Mikkel participated in the open call organized by Highlight Delft in collaboration with STUD student employment agency last fall. With his pitch on the audio-visual installation Curved Sounds, the Leiden University student overwhelmed the jury and was awarded a budget to continue developing his project. This week Mikkel will present his work at Highlight Delft. ‘It is incredible that I got this opportunity. I hope I can really make this my profession later on!’

How did you find out about the open call?

I found out through a lecturer at Leiden University. Several lecturers there have set up Discord groups for the courses they teach. In those groups, they share announcements and other relevant information with the students. So one day I saw the announcement for the open call and decided to sign up.

And you won! What was going through your mind at the time?

I was really surprised. I hadn’t gone there thinking I would win! The work I was presenting, at least the audio part, I had already made for my master’s before. I thought the effect of sound moving around you was very cool, and it fit well with this year’s theme of perception. Coincidentally, that was for a course taught by Edwin van de Heijde, who was at Highlight Delft last year with his work The Line.

When I suddenly won, my first thought was, “Yes, now I have to finish it!” But I was also incredibly happy. It was really great to get that opportunity! During my bachelor’s degree in product design, I discovered the importance of combining engineering and creativity. During my master’s I continued that combination. My dream is to be able to develop that further and make a career out of it.

How did you experience the collaboration with Highlight Delft?

Until about two weeks ago, I worked independently on the project. I had enough time and resources to perfect the audio part of the installation. But during STUD’s open call, the condition had been set that a visual aspect should also be developed. I noticed that I found that more difficult to realize. Through Highlight Delft I was linked to Willem’s Werkplaats and they arranged for a laser show to be added last Tuesday. Highlight Delft really helped me with the last bit, because I had no experience or possibilities for this myself. I have programmed visualizations before, but the effect is much better with a laser show than on a wall or screen.

To what extent does the location where you present impact your work?

The beauty of this installation is that it can actually be exhibited anywhere. We were originally supposed to be at the Arsenaal, but due to building reasons that couldn’t happen. Now we are in The Social Hub. My work is quite easy to adapt. With larger speakers, it would work in a large room, but it would also work in a smaller room. So I wasn’t unsure about where I could present, because it can actually be done anywhere. I could continue to develop just fine in the meantime.
So I have my own little room in the hub, in one of the meeting rooms at the end of the hallway. In the corners will be speakers and between them a laser projection is projected. The sound follows mathematical patterns through the room and the laser then follows that. It’s really nice to have a room of one’s own, though, because otherwise the work wouldn’t come out so well.

What’s so great about your work?

As an artist, as well as an engineer and technician, I strive to realize all my ideas. In this project, I have brought together different disciplines, such as 3D printing, interaction design, electronics and software development. It is inspiring to be able to use and share these diverse skills. This also allows me to collaborate with others on projects because I am familiar with different fields. I have enough knowledge in different fields, not necessarily as an expert, but enough to progress. In this way, I keep making progress. I love helping others realize their ideas. Nothing is impossible!

What are you looking forward to this coming week?

I’m extremely curious about SH4D0W, so I’m going there on Saturday night! I was actually lined up for it during Ars Electronica in Austria, but unfortunately I had to miss it due to the crowds. And, of course, I want to see as many other works as possible.