25. Oct 2016

“Beyond” at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam/NL

Text: Jo-Eike Vormittag

Photos: Pim Hendriksen


Airports act as the interface between the earth and the heavens to a certain extent. Not in the spiritual sense, but more in rational terms. Airport users with their feet firmly on the ground find themselves – just minutes later – flying through the clouds heading towards a far destination for a well-deserved holiday or for other valid reasons. Alternatively, the users are people arriving from places far away with suitcases packed full of treasures of different shapes and sizes – either happy to be back, or sad to get back to reality. An airport lends itself especially well for depicting the sky as a light art installation, as the designers from Studio Roosegaarde have proven. Their illusion of “heaven on earth” can be found in Hall 3 at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam/NL. The artwork entitled “Beyond” is by no means two-dimensional and static, but very clearly three-dimensional and dynamic when viewed from different angles – for example, when walking past it. It becomes an illusion of the sky, complete with sunshine and clouds. The 160 billion pixel artwork generates 3D effects along the 112 metre long wall thanks to a unique printing technology using lenses and warm white LEDs to generate changing perspectives and movement. A layer of non-reflective glass provides the material interface to the public space. Although only ten centimetres thick, the cloud wall gives the impression of providing miles of space. Rays of sunlight simulated by the LEDs penetrate the clouds to different degrees, and the different shades of blue depicting the sky consequently also vary in intensity.


Daan Roosegaarde was inspired by famous 17th century Dutch Masters, sharing their fascination for realistic Dutch landscapes, which they painted with wide open skies and broad horizons. Golden clouds that are characteristic of paintings in the Dutch Golden Age are integrated into the middle section of the wall, for example. Real-looking cloud formations of the kind people view through plane windows on international flights are distributed across the rest of the wall surface.


In the midst of the hustle and bustle at Schiphol Airport, “Beyond” is a clever way of communicating the value and meaning of the history of Dutch art, as well as creating a place of wonder. Looking at the clouds, and literally trying to grasp the images generated by the high-tech behind the installation, people are encouraged to dream again and discover their own stories in them.

There are so many walls around the world that could do with enhancing through such a light art installation to remove some of the bleakness or boredom that otherwise holds sway in the respective environment …


Design: Studio Roosegaarde

Client: Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam/NL


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