Located in an old tv studio space on the north side of the city you can find Amsterdam‘s newest addition to digital art, the NXT MUSEUM. This museum is dedicated to new media art and emergent techniques and it will redefine how we experience art.
The building has the perfect construct for a museum that focusses on audiovisual media works where sound and light are often the main ingredients. The massive force of power, the extremely high ceilings, and thick walls have the ideal conditions for this new concept and I couldn’t wait to see more of its first exhibition Shifting Proximities.
The exhibition gives room to be physically, emotionally, and intellectually in contact with the world around us. Through the interactive aspect of most of the rooms, the visitor’s experience is unique every time they visit the museum. Shifting Proximities is curated by Bogomir Doringer and Jesse Damiani and merges creative ideas with cutting-edge academic research and technological innovation. The exhibition consists of work by ecological artist Thijs Biersteker and botanist Stefano Mancuso, science fiction artist and body architect Lucy McRae and Dr. Niels Wouters, artist Heleen Blanken, software developer NAIVI and sound artist Stijn van Beek, audiovisual artist Roelof Knol with sound by Marc Mahfoud, audiovisual pioneers Marshmallow Laser Feast, and United Visual Artists (UVA) art collective.
Photo courtesy of Lisette Appeldoorn
I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the founders Merel van Helsdingen and Natasha Greenhalgh made the time to take me on a private tour before the official opening of the museum. They emphasized the importance of the research behind each work which became even more intriguing after meeting some of the artists that were still present, perfecting their work for the big opening.
One of the artists I had the pleasure of talking to was Heleen Blanken, who is a well known visual artist in the music and art scene. She explained how she combined photos of nature with animation and bringing the two worlds together in her work. Together with NAIVI, Heleen developed her own software to manipulate the parameters of the sensory elements in the room for an interactive experience. The visitors can play with these sensors whereafter this input will be directly translated into changes within the artwork, which causes you to get sucked into Heleen’s mesmerizing world called Habitat.
The other artist that was present and more than happy to tell more about his work was the ecologist artist Thijs Biersteker. His work is mostly quite unconventional by working with a botanist or other scientist studying plant-neurobiology. As a result, he shows the viewer a world that is unseen, the communication of plants. The work brings light to how trees work, warn, and learn from each but also share nutrients. In his work Econtinuum, the visitor can witness how the roots from the tree are responding to their presence and can learn from their patterns. By forming a futuristic ecosystem that shares knowledge and has one central massage; Together we stand stronger!
The NXT museum is a true added value to Amsterdam due to its unique concept focussing on digital art and the relevance of multidisciplinary collaborations between national and international artists, designers, technologists, and musicians. Aside from the exhibition, the museum offers two areas called NXT Lab and NXT stage that are giving space to new work with faster regularity to be able to respond to pressing socio-political issues. This specific aspect of the museum shows the importance of looking at the new generation and shaping the future together.