Van Gogh in Me is a live media performance conceived together with the Nederlands Kamerkoor; an immersive audiovisual experience, where the works of two iconic artists of the time, Vincent Van Gogh and Gustav Klimt, accompany the audience through an all-round, immersive journey through the fin de siècle of the 19th century.

rhoneA time of intense change, the show retraces the history of the commonly called Belle Epoque, going from the 1870s to the outbreak of the first world war, through the melodies of musicians of the time, such as Satie, Debussy and Mahler, and the reimagined works of Van Gogh and Klimt. An emotionally-charged experience, the show is a succession of narrative climaxes where the history of those decades finds new interpretations through its cultural scene. At the same time, thanks to microphones and sensors, the emotions, gestures and singing of the people taking part in the performance are detected and tracked, subsequently influencing the visual output of the show. A unique way to live the works of the artists, to stimulate diverse thinking and create new, unprecedented connections between elements: Van Gogh in Me is a reinterpretation of the past that could not be more intertwined with our contemporaneity.

"And in a painting I’d like to say something consoling, like a piece of music.”
Vincent Van Gogh

vg premiereCONCEPT

We started developing the main narration of the show together with the Nederlands Kamerkoor, in a four-handed process that characterized the full production of the performance. The main intention was narrating Europe at the end of the 19th century (1880-1914), drawing bridges with the present through a stratification of events and meanings.

This interconnection of elements is reflected by the structure of the show and by the three languages employed: the choral music interpreted by the Chamber Choir, the visual level on which the artistic journey of the two artists takes place and, lastly, the technology, which processes real-time data (through sentiment analysis) making the final experience a cross between performance, concert and participatory installation.dir4

face girl2The result is an experience where the boundaries between music and image blur: the paintings become audible, the sounds acquire materiality in an all-round experience that swallows the audience. The public’s role is not only about being spectators but becomes, together with the choir, an active participant in the creation of the work: it is their memory that activates the historical component, their emotions that influence the animations of the performance. It is this interrelationship that characterizes the work: all the elements influence one another in an infinite loop, suggesting a unique and exhaustive understanding of the time period.flowersSTORYLINE

The storyline of Van Gogh in Me leads the audience through the fin-de-siècle, by means of the life stories of Klimt and Van Gogh and the historical context of the Europe in which they lived. These two different perspectives are the perfect pretext to tackle the historical events that interested the continent from the mid-19th century to the Great War through the eyes of the artists, creating new parallelisms between the historical context and their personal lives and emotions.

The show develops around 15 pieces chosen from composers of the time: Saint-Saens, Debussy, Rilke, Satie, Alma and Gustav Mahler, Strauss and Schönberg. Each song enters in dialogue with the works of Van Gogh and Klimt and their historical background, adding a new layer of complexity to the narration.graph3

goldThese musical pieces symbolically trace the lives of the two artists covering their private and artistic journeys. The first part focuses on Van Gogh's life, scaling from a narrow to a wider view, from the personal to the collective, up to the universal: walks in the fields, portraits of peasants, inner turmoil, loneliness, despair. In the central part, the torment is sublimated through the expressive power of his works and the influence they have had on Klimt's art. The final part tells the evolution of Klimt's style, the refuge in beauty at the dawn of the Great War, as summarized in one of his most surprising works: Beethoven Frieze. The music, in the same way, follows the narrative thread of the story with sometimes intimate and sweet atmospheres, sometimes dark and disturbing.

At the same time, the audience witnesses the unfolding of events through historical films and photo material. Images of the bustling city and idyllic countryside leave space to the devastation caused by an impending war with marching armies and bleak trenches, to which follows a rebirth, the final return of peace, of new life, over the ruins of destruction.


In order to encourage the audience’s immersion in the narration and visuals, two huge screens are arranged in a V-shape behind the main scene, which host the 32 singers and conductor of the Nederlands Kamerkoor. The paintings of Van Gogh and Klimt, alternated with historical materials, evolve in continuous, slow-moving animations according to real-time data collected from the theater hall.sens8

software sensors9These data influence the visual processing of the paintings: the protagonist of the narration is the choral performance of the choir who, in parallel with the musical component, also influence the generation of the visuals of the show. The voices of the 32 choristers of the Nederlands Kamerkoor are detected through 8 panoramic microphones that return the overall musical image. Four soloists also wear a personal microphone, which allows a more in-depth sound analysis of the individual voice, and a GSR (Galvanic Skin Response) Shimmer sensor for real-time detection of their emotional state (Emotional Arousal).

At the same time, the audience also has an important part in the process: an infrared camera detects and collects their emotions through Face-Detection and successively extracts Emotion Analysis data from the spectators' faces.greenGif3

graph stage software3 01Finally, the conductor represents the physical and emotional link between the audience and the choir: the gestures and emotions derived from the expressions on his face are, in turn, analyzed and inserted into the process.

All the parties that create and experience the performance thus collaborate in the co-creation of the final work, which becomes an original, unique piece of art. In doing so, all the participating groups can perceive their own role and function in the creation of the performance, which places the audience in a completely different position: Van Gogh in Me allows for a participative action and gives new agency to the attendees by positioning them onto a level of importance closer to all the other parties that constitute the show.CollageVISUALS

Thanks to the collaboration with Van Gogh Museum of Amsterdam and Austrian Gallery Belvedere it was possible to work on high resolution images of the paintings. This allowed us to train neural networks (through Generative Adversarial Network) on single paintings or on the basis of stylistic themes recurring in several works. These elaborations have become real explorations of the style and trait of the two artists, revealing a definition and a wealth of detail otherwise not perceptible to the human eye.gan


During the development of the visuals, we also tried to blend complex behaviors initially inspired by the organic world with the amount of data we were able to decode from the high-resolution paintings. The rules used to influence the agents take into account local features and the way in which the two artists distributed the pigments on the canvas.

This is where the set of data collected in real time during the performance comes into play: it is employed to influence and give a continuous variation to the visual behaviors and animations. The visuals thus evolve like a living organism in a continuous dialogue that goes back and forth between the audience and the choir, embodying the feelings and emotions of that very contemporaneity of the performance.starryGanGif3At the same time, the lives of Van Gogh and Klimt are immersed in the atmosphere of the 19th century, recreated through photogrammetric reconstructions of the city of Vienna from historical films and photographic material of the time. The spatial, three dimensional component has been restored to the scenes through Depth Estimation techniques based on Deep Learning. The landscapes are also intertwined with the works and gaze of the two artists thanks to the application of the shades used in their paintings and to Style Transfer techniques on three-dimensional point clouds reconstructing the city of Vienna.streetsMUSIC

The music underpins and accompanies the whole narration of the show. The selected pieces focus on Paris in the late 19th century and on Vienna in the early 20th century and are divided into 7 chapters, following the dramaturgical line of the story: from a poignant choral setting of Mahler's Fifth Symphony Adagietto, to Richard Strauss' breathtaking "Traumlicht", to the defeatist "Ich bin der Welt should be Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen". The performance ends with Arnold Schönberg's Friede auf Erden from 1907, a direct reference to its visual counterpart, Klimt's Beethoven Frieze. The choice of focusing on an exclusively fin-de-siècle repertoire allows the music to function as a bridge between the past and the present, and also audibly reflect the mood and emotions of its visual counterpart.mother

Production: fuse*, Nederlands Kamerkoor
Art Direction: Mattia Carretti, Luca Camellini, Tido Visser
Executive Production: Nederlands Kamerkoor
Initiative: Tido Visser
Concept: Mattia Carretti, Luca Camellini, Tido Visser, Matteo William Salsi, Samuel Pietri, Giulia Caselli
Software Artists: Luca Camellini, Matteo William Salsi, Samuel Pietri, Giovanni Checchia, Alessandro Mintrone
Sound Analysis: Riccardo Bazzoni
Hardware Engineering: Matteo Mestucci
Conductor: Peter Dijkstra
Choreography: Nanine Linning
Historic Consultant: Edwin Becker
Creative Project Management: Ichun Yeh (Sozo Artists)
Paintings Suppliers: Van Gogh Museum, Austrian Gallery Belvedere
Light Design: Maarten Van Dorp
Sound Design: Jasper Schweppe
Technical operator: Jacco Windt
Video Report: Twan Peeters


Future Shows:

24 February 2024 - Muziekgebouw Eindhoven / Eindhoven, NL
01 - 02 March 2024 - Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Tsim Sha Tsui / Hong Kong, HK
06 - 07 March 2024 - Grand Theatre / Shanghai, CN

Past Shows:

03 December 2022 - TivoliVredenburg / Utrecht, NL
11 November 2022 - Schouwburg / Hengelo, NL (try-out)
12 November 2022 - De Lievekamp / Oss, NL (try-out)
13 November 2022 - Koninklijk Theater Carré / Amsterdam, NL (première)
15 November 2022 - Theater de Vest / Alkmaar, NL
17 November 2022 - Philharmonie / Haarlem, NL
18 November 2022 - Musis / Arnhem, NL
20 November 2022 - Parkstad Limburg Theaters / Kerkrade, NL
28 November 2022 - SPOT / Groningen, NL
30 November 2022 - Amare / Den Haag, NL
01 December 2022 - Schouwburg Concertzaal / Tilburg, NL
02 December 2022 - Chassé Theater / Breda, NL