Apollo
40 Under 40 Art and Tech

Jakob Kudsk Steensen

20 September 2021

New York

The Danish artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen describes his work as ‘environmental storytelling’. The term originated in gaming, describing how the arrangement of objects in the game world creates narrative, but with his physical and virtual immersive environments – often made in collaboration with experts in other fields – Steensen gives it a pronounced ecological twist. In 2019, he was selected to create the Serpentine Gallery’s inaugural Augmented Architecture Commission; The Deep Listener (2019) was a site-specific augmented-reality app that took users on an ‘ecological expedition’ to find five species that inhabit Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. For his latest, ongoing project, Berl-Berl, Steensen has transformed the Halle am Berghain in Berlin into a swamp, using a method known as macro photogrammetry to take many hundreds of photographs of a single object – a leaf, or a patch of mud – before feeding them through a video-game engine to create a large-scale, 3D digital environment; it’s an evocation of the wetlands, drained in the 18th century, that are thought to have given Berlin its name (‘Berl’ is Old Slavic for ‘swamp’).

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