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Centre of attention: elephant or cockerel?


Monday, June 5, 2017

Ten seconds of watching Arttube’s video about the Designing the Surface-exhibition (posted on the website of het Nieuwe Instituut), brings you Chris Kabel, “concept and curator”, saying the following:

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Although just having visited the exhibition, I did not remember seeing a thickset, usually extremely large, nearly hairless, herbivorous mammal (family Elephantidae, the elephant family) that has a snout elongated into a muscular trunk and two incisors in the upper jaw developed especially in the male into long ivory tusks, [x] at all.

I started doubting if I had seen the same exhibition he was talking about but looking at the video we pretty surely had. But also on the screen (see above) there is no elephant to be seen. Maybe the zoo (or, so called fun fair)

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is too big for the elephant to be found? Impossible. Kabel even mentions giving the elephant centre stage,

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so it must not be too hard to find this “elephant.” What is really meant with the elephant in the room,

an obvious major problem or issue that people avoid discussing or acknowledging [x]

is the surface in design: apperently ‘avoided’ (as quoted above) or ‘ignored’ (Chris Kabel), en therefore in Designing the Surface, put in the centre of the room. Also should be to be found in one of the two other animals in the room: the golden cockerel.

The golden cockerel might be a bit rare - it’s one out of the three animals (an elephant, a zebra and a cockerel) n the zoo –  it is one of the first objects to be seen and written about:

ACT I PATINA: How does the fate of a golden cockerel and his companions intertwine with that of the tormented tale of two fountains, the first crafted from copper and the second one built from brass?

All to be found in a zoo perhaps? Or in the near surroundings of a church?

Gold-plated weathercock, lent by Museum de Roode Tooren, is a weathercock like any other apart from the fact that it’s gold-plated, and therefore it doesn’t lose its shine.

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Normally sitting on the church’s tower in Doesburg, shining bright and golden, the weathercock is certainly put in central view. And now put on the ground, looking at it from closer by, we are obviously not looking at the rotting wooden cockerel inside, but at the shiny golden elephant.

 

Gold-plated weathercock. Museum de Rode toren. exh.cat.no2-patina

Niban-Kan building, Tokyo


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Walking around Shinjunku, Tokyo’s district, one may have noticed the unusual buildings standing out on its east side.
The Ichiban-Kan (“building number one”) and the Niban-Kan (“building number two”) were designed by the architect Minory Takeyama in 1966. They were commissioned by a Korean Toyota salesman, asking him to design both buildings at the same time, and finally completed in 1969. Respectively, one was home of 49 tiny bars distributed through its eight floors, and the other hosted bars, clubs and sauna.

Slides from the 1970s, reproducing the two buildings. Domus Archive

 

In 1977, the cover of Charles Jenks’ The Language of Post-Modern Architecture features an enigmatic Japanese building. It raises the Niban-kan as an icon of Supergraphics, along with its adjacent brother building the Ichiban-kan.
Niban-Kan’s colored surface has been painted over by now, blending now with Tokyo building’s flat designs.
But what made this building so special, beside its colorful surface ?

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In the 60’s, East-Shinjuku was the land of protest and porn, where one could meet the radical, intellectual, and other underground Japanese subcultures. This area’s hyper activity led to an important street competition, where signs and speakers had to be bigger and louder.
Minory Takeyama was challenged to implant a new architecture in the given context. It had to stand out of this saturation of lights and neons, while blending in with the energy of the district.

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Entrance of the Ichiban-kan building

 

Japanese architecture is typically vertical, where each floor has a common area with entrances to shops and bars. As architecture was being more and more influenced by western design in term of multi-storey models, Takeyama exploited the local past of architecture and brought the verticality back to the front, creating a vertical street through the facade. The late-Modern “High Architecture” aim to reveal the movement directly from the outside, such as what’s going on, and how to get there.
The front shows the circulation, to arouse curiosity. This is completed by signs that bring an informative layer to the surface. At night, neons reflect on the glazed area, which emphasize the gap between the surface and the platform, and reveal part of the building’s activity.

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Left: a view of the Niban-kan interior today. Right: The same space with the original flooring, as seen in a 1970s Japanese publication, Domus Archive

 

The Niban-kan and the Ichiban-kan are representative of Tokyo’s relation between private and public space. You can go from the street to the seventh floor without encountering a door. By directly opening to the street, those buildings breaks the boundary and transmit a feeling of public space from the street.

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Entrance of the Ichiban-kan building, with a direct access to the outside

 

In the exhibition “Designing the surface”, The Niban-Kan was presented as an item from the, ‘agency’ category, through Charles Jenck’s 1977 bookcover.
Agency is an action or intervention producing a particular effect. Minory Takeyama’s colorful and ambitious buildings were possible to realize at that time, far from the actual strict rules of urban planning. This freedom made it possible to bring local tradition in the actual architecture and –promoted by Charles Jenk– become a figure of Post-Modernist Architecture.

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Ichiban-kan and Niban-kan seen from Google street view 2016

Architecture became almost a banal experience, we are surrounded by buildings that we don’t question much, because the more we see them, we forget them. We take design for granted. But sometimes one stands out and makes you travel.
It’s fascinating how design, by small changes of the interface, can revolutionize the way we experience our environment.

 

Charles A.Jencks, The language of Post-Modernist Architecture 1977-1987, London. New Institute. exh.cat.no.61-agency

Gaza: A leopard never change its spots but a donkey can change and get stripes


Thursday, May 18, 2017

A cages, a theater, a library and research center – Gaza Zoo, the first one ever in the strip. It opened in January 2006, the same month Hamas, the radical Islamist, came to power

I have chosen to analysis what it is to be Authentic. Authenticity is the undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine. In my opinion, the artist chose to use the donkey as an analogy for the Palestinian people that their “authentic life” is to survive in extremely difficult living conditions. The donkey throughout history has been known to be used for labour by humans and are often overworked. In comparison, animals such as zebras and horses are always seen to be more superior than donkeys. Zebras and horses tend to have more rights and often protected from abuse as though they are on a pedestal. Similarly, the Palestinian people are represented by the donkey who have also been stripped of their true identity as they are not recognised by the Israeli government. Palestinian people have no citizenship rights in the west bank and in Gaza. It is as though Israeli people have superiority and the Palestinian are inferior and are left powerless.

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/20436092)

faux is made in imitation, it is artificial, it is not genuine. Faux is the opposite to authenticity as it masks itself to look like the real deal, however underneath lies the truth. The chair, similar to the donkey is sat on by man and are used, changed and adapted. Sincere imitation is achieved through genuine feelings. Portraying these feelings of how you see the world and its changes are the keys to make it.

In the picture below, the man seen is Mahmod Berghote standing with one of Marah Zoo’s world famous painted donkeys. The zoo’s two white donkeys caused an international media frenzy after Mahmod and his brother spent three days painting stripes onto them using black hair dye. Unable to find an animal trader to bring a real zebra through the tunnels from Egypt, the Berghote family decided to make a fake pair using white donkeys. The story was reported all over the world as a feel good news piece and often used as an example of the Palestinian people’s resourcefulness during the siege of Gaza.

 The idea that imprisoned people can make a business out of smuggling, locking up, and exhibiting animals is deeply ironic. There are about a dozen Zoo’s in Gaza and their story is intertwined with world politics in a way that would be unimaginable anywhere else.

In 2005, Dr. Saud Shawa, a veterinarian, decided to establish Palestine’s National Zoo. For Shawa, this was about education and showing people how to care for animals. Supported by international donors, he built a spacious compound with big movement, won elections in Gaza. The border was closed and the initiative was halted before it could get started.

As of today, not a single zoo has been profitable. In fact, there is only one person in the Gaza Strip who benefits from the business: Abu Nadal Khalid, an animal trader. He has animals drugged and smuggled through the infamous system of tunnels leading from Egypt into the strip.

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The Swedish/British Anastasia Taylor-Lind (Great Britain, 1981) is a photojournalist connected with the VII Photo Agency, with a special interest in the Middle East. She made this photo of the Marag Zoo Zebra, Gaza 2009.

 

Untitled photo by Anastasia Taylor-Lind. Exh.cat.no.32-faux

Didn’t I see this before?


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Didn’t I see this before?

Have you ever had this strange, but uncertain feeling that you have experienced something before? An overwhelming sense of familiarity? A moment you are not sure if something similar or the exact same thing already happened? Then you belong to the majority of people who have had a déjà vu. Scientists are still unsure how to explain this phenomenon. Some try to link it to memory functions, claiming that familiar events can trigger memories of forgotten information. Some say it’s a more like a “memory check” of our brain: a signal that there is a conflict between what we think we’ve experienced and what we actually did experience.

There are other interesting theories as well that try to explain a déjà vu:

Precognition: We have the power of foresight. A déjà vu is the evidence that we are actually able to predict the future.

Reincarnation: We have lived before. A déjà vu is the surfacing of a hidden memory, evidence of a previous existence.

Higher dimension: Our consciousness actually exists outside of our physical bodies in a higher dimension, and when a déjà vu occurs, it’s a brief moment when that separation becomes clear.

Parallel universes: There are other versions of ourselves, living in parallel universes. A déjà vu is a moment we share a memory with an alter ego of another universe.

Precognition: A déjà vu is the evidence that we are actually able to predict the future.

 

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In a web app I created for iPads you can move along stories told by various images and collages of hands. Sometimes you end up at a point you think you have experienced before. But is it really the same, or does it just familiar? You might just have a déjà vu.

When browsing through the internet, we often experience this feeling of familiarity. Links and tags create a confusing net of intertwined information, often taking you back to a page you have been before. But because of the information overload we are exposed to, we are often not sure. Maybe you experienced it while surfing through the Design Blog, using the various tags. And you asked yourself, didn’t I see this before?

 

THE DUCK AND THE WHALE, A Play.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

To give my best overview of the creation of the play below is to say a visual campaign was of supplement to a mashed alphabet. Gravity helped me to sit on slow chairs in front of the digital art that was my photo achieve of personal stories, social history and environment. Maybe a dog popped in here or there. It was a process of critical thinking and curiosity to make a personal repossession of the photography. A bit like IKEA did with furniture. I gazed upon the hand in silence, with hidden feelings that I was living the lifestyle of William Chester Minor. My role was a kind of craftsmanship to dye the rules in nature with my own words, words that came to me from simply looking. Some would deem it additive manufacturing, like the work in progress of a futuristic master Azart artist. I was left with a list of words the size of a paperclip compared to the one to the left of me. I don’t disbelieve that if I were to continue my list would fill the human body, now it could fill a large poster made by Jan van Toorn or part of a suit or outfit. Although it would be a never ending process to fill Boijmans van Beuningen. Big here long now I was faced with the problem solving of a typographer, not like Sagmeister but one whose work was fair to say of careless design. The problem was generating a random selection of words to use like animal resources in chaos and order to be the leader and kiss the dialogue. I used a programme that was like some kind of Greek Thonic, that spurted words at me, a surprise selection, which I had to use like a Situationists. On the page the words look like a decoration or embroidery to a narrative surrealism, which imbedded hints of sexuality. To dream like a cyborgian I think I gave the sense of words in animation that in turn has self-made a whole loaf of poetic bread.

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Roots and Branches


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Go on Wikipedia and start a research for something, it can be the most common thing or notion you think about. Then, start clicking on the first link you see, in the sentence that defines what you are searching for. Again and again. If you arrive on a webpage where you have been before, just click on the next link, so not the first but the second one and see where you will end up. Here is my example :

London

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> capital city

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> municipality
> urban area
> human settlement
> geography
> science
> knowledge
> awareness
> perception
> sensory nervous system
> nervous system
> eumatazoa
> clade
> organism
> biology
> natural science
> natural phenomena
> phenomenon
> experience
> philosophy

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So, this brings us to a crucial point. It shows how important arborescence (which means in French from the trunk to the branches) is in a research process. By starting from a very specific subject, you can end up on something you don’t expect to see, something really independent from your first research. By a system of hierarchy, websites choose for you what you should see, in order to make your research larger and more relevant. The concepts presented through the pages are of course connected, because terms are presented to define the notion you are looking for. That is by the way essential for every website : to give a hierarchy. But how? On what logic?

If you follow the previous example on Wikipedia, you can try how many times you want, you will normally end up on the Wikipedia page related to philosophy.

By placing some hyperlinks, you can give an orientation on an internet reasearch. In that sense, links are super efficient tools. Just have a look to what is offered on an everyday internet journey.

But more widely, from the easiest thing, you can always go to something larger in terms of meaning : groups of living species, geographical regions, etc. By defining something, you need an element with a bigger concept to categorize it. Then, is philosophy the final notion, the highest point to reach?

It is basically more than just a simple category in which we can put everything like a cellar where you come to take an old box once a year to remember your sweet childhood.

 

A dopamine delivery service

By spending time by scrolling down, letting my eyes wandering a bit on the DesignBlog, and repeating the same process previously experienced, I found that article by Olya Troitskaya about a concept that defines pretty well this process. It is called “cyberflânerie”. Have a look at it here.

flâneur (word which comes from the french verb flâner) is according to Baudelaire, quoted by Olya Troitskaya, “a person who walks the city in order to experience it”.

By experiencing a part of the internet content in a certain order, you expect something to get, a crucial information, or just an everyday surprise, your dopamine doses maybe. At least some satisfaction.

Play at this (not)serious game, make this fantastic tool a hijacked object, follow the lines, think about this endless journey, how you move through this digital space in terms of pictures and map, with a starting point and an unreachable end.

21g


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

THE DOCTOR OF DEATH

On the 2nd of March at 14:35 I was sitting in the Starbucks at Rembrandtplein, ready to meet the “Doctor of Death”. It may sound like the title of a Blockbuster but in fact the Doctor of Death really exists between us. In Amsterdam. There are many more who have the same job like him but are not willing to talk about it. Believe me, I tried.

I meet Hans S. with mixed feelings. First of all because I was happy to finally find someone who wants to talk about his work and his feelings enrolled with it.

How does it feel like driving a Van filled with tools, make up, a cooling table and 2 big canisters of formalin? Does he whistle when he drives to work?

I was nervous, excited, but mostly curious to find answers to all the questions I had in my mind. It didn’t even matter to me anymore that I was sitting in a Starbucks coffee, listening to jazzy tones and observing the stage, filled with actors

A CALL FROM MY MEMORY

When I was asked to contact a person who’s work we are interested in I saw many pictures in my unconsciousness, but only one was very sharp. It was the picture of a Thanatopracteur. He looked into the camera (it was a scenery of a documentary I watched years ago), commenting: “I am not thinking about the fact that the person is dead. If I would think about his life, I couldn’t do this job as I would loose the focus.” The camera slides back and you see the surroundings of a body, covered by a clean, white sheet which is as stiff as the body under it.

FORMALIN VS. CELL EATING ENZYMES

A Thanatopractuer conserves dead bodies temporary with the help of the conscious use of chemicals. Four minutes after someone dies the body starts to decay. Blood circulation and respiration stops, the body doesn’t get oxygen and starts to release carbon oxides which cause an acidic environment. The low ph level causes cell membranes to rupture, releasing enzymes that would eat the cells from the inside out,……[x]. The “Doctor of Death” slows down the process by exchanging the body fluids, restore or reconstruct body parts in some cases and cover the appearance with make-up.

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TO MAKE-UP THE DEAD

Hans S. told me his daughter describes her dad as someone who “makes dead people look beautiful“. In that sense he gives people who are left behind the opportunity to say goodbye on an open coffin in a respectful way. Especially when people die unexpected the left behinds want to get the chance to see the person one last time before the coffin is closed forever. Hans S. said that otherwise you don’t consider someone as dead. You need to have the visual proof, see the dead person to truly understand the consequences.

NASAL FORCEPS, MEDICAL SUCTION PUMPS AND MORTUARY TROLLEYS

My first intention meeting a Thanatopracteur was all about attending a practise. I was interested in the tools he would use and the process itself as I imagine it a strange scenery and atmosphere to see someone working on a dead body.

Unfortunately it turned out it is not possible due to hygienically reasons and privacy rules. Therefore I had to work with the information I get from the talk.

THE GERMAN CODEX

The most fascinating topic for me became funeral rituals as part of a culture and how they see death in the context of life. During my research and comparing funeral rituals from different cultures my own culture became strange to me. It seemed like other cultures like the Mexicans make death part of life and even celebrate it. In Germany funerals proceed a specific codex [x] in which some points can be designed free depending on the way the body is buried.

I have never been at a funeral as I never lost a close person. I can only make assumptions for myself, exploring the territory like a journalist but also as a concerned. One day I will be at a one.

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THE FUNERAL AS A MEDIUM

I based my design object now on the idea to figure out what would help me to process the loss of a person and make use of the funeral as a medium. The funeral as a medium has the potential to help the bereaved to let go their emotions and share it. Everyone in the funeral came with the same intention and feelings as they had a story with the person who died. This creates an invisible bond between them which helps to feel no longer alone with your grief.

What if there was a room or space after the burial where you could go alone or together to transfer your emotions to an object and let it go whenever you feel like?

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THE RISE AND FALL

The first idea I had was to create an installation with small, handmade objects from different materials that would refer to the person who uses it. Each object would be linked to a ring with a thread and on the ceiling there would be hooks attached. The Thread would go threw the hooks to make the object rise.

However when I was working on the objects I felt there was something wrong with it. It seemed too artificial, too complicated and overloaded. The thread reminded me of a doll house theatre and I felt the technique of rising something would keep your mind rather busy than free.

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THE SUM OF 21g

However I still wanted to work with the body and the funeral as a medium to create a ritual, a shared experience for and with people who need to free their emotions.

While I was working on the objects I developed a feeling for the weight of different materials and started to become interested in it. I remembered from my research the story of a Doctor in the early 20ies, Ducan McDougall, who measured the weight of 5 persons just before and after they died. The result was, that their bodies lost 21 grams after the Doctor considered their death.

SCALE IS A BIT__!

I started to fell in love with the number and made it a restriction to create as many objects I can that would weight 21g in a sum.

I became inspired by the aesthetics of weights for precision scales and wanted to make objects that work as rings. Each ring would have a specific weight attached but will be carried by the person who chooses it.

 Immediately I began working on the objects in metal. However I didn’t had a precision scale during that time. When I already created a small metal collection I finally get a precision scale.

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The precision scale made me realise to stop working in metal and find other materials instead.

THE UPSIDE AND DOWNSIDE

During the process the way how to carry the object became really important. As a jewellery maker I am trained to see the ring-head upside, on the hand. In Jewellery terms it is so to say the main character of the Design. But do I want to communicate that?

((((CONTENT)))) >  DESIGN

The Design of the objects became less interesting to me than feeling their individual weight. It was like you are holding something fragile in your hand and you want to protect it.

So I stopped considering the objects as rings that would decorate your body but start to explore the content. When the object is hanging from the finger you are more sensitive for the weight. You can close your Hand around the object and feel the shape, the surface, the temperature, the weight and it is energy. You start to imagine what could be inside and take all your time you need to carry it with you during the funeral. You would be free to test the other weights or talk to other people to exchange your experience.

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THE WEIGHT OF LOSS

Duncan McDougall was obsessed with the idea to proof that the human have a soul by trying to measure it. For me as a creator it was interesting to work with the restriction of 21g. It became a challenge for me to be directed by a precision scale as it make you operate like a scientist.

The final piece will look like a wooden box on which surface there would be a formula resulting in 21g. Opening the box you would see different handmade weights not only from metal that you can carry with your finger. The box would be a suggestion to  put your thoughts of the dead person into the object and feel the weight of your memories, your thoughts and emotions. They will always stick to this object and you can carry it whenever you FEEL like.

CAPTURED AND CARRIED FOREVER.

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NOTES FROM THE DEAD


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

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Dying is something we all have to face one day.

When it finally happens, we trust on the people closest to us to give our remains a place to rest, playing the right music at our funerals and keeping us from being forgotten, by remembering us, and telling stories about us to our grand kids.
 
But what if a person dies who doesn’t have any close ones to remember them…
Who doesn’t have friends or family to attend their funeral..
 
In Amsterdam it happens multiple times a year.

 

The Pool of Death

Drug addicts, drunks or abusers rejected by friends and family…

Illegal migrants, wanderers and hobo’s without papers, permits and names…

Rejects and the misunderstood, whose mental disorder kept them living in seclusion… Recluses who cut off all social contacts or lost everyone that was ever dear to them… Elderly who outlived every last relative… Youth, abandoned and unable to survive on their own…

The pool of death is a group of poets, who honour the lonely deceased.

As the sole attendant of a lonely funeral they accompany the lifeless remains to the grave where they recite a specially written poem.

To write about someone, and give their story to the world, a poet needs to learn as much as they can. Like a detective, they look for clues. They visit the homes of those lost, talk to their neighbours, and search through city archives gathering as much information as they can to form a sense of the person that was.

The same week i received the assignment (to meet up with someone that inspired me), I attended a funeral, my second of the past two years. This very present sense of death and mortality made me think of the Pool of Death and the Foundation of Lonely Funerals, a project by artist/poet F. Starik.

 

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 Frank Starik

I had met Starik once before, about a year ago, when he was clearing out his workspace. He was leaving his current atelier to work from home, and couldn’t bring all the things that had come to fill that space. I got a tip from someone very close to me who was helping him sort out what he would take with him from what he would sell, that the rest would be thrown out.

Amongst all the things, I found this big box. Inside it, were all these wooden crosses. They were old crucifixes that all seemed to be missing their christ figures, leaving them to look like movie props for an old Hammer production starring Christopher Lee. When I asked him why he had so many of them, and what happened to their prophets, he addressed me in the solemn but raspy voice of a chain-smoking reverend:

“Well my son, I have dedicated a great part of my life to freeing Jesus from the cross…he’d been hanging there long enough!”

When I later continued my look around, I found an army of Jesus dolls lying carefully displayed on the ground, as if they were all out sunbathing on the beach.

Along with the crosses, I left with some old photo works. Most of them were collages made on old canvas frames, all black and white.

 

 The Detective

On an early Sunday afternoon I went to my appointment with Starik at his house.

Next to his writing table stood an enormous plant and above his couch hung a note saying: “we are decent and normal”. Some of his work’s consist of a note or message, handwritten on a painter’s canvas. I really like these works. They might seem simple but they work really well.

I was curious about the proces of writing a poem for a person that just died, in total solitude. Somebody you’ve never met: how do you learn about them? Are you allowed to visit their homes and search for clues like a detective?

He told me that sometimes it was very difficult, depending on the situation. He was allowed to go into their homes, but a lot of times these were in total chaos. The anonymous deaths are often discovered when the neighbours call the police to complain about the smell. It can be weeks before they are found, and by then, the bodies are in a state of decay. But sometimes you can find something that can be of use. He confirmed my suspicion and said it was very much like being a homicide detective. He always makes a talk with the neighbours, and if the person still has some long lost family members, searching the city archives can be a big help.

Sometimes people have a strange relationship with public workers, relationships that in a way replace the lack of closeness with anyone else in their lives.

He told me of the anonymous death of an autistic man, who had a special relationship with his plumber. Being extremely parsimonious, he was particularly stingy about his water-heater, and feared spending even a single cent too much. Every day he would blow the flame out, fearing it was burning away a lot of unused gas. Sadly he was never able to reignite the flame, so every day, when he needed hot water, he would call the plumber to reignite it. Because the plumber understood the man’s condition, and knowing this system would actually cost him significantly more than he was trying to save, they worked out a deal. Each day he called, he paid only 10 euros. This was still significantly more than he would pay if he simply kept the water heater running..

He also told me about another man who fabricated the whole of his own history. Among the stories he told people is one about him as an important war hero with the resistance. His long lost family members however, said he had actually been working for the Germans. He kept on with these stories for so long that he came to believe them, and lived on in his own fantasy, in his own fabricated biographies. In the poem Starik wrote for him, he kept those fabricated stories alive and didn’t kill them off.

 

 The Design

After you die, you sort of live on in marks you’ve left behind..in handwritten letters and notebooks…in old grocery lists…in doodles and scribbles… because handwriting is really someones second voice. Handwriting is personal, has a character that speaks for itself: a voice that is read instead of heard. Reading a person’s script, you can almost hear a person’s voice talking.

 
De Dichtkist

 
I wanted to make a sort of vending machine, containing unopened letters written by somebody that passed, so that the living could receive letters from the dead.
This transformed into the big turning of the wheels, and then to the transfer turning of a scroll from the bottom to the top. Inspired by Starik’s written canvasses, it became a sort of alter, displaying a composition of words.

 
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De Dichtkist (translates into “sealed burial box with poems“) is a tribute: a coffin for handwriting, an open casket, a single space for the second voice and all of its marks to collect, and with a bit of turning, display. As it fills up, that turning can lead to a sort of conversation. The second voice can speak with itself. Built from the wood of century old doors, de Dichtkist houses the marked memory of lives that will some day, come to end.

 

Criteria of beauty


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Step 0 | Question: What is beauty?

 

 

What is beauty? How can it be defined?

It could be an obscure question which does not have a clear answer. A topic of my first art theory class of this semester was just about it. The first chapter in Cynthia Freeland’s book, Art Theory: A Very Short Introduction was used and it also referred to aesthetic judgement of Kant. It has never been a simple subject for me, since there would be an enormous space to argue.

But a couple of months later, I happened to think of what is called “style” might have its own clear answer.

This idea made me feel a little bit better.

 

 

Step 1 | Dutch style aquarium has appeared as unknown territory

 


Work by Takashi Amano, the founder of the style “Nature aquarium”

 

When I got an assignment named “exploring unknown territory” in design class, I never thought about such a thing. As I need to meet a professional who inspired me to go in his/her context, I was simply looking for someone who I can contact in the Netherlands. In my mind, a specific genre of aquarium, Dutch style aquarium, came earlier than an idea of who to choose.

It is because an aquarium making was my hobby which I got interested in, few years ago in Japan. This aquarium is specifically called “Nature aquarium” in which you can create an “aquascape” resembling nature landscape by putting growing aquatic plants, stones, wood and little creatures like tropical fishes or shrimps in your tank.

Unfortunately I had to leave mine in Japan when I moved to Amsterdam, but I still had a little expectation that I would see a different type of aquarium. I had already heard the word of “Dutch style aquarium” even in Japan. Now is it time to explore it here, in the Netherlands?

 

 

Step 2 | The Answer from Dutch style aquarium

 


A work from category of Dutch aquascape in AGA contest 2015

 

There are two kinds of major styles of aquascaping. One is called Nature aquarium in which I had been interested since before, and the other is called Dutch style aquarium, the oldest style becoming popular during the 1930s in the Netherlands. The former has become the global mainstream since being established in Japan in early 1990s, but actually it came after the latter.

To know more about the Dutch style I tried to meet one of judges for a category of Dutch aquascape of the international aquascaping contest. Unfortunately it was not realized. Instead, I still could get a lot of information on the internet.

Though the most simple feature of the Dutch style is nonuse of hardscape material like stones or wood, the most interesting finding for me was the very detailed rules. It is very much specific.

 

It requires;
- well grown and defined grouping plants
- a small space between the groups
- clearly different height between the groups
- more than 3 plant species per foot (foreground / middle / background)
- terracing to convey depth
- rich contrasts (made by color variation, leaf height, texture)
- a focal point (emphasized by a red or large plant / by the effective use of the “Rule of Thirds” / only one focal point in tanks 36” or less)
- more than 70% of the floor planted
- imaginary streets / pathways of plant
etc…

 

You would also find that contest’s judgments are always given from an objective viewpoint, if a work fulfills the criteria mentioned above or not.

In my mind, these were immediately connected to the question, how aesthetics can be judged, which was discussed in the theory class before. If the guidelines of aesthetic, could be applied to even other things?

Then, I decided to try to make “beautiful” compositions by appropriating these criteria for totally different things.

 

 

Step 3 | Then, what can the criteria fit?

 

The first cutout with images from “SimCity” app

 

It was not easy to choose the objects for the composition.

I think I was caught too much by the idea of choosing a specific motif, which needs arrangements as well as aquascapes do. What came in my mind, for example, was still life painting, architecture or city planning. I actually have tried to make some 3D collages with these motives.

After some struggle, my idea eventually reached autonomous graphic compositions without any motives. It would be interesting to use things without any restriction, than to focus on a specific objects, since it has more expandability. What is more, I could not imagine the result and it simply made me curious.

How much universal could this criteria become? I wanted to make some studies to examine it.

 

 

Step 4 | Interpretation of aquascape language

 

 

To go on with this experiment, I deliberately applied some points mentioned below to my practices, choosing from many.

 

- Contrast by colors
the use of color highlights
black and white, green and red, positive and negative…

- Contrast by textures
fluffy, flat, glossy, mat…
photo prints showing different textures

- Contrast by shapes
curvy and strait, circles and angles
same shapes but in different size and height

- Focal point
A focal point provided by the use of above techniques
Application of the rule of thirds

- Imaginary pathways
Emphasis of the perspective

 

In addition to these rules, I found that aquariums are something in-between of 3D and 2D. I mean, it is actually three dimensional but the layouts are always considered from a fixed viewpoint. Traditionally tanks show only the front side and the other sides are totally covered. Photography always had an important role in showing it also. I put a camera in a position where I started to make each layout.

 

 

Step 5 | A result

 

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

 

In this experiment, I had already found that the goal of this project would not be to make an finished image but to try a lot of compositions as studies. What kind of results can I get from this? Is it “beautiful”? These kinds of tryouts are not completed in short time but should be just a starting point of pursuits.

Will it still continue?

Room


Thursday, April 20, 2017

 

 

I think they live differently. In a different world than mine. They look differently. They do not chase after things that capitalism offers. They live within a concept that is rooted from ages ago. The concept is centered around the immaterial. It is real for them. I would like it to be real for me too, but somehow it does not work. I wonder how it works for them. I think they are happy to have a one focus in life. I feel that my mind is out of focus. I wonder if in a contemporary society one is able to find a grounding. If one has to separate himself to find a clear focus, in order to create a space inside thoughts that are often dominated by information from the outside world.

 

 

 

Saša Karalic / Square

 

My process started with the interest in people who communicate with immaterial. I thought about contacting psychic mediums or ones who have strong belies in god. I ended up going to a monastery for 3 days. I was welcomed really warm and had long conversations with nuns on religion and their personal stories about their decision to live in a closure. I am not a christian myself, but i am interested in eastern philosophy, that also shares connections with christianity. And in the case of the monastery, the practice of silence was the strongest meeting point for me.

 

By separating themselves they fill the space with the highly structured concept, that occupies their lives from the very morning till the very evening. I resist to analyze the concept, but I rather focus on their inner state. Which seems to be empty form overdose of various forms of information. They have one form of information that can guide them through all. That information is received in a condition of silence. They said that the noise of the world disturbs the signal. And a closure helps to cultivate it, creating a room for exercise. They lived in a space that was elected for a special meeting, for a vertical sight and inwardness.  Space filled with quietness.

 

 

 

process

 

The first object I made was a silent book, that contains no written word or image. It was influenced by old religion books i found in the monastery. They were made ofreally thin paper, that was nearly transparent.

Later on I researched believe systems that contain practices or notion of silence and learned what does that mean. I also remembered a composition by John Cage “4’33”, where orchestra does not play any sound in duration of the piece. This piece is not necessarily about the silence, but it is more about the sounds of the environment, listeners are surrounded by. This made me think about the negative spaces, the inversion, the surroundings that are invisible.

 

The absence of sound is registered as non-existence and non-form. Emptiness is the inner state of things. Things around us are weightless. They do not have any meaning, only our mind creates meaning for them. Objects are silent and transparent.  We are surrounded by space and we float in it.

 

 

silent book copy

 

I thought that the subject of silence could be expressed through a suggestion of the object that appears in mind but not in matter. In Japanese language word MA expresses a gap, a space, a pause. MA is also the thing that takes place in the imagination.

 

Space is a continuum. It gently touches objects not affecting them. If we would like to, we could see just space around us instead of objects. We could see negative shapes in objects instead of seeing objects themselves. We could experience how much weightlessness and formlessness is around us. Everything around consists of being and non-being, processes of becoming and vanishing.

 

2 .2

2.3

1.

 

Soap stone was the material I used for my objects. It is a really soft stone, also called a quiet stone, because of its properties. I carved abstract shapes in them, creating a negative shape of a suggestive shape. An immaterial object that can exist only in mind. Three stone objects work as the reminders of an inverse looking.

 

 

The Infinite Script


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

 

the infinite script_screenshot_1100

“The infinite script” (2016) is an alternative way to look at a human being. It is an uncommon representation of a nature and specifics of mental and behavioral algorithms.
This work is an attempt to visualize a functioning organism as a mechanism supplemented with a human intelligence that uses algorithms. The visibility of the algorithms is created by a computational language and visual information, which are united in one endless artistic research.
A self-development of an artist is a key point of this audible script. It has been performed as a visual monologue of the artist together with the video projection.
 

Thesis by Kateryna Snizhko as a video/animation artwork, presented at the 2016 graduation show as part of the department of photography

 

all rights to this thesis are property of Kateryna Snizhko © 2016

for more information check out Kateryna's website : http://www.experiolation.com//

 

Untouched


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

IMG_3031_1100

Irene Vonck / From Rhythms of Space series 1995

When material is manipulated to make-believe, touch becomes irrelevant for the experience of tactility, the physical experience of touch is exceeded and the brain is provoked. “From the rhythms of space” touches upon the idea that when contact between bodily surface and the object displayed is censored the viewer perception is (mis)leaded into dissonance with reality. This visual contradiction appears when the associations between the artwork as a whole and the material used in brut is not coherent.

Soft

Malleable

Comforting

Pretend

Fake

Play

The art piece appears to be made of cloth but instead it is made of airbrushed stoneware. None of this adjectives mentioned prior seems to describe the properties of cooked stoneware; this is because construction of tactility is build upon the pillars of experience and imagination since we cannot come in contact with it. Due to this I believe this work of art belongs to FAUX (in which nothing is as it seems) and AGENCY (in which paint takes the power back). Colour and subtitle sinuosity trick the viewer, the black colour gives the piece a sense of heaviness whilst the red interior an association with felt fabric. Paint definitely becomes an important element; it gives the object a sense of elegance and mystery and of course exhilarates the desire of touch. There will always be something very special and curious in tactility, in objects that seem ambiguous, objects that lure the viewer into doing what it is highly prohibited – TOUCH. When exploring an art gallery/museum/space etc., objects can be quite novel to us and thus, as young children do, we might feel the urge to touch, touch to understand, touch to explore, to grasp on the full experience of wonder. But … when we cannot touch ( and this is what fascinated me this time)it becomes pure mental construction and sense of touch is replaced by sense of sight.

When the surface is sticking it to the man


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

At the design section of the Stedelijk Museum I felt an attraction towards objects that glitter and sparkle instantly. The jewelry collection was filled with extravagant pieces made from expensive materials and with a shiny finish that effectively seduced me. But in the middle of all of these flashy designs I found a simple and minimal bracelet made from lusterless rubber and with a small bulge in the middle as the only detail. As it was in such contrast to the other items, it raised my curiosity.

Gold macht blind

Otto Künzli, Gold macht blind (1980)
galvanized rubber, gold


Otto Künzli created his jewelry piece ‘Gold macht blind’ in 1980. It’s seemingly just a simple rubber bracelet, but Künzli claims that under the surface a ball of pure gold is concealed in the rubber. Instead of letting the gold do its job by shining and seducing the viewer, Künzli has decided to cover it up by a cheap, industrial and unpolished material. He raises the tension between what you experience on the surface and your desire to dig inside and reveal the gold. This way the bracelet comments on our destructive greed towards everything that glitters: “If the owner wants to know with certainty whether gold is concealed in the armband, he must destroy it.” (x)

concrete stereo

Ron Arad, Concrete Stereo (1983)
Concrete, steel wire, electronics

Gold macht blind was made as an effort to undermine the expectations we have that jewelry is supposed to be decorative and flashy symbols of status and rank. This way Künzli’s bracelet has a lot in common with the industrial-looking record player covered in concrete, Concrete Stereo, Ron Arad created in 1983, which I described in my last text (x). Both works play with notions of value, and whether objects with lusterless surfaces can be desirable, and both artists create works that devalue status symbols. While Arad was part of the punk movement, Künzli is known for his humorous “stick it to the man”-attitude [x].

It’s obvious how ‘Gold macht blind’ with its matte rubber surface is in huge contrast to the sparkling works seen in the collection LUSTRE from Designing The Surface. Just like Arad’s Concrete Stereo [x] I find it fascinating how Künzli can convey his anti-elite opinions by playing with our expectations to what the surface of a piece of jewelry is supposed to look and feel like. By removing the shine and luster, the jewelry piece appears valueless, even though beneath the surface gold is hiding.

 

 

Designing the Surface Supplementary Show /New Institute


Monday, February 13, 2017

bieb_15029_mahoniehout-03_950

Gebr.A.R.& P.van der Burg /wood and marble painting examples in color 1876

 

Supplementary Surface Show Under Construction

 

20 students of the Rietveld Academy’s Basic Year visited the exhibition “Designing the Surface” organized at the New Institute Rotterdam (2017).
The intriguing aspect of surface, an issue that is generally avoided in a discussion about the context of content, raised our curiosity.
The exhibition and the accompanying publication was inspiring as were other additional exhibits like ‘Screen Savers’ or various shows in adjoining musea.

/FAUX /PATINA /LUSTRE /TEFLON /AGENCY /SLIM

Curious for our reflections on these subject?

Chose an image and click on it.

We assembled this small supplementary research show for you to enjoy.

 

PastedGraphic-4

FelineH VanilleOugen

SimonMarsiglia Screen shot 2017-02-13 at 12.05.50 PM CeliaNabonne

KaanKorkmaz JimKlok

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 11.43.35 PM

KimLang OfiaBaytocheva FelineHjermind

NadjaSchlenker JohannesZ

Parelstrik vantablack

blauw_400

 

 

Transitions – from autonomous to applied arts


Sunday, January 29, 2017

A line, a letter, a page, a building, a photo, a book – separate stages that can either stand by themselves or remain transitioning points while executing somebody’s vision. It is common that an artist starts one’s creative process with making a sketch or writing down a sentence that popped out in the head, though, later on this idea might get a completely unexpected appearance. After the piece is created it will most likely be documented in a book, that sometimes serves as an autonomous work. Therefore, it is important to choose a right graphic designer to collaborate together for this process.

 

For my design research, I have decided to look into Alon Levin’s designed book ‘De Paviljoens: Journal of a Building 1992-2004’ that is a documentation of the former contemporary art pavilion in Almere.

 

7267-630-435


virselis

According to the Artistic Managing Director of the Museum De Paviljoens, Macha Roesink, the aim of this book was to expose the complexity of building such as De Paviljoens and document the history in a case study of the life of a building, in the form of a journal composed of accounts by many of the people who have been involved.

 

814-454-296

Museum De Paviljoens

 

The building is transportable, like the ultimate kit, but it is standardized to meet building regulations. Documenting it in a book clearly makes it even more handy. I think it was not accidental that Alon Levin was invited to design the book as he himself works transiting from fine arts to design. To understand the concept of his way of working, it is important to look at his other projects.

 

In A. Levin’s book ‘Things Contemporary’ published by Dexter Sinister & Alon Levin, 2009 he talks about his interest in man’s eternal pursuit of order; not the ideal of order, which renders things absolute, resolve and static, but in the actual process of organizing things, which inevitably falls short. Artist takes up forms such as the triumphal arch, the victorious podium, or the Ferris wheel, and translates them into model-like wooden constructions and plaster forms reminiscent of the model. It creates images for the ambiguity of success and failure, for the instability of ideological, economic and scientific systems. Analogous to the accumulation and formation of knowledge in the “free encyclopedia” Wikipedia also Levin prefers, when he reused, deconstructed or repeated individual elements of his own works. Data, buildings and documents appear as moving building blocks in a constantly transforming and updating view of the world. To process this information, he uses charts, diagrams and transforms his knowledge into abstract geometrical shapes that later become sculptures or installations. Space-grabbing constructions from simple materials available in the construction market are based on the exploration of the technical and architectural achievements of the Western world and their significance for contemporary society.

 

tc

tc2

Things Contemporary published by Dexter Sinister & Alon Levin, 2009
 

Even though, it seems Alon Levin himself does not see switching from graphic design to fine arts as transitioning, I was curious to find out when and how do these two spheres meet. His pieces and texts are based on invoke either the incalculably large or the immeasurably small, hence the mathematical sublime, the way in which they thematise structure and collapse points. Using the design made for ‘De Paviljoens: Journal of a Building 1992-2004’ and photos of various installations I tried to create some ‘systems’ that could represent their ‘shape’. I discovered he used three sizes for the font, therefore a zigzag in my drawings representing ‘text’ in the book is in three different sizes. Considering purified and structured shapes he applies into his pieces I decided to replicate both pages and 3D objects into slightly modified, geometricized shapes. At some point I realized a certain rhythm appears, which blurs the line between two subjects of my research.

 

1

2

3

Left – sketches of installations by Alon Levin, Right – schemes based on ‘De Paviljoens: Journal of a Building 1992-2004’

 

In fact, these two ‘sequences’ I made are just my interpretations of Levin’s creations. They might transit into something new and exciting at some point and that would probably be sort of an example the way the original author was building them. In ‘Things Contemporary’ he admitted that during his studies at Gerrit Rietveld Academie he wanted to understand the power of manipulating information: not just consume it, but to actually make it. To try and understand how all the information we ingest daily is organized and what the thoughts and structures behind it are. I think one of the best representations of this attitude is in his project ‘The Basics of Growth’ that dealt with similar ideas in botany as in economy, making some comparison through books that A. Levin had published himself. The content of these books was from Wiki that provides the material for the content of a book. He later on transits from the book into 3D structure based on the same subject, which in this case was a greenhouse on the rooftop of the office building.

 

53_DeVoeght_Levin

The Basics of Growth

I presume researching the history of the pavilions, he applied this same method in a reverse version – firstly, understanding the building with its context and then transmitting it into a book.

Throughout my research I learned that the endless cyclical game is the fundament of Levin’s work – a natural flow that drives him from one medium to another.

 

De Paviljoens : journal of a building, 1992-2004 /Rietveld library catalogue no : 700.4 pav 1

Programming language as a System of Thought


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

by Medeina Musteikyte

From a conventional viewpoint programming is a process of command execution that brings about a certain result; a problem-solving tool to produce a desired outcome. Aside from its practical usage, coding is expanding to a different sphere of interpretation where new meanings gained, outgrow its primary function.
My essay examines the role of non-function oriented programming, the artistic value of the concepts behind works of code and experimental programming languages. An overview of examples from Algorithmic Auction to ‘Esolangs’ — Esoteric Programming Languages is questioning the boundaries between programming and artistic practice and exploring the creative potential of such method.

bodyfuck – undo from nik hanselmann on Vimeo.

 

A work of code can acquire different forms and exist as an object, text or music piece gaining new definitions and material qualities.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Likewise conceptual programming languages can be perceived and interpreted by their instructions alone, without executing a command or using a computer. Designed for experience of thinking through them, esolangs unfold the confrontation of computer logic and human thinking in the most rational or the most absurd processes [x].

Sound file: castleman_css_descramble

 

pdf-scan_cover [click on image] to download thesis by Medeina Musteikyte

all rights to this thesis are property of the author © 2016 : http://medeina.xyz/

 
 

Welcome to my homepage!


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

by Noémie Courtois

The Internet arrived like an ufo, bringing a promise towards the future. When it became accessible to the broad public, users started to play around and share their hopes, dreams and productions with  the global village in which their children will be living. The birth of the Internet created a specific utopic spirit and everybody was invited to the party.

‘‘And here comes everybody ; moms teens, celebs, goths, tots, gamers, nerds and artists’’. Everybody else, Cory Archangel, 7 [x]

 

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The Internet changed a lot over the last decades, this utopic spirit began to fade and its users with it. Today, these webpages have been hidden and forgotten by everyone. Luckily, our digital heritage defenders do exist and are truly active ; there seem to be a resurge of our digital culture and artefacts.

In my thesis, I’m exploring the Internet in a sociological and archeological perspective. I’m developing the idea of a ‘digital folklore’ (cf Olia Lialina ) ; Today more than before, there is a wish to keep traces of our digital tradition. The defenders of our Internet culture are fighting against the forgetfulness of a material that henceforth belong to the past. This thesis is a contribution to save that part of history that went missing in the fast Internet evolution.

 

hakims

 

The first users of the Internet were the first digital tribes and they were living in a specific environment:

‘‘A structural, visual and acoustic culture you could play around with, a culture you could break. There was an ocean of options and one of the options was to be different. (…) It was bright, rich, colorful, naive, slow, personal, direct and under construction.
It was a web of sudden collections and personal links. It was the Internet of personal pages and personal collections. It was the web of indigenous and barbarians, the web for the amateurs soon swept by Internet experts’’

A vernacular web, Olia Lialina, p19 [x]

 

img5

 
The importance of the first tribes lays in the spreading of the Internet architecture and culture. The shutting down of GeoCities (the biggest hosting service at the time) marks a shift in the Internet history : only a very small part of webpages have been saved,  there are holes in the shallows of the World Wide Web and pages are filled with dead links.

 

ghhj

Shot(picture?) of one of the many digital ruins, where images have been replaced by the icon "image not found".

They work as a religious triptych and are inspired by traditional construction : The birth, the life and the death

They are the remains of the first digital tribes : structures that were once complete and have fallen into a state of partial of complete disrepair. These digital monuments became places of worship, places where you can remember this specific time where movement and construction were the core of the online activity.

This specific idea lead me to my graduation project:

« Incidentally they're all gone,
well not exactly gone... more sort of... absent… »

 

unnamed (1) nonot3

taps2 nonot tapes4

The 3 tapestries were part of the graduation show.
They work as a religious triptych and are inspired by traditional construction : The birth, the life and the death

The tapestries pay tribute to a web that is gone or -say- hidden. They work as a religious triptych and are inspired by their traditional construction : The birth, the life and the death. The idea of making tapestries came into my mind quickly while writing my thesis. Initially, tapestries were made to educate illiterate and uneducated people about subject of war, religion and so on. Whilst contributing on saving the history, they were also made to make a space warm and welcoming (such as the first webpages). The connection between the Internet archeology and tapestries was really straight froward; they also recall the computer screen and pixels.

 

thesis_900 [click on image] to download this thesis by Noémie Courtois

all rights to this thesis are property of the author © 2016 http://courtoisnoemie.tumblr.com/ [x]

 

willit

 


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