The Corpses of the Brothers De Witt

!cid_C7E832DB-C4DA-4524-B4AA-FBFE04EECCC1Another sculpture assignment I received from the production of the film “Michiel de Ruyter” was to recreate the cruelly lynched bodies of the brothers De Witt, a prominent Dutch politician from the 16th century and his brother who were attacked by an Orangist mob and lynched in the Hague.  Obviously there’s a serious story here, and I won’t try to commit it to this page (read it here), but it was famous and compelling enough to make me want to take up the job.

You might ask, why not just use actors?  But these corpses had to be eviscerated and lacerated to such a degree that that would be impractical. But engaging the services of one of the excellent special effects studios was budgetarily out of the question.  A compromise was found: me.  The production designer Ruben Schwarz and myself settled on the idea of culling various body parts from display mannequins, cutting them up and reattaching them.  Then we covered them with layers of hard casting wax colored with powdered pigments (from the paint mill De Kat).  This allowed us to cut into the surface skin to expose flesh.  Wax is actually quite forgiving, as long as  you aren’t filming in the extreme heat of the day.  Using wax kept the costs down and is a rather low-threshold material to work with.  We were rather pleased with the results, and so was the director.

    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!

        Publicity bump in the April issue of Vanity Fair

        vanityFair2A little write up –or rather a series of quotes– in the most recent issue of Vanity Fair magazine (April 2014).  The story explores the ins and outs of creating reproduction artwork for films, specifically films about art.  In the case of Todd van Hulzen it draws on his experience as a designer and artist for the film Girl with a Pearl Earring.  For this film from 2003 Todd  organized the creation of approximately 75 different painting from historical sources.  Most of them were reproduced digitally, but several were painted by hand, particularly the paintings on the easels seen in various stages of development. Todd was also a hand double for Colin Firth, an instructor in the techniques of painting and grinding of historical pigments and an art-director creating the set designs of the canal-side house of the artist Vermeer.

          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, “Suck on that, 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. Continue reading

              V. Scans from Colling’s Gothic Ornaments

              Image Archive

              Title: Plates from Colling’s Gothic Ornaments, vols. I & II
              Author: James Kellaway Colling (1816 – 1905)
              Subject: Gothic Architectural ornaments
              Year: 1847
              Source: Personal collection

              Todd van Hulzen shares his scans and files from historic archives on the subjects of architecture and the arts

              My recent trip to Münster, Germany reignited an old flame. That goes back to my late teens when I first picked up a book at a used book store in Grants Pass, Oregon titled “Deutsche Kunst” by Wilhelm Müseler. This passion was historic architecture in general, and Gothic architecture in particular. Years later, in 2006, I had the dreamed-of opportunity to actually “build” an entire Gothic church and monastery for the digitally generated sets of the Canadian fantasy television series “Sanctuary”. Even though there was no brick or mortar involved, it allowed me to delve deeply into the spirit and the bones of medieval architecture. Ogival arches, hammerbeam ceilings, bundled columns, and world of forgotten construction techniques. It also allowed me to amass quite a library on the subject, my favorite of which was Viollet le Duc’s encyclopedia on architecture. This you can consult yourself on Wikisource. Marvelous! Here I will share scans from a book I have on Gothic ornament by James Colling from that heyday of Gothic revival, the Victorian Era. Many lovely plates with gilded highlights which have to be turned page by dusty page to be really appreciated.

              Click here for the gallery

                Amsterdam GVB Streetcar now rolling with our designs on it.

                With all the commotion around the opening of “Temporal Tower” we almost forgot that there was an Amsterdam tram (streetcar) of the GVB (Municipal Transport Company) about to roll out with our name on it. And sure enough, there she is.  Dirk Bertels of Studio Louter and Todd van Hulzen worked together on the concept, which is part of the marketing and sponsorship between the GVB and the Amsterdam Light Festival. But Dirk did all of the actual hard work, Todd just stood back and watched and gave self-evident advice. What looks like a white sticker is actually light-reflective film that lights up when directly lit by traffic lights. We settled on light-reflective film after a long search for materials, from glow-in-the-dark to holographic foil. Now that it’s going to be on the rails, we are curious to see if it will make an impression. But our names are printed on it, and that’s what we’re the most proud of. On the rear is a section of illustration dedicated to the Temporal Tower. You can see the scaffolding. Let us know if you see it around.

                  The Haringpakkerstoren “rebuilt” in scaffolding and light

                  compositeWe can’t describe how giddy and proud we are of our new big baby, the impressive reconstruction of the historic Haringpakkerstoren (Herring Packers’ Tower).  Of course our tower is not made of masonry and wood, but of scaffolding, mesh, and most importantly, light.  30 meters high (100 feet), the tower, which we call “Temporal Tower” rises up along the quays of the old harbor of Amsterdam, adjacent to the Central Station and is lit by 36 LED arrays dispersed around the spire.  The light is very gradually animated in something of a churning cycle of one color group.  Each week we will change the color scheme and configuration.  For more information on the history of this tower, the original of which was demolished in 1829, see some of the entries below.  For now we just want to publish some of the most recent photo’s of this little giant. There are more to come, as the project is getting quite a lot of media attention. Continue reading

                    The Making of “Temporal Tower”

                    Here are some pictures of our tower project in the making.  The first step was agreeing on a budget and a technical design, which we ploddingly accomplished with our world-class international scaffolder StageCo.  Then with the help of a crane, postponed several days due to a fierce storm, we hoisted the sections which we had built at street level into position.  After that came the mesh wrap.  We were already pretty charmed by the pictures of the tower with only scaffolding and no wrapping.  Now the story is complete, but we secretly long for the purity of the scaffolding on its own.  What do you thinnk?

                    And here is a video interview I did, explaining the concept in the early stages:

                     

                      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.

                        Finally a National History Museum at the National Archives: a sustainable festival of the Past.

                         

                        Anne-Reitsmacollage

                        Photo Anne Reitsma

                        After three years of hard work, the Geheugenpaleis (Palace of Memory) has come to completion. This project represents the crowning achievement of not only our studio, but of the long term ambitions of the National Archives itself. It is grand, evocative, fascinating, touching and above all it offers deep immersion into the stuff of archives and the stuff of history. T. van Hulzen Design and Studio Louter were engaged from the early beginnings to help forge a sound program, a gripping concept and a cohesive design. We’ve conceived a Memory Palace like no other, which like Bluebeard’s castle offers mysteries behind every door, a world of history in every archival box. 11  uniquely decorated chambers, enlivened by 11 creative installations (music, documentary, video, radio-show, etc.) surround a central “courtyard” allowing for that “a la carte” feel that festivals have. Every room has a unique experience and a unique interpretation of the material, but it is all tied into the history and the utility of the Archive itself.

                        From a design point of view, we are particularly proud of our all-cardboard “fortress”—this for all the physical qualities that paper and card have to offer: warmth, acoustics, recyclability, and sustainability.  Never have we created so much volume with so little mass. An exhibition of 800 square meters was virtually carted in on two pallets of stacked and folded cardboard boxes. This cardboard, supplied by IHC interior builders, is recycled and emission free. And after the exhibition is retired at the end of 2014 the whole exhibit will be sent to the recycler yet again, to be chipped, separated, and reprocessed. This is a stark difference with the conventional waste created by an exhibition made of wood, plywood, plaster and paint. And with the exception of the printed information panels, all our color is created with the use of filtered LEDs; so no paint required.

                        Yet not only is our cardboard solution particularly sustainable, it looks remarkable too. The cardboard carries one of the central tropes of the exhibition: a memory palace created of stacked archival boxes, a kind of dream-idea of the Past, made concrete, as if you are walking through Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities or one of Borges’ fantasy libraries. By stacking hundreds of boxes in an oblique bond, we create patterns that catch the colored light in continuously changing waves. Continue reading

                          New NEMO project for 2014

                          NEMO

                          Amsterdam Science Center NEMO has accorded us (T. van Hulzen Design and Studio Louter) their latest contract for the concept, production and design of an all new addition to the permanent display.  The subject is mathematics and geometry in all its facets.  We will touch on pure mathematics, but also on platonic solids, perspective, fractalization, and even proportion and aesthetics.  The concept is “Meetland” or “Measureland”, and our aim is to create a whole world, with streets and buildings and landscapes all of measurable surfaces, all reducible to pure mathematics.  This will be our big project for 2014 and should open at the end of the year.  Keep posted!

                           

                            King Willem-Alexander to open Het Geheugenpaleis in the Hague

                            The folks down at the National Archive in the Hague are pretty excited about the news that our new king, Willem-Alexander, will be opening their inaugural exhibition in the Hague on Tuesday, October 15.  He will actually be opening the entire newly renovated visitors’ area, including a new study hall, information center, laboratory and workshop for school groups.  On top of this the new exhibitions hall will contain our one-of-a-kind exhibit, Het Geheugenpaleis.  And I’ll be there to give him a hand… or was it a courtsey?

                            Our invitations are ready!

                            http://www.gahetna.nl/actueel/pers/2013/zijne-majesteit-koning-willem-alexander-opent-nieuwe-publiekscentrum-nationaal-arc