At the roots of the future at Nxt Museum Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s diverse Museum scene has been replenished by a first-of-its-kind attraction. On 29 August the Nxt Museum opened its doors to make the art of tomorrow accessible to the public.

At Nxt Museum, an avant-garde universe collides with the human senses – an experience predestined for unpredictability. Visitors are lead through different installations, making use of light, sound, and movement to create cosmic scenarios. The merging of these technological attractions with individual perceptions ensures a unique experience for any tech-savvy visitor.

Nxt is located in Amsterdam North – the epicenter of hip start-up offices and urban Zeitgeist. The current exhibition is launched under the name ‘Shifting Proximities’. With eight installations, each displayed in an individual room, the stay takes about an hour and a half. Only one of the rooms has lightening – all other installations are looked at in complete darkness. While this creates a feeling of ecstatic totality, it also takes a lot of energy according to recent visitor Lisa Bekker (21): “It was a mind-blowing and almost therapeutic experience, but also heavy because of the pitch-black surrounding. I liked how it created anonymity, though.”

The ‘Biometric Mirror’ re-sculpts facial features into artificial perfection

Visitors can expect a whole-body experience and a time-capsule like immersion. “The combination of music accompanied by moving visuals was almost hypnotizing. I really lost track of time and it just took my whole attention!”, Lisa recalls. Although each installation stands on its own, they all have two things in common: academic research and technological innovation. Essentially, ‘Shifting Proximities’ questions the interaction between humanity and algorithms, nature, science, and digital innovation. Visitors can communicate with hologrammed tree roots, project 3D scans of organic artifacts into water surfaces, experience light architecture, and how it impacts the human perception of space, or dive into the depths of facial recognition and it’s downsides. While the experience itself is transient, the topics deflected by the exhibition are omnipresent. Alice Weber (20) sums up her visit as a “fascinating and captivating experience”. “It was interesting to see how science and art go hand in hand – how it is the same process, the only difference is that one is human-made and the other one human-researched.”

Digitalised Ecosystem – ‘Econtinuum’ visualizes the interaction of root systems

Moreover, an installation mostly millennial-aged visitors are intrigued by, is a biometric mirror created by Lucy McRae (41). After scanning the facial features of the participant, an algorithm distorts the face into a ‘perfect’ image and attributes according to character traits – a thought-provoking process taking into consideration the influence online facial filters have on beauty standards. “It was surprising to see how the A. I was categorising. We assign these superpowers to A. I but when it came to the character traits, I realised how it can’t take into consideration human values like personality or communication”, Alice underlines. “The exhibition is simultaneously inspiring and frightening – it opens up a void of uncertainness and giving away control, but also gives an outlook on how we can use technologies”, she adds.

To a certain extent, the perception of these installations depends on the engagement of the visitor. “It’s different from a classic museum where you only look at things on the wall. Here, it is about myself and my reaction. You can read about the installations online, yet you don’t know what to expect. It feels like a trip into the unknown”, Lisa comments.

Arguably, the term ‘art of tomorrow’ becomes present at Nxt Museum. “There are hope and uncertainty in futuristic art and that is what I love the most about it. The mere fact that the ‘futuristic’ art is displayed, already makes it contemporary art,” Lisa concludes her visit. ‘Shifting Proximities’ will be on display until 28 February.

Text by Karenita Haalck
Photos by Lisa Bekker