AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands — The story behind Brian Eno’s Music for Airports is that the ambient musician wanted to make the experience of being in an airport more civilized. His album is essentially the inverse of the emotions we typically associate with flying. It’s difficult to fly more than a couple times a year without starting to boil over with rage at all of the routine indignities one has to endure just to get from one side of the country to another. From delays, to lobotomized TSA agents, to being stuck nose-to-armpit with the person in front of you as you wait for an X-ray to take pictures of your nethers, the whole experience screams for something that is peaceful instead of crass and demeaning. The tragedy is that our system is trying to smother something that once filled me with joy and awe when I was four or five years old.
Daan Roosegaarde of Studio Roosegaarde hit the nail on the head with Beyond, a public art project at Amsterdam Airport Shiphol. Using a high-tech screen that is 112-meters long, Roosegarde set high-rez, fluffy clouds into the walls of the airport. To me, it serves as a reminder that flying, for all of the asinine baggage we’ve loaded it with, is a magical experience at its core and I’m lucky to have the chance to do it.
Although only 10 centimeters thick, BEYOND gives the impression of providing meters of space. Together with a team of experts, Roosegaarde worked on an unique printing technology using lenses that produce perspective and movement effects when the work is observed from different angles, creating a visual “augmented reality” space. Its 3D effect is enhanced by yellowish-white led lamps embedded in the wall, creating a space that is both physical and poetical. The more than 100 meters long artwork is the largest of its kind worldwide.
Daan Roosegaarde: “In the midst of Schiphol Airport’s bustle, BEYOND creates a place of wonder and identity: our Dutch light and sky. Looking at the clouds, people start dreaming again and find their own stories in them.”
BEYOND is not a straightforward aerial image but consists of various cloud dimensions. In the middle of the wall, for example, you can see the golden clouds that are characteristic of the famous Dutch Golden Age painting. When walking up, you move through the more international clouds which you see when looking out of an airplane window.
This brings me around to a frequent refrain at C-File: Why do all the other countries get the fun stuff? With the exception of the supremely creepy murals at the Denver airport, I can’t think of another airport stateside that has art that made an impression on me. Could it be that projects such as Roosegaarde’s require too much real estate? Is the airport loathe to set aside space that could be better spent cramming in another TGI Friday’s with twelve dollar domestic beers?
We’re a clay web site at heart but we post these “Not Clay But…” articles because it’s important for artists to stay light on their feet. Murals are a domain of clay and tile, but maybe there are some lessons here artists could take away.
Bill Rodgers is the Managing Editor of cfile.daily.
Do you love or loathe this work of (not) contemporary ceramic art? Let us know in the comments.