If you’re going to get lost somewhere, let it be here. This is the Henri Polaklaan, a wonderful street in Amsterdam that (ok, in the summertime at least) is greener than you would expect from a place that’s so centrally located. Trees and shrubs, their ‘feet’ firmly anchored in the ground and their ‘arms’ dancing in the wind, look like they’re from a Tim Burton film set or enchanted by Jim Henson’s magic. This moving land- scape, however, is the work of Julian Buul and Vincent Vriens, the Dutch artist duo that is referred to as the Beeldjutters (or ‘Image Roamers’).
Landschapslumen is the name of this work and it’s not the first time that the duo has created a moving artwork. These projections – combinations of film shots of dancing people and of nature, swaying and rustling in the wind – can be considered their trademark. For example, at Oerol, an annual festival for site-specific theater and landscape arts on the island of Terschelling, they brought the coastal dunes to life. During Into The Great Wide Open on Vlieland they created video projections in the forest and on Ibiza, the duo animated palm trees lining the edge of a pool. The soundscapes that accompany the projections are equally impor- tant as the moving images; often made by composer Joost van Dijk, they mix studio-created sounds and sounds from nature.
Landschapslumen is a cross between location-theater and installation in the public space. Both are intended to provide a completely different context and remove traces of reality. Down to the smallest details, all parts of the installation have been created to achieve this effect. Even the beamers in their weatherproof casing blend into the environment; Vriens and Van Buul have experimented once again with a variety of materials, building boxes using scraps of wood to protect the beamers. In this way the technology isn’t distracting and visitors find themselves enchanted by the sensuous and surreal experience that is the result of walking down this street.
Add to this a whole new experience, that of the strange creatures of nature moving in the night. It reminds us of Indonesian paper shadow puppets that appear as dark silhouettes against white, backlit canvases. One minute they’re terrifyingly large, the next they’re small, but they’re always convincing. You don’t need much to create the perfect illusion.
The beauty of it is that no matter how simple it is, once you’ve seen it, it will stay with you. Amsterdam’s Henri Polaklaan will never be the same after Landschapslumen. The trees will forever dance in the heads of the visitors, even when they’re long gone.