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When you walk into the Gorlaeus Building, you will notice it immediately; the artwork 'The Cloud' hangs prominently in the hall and cannot be missed. Artist Jos Agasi designed it especially for this location. ‘Intuition, imagination and creativity. Scientists and artists have more in common than they think.’

The work by Leiden artist Jos Agasi was chosen from various submissions and is truly the eye-catcher in the central hall. The artwork consists of 529 panels that catch the light and disperse it in a coloured manner.

Science and art

Creating a work of art for a university building was a new endeavor for Agasi. He drew inspiration from the research environment in conceptualising the piece. ‘Scientists and artists have more in common than we think. Although the methods of work and conceptualisation of new knowledge and strategies vary, both artists and scientists use their intuition, imagination and creativity. I kept this in mind during the design process.’

With this art installation, Agasi wanted to contemplate how we can represent the vast amount of data and knowledge we find, collect and produce in science. To visualise the concept of data, he chose a form that can be seen as a point cloud, a series of data points in space. He designed the cloud to be abstract so that anyone can identify with it in any conceivable way. After all, looking at scientific data and making sense of it can indeed be an intuitive and personal process.

Light takes the centre stage

As a light artist who usually works with projected light, Agasi wanted to create an artwork in this well-lit atrium that uses the available light. He chose to use translucent material that appears to capture the light. The colours he uses refer to natural and human-made light phenomena: the warm colour of an evening sun shining into the atrium, the colour of moonlight and the radiantly glowing colour of man-made light.

The artwork changes depending on the weather and light conditions and where the viewer is in the building. The sculpture consists of hundreds of little panels, each placed in three dimensions in space. From a distance, you can see the entire cloud. The cloud seems to move because the space is reflected in it. As you get closer, you see the individual points.

Standing underneath and looking up, you see your own reflection, and that of the people and objects around you. It encourages reflection: on the building, the people within it, and ourselves. When we examine the details of the biggest and smallest, are we not usually seeking more knowledge about ourselves? The reflective elements not only show us many pieces of the puzzle we call life, but also of ourselves.


Ever since his childhood, Jos Agasi has had his own ‘sequence of numbers’ based on the number 23. In his playful reasoning, he added 32, because 3+2 is also 5. And then there are the numbers 14, 41, 50 and 5 itself. The numbers serve as anchor points for choices he makes, both in his life and in his work. Usually, the numbers are inconspicuously incorporated and not visible. For The Cloud, Agasi deliberately played with the numbers to choose good proportions and make other aesthetic choices. For instance, the ratio of the grid to which all panels are attached is 41 x 23. The distances within the grid are 23 centimetres, the hanging elements measure 14 x 14 centimetres. And the number of panels is 232, 529 in total.

The creators

The Cloud was designed by Jos Agasi. The faculty's Fine Mechanics Department was involved in prototyping the special pen incorporated into the panels. Parts of the artwork have been co-drawn, made and assembled with the cooperation of Glenn Hoogenboom (3D and fine mechanics), Eline Oppewal (3D visualisation), Erwin Zirkzee and colleagues (aluminium welding), Ember van der Lee, Lars Floris and Anika van de Wijngaard (assembly wires + panels and preparing panels on location), Chloé Blansjaar and Charlie Jansen (idem and also assembly frame), Willem Verheij (preparation and assembly frame). For hoisting and fixing the frame, riggers Floris de Heer and Menno helped out, Niek Kosters hoisted along and hung the elements on the frame. Frances Rompas is making a documentary about the artist and the work.

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