Jenny Holzer, one of the leading contemporary artists of her generation, has curated an exhibition of the work of Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010), widely regarded as one of the most important and influential artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries at the Kunstmuseum Basel.
Holzer is internationally renowned for her exploration and subversion of public language through the use of nontraditional forms, from street signs and T-shirts to projections and LEDs. Bourgeois’ psychologically charged work deals with the realm of human emotion: love, desire, dependency, sexuality, rejection, jealousy, and abandonment. Here, in an unprecedented encounter between two giants of American art, the Kunstmuseum Basel presents Bourgeois’s work as seen through Holzer’s eyes.
LOUISE BOURGEOIS X JENNY HOLZER Projections
The combination of word and light plays an important role in Jenny Holzer's work: temporary light installations featuring monumental lettering projected onto buildings and landscapes have been among her best-known works since the 1990s.
The exhibition Louise Bourgeois x Jenny Holzer in Basel will be no exception: During the first days of the exhibition (February 16–22), Holzer will project excerpts from Bourgeois' writings on three public buildings in Basel: City Hall, the Old University on the Rheinsprung, and the Kunstmuseum Basel | Hauptbau.
Harnessing Technology for Art
To bring the exhibition to life, Jenny Holzer Studio has once again approached award-winning creative innovation studio, Holition to create an augmented reality experience for visitors of Kunstmuseum Basel to enjoy.
The collaboration between Jenny Holzer Studio comes after several critically-acclaimed augmented reality-enabled exhibitions that Holition has designed for Holzer, You Be My Ally at the University of Chicago in 2020, and most recently, Holzer’s Like Beauty in Flames exhibition in Spring 2021 at the Museo Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain.
Harnessing augmented reality, advanced image recognition technology, 3D spatial positioning and cutting-edge graphics features, users are able to see Holzer’s signature text-based art reimagined and brought to life through immersive digital technologies.
The output of these experiences is a multitude of highly engaging public artwork that aptly demonstrates how the relationship between technology, human experience, and creativity can leave a lasting impact on users.
Louise Bourgeois X Jenny Holzer from the lens of the Humans of Holition
Introducing a dedicated mobile experience to complement the physical exhibition that Holzer is curating for Louise Bourgeois’ work, Holition has designed and built an augmented reality experience that can be activated by visitors at the Kunstmuseum Basel’s Neubau galleries, its accompanying activations, such as the light projections around the city of Basel, and a number of additional AR elements that can be enjoyed by users anywhere in the world.
To give you a closer look into the curated Louise Bourgeois X Jenny Holzer projections and what to expect with the experience, we sat down with our Holition team who visited the Kunstmuseum ahead of the exhibition’s grand opening in Basel.
Ainara Azcona - Lead Engineer, Holition
As the Lead Engineer for this collaboration, I spearheaded the development of the entire mobile app and worked very closely with our Creative team to bring this experience to life.
For this particular collaboration, we had an exploratory phase to define the mobile experience, which was a critical piece to the project. This allowed us to explore different augmented reality technologies whilst understanding and further defining the overall creative direction for this project. We used a combination of cutting-edge image processing and visual tracking along with mobile device sensors to bring virtual content to life in the real world.
To add to the realism of augmented reality, we used advanced rendering techniques and particle physics blended with 360 videos, creating a hyper-realistic, believable, and immersive experience. Jenny Holzer was directly involved in this process and it was an amazing experience working with her.
Developing a section of the mobile experience in Basel for this collaboration was a short and intense process, but it was even more fulfilling to see the ‘Destruction of the Father’ (DOTF) piece in person and the AR experience coming to life in the gallery.
It was great to see the exhibition coming together and seeing some of the texts across the exhibition. I’m very excited for users to be engulfed into the DOTF, and into the artistic worlds of both Jenny Holzer and Louise Bourgeois at the Kunstmuseum.
Pauline Roques - Lead Designer, Holition
Working on the creative from the app design to the different augmented reality experiences for the exhibition as the Lead Designer was a very fulfilling experience.
Working with artists for Holition’s various creative collaborations is always a great experience because they are very inspiring and artists tend to work quite intuitively. This experience, in particular, gave us the opportunity to explore and propose creative directions for the whole app, working towards an immersive experience that merged two artistic worlds - that of Louise Bourgeois’ and Jenny Holzer’s, which was truly rewarding.
I’ve always admired Louise Bourgeois’s work and being able to see it through Jenny Holzer’s lens gave such a unique and outstanding exhibition. Jenny’s interpretation of Louise Bourgeois allowed me to rediscover two great artists through this immersive exhibition.
The attention to detail that Jenny Holzer gave to the whole exhibition is something that visitors should not miss. In the app that Holition created, you can find texts of the three experiences scattered around the exhibition, in a drawing, a scribble, a painting… so keep an eye out!
Anita Benko - Lead UX Researcher, Holition
As the Lead UX Researcher on this project, my role entailed conducting interviews and usability testing with users from different age groups. While these conversations significantly impacted the design considerations to be implemented for the project, what I also found most interesting was learning more about users’ relationships with art and their own interpretation of Louise Bourgeois and Jenny Holzer’s work. Personally, being able to see how both artists use text in their art and the themes that they explore were some of the most interesting parts of the exhibition.
This visit to Basel allowed me to experience firsthand the 'magic' that our team has been working hard on over the last couple of months.
Besides the beautiful and thought-provoking physical artworks, the exhibition also offers users the opportunity to be transported inside one of the artworks for a deeper immersion into its meaning and significance, which is certainly something to look forward to.
The Louise Bourgeois x Jenny Holzer exhibition officially opens today at the Kunstmuseum Basel. During the first days of the exhibition (February 16–22), Holzer will also project excerpts from Bourgeois' writings on three public buildings in Basel: the City Hall, the Old University on the Rheinsprung, and the Kunstmuseum Basel | Hauptbau on these schedules below
Old University and City Hall: February 16–22, 7–10 p.m.
Kunstmuseum Basel | Hauptbau: February 16–22, 6.30–10 p.m.
In addition to the live experiences, Holition has also produced an augmented reality filter, ‘FACE LOUISE’ for users to enjoy through social media. The filter can be accessed through Kunstmuseum Basel’s official Instagram account.
The Louise Bourgeois XX mobile app designed by Holition can also be experienced from anywhere in the world. The augmented reality app will allow users to see Bourgeois’s words floating around their physical surroundings wherever they go, and to create and share their own AR images.
The app can be downloaded for free from the App Store (iOS) and the Google Play Store (Android).