This article was translated from The Creators Project Netherlands. View the original here.
The lights go out in Trouw. Literally. Bulb by bulb the light falls away until I see nothing more but darkness. The internal hum that echoes out of the enormous speakers penetrates me to the core. I have no idea what to expect next, until someone puts a flashlight in my hands. “You have to see it for yourself,” I hear, just over the din. I point my light forwards, and the final light installation at Trouw emerges.
Hundreds of low-hanging bars reflect the light of my flashlight. It’s like nothing exists beyond my line of sight. A world of light dissappears & reappears as fast as I can move. “Without the presence of the other, there is no light. The sound gets more intense the more people are here,” I am told. We decide to go upstairs.
Christopher Gabriel (1980, Oslo) and Arnout Hulskamp (1978, Amsterdam). Image via
For the closing of Amsterdam nightclub Trouw, Christopher Gabriel and Arnout Hulskamp—better known as the ‘live scenography’ duo Children of the Light—designed light installation ZERO TIME (on view from December 18 until the end of Trouw on January 3). The Norwegian and Dutchman met each other exactly here, at Trouw, almost five years ago. Since then, the duo has been hard at work entrancing and mystifying the public with their abstract and spherical scenography.
Amid preparations, Children of the Light took the time to sit down with me and talk about their early work with Nicolas Jaar, the end of an era, and the final light installation that will ever be visitable in Trouw.
The Creators Project: Among other things, before ZERO TIME you made the light installation Mirror Moon for Darkside's entire 2014 tour. How do you guys look back on your collaboration with Nicolaas Jaar and Dave Harrington?
Children of the Light: Well, we met them in a very humble way, after their second venue in Oslo. Our artistic visions matched very strongly from the beginning, and Children of the Light and Darkside have grown bigger with each other. Normally, reviews don’t cover the visual aspect of a performance, but in the reviews Darkside got was they wrote as much about the scenography as the music. This enhanced the idea that we were an powerfull team. Something we felt on the stage as well.
The video premiere of the Darkside Aftermovie @ Concertgebouw.
Can you tell me more about the ideas behind Mirror Moon? How did this project originate?
The first show was back in 2012. The huge round double-sided mirror was the result of experiments with reflective materials. We wanted to make something that could be invisible and reflecting at the same time. The idea of the Mirror itself is very flexible, of course: it’s something that adjusts itself to the enviroment which makes it feel organic. We liked the ambigious idea behind it, just like Darkside: there is no darkside, without the light side. The Mirror could become anything, even a black hole or the Big Bang.
Will we see Mirror Moon again in the future? I’m afraid that’s gonna be diffecult, after Dave wrecked the mirror into stardust back in LA. It was very rock and roll haha. We told them a year before that it would be cool if they destroyed the mirror. Appartently, the idea was all this time still present somewhere in Dave’s head.
But we like to see the Mirror Moon as a solo installation in a gallery of in a different fitting context. We deem it important that besides our shows there's always an autonomous version of our work. Something that could find its place in a museum or gallery.
Darkside's Dave Harrington destroys the Mirror Moon.
Now you guys made the final light installation for Trouw. In what way are you going to end this era?
We literaly wanted to reflect the essence of Trouw. We hope that visitors will go inside, actived the installation and feel part of Trouw. For us, the magic moment of every performance is when we press the buttons. With ZERO TIME we wanted to give this sentsation to the visitor.
We are litterly stepping away from the installation and let the visitor take over by bringing their own light and give the installation shape in that manner. There are only moving particles left. This is the ‘zero moment’. We want to give the visitor the idea that everything is possible.
The installation is based upon the Zero Movement. Can you tell me anything about that?
A good friend of ours sent us a poem by Otto Piene, one of the founders of the Zero Movement. He asked questions about the phenomenon of light the same way we do. We have a similar interest and vision for simple shapes and pure elements. The Zero Movement is all about starting from scratch, whereby you only use the minimal and the essential. We got very inspired by that and saw a link to this special moment. That's why we choose a quote from Otto Piene for ZERO TIME: “A zone of silence and pure possiblities for a new beginning." That is the essence that we want to carry out.
What will bring the future? Where is Children of the Light going?
Early 2015, we’ll do ‘live scenography’ for Howling (Frank Wiedemann and RY X) and we're also going to do a large outdoor installation. We believe the magic of our work lies in the conventions of the analog and the digital. Now that we’ve found our strengths, it’s time to explore this even further.
You guys have a long history here in Trouw, done a lot of shows, experimented a lot, even met each other here. How does it feel, knowing the end of Trouw is so near?
A lot of people are sad and want Trouw to continue. We ourselves have mixed feelings. To be honest we are happy to close this book. You don’t often get the chance to stop on your highest point. And we believe this fits Trouw very much and is where Trouw is standing for: stopping on your highest point. Not everybody is brave enough to do that. The ending comes very beautifully and naturally, if it was meant to be like this. By all means, we feel very grateful that we got so much space and opportunities to grow and experiment here. Trouw really was our laboratorium.
ZERO TIME by Children of the Light opened on December 18 and will be viewable between 5:30pm and 1:00am in De Hal in Trouw through January 3. The Children of the Light and the entire Trouw-team (Meeus van Dis and Heleen Blanken) will give grand finale shows on January 1, 2 and 3, the last days of Trouw.