Ruben van Leer

Sacred Environment

Ruben van Leer
Sacred Environment

Live VR performance Sacred Environment is commissioned for the concert hall and explores the changing meaning of sacred ground in our demythologised society.

 
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To make the VR portion of Sacred Environment, Moore invited Van Leer to Australia, where they took a three-hour drive north from Sydney, along the Great North Road into the Yengo mountain area, a place of great spiritual significance to indigenous Australians.
VICE
 
 

ancient songlines & virtual reality

Sacred Environment is a ground-breaking work by the Dutch-Australian composer Kate Moore and visual artist Ruben Van Leer, commissioned by the Holland Festival and NTR Radio, premiered in 2017 at The Concertgebouw Amsterdam. The oratorio was performed and sung by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, the Netherlands Radio Choir and soprano Alex Oomens. VR performer Esther Mugambi goes on a virtual reality dream-track towards the Hunter Valley in Australia, originally the territory of the Dharug, Darkinjung and Wonnarua people. The audience will follow her on a big screen in search of the stoneless temple. In this piece, the changing meaning of sacred ground in our demythologised society is being explored.

 
Premiering at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Holland Festival Proms 2017

Premiering at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Holland Festival Proms 2017

Capturing digital scans of parts of the Australian bush with spiritual significance

Capturing digital scans of parts of the Australian bush with spiritual significance

Ruben Van Leer making lidar scans

Ruben Van Leer making lidar scans

 
In her epic post-minimalist style, Moore suggested grand vistas. On a giant screen, Ruben Van Leer’s pointillist laserscan images of Hunter Valley in Australia formed an eye-catching visual counterpart.
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Lidar scan of a dead Eucalyptus tree

Lidar scan of a dead Eucalyptus tree

Lidar scan of honey comb cave scan

Lidar scan of honey comb cave scan

Sound reactive point cloud VR visualiser tool

Sound reactive point cloud VR visualiser tool

 

respecting the bush spirits

“With great privilege Uncle John and Uncle Phil, two elders from the local community, took us on hikes along The Great North Road not far from Sidney. Kate’s music compositions are inspired by the grandeur of the overwhelming natural environment and cultural meanings this area of Australia caries; also the place where she grew up. Both Uncles and Kate where able to introduce me to some of the magical sites, steep cliffs, honeycomb caves and sights with significant spiritual meaning around mount Yengo. Also providing the landscape for my Lidar scans finally shaping the VR worlds I designed for stage. Taking back these ‘natural spirits’ to Amsterdam in digital form, my goal was to turn the walls of the Concertgebouw into the endless bush using projections and virtual reality. I’m thankful this adventurous project gave me a glimpse into some of the hidden meanings that our animistic Australian ancestors preserved. That at the same time seem so relevant for my Western broadband generation today.” –RVL

 
VR performer Esther Mugambi standing in the middle of the audience

VR performer Esther Mugambi standing in the middle of the audience

Soprano Alex Oomens, didgeridoo player Lies Beijerinck and conductor Brad Lubman

Soprano Alex Oomens, didgeridoo player Lies Beijerinck and conductor Brad Lubman

POV projection of realtime VR environments

POV projection of realtime VR environments

 

credits

visual artist: Ruben Van Leer
composer: Kate Moore
VR performer: Esther Mugambi
dramaturgist: Martin Butler
lead programmer: Victor Martins
VR interfacing: Boompje Studio
stylist: Mai Marie Dijksma
lidar scans: Andrew Borsch
360 video: Peejee Doorduin
bush guides: Uncles John & Phil
programmer: Jeroen Valkenburg
production: Holland Festival & Truth.io
orchestra: Radio Filharmonisch Orkest
with support of: Amsterdam Fund for the Arts
sponsor: Google
 

filmmaker & media-artist