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Step Into A Real Life Matrix

Type/Dynamics at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam In Amsterdam lets you experience data in fantastic news ways.
Type/Dynamics Installation, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, photo Gert-Jan van Rooij

Whether you're enjoying this holiday season in a snowy suburb or a tropical metropolis, take a moment to join us on an interactive walk through Type/Dynamics at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Created byDutch design studio LUST, this new interactive installation celebratesthe work of seminal graphic designer Jurriaan Schrofer (1926-1990).

As part of an effort to add excitement to traditionally staid graphic design retrospectives, the installation (as a sentient piece of art) searches for real-time locations in the news, including "Ground Zero", "Reichstag”, or "Tiananmen Square”, from there locating images from Google Street View and turning them into grids filled with new information. Instead of a typical photo representation, the location is presented in purely typographically form. Visitors are then 'transported’ to that location by wrapping themselves in all the news of the area. Think of it like stepping into a Matrix that isn't part of a dystopian conspiracy.


Known for experimenting with new techniques like offset printing as a means to achieve 'moving typography’, Jurriaan Schrofer's investigations in many ways set the groundwork for todays emoji and Microsoft Word-friendly world.

While Jurriaan Schrofer perpetually sought to test the boundaries of what was possible in printed typography, especially in terms of dynamics and movement, Type/Dynamics seeks to update Schrofer's work using the latest technology. We can't help but think Schrofer would be thrilled at the transformative powers of social media and the internet on the way we interact, though he sadly passed away before Al Gore invented it in 1991.

"In a time when data can be accessed and can manifest itself in all kinds of ways, typography should no longer represent just formal aspects of information," states LUST. "Instead typography can itself be the carrier of content. LUST sees interaction design as the new literature. It is not only about the interactive aspect of the effect, it is also about the narrative possibilities; narrative structures that go beyond linear or non-linear."

"A visitor does not need to grasp all possible readings of a work at once," continues LUST. "Instead multiple story lines unfold over multiple readings. All aspects from content to movement, interaction, data collection and collaboration contribute to this new literature."

As part of the installation, Type/Dynamics consists of two identical galleries sharing a conceptual theme. In the first gallery (seen at the top) the walls are covered with enlarged detail images of Schrofer’s work. Also located in this gallery are two vertical screens that present works by Schrofer interactively in relation to the visitors’ viewing position.


The second gallery (above) presents a looser interpretation of Schrofer’s work. Here, embedded sensors track visitor movement, while the projections respond and interact to the position and number of visitors in the space. As visitors walk towards a piece, the "typographic grid" closest to the visitor expands and comes to life--inviting the visitor to read on.

This "smart exhibit" runs on a custom built computer powered with a quad core i7 CPU, 16GB ram and two ATI 7880 eyefinity adapters that drive eight HD projectors. The program itself was written in Java on top of RNDR, an in-house framework for creative coding. The RNDR framework was developed by the team "to support the creation of complex interactive installations that require processing power".

To manage tracking, four small Intel NUC DC53427HY computers were connected to two Kinect sensors. From there, the "observational data" acquired is sent to a processing unit that melds the data into a single observation of the space. Essentially, the exhibit is able to greet and track all visitors, transporting them into a computer they can actually walk around in.

Jurriaan Schrofer room at Type/Dynamics exhibition. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, photo Gert-Jan van Rooij

Jurriaan Schrofer room at Type/Dynamics exhibition. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, photo Gert-Jan van Rooij

For those who'd like to see the exhibit but can't fly out to Amsterdam any time soon, the team has put together a short film below:

Type / Dynamics - Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam from LUSTlab

If you're in Europe, be sure to stop by the Stedelijk before March 4th:

Museumplein 10, 1071 DJ Amsterdam, Netherlands

LUST is a multidisciplinary graphic design practice established in 1996 and based in The Hague, Netherlands. LUST works across a broad spectrum of media including traditional print work and book design, abstract cartography and data visualizations, new media and interactive installations and architectural graphics. 

Type/Dynamics was created using 8 projectors, 10 Kinects, 7 NUCs, 1 Quad-core i7 Haswell computer, 2x 52 Inch LED screens, and made possible by the Fund for Creative Industries and Microsoft.