Environment, Objects
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Studio Drift – Free floating concrete monolith & HoloLens Artwork

On display at the recent Armory Show in New York was the work of Amsterdam based Studio Drift featuring ‘Drifter’, a free floating concrete monolith together with ‘Concrete Storm’, a HoloLens experience comprised of mixed reality art object.

Studio Drift (Ralph Nauta and Lonneke Gordijn) create site-specific installations and interactive sculptures that deal with space, light and movement, by playing with existing and new relationships between nature and technology. Describing the ‘Drifter’ work as something that is simple but technologically challenging, the duo have chosen to keep the wraps on about the technological aspects of the install, which in return makes it even more intriguing to speculate on how the piece actually works. The concrete block, what appears to be a helium powered blimp, made from printed vinyl fabric appears to be floating in mid air, within a semi-controlled environment.

This concrete monolith represents a basic building unit, the primary element by which our built environment is constructed. On its own it is nothing, lost in space and time without reference to anything; it is always searching to be part of something bigger. Drifter wants to make us feel that without context we are lost. As we are, It’s constantly searching for unification. It wants to become stronger that the one, to give itself purpose. Moreover, Drifter shows us how unknown the world and its mechanisms still are to mankind and emphasizes the urge we feel to expend our horizon to evolve in time.

The artists describe the work as floating on a pre-difined path, which in some respect would be a requirement since one of the sides of the enclosure is completely open. One way of achieving this would be to only focus on keeping the object within the enclosure, releasing air in the opposite direction whenever the block gets close to the threshold.  We speculate that the system includes a (1) tracking system able to observe the position of the object using the black markers on the object and (2) corresponding air release vents pushing the object away from the threshold whenever it reaches it – located in the black dots on the object. On the other hand it is highly unlikely that the full path of the object is predefined, rather a set of instructions to continuously move the object around the space while staying a safe distance away from the threshold of the environment. The object is filled with enough helium to be able to lift equipment and hover, reaching its buoyancy point. See also Space Replay – Delayed echo of human activity by Francesco Tacchini.

At the same event the duo also installed ‘Concrete Storm’, a HoloLens experience created with Microsoft in collaboration with Artsy. On first impression, visitors experience solid forms, which draw on minimalist motifs and underscore the stable properties of concrete. While wearing the HoloLens, viewers enter a mixed reality, enlivened by “responsive holograms” that augment the physical environment of the installation.

With Concrete Storm we explore the layer between the parallel worlds, whereby the real and the virtual worlds co-exist. Our attention is now constantly devided between these two worlds that we coexist in. We believe that combining these two seemingly seperate worlds we can study the unlimited possibility’s of our unstoppable evolution. Concrete Storm expands our boundaries of the digital world, unbound from screens, and integrated into the fabric of our physical existence.

For more interesting work by Studio Drift, please see their website below. Likewise, we would love to hear in the comments how you think ‘Drifter’ works and what technology it may be relying on.

Studio Drift are presented by Pace Gallery.

Project Pages: Drifter & Concrete Storm  | Studio Drift