Revealing the making of Ripperton — Niwa Artwork

There obviously was a big trend featuring circles on album covers in 2010, as you can see here. On #10 you see Niwa by Ripperton (Raphaël Gros), which I made in the summer of 2009, in the forest of Markelo and near the River Tarn, St. Eminie, France. Although people tend to think it's a Photoshop job, it's 100% real photography.

Raphael's main inspiration, the Parc de Mon Repos, in Lausanne, Switzerland made him decide to name the album 'Niwa', Japanese for 'Garden'. I started with the idea of not literally visually working with a metaphor or reference to a garden, but focussing more on the principle of entering different places. This triggered a curiousity for a very simple experiment; I tried to simply make a 'hole' in nature, like the game Portal, where one can shoot holes in the walls and then pass through to another room.

The first challenge was to find a huge balloon, in plain white and perfectly circular, that would be strong enough to carry around in the forest. After demolishing a couple of dummies I found the right one.

Then, the task was to lit it up. I used a soda bottle, cut in half, and put a Philips Led light inside it, with the wires through the cap, so it could be lit 'remotely'. With a small cork pressed between the wires, in the small hole, the air wouldn't escape.
I used a compressor connected to my car, and even with the compressor it took 2 hours to get a good shape in the balloon.

After midnight, Quinten and I went to the forest, carrying a big police Mag Lite. I heard its forbidden to enter the forest at night in the Netherlands, because of prevention of hunting, but I'm not so sure about that… The forest of Markelo is one of the darkest places in NL, being there in pitch black darkness was much more frightening than I thought, to my surprise!

It took a couple of hours moving around with the balloon, trying out different settings, between the trees, in the cornfields, on the ground, etc.. all with an average shutter time of 2 minutes on 100 ISO.

Quinten moving the Niwa Balloon across the cornfields

After final selection and edit, I previewed the material to Raphael Grös; his first response; "bro, i'm speachless - give me 15 minutes to recovering and let's talk"

The final design features a booklet, a cd-slipcase held together by a custom sleeve; separating the 'function' and information of each part.

3 x 12" Vinyl Edition

Album review (NL) in De Volkskrant