Lucas De Man uses art to help bring more social cohesion to our cities

His latest project called EYE humanises the anonymous city by giving it eyes and offering visitors new perspectives.

Over the past couple of years Europe has experienced a financial crisis alongside a refugee crisis, both of which have made the lack of social cohesion within the society apparent.

For director, actor and concept developer Lucas De Man, this presented an opportunity for Europeans to look a bit more inward as well as around their cities.

His latest art installation called EYE is a good example of this.

 Directed by De Man and designed by Pascal Leboucq, the project consists of five enormous eyes hanging from different buildings throughout Amsterdam. The eyes are designed as a reaction to the crumbling social cohesion that challenges cities today.

Each EYE seats one visitor at a time, hanging inside the installation at the edge of a building. 

 As the visitor looks through the open pupil over the city, the installation invites them to look closer, then the pupil closes and they are able to get an audio-visual theatrical experience.

This recent work from De Man, who will be speaking at Design Indaba Conference 2019, is just one of the ways he is using art to help encourage and empower citizens to more actively participate in their city.

For example, he put together a team that travelled through Europe over a month where they visited experts as well as millennials in eight countries and 13 cities.

Called Search of Europa, Discovery of the Self, the project would lead to another, this time exploring six East Asian cities over six weeks called Meet The Millennials which saw the team speak to over 100 millennials.

In an interview following the trip he explained to Culture 360 that the younger generation is not drawn to traditional arts but that they do appreciate art forms that energise and entice them.

“The need for good storytelling is greater than ever. We have no ‘Big Truths’ anymore, so we have to figure out everything on our own. Storytelling, personal, direct and more participative art forms are becoming more popular because they don’t pretend to know it all. They are closer to the people.”

 Storytelling and using different formats to appeal to audiences from different walks of life is at the heart of the work De Man does as the artistic director of New Heroes.

New Heroes, which is an Amsterdam-based artistic collective, is known for creating moments in which one can encounter themselves.

One of their award-winning projects is a city research installation called Sketch.

For the project De Man and Leboucq worked with a young architect to try and examine the psyche and desires of different cities.

They did this by using sketching paper to build an empty room in a public space of architectural proportion. They then invited the public to share their ideas on what an ideal city looks like. All the drawings and ideas are collected from residents over a three day period before presenting back what the ideal city looks like according to its residents.

The installation has travelled to different cities across Europe.

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