Mike Rijnierse (Haarlem, 1974) is an artist, inventor, curator and educator working in the fields of light, sound and architecture. Intrigued by human/non-human sensory structures, he creates large scale installations, light and sound sculptures and urban interventions that engage in an attentive perception of the space. Rijnierse has exhibited his works throughout Europe, Korea, Taiwan, Morocco, United Arab Emirates and Brazil, in media art festivals, museums and the public space interventions. Currently, Mike Rijnierse is a listed artist on We Are Europe network.
As a docent at the Design Art Technology department of ArtEZ University of the Arts, Arnhem, since 2009, Rijnierse has devised the course Design of Instruments, where students research and create instruments that transcend technological domains, exploring new and obsolete media.
Over two decades, Rijnierse has developed a meticulous study on the interaction between light and the retina. He gave concrete form to his discoveries through the series of light installations CYMRGB. These works can be described as optical music or opto-acoustics, by animating colored surfaces in time with composed light projections. His work Lumokinese has been widely exhibited since 2008 and most notably been presented along masterpieces by László Moholy-Nagy, Dan Flavin, Adam Barker-Mill, Gianni Colombo and others, at Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven (NL) in 2016.
Together with Ludmila Rodrigues, he has developed more recently the Sunset in Delft (2021), and Sunset in The Hague (2022), a light monument for urban spaces. The work explores our relationship between the phenomenon of the sunset – its radiance and the perception of the horizon – with image production.
Another of his light sculptures, Cube, operates on the kaleidoscopic principle of multiple reflections, by displaying several mirrors at perpendicular angles, forming a cube that is lit from inside. In contrast to the classical kaleidoscope, where light enters the object, Cube embodies light from within and projects its multiplication outwards into the space. Cube is choreographed by an autonomic algorithm that directs the synergy between light and sound, developed in collaboration with artist Rob Bothof.
These works allude to optical instruments and devices such as the Laterna magica, kaleidoscopes and the zoetrope that are considered to be precursors of film, animation and digital media. Mike Rijnierse is not guided by nostalgia, his interest is in questioning the current production of image and examining visual perception, since devices and instruments of today no longer show their process and therefore work as ‘black boxes’. By showing the process of production of light, color, source and shadow, he illustrates how illusion and vision are intertwined.
As a selected artist of SHAPE 2017, Mike Rijnierse premiered Relief at festival Novas Frequências in Rio de Janeiro (BR). Relief, developed in collaboration with Rob Bothof, is an installation that explores echolocation by means of ultrasound. The work examines the process of hearing, decomposing reflections of the space which inform orientation, emphasizing the relationship between source and receiver. Relief is therefore an echo sculpture.
Rijnierse’s sonic sculptures Klok (2015), Relief (2016), Soundman (2017), Piano / Forte (2018), Adaptation #1 (2019) and Sino (2021) explore the acoustic domain. In fact, the phenomenon of echo and reflection is a recurring theme in the work of Mike Rijnierse. As architect Juhani Pallasmaa wrote in ‘The Eyes of the Skin’: “Sight isolates, whereas sound incorporates; vision is directional, sound is omni-directional. The sense of sight implies exteriority, whereas sound creates an experience of interiority. I regard an object, but sound approaches me; the eye reaches, but the ear receives. Buildings do not react to our gaze, but they do return our sound back to our ears.”
Another facet of Rijnierse’s work are interventions in public space. The artist developed THX: INT’L (landing strip) for TodaysArt festival 2007. During TodaysArt’s 2008 edition, he developed Station to Station, in collaboration with Staalplaat Soundsystem and Erik Hobijn. In this project the entire railway station of The Hague Central – including its building, trains, trams and passersby – were used for a large scale sound performance, with the timetable of the trains and trams serving as the basis of the composition. The train tracks were interpreted as sliders of a sound mixer, while the train station operated its normal schedule.
For TodaysArt 2015 Mike Rijnierse presented two works: Klok , a 100kg church bell that was thrown down, every hour from the bungee jump tower of the Pier of Scheveningen. The 60 meters free fall of the bell added a Doppler effect to its tolling sound. The second work, 5,4,3,2,1…Lift-Off, performed in the opening of the festival, simulated the launching of a space rocket, where Rijnierse deployed a monumental amount of light, sound, smoke and pyrotechnics, in coordination with a pool of experts to yield the visceral sensation of a rocket launch. In essence, the two works, Klok and 5,4,3,2,1…Lift-Off, complement one another as vertical gestures, while the Doppler effect was represented in both a fall and a colossal lift-off.
Besides individual projects, Mike Rijnierse has collaborated with musicians, producers and theater collectives, such as Rosa Ensemble and GöteborgsOperan.
Interview with Régine Debatty (we-make-money-not-art)
Interview with Lucia Udvardyova, SHAPE
ArchiNed on Locating ArtScience
Metropolis M on Science of Sound