Sander Veenhof
Since 2007
Works in Amsterdam Netherlands


Researching ways to connect the digital world to our physical space is a recurring theme throughout many of my projects. I let properties or applications of both worlds complement each other and I seek to create a combination consisting of the best of two worlds. I connected website-statistics to plant growth, for example. And I literally brought two worlds of a different dimensions together during Museumnacht 2008. The Physical Virtuality installation at the NEMO science centre allowed visitors standing on an "intervirtual'balance to really feel the presence virtual visitors feel under their feet.


I try to make digital phenomena tangible. The reason for doing so is that I want to study the value and significance of pixels and virtual phenomena. Often dismissed as inauthentic, I suggest that the online world is just as real as our physical world. I make digital translation of concepts into matter to open up a discussion on that topic. During an "augmented reality" walk in The Hague participants sought contact with the virtual attendees. Both types of participants were moving around on one single Google Map. Which type of participant was 'really' there? Or was the difference in dimension lifted?


Despite a solid technical background and a fascination with the consequences and impact of new technical developments, I explore the technique in a wider context. Making things faster, better or bigger, is not my goal. Preferably, I slow down technique or make it unlogical. laborious and slow. I shift the relationships between relevant or sometimes unnoticed facets of technology and the current social context. I visualise otherwise transparent, unconscious or routine processes. I raised a "Publicity Plant", growing based on references from websites and blogs. The growth was also influenced by a relatively unknown phenomenon: the information that each Google search invisibly communicates to websites it finds. The growth of the plant was thus an exact translation of our contemporary ego, which also flourishes as a result of online attention and many Google hits.


I'm not only interested in exploring the latest technological developments. I also apply old technology. The bluescreen technique from the "de-surveillance" project existed for decades, but a simple inversion of the current application, provided a new and surprising effect. I'm very much charmed by analog technology and basic raw materials with a sentimental value and a physical tangible feeling. The perception of materials, strength, wear or finiteness is difficult to replicate only in a digital presentation. An installation which was a hybrid form of digital control with matter, was "Drip". It was an interactively controlled drip, battling (for attention) with an abundance of software and hi-tech. The drip defeated the ingenious technology. It did often grab someone's attention for tens of seconds. Because in the digital realm nothing is impossible, almost nothing is really spectacular. The extension of digital technology with unusual non-digital elements brings back the excitement. Added to that, it forces makers too to explore new approaches. A system involving water or a plant is much more difficult to master than the newest version of Macromedia Flash.


Another reason for my interactive projects to seek contact with the world outside of the screen, is the decreasing concentration of the contemporary public, which is overwhelmed by the amount of digital inputs. The "Youtube Video Jukebox" is a response to that. The spatial implementation of the phenomenon 'watching Youtube videos' requires a physical effort from its users. There's an endless offer of opportunities to an audience nowadays, and anything can be done at any time. Why should something be done now? It is currently difficult to draw the attention of a public and hold it. The video distribution system "Mobile Thrill" for that reason kidnaps someone's phone, which prevents prematurely walking away. Waiting for the return of the phone, the tension rises, making the viewing experience an intense and attentive one.


In the "Sousveillance choreography" which was performed during the 2008 edition of TodaysArt in The Hague, unsuspecting passersby played the main role. This project revolved around the theme how to make interaction tempting, easy and attractive to a contemporary restless (festival)audience. The project went even one step further: the choice of whether or not to participate did not even need to be made. In a narrow alleyway, numerous huge blocks were shifted around by invisible command of a choreographer. People had to adapt their walking route to the objects. Their 'dance' around the objects was filmed from above. The objects were filtered out of the picture. What remained was a choreography with a massive participation. A solution to the problem outlined earlier.


I monitor new technological developments closely, but especially from the point of use. I respond to trends or try to anticipate them. The form in which I present my research is in many cases an installation or an intervention in the digital or physical space. Or a related mix of those two. The work is often meant to provide an answer to myself and the public. By showing a solution, I visualise the underlying problem. As the "Sousveillance" project shows, I not only question or just call for discussion, I also provide an exploration of solutions.
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Augmented Reality Dance

Sun Oct 07, 2012 17:00


This is a global event, taking place on October 7th across the whole world using augmented reality. No venue is specified for that reason.


On Sunday October the 7th 2012 the whole world is invited to join a globally synchronised choreography. By following the instructions on a smartphone, a dance routine is performed. A dance to be experienced alone, together. As a distributed worldwide flashmob. While standing anywhere on earth, moving your phone above your head from left to right, someone standing somewhere else, will do the exact same thing, at that exact moment.



With the rapid growth of the use of mobile pocketsize digital technology, our environment of today consists of more than just physical tangible material. There’s a data-reality invisibly surrounding us with virtual games to be played, stories to be experienced, treasures to be searched for. Using “augmented reality viewers” people are uncovering virtual manifestations around them, appearing on the live camera view of their mobile phone.

While doing so, they make quirky movements, waving their smartphones in the air in search of virtual content. These moves resemble an improvisational choreography. It triggered Dutch new media artist Sander Veenhof to turn the phenomenon into a real choreography. The project is the result of a cooperation with choreographer Marjolein Vogels.

A virtual instruction cube floats around a participant. The cube can be viewed using the augmented reality app “Layar”. While keeping ones’ feet at the indicated position, the cube instructs a person to hold the phone with specific hands while following the moves of the cube. The moves are initiated in a synchronised way across the globe because the system is controlled from one central source.

The current choreography consists of 33 moves, designed specifically for persons holding a smartphone in either left or right or both hands. The series of movements of the cube, moving back and forth, from left to right, up and down, from closeby to far away, are chosen in such a way that the movements of the hand(s) and thereby the body becomes a structured dance.


Sander Veenhof studied “unstable media” at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. Being an adept of digital and virtual realities and fascinated by the intrinsic lack of impossibilities of these domains, Veenhof now pursues his fascination throughout the physical realm thanks to Augmented Reality which has turned the world into a programmable environment. With his creations for our geographically-connected data-reality, he explores the practical and conceptual opportunities for artistic expression within the new hybrid semi-digital space. He is joined in these efforts by the Augmented Reality artist collective Manifest.AR, which he co- founded after the full-scale uninvited AR exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York he organized with fellow members of the group.

Marjolein Vogels works as a performer with NB projects, Jack Gallagher en Jennifer Tee. Besides this, she creates her own choreographies which are presented at various theatre festivals, performed by the collective The Magic Life Club. She is the organiser and curater of the yearly WhyNot festival.


The launch of the Global Choreography will be presented at the Tempo Festival Brasil in Rio de Janeiro. A projection at "Oi Futuro" will show the Dance.AR participants across the earth, both as dots on a Google map or through live video-streaming, wherever streams are generated.


MoMA DIY day: Augmented Reality

Sat Oct 09, 2010 00:00 - Mon Oct 04, 2010

On Saturday October 9th, the physical space inside the MoMA NY building will host a virtual exhibition occupying all floors (including an additional virtual 7th floor) in parallel to the ongoing show. The show will not be visible to regular visitors of the MoMA, but those using a smartphone application called "Layar Augmented Reality browser" (available for free in the iPhone app store and Android market) will be able to see additional works on each of the floors, put there using a location-based augmented reality technique. The show will test case Augmented Reality art within an appropriate critical context: the bastion of contemporary art, MoMA.

So far, the MoMA is not involved in all this yet. But that's not a requirement anymore anno 2010, being independent by using AR. The experimental exhibition is part of the Conflux Festival, the annual New York festival dedicated to the psychogeography practice. The organizers of the event, augmented reality experimentalist Sander Veenhof from the Netherlands, and Mark Skwarek, new media artist from New York, aim to address a contemporary issue caused by the rapid rise of Augmented Reality usage. What is the impact of AR on our public and private spaces? Is the distinction between the two fading, or are we approaching the contrary situation with an ever increasing fragmentation of realities all to be perceived individually?

Being uninvited guest users of the MoMA space themselves, Veenhof and Skwarek do not claim the available exhibition space but instead they call out all 'AR artists' worldwide to place their virtual artworks within the walls of the MoMA (location: lat/lng 40.761601, -73.977710) too on the 9th of October. Since the exhibition happens in virtual space, there's no reason not to host and endless amount of parallel virtual exhibitions there on that date.

Opening: 4PM October 9th 2010
Location: MoMA, NY - floors 1 to 6 + virtual 7th floor + garden
Required: iPhone or Android device

Info about the exhibition:
More info about the context:



GRA 2009

Wed Jul 01, 2009 00:00 - Fri May 15, 2009

On July 1st 2009 Sander Veenhof (1973) is graduating from the Gerrit Rietveld art academy in Amsterdam. To color up that occasion and to attract attention to himself in an overly busy contemporary art world, Veenhof came up with a concept to serve both purposes in harmony. He started growing a 'graduation bouquet' in an interactively controlled greenhouse hosted in the hallway of his Amsterdam home.

A custom designed greenhouse control system converts all online publicity into plant growth by switching on the grow-lights above his 'publicity plant' whenever new a weblog-posting, Twitter message or Delicious bookmark refers to the project. Bouquet growth can be monitored live through a webcam shown at the project website, which lists and thanks the online community in turn.

The resulting bouquet of flowers will be brought to the graduation show, visualizing in a very natural way the success of this project by means of itself.


Physical Virtuality

Sat Nov 01, 2008 00:00 - Thu Oct 09, 2008

PHYSICAL VIRTUALITY - "What's the weight of an avatar?"
A cross-reality interactive installation - Science Center NEMO (Amsterdam) and Second Life

On saturday the 1st of november, visitors of the NEMO Science Center in Amsterdam will be physically connected to inhabitants of the virtual world Second Life through an intervirtual balancing plateau.

The total weight of avatars standing on the virtual side of the plateau will be calculated and processed along with the weight of all people standing on the physical side of the plateau. This outcome will trigger the synchronised real-time movement of both the hydraulic powered and script controlled side of the plateau, resulting in an experience of indirect physical contact between real and virtual beings.


physical location: Science Center NEMO, Oosterdok 2, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
virtual location: Second Life SLurl to be announced on

Date/time: saturday 1st of november 2008

18:00 - 1:00 GMT
19:00 - 2:00 CET
10:00 - 17:00 PST