The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam presents the first solo of the succesful Dutch duo Studio Drift In addition to early designs, the exhibition features new, previously unseen work by the Dutch duo Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta – the founders of Studio Drift. Specially for the presentation at the Stedelijk, Studio Drift will create the largest-ever installation of Fragile Future. At the core of the installation will be Fragile Future Chandelier 3.5 (2012) acquired by the museum in 2015. Another highlight is Drifter, a floating concrete monolith measuring four by two by two meters. After making its world première at New York’s Armory Show in 2017, this magical installation will be on display in the IMC Gallery at the Stedelijk. The film Drifters (2016) and the installation Materialism (2018) go on view for the first time. In total, the presentation comprises eight of Studio Drift’s room-filling installations, together with a selection of films.

Studio Drift often stretches the limits of technology with their installations. In a number of cases, the applied technology is still experimental in nature. That’s also the case with Drifter, which is making its European premiere. The Stedelijk Museum, in its pioneering role in the field of visual arts and design, would like to show such innovative art to the public. Even if that means that maintenance must be carried out at regular intervals.

The work of Studio Drift occupies a unique place at the interface between tech art, performance, and biodesign. As a museum that has always placed great importance on both art and design, and performance, the Stedelijk Museum is the perfect venue to display this transdisciplinary work. Gordijn and Nauta engage with contemporary topics such as sustainability, the meaning of natural processes for today’s environment, and issues raised by the use of augmented reality. Their work focuses attention on a society in flux, shaped by the impact of fast-paced innovations, without judging.

The changing relationships between man, nature and technology are the focus of Studio Drift’s work. Their first project, Fragile Future, now an iconic series of light sculptures of dandelion heads individually applied to LED lights, brought the duo international renown. Over the years, the work evolved into a system composed of modules, and can be combined in various configurations. Placing and gluing the dandelion seeds to the LEDs is an extremely labor-intensive process and can be seen as a form of ‘slow design’. This type of exacting craftsmanship stands in marked contrast with today’s mass production processes. Fragile Future offers a utopian glimpse into our future, in which the forces of two seemingly irreconcilable worlds unite in a bid to survive. Like almost all work by Studio Drift, Fragile Future can be adapted to create a unique composition for any space. Specially for the Stedelijk, the studio will produce the largest-ever installation of Fragile Future, formed around Fragile Future Chandelier 3.5.

Curator Ingeborg de Roode: “We’ve been following Studio Drift for many years. After purchasing Fragile Future Chandelier 3.5 in 2015, we were waiting for the right moment to show the piece at the museum, together with other work by Studio Drift. Now that they have developed a consistent oeuvre throughout more than a decade and gained international acclaim with pieces such as Concrete Storm and Drifter, this is the perfect moment to present the first survey of their work in the Netherlands.”

The oeuvre of Studio Drift investigates the fluctuating relationships between nature, technology, and man. Their work engages with themes such as the (illusion) of freedom, the individual versus the group, and the tension between the real and the virtual world. They manifest natural processes by translating the data through technology and ‘breathe life into’ objects by animating them. Many of their installations are interactive, making the viewer a participant in the work. The works’ tranquil beauty invites us to pause and experience the wonder of what is unfolding – to enjoy a few minutes of stillness in our hectic, fast-paced, digital world. To achieve this, Studio Drift uses state-of-the-art technology to stretch the boundaries of the possible. Their projects often involve close collaborations with universities and scientists.

In several recent projects, the duo specifically addresses our use of raw materials. In Obsidian (2013), presented at the Stedelijk during the 2016 exhibition Dream Out Loud, they focus on a new material obtained by repurposing chemical waste. Materialism (2018) involves dismantling numerous objects (such as a water bottle, pencil, VW Beetle, plastic carrier bag, electric lightbulb, LED light) into the exact amounts of their constituent materials. By doing so, they reveal how much material goes into making each product, and how a new production method can reduce material use

Several recent works explore the paradoxical relationship between the real and the virtual world. In Concrete Storm1 (2017) special glasses give the viewer an augmented reality of moving holograms – an accompaniment to an installation of concrete elements that exists in the physical world. It creates a new kind of reality – a ‘mixed reality’.

The installation Drifter (2017) engages with a variety of themes: how does your perception of the world shift as you realize that what we take for granted now – a world composed of huge, immensely strong and stable structures – was once considered utopia? In the future, will a hovering concrete cuboid be as much a reality as today’s cities of concrete, as envisaged by Thomas More in 1516 in his book Utopia? Studio Drift first revealed a floating concrete monolith in the film Drifters (2016), (in collaboration with Sil van der Woerd), which receives its première in this exhibition. Drifters is a twelve-minute film shot in the Scottish Highlands about an entity in search of its origin and purpose. But the film delves deeper, to ask: can the individual ever escape the group? Drifter (2017) and Concrete Storm (2017) make their European debut at the Stedelijk.