360 tropic degrees
For the exhibition ‘BAL!’ At the Soestdijk Palace, René van Engelenburg was invited by curator Anne van der Zwaag as a designer to design an installation specifically for the old workroom of Prince Bernhard. The room of Prince Bernhard is, of course, for those in the present-day generation, whom the Prince has known, one of the most imaginative spaces in the palace, even though the room has been empty for more than 10 years. Intriguing, precisely because the prince himself has been a significant figure and in any case inextricably linked to the Netherlands during wartime and the rule of vml. Queen Juliana.
The history of older residents of the palace has been museized and anonymized. Time slows down the footsteps and the images slowly. But the history of this room is hardly tangible yet completely eliminated from collective memory. Bernhard’s room was packed with objects, pictures and souvenirs. His collection of little elephants, known from some photographs and video images, spoke to the imagination because the prince was a fervent hunter in his earlier life, but later in his life, president of the World Nature Fund. Each statue stood in a fixed place and was numbered for the cleaner if he had to move something.
A pink elephant with VR glasses
During the BAL exhibition, those who entered Bernhard’s room saw a life-sized fluorescent pink elephant on a pedestal. On his trunk hung a VR spectacle, the HTC Vive. It turns out that you can sit on the elephant and put on the glasses.
In the interactive Virtual Reality application, the time is temporarily reversed. Within today’s reality, images of the past are shown. The virtual location runs synchronously with the real spot. In this historical location, we can now cast a 360 degree wide look into the Prince’s room when he lived there.
The visitor initially sees an almost musical representation of how it ever was. But slowly the elephants move and suddenly there are dancing pink elephants. They take a place in the room again and how !? The fantasy takes over from reality as the many parts of this rarities cabinet jointly perform an eclectic dance. Suddenly you get a trunk and now you as a “visitor” have become an elephant. By moving your head to the left and right you can move a lot like an elephant through the china and reconstruct to your hearts delight. Bernhard would go crazy …