Dutch Artist Redefines Interactive, LED-Based Art in “Dune”

I’ll finish off this week with another inventive installation by Daan Roosegaarde, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite contemporary artists. If you missed them, check out Roosegaarde’s wireless LED crystals and sustainable dance floor, which I reviewed earlier this week.

Complete with 4 different iterations, Dune is one of Roosegaarde’s most popular and most complex installations. Long, flexible reed-like structures with waterproof LED lights embedded in their tips are clustered together and installed in urban and natural environments. They look much like natural reeds you might find along a path or riverbed outdoors. Thanks to sensors and interactive technology, the fibers illuminate and create audio emissions based on the sounds and actions of passersby. Much like you might run your hand along tall grass as you walk, participants can touch the reeds, which respond by chirping, clicking, singing, and lighting up. As they brush against one another, a domino effect causes neighboring fibers to ignite. The ambient effect that’s created ranges from playful to creepy—Roosegaarde calls it a “hybrid of nature and technology…that investigates nature in a futuristic relation with urban space.”

Roosegaarde has been perfecting different versions of Dune since 2006. It first appeared as Dune 4.0 at the Rotterdam City of Architecture in 2006. Dune 4.1 was installed in the public pedestrian Maastunnel in Rooterdam in 2007. The first permanent version of the artwork, Dune 4.2, was installed along the Maas River in 2010, creating a 60-meter interactive landscape of light and sound. To me the most impressive version is Dune X. Commissioned for the 18th Art Biennale of Sydney, AU in 2012, it’s a 400-meter field of LED light-filled reeds, the biggest version to date. Roosegaarde describes it as “real life Alice in Technoland.”

Dune is really best experienced in action—check out video of Dune X here, and other versions of Dune here. I certainly hope to see this masterpiece in person someday! Just another reason to visit Amsterdam…or Australia, for that matter!

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