Simon Heijdens’ Simulated Naturalism

Simon Heijdens - Shade


Almost at home in William Gibsion’s Spook Country, visual artist Simon Heijdens has found a way to take technology and apply it to visual art in a novel way that’s spawning a new tangent of thought in the debate on the rapidity of technological development and the loss of our inherent nature as a biological species.

According to the Dutch artist, the increasing verticality of our world—the attractiveness of urbanism in particular—has muted the world and its once chaotic and exciting relationship with man. From indoor lighting to complete homeostatic systems that maintain temperature and moisture in our homes, he sees it as a sort-of antithesis to what it means to be an organic being.

Heijdens has made waves in the last few months throughout Europe and the United States with installations that feature closed, stand-alone ecosystems influenced by real-time data collected from software he created.


In “Shade,” one of his more popular pieces, wind is tracked from the street, its strength, direction, accompanying precipitation, and the passing of natural light. What this does is simulate the movement of branches on trees on glass, giving those viewing a natural view of the world outside, removing the urban filters that isolate buildings from passersby.

“Shade,” which has been featured in London and Chicago, comprises of 1,500 feet of curved glass replacing the gallery’s windows. The shimmer of light and shift opacity are made possible by a homemade rig built by Heijdens.


“Lightweeds,” which those in the New York area can see right now at the MOMA, is a more interactive piece. Like others, data collected of current weather conditions just outside the installation are used to influence the growth length and direction of the digital fauna displayed on walls and ceilings. And, to better reinforce his aims of bringing his audience closer to nature through simulation, those walking by can “touch” a weed, watch it sway and blow its seeds to another end of the installation to grow into a new plant.

Heijdens is currently on tour with his installations and you can learn more about his future with digital naturalism by visiting his site.

To learn more about Heijdens personal philosophy, you can see the complete interview.

Videos of Heijdens installations can be found on his personal Vimeo profile.

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Written by Daniel Rodriguez
Daniel Rodriguez is a freelance writer and author from New York City.

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