Photo 1 of 2: made on day 1/10 before Ephemeral Data started.
Inside the large white square a 12 x 9 meter sand mandala was created.

Ephemeral Data

The internet is evolving from an archive machine into a performance machine. Storing, saving and archiving copies of copies of copies is becoming obsolete. Temporary, local and unique content is becoming the new status quo. Today’s teenagers are already accustomed to this shift in digital culture.


Ephemeral Data was a performance that stretched across the full ten days of the SPRING Performing Arts Festival (16 – 25 May 2019, Utrecht, NL) and visualised this shift in digital culture. Ephemeral Data used sand, the raw material from which fibre optic cables are made, to create a sand mandala of 12 by 9 meters representing Utrecht’s complete digital infrastructure. Each telecom cable and cell tower was visualised.


The sand mandala was created by a group of performers in their utmost concentration, inch by inch and grain by grain. The public could witness this slow and focused process on a daily basis from 14:00 – 22:00. The public also received a small sticker when entering Ephemeral Data to cover up their smartphone camera: any photo or video documentation of the artwork by visitors was prohibited. 


On the 10th and final day of SPRING the performers wiped the sand mandala away in presence of the public. The only thing left was a heap of sand. Apart from two photo of the artwork, day 1 when nothing is created yet and day 10 when everything was erased, nothing is visually documented. The work will never be seen again.




2019, 12×9 meter
444 hours, 12 performers, 108 glass plates, 216 trestles, 250 kg sand and 6 chakpurs.



Paul Schmidt
Thijs Veerman
Clémence Girard
Joana Ćuiko
Kevin Ruijters
Ward Bruning
Jana Wassenberg
Thami Joe Fischer
Caesár van Daal
Sietske de Vries
Jette van Ravesteyn
Marlise Trouwborst


Photo’s by

Gert Jan van Rooij


Co-produced by

SPRING Performing Arts Festival


Made possible by

Creative Industries Fund NL
Municipality Utrecht
Fentener van Vlissingen Fonds
Stichting Stokroos

Photo 2 of 2: made on day 10/10 just after Ephemeral Data was erased.

Close up of 444 hours of performance.

Instagram interview about Ephemeral Data with visitor

Instagram interview about Ephemeral Data with performers

Traces of one of the six workstations used to create Ephemeral Data.

Drawing by visitor of Ephemeral Data

Drawing made by visitor during visit Ephemeral Data.

Chakpurs: tools used to create the sand mandala.

Excerpts of daily audio recordings during Ephemeral Data

Instagram Stories concerning Ephemeral Data’s start by Jeroen van Loon