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"social behavior" Category

A plastic world

Sunday, February 18, 2018

When you look around in the modern world, the plastic materials by which it is formed are inevitable to the eye.
From everyday objects like the interior of households and infrastructural facilities to the sex industry and medical surgery, synthetics have become a big part of humans and the human/animal world.
But how did this came to be and what will the future be of this plastic world with its benefits and downsides.



alexander f                                              farkesine


Before plastic became fully synthetic in the way we know it nowadays cellulose found in plants was the base material for the discovery of modern plastic,
with the in eighteen-sixty-two by Alexander Parkes invented material he named “Parkesine”.
Parkesine was a transparent, moldable material which maintained shape after cooling down, therefore it was used to make things like combs, stamps, and buttons.
The American brothers Hyatt picked-up this idea and created in eighteen-sixty-nine a variation of this parkesine called celluloid used as a replacement for ivory, specifically ivory billiard balls.
Celluloid became a great success and eventually made it possible for the film industry to be born.

These two inventions can be seen as the ancestors of the modern plastic society, nevertheless, it only came to be because of the first fully synthetic plastic, meaning no molecules which can be found in nature are used.
This first fully synthetic plastic was called Bakelite, invented in 1907 in the USA by Leon Baekeland in the search for a synthetic insulator.
Bakelite appeared to be a perfectly suited material for this purpose as it was heath resistent and could be manufactured in mass-production.
This last fact and the fact that it was fully synthetic opened the doors to a world of mass-produced synthetics, the plastic world we live in.
Soon new materials followed this creation with the invention of polystyrene in 1929 (used for electronics like refrigerators, microwaves and tv, medical equipment and packaging), polyester in 1930 (used for clothing), polyvinylchloride (PVC) (used for pipes, electrical insulation and clothing) and nylon in 1935 (mostly used for clothing and parachutes).



Nylon-was-taken-off-the-civilian-market-in-1942-and-went-into-war-to-make-parachutes-255791                                  platsic fabriek


During the 30′s of the 20th century these synthetic product were seen as extremely glamorous and beautiful but still, all these materials dit not completely infiltrate society during that time.
While used for a lot of military equipment during the second world war, synthetic products really became part of everyday life after the end of the war when the manufacturers of plastic products had to find a way to stay in the business and therefore aim at people and everyday life.
Because of the low price, moldability and the way it could be mass-produced, it is not more than logical that plastic became such a big leading part in the capitalist consumer society.





Like these plastics humans are moldable as well, changing along with their inventions.
During the same period as the development of synthetics grew, doctors were forced to find a way to repair the extreme damage done to soldiers during the first world war.
Never before had there been so many heavily wounded soldiers whom all needed treatment for their facial wounds, burns and lost limbs and with the development of anesthetics surgeons could develop new techniques without the patients experience pain during this operation.
Yet the use of plastic surgery for the beauty industry really kicked off in the 1950′s when the first breast implants were used to enlarge the female breasts.
In the 70′s liposuction was developed and not long after that botox was tested on humans for the first time.
With this the birth of the plastic human became a fact, largely stimulated and promoted by the cosmetic glamour industry.

Due to this rise of plasticity, synthetics slowly take over the world.
The waste created by the plastic consumer society has already created big islands in the ocean intervening with the animal and human world, fish eating tiny plastic particles, humans eating fish.
Humans becoming deformed from natural appearance due to cosmetic surgery, and in the strive for human perfection this could only be de beginning of a more extreme, new plastic human being disbanded from nature.



platsic waste



To me the in 1968 made Floris chair by Günter Beltzig, which was the starting point for this research, is the perfect example of what may come.
The chair, made out of fiber reinforced plastic gives, due to its alienated human shape, the impression that it is not made for humans.
But is it not possible that it is the plastic ‘perfect’ human of the future who will fit perfectly in this furniture, alienated from himself in his plastic world.


brazil 2

Community to change the system

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Dave Hakkens creates machines to recycle plastic. The concept Precious Plastic is that everywhere, everybody can build themselves these machines and recycle their plastics. For me, the most interesting point in this concept is the community around it. He says

“To start up an idea is a powerful tool to use these days. A designer is able to bring people together by just sharing an idea or a potential solution.”


Dave Hakkens and his projects are accessible in two points.

Most of his design projects are often provides with open-source instruction videos and blueprints, so it is presenting as a do it yourself project. You can inform yourself, make your own machine or your design object, share on social network, and use it. Make and use these projects is to be active to change the system, and be a designer as well.

Furthermore, he is very active on social networks. On YouTube (with 122 000 followers), he often published videos to clearly explain his projects, how to make it etc. But also he has a certain way of life that you can clearly see in his videos called Story Hopper.

or an other link:  here.

If I had the opportunity to talk to Dave, I would ask him if he thinks that in addition to this solution to reduce plastics wastes we also must have to adopt a minimalist and zero waste attitude. For me, the series Story Hopper highlights this way of thinking because he gives advice on how to consume and act more responsibly. These videos fit perfectly with the sharing of opinions and go further with the ideas that he wants to present. He offers more than just designers content while playing with the border of social network influencers.

Also on his website, you can find the forum where you can talk with people around the world. It’s nice to see all these people who said « I want to recycle plastics but I don’t know where or how to start » Finally I understood that in this big community, some other little communities are created to make projects easier. On the topic, someone answer: « try to find people, and build an association or something with many people to reduce costs!»


V3 Exhibition during the Dutch Design Week


I am wondering how this concept can grow and evolve in the rest of the world. Are social media enough to share his ideas? The definition of the word community by the Oxford dictionary is: the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common“. 

Dave Hakkens and his projects are accessible for those who know him and who share the same interests. Plastic machines were at first introduced in a museum as an exhibition because Dave Hakkens is at first a designer. So a certain public is interested to see it and in this kind of place, it does not have the same purpose. It is difficult to apply something that you just saw in a museum. You can maybe just except to have a discussion but not really a revolution. What effect would he have if he presents his project in a hardware store? The visitors of both places are different and they are mostly not looking for the same interest. So I am wondering about the accessibility if Dave wants that everyone can build those machines and change the system. For me, to imagine the Precious Plastic project in a context more realistic like the hardware store allows more an action than a proposition that we can not touch and allows a wider impact on the population.


I discovered the work of Dave Hakkens thanks to my sculpture class at the Rietveld Academie. Indeed, some students were able to create two of his plastic machines: the injection and the extrusion machine. I spoke with one of these students and she gave me an interesting reflection: « He says that everyone can build those machines, it works for us because we are in art school, so we have all the materials needed and we always can find a way to be creative with the plastic machine, but I am not sure it’s the same in poorer countries, because it has a cost and maybe they did not hear about the Precious Plastic project».

It was quite complicated for students to build these plastic machines because some pieces were difficult to find, expensive, and a lot of detours at the metal workshop were needed. Finally, it took 6 months to complete the injection machine and the extrusion machine is still in construction.



PLASTIC MACHINE             Injection
Injection machine in the Rietveld (Left beginning of the construction, Right the electronics part has been added)


Dave Hakkens went in 2015 to Ghana for research to help the poorest countries to access the construction of plastic machines. As we could experiment at the Rietveld, this needs a lot of resources (internet or specific stores to buy the pieces) and money. But this visit to Ghana shows us that even recycling machines can be an option and it is not necessary to have money. They found machines which are made to press the juice out of fruits which are very similar to the extrusion machine, in this way they were able to reuse these machines as an extrusion machine with a little bit of do-it-yourself.  Also just a few weeks ago, he shipped a big container to the Maldives to clean ocean. However, the help of Dave Hakkens is still necessary to implement these solutions at first. Then, after his visit to Ghana, the local population can be more aware and autonomous to recycle plastic.

The fact that Dave Hakkens brings container is important because “the risk” of this way of building plastic machines is to build them for a personal use or very restrained, as the weekend handyman in his garage. Containers, places of many workshops to recycle plastics, can expand the utilization and bring a lot of people to work together. Indeed, it can not be an activity in its own right, but it should really be part of our way of life and as we can not spend our time recycling plastic. We may wonder if this community of active people is enough? What about the big industries? 

In fact, there is a start-up called The Plastik Bank which collaborates with the big industries. Plastic waste that invades the poorer regions of the world is collected by local people and then sold to companies that recycle it. But in the end, Dave Hakkens gives the opportunity to communities to create something with plastic, be autonomous in the research and win money (if they decide to) as part of the process. It is really like building something new, maybe a new society.


To say goodbye one more very interesting article on other people who tried to find solutions for plastic wastes. 

Results of day-to-day technology and modern media.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

An introduction to: Forensic Architecture. 
Forensic Architecture (FA) is a research based agency located at Goldsmith’s university, London. It undertakes advanced architectural and media research on behalf on international prosecutors, human rights organizations and political and environmental justice groups. It refers to the production and presentation of architectural evidence – buildings and larger environments and their media representations.

As contemporary conflicts increasingly occur in dense urbanized areas, homes and neighborhoods become targets. Casualties come to be in cities, buildings and the ‘safety’ of their own home. Nowadays, thanks to this multimedia era, urban battlegrounds are overflowing with information and data shared to social media platforms. Many violations, undertaken within cities and buildings, are now caught on camera and are made available almost instantly. The premise of FA is that analyzing IHL and HR violations must involve modelling dynamic events as they unfold in space and time and creating navigable 3D models of environments undergoing conflict, as well as the creation of filmic animations, and interactive cartographics on the urban or architectural scale.


These techniques allow FA to create precise, convincing and accessible information that could be crucial for the pursuit of accountability. Architectural analysis is also important because it enables new insights in context of urban conflicts.

The widespread possession of cheap digital recording equipment, the development of satellite communication, the public availability of remote sensing technology and the ability to communicate and diffuse information instantaneously through the internet have made urban conflict more complex, but also generate enormous amounts of data that can be used as potential resources for monitoring. However, these transformations also lead to secondary conflict about interpretation that takes place on news and social media websites. The establishment of new forums of international jurisdiction mean that also contemporary forums themselves become dense media environments. In them screen-to-screen interaction replaces face-to-face deliberation. The combined process of the urbanization and mediatization of war makes FA an urgent and indispensable practice for human rights investigations. FA seeks to respond to these challenges by developing new modes of media research and new modes of media presentation for urban and architectural environments.




Results of day-to-day technology and modern media. 

Nowadays our lives are filled and dependent on electronic devices, and with that I don’t mean ‘the ones that keep you breathing in the hospital’. It is the smartphones, tablets, laptops, smart watches and what not, that makes that we can function in modern society. Because of it we can keep up with the ever-changing world on a speed that we have never seen before. Now it is a very contemporary debate if this is a positive development, many pointing out the negative. From a subjective and personal point of view I would have to place myself on negative end of the spectrum as well, seeing the unfavorable short and long term effects. Finding out about FA was because of that very thought-provoking.
I will open up a research project that compares positive and negative aspects of modern media and technology use in the present-day.
I will introduce this research through a series of set examples.


Generation Selfie

First of all, a negative side to the rise of social media is the deteriorating self image and esteem of essentially Generation Z and the Millennial’s.  Quoting scientist Clarissa Silva:

“Social media has been linked to higher levels of loneliness, envy, anxiety, depression, narcissism and decreased social skills. As a Behavioral Scientist, I wonder what causes this paradox? The narratives we share and portray on social media are all positive and celebratory. It’s a hybridized digital version of “Keeping up with the Joneses”. Meaning for some, sometimes it appears everyone you know is in great relationships, taking 5-star vacations and living your dream life. However, what is shared across our social networks only broadcasts the positive aspects of our lives-the highlight reels.”

The idea of saving and sharing the highlights of our lives has been a long past introduced concept, think about the photography albums your parents made of you and themselves. But in this new form of doing so, we are constantly bombarded with other’s excitements and achievements in life as well. From the envy and hate- love relationships we hold with our online society grows a competition with a non-existent finish line. Seeing photos and videos of your ‘friend’s’ beautiful holiday destinations, their new set of clothing and perfect life is just a start. The image we have our own appearance decreases drastically, not only as an indirect result of the examples shown above, but also the obsessive behavior around beauty.

It has been part of mankind that the vision on beauty evolves over time and differs from culture to culture, but the coming of social networks has changed the game thoroughly. We can change our DNA online to look like what we see as perfect. Setting impossible goals for ourselves in real life, which makes it less interesting to ‘live’ there.

Animated GIFAnimated GIF

Here is a link to an ongoing social media based project using Instagram as publishing base and inspiration input.


Panoptical Society

“He who is subjected to a field of visibility and who knows it, assumes responsibility for the constraints of power; he makes them play spontaneously upon himself; he inscribes in himself the power relation in which he simultaneously plays both roles; he becomes the principle of his own subjection”

A quote from Michel Foucault about ‘Discipline and Punishment’ and his theory of the panopticon, referring to an experimental laboratory of power in which behavior could be modified, he viewed it as a symbol of the disciplinary society of surveillance. Jeremy Bentham proposed the panopticon as a circular building with an observation tower in the center of an open space surrounded by an outer wall. This wall would contain cells for occupants. This design would increase security by facilitating more effective surveillance. Residing within cells flooded with light, occupants would be readily distinguishable and visible to an official invisibly positioned in the central tower. Conversely, occupants would be invisible to each other, with concrete walls dividing their cells. Due to the bright lighting emitted from the watch tower, occupants would not be able to tell if and when they are being watched, making discipline a passive rather than an active action. Strangely, the cell-mates act in matters as if they are being watched, though they cannot be certain eyes are actually on them. There is a type of invisible discipline that reigns through the prison, for each prisoner self-regulates himself in fear that someone is watching their every move.



Cross section drawing of how the prison is structured.


Nowadays we can question till what extent our privacy is legitimate. Especially in the western world where conspiracy theorists can not stop about ‘big brother’ and the never ending evolutionary steps in technology which make registering everyone’s smallest move and collecting this data easier. Still to be a fully functional in the society we shaped we require the illusion of privacy. It allows us to be fully human. This illusive quality of privacy is not something of the past decade, it goes back to the Hebrew bible. Consider beautiful Bathsheba, who strips for a bath in the second Book of Samuel, an ancient text, only to come under the lustful gaze of King David, pacing on his palace rooftop. Or Hamlet, whose private conversation with his mother is overheard by Polonius, hiding behind the drapes.



Bathsheba at her bath, by Jean de Troy (1750)

Hamlet Kills Polonius

Hamlet killing Polonius, by Leonard de Selva (ca. 1980)


This enormous growth of ways to document humanities slightest movements with or without their full realization is not lacking a reason. Governments worldwide are gathering data about their civilians, justifying it by telling us it is for our protection. Like possible terror attack prevention. But why would they need your WhatsApp messages? A connection to your webcam? And access to private files? Princeton computer-science professor Edward Felten explained that simply because it’s cheaper and easier than trying to figure out what to take and what to ignore. “If storage is free but analysts’ time is costly, then the cost-minimizing strategy is to record everything and sort it out later,” Felten noted. Ofcourse this is questionable as well. And we have reason to be suspicious, we all know how classified and mysterious the higher working powers can be. Cases like Edward Snowden’s make us aware of the ambiguity of the top authorities. Snowden, a former contractor for the CIA, left the US in late May after leaking to the media details of extensive internet and phone surveillance by American intelligence. Mr Snowden, who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia, faces espionage charges over his actions.

This being a very contemporary topic, artists (as they tend to do) have taken a liking in the subject as well. At the Sonic Acts: The Noise Of Being exhibition in February 2017, I saw the work of Zack Blas called Facial Weaponization Suite. It showed several masks hanging on the wall and a video explaining the cause. He calls is a protest against biometric facial recognition and the inequalities these technologies propagate. This mask, the Fag Face Mask, generated from the biometric facial data of many queer men’s faces, is a response to scientific studies that link determining sexual orientation through rapid facial recognition techniques. With this work he makes us question ourselves how much autonomy, privilege, power and privacy we let them take away from us. Or have they taken it all already, and is what is left just an illusion?



Is there anything to rely on?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

 It is quite common to notice that we have been focusing on automatizing, and motorising any of our work related physical efforts. As for example, the number of workers in a factory has nothing to do with what it was 30 years ago, and also nothing to do with what it was 100 years ago, and it hasn’t increased for sure. As a paradoxical consequence (that can have also other different causes), it is also amusing to observe that in order to stay healthy, more and more people start to work out, going at the gym. The gym has even become a social environment, where people share their tips and advice, and help one another reaching his goal of physical performance.

 This is what Melle Smets points out in his project: the human power plant. The thing is that according to this “gym” trend, the energy that we produce with our physical efforts nowadays is completely wasted, as we only see it as muscle training; we don’t run on the treadmill to make cold water hot but to get a nice ass. It seems unnecessary to develop how a nice butt is useful to sustain life.  Anyway, all of these machines that are handling so much effort could actually stock the energy to use it afterwards. The human power plant project is a proposal of the use of human physical effort to create the energy that we require in our daily life. In their first case study, they planned a conversion of one building of the Utrecht University into a 100% human-powered student house. On the other hand, in its concrete realisation, the project is still quite utopic or futuristic, as the prototypes are for the moment only to charge a phone or a laptop, and the latest to heat a Jacuzzi…


 Going back to human attitude towards effort optimisation, we can also to a certain point qualify this quest for automatizing and motorising any work related effort, as the natural egocentric human condition of wanting to do what we want, and not being a machine, or not being a clone. It can also be directly linked with artistic activity, in a way that it commonly comes from us wanting to get something out of what we think is our singular identity or thoughts. Or the link could also be that art is commonly/traditionally seen as completely useless, when artists are the most passionate about their job. Wouldn’t it mean that we just want to make ourselves useless? We could argue in this way to conclude that we obviously live to die. But then, why not act as a mere gear in this gigantic mechanic world? We can observe to confirm what was said before a relentless research to motorise the perpetual motion we live in, with very contrasted fields of research like Leonardo da Vinci, Nikola Tesla, or more recently Theo Jansen. Of course, their views on this topic are all very different, and even how they consider or see this topic varies. For example, Theo Jansen’s approach absolutely didn’t think of the “perpetual motion motor” side of his creation, he just wanted to create life. And even if the approach has to be understood sometimes in a metaphorical way so it doesn’t become contradictory, these enormous solitary creatures wandering on the beach are tightly close to have the possibility of being independent and to continue living eating wind to make their hundred legs move. So here we see that the difference is about what could be qualified as the artistic approach, that the function of the energy is not necessarily to use for us humans but just to contemplate. In a way, the only energy a perpetual motion motor/generator distributes is to itself, and we can only watch the wheel turn.

 Switching back to Melle Smets, the goal here is not to make a wheel turn on its own. The social and cultural context is privileged, and the aim is to make people self-sufficient in what they require concerning energy; we are the perpetual motion machines. It’s interesting to see, that most of the creators, to find a solution to how to produce energy, will try to find or invent something that is not there or that is not known. And they often argue that the world is your oyster, there are so many things outside that we can take advantage from. What is interesting and funny is to see that after thousands of years of trying to widen the distance between our own self and energy production, there is an actual proposal of an alternative where it is ourselves that we can the most directly take advantage from.

The concept is not even this innovative, in a way that we have always been producing energy with our efforts. Actually we don’t even have a choice not to and it is all we will be doing our whole life. Following this alternative perspective’s idea is tending to not only make us self-sufficient but also self-reliable and as a consequence disciplined. Just like a child to who we don’t learn to become autonomous by providing anything that he would need or want to not think about how he could do it himself. We can notice that nowadays, energy like electricity is so much a part of our daily life norm that having lamps in any room of a house is completely natural whereas a house without any would be linked to a spooky fictional movie. We don’t show to the children what electricity is and can do, we just tell them to not put their fingers in the plug. The point is that what we have to do to start, is to make ourselves reconnect to what we essentially do need in our life. Where does it come from, and how can we get it, (energy wise of course, I wasn’t talking about love).


Thinking small, shrinking (hu)man ::

Thursday, November 30, 2017


How good is your zoom? please device-zoom in order to simulate
the viewing experience of a shrunken person :

Short people

Humans have been evolving, growing ever larger with no popular trends in the reverse. This movement is fueled by vast amounts of resources that the human being demands as it grows – things like energy, space, dairy and popular consumer goods. In turn immense costs are inflicted on the environment and fellow human beings, to get such produce on the shelves. This inherited idea that being taller is generally better is widespread in many societies and consequentially those in power tends to also be taller than average..

This collective drive is being fueled by vast utilizations of oh so precious resources that the human species demands as it grows – things like energy, space, dairy and other consumer goods. In turn the immense costs are let out on the environment and fellow human beings, to get such produce on the shelves. This inherited idea that being taller is generally better is widespread in many societies.

But in our time  this aged-old trend be upheld?

The song short people was released by the artist Paul Newman to popular though not universal acclaim in the 1977 with a satirist lyric mocking short people in the favor of the tall. This was quite very ridiculous but also funny, with many short people taking a liking to it on their own. I therefore decided that the opposite of the song, (offered above) should be created to switch the social experience. It’s another sign of the discrimination against short people which does not seem to have receded to this day and beckons the tall as the gold standard.

Throughout vast plains of the internet some attention are being paid to this perceived difference of social values in terms of height. Popular mass media provider Buzzfeed made videos highlighting the many boons of being on the short side (or tall for that matter), and many other accounts add to this. All the more reason to not assume that taller = more prestigious.



Going against this widely held belief in the preferability of more height, Dutch designer Arne Hendriks proposes a reverse trend – to shrink. Currently Arne teaches at NextNature of TU Eindhoven, the Design Academy Eindhoven and the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and apart from the Incredible Shrinking man is making on a Fatberg.

The Incredible Shrinking Man had, for the past eight years been proposing alternative possibilities diligently curated from all over the world and many specializations. The ultimate “theoretical” goal is to shrink the human average height to 50 centimeters, and greatly reduce the material demands that society consume. The endless litany of social observances and projects featured there offers wondrous though perhaps hard to implement promises to redesign human beings.

Man chicken


This is a good opportunity to examine the role of a change maker – if it is indeed possible, and if so how can anyone bring about such a leviathan and un-instinctive changes to the world. Perhaps someone have a brilliant idea, but how then should they show and communicate it to the rest of the world. With this project, Hendriks chose to continue contributing to the development and contribution of this project for the past eight years. Through this sustained timeline, examples have emerged across time, culture and region to show that this thought has perhaps been something lurking in the back of our mind. From this unique body of research Hendriks, often referred to as an artist establish short term, pop up studios in art establishments that keeps evolving with a bigger body of research every time – the latest being Museum Boijmans van Beuningen and ‘invite’ visitor to fish through the considerable body of research including a wall of postcards each illustrating a small info.


Studio of suspended disbelief

There seems to be no clear connection from the project’s base in such white cube spaces to major established institutions, namely the government and commercial entities so one wonders how far can this idea go? However upon a closer look in the project’s heaps of documents lead to references to the real world abounds, with a prominent example of the Thai government’s policy to encourage the consumption of milk through its multi-state collaboration, the The Thai Danish dairy company. The government’s policy aimed for project growth of its younglings of 6cm for male, and a rather lesser 2cm extra for females. Hendrik’s admirable research length is able to uncover other unseen details of our society through his dedication to the Incredible Shrinking man. And he is not the only one doing something about it.


Mass damon resized


This idea has also recently taken off on the Hollywood mainstream albeit in the form of a badly reviewed film, ‘Downsizing’ in which the development of new technology allow the protagonist to choose to downsize his to body to a tiny size, smaller than even a hand. The concept of shrink here is thus illustrated to the extreme, although it is important to note that even though one of the reasons to downsize in this film is impeding human devastation on the environments, which perhaps mirror the situation in our real world, Paul the lead character has another main factor to downsize, namely the financial perks of being able to spend more. His assets of $152,000 becomes a gargantuan $12m when converted and perhaps enable him to splurge and consume even more in a large estate. It is not surprising too that the film’s title of Downsizing alludes to the unsavory act of corporate efforts to cut cost and relief its employees. The notion of going small gains a comical element in Downsizing but nevertheless highlights the need for alternative ways to reduce our hazardous impact on the environment, large part of which are being fueled by the footprints of gigantic big corporates – whom dystopian downsized world has to deal with. The film’s little community worryingly mirror the flawed outside one.

The world is a complex place and being more mindful about the hidden details, whether it be the gargantuan, empirical human footprints on the environs which this day few can deny acknowledging these hidden worlds as Arne Hendrik’s incredible shrinking man project discover are vast and fascinating. Somehow this idea of an ongoing research that involves you, and invites all to add on, is very attractive. 

And who knows maybe you will now see more traces of going small in your life!  

P.S. If you’re interested in Arne’s approach to shrink, take a look at this video where he presents his research and a closer look at the studio of suspended disbelief here, and thank you for your up close attention.


James Bridle – The Anicons

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

“as an artist and activist, James Bridle 1980 shows the impact of the techno-surveillance society we live in. He has converted data collected with a spy camera for his project The Right to Flight to create a kaleidoscopic animation. As a protest against this ruthless technology, he has made unusable images.” – Change Makers


Skærmbillede 2017-11-29 kl. 17.10.34

James bridle is not only an artist and an activist, he is also a writer and a publisher and has appeared in magazines and newspapers like Frieze, Wired, Domus, the Atlantic and many others. He has a master degree in computer science from University College of London and wrote his dissertation on creative applications of Artificial Intelligence. Bridle also lectures regularly at conferences, universities and other events.

The Right to Flight was a four month installation, event series and ongoing research programme investigating technical infrastructures, surveillance, ballooning, and utopias. Ballooning has taken a dark turn since the zeppelin raids of the first world war to the use of surveillance-balloons in Iraq and Afghanistan and on the US/Mexico boarders.

James Bridle is in a specific case talking about a stolen car which is found trow Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) in northeast England in this text he is describing how a system like this is making every car a potential suspect, and how the surveillance-community suddenly becomes visible, and take a physical shape.


I have always been really interested in how our community has become an  surveillance-community, the way we store images, knowledge and numbers in our cloud, for instance. How you can find an answer to nearly anything in the “cloud”. How our focus has moved from the physical to the not physical – metaphysical. How Apple would be able to place you at a crime scene if you are owner and user of an iPhone with finger and face recognition. The norm is to tolerate that without questioning.

I think James Bridles project is interesting because he’s making those data unusable, data that is highly important in the way we are interfering and meeting each other today. Data which is not physical any more but have a high value in its metaphysical form.

I did a project earlier this year about how we began in some contexts to weigh the aesthetics higher then the function, and in some cases the understanding as well. And I think what James Bridle is doing can be understated in a similar way.

When you see graphical displays of books, posters or clothes etc., you begin to see a rhythm of incomprehensible elements, repeatedly one sees that a particular artist or designer chooses to use aesthetic elements like the Russian, Greek and Arabic alphabet as bearer of language. Some choose to use bar-codes or Gothic letters, ornaments that are clearly from another time, then the context it is viewed – used in. It is now only a matter of creating an aesthetically beautiful product, the recipient is now 100% uncritical and chooses only on behalf of aesthetics.
If you see Comme des Garcons for instance, they made a collab with Russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy. In this colab there were t-shirts, hoodies etc with a text in Russian. I see people wearing this without knowing anything about the meaning of the selection of letters, they are only wearing it for the aesthetics and the fact that it’s popular.


Skærmbillede 2017-12-10 kl. 20.14.07


The connection I see between these two is that people of today’s society, the post internet generation, have such easy access to awareness – information, facts, news etc, that we have to some extent, stopped caring about it. We are choosing, consciously or unconsciously, what to be aware of and what we want to care about.

Even though both Bridles footage and Comme des Garcons/Rubchinskiys design with the language/letters is filled with important and valuable information, the finished product in these projects is only an abstract form. Roughly said, we are ignoring the value in this information and only choosing to see the abstract result that gives us aesthetic pleasure.

Gorillas inside a box

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The first indication given to us about this assignment was to select a book based solely on its design. As soon as this information was delivered the first thing that popped into my mind was to find one that would present the most extravagant, out of the box features, so that whatever the next steps to follow would be, the subject matter could not be accused of being boring.

Ironically enough, I chose a book that is inside a box. Which actually was the main reason it outshone its shelf mates, that suddenly looked very serious with their glue bind cover.


Puzzle box by Ines Lechleitner is an artist book released in 2009. I was momentarily skeptical at the functionality of its green gapped cardboard cover —not that it mattered to my eyes, since the pick was based on unconventionality—, or to put it in a way that fits better the central reasoning that led to my choice, maybe the fact that it would present an additional layer to access its content, or remind the feeling of opening a present, would make it more interesting. Soon, the content justified the packaging: it is composed by two books one being the artist’s work where you can find pictures of a group of gorillas in a German zoo and drawings that explain the movements made by the camera. The second one being a response of different authors to the work carried out. Then, two videos were also included — found as a CD in the book— that focus on the gorillas entering and leaving the frame, and finally, a map of the relations between the gorillas’ habitat, the photographs and videos. The box now seemed like a handy support to carry the CD and the map.

You can find the true reasoning behind the design in the author’s website: «Puzzle Box is modeled after ‘Beschäftigungskästen’, which were designed specifically for apes as an interactive occupation and recreation tool. The apes are expected to learn how to manipulate grains inside the box by pushing them from one level to the next in order to gain access to the food.»

This box was inside the gorilla’s location and is recurrently found throughout the images of the book


IMG_0757 (1)3256

As I mentioned earlier the book contains a response of different authors to the work. It was captured as a conversation between the artist and the authors. When I finished reading it, I imagined myself participating in that conversation. To get more insight on what the artist had experienced over the period of 5 years in which she developed this project I decided to go to the Amsterdam zoo to elaborate my response.

I quickly began to make associations. The humans standing there encircling the gorillas’ cage while expressing their reactions could be similar to the way the gorillas manipulate the Beschäftigungskästen, both actions are driven by the effect, even if in the first case it might be entertainment and in the latter obtaining some food. It is interesting to consider the sizes of those involved in this equation and the movement of this idea which goes inwards in distance.  Us humans look at the cage and touch the glass with our fingers while inside, the gorillas look at the box touching it to get some food. And even taking it further, while manipulating the box the gorillas fell into it, furthering the confinement, satisfying the humans need for entertainment and consumerism now possible through the Puzzle Box in which they lie. Definitely, I noticed how much my perception of the zoo as a place had shifted since I was a child.


There are five polar notions that get emphasized in the book





In the frame (onscreen)/ out of the frame (offscreen)

The pictures in black and white somehow make stronger the sensation of two different entities separated by distance. The framing delimits the space in a way that makes you wonder what is around, almost as if each picture wasn’t complete or was a piece of a puzzle. It also happens with the video where you would need a 360º panorama to understand the full set. The pace in which the gorillas are depicted is calm, almost uninterested.

In the zoo, once I spent enough time with the gorillas and my brain ended up getting used to the extreme, overwhelming aroma, I was able to truly concentrate on their movements, realizing how much more aware I was becoming of my own. I felt there was a strong relation between this feeling and the fact that the whole work of the artist (the map, the video, the pictures and the drawings) was to know very precisely, almost memorizing, each step and movement of the gorillas knowing what movement it was, which place were they occupying in space, when they did it, all of it systematically. This is also linked to the book’s design that appears to be calculated, calm and neat, using the same typewriter font throughout the book, and clean ‘one-line’ drawings.

Remembering that humans possess in a 98% the same DNA than gorillas I suddenly felt funny imagining my movements being dissected in a book.


Puzzle Book, designer: Ines Lechleitner, Rietveld Library Cat. no: lec 1

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.


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.


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.

highlight our movement

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


When we have an appointment ahead of us there is all kind of preparation, there is a planning, and there is a lot of expectations. On the other hand the beauty of having an appointment with someone that you do not know, I have to admit, is in the fact that just a little of what you have planned or imagined will happen.

The most important thing the public space means to me is when it allows you meeting something or someone unknown. When we are surprised, it will add to our life an emotion of discovering, and participating. Meeting someone or something that you do not expect, something that you have not seen before. Where does this encounter leave to you?

Many people feel alone in a city, and are living an unpleasant and isolate life.

Why? There are probably several reasons: is it because there are so many impressions that a modern city offers to us and make us feel lost? Or is it because the individualist way of living, where everything is centered on what one wants for her/himself, making people isolate from each other?

I want to participate in creating the feeling that we are creating and using the public space. That means that we ourselves are the ones who can make this space as we want. I start asking my self what and how I want the space I use and I share with the others?

I would like to create something that could connect people through the action. A  kind of action that we are used doing in every day life.

I started by analyzing mistakes or things that I dislike – or in other words those that I was looking for ….

First mistake would be to design something for people without observing what people do or want. I want something that connect people who don’t know each other. Some one asking to a stranger to help him to sit, for instance?

I started to understand that I had to design something for somebody else (out of my personal sphere) and in this case something for any kind of person: something universal

I reached the conclusion that you can not force someboy to do what you want but you must follow the organic situation that is present and that is important to put the subjects in question at the same level to each others.

I went far from the image of an object and I finally started by giving the importance to the fact that “If the actions are what unify people, what about if the actions are the one that tricker something?” so instead of the people having to go and do something to make that happen, it will focus on what they are already doing that will create an external factor. A factor that could be an emotion but could also be an aid.

Scan 20.47.57.jpeg Scan 7.jpeg

I started to imagine it in a more playful circumstance.
My elements became the sidewalk floor, and the walking the triggering factor. As I said before there is no better meeting than with a stranger. I wanted to refer to people who don’t know each other… My project consists in a non platform.

Untitled-1 Untitled-2pdf

This platform will be positioned under the tiles that form the sidewalk and connect only with the three of them. I imagine the Amsterdam Central Station as a starting point, because it is a place were many people from different backgrounds and identities are passing and walking.

Scan 2 Scan 8

While people are walking, tree people are activating a system that generates something. The soap bubble represents a good element for this situation, because it is an element that does not intimidate, and more important does not need to be cleaned up. The element could vary from different situation to different environment: for example if tree people are waiting for the bus and they are standing on the tiles. The tiles can pull out an umbrella for example that protects you from the rain or the sun. This means it can be open to us for many different choices but the goal will remain the same.



I want to give a special thank to Jesse Jorg who inspired me in this project.


Try to Attempt

Sunday, April 23, 2017

___After remembering my child dream about a brave crane man, I’ve decided 10 years later, no matter what, no matter the way, to get in contact with him. The main goals ? Talk with him and learn about his work. Did my dream reflect the reality ? I’ve tried to understand why life got in the way.

Crane experience

The first step was to know what’s going on in the field. It was quite easy, some construction sites took place just next to the Rietveld Academie. To reach my goal, I’ve first talked to a worker passing by. Straight away, he made me realize that everyone was very busy over here. From this moment, I’ve understood one thing : it’s going to be more complicated that I’ve thought.

I spent one day asking questions to several workers, but none of them had time to answer me. It was my first failure. Then, I tried to figure out something else. Maybe I should have tried to get in contact directly with the crane man ! But how to approach someone that busy ? I had to find a way. I’ve spent a few days, walking around, observing the crane man through the Rietveld Academie Windows. While I was looking at him, I was wondering what he his seeing ? How could I capture his attention ?

As the site was in front of the Rietveld Academie, the crane couldn’t have missed the school’s walls. Therefore, I came back to my class room and I start thinking. After putting a few ideas on the paper, I’ve found the one. I had to draw the crane man’s attention on something special, something that he couldn’t not see : a big sign just in front of him. The goal, still the same : capt his interest, but moreover, make him fell special, like the man in my dream. In order to do that and stand for his work properly, I’ve decided to picture him as a super hero. The sign had to be very clear : CRANE MAN, I’m a fan ! Let’s talk about your superpowers !

Sign for the Crane Driver

A few days later, I heard some of my classmates, speaking about the crane man, who finaly got my message. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in Amsterdam at this time, and when I came back, the crane man was gone.

During several days I was wondering what should I do next. Try to talk to him again ? Find an another way to get in touch with him ? I started to think that I’ve missed my chance.

Against all expectations, I heard about the crane man through the social networks on the school page. He actually post a picture of the sign from his crane. I couldn’t expect more !

cren driver's picture

I didn’t fail, I actually got in contact with him !

I’ve learned a lot about him and his work, just observing it. I succeeded to deliver a message, without directly talking to him. This is the very proof that when you’re trying hard, and when you really want, you can do Something. Even if it was not your first thought.

Experience to attempt

picture dice

___This experience gave me the desire to spread this message to people. Telling them that after all,  the aim doesn’t matter, trying does. To do that, I was looking for something that always makes me think about attempting. I thought about a dice. Each time you roll it, you’re trying to do a specific number. It’s actually a real tool of the idea of attempting. For instance, you’re using dices to get out of jail when you’re playing Monopoly. I’ve been thinking about how could I change the dice in order to erase the proper aim of rolling it : never reach the specif number you wanted. Erasing the numbers ? Changing the size? The shape?

I got the idea to create a specific dice, a dice which never stops Rolling. From there, you’ll be rolling it only in order to try the object, without directly knowing where it’s going to lead you. The original size of the dice was important for me because of its practical aspect. It needs to be small, easy to grab, to catch and to carry. I also wanted something playful.

Then the bouncing ball emerged in my mind ! I thought about playing without a goal. You just attempt it for what it is. However, as far as we know it, you can get bored quite easily with bouncing balls, because of the repetitive action. This made me create something that can change the first aspect of the ball and show the different steps along the trying process. From now, the idea is to create something that can captivate people’s attention in the street, and make them start to attempt something with it. Give them a gift which is actually not the ball as they think, but the action of trying.

I now have to find a practical way to do it. Creating a layer around the ball could keep the track of the different attempts. I first thought about tape, but the ball was not bouncing anymore after being wrapped. About Velvet, tracks were not that clear and the ball didn’t bounce enough. I’ve noticed that sometimes on the public benches, you can find some painting missing, It’s the wear, due to people, sitting a lot at this specific place.

Then I thought about putting a layer of paint around the ball. Attempts will brake it step by step. The painting missing on the ball will show a pattern. Each of them will be different and will represent the track of experiments during the day.

try project Vondelpark

Now I’ve found my object, I still need to figure out how people will face it. First I created a small box looking like a board game. Inside ? 4 balls and the rules of the game. Nevertheless, it didn’t work, because people just had to follow the instructions, without thinking of the idea of trying several times. I’ve wanted to let people the choice. If they want to try it, why, how ?

I built a small public facility, where balls were free to access. That way, people can choose to pay attention or not. With this making, I offered people to do whatever they wanted. No matter what they did with the balls, each choice was a good one. This project became a free gift to people, without giving them something tangible.

After all, the experience itself is the most valuable.


Just try, click on it !

The island of Utopia

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A page of the 3rd publication from the first english version of Utopia, made in 1597 by Raphe Robinson

A page of the 3rd publication from the first english version of Utopia, made in 1597 by Raphe Robinson


The book Utopia was published in 1516 by Thomas More. The word itself means “nowhere”, from the ancient Greek language. As it is said, it was written to give an example of a better society rather than the one of  Europe in the sixteenth century could be like.

As I started reading it there was just one question that kept arousing into my mind: how could the Utopians be so willing to obey the rules? Was More making use of his famous black sense of humor when he designed them?

The Utopians are a group of devoted, placid people; they all dress with the same garments and eat in big cantines. Their sense of community is greatly strong. They agree with all the rules. But that sounds so atypical. More, as many other utopians have done, created a little society where human feelings as fear, hate, jealousy and rage almost didn’t exist.

In fact, many utopic authors created a world in which these feelings didn’t exist either. Like the dystopian work of Aldous Huxley, “A Brave New World”, in which humans take pills to be constantly happy. Most utopias are made to terminate all bad feelings. But why not learn to control them and coexist with them? The deeper the pain, the deeper the joy. A world without these feelings would be a passive world. And in a passive world, there’s little space for big strokes of imagination and self-thinking. How boring would that be…

An example of how the island of Utopia could have looked like Isola_di_Utopia_Moro
An example of how the island of Utopia could have looked ~ how it was illustrated in the first edition

That lead me to think that most utopias are dangerous. As they represent the most ideally perfect aspects of society/mankind, and perfection is a subjective concept, they are very susceptible to not to fit the personal needs of every human being. So they can easily set apart any person who doesn’t correspond the same ideal, and put her in a cage.

Hitler almost realized his own utopia, and drove many people to serve him in this savagery. Maybe the others could sympathize with him because they saw, too, the heaven in Hitler’s mind. However after the discovery of the Holocaust, utopias could never be the same.

I’m not sure if I could, as many people do, relate that much Thomas More to the humanists of the 15th century. They put for the first time men before God, seeked the ability of the human being to think by itself and break with traditions, and supported more the science rather than the superstition. Thomas More was a deeply religious person, and he even stated being God’s servant when he was executed. However, his book Utopia pursues the finest achievement of a human community in what regards society organization, behaviour and education. So to have gone gone so deep into the matter, shouldn’t More have had a real passion for humanism?

More’s book is not easy to read. Used as we are, “free” educated thinkers from the 21rst century, to judge and compare everything with our current times, I think it’s difficult to put yourself into the mindset of the 15th century. I believe it’s a truly visionary book to be written back in that time, when religion had a considerable place in the european population, taking big imporance in every act.
atenas Renaissance artists from the 15th century seeked, too, to find perfection and utopy in the human body

Renaissance artists from the 15th century seeked, too, to find perfection and utopy in the human body

And exactly 440 years after Utopia was published, Constant Nieuwenhuys started working in New Babylon. His structures were motivated by the devastated cities he saw after World War II; he started thinking about how architecture influences daily life, and how it creates a specific environment depending on its shape and interior organization. When I thought about Constant and More together, I couldn’t imagine such differents idealists. But as soon as I started going deeper into his ideals, and tried to understand them, I could see some resemblances. On one hand, I think they were united by the fact that they both had a fascination for anthropology. Constant and More put a great effort into imagining, each one their own way, ways to enhance culture and society. What would have happened if we combined the community of More with Constant’s architecture? Perhaps it would have been a total failure, as it is like combining two opposite worlds that scream for way divergent paragons of life. Constant architecture was made to play, whereas iddleness was totally forbidden in More’s book.


An example of one of Constant's scale models for New Babylon

I can also imagine that some art tendencies would have been banned in Utopia. As they hide, as well, butcher houses because it stimulates human violence, they would have probably limited art to just beautifully looking things that appeal to “nice acts”.

But what More, with his deeply religious faith (which maybe nowadays would have been translated into a deep love for mankind) would have designed for nowadays? Aren’t we almost living in a utopia right now, isn’t Amsterdam some sort of bubble? How would he would have felt in our current capitalist world? He was not an artist but I believe he had a deep love and understanding for humanity. Which doesn’t take him that far from art..


Homo Ludens

Monday, October 24, 2016


The human being is qualified as « homo sapiens », the man who knows and « homo faber », the man who makes. « Homo ludens » is the man at play.


So i decided to find out more about Constant Nieuwenhuy’s « homo ludens » and the context.

We are in the period after the second world war, everything is destroyed and has to be rebuilt. Constant had an utopian vision of how we could re invent our world, and for him it was a real possibility. We had to forget how we did thing in the past (traditions, routines, processes, plans…) and create a new world from dust, that he called « New Babylon ».


The people of the « New Babylon » world are called the « homo ludens ». He insisted on the importance of play. Something joyful, pleasant and adventurous in our daily lives. People could transform, recreate our environment according to their new needs. Everyone could use his creativity as he wished. Art would exist as part of our day-to-day existence, everyone would be an artist. He puts the human in the centre of everything. Mobility is another key dimension because it was getting easier to travel across the world. Constant saw the new babylonians as a new race of nomads with unlimited freedom to decide about the appearance of their surroundings.






I think this staircase is the perfect representation of Constant’s idea of « homo ludens ». The stair’s principal function is no more the useful part of it, to go up and down. The amusement of going up and down is what it is about. It isn’t the most practical staircase but when you go up or down, you have fun.


The opposite of this new concept of a « ludic society » is the society we are in now, a « utilitarian society ». A society based on the exploitation of the human being’s capacity for work in any kind of domain. « Utility » is the principal criteria of a man for his activity. The creative man can only claim his right on rare occasions.


The « ludic society » on the contrary is freed from repetitive production work. It would be a « classless society » with no more hierarchy. A society were individuals developed and discovered their own creativity with others. Constantly at play, an uninterrupted process of creation and re creation.


How would « social justice » work in this new world ?


Equality and freedom between everyone is the principle of social justice. Freedom depends not only on the social structure but also on productivity. Supposing we are in a world where people create daily, if there is no production then this society doesn’t work. Productivity depends on technology. The new technologies we discover every year give us new ways of doing things, more possibilities, more freedom for the « homo ludens » to play with.

With theses new possibilities people innovate, make something new, re do, renew, rebuild, restore, transform, change… This is in effect the role of a designer but in this world there wouldn’t be any constraints.




These innovations can be used in all kinds of activities. For instance, Constant imagined that air conditioning in  « New Babylon » does not only serve to recreate, as in a « utilitarian society » an « ideal » climate but also to make it possible to vary the ambiance to the greatest possible degree.


Technology and innovation enable creativity. For example, we can now bring to reality what was a simple 2D image on a computer. There are many kinds of innovations but I think that artificial intelligence (see also : 7 trends for artificial intelligence in 2016 ) is going to be the major innovation that will have an impact on our society and really affect our creativity in the future.


Imagine a world where « homo ludens » would be able to have artificial intelligence (AI) assistants. You could not really make the difference with a human. They would have all the data of the world in their system and would use « deep learning » .

« Deep learning » is different learning methods where the AI has advanced audio and visual analysis skills (facial recognition, voice recognition, computer vision…). They would be able to modify their attitude based on the past, they learn. If you are a bit curious about this subject I advise you to watch the tv series « Westworld  ».

With all this data and advanced technology IA assistants could give to « homo ludens » a different perspective about their production and bring real technical and practical support instantly. It would be similar to the character « Jarvis » in Iron Man. What is interesting about this AI is that it is invisible.


Artificial intelligence and « homo ludens » could work well together but AI can be dangerous if it is not well controlled.



Monday, October 24, 2016

After World War II, much of Europe is in ruins. People in Europe had experienced two world wars in three decades, many wanted peace and quiet and to try going back to the old order. Women who, during the war, had gone out to work would now stay at home. Some young people who had grown up during the war wanted to explore the newly won freedom. The young artist Constant Nieuwenhuys was one of these young people. He and his family went into hiding to avoid registering for ‘Kulturkammer’ (Nazi Chamber of Culture) so that he could continue to sell his art. When they hid in the house of Constant’s brother in law, his brother introduced Constant to philosophy. He began to read Karl Marx which would be a great source of inspiration for him later on.

1948 Constant created the international artist collective CoBrA. It was a collection of radical young artists from northern Europe who was against war, nationalism and militarism. They wanted to explore a new freedom through art and new perspectives through child- and folk art, mixing different materials and work collectively. Many of them were also Communists, who didn’t see it as the function of art to hang in the bourgeois homes. After CoBrA, Constant concentrated on his project New Babylon, creating models, collages and paintings to figure out what a post-marxist society would look like. His models show buildings that rise up on pillars from the ruins of the old capitalist society. ‘Homo Ludens’, man after a revolution, that no longer need to work as all the work had been automated by machines. He is no longer a worker but spend his own life and time for play. All land in New Babylon was owned collectively and the models show horizontal buildings for a horizontal community, and large open spaces as architecture was not to limit the spawning of Homo Ludens. Instead, it could constantly be modified to needs and desire.

In 1974 Constant gave up the development and presentation of the New Babylon project after nearly two decenniums of exploration. Many saw the project as utopian but for Constant it was a potential and real future. In the New Babylon society, people are connected through a large building that stretches around the world. A place where everyone can be received as mentioned by Mark Wigley, author of “Constant’s New Babylon: The Hyper-Architecture of Desire” a digital folder of the books content that we have got access to today –connected with our phones– and through which we can attain the content independent of place both during the day or at night.

When I went through the exhibition New Babylon at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, I thought of today’s socialism and the ideas that an alternative society is something strange and impossible. The ideology of today tells us that we live in the post-ideological era, liberal democracy won the cold war and so also the hegemony of ideological thought. We are told that we can move freely we can become anything if we work hard. Today Constant’s ideas seem naive and detached from reality ‘his idea is a utopia and today we have come to realize that we live in the best of worlds’. Today we are told that we are free. By calling something a utopia we take away its revolutionary strength, Constant is harmless because he hangs in an art museum. His models are ornaments from a naive era. When we leave the museum we leave the naive dreaming behind and come back to our “post-ideological” society.

We have acquired the freedom of choice in what we consume, but that is also as far as our freedom extends. Jens Nordfält, a doctor in store marketing, explains how the architecture of a supermarket is constructed to make us consume. At the entrance is placed freshly baked bread to make you hungry. In the back of the store is placed everyday goods that everyone needs so that one will go past many goods and increase the chance of spontaneous shopping. Placed by the checkout is sweets and cheap small goods that one can indulge in when one has been good and done ones weekly shopping. This is not play nor neutral and free from ideology, but instead reflects the capitalist utopia.

The Concept of Détournement

Monday, October 24, 2016

Détournement is a technique. Détournement is a style. Détournement is a tool.

  • To really understand the concept of this tool, first we have to get to know it’s origins.

When we speak about détournement, the first and the most important figure we have to mention is Guy Debord.

Debord was a Marxist theorist; writer and filmmaker who is mostly known for his activity and leading membership of the Situationist International ( SI ).

In 1950, at the age of 19, Debord joined an avant-garde movement called Letterism, led by Isidore Isou. After two years Debord splits off and creates a radical group, the Letterist International.

Shortly after this collective of rebel artists and theorists was founded ( 1952 ) , détournement was claimed by this certain group.

The very first publication ( and description ) we can find on their desires; announced by Guy Debord and Gil J Wolman in 1956, was the ‘ A User’s Guide to Détournement ’ .

After we did these very basic studies on the genesis of our subject, we can go deeper in search of the meaning and, so to say, the use of détournement.

  • Every movement, every new style claims current things and situations to change. They all have the same purpose: leave the old, the used behind and create, express something new. In our case Guy Debord’s movement was a very radical, even revolutionary way of changing the meaning of art, or better, the production of it. Debord and the situationists all agreed on the fact that art could no longer stay a chic, luxurious, high class production. Rather they believed and strived for art to have a deeper, educational input. They broke down the walls of the classical and the bourgeois way of looking at and creating art by taking different elements of already existing works and transforming them into something new, to express another meaning. These changes don’t necessarily have to be drastic or aggressive. The point of it is to change a small component but then with this small detour, changing the overall expression and audience. They mainly aimed political situations and circles, but only in a peaceful and respectful way.

A very important figure and example in this case would be Asger Jorn. Jorn was a really good friend of Debord, therefore he was highly inspired and led by the situationist concept, styles and ideas. In his paintings series called The ‘Defigurations’ , we can clearly explore the idea of détournement. His works are mainly driven by political issues and his frustration with established structures and authorities within society.

Another well known example is Marcel Duchamp’s L.H.O.O.Q. where he simply adds a moustache on Mona Lisa. With this small adjustment which first looks funny and sarcastic, Duchamp changes the whole meaning of the original Mona Lisa, that presents a laid back, carefree woman, but with this detour he presents the restlessness of the women’s sexuality.

  • At this point i find it more important to come up with more recent examples for détournement.

Let’s say you go to a restaurant, you get a piece of toast and a strawberry. Then you take a bite of this strawberry and you realise that it is actually a tomato. This is a concoction by the radical Star Chef Grant Achatz called ‘ strawberry / tomato ‘ . His cuisine is amazingly revolutionary as he transfers every simple ingredient into something more, something different. With this, he presents the meaning of modern cooking on a new level that is more of a performance or art than just making food for the guests. The food itself loses its meaning, it becomes the show, the whole experience. He takes a simple vegetable a normal herb or an ordinary ingredient but then the way he cuts, boils, combines them he creates tastes, techniques and culinary styles that we have never experienced before.

Another very important figure and illustration from our daily life is Banksy. We are not quite certain if Banksy is one person or a group of revolutionary artists, but the works we find and see under Banksy’s name are carrying the biggest recent political and social issues from these days.

In our case Banksy () could be one of the best examples how détournement works. In these works we can find well known images of current situations, famous moments and people, companies and figures. The way Banksy transforms these pieces, irrevocably opens our eyes on actual problems in our society, on existing and known political debates. The only small detour Banksy has, is that the way it’s propaganda exists might be more aggressive or intense by publishing them on public places, than the basics of détournement were created.

  • However, we face an important  and interesting question now. What if we detour détournement? How far can détournement go? How can or should we divide it from anarchy?

Or maybe peaceful propaganda is not enough at all these days anymore…?!

I assume it might not be. I believe that nowadays within such an aggressive society, political parties and their choices; we have to fight the “rival” with clear, harsh and rebel tools.

So answering our questions: it is almost a mandatory for us artists and philosophers and writers, comedians, journalists or simple working class people and for all medium that is capable of, to take the peaceful elements of détournement to a next,  advanced level. We do have to go further and show our dislike or disagreement, even if it has to cross laws and politeness, for the sake of change and recognition. We have to apply effective and more powerful tools to our ideas and requirements  for them to be realised.


Sunday, October 23, 2016


Competitive notions in interpreting the concepts of situationism are creating a dilemma. This dilemma signifies friction between the concept and its use in daily life. 


Firstly I should say that situationism and the Situationist International had been created in a different world/time than the one I live in. The concept of freedom and play as stated in many of their ideas, resemble an assembly of philosophical and empiric references that are mine, but experienced in a different context. This leads to a reinterpretation of freedom and play connected to the world I live in now.



Situationist ideas about psychogeography (dérive) and unitary urbanism clarify the concept of living in situations, freedom and play vividly. People wander through different urban areas. Having their individual feelings lead them while being directly influenced by their surroundings. An idea of exploring and living in a landscape existing of unplanned surprises.


So far, this concept might sound clear, but a paradox can be found in many of their statements.

On the one hand a person should be strongly attached to his/her own feelings/emotions/senses (individualism), but on the other hand a capitalist/materialist individualism is condemned. This states an interesting way of thinking. Complex by all means.

The word of subject in the sentence above is ‘individualism’, but in my vision on the main situationist theory (a radical aversion for ideas and practices of the powers that were), are ‘individualism’ and ‘collectivism’ interchangeable. The notion of the individual and the group as being a unity and at the same time fragmenting this collectiveness, is such a tough contradiction. This makes situationist theories approachable in many ways, but inapproachable in even more.


The radical, anti-capitalist ideas of the situationists can be very effective in extreme, collective confrontation (i.e. revolts, revolutions, marches, strikes). Meanwhile, the individual in daily life, loses strength.

An individual that constructs situations, will be living in a different situation than another individual, although their situations could overlay and complicates such an (already) unclear starting point. A situation defined for yourself, might complicate the practice of freedom and play in a cohesive, social setting.

Freedom and play should be incorporated in situations and life in general, but these terms are uncertain in ongoing effect and consequence.



The situationist notion of the spectacle (materialist/capitalist vision on life as a narrow-minded, superficial one) still divides and unites people in their daily patterns nowadays. Although the spectacle reshapes itself continuously towards more flexible definitions.


Primary, intrinsic and united similarities are what makes us homo sapiens. The by the situationists admired concept of the homo ludens unites us too. This adventurous person at play is inside all of us. Still few people are able to fully express this as described in a situationist’s observation.

External influences, as the spectacle, restrict us human beings to be limitless in freedom and play. But also, in my point of view, originates an important part from within people themselves. External information (cultural, traditional) is necessary to reinterpret in an individual context. Therefore freedom is needed. Next to these external factors, a variety of embedded instincts and needs (biological, genetic) are prematurely existing. To approach these in a constantly free and playful way is beautifully stated, but in my conception naive, since we are  being born in an already populated world where centuries of ever transforming, created structures aren’t all based on (solely) money and power.



These situationist ideas, created and admired by artists and other people with interest and knowledge in arts, literature, philosophy and/or politics, is not made for, nor to be understood by many others. Capitalists nor communists (and many more who fill this gap).

A situationist world is a utopia. The importance of the unstructured, emotional drifts, guiding every person individually, is un-realizable.

Influence through morals, religions and politics have always been a limitation for protesters. But structure can be found in all ideas  about life. Structure requires limits. Also, a construction of situations.


Read more :

The Concept of Détournement

the pleasure of the unknown



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

text by Celina Yavelow


Guilty_Screen Shot

She changes this thing in the house to annoy the other, and the other is annoyed and changes it back, and she changes this other thing in the house to annoy the other, and the other is annoyed and changes it back, and then she tells all this the way it happens to some others and they think it is funny, but the other hears it and does not think it is funny, but can’t change it back.

The Other, by Lydia Davis


Loaded Language


The fact that language can change a state being is pretty much wow to me. Say the word and there’s a chance something will change: your insides start hurting (“Cunt”), you’re suddenly single again (“I’m breaking up with you”), or forced into a guilty state (“You’re under arrest”). The load in this kind of language is taken literally here, considering the body not only as the agent for speech, but also as physically subject to the force and effect of loaded language — realizing you can actually do things with words, and realizing also, that its authority can be both threatening and empowering.

Complex_Screen Shot

This thesis is titled Where did you hide the gun? because it’s a famous example of a question deliberately loaded by its formulation. It does not ask if there is a gun, but ensues there is, and where did you hide it? According to the question you’re already guilty of the shot — regardless (“POW POW!”). I’ve connected this mechanism to a term in language philosophy and theater studies called performative speech utterance, which is quite a tough shoe to chew, so my theoretical framing is constantly interrupted by metaphoric associations and a fictional narrative, offering a melodramatic illustration of the concepts employed.

And_Screen Shot

Meanwhile, I became completely hooked to the thought that language can be so directive, that we are so easily affected, seduced or tricked by it. I continued my research in a sound piece called Hi, Mary, which was set out to be a subjective audio tour of a small part of the GRA graduation show of 2015, but was mostly exploring this reflex in our body to surrender to a voice and its language. Listen to it here!
Sound file: Hi-Mary

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650-Celina_Yavelow_LS_05_low_res audiotour at Rietveld graduation show


the thesis
The subject –loaded language– is in itself interesting. But what makes the thesis original and engaging is the way in which she approaches the subject - a mix of various types of material (film, language philosophy, literature, current events, memories) and registers (short story, academic prose, interview, collaged/found text), all capably, impressively intertwined. Yavelow presents the reader with both basic and not-so-basic linguistic concepts, each of which she proceeds to explore through various perspectives.
The writing process is thus integral to the subject matter. The bluntness of certain images (for example guns) and juxtapositions (for example romance with guilt) is largely offset by the assured writing style. A range of literary devices are used to good effect: repetition, sentence fragments, double meanings, omission of conjunctions. An enjoyable, kaleidoscopic read.
[text by Louis Luthï]

Screen shot 2016-05-15 at 3.23.50 PM download this thesis by Celina Yavelow


A wide variety of books and a bride with no groom

Sunday, February 21, 2016


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(Roughly about emojis)

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Bride with no groom



The first time I saw Emojis  was 4 years ago, around 2011. I had done that big investment and changed my Blackberry for an Iphone. Coming from the Blackberry world it was very important for me to be able to chat for free so I downloaded Whatsapp, which was gaining popularity in my Ecuadorian chatting circle of life. But coming from the Blackberry world I was also missing to be able to send their super cute “Smileys” (how I called them before calling them “Emojis”, by the way my grandmother calls them “caritas” which means “little faces”).

Smileys, Emojis, or Emoticons where not included in Whatsapp and apparently they were not in my super new and slick Iphone neither. A friend recommended me to download an app called Emoji Emoticons, this applications was going to somehow make a Emoji Keyboard appear in my Iphone. So I did Sparkles on Apple iOS 9.3

remember finding very strange the fact that this Emojis will appear in my keyboard as another language. Between the options I had I could either write in Spanish or write Emoji. Technically I couldn’t do both in the same time. Emojis in Iphone interface at that time weren’t categorize as a complementary element to written words, as they appeared in my BlackBerry. Rather they appeared as a whole new language. The Emoji pack for the Iphone was also a lot wider than the Bb Smiley pack. Suddenly having so many options made me question my real need for them. They were all new so I was not used to them and they all seemed not suited to my usual way of communication and a bit arbitrary. Somehow because they where not the Emoji I was used too, they also felt “un-official”. I knew I could demand them to be official and that I couldn’t defend that the Bb smileys were official indeed, but I think it was an interesting instinctive (?) reaction.

I asked myself for example if I will ever need 4 Volumes of books (each one with their own color) and 3 types of notebooks.Where was the ecuadorian flag? And why was there a Bride and not a Groom? What happened with him? Is it the hat? This little and easy remarks (maybe a little bit too easy: Pseuo-Nationalist and Pseudo-FeministFace Throwing a Kiss on Apple iOS 9.3) catch my attention. With the time Emojis started to be used more and more and they started to feel like a some-how “official” thing. Despite this the arbitrary feeling to it was still there. They were being used for a lot of people but were they representing this people need of communication? (AND NOW OMG, MY QUESTION HAS BEING HEARD BY THE GOD OF ADVERTISING AND AlwaysG is also bitching about Feminist-Emoji-Rights…Face Without Mouth on Apple iOS 9.3: Always #LikeAGirl – Girl Emojis)

The ancestor of the Emoji is the “Smiling face”, even though earlier versions are known, Harvey Ball is recognized as the official designer of the smiley, he did it back in 1963. Emoji were born in the late 1990′s created Shigetaka Kurita, an employee at the Japanese telecom company NTT Cocomo. Kurita came up with the idea to add simplistic cartoon images to its messaging functions as a way to appeal to teens. He draw them using a pencil and a paper in a 12 by 12 pixel grid. This is how he came up with 176 crude symbols representing from faces to music notes. This emojis were a hit in the Japanese market, and other mobile providers adopted this feature. In 2007 when the Iphone appeared Apple and Google realized that they had to catch up and they added their own Emoji keyboard in the Iphones. This feature was hidden in the US Iphones, but we soon discovered that we could download an app to make them appear. By this moment the propositions given by provider were partially overlapping symbols and had its own way of coding. Emoji from a different provider often could not be displayed between them. Also emoji via email was a problem. 



National Park on Apple iOS 9.3
(This is a landscape painting hanging in the wall of this article for decoration and recreation purposes)



So Emoji added to the Unicode Consortium in 2009.Unicode which was founded in 1990 is a network of contribution members. This is the organization who punctuates, encodes, names and sketches Emoji to make sure that each platform (e-mail, iOs, Android, Google, etc) shows the same character. Then each platform can design their Emoji.  Since then the Unicode Consortium adds new Emoji features each year. This emoji features are held by employees from Apple and Google…Man in Business Suit Levitating on Apple iOS 9.3

In June 2015 there were 37 Emojis added, including an upside-down smiley, a nerd, a robot, a taco, a cheese, a hot dog, a mosque, a synagogue, etc. They also enabled, understandably, the option to change the skin tone of certain human-emoji to different hues on the FitzPatrick Scale, a “recognized standard for dermatology”

Looks quite hard to determine what Emojis are needed to represent all the Emoji-users needs for communication, it is clear that we are looking for solutions to be more expressive via text, but in the same time it also sounds too-easy easy to ask for emoji-representation of everyone. Tyler Schnoebelen lingüistic-related man has done some observations. As he says, “we’ve learned to talk, and we’ve learned to write, but we’re only now learning to write at the speed of talking (i.e., text), sending messages over vast expanses, absent any physical contextual clues. If you are talking to someone face-to-face, you don’t need an additional word or symbol to express “I’m smiling” because you would, presumably, be smiling.” But when we text between each other we loose all the non-verbal faculties like vocal intonation and body-language. Thinking about texting in this way makes very clear the necessity of a body-related language to emerge among chatters to leave intentions clear in a fast, casual way as easily as making a gesture.

But Emoji are not as limited as body-languageMouse Face on Apple iOS 9.3. Because among this very understandable body-expression conventions we also find other pictograms. Pictograms that seems to represent objects, actions or just words. And that have no defined meaning. This is the shady part of emoji. One of the reasons for which we cannot communicate solely with Emojis. With the times though there are some interpretations that have been stablished among certain people for example the girl with hands up in her head is in Japanese context a gesture for “OK”, but in other contexts is mostly interpreted differently. Each Emoji is still very much open for interpretation and I guess with time this language will be shaped to fit our needs for communication. We will add emojis we need and the existing emojis will be filled with the needed meanings. Until then I guess we will keep playing with this pictograms in this shady zone trying to scape from the limitations they offer and trying to use them our way. Hoping also that Emoji will find its way to make us all Smile and will not create any sort of discrimination feeling to start a war, or a second feminist revolution. 



Thats all I have to say. But I have also this emoji-related links to recommend:

And things to read:

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