The Ephemeral Lake

Jakob Kudsk Steensen

To mark the 250th birthday of Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) in 2024, the Hamburger Kunsthalle is presenting The Ephemeral Lake, an immersive installation that combines the unique expressive power of the works of the important Romantic painter with digital landscapes of the 21st century. The latest project by Danish artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen (*1987) combines landscape painting with the latest digital media technology such as 3D animation, interactive design, virtual worldbuilding and ambisonic sound in a site-specific spatial installation. With this visually stunning work inspired by Caspar David Friedrich, Steensen explores the impressive natural phenomenon of "Ephemeral Lakes". The geological term describes the formation of periodically occurring accumulations of water in dry, barren, often desert-like landscapes.

Steensen combines thousands of photographs and scans of the landscape and the flora and fauna from his most recent research trips to Death Valley and the Mojave Desert in California (USA) with the help of 3D animation, sound and light effects to create a multi-sensory environment. The constantly changing virtual world of The Ephemeral Lake generates new variations in real time and interacts with glass sculptures made especially for the installation and a spatial sound created in collaboration with sound artist Okkyung Lee and composer Lugh O'Neill. The audio installation reacts to atmospheric changes in the virtual world and combines sound recordings from Death Valley with instrumental sounds that reflect the seismic shifts deep below the valley of the desert lake.

The digital installation transforms two overlapping halls - the prestigious Kuppelsaal and the Rotunda of the Hamburger Kunsthalle - into an immersive Gesamtkunstwerk. The virtual spaces combine with the visitors' inner worlds to create a very personal experience and thus thematise - in the spirit of Romantic painting - the preoccupation with nature and the relationship between figure and landscape.

Jakob Kudsk Steensen uses 3D animation, sound and digital technologies to create immersive installations that bring often overlooked or endangered natural phenomena to life through virtual simulations. Most recently, his works Liminal Lands were exhibited at Luma Arles and Berl-Berl at Halle am Berghain in Berlin and at the ARoS Museum of Art in Aarhus.

Artist and Creator: Jakob Kudsk Steensen

Co-Producer: Elizabeth Kircher

Curator: Ulrich Schrauth

Experimental Sound Artist: Okkyung Lee

Music Composition: Lugh O’Neill

3D Development and Design: Jakob Kudsk Steensen & Erratic Animist Studio

Technical Manager: Wouter Weynants

Installation Producer: Andrea Familari

Project Producer/Studio Management: Alex Boyes

The Ephemeral Lake | Jakob Kudsk Steensen

April 2 - October 27, 2024

Hamburger Kunsthalle

Glockengießerwall 5

20095 Hamburg


Artworks © Jakob Kudsk Steensen

Installation view at Hamburger Kunsthalle: Christoph Irrgang