The work of Studio Drift occupies a unique place at the interface between tech art, performance, and biodesign. As a museum that has always placed great importance on both art and design, and performance, the Stedelijk Museum is the perfect venue to display this transdisciplinary work. Gordijn and Nauta engage with contemporary topics such as sustainability, the meaning of natural processes for today’s environment, and issues raised by the use of augmented reality. Their work focuses attention on a society in flux, shaped by the impact of fast-paced innovations, without judging.
The changing relationships between man, nature and technology are the focus of Studio Drift’s work. Their first project, Fragile Future, now an iconic series of light sculptures of dandelion heads individually applied to LED lights, brought the duo international renown. Over the years, the work evolved into a system composed of modules, and can be combined in various configurations. Placing and gluing the dandelion seeds to the LEDs is an extremely labor-intensive process and can be seen as a form of ‘slow design’. This type of exacting craftsmanship stands in marked contrast with today’s mass production processes. Fragile Future offers a utopian glimpse into our future, in which the forces of two seemingly irreconcilable worlds unite in a bid to survive. Like almost all work by Studio Drift, Fragile Future can be adapted to create a unique composition for any space. Specially for the Stedelijk, the studio will produce the largest-ever installation of Fragile Future, formed around Fragile Future Chandelier 3.5.
Curator Ingeborg de Roode: “We’ve been following Studio Drift for many years. After purchasing Fragile Future Chandelier 3.5 in 2015, we were waiting for the right moment to show the piece at the museum, together with other work by Studio Drift. Now that they have developed a consistent oeuvre throughout more than a decade and gained international acclaim with pieces such as Concrete Storm and Drifter, this is the perfect moment to present the first survey of their work in the Netherlands.”
The oeuvre of Studio Drift investigates the fluctuating relationships between nature, technology, and man. Their work engages with themes such as the (illusion) of freedom, the individual versus the group, and the tension between the real and the virtual world. They manifest natural processes by translating the data through technology and ‘breathe life into’ objects by animating them. Many of their installations are interactive, making the viewer a participant in the work. The works’ tranquil beauty invites us to pause and experience the wonder of what is unfolding – to enjoy a few minutes of stillness in our hectic, fast-paced, digital world. To achieve this, Studio Drift uses state-of-the-art technology to stretch the boundaries of the possible. Their projects often involve close collaborations with universities and scientists.
CONSCIOUS USE OF MATERIALS
In several recent projects, the duo specifically addresses our use of raw materials. In Obsidian (2013), presented at the Stedelijk during the 2016 exhibition Dream Out Loud, they focus on a new material obtained by repurposing chemical waste. Materialism (2018) involves dismantling numerous objects (such as a water bottle, pencil, VW Beetle, plastic carrier bag, electric lightbulb, LED light) into the exact amounts of their constituent materials. By doing so, they reveal how much material goes into making each product, and how a new production method can reduce material use
REAL AND NEW REALITIES
Several recent works explore the paradoxical relationship between the real and the virtual world. In Concrete Storm1 (2017) special glasses give the viewer an augmented reality of moving holograms – an accompaniment to an installation of concrete elements that exists in the physical world. It creates a new kind of reality – a ‘mixed reality’.
The installation Drifter (2017) engages with a variety of themes: how does your perception of the world shift as you realize that what we take for granted now – a world composed of huge, immensely strong and stable structures – was once considered utopia? In the future, will a hovering concrete cuboid be as much a reality as today’s cities of concrete, as envisaged by Thomas More in 1516 in his book Utopia? Studio Drift first revealed a floating concrete monolith in the film Drifters (2016), (in collaboration with Sil van der Woerd), which receives its première in this exhibition. Drifters is a twelve-minute film shot in the Scottish Highlands about an entity in search of its origin and purpose. But the film delves deeper, to ask: can the individual ever escape the group? Drifter (2017) and Concrete Storm (2017) make their European debut at the Stedelijk.
ABOUT STUDIO DRIFT
Studio Drift was founded in 2007 by Lonneke Gordijn (Alkmaar, 1980) and Ralph Nauta (Swindon, United Kingdom, 1978). The designers met while students at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, where they graduated in 2005. Their passion for nature, science fiction and technology blends in their site-specific installations and interactive sculptures. To translate their concepts into a final result they often work closely with researchers, programmers, engineers and other experts, always encouraging their partners to push the boundaries of technology. The result is an aesthetic, harmonious synthesis of the natural and the technical, a poetic intimation of the earth’s seemingly infinite resources and the endless possibilities the future may hold.
Studio Drift is represented by Pace Gallery (a.o. London and New York), taking part in the gallery’s Future\Pace program, and is represented by Carpenters Workshop Gallery with whom Studio Drift is collaborating since 2009. Installations by Studio Drift are exhibited throughout the world and are represented in many international collections. The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam is one of the places in the Netherlands to have a permanent installation on display.
The exhibition was realized by Ingeborg de Roode, curator of industrial design at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, in close collaboration with Studio Drift (Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta).
Studio Drift: Coded Nature is generously supported in part by the International Collector Circle and the Curator Circle of the Stedelijk Museum Fund.