Anchored in front of ARCAM Amsterdam Centre for Architecture and the Scheepvaartmuseum, the 17th century ghost ship rests motionless on the surface of the water. When the wind picks up, the ship comes to life; its sails fill and the vessel sways back and forth. Across the water is the colorful replica of the famous Dutch East India Company ship that started its maiden voyage to Batavia in 1749, but that was wrecked in a storm on the English Channel and fell prey to looters. (For the full story, see the Dutch children’s comic book, Angst op de ‘Amsterdam’, from the Spike and Suzy series.)
Amsterdam and the maritime history of the Netherlands is a golden combination according to the creative brains behind Ghost Ship. VisualSkin, a young, four-man-strong architecture collective from Romania, specializes in the creation of additional dimensions in existing locations by using spectacular lighting designs and projections. Their ghost ship is not only a nocturnal mirage but also a retro-futuristic hologram. Instead of employing the slanted, transparent mirrors and last generation video projectors used to digitally resurrect Tupac Shakur and Michael Jackson on stage during their posthumous shows, the duo turns to water curtains and old-fashioned stage lights.
VisualSkin has created the illusion of a 3D object with two intersecting planar projections, much like the method used to create trees in old video games. The almost creepy apparition is beamed onto vertical, perpendicular planes of water. The wind plays an important role in achieving the desired ghostly and dreamy effect – when it picks up and blows against the streams of water, the image shakes and it’s almost like we are looking at a magnetic field.