Right of Way | Henk Schut

Stichting NDSM-werf directs, initiates, curates, connects and stimulates activities at the NDSM-werf in such a way that the city, its residents and visitors embrace this place, now and in the future, as a space where the unexpected can happen. Stichting NDSM-werf aims to place the wharf at the heart of Amsterdam. Right of Way is a part of their art program.

Right of Way is a sound installation by Henk Schut in which the visitor puts the fast pace of day-to-day life in the city on hold for a while and experiences in a playful manner the emptiness, the architecture and the acoustics of the monumental NDSM wharf. At present, the industrial building and its surroundings are going through significant urban developments. Amid this transformation process, Schut looks for a new balance. He aims at showing the NDSM wharf, where he single-handedly built a studio twenty years ago, in all its acoustic glory. By filling the attic space with sound, he releases the building’s power of expression and makes the potential of the big artistic breeding ground (‘broedplaats’) visible. Right of Way is a noticeably present installation amid the urban developments in and around the wharf. The title was inspired by the walks taken by a number of English poets at the beginning of the 19th century. Like they kept the footpaths that threatened to become part of private land public by simply walking on them, Schut actually makes use of the NDSM building as an art space to ensure that it stays an art space.
By means of a computer algorithm which he designed in collaboration with Robin Koek and using a number of simple sounds from his extensive archive, Henk Schut creates a spatial game with 64 speakers which are set up in the attic space of the building. While the computer plays with the possibilities it is offered through the algorithm, the visitor plays along, swinging, walking, sitting or lying down among the speakers. The abstract sound continuously generates new, nonpredetermined images. The algorithm determines which sound and silence movements occur, in which order they occur and how long the fragments last. The sounds, which are offered on the basis of coincidence, form the building material for the visitor’s imagination. In this way, computer and human being cocreate a soundscape in which there is no repetition and everything is permanently in motion.
In his work, Henk Schut always transforms concepts from one discipline to another, so that images, spaces, movements and sounds are intensified and redefined. While doing so he combines immemorial techniques with advanced technology, like swinging and artificial intelligence. This visual craftwork always forms part of his installations. In Right of Way, the combination of the swings, the handmade speakers and the computer algorithm results in a space in which the visitor can explore in a playful and physical manner how the meaning we usually attach to objects, spaces, images and sounds is not fixed but can be brought in motion. Right of Way is a spirited reference to Constant’s New Babylon: a new architectural construct for the playing human being (‘homo ludens’) arises above the existing city, in which the potential of the unallocated space can be experienced and celebrated.

As part of the Open Call 2019, Right of Way was made possible in part by Stichting NDSM-werf and Stichting Kinetisch Noord. You can also visit it as an extra part of the program until July 14 during the Over het IJ Festival.

Dit project is (mede) mogelijk gemaakt door het AFK.

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