The Lotus Dome has traveled the globe since its 2012 conception. Imagine a sculpture that “awakens” in response to a visitor’s body heat. Dutch artist and designer, Daan Roosegaarde of Studio Roosegaarde, describes it as “Techno-poetry” – altering space and people as the physical walls become inconsequential. The interactive dome acts like a facilitator, not only connecting architectural and natural elements but also as an intermediary of “the past and the future.”
The Lotus Dome is a curved wall structure consisting of lamps, sensors, software and smart, ultralight foil. In an organic manner, these numerous layers of Mylar react with heat and light which make the leaves fold and unfold themselves. According to Studio Roosegaarde, “it merges elements of architecture and nature into an interactive environment.”
Roosegaarde came onto the art scene in 2006 with his first installation, Dune, an interactive landscape of light that brightened according to sounds and movement of passing visitors. This installation was a fusion of technology and nature consisting of “large amounts of fibers,” sensors, speakers, LEDs, electronics and interactive software. It was an exploration of “nature in a futuristic relation with urban space.” Dune was displayed around the globe from Philadelphia to Shanghai. It included locations such as the Maastunnel, a public pedestrian walk located alongside the Maas River in Rotterdam and Museum Reina Sofia in Madrid.
His latest installation, The Lotus Dome, is being shown at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Set against an 18th century backdrop, the Lotus Dome is located in the museum’s Beuning Room. On this construction, hundreds of aluminum flowers unfold, a deep bass sound fills the room, and light casts the lotus flowers onto the museum room’s mahogany walls.
Previously, this motion-and-body sensitive dome was installed within the empty 16th century Sainte Marie Madeleine Church in Lille, France. The installation’s environment had been described as a “Techno-church.” The dome’s flower lit up with just soft breathing. As the church bore a more dynamic ambiance with visitors moving around, it became more interactive. Roosegaarde’s intention was to give the architecture a “more alive and contemporary” atmosphere.
The Lotus Dome has also illuminated the rustic interior of Zedekiah’s cave found within the old city of Jerusalem. Within the network of the cave’s interior, its textured and cavernous void was illuminated with configurations of shadow and slivers of light accompanied by a Phillip Glass’s passage, The Light.
Juxtaposed with museum items that do not allow touch, visitors find themselves in a unique situation when facing works like the Lotus Dome. “The relationship with the museum visitor is an intrinsic part of the work,” notes Roosegaarde.
The designer hopes to fire the imagination by creating interactive pieces of art that show a new, futuristic dream world. Along with a team of technical experts and designers, Roosegaarde works in two studios, one in the Netherlands and the other in China. His work has been shown around the world including Tokyo, London, Hong Kong, Jerusalem and France. For the first time on exhibit in the Netherlands, The Lotus Dome unfolds its flowers in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum until May 5th, 2014.
by Dawn Levesque