Guerilla light art in the cycle tunnel

The idea came to him during the many times TU/e student Tim de Jong cycled to the campus through the Silly Walks tunnel. “Despite the paintings on the wall, the atmosphere felt grim to me.” He decided to do something about it on his own, with the use of rainbow foil and the help of some friends. The result: a colorful pop-up light artwork. The municipality allowed the guerilla project to become a permanent work of art.

photo Tim de Jong

You might have noticed it if you walk through the cycle tunnel of the eastside of central station on your way to the campus. Something has changed, the atmosphere has become more cheerful. But what causes this change?

“That’s what I like so much about light: you can’t touch it, but it does have an effect.” Tim de Jong (22), who completed his physics bachelor’s program and will now start with the pre-master’s Industrial Design, has a thing for light art. He is also chair of student team IGNITE: “We design interactive light installations, including for light festival GLOW. But the work in the tunnel - called 'Een Eindje Mooier' - was done completely in a personal capacity.”


And it didn’t take all that much. “I bought two roles of foil with a rainbow effect, such as what you see on a layer of oil on water, known as dichroic.” De Jong measured and counted the lamps in the tunnel (one hundred exactly) and started cutting in the copy shop at MetaForum. “That took me eight hours and caused me serious back aches.”

He then called upon a group of friends for help. Together they cleared the lamps of spiderwebs and their eight-legged occupants, and provided each lamp with a layer of colorful foil. “We wedged each layer of foil to the back of the lamp, so that we wouldn’t need glue. Otherwise, it would have been vandalism, and that’s not what I wanted.”

De Jong had also considered in advance that other artwork in the tunnel: the paintings on the wall inspired by the Monty Python sketch ‘The Ministry of Silly Walks.’ “But I concluded that the two weren’t incompatible, also because the paintings are on one wall and the lamps on the other.”

Bold step

The result of the pop-up initiative is a friendly, almost magical atmosphere in the tunnel. The colors of the rainbow alternate on the tunnel’s ceiling. De Jong received much positive feedback, and this led him to take the bold step of contacting the municipality, which responded enthusiastically. “I was allowed to make the artwork structural, meaning: stick the foil to the lamps. It’s still my responsibility to carry out maintenance on the artwork.”

De Jong decided to move ahead quickly. “Last Monday, twenty of us added new layers of foil – with an adhesive layer – to the lamps. Fortunately, cutting the layers wasn’t as time consuming this time around.” He hopes that there will also be a spot for his artwork on the website of Tunnel Vision, the municipality’s project to add street art to every tunnel in the city.

Can we expect more guerilla light art from De Jong? “Who knows, if I get a new idea that will help make the city just a bit more attractive - or, in Dutch: Een Eindje Mooier.”

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