TU/e students make The Lab for on the Dommel

This year’s edition of the Bosch Parade, a parade of floating works of art on the Dommel in the center of Den Bosch, will feature a work by two Industrial Design students. Serge Gruson and Tjeu van Bussel were asked to make something that would function as part of the overall story. One of the things they use to create their work of art, which they dubbed ‘The Lab,’ is data on the population of Den Bosch in 1766.

image Tjeu van Bussel en Serge Gruson

The public on the city walls and banks of the Dommel will see the Bosch Parade sail through the historic city center for the eighth time this year. The organization aims for 25,000 visitors in three days from 21 to 23 June. The art manifestation is inspired by the work the painter Jheronimus Bosch and was held for the first time in 2010. But this year’s edition has a new format.

“During earlier editions, we worked with individual entries, but now there is one concept that functions as a creative starting point for several artists. The parade now tells a visual story in fifteen tableaus, a universal fable about continuous renewal,” says Erik de Jong, managing director of the parade and Community Manager at TU/e. The floating works of art will be steered by swimmers, twenty of whom come from TU/e’s Students Sport Centre.

Third-year Industrial Design student Serge Gruson is one of the thirty artists that contribute to the parade. “The overall story is about how the establishment has to make way for rebels,” he says. “Obviously, a battle ensues halfway through, and what remains is a primordial soup. We get to depict that. It is the promise of something new, but not something concrete.”

With ‘we’ Gruson means himself and his fellow student and friend Tjeu van Bussel. They have known each other since the first year of elementary school in Tilburg and have been making plans and installations for seventeen years now. Van Bussel: “Both our parents work in the culture sector, so that is where we grew up.”

That is probably the reason why the organization of the Bosch Parade asked these students to contribute to this year’s edition. “They wanted a rejuvenation of the participants,” Gruson says, “and they also see the value of combining art and technology of course. This is something that TU/e students like ourselves can provide.” Van Bussel and Gruson make a three-minute story that will be shown continuously during the thousand meters long route. Their work is called The Lab and is placed at the end of the overall story.

City gate records 1766-1793

The public will see a raft float by, veiled in a mist at first and then revealing a humanless choreography for tentacles that reach up to six meters in the sky. What the public doesn’t realize at first, but what they can find out by visiting boschparade.nl, is that the movements of the tentacles represent a historical data set.

The city gate records of 1766-1793 were digitalized by the Den Bosch Heritage foundation (stichting Erfgoed Den Bosch) and the students use them as input. Van Bussel: “We came up with the idea after a visit to the Jheronimus Academy of Data Science. The route passes the JADS and we wanted to see if we could start an interesting collaboration with the students of the JADS. To add some depth to the work of art.”

“During a brainstorm session with a student and a JADS employee, we heard that the Heritage foundation has data about who passed through the gate in the eighteenth century, including the exact time and mode of transport,” Gruson adds. “One of the ways we visualize that is by alternating the height of the tentacles according to the number of people that pass through the gate.”

The two friends will weekly be spending a day and half on their project these months, and they will not receive any credits for it. “But it is interesting for our portfolio, and we learn things here that we hadn’t come across during our studies, such as budget limitations, crisis management, and back-up planning. Very instructive!”

Free seats

The Bosch Parade takes place on June 21-23 on the banks of the Dommel in Den Bosch. Entry is free. 
There are paid seats in the stands as well, and Cursor is giving away two free tickets. Mail us and tell us why (and when) you prefer to sit in a paid-for seat instead of on the grassy banks, and perhaps we will give the tickets to you.

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