Forget collective soul, Daan Roosegaarde's working on "collective skin"


With his interactive landscapes, Daan Roosegaarde tests spacial connections between people, architecture and technology to enhance our understanding human behavior and our environment.

While in Louisville, check out his "Dune 4.0" installation on Main St.; it's the first time its been shown in the United States.

Pointing out that geography might forge identity between people, for example, who lived on either side of the Berlin Wall, he has become fascinated at landscapes generated by technology. Developing material art from immaterial ideas is daunting, but the subject of Studio Roosegaarde.

Relatively low tech, save perhaps for the software, "Dune" plumbs "the function of nature in an urban context," between "what you do and how the environment behaves." The glowing, swaying lit rods of Dune, which follow and react your presence, engender many responses. In places like Slovenia, where people had been used to the walls literally spying, an older generation were a bit unnerved by Dune. Actors in Hollywood seeing the work in a keynote presentation were, by contrast, energized by the seeming attention, saying "more, more, show me more!"

He shows Dune also reacting to the presence of newly married couples. Perhaps like older couples, the software behind the art will begin to tune out repeated refrains and cease to respond at all. There's a lesson in that.

You should have seen it.

He's observed that people often "need something between them" to begin a conversation.

Another example of the idea is a dance floor that generates electricity from the group as a whole. The collective actions create feedback loops, which generate lights and electricity.

"Liquid Space" is a sculpture that surround and looms over you on three legs, perhaps like a good monster, and chirps and moves and reacts to your presence. And set in a forest, the piece has a particularly effective purchase: drawing very authentic emotion from people who encounter it. In that setting, he suggested that it functioned like "digital mistletoe," attracting in particular, couples, which appears - to some decided ambivalence on his part - to be one of the repeated and unintended consequences of his art.

His latest project will be composed of a material that he slyly adds will become more transparent the more intimate people become with each other. It's "Facebook squared." Nice.

UPDATE: a video of Daan has been posted to the blog. It's highly recommended.