Habitat was presented in Nxt Museum’s first exhibition. Shifting Proximities explored human experience and interaction in the face of social and technological change. The exhibition comprised of seven audiovisual artworks, fusing creative ideas with groundbreaking academic research and technological innovation, illustrated the space between ourselves and others.
Habitat is a data-driven installation by Heleen Blanken with software developer NAIVI and sound artist Stijn van Beek that was presented for the first time at Nxt Museum. The work translates 3D scans of organic artefacts from Leiden’s Naturalis Biodiversity Center into a game-like, meditative environment. These ever-mutating ‘digital worlds’, each accompanied by their own bespoke composition, are responsive to the movement of visitors and appeared reflected and distorted in a body of water on the museum floor. The artwork asks what place nature will have in our future with the destruction of natural habitats and the rise of virtual dwellings from the internet to the metaverse. It took visitors to a perpetual journey through a torrent of digitalised nature, as they drift through dreamlike worlds of augmented reality.
Heleen Blanken is a visual artist and lives and works in Amsterdam. She levitates across the fields of cinematography, installation art, new media, scenography and sculpture and holds a degree in Fine Arts from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. Deeply influenced by the complex exchange between humanity and the natural environment, her artistic practice explores the different layers of our aesthetic perception of the natural world while defining traditional artistic dichotomies like the organic vs. artificial and analog vs. digital. In her work, she raises questions on how we contemplate ideas of nature.
“Researching the space between humanity, the natural environment and future possible interactions between these entities is what interests me — uncertainty is a dominating and always exhilarating element.” Heleen Blanken
Heleen Blankens’s work has been shown internationally in curated shows at institutes such as Nxt Museum, Stedelijk Museum, Gropius Bau Berlin, La Gaîté Lyrique, Gallery Ron Mandos, Musée d’art contemporain and Ars Electronica. She has collaborated with institutes such as Naturalis, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin and the Institute for Geosciences.
Interested in hearing the artist’s story about the artwork? Listen to our Podcast episode to dive into the background story of Habitat: