standard sheets of underlayment plywood. The glass cases were lined with 8mm recycled grey felt. The paper archival objects were hung without frames or passe-partouts, but were instead suspended betweeen 3mm rare-earth magnets and ferous screws projecting from the felt background.

The project was realized with our perennial partner Studio Louter (content and production), as well as Victor van der Meiden (construction), Leanna McAlpine (graphics) and Rijnja Repro (printing and cutting).

The exhibition will also travel to Sittard (NL) and to Bocholtz (NL).

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Wayang Kulit Belanda: shadow puppets of Dutch characters in Indonesian style.

For an installation in Het Geheugenpaleis (Palace of Memory,) currently on exhibit at the Dutch National Archives in the Hague, Todd created a series of shadow puppets based on both caricatures of Dutch “types” and on traditional Indonesian style shadow puppets made of punched leather, or Wayang Kulit.  This was in turn for the archival theme “Opgevangen in de spruitjeslucht”. This treats the subject of the repatriation, often forced, and the reception of Dutch colonials and  Dutch subjects from Indonesia after Indonesian independence.  Instead of the traditional subjects from Indonesian Wayang Kulit drawn from the Bhagavad Gita or Mahabharata, we see here much less heroic figures drawn from Dutch life and fantasy: for instance Saint Nicholas, but also a bicycling preacher, a public servant, and a housewife in traditional attire with a rather threatening cheese slicer.  In the middle we see a simple and proud “Indisch” woman who is the hero of a digital game being played in a console just in front of the display.  The puppets were installed within the cardboard boxes along the wall, and each illuminated independently with LED lamps.

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