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Students exhibit at interface between art and technology

Abstract sounds that draw visitors upstairs, an 'escape womb' and a Christmas game that gets you thinking about the limits of creating our own happiness. Master's students of Media Technology created a special exhibition on the theme of 'self', in the Old School art centre in the Pieterskerkhof in Leiden.

Ayla Koster in the 'escape womb'

Escape Womb: Autogenesis

The small escape room, with its flowered wallpaper, a comfortable armchair and family portraits hanging on the wall, looks very snug. But it's anything but that. Visitors who sit down there suddenly receive a telephone call. The discussion that follows takes an unexpected turn, against the background of pulsating womb sounds. Ayla Koster conceived and created this 'escape womb' together with two fellow students. In the womb you are part of your mother, and in this escape room you are also part of the sound. Mothers and their children are part of one long chain.' 

Sophie van Gennip in the stairwell

Volition: Autopia

Visitors are almost automatically drawn up the stairs thanks to the sound effects of Autopia, the audiovisual installation devised by Sophie van Gennip and Jae Perris. Abstract sounds can be heard in the stairwell that follow the footsteps of the person climbing the stairs. A screen at the top of the stairs shows a fragment of a mirrored escalator that keeps on moving. Van Gennip explains: ‘The idea is that you are going on a journey here. It starts at the foot of the stairs, a metaphorical representation of a lack of awareness, and during the journey you undergo a process of transition.’ The circular movement of the escalator gets you thinking: how free are we really when we are moving?

How consciously did Van Gennip choose this particular programme? ‘The combination of art and science really appeals to me. You can make a scientific study of art, but you only get true insights if you have to visualise the concepts, which was the assignment for this exhibition.' 

Jason Wu, Esmée Stouten and Pieke Heijmans with their game

Black Christmas: autoregulation

‘It’s Christmas time…,’ resounds in a small room that has been christened ‘Black Christmas’. The whole room is a celebration of light, with a Christrmas tree, decorations and Christmas carols. A digital map of Leiden is projected on a large screen and you can use a joystick to wander through the city and light up the streets with your movements. But take care: if there's too much light, something will snap and the street will become black. Esmée Stouten explains: ‘At this time of year there's too much light in the city. The question is: when is it enough, does everything always have to be more?' 

Final preparations before the exhibition opens

Art and technology

Gideon Roggeveen, the initiator of the Old School art centre, is very enthusiastic about the exhibition. 'The students have come up with some very innovative ideas at the exciting interface between art and technology. And I think it's great that they are using almost the whole building, including even the hall cupboards and the stairwell.'  


Photos: Sean van der Steen
Text: Linda van Putten

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In the Media Technology programme students are encouraged to develop a relativistic approach to art. For one semester they learn theory and they think up a concept for an art installation. In the final stage of the programme they have their biggest challenge: they have to put their ideas into practice in an exhibition.  

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