We 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
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:
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.
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.
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!
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!
We are beyond excited about the progress we are making down at the National Archives in The Hague. For their inaugural exhibit we are creating a kind of cardboard fortress, or palace, that houses a number of rooms filled with intriguing stories. The palace of memory works with the concept: the past is a foreign country, and treats each of eleven core stories as relais from ambassadors from the past. Each story is told by a single artist or artists’ collective. We have the story of the last hours of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, the great 17th century statesman. We have the heartbreaking story of the road to making divorce legal in the Netherlands. There’s the story of a medieval convent, of a slave-trading scoundrel, of the founders of the E.U., of female stowaways on East India Company ships, and more.
But mostly we are just proud of the design-work and the production, and with our partners Studio Louter we are terrifically excited about the multimedia applications and the projection mapping. The lighting expertise of Tinus Holthuis brings our vision to completion.
Het Nationaal Archief: Het Geheugenpaleis
Opening general public 17 October
Prins Willem Alexanderhof 20
2595 BE Den Haag
For our current project for the Amsterdam Light Festival we are recreating —after a fashion—one of the vanished renaissance clock-towers of Hendrick de Keyser: the Haringpakkerstoren. One of the foundation principles of the project is the knowledge that De Keyser is under-appreciated and deserves to be brought into the limelight, as it were. Never the less there is a decent amount of archival material available, either in the image-bank at the Amsterdam city archives (Beeldbank Stadsarchief) or in other archives around Europe. We’ve found detailed construction plans, paintings from various eras and biographical information on De Keyser himself. Here’s a collection of things we’ve found, mostly pertaining to the Haringpakkerstoren. Enjoy.
“American Light Artist” is what the national daily De Telegraaf called Todd van Hulzen. The newspaper is above all interested in the political aspect of the project, which touches on a sensitive subject for the city. In 2005 plans to rebuild the original Haringpakkerstoren (Herring packers tower) were scuttled when the monuments commission declared that the project was theoretically unsound (read: nostalgic) and possibly put the city’s eligibility in danger for its appellation as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This in spite of the fact that the funds to rebuild the tower had already been secured, and that it was a gift to the city from the Foundation Stadsherstel.
Former borough commissioner Guido Frankfurther said “Maak je borst maar nat”, which means, prepare yourself, referring to a lot of anticipated publicity.
A lot has happened in the last few months, and we’ve been missing the chance to update. One of the most significant things is the fact that Todd van Hulzen was selected, with Studio Louter, to produce their concept for the Amsterdam Light Festival. This is a new annual festival of light art in the capital and we’ve come up with a plan that was compelling enough that it came out on top of the jury’s selection list. It’s called Temporal Tower, and it’s both and homage to one of the vanished clock-towers of the Amsterdam architect Hendrik de Keyser, and also an exploration of the place of monuments in the public space. And of course it’s supposed to be a delight for the eye in the cold winter months.
While we work out the budget and negotiate with the city about its placement, we are fine-tuning our design for the tower. We are particularly working with a lighting technician and a scaffolding builder who are going to be those chiefly responsible for the construction and the impact.
Go to the website of the Amsterdam Light Festival for more information.
Two instances this week of how relevant the national (Dutch) Bank Giro Lottery is to hard-working museum designers: first, Museum Boerhaave in Leiden received a €600,000 grant from the lottery funds for 2013 thanks to a proposal partially sweetened with designs by Todd van Hulzen, and secondly, a kick-off for the 2014 round of grants by the National Fortification Museum in Naarden for which Todd van Hulzen will also do the preliminary designs. In the current climate of spending cuts in the cultural sector museums have to appeal to grant givers. To do this they need to have a sound proposal, and that’s where our design work comes in.
Museum Boerhaave. In early 2012 we teamed up with Museum Boerhaave and Studio Louter to create a grant proposal to help fund the museum’s new renovation and exhibit plans. We created a sexy, if provisional, design for the interior of the new permanent exhibit on the lower floor. Now that the money is in, Museum Boerhaave will undergo a new round of tendering to see who will actually execute the project. We will certainly lobby for ourselves, and we rate our chances as good. Continue reading
|Title: Cartouches from the Atlas Maior|
|Author: Joan Blaeu (1596 – 1673)|
|Subject: illustrated frames and details|
Todd van Hulzen shares his scans and files from historic archives on the subjects of architecture and the arts
Joan Willemsz. Blaeu (1596 – 1673) was one of the most prolific mapmakers of his time. He was also an innovator in the field of the decorative motif. Dutch mapmakers were of the first to take the classical elements used in traditional cartouches from early-baroque Italy, and transform them into whimsical —sometimes even macabre and fleshy— romantic tableaux. Compare the work of Joan Blaeu with that of his father Willem from a generation earlier, and this becomes evident. I would like to know what the relationship was between mapmakers such as Blaeu, who could always afford to let the imagination run wild, and the great silversmiths Johannes Lutma and Adam/Paul van Vianen, who were creating
revolutionary new forms within a far more conservative medium. These two genres show remarkable resemblances. The question is, who influence who?.