Research Labs 2019

Last saturday the Research Labs were back in the Eye Museum. Students from different academies were asked to create a program of their own work and films from the Eye collections. Our VjAcademy students were there and presented their work!

VJ-ing has always been about augmenting how we experience reality by adding virtual video layers. This year, VjAcademy students Eva and Bram further explored two of the the newer techniques to seamlessly merge real and virtual, using film. We ended with an exciting interactive masterclass for all participants of research lab in live editing/live montage.

Throwback to Janskerkhof 16 – Eva Verhoef

Virtual/augmented realities come into play when way may be missing something in everyday reality. For example: people and cultures long gone. Cinema has a long tradition bringing back historical panorama’s (Potemkin, Cleopatra, Ben Hur, the list is endless). In this project, Eva Verhoef projected the history of past inhabitants of Utrecht right onto the present day building. She used the technique of 3D projection mapping, where the spatial geometry of buildings and software calculations were used to transform video imagery in such a way to create powerful optical illusions.

So welcome to Holland’s Golden Age, where frugal Dutch entrepreneurs and nobles build houses like castles. To the envy of even the French, who attack the city of Utrecht. The drama culminated in the legendary storm of 1674. Eva started working on this project with fellow students and with aid of LiGHT-up collective and HKU, and had a 3D scale model and further explored this unique branch of outdoor cinema at Research Lab

Close Dancing – Bram de Bree

The second take on augmented reality came from Bram de Bree. Stage arts such as dance performances necessarily create a distance between audience and performers. They both need space, and therefore they can’t be too close, physically. Too bad, because much of the nuance of the dance is lost this way. Cinema solves this with closeups, and multiple camera angles. Yet now we lose the experience of being in the same space as the dancers. Bram combined the best of both worlds in this VR dance performance (building on his previous work for the AKI finals in Enschede). To help you distinguish between reel and unreel, the dancers are … not quite human.

Mapping on a mini Eye

Bram created a maquette of the Eye Museum specially for Research Labs. This maquette was created by making a 3D model and Bram printed this together with Cre8. Bram and the other students, Jeroen and Elcke, created visuals that would fit the exact sufaces of the maquette. You can see the result here:

Remixing Research

On behalf of VjAcademy and with the help of Mike, they shared techniques of live editing/sfx in an interactive masterclass, using clips from the festival’s footage. VJing is usually done in clubs, to music, so as an experiment we remixed the best of Research lab 2019 together to the best known music scores of film history.

More info:

Credits for our VjAcademy students, Anna Dabrowska and Anna Abrahams (Eye), Cre8 (3D model Eye) en het LiGHT-up collective.

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A young artist is given a screen. What happens next?

If cinema is a moving novel, then video art is a moving painting. Or is there more to it than that? What is the difference between artistic cinema and narrative video art? The EYE museum has been on a roll lately, and is showing an increasing amount of this intriguing art form-to-be next to its regular cinema content.

It’s quite a tricky subject. While video art has been around for a while, it’s still very much a young and developing discipline. And just like cinema has developed a method of storytelling that is completely different from a book, video art creates an authentic experience of its own. For their Close-up exhibition, EYE has chosen to feature the youngest artists in the business. What are the results? Is it appealing? Exciting? And is it any good?

Beautiful emptiness

At the literal center of Michael and Florian Quistrebert’s work is a grouping of three projection screens showing flickering flames in ever-changing colors. I like it, because it shows how to skillfully design and project abstract images. They don’t pretend there is any more to it than that; there’s a reason they named their work Void Fires. Is it simply a great example of decorative moving art. Perfect to display at the airport or in the office lobby!


Supernova gone wrong

Two other designers who understand how to create truly new experiences with video art are Joris Stijbos and Matthijs Munnik (U-AV). After entering a darkened room, visitors get brainwashed by bright and feverishly pulsating color fields. The sensation is quite unlike any other. If I had to compare it to something, I would say it’s like watching a supernova derail.

Artistic fiddling

I like this approach, because it differs from the traditional way to use film footage; the makers are well-versed in the new technologies this medium offers. They’re obviously familiar with video creation, and go beyond mere “artistic fiddling” with film footage found footage. The same thing can’t be said for many others. Unfortunately, there is plenty of “random stains on ruined celluloid”, holiday video footage using cheap color effects, boring footage of construction sites or dead pigs to be found. And of course, there’s the inevitable “artistic” nudity. It’s not exciting, and I think it doesn’t do the medium justice.

David Verbeek, Full Contact

Drone pilot with a guilty conscience

However, it is definitely possible to use engaging and meaningful video footage to create an autonomous work of art. See for example Full Contact by David Verbeek, which doubles as a motion picture. It features well-chosen and perfectly edited widescreen images of deadly drone attacks, displayed directly next to and in sync with a masterfully filmed, full contact fistfight where the drone pilot tries to shut up his guilty conscience by taking part in a fair fight.


Christobal León en Joaquin Cociñ. Los Andes


And then there is Los Andes, a gritty installation by Christobal León and Joaquin Cociñ. This horror-esque stop motion features an office building being taken over by ugly materials brought to life, like black paint and tape. The whole thing is narrated by a native speaker in an ominous voiceover. The experience is heightened by the presence of monstrous sculptures in the room, made from the same materials and reminiscent of Inca culture. These guys really get it.

In conclusion

The work on display in Close-up greatly varies in quality, which is probably a good representation of the different approaches of and skill levels in video art nowadays. It’s not always world-class, but that’s not possible or necessary yet. There are plenty of obvious talents to make it a promising discipline.
I really only have one thing to add. Close-up also features a Research Lab showing work by students from several Dutch academies, but a href=”” target=”_blank”>oneof them is missing… EYE: feel free to give us a call! 😉

  • Close-up is open to the public until May 22, 2016, at the Eye Museum in Amsterdam. Open daily from 10 am – 7 pm.
  • For more information, visit
  • Special thanks to We Are Public
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