Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam

The flashlight of your phone will help you navigate the titles of the works.

I See That I See What You Don’t See presents a layered, multidimensional image of the relationship that humans, animals and landscapes maintain with darkness. In the Netherlands — one of the most illuminated countries in the world — it is seldom dark, which influences the well-being and behaviour of all living organisms.

In the form of a kaleidoscopic landscape composed by a forest, a panorama, and a forum I See That I See What You Don’t See takes the visitor into a world where designers, artists and researchers investigate the meaning of overexposure and darkness. Design has made a significant contribution to the disturbance of the natural balance but may also be used to restore our relationship with darkness.

From 1 March to 1 September 2019, I See That I See What You Don’t See was shown as the Dutch contribution to the XXII Triennale di Milano. Paola Antonelli (senior curator of design and architecture, Museum of Modern Art, New York) developed the overarching theme Broken Nature, Design Takes on Human Survival, focussing on the broken relationship between man and earth. Antonelli doubts whether the earth can be saved, but thinks design can have a healing effect, and thus benefit processes of destruction and detachment.

Drawing attention to the urgency of the theme outside the context of the Triennale, Het Nieuwe Instituut is restaging the exhibition. The new scenography is referencing the presentation of architect Aldo van Eyck at the 1968 Triennale in which he reflected on the main theme of The Greater Number — the issue of population growth. Van Eyck designed an extremely dark pavilion both in form and content. Under the title The Enigma of Vast Multiplicity, he not only expressed concern for the state of the world, but also questioned the ability of society and designers to formulate an answer.

In 1968, the presentation remained quite literally in the dark. As in other European cities, students took to the streets of Milan to protest against the ‘old system’. They saw the Triennale as a symbol of the classical order, therefore destroying presentations and occupying the Triennale building before it even opened.

In I See That I See What You Don’t See, the presentation of 2019 meets that of 1968. The exhibition is designed to emphasise that the urgency of 50 years ago still exists today, and still requires a radically different approach.


The Netherlands is one of the most illuminated countries on the globe. Its productive landscape — dependent on data, technology and energy — illustrates a 24 hour economy that emphasises efficiency and growth. At the same time, this landscape reflects the changing relationship with the natural rhythms connected to, and affected by, the cycles of light and darkness. In a world that is always switched on, the traditional dichotomy between day and night seems no longer relevant in terms of productivity, while the experience of clear, starry skies has become a rarity.

This hyper-connected and controlled environment where the borders between nature, ecology, technology and culture increasingly fade is the result of persistent acts of design. By questioning the overarching yet invisible presence of this environment, I See That I See What You Don’t See speculates on design as both problem and solution, a destructive as well as a restorative endeavour.

The project deploys the panorama as a spatial model. Originally designed to create the illusion of a panoptic vision of the world, the panorama here articulates a fragmented, non-binary, and incomplete representation of a contemporary landscape. This viewing mechanism acts as a carrier of research as well as a layered horizon encapsulating historical and current modes of seeing. Dioramas, projections, or smooth screens reveal research, films, performances, sound and scent-scapes designed by the different contributors. These are openings to what we don’t generally get, or choose, to see. Together they evidence how current modes of understanding the environment and the multispecies relationship with darkness are designed, and how they could therefore be redesigned.


Guus Beumer
(Artistic and General Director,
Het Nieuwe Instituut)

Angela Rui
(Design Curator and Researcher)
Marina Otero Verzier
(Director of Research,
Het Nieuwe Instituut)

Francien van Westrenen
(Head of Agency,
Het Nieuwe Instituut)

Academy of Urban Astronauts
Aldo van Eyck
BMB con.
Bregtje van der Haak, Jacqueline Hassink, Richard Vijgen, in collaboration with VPRO, Studio Richard Vijgen, Rob Schröder
Danilo Correale in collaboration with Aman Negi (Mumbai), Miguel Lorenzo Uy (Manila), Maurizio Esposito, Vasco Forconi, Luisa Lorenza Corna
Design Academy Eindhoven, 1st year, Social Design Master. Seminar led by Angela Rui with Anastasia Kubrak. Students: Alice Bardou, Charly Blödel, Bianca Carague, Roberta Di Cosmo, Coline Declef, Charlelie Flamant, Giulio Fuzzi, Jan-Micha Gamer, Anna Klara Iversen, Anna Jakob, Liana Kuyumcuyan, Coltrane Mcdowell, Matilde Patuelli, Victoria Plasteig, Marta Rioz Piza, Elsa Rambaut, Sam Shamsher, Alina Natalia Słup, Adi Ticho
Leanne Wijnsma, in collaboration with International Flavors and Fragrances
Lucy McRae, in collaboration with Machine Histories (fabrication). Made possible by the financial support of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (Australia)
Marjolijn Dijkman, Toril Johannessen
Research Department, Het Nieuwe Instituut (Marten Kuijpers and Ludo Groen), in collaboration with Johannes Schwartz
Heritage Department, Het Nieuwe Instituut (Suzanne Mulder)
Melvin Moti
Pascal van Hulst, Oscar Peña
Ramon Amaro in collaboration with AmazonPrimeQueen (Victoria McKenzie), DeForrest Brown Jr., Jon Davies (Kepla), Jorge Lucero Diaz, Conrad Moriarty-Cole (performers), Antonio Lara (audio), Carlos Lopes (video direction and editing)
Wineke van Muiswinkel

Olivier Goethals,
spatial intervention
Rudy Guedj,
graphic design and visuals

Art Direction
Maureen Mooren

Exhibition website (
Rudy Guedj
Robert Milne

Lapidar, Dinamo

Research Assistance
Ania Molenda

Christiane Bosman
Eveline Mulckhuyse
Silvie van Oost,
Het Nieuwe Instituut

Translations and editing
Jack Eden
Gert Staal

Project Managers
Mark van Veen
Ellen Zoete, Het Nieuwe Instituut

Leen Brand
Rob Gijsbers
Hans Jansen
Bouwko Landstra
Basile Maree
Koert Verberne