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The engaging interactive Miniscule Blue Helmets on a Massive Quest was spearheaded by designer Pierre Derks, a project which has also spawned a new book.
Starting in the Hague in Holland, the task engaged people all over the world to shoot photos of 50,000 little plastic toy soldiers wearing hand-painted blue helmets, hats or berets from over 60 global locations. The blue helmets and berets are a nod to the colored helmets worn by the UN Peacekeepers.
The mass manifestation of the Miniscule Blue Helmets in public space implies that the potential of getting confronted with a heavily armed blue helmeted soldier is within reach of a global audience. Although it is obvious that the encounter is rather different from running into a real-life UN Blue Helmet [shown below], it might just trigger the same questions and feelings about their presence and deployment.
The photos, shot by varying individuals, are then uploaded to a global Google map with a geo tag so you can access where the image was shot and by whom.
The Mini Blue Soldiers Google map can be viewed as either terrain or satellite:
Click upon the icon of the little blue helmets on the google map and you'll get the location, the name of the photographer and the opportunity to view the photograph.
There's no end to the places these little soldiers have been captured. From inside a little apartment in Amsterdam:
to on the ledge of the Grand Canyon:
Eyewitnesses of the quest have submitted hundreds of photos like the ones shown below:
Miniscule Blue Helmets on a Massive Quest, the Book by Pierre Derks
“Tiny in size, huge in scope”
The book ‘Miniscule Blue Helmets on a Massive Quest’ by Pierre Derks shows the worldwide intervention of 50,000 plastic toy soldiers with blue hand-painted helmet, beret or hat by means of 500 selected photo's of the mini Blue Helmets on locations in more than 60 countries. An international spectrum of specialists shares in the book their reflections on the project and their expertise on topics that are related.
The book contains text contributions (written in English) by: Susan Manuel, Roger Stahl, Jonathan Vickery, Patrick M. Regan, Jos Morren, Linda Polman, Matt Groff, Christ Klep en Damon Stanek.
The open nature of the project has led to a fascinating variety of outcomes that contributed to the layered meaning. An example is the adoption of the project by Dutch Blue Helmet veterans who took part in the UN mission in Lebanon (70's / 80's). Jos Morren (Association of dutch military war and service victims): “Frank bought 2,000 of those little green men and painted the helmets blue himself, constantly carrying them with him and leaving them in tactical spots. (...) Eric took it more slow, but became inseparable from his one Miniscule Blue Helmet. Very handy, because if you lose touch with the world because of a psychological blockade, you just put your little buddy on the table. Very effective in such a situation. Out of the blue, those boys were suddenly given a healthy, creative form of self medication, through the art of Derks.”
Order the book here
The publication is made possible with the support of Fonds BKVB (The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture). The project expanded in collaboration with LhGWR and the TodaysArt Festival.