Artist Gery Bouw designed a modern variation on stained glass  

Issued: Mark Magazine
Text: Nils Groot

At the end of the 17th century, the auditorium of the University of Maastricht was built as an abbey for the Friar Minors. Since then it has had various uses, ranging from a prison and court of law during the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte to, from 1995, a building housing the governing body of the University of Maastricht. The original sanctuary is being used as an auditorium for lectures and talks. The windows and doors have been replaced by an art project by Gery Bouw; a combination of coloured glass and various photos.

The technology used for this project was also applied in the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision in Hilversum, as was extensively discussed in Mark #5. Subsequently, the technology has been further developed by research firm TNO Eindhoven. 'This means that the resolution has become higher and that the colours can be separated,' according to the artist. The project began as an experiment to print large photos on glass. This was done using what is known as an HCT-printer, which can only print within the RGB colour spectrum. Bouw states: 'This printer only works with red, green and blue, or a combination thereof. This very much limits the choice of colour.' The final result is a blue, purple and green colour pallet that changes to yellow, orange and red, whereby the last three colours match the colours of the chairs at the back of the room. On the same principal, the blue and purple colours match the blue wall and grey floor. The images printed on the glass have been inspired by nature and include scenes from the landscape of the region.

After the design has been printed it is fused with the insulation glass using a dry melting technique. Paul Roman, initiator and employee at Saint Gobain Glas, explains the manufacturing process: 'In this product printed enamels are melted in the glass. The printed dots are applied to the glass and it all goes into the furnace where the glass is heated to a temperature of 800 C. At this temperature the glass becomes plastic. During this process the powder sinks half a millimetre into the glass, producing the so-called stained glass effect.'

There are two major differences between the windows that have been used in this auditorium and the glass tiles that were applied in the Institute for Sound and Vision. According to Roman: 'In Neutelings Riedijk's Sound and Vision building, the images are joined together like a giant garland. Furthermore, the photos are in relief which has the effect of making the seem to jump out at you. In the audi- torium of the University of Maastricht we have used a much more refined structure, meaning we could work with much higher resolutions. Also, these images have been printed on insulation glass, which protects against the sun.'

This Case Study appeared in Mark Magazine 18.