Layerlab on transforming festivals and using videomapping to induce self-reflective experiences

Ever since his eighteenth, Dorus van Lieshout (32) has been fascinated by the combination of technology and art. This has inspired him to set up his own studio, Layerlab. Today he’s specialised in videomapping, 2D/3D animations, and making his own sculptures. His work is to be seen at big festivals like Burning Man, Boom festival and Feel Festival. Dorus talks about videomapping sculptures and how he wants to transform people’s experiences at festivals into self-reflective learning experiences. 

Dorus likes to surprise visitors of events to new forms of visual experiences. ‘I like experimenting with videomapping in ways that are not often done. It fascinates me how animated light reacts to different materials, how it reflects, to see what kind of result it brings. I like to use new materials and techniques to challenge myself each time. The result is usually a production that is just as much a surprise for me as it is for others. I like it when people look at my work, trying to figure out how it’s made. 

Layerlab presented its artworks at Burning Man in the United States, Boom Festival in Portugal, Feel Festival in Germany, Landjuweel, Mysteryland, Psy-Fi festival and Amsterdam Light Festival in the Netherlands. ‘For Burning Man I created internally videomapped Beamos Lamps, which were integrated in a DJ booth.’

For psytrance art festival ‘Boom’ in Portugal, Dorus created Tetrahedon. ‘Tetrahedon is a one-way mirror plexiglas pyramid which is videomapped. People can enter it and experience a human-sized kaleidoscope of animations reflecting in all directions, including the floor, accompanied by an audio-visual show. This creates a pretty trippy experience, imagine adding psychedelics to that.’

Aside from a psychedelic experience, his light sculptures can also induce a spiritual experience. ‘Of course, above all, I want to create a beautiful aesthetic experience. However, even more important for me is to bring across a message. I combine tech-art with a message to make people reflect on themselves and their lives. This has mostly been with the ‘Heart – Messenger of Light’ sculpture, that I initially created for Psy-Fi festival. The message combines a mixture of eastern and western philosophy, positive psychology and my own life experiences.’ 

‘It was also present at Feel Festival, a big festival in Germany focussed on connecting the body with the soul, so it fitted perfectly.’ Together with Iwein Reimerink – who made the wooden sculpture for the ‘Heart’ – they produced a videomapped piece of art. 

The ‘Heart – Messenger of Light’, is a video mapping sculpture show that Dorus has created which invites people to reflect on themselves, their lives and where they are at right now. The sculpture does so by presenting a narrative video-mapping show that delivers a message.

Dorus sees that there’s a transformation going on at festivals. ‘People are becoming more conscious about what’s going on in the world but are also getting in touch with themselves more and more. Spirituality and mindfulness have become important subjects in the west over the years.

Festivals are broadening their spectrum and increasingly organise workshops, lectures and all kinds of audio-visual experiences. ‘In general, more and more festivals try to create experiences that transform people or make them think about things. Take for example Ozora Festival, Burning Man and Boom Festival, they have a big focus on fostering a climate where people reflect, connect and learn. You can experience all kinds of beautiful or bizarre experiences at those places and you go back home as a transformed person. I’ve experienced this myself as well, where I came back home as a different person. I want others to experience the same when they’ve spent some time with my artworks.’

However, festivals that are more mainstream seem to be picking up on the same pace. ‘This is very interesting to see, as I always thought this kind of art belongs to psytrance festivals like Psy-Fi. Take for example Mysteryland, it’s a very different type of visitor. It’s not the returning visitor of Psy-Fi where lots of people take psychedelics and go on an inner spiritual adventure. It’s very interesting to introduce a different group of people to these kind of self-reflective experiences, to see how they react. At Mysteryland I did so with the heart.

Layerlab used the ‘Heart – Messenger of Light’ as a messenger for the opening show. ‘Together with the creative director of the show, Sander Vermeulen, we created an audio-visual experience with a narrative, a didgeridoo player and an MC. After the audio-visual show of the heart, the lights went out and then the festival started with an amazing light show, pyrotechnics and DJ.’

Dorus explains the positive reactions he’s had: ‘I’ve had people come up to me who told me they’ve had a life changing experience, quit the job they didn’t like, made a career switch or looked into themselves which created a sort of spiritual enlightening experience. One person even came running into my arms, crying of gratitude. These moments make me feel really thankful for doing this job and it makes it all worth it. If I can help just one person, I feel that I’ve accomplished my goal already. I want to create things that make people grow.’

The Flower of Life

Scenes are mixing with each other, Dorus explains. ‘Take for example festivals like Boom and Ozora, they have visionary art galleries. I love to see that these different art forms melt together. Another perfect example is club De School. You’ve got music, there are lectures, art, all these forms of art are melting together. You get a full-experience, where it’s about more than just dancing or seeing stages, it’s experiencing something and be inspired or transformed by it. This is what I try to do with my work.’

For more of Dorus his work, you can visit Layerlab’s portfolio, like his Facebook page or if you want to collaborate you can contact Dorus here