This is an overview of ongoing research and visual exploration on imagination and beauty surrounding technology. As my artistic practice develops so will my research and this research page.
Cognizant and Reawaken are two kinetic print installations that I have developed. Although both works print abstract prints on paper, they are first-place visualisations of my quest for imagination and beauty around technology.
My fascination for printing machines started during my study Illustration. I was looking for a way to reanimate the dull repetition of production. For this I made a first test called Printer 1.0; an analog print machine that could produce an endless pattern, as a tribute to tactile devices. Making an imprint played the main role in this work. My work then developed further, with the machine itself becoming more prominent. The print is no longer the target but confirms the machine.
The components of my current printing installations are inspired by mechanical and biological movement principles. I collect obsolete printers and various other electronic devices and disassemble them to study the different parts. With these autopsies I increase my knowledge and let myself be inspired. Technology and machines are often synonymous with utility and efficiency, but my research now focuses mainly on the beauty of the machine itself.
WHAT IS THE VALUE OF DOING THIS NOWADAYS? WHY IS THIS SO SPECIAL?
We form our own tools and are transformed by our own creations. On a daily basis we surround ourselves with old and new technology, and experience old technology as “natural”. Technology transforms our identity and is thus part of our human nature. As flowers and bees evolve together, humans develop in a symbiotic relationship with technology.
As a society we mindlessly use our everyday products. Our devices are more connected than ever and disconnected at the same time. We are rolling and scrolling without seeing something new. We are becoming one collective mind, the kind of mind that depends on screens for imagination. Marshall Mc Luhan published his book The Medium is the Message, decades ago. I look around and see mediums mirroring each other. A smartphone is a small tablet, a tablet is a small computer and a computer is a small television. Because we are so integrated with technology, I wonder how this affects our imagination.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACHIEVE?
Reinterpretation [lost] techniques, for the sake of beauty not utility, will generate new ideas of what could be. By creating these fictional printers I hope to combine the technological and the mystical. I want people to have a sense of wonder when they see my work.
1. FAILED TECHNOLOGY.
Technology is a mirror for humanity. Besides creating beauty, technology is there mostly to fulfill our needs. Those needs have evolved on different locations through the ages, creating a wide range of tools which we still benefit from. Research into history will show how much of our inventions we’ve already forgotten because of time and location. There is not one past, there are multiple past which all gave rise to our present.
2. IMPACT DEVICE.
How does the device impact what the user will produce? How does technology influence the imagined result? For example the Malling-Hansen Writing Ball where Nietsche was a fan of. One of Nietsche’s closest friends, writer and composer Heinrich Koselitz, noticed a change in the style of his writing.
Nietsche’s prose had become tighter more telegraphic. “Perhaps you will through this instrument even take to a new idiom,” Koselitz wrote in a letter, noting that, in his own work, “my ‘thoughts’ in music and language often depend on the quality of pen and paper.” “you are right,” Nietzsche replied. “Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts.”
3. PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT OF NEW TECHNOLOGY
What are the consequences of living with technology. Can human en technology be seperated?
People often fear the fast changing technological landscape. That distrust is not something new. Peter Paul Verbeek, Professor of Philosophy of Human and Technology at the University of Twente, describes how in the past people got afraid every time technology took a jump. Verbeek sees technology as a part of us, in every historical timeline. “Technology shapes how we are human, and how we see the world. It has always done that, from the fist ax to the iPhone.”
This jump of technology often bring waves of fear and hallucinations. Near the end of the 19th century typewriters brought a separation from the body. Before we had total control of our penmanship, the typewriter and telegraph replaced this control. This, together with the development of x-rays, frightened people.
Shock Head Soul is a documentation of the autobiography of the 19th century German judge, Daniel Schreber. In 1983 he started getting messages from god via a Writing Down Machine that connected everything with everything. The following 9 years Schreber was confined to an asylum. During his confinement he wrote Memoirs of my Nervous Illness which earned him lasting fame as an outsider artist. With his memoirs he plead and won his case in court, arguing that his belief system was a matter of religious freedom and that he was sane enough to return to society.
4. MEDIA ARCHEOLOGY.
Media archeology attempts to understand new and emerging media through close examination of the past. Often evidence is found in dead media. Dead media is a term, proposed by science fiction writer Bruce Sterling for a compilation of obsolete and forgotten communication technologies. Evidence found in dead media notes how new media often revive and recirculate material and techniques of communication that had been lost, neglected, or obscured.
As the first generation, we experience our own archeology on a daily basis. I want to investigate this by doing autopsies on contemporary and obsolete devices and composing them in a timeline. Look at the past, also at the present. Take them apart and the history will emerge. What history can be found in our contemporary devices?
To develop my installations I research, in theory and practice, hardware and software. Hardware are the physical parts, while software is a set of instructions that can be stored and executed by hardware.
My practical research focuses on moving mechanisms by isolating and enlarging parts of machines and biological mechanisms. Through manual sketches and wooden prototypes I gradually modify the shapes until I am satisfied with this. By making wooden prototypes I convert individual mechanisms into a whole.
My theoretical and practical research influence and guide each other in the creative process.
Mensvoort, Koert van, et al. Volgende natuur. Next Nature Network, 2015.
Huhtamo, Erkki en Pekka Parikka. Media-archeologie: benaderingen, toepassingen en implicaties. University of California Press, 2011.
Avnskog, Sverre. “Friedrich Nietzsche en zijn typemachine – een Malling-Hansen schrijfbal.” De internationale Rasmus Malling-Hansen Society: Friedrich Nietzsche’s Typewriter, Malling-Hansen Society, 2 februari 2008, www.malling-hansen.org/friedrich-nietzsche-and-his-typewriter-a-malling-hansen-writing-ball. html.
Carr, Nicholas. De ondiepten: wat internet met onze hersenen doet. WW Norton & Company, 2011, p. 18.
Blechinger, Joel. “‘ Onze schrijfhulpmiddelen werken ook aan onze gedachten ’: Kittler, Nietzsche en Richlers Facit TP1.” & Between Media & Literature, 5 jan.2018, www.amplab.ca/2017/10/12/writing-tools-also-working-thoughts-kittler-nietzsche-richlers-facit-tp1/.
Verbeek, Peter Paul. Wij hebben geen klauwen dus hebben we ‘n Iphone. NRC. nrc.nl/nieuws/2017/10/06/wij-hebben-geen-klauwen-en-dus-hebben-we-n-iphone-13362323-a1576272. 6 oktober 2017.
Schreber, Daniel Paul. Memoires van mijn zenuwziekte. New York Review of Books, 1955.
Natale, Simone. ‘Inzicht in media-archeologie.’ Canadian Journal of Communication 37.3 (2012).
Bak, Arpad en Bruce Sterling. “Dead Media Project: een interview met Bruce Sterling.” CTheorie (2015): 3-16.