Enter New Babylon is a Virtual Reality project, investigating the possibilities and limits of this future world for creative nomads. Put on your head set and step into that elusive world of New Babylon, where daily work has been replaced by play and life resides in poetry. It is the home of the Homo Ludens, created by Dutch painter Constant Nieuwenhuys (1920–2005) in the sixties. Young, activist spoken word artists and designers reflect on New Babylon through VR and mixed reality in a theatrical installation. Is it all that Constant dreamed of or has it turned into a nightmare?

About

Enter New Babylon is a Mixed Reality Installation with four worlds, where the audience can experience a contemporary reflection on New Babylon. New Babylon is a project that Dutch artist Constant Nieuwenhuys (1920-2005) created in the sixties. With the New Babylon project Constant formulates a vision of the future. The project comprises a multitude of sketches, drawings, texts, models and constructions proposing a futuristic city in which the means of production becomes collective property and the nomadic, creative and playful human takes the center stage. The inhabitants are invited to discover and enact their playful human nature.

Video artist Dennis Molema has transformed Constant’s Grote gele sector (1967) into a digital 3D model to serve a virtual location for Enter New Babylon. Originally, Grote gele sector is a three-dimensional scale model of Constant’s New Babylon project.

Six writers from Poetry Circle Nowhere spent three months working with six designers from the HKU. Led by Joris Weijdom of the HKU, they experimented with the possibilities of VR and mixed reality and developed four completely different experiences, based on the New Babylon project.

Can these young makers still dream of a future or does every dream turn into a dystopia under the weight of today’s challenges? This was the question with which Kim van der Horst, stepdaughter of the artist and initiator, started the project. The answer is four worlds, each with their own reflection on the future.

Scenographer Guus van Geffen built an installation in which the visitor experiences the worlds and subsequently also becomes a spectator of other visitors who enter the VR worlds.

In July 2021 presenter Lucas de Man visits the VR installation Enter New Babylon and talks to the young designers and writers of the four virtual worlds based on Constant’s New Babylon.

Blooming New Babylon

Design: Emma Bourguignon | Text: Nina Vermeulen | Photo’s Kim van der Horst

There’s always a choice. Every step of the way there is a choice. Do you stick to the path or do you let yourself stray, wander, explore?

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Bloemers-lichter

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Blooming New Babylon-4

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Blooming New Babylon-3

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Blooming New Babylon-12 | Foto Kim van der Horst

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Blooming New Babylon-11 | Foto Kim van der Horst

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Blooming New Babylon-13 | Foto Kim van der Horst

Echo’s van het vergeten | Echoes of the Forgotten

Design: Aina Mora Roca | Text: Steff Geelen | Photo’s Kim van der Horst

Vergeet wat je weet en weet wat je vergeet | Forget what you know and know what you forget 

Constant on a napkin

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Echo's van het vergeten-4

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Echo's van het vergeten-1

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Echo's van het vergeten-3

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Echo's 1 | Foto Moon Saris

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Photo Moon Saris

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Echo's 4 | Foto Kim van der Horst

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Echo's 5 | Foto Kim van der Horst

Het verleden van een toekomststad | The Past of a Future City

Design: René ‘t Hart | Text: Nabil Tkhidousset and Luna Wicks | Photo’s Kim van der Horst

What happened, how did we end up here? Our goal was clear and our intentions were pure.

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Verleden van een toekomststad 1

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Het verleden van een toekomststad-4

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Het verleden van een toekomststad-2

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Verleden 4 | Foto Kim van der Horst

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Verleden 3 | Foto Kim van der Horst

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Verleden 2 | Foto Kim van der Horst

We willen onze dagen niet vullen met spijt | We Don’t Want to Fill Our Days with Regrets

Design: Morgan Henry and Bianca Lurvink | Text: Jasper Albinus and Roziena Salihu | Photo’s Kim van der Horst

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We willen onze dagen niet vullen met spijt-2

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We willen onze dagen niet vullen met spijt-3

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We willen onze dagen niet vullen met spijt-1

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Spijt 1 | Foto Kim van der Horst

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Spijt 2 | Foto Kim van der Horst

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Spijt 6 | Foto Kim van der Horst

Lisa Weeda on Enter New Babylon and Writing for VR

writer and director of VR

As a coach for the writers of Enter New Babylon, I say: experimenting with text in a relatively new medium is a fruitful process for (young) writers who want to work in the world of tomorrow and are not afraid to apply their craft and skills in multiple media forms, such as VR.

An immersive medium such as virtual reality offers a lot of room for research and development. It is, therefore, a new art form on which this young group of writers can leave their mark. By participating in Enter New Babylon, they will be able to adapt better and, in turn, think along with game and experience designers in the future about a complete experience, in which the text stands firmly.

As a coach in this process and a writer in practice, myself, I also collaborating in multiple disciplines such as VR, audio and photography. I know that ‘being a hybrid writer’ is a skill that benefits you. Being allowed to work with Constant’s ideas, to be able to shape these ideas with new (voice) layers and interaction, is a great and big step for the writers. They build on a legacy in a medium in which they are allowed to pioneer. Everything a young all-round writer needs to experiment with is captured in this project. Enter New Babylon brings disciplines together beautifully, in a fresh, layered and challenging way.

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HKU-10 | Kim van der Horst

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ENB-2 photo Lisa Weeda

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photo Lisa Weeda

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Photo by Lisa Weeda

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HKU-2 | Kim van der Horst

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HKU-5 | Kim van der Horst

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Aina Roca-6

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HKU-11 | Kim van der Horst

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HKU-7 | Kim van der Horst

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ENB-1 photo Lisa Weeda

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photo Lisa Weeda

Team

Enter New Babylon is a co-production of Fondation Constant, Over het IJ Producties, Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht, Poetry Circle Nowhere and Feikes Huis.

Writers: Jasper Albinus, Steff Geelen, Roziena Salihu, Nabil Thkidousset, Nina Vermeulen, Luna Wicks

Designers: Emma Bourguignon, Juriaan Gregor, Morgan Henry, Bianca Lurvink, Aina Roca, René ‘t Hart

Design 3D model Grote gele sector: Dennis Molema

Artistic team: Pol Eggermont, Guus van Geffen, Kim van der Horst, Dennis Molema, Lisa Weeda

Advisor technical dramaturgy, coach concept development: Joris Weijdom

VR Designer: Frank Bosma

Scenography: Guus van Geffen

Sound Design: Jorg Schellekens

Production Leader: Leonie Baars

Location manager: Ruben Coers

Kick-off: Over ‘t IJ festival | July 9th 2021 

Special thanks goes out to:

Huub Krom (Studio Oorbit), Anneloes van Assem, Trudy Nieuwenhuys

Enter New Babylon is supported by:

Fonds Podiumkunsten, Fonds 21, Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Letterenfonds, AFK