Koelhuis Eindhoven breaks the ice with Memor by Lumus Instruments and Dammes Kieft.
Koelhuis Eindhoven is set to become the permanent home for new media art and immersive technologies, the beating heart of a new cultural district which will soon develop around it. While the building is ready to turn from a former freezing warehouse into a hybrid, multifunctional venue combining art production, co-creation, and presentation, its new identity is already starting to show.
As a sample of its commitment to providing a creative platform for artists and technologists, Koelhuis Eindhoven just launched the film Memor, a collaboration between Lumus Instruments and Dammes Kieft, featuring a bespoke audiovisual art installation that lightened up the concrete halls of the warehouse.
With Memor, the first new media art project commissioned by the Koelhuis Eindhoven Culture Foundation, Koelhuis makes its debut as a curator, with a statement project that puts local talent in the spotlight and technology at the center of a promising vision for the future.
The installation featured in the film directed by Dutch filmmaker Dammes Kieft was created by Lumus Instruments, the multidisciplinary studio powered by the combined talents of Timo Lejeune, Julius Oosting, and Timothy Hendriks. Their visionary art combines light, sound, engineering, and creative coding to create multisensory landscapes that engage and inspire their audience, challenging their perception of space and time. Lumus Instruments’ projects are highly collaborative and sometimes feature fellow artists and filmmakers. Their works appeared in digital art exhibitions, concerts, and festivals, as well as brand activation and placemaking campaigns.
The title of the short film is the Latin adjective mĕmŏr, meaning ‘mindful’, or ‘unforgetting’, representing the artists’ intention to invite the viewer to reflect upon the need to preserve the meaning of memory in a high-paced society. Memor symbolizes the journey of the mind from scattered glimpses of memories from the past to a luminous vision. Lumus Instruments and Kieft believe in a future where - rather than pushing upon us a hectic, meaningless lifestyle - technology has a positive synergic impact on the human experience. For Koelhuis Eindhoven, Memor is also a visual metaphor for the transformative experiences that the venue will offer its future visitors through immersion in space, light, and sound. At the same time, Memor also represents the approach that Koelhuis Eindhoven will apply to the renovation of the building: mindful of the industrial past and projecting into a luminous future as the new hub for curiosity and contemporary culture.
Memor plays with the rhythmic space and futuristic retro atmosphere of the building. The work represents everything Koelhuis Eindhoven stands for - cross-seeding of different art forms, media, and technology, collaboration, accessible culture, and a glocal approach aimed at enriching the local cultural landscape while connecting it to the global movement of new media art and immersive technologies.
We looked behind the scenes of the installation, where we met Timothy Hendriks.
How did Koelhuis inspire Memor?
The new function of the building is to create new lasting memories for its visitors. That’s also what we as Lumus Instruments are trying to achieve with our installations: to make people think about what they see. Our work conveys a message while keeping room for the imagination, allowing the viewer to develop their own interpretation.This place is a sequence of columns, it reflects the way we work and create our installations: bars that repeat themselves. Besides, we get inspired by movies. Upstairs it looks like a scene from Blade Runner, Dune, or any dystopian sci-fi movie. That also plays a role in how we get inspired. It’s not just that we want to make nice light effects. We try to come up with a projection of the future and send the message that the future can be exciting, and technology can be used to create a better future.
We love to see someone like you, a collective mostly trained in Eindhoven, finding room for your art at Koelhuis Eindhoven. Can you tell us more about Lumus Instruments and how you found each other?
Timo and Julius studied in Eindhoven. Julius studied Architecture and Timo Engineering and Industrial Design both at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), and I studied in Amsterdam Product Design and Engineering at HVA. We all have a technical background, we all took apart scooters and stuff, back when we were young. We all have a passion for the technical side of what we do but also for science fiction. That’s why we get along so well. It’s a bit of a weird combination because most people who work in the stage/light design industry come from the industry itself, whereas we did different studies.
You also developed a unique way of working, custom-making virtually every part of your installations, isn’t it?
It’s multiple disciplines coming together. If you want to have full control, you need to do the programming, the electronics, the divers, the software side, and the mechanical engineer side, you have to research the best LEDs. We make the lights ourselves to have more control over the result and to be more unique. It’s something we didn’t see a lot of people doing. It took us years to get to this point and lots of trial and error.
The way you use music is also quite unique. It’s not just a soundtrack juxtaposed with the visuals, but rather an integral part of the installation that develops organically with story, space, and visuals. Can you tell us more about how you work with sound?
In Memor, the audio triggers the light, something that as a studio we try to do more and more. It’s not only about making an installation with nice light effects and only afterwards coming up with audio that suits the installation. Instead, we try to make it one instrument. The parts cannot be played separately, the lights cannot go without the music. Every light dot is a note and when they all come together, they become a chord. The audio is also the timeline of the installation – we create it with the AbletonLive software. When played, it sends signals through TouchDesigner and another program that controls the LEDs.
Speaking of the LEDs you use for your installations, you are quite particular about them. I hear you selected them very accurately and decided to source them from a local supplier. One could brand Memor as almost entirely ‘made in Brabant’, a great example of the tech and innovation prominence of this Dutch region.
Indeed, the LEDs we use are one of the most expensive, high-quality LED strips you can find (also from a supplier from Eindhoven). The controllers are also completely custom-made, through a collaboration with Eindhoven-based company Bureau Moelijke Dingen.
The supports you use for your LEDs are also special. For Memor, you custom-made them.
We noticed an opportunity: no one else was making LED bars really thin, sleek, and double-sided like the ones we created for Memor. They are double-sided and you can control each side separately, which opens a whole realm of possibilities. For example, you can illuminate just one side of the room and make the opposite side dark. At Lumus Instruments, we strive to have full control of all aspects of our installations. For this installation, we designed and produced custom-made aluminium profiles to support the electronics, and 3D-printed connection parts (all the parts are made in Helmond, North Brabant). Besides that, having full control of the installation is also a matter of programming. Programming LED strips is a whole different thing: when programming an LED strip you need to program each tiny spot. To have full control over the installation, you need a special computer with a lot of processing power.
Tell us more about Memor.
This installation – and the story it tells - is made of two parts. We have the part that takes place upstairs and the part in the main hall downstairs. Upstairs there we filmed one long shot, with the actor moving and some mood switches that you can hear in the music. We had discussions about what kind of sound could work so I made the sound first and the light effect afterwards. The audio is created on a computer so you can visualize what the effect is, and that’s in fact how audio and video are created alongside each other.
What were the learnings from working on this project?
One is that, for the Memor production for Koelhuis, we made a film from the installation. It’s a new approach for us and it will be nice to see where this collaboration leads. Damnes also likes to get to the edge of what is possible. He also really liked the venue. You don’t often get the chance to do artistic productions like this.
This project also allowed us to develop our custom-made self-supporting riggings, something we started considering during the lockdown when a lot of projects got cancelled.
In our installations, we are bound to the form of the fixtures. Usually, when we use LED lights, we suspend them to riggings. Here at Koelhuis, there is no rigging yet, so we had to be creative. We had to design and build self-supporting but not obtrusive riggings, something that allowed us to put three LED lights on top of each other.
We were already thinking of creating something like this – an installation with lines and self-standing support - because we want to do more audiovisual shows – particularly for our production Contrarium. At the moment, that installation is suspended, but eventually, we want to make it a ground installation, which will make it easier to set up. Eventually, we want to incorporate the audio in the rigging so to create a 3D spatial audio experience. The sound will come from the same source as the lights. This will also keep the budget contained so we can do more shows at more venues where without being limited to suspended rigging.
“Koelhuis Eindhoven is ready to be the permanent home for new media art and immersive technologies in the Eindhoven, the design and tech capital of the Netherlands. Koelhuis Eindhoven already is a platform for artists like Lumus Instruments and Dammes Kieft to collaborate, produce, and present their work. Soon, the venue will be the largest and most advanced infrastructure for immersive experiences and new media art installations in the Netherlands, and we are proud to inaugurate the new course with such a symbolic artwork as Memor”
Arnold van de Water
General Director of Koelhuis Eindhoven
Photo credits: Nick Bookelaar