Boris Acket’s installations sit within a constellation of light, sound, and space

Artist Boris Acket discusses his audio-visual installation practice, how it inhabits space, and the massive scale it exists on.

by Manu SharmaPublished on : Jan 01, 2022

Artist Boris Acket undertakes a delicate dance between light, sound, and space, to create installations that are often massive in scale, and manifest emotive experiences within their audiences without the need for any overt narration. Acket describes himself as an “audio-visual artist”, but has had no formal training within his craft. While he did study graphic design at an art academy in Utrecht, The Netherlands, his audio-visual explorations are entirely self-initiated and built upon his own tinkering and experimentation. Discussing his early life, he tells STIR, “Growing up, I always found free surfaces to tap on, my continuous virtue and sin is impatience. I was always looking for the different timbres, resonations and reverberations of materials surrounding me. And I was trying to satisfy this enduring impatience I carried with me everywhere. The tapping you can still catch me doing from time to time. In the end my parents decided to put me in drum classes, trying to stop me from tapping on everything at home. The drums were my first introduction to rhythm, to repetition and to creative structures. Playing this instrument taught me a lot about building tension with almost nothing.” Acket’s love for sound would only grow with his acquisition of a now defunct music sequencing software, but it wasn’t until his time in college that the artist would begin combining the auditory with the visual. While he studied hard during the day, he would explore the city’s club and nightlife scene after hours, and experience the interplay of light and sound in a way he never had before. This would bleed through to his college life, and Acket would thus develop a growing interest in new media art.

Audience members engaging with Acket’s work at the NDSM Dockland | Boris Acket | STIRworld
Audience members engaging with Acket’s work at the NDSM Dockland by Boris Acket, Raito Scenography, 4DSOUND, Nick Verstand Image: Boris Acket

The artist continues exploring his journey, telling STIR, “I began using the same media - light, sound, smoke, laser etcetera - but in a completely different way as a show purpose. The new technologies coming out were able to tell stories. Stories about our perception of time, about homecoming, about natural phenomena. After moving into film, shortly after art academy, I got to work for DGTL festival in Amsterdam as an art director and curator. They offered me the chance to work on these larger-than-life interventions and installations on their festivals. These ignited my career and got me where I am today.” As he mentioned, what really worked in Acket’s favour was that the new wave of accessible technology we often take for granted was hitting the market as he was pursuing his studies. From software such as Processing and Touchdesigner, to robust hardware like the Arduino, everything was extremely exciting and artists such as Acket pushed these resources to their absolute breaking point. He explains, software and hardware tools began enabling makers to connect virtually anything to anything. These developments ignited me and a whole group at the art academy I was studying at to research and work with new media more.

01 min watch SKYLINE I | Boris Acket | STIRworld
SKYLINE I by Boris Acket, Raito Scenography, 4DSOUND, Nick Verstand Video: Sebastiaan Smink & Nozem Films

Some of the artist’s most prominent works are the SKYLINE installations. Both SKYLINE I and II were designed with a massive 150 metre hall called ‘De Noordstrook’ in mind. The hall is located at the NDSM Docklands, which is an old and now vacated shipyard. Discussing these works, the artist says, “Both SKYLINE installations build on my research regarding the linear animation of sound and light over a length of 80 metres. It is quite interesting to see their interplay while being on one side of the space. These almost architectural works really change your perception of space.” SKYLINE I and II were undertaken with the assistance of the light artists, Bob Roijen and Nick Verstand, and spatial sound expert, Poul Holleman. Despite the massive scale of these works, Acket maintains that size does not matter, and that it is space that is of greater importance to him, which he allows to dictate the size of his pieces. He explains, “In my work, I always like to re-shape or re-interpret space, in a way this often leads me to large gestures in the spaces I work in, and as the spaces I inhabit are often quite big, my works organically grow with them.” 

01 min watch SKYLINE II| Boris Acket| STIRworld
SKYLINE II by Boris Acket, Raito Scenography, 4DSOUND, Nick Verstand Video: Boris Acket

Acket is keenly interested in creating a feeling of imminent presence that only really happens when one is engaging with art that is extremely large in scale. The artist likens it to the feeling of having something live in the same space that one is in. He tells STIR, “This feeling drops boundaries a bit, invites exploration and experimentation and opens visitors up to look at the world around them in different ways. People who view my work often have so many different stories to tell about what they just encountered or experienced.” The artist enjoys engaging with the discourse his work triggers among audience members, and is careful to create space between the narrative he is building upon within a piece, and the piece itself. In a sense, he wants his works to be enjoyable instinctually and emotionally.

Untitled | Boris Acket | STIRworld
Untitled Image: Boris Acket

Apart from its unmistakable sense of presence, the artist’s work has an awe-inspiring quality to it as well. But, just like his perspective on the scale of his works that manifests this sense of presence, he is not keenly interested in pursuing the quality of awe itself. Instead, as he says, he always “works from the story or the substance”. He does admit, however, that he quite enjoys creating sensory overload. Of late he has diversified the materials he works with, adding fabric to the mix. It is exciting to imagine where this addition to Acket’s practice will take him in the future, and the kind of locations one may find his works at. He has already exhibited his pieces at NXT Museum, Van Gogh Museum, the Lowlands Festival and a whole host of other prestigious avenues. The artist personally wants to do more permanent works in museums, with fewer for shorter exhibitions, and regardless where his installations find themselves, they will undoubtedly steal the show, sparking excitement and intrigue among audience members.

04 min watch BAKEN - II   |    Boris Acket and Chris van Meer
BAKEN - II by Boris Acket, Chris van Meer, Lumus Instruments Video: Blitzkickers
II, one of Acket's more recent pieces | Boris Acket
EINDER-II, one of Acket's more recent pieces by Boris Acket, Lumus Instruments, Elias Mazian, Toon Rooijmans Image: Frenzy Paris

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