Into the Shadow

Into the Shadow

Architect
NIO architecten
Location
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Project Year
2013
Category
Tunnels

Sculptures
NIO architecten

Into the Shadow

NIO architecten as Architects

How do you transform a civil engineering artwork into a fine art work? How can an anonymous tunnel be turned into a space full of meaning? By transporting the visitors, mentally at least, to a different place. The tunnel on the Tugelaweg - a long, rectangular tube with no columns - is ideal for this kind of temporary experience that completely immerses you. Like huge screens, you can view the two, forty-metre-long walls as windows: as man-sized windows that will give you a glimpse of another world that you can become part of. And it is here that we will be telling stories from the animal world.


From top to bottom and front to back, both of these tunnel walls are to be fully equipped with LED strips comprising 12,000 dazzling, white lights. In front of these lights, we will place a screen of (vandal-proof) frosted, tempered glass with a natural, reed-like pattern on the visible side. In principle, all the LEDs will be fully illuminated for 24 hours a day. But within this profusion of light, a series of contours will be seen shifting across areas where the LEDs have been turned off. These will look like the contours of animals that are moving right behind the ripples in the glass. Here, a story is being told with light, or rather with the absence of light: through shadows.


The animal world that will be seen here comes from the Transvaal in South Africa. It comprises “the big five”: the elephant, the rhino, the lion, the buffalo and the leopard. And just as on safari, we - the people - are mere visitors. If you’re lucky, you may see a grazing buffalo, a leopard that has just woken up or an elephant lifting its head. If you’re unlucky, you will see nothing at all: just light. What we experience here is the slowness and capriciousness of the daily lives of animals. This will not be some spectacular, television format animal documentary but a life-size copy of animal life that can continue to intrigue over a prolonged period of time. It will be a layered image that is sometimes evocative of the shadow plays of Indonesian wayang puppets, yet also reminds us of the primitiveness of prehistoric cave paintings or a lucid dream, a dream without colour. This will be a place where we can all read our own animal stories.

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