All posts by Sander Veenhof

Interview related to “Watch Your Privacy”

Watch Your Privacy

Interview by Filippo Lorenzin related to the launch of the “Watch Your Privacy” Google Glass project

Wearable devices seem to take a step forward on the path of the possibility of tracing the lives of users – path experimented by smart phones. What do you think about this phenomenon?

Various kinds of tracing might currently be happening by the device that’s in your pocket now. Remember the scandal of Apple openly registering every move you made around the globe, for anybody to read that got hold of your iPhone. We don’t always know exactly what’s happening within the software and services we use, but we can trace what data goes where. It’s important that there’s an active hacker community that dissects and inspects the ‘black box’ software that surrounds our lives. It’s the way to force software providers to be fair. With the hardware just being an innocent provider of certain functionality, it’s important that there’s a flourishing world of alternative software to run the continuing hardware innovations. So users can choose a provider for their software, network or data-store that suits their prefered level of security.

What does it mean to be careful about our privacy in a context like today?

You can try to be careful, but that doesn’t mean it will actually help. For us as individuals, it’s obvious what is within our reach to safeguard a certain level of privacy during our life online (And using our mobiles and thanks to AR, this online life is merging with our reality outdoors). It takes a certain type of common sense we should all own as inhabitants of an increasingly digital world. What do we explicitly and implicitly share in the cloud and what not? Much more difficult is it to defense ourseves against invisible surveillance and privacy intrusions by companies and governments. It’s almost impossible to hide from Big Data. It takes thorough understanding to be able to avoid being traced, by misleading or dearranging the ongoing data collection and analysis, and you probably can’t do it alone. Such acts would require interventions on a global scale. Nowadays, we have the tools to reach and mobilize the world. It would for example be a good habbit to have the whole world randomly like and share anything that containts the letter “a”, for a certain random day. But such act should be carried out invisbly. A challenging task. We’re being “nudged”. Is it is time to nudge back? To let Big Data believe what we want it to believe will require fundamental and thorough understanding – of something that’s definitely growing beyond our basic human scale.

In what way projects like yours can lead people to critically ask themselves in relation to online surveillance? Do you think average users will change some their ideas about this topic in the future?

Some aspects in my projects are left open, deliberately. For example, the setting to express your preference concerning the safe zone. Are you happy being out of reach of the surveillance, or do you seek the opposite? The public opinion is divived. Some prefer total privacy, others cheer when hi-res cams capture criminal activity. A project like “Watch Your Privacy” asks people to take sides. A reason on the background for me to launch this project, was that Google Glass suffers a lot from the massive and loud pro-privacy movement. It’s a pity, because for the creative world the device could mean so much more than just a privacy problem. It’s not just Google Glass that causes a privacy issue, the debate should be taking place on a more fundamental level, beyond the specific hardware. Soon we’ll have people carrying contact lenses with camera’s, we’re already having people wearing Memoto cams on the street. It will be about etiquette. What do we share online and not? Although we seem incapable of enforcing an etiquette for companies or governments, so that might be the real problem. Watch Your Privacy offers a “solution”. But his solution is double sided. You gain some privacy, and you lose some, because your position is added as movable cam to the surveillance database and shared with others. Once again, it’s on purpose that I create a project this way. It cannot be classified instantly, so it requires a (potential) user to think twice before using it.

glass-privacy

Not OK Glass

notokglass.001

Zonder het de wereld te vragen introduceerde Google in 2012 de Google Glass. De wereld reageerde met: “OK glass”. En “take a picture”. Maar er werd ook gemopperd. Iedereen aan de camerabril en één partij die binnenkomende beelden en data analyseert? Is dat niet Big Brother meets Big Data, en dus onwenselijk? Gelukkig dat met een software ingreep Google buitenspel gezet kan worden, en dan blijft er een apparaat over dat nieuwe fascinerende in-your-face formats mogelijk maakt. Want wat kan er niet, zodra de digitale wereld vermengt raakt met de fysieke wereld? De enige vraag die resteert is: wat kan écht niet? Wanneer is het tijd voor “Not OK Glass”?

Beyond Biennale // september 2014

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The future, or the end of augmented reality

CONTEXT: Studium Generale – KABK art academy The Hague

Having a background in computer science, I was a relief for me to discover the virtual world of Second Life during my time at the Gerrit Rietveld art acacemy. In this programmable world I was able to create any kind and any scale of interactive installation, without the investments in costly materials. I only needed to invest time programming them. I give up my attempts to innovate the painting genre, and I started experimenting with the possibilities within the virtual world and I explored the boundaries too, with various hybrid reality installations bridging the virtual world and the ‘real’ outside world. But with the arrival of augmented reality browsers for the smartphone, my attempt to escape Second Life finally succeeded, because with mobile “AR” I was able to bring virtual life onto the streets. A first manifestation of this kind was a virtual flashmob on the Dam square in Amsterdam. Being more than just than just a visual add-on to reality, the virtual flashmob truly impacted the physical space. A flashmob-like group of spectators formed a circle around a central spot of emptyness marked by QR-codes on the ground where the actual virtual flashmob happened.

To be able to influence the physical domain anywhere in the world by means of virtual appearances, is a powerful tool. Even more so, because these days anything can be a ‘marker’ triggering AR. Without the need to go to a spot and visually modifying it by placing markers, the potential reach radically more broader. As is proven by projects such as Paaltwitteren, turning any OV-chip check-in posts in the Netherlands as nodes of a many-to-many communication structure. Using GPS to position augmented reality gives an even bigger extent of freedom. Anything is possible anywhere. For example, placing virtual wild animals across the city centre Eindhoven and organising safari tours by car, with a car-stereo providing sounds synchronised to the virtual animals spotted during the tour. To invite more people to express their creativity in the parallel virtual public space, I launched a layar called Cityshapes. It’s a multi-user location-based virtual sculpturing toolkit which turns the world into a DIY space in which anyone can contribute anything. Although it sometimes takes a big safari vehicle to let people notice it. Or picking the right context can help.

An uninvitedly organised augmented reality exhibition inside the MoMA museum in New York was a happening within the right context to deliver a message about the new radical possibilities in the unbounded AR space. Augmented reality can be everywhere, litteraly. The artwork “BiggAR” exists all over the planet. It consists of 7.463.185.678 virtual cubes floating in the skies around the world. Augmented reality as concept art? Yes, but then for real. In contrast to creating the world’s biggest virtual artwork, I’ve explored the other conceptual extreme as well. Being the worlds’ first one dimensional artwork, nearly invisible the artwork “1px” was exhibited at the waterfront of the ICA building during the Boston Cyberarts festival. I’ve even created truly invisible AR. Not because AR is by default invisible when looking from a certain point of perspective (i.e. not looking through a digital device). Invisible AR exists on the map, but still is invisible. AR art for insiders.

Sometimes, not seeing a virtual creation can be a matter of location. People at the “infiltr.AR” launch event only saw a red dot on a map, indicating the moment when someone in or near the White House saw our virtual balloon. Probably as a result of the ongoing signals sent out on Twitter and facebook about the “ongoing virtual infiltration of the White House and Pentagon”, aiming to trigger some alarm bells over there. That’s still a major aspect of any AR project: finding ways to be noticed. Because unfortunately, there’s no proper notifier on our smartphones yet, which has to do with the fact that there’s no unified AR universe yet. The battle by Apple and Google for the ownership, control and commercial exploitation of the AR space is yet to begin. Not awaiting that moment, I’m already creating content for the hybrid reality of the future, mimicking intended functionality with tricks appropriate to our present day situation. Not very impactfull yet, but with enough people being aware of the existence of my virtual traffic light on the island Terschelling, people stopping to view the traffic light will block the narrow bike lane causing the virtual traffic light to start functioning for real.

For artist, augmented reality is an enabler in many ways. First of all, it’s a new material, with infinite possibilitites. But even though that’s a fact, an audience needs to understand the dynamics and aesthetics of AR art to value it. Furthermore, people will have to get used to the fact that AR is real even though it’s non-tangable. The difference between real and not real is not a matter of material, not a matter of touch. Think of the interaction with the global virtual toad colony of artist Will Pappenheimer which is trough licking. I’ve never touched nor licked a Picasso! Besides being a infinite material, AR enables an infinite use of space. Not just location-wise, but the placement of AR is permanent, infinite. Unless a DELETE buton is implemented, as was the case in the Battling Pavilions project happening in the Giardini area of the Venice Biennial in 2011.

In the same year, visitors of the Lowlands music festival were ‘augmentized’ using a bluescreen. The festival was documented on the spot, for eternity. A real-live augmentation method was applied on Tibb the AR rabbit at the STRP festival. Moving in front of a bluescreen, the rabbit was generating live animations, viewed in augmented reality across the world. From Venice to New York to Veldhoven. It wasn’t as fancy as the usual 3D animating dinosaur, often appearing in AR, which isn’t really indicating the full potential of AR. In ‘one way’ AR experiences, the audience is being just a viewer. But we live in a data-reality, on which augmented reality browser is a viewer. Creating exchanges unique to a location and the people present there and anywhere else in the global AR space, is a possibility demonstrated by the recent re-launch of a 3D surround version of PONG. The AR version of the utterly basic game is now multi-player, allowing you to point to Chili to shoot a pixel (a 3D pixel) to someone there. Being unable to compete with big companies employing teams of designers, modelers and programmers, by attempts are not advanced in their graphical manifestation, but even with plain speech bubbles appearing on random passers-by throughout the city of Utrecht, a location-based interactive story can be told. There’s hidden world of stories surrounding us

Standings amongst people pointing their phones around for about two years, I was starting to see their movements as a dance. It triggered me to cooperate with choreographer Marjolein Vogels to structure the movement into a choreography by letting people follow a floating virtual cube using their mobile phone. It wouldn’t be AR if it wouldn’t be a globally connected experience, so although it didn’t look like a proper flashmob consisting of a bunch of people getting together on a square, this was in fact the biggest permanent flashmob in the world.

For now, the mobile phone is the foremost tool to experience AR. I mock on this phenomenon by creating the Global Choreography, but at the same time I realise it’s a questionable situation to see everybody obsessively hidden within their personal mobile sphere. Now is the time to make remarks objecting to that, before it’s too late. Soon the unobtrusive augmented reality goggles will make it an invisible unobtrusive practise integrated within our digital day-to-day reality. I’ve been flyering against virtual art at the Venice Biennale. The same Biennial I was infiltrating with my art. It’s the benefit of an artist to be allowed to be inconsistent. Instead of just being against obsessive use of mobile phones, I’ve been seeking solutions too. “Meet Your Stranger” brings people together through their devices with a bundle of any thinkable present day technical innovation: GPS-detection, augmented reality and a interactive scripts. But with humans as an extension to the technology, instead of the other way around.

AR is a social space in which global reach coexists with localized experiences. It is in fact a result of a world which has become semi-digital. Soon, it will not longer be relevant nor justifyable to call something ‘augmented reality’, as the reality of the future will be a hybrid mix of the real and the ‘virtual’. That’s already the case today. Digital stored content is lives on lattitude and longitude. Locations are being stored and labeled, based on their GPS-coordinate or based on a visual marker. The integration is back and forth. It will not take long until the term ‘augmented reality’ will be just an on/off switch on the camera of your smart device, be it a phone, glasses or contact lenses. Digital additions on or off? At one point, it will be the question whether you see the ‘real’ reality when you switch of the virtual additions.

Wereldwijde synchrone choreografie

Op zondag 7 oktober 2012 wordt over de hele wereld gezamenlijk een synchrone ‘dans’ opgevoerd. Geinspireerd op de vreemdsoortige bewegingen die onvermijdelijk zijn bij het bekijken van zogeheten ‘augmented reality’ met de techniek van dit moment, de mobiele telefoon, heeft Marjolein Vogels een choreografie gemaakt bestaand uit 33 bewegingen. Terwijl iemand in Amsterdam met zijn mobiel mikt op een kubus die vanuit westelijke richting boven het hoofd naar een oostelijke richting beweegt, maakt iemand in New York of Sydney op dat moment synchroon het zelfde gebaar.

Kunstenaars Sander Veenhof: “Met de augmented reality techniek die ik toepas is de vermenging mogelijk van het digitale met de fysieke ruimte om ons heen. Ik vind het interessant wanneer er écht sprake is van een relatie tussen die twee domeinen. Als het virtuele daadwerkelijk impact heeft op de gang van zaken in de echte ‘realiteit’.

Zo hoop ik dat ooit het virtuele stoplicht op Terschelling ooit nog eens voor voldoende opstopping op het fietspad gaat leiden zodat het écht gaat werken. (http://sndrv.nl/oerol2012) Ik plaatste het stoplicht tijdens Oerol zonder overleg met de organisatie. Dat is een zeer prettig aspect van “AR” zoals ik met mijn ongevraagd geplaatste expositie in het MoMA demonstreerde. In het geval van het stoplicht leidde het er vervolgens toe dat ik afgelopen jaar officieel onderdeel van het programma was! Met een voorstelling die het hele eiland bestreek doordat virtuele woorden door de wind werden meegevoerd van west tot oost: http://woordenjutten.nl

Al eerder organiseerde ik een flashmob in de virtuele ruimte. Eigenlijk een soort dubbele flashmob. Op de Dam stond in 2010 een groep mensen in een kring enthousiast via hun telefoon naar een lege ruimte in hun midden te staren alwaar zich een virtuele flashmob voordeed: http://www.sndrv.nl/ARflashmob

Maar liever nog breng ik mensen in beweging. Afgelopen jaar tijdens het NFF ontwikkelde ik in samenwerking met theatermaakster Madeleen Bloemendaal een aantal verhaalroutes door de stad. Al wandelend verschenen er d.m.v de smartphone praatwolkjes boven willekeurige mensen onderweg, die daarmee ongevraagd de hoofdrol speelden: http://www.sndrv.nl/storylines/

De choreografie die op 7 oktober wordt gelanceerd is een project dat meerdere kanten heeft. Het is uiterst abstract en conceptueel. Fysiek gebeurt er weinig zichtbaars, maar als het goed uitpakt gebeurt er op een wereldwijde schaal wel iets bijzonders. Het feit dat iedere ‘danser’ er vrij alleen en onbegrepen bij staat, is ook een verwijzing naar de status van augmented reality op het moment. De techniek blijkt nog steeds vrij onbekend, althans de artistieke toepassing er van. De commercieele toepassingen voor advertenties zijn al wel bekender aan het worden. Maar de kunstwereld begint nu ook langzaam te doorgronden wat de potentie is van deze wereldwijde virtuele ruimte die nauw vervlochtend is geraakt met de voorheen helder te definieeren ‘realiteit’.

INFO IN ENGLISH >

Woordenjutten – Oerol 2012

semi-virtuele voorstelling op Oerol 2012

semi-virtuele voorstelling op Oerol 2012

Elke festivaldag worden er honderden persoonlijke woorden de lucht in gestuurd. Ga met je smartphone naar het woordenjut loket op het Westerkeynterrein en geef je woorden mee aan de wind; doe eindelijk die bekentenis of geef lucht aan je hartenwens. Via Augmented Reality op je smartphone kun je jouw woorden zien wegvliegen. En twee maal per dag start de woordenjutter een virtuele expeditie ergens op het eiland op zoek naar alle aangewaaide woorden. Kijk in de festivalkrant en op het Woordenjut loket welk deel van je hart je die dag kunt luchten en wat de tijd- en vertrektijden van de woordenjutexpeditie zijn. Na tien dagen Oerol zal het eiland er een virtueel gevoelslandschap bij hebben, gevormd door alle belevingswerelden van de bezoekers.


OEROL, Terschelling – 16 t/m 24 juni 2012

Weide bij Midsland aan Zee , Terschelling

Weide bij Midsland aan Zee , Terschelling

Graphic Design Festival Breda – RTML installation

Real Time Markup Language (RTML) – Webdesign based on a sensor-driven dynamic CSS stylesheet, reflecting in real-time the state of the physical space it is reporting about.

RTML installation / Graphic Design Festival Breda

RTML installation / Graphic Design Festival Breda

A good design enriches the communicative powers of the item it is applied to, be it a product, a piece of text or an event. Choosing the right style is crucial to present the deeper meaning that cannot be communicated on the surface, by the content. Although design appears to be a very visual matter, its fundaments are invisible sets of rules we unknowingly apply while interpreting what we see. The RTML code operates on that invisible level, generating designs originating from the core level, by parsing the rules of common design sense and processing and tweaking those in a programmatic way. Why? If a good design is so crucial to properly communicate a message or an atmosphere, what to do when the atmosphere is in constant flux?

RTML website formatting provides a solution: a sensor driven adaptive interface, reflecting in real-time an atmosphere of a certain space just by the look-and-feel of the visual presentation, not by the content. RTML as a metaphorical showcase of the two layers of design, with the RTML structure being the invisible ruleset defining the aesthetic message the graphical output communicates.

 

Analog Statistics – Multiplex: Transnatural exhibition

23-02-2010 plant growth

The installation Analog Statistics establishes a link between the online presence of MULTIPLEX: TransNatural and the physical exhibition space. Seven plants in a greenhouse give exhibition visitors real-time insight into the cumulative website visitor statistics. A visit to the website, from anywhere in the world, triggers a growth-activating light over a plant that is correlated with the continent from which the site was viewed. The results will provide a foliage visualisation of international visitor numbers. Those who visit the website will see live webcam images of the triggered light and its effects. The European and North American plants will flourish, no doubt, but who will trigger the light over the Antarctica plant and help it grow?

analogstatistics

DUTCH TEXT:

De installatie Analog Statistics legt een verband tussen de virtuele wereld waarin Multiplex Transnatural zich manifesteert en de fysieke ruimte waar de tentoonstelling staat opgesteld. Zeven planten in een geautomatiseerde plantenkas in de kelder van het Trouw gebouw geven de bezoekers van de tentoonstelling een real-time en cumulatief inzicht in de bezoekers-statistieken van de website. Zodra iemand ergens ter wereld de website van de tentoonstelling bekijkt, activeert het systeem een groei-lamp boven de plant die is gekoppeld aan het werelddeel van waaruit de website wordt bekeken. De groei van de planten visualiseert hoe de website erin slaagt een internationaal publiek te bereiken.

Het systeem reageert op website-bezoekers, maar is semi-interactief. Bezoekers activeren een lamp, maar krijgen niet de keuze dat wel of niet te doen. Een live webcam-beeld toont hen desondanks het effect van hun actie. Door bezoekers zodoende direct een aandeel te laten leveren aan het groeiproces van één van de planten, wordt getracht hen een betrokkenheid op te dringen voor het verdere welzijn van ‘hun’ plant. Daarbij speelt ook een competitie-element mee. Elk van de 7 werelddelen wordt gerepresenteerd door één van de 7 planten. Tussen Europa en Noord-Amerika wordt het ongetwijfeld spannend. Maar maakt Antarctica nog enige kans? Wie schakelt vrienden of kennissen aldaar in om ook die lamp te laten branden?

Door aan te sturen op participatie, wordt de installatie meer dan een een richtings
De plantenkas functioneert als publiciteits-machine, maar is zowel middels als onderwerp van die publiciteit. En zoals het het creëren van publiciteit veel energie en moeite kost, zo vergt ook het uitdrukken van het succes daarvan in de vorm van plantengroei de nodige inspanning.

European plant

Trouw Amsterdam, basement

* Expositie: vrij. 19 februari t/m vrij. 19 maart
Openingstijden: wo. t/m vrij. + zo. 14.00u – 20.00u, za. 14.00u – 22.00u

* Workshops kinderen en jongeren: ma. 1 maart t/m vrij. 5 maart

* Zaterdag 13 maart Transnatural symposium met Koert van Mensvoort (NL), Elio Caccavale (UK), Tobie Kerridge (UK), Rachel Armstrong (UK), Jan Jongert (NL)

* Finissage: vrij. 19 maart eindgesprek met makers, 18.00u.

* Opening: vrij. 19 februari
18.00u – 22.00u in de Verdieping, 22.00u – 04.00u feest i.s.m. Below/ TrouwAmsterdam

Artists/designers/scientists:

Thomas Gerhardt (USA), Joan Healy (IR), Aaron Koblin/ Daniel Massey
(USA), Lucy McRae (NL), Ralf Schreiber (GER), Sander Veenhof (NL),
Maarten Vanden Eynde (BE), Jelle Feringa (NL), 2012Architecten (NL),
Daniela Bershan (GER/NL), Julius Popp (GER), Elio Caccavale (UK),
Tobie Kerridge (UK), Rachel Armstrong (UK)

Technology was the means by which we separated ourselves from nature, and escaped its limitations. In the 21st century we move beyond the animosity between nature and technology. In a lot of areas we see new fruitful collaborations and new kinds of unity: in our dealings with the environment en with energy, but also in arts, architecture, fashion and games.

What will this transnatural world look like? Is this a next evolutionary step, or merely a changed perception of ourselves?

Multiplex Transnatural is the first of two exhibitions with symposia. Transnatural will show to young and old the most interesting attempts from art, design, and science to fuse technology with nature. A glimpse of a new and rich world with transnatural architecture, installations, games and more.
More information: www.multiplexart.nl

De Wereld van Witte de With festival 2009

Sander Veenhof i.s.m Showroom MAMA

Sander Veenhof i.s.m Showroom MAMA

“Surveillancecamera’s zijn niet meer weg te denken uit het Rotterdamse straatbeeld. Waar je ook gaat, je wordt gezien. De interactieve interventie ‘de-surveillance’, bij Showroom MAMA, laat je verdwijnen voor het allesziende oog van de beveiligingscamera. Kunstenaar Sander Veenhof maakt het mogelijk je privacy op een speelse manier te heroveren”. (http://festivalwww.nl)

de-surveillance service point

Streetcorner Witte de Withstraat / Hartmansstraat – Rotterdam

The surveillance camera at the corner of Witte de Withstraat / Hartmansstraat in Rotterdam couldn’t handle a specific type of the color blue, a flaw discovered and exploited by Sander Veenhof in the context of the ‘For Security Reasons’ exhibition at Showroom MAMA.

A temporary ‘de-surveillance service point’ on the same streetcorner assisted visitors of the De Wereld van Witte de With festival to disappear from the Rotterdam surveillance camera network. By wearing or holding anything blue, they could become invisible.

Invisible outfits

ISEA 2009 presentation

15th International Symposium on Electronic Art
Belfast, Ireland

Physical Virtuality platform – bringing real and virtual together, physically

“DIMENSIONAL MOBILITY”
August 28th 14:00h – Waterfront venue – Main Hall

Since its existence, art has always exploring every thinkable dimension. Having its origin in 2D, as flat surface painting, it moved towards 3D with sculpture and performance, explored the 2D plane further with video and it even got into a non-dimension with certain highly conceptual art pieces.

Being confronted with new (digital) tools and phenomena, artists are currently actively exploring the multi dimensional opportunities and hybrid-dimensional forms. Working in virtual reality, making virtual art and being a virtual artist, it’s a common practice in VR world such as Second Life where the art world is thriving with new artworks ‘not possible in real life’. Ranging from huge gravity ignoring participatory installations to minimalistic work reflecting on the medium itself. Anything is possible…. Or isn’t it?

In a quest to conceptualise an artwork ‘not possible in virtual life’, the new media artist Sander Veenhof (1973) from Amsterdam, The Netherlands, has been studying the fundamental characteristics and limitations of virtual worlds to find out if such an artwork could possible be created. He so far carried out numerous experiments to answer one of the basic relevant question: to what extent does the virtual world actually differs from our physicial world? The difference in dimenional aspect is obvious. Avatars live in a 3D world represented on 2D screens. But we are more and more living our day-to-day 3D lifes on screens too. Video-conferincing with ‘2D’ partners, seeing ourselves GPS-tracked on 2D maps.

To study whether the gap between the real and the virtual dimension is unbridgable, Veenhof carried out a series of experiments attempting to bridge that gap to find out about its possibly unbridgable nature. Experiments involving a connection of both of these worlds. Litteraly, conceptually, by mixing different dimensions or crossing the virtual/real boundary. His projects could be described ad mobility through dimensions. As is best explained by the “Second Life visits The Hague” project: a mapping of a virtual world onto the Google streetmap of the city of The Hague, thereby putting both world in one shared dimension. (http://www.sndrv.nl/tag/ )
Other relevant studies include:

“SL Walkie Talkie Walks” – Hooking up New York residents to virtual world counterparts on a simultaneous walking tour through Brooklyn and Second Life:
http://www.sndrv.nl/slwalkietalkie/

“Physical Virtuality” – Giving avatar residents of a virtual world true physical weight, enabling ‘physical’ encounters between them and real people:
http://sndrv.nl/physicalvirtuality/

In his talk, Veenhof will address the issues he came across moving on the borderline between these connected worlds, a reflection on progress so far and an explanation on conclusions to be drawn.

Publicity Plant presentation at Test_Lab @ V2

Test_Lab flyer

Greenhouse re-installed at the V2 Test_Lab session on july 9th 2009

– Which issues would you like to address with your work/project? And does
it make any explicit statements, or raise specific questions, about the
state of the world?

We live in a world dense with media sources providing us an exuberant amount of information straight into our digital lifestyle, reaching us directly or indirectly by means of peers in the social media networks we’re in. We are being updated and informed non-stop and on the go, we continuously need to scan a flood of texts and references to online content worth visiting, new developments or other findings. Technically we’re being offered an unequalled ease to view, study or enjoy all those experiences with the click of a button. But all we do is Twitter about our scoop (if we find it first, among with 10000 #scoop spotters) or we create a Delicious/StubleUpon/360 bookmark about it, tagged ‘todo’ or ‘read_later’.

We lack the time and concentration to experience the actual content being referred to. We live in a meta-culture where the references have become the main content.

If hyperlinks and references are the maximum level of information we’re capable to handle nowadays, I reckoned skipping the actual content would save me time and disappointments. So I developed the Publicity Plant to survive on references only. Blog-postings, twitter-tweets, it’s the minimal but sufficient level of attention to keep it alive. There is no content, as a true publicity plant has no true body. In that sense, this Publicity Plant isn’t a true publicity plant, because a real publicity plant is involved.

– Can you describe the context (and pertinence) of your work in
contemporary settings? Are they economical, social, ecological, cultural,
anything else?

The origin of the project is the need for a new coming artist to claim a position in the crowded art scene. I’ve tried to create a feedback loop within the networked artist community. The project provided me with an proper excuse to send mass or direct emails-spam. Requesting publicity for a genuine cause, a real-life bouquet. Explaining how the growth of the plant was directly influenced by active and proper care from it’s supporters. And although being monitored and ‘controlled’ digitally, it dictated the natural ease and tempo of the project. As the seeded bouquet failed to develop any flowers, it showed me the limitations of applying my digitized thinking in areas outside of the computerized environment. It has a pré compared to digital creations too: plants are a very genuine visualization of statistical data. No way to positively readjust the statistical outcomes.

– Would your work (still) make sense if placed in the context of the 1980s
or 2030s?

Technically, it could have been realized in the ’80, although it would work at less speed, and it would have a smaller potential audience, which reduces the informational qualities of the project. This publicity plant anno 2009 really provided insight in its publicity reach, because in theory, nearly anyone in the world could have been reached.

In the years around 2030 the technical achievements in ecological control will probably provide us with the knowledge and equipment to grow a plant showing multi-dimensional information visualized in the form, color and size of it’s leaves and twigs. Looking forward to that moment!


– Do you believe that the world is in crisis?

Some fundamental structures are being changed, and it’s happening in a very prominent, visual and loud way, just as many things nowadays become a topic of the world instantly, being voiced by millions around the globe in choir. Somehow, I do see a little crisis in the superficial ways we currently react and (not) act to cope with the overly informed lives we’re living, but I’m taking this fact as an opportunity too to create works that perfectly fit the contemporary type of audience.