Daan Roosegaarde - Crystal
Nominated by Niki Smit:
Daan Roosegaarde
for Crystal

I nominate Daan Roosegaarde for Crystal, because this project uses technology in a simple way to create a public, poetic experience accessible to anyone. Crystal is an interactive installation for public space consisting of thousands of luminous rocks. Passersby are free to pick up the rocks, stack them, toss them away, or arrange them in patterns. The rocks flicker, glow and change their “behaviour” as people play with them. But if a rock is removed from the physical site of interaction, its light goes out and it becomes a lifeless object.

And that’s what makes this such an interesting installation. Daan Roosegaarde makes the user choose between concept and object, between the virtual and the tangible. Crystal takes place in public space, and communications around the project mention explicitly that the rocks can be stolen, and these two facts make us think. The rocks are desirable objects that beg to be taken away. But if they are, they lose their function. That function is, in a way, virtual. Taken out of context, the objects become functionless.

The juxtaposition of the crystals creates a strange and wonderful opportunity for interaction. Those who choose to engage with the installation must first of all figure out its rules and logic. Are you allowed to pick the rocks up, move them, take them away? What’s the whole thing supposed to do? Then you realise there are no rules, and it’s up to you how far you want to go. Interacting with Crystal means thinking with your hands. It means looking for patterns and doing what newborns excel at: experiencing objects in the most pure, banal way possible. Crystal’s physical accessibility creates a safe space for free creativity.

Daan Roosegaarde’s work is inextricably linked to technology, yet elements of nature can often be descried in it. His Dune installation puts us in mind of swaying stalks of grass. Lotus refers to the beauty of flowers opening. And Crystal makes us think of a magical riverbed. The production process of the “crystals”, which are grown individually, also feels natural.

Open-source instructions for the making process are available, so anyone can grow a rock at home, in whatever colour and shape he or she desires, and add it to the installation. Naturally, it’s tempting to show off your crystal by taking pictures and sharing them. By placing his concept in the users’ hands, Roosegaarde allows Crystal to evolve in an unpredictable manner.

Daan Roosegaarde is designing the world of the future, often using elements that are intimately related to us as human beings. Working with a curious, inquisitive, open attitude, he demonstrates better than anyone how close to each other technology and nature lie. And he builds a world in which they coincide. Crystal stands as a powerful example of his work.

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