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Clockdust cover

Cover of Rustin Man's "Clockdust" Album

Let’s try something new here: a “mood-scape”, documenting a personal mood/world using words, visuals, and sound. And inviting you to build new worlds by participating on a 1-1 basis. Although “new” is relative: the term moodscape was initially coined in the seventies, and mixing media can hardly be labeled new or novel. But having a “calm” conversation may sound like an anachronism in these times where time itself is collapsing, where time itself has become exponential.

It started with discovering Rustin Man’s new album “Clockdust”. Rustin Man was in a previous life better known as Paul Webb, the bass player of the band Talk Talk. Check out his about page.

Listen to Night In Evening City

I immediately fell in love with the melancholic, nostalgic, slow pace sound of the album, in my opinion, a perfect soundscape for the disorienting times we live in. There is some sort of homesickness here, knowing deep inside that we have already said goodbye to a golden era, and era that I sometimes refer to as the Bowie-Era.

I added a couple of Clockdust songs to my Spotify March 2020 Ride playlist, and one of the songs happened to sit next to David Bowie’s Lazarus song from his Blackstar album. To make a long story short, I created a sub-set of the playlist, containing the songs that I felt best reflected my March 2020 “Mood”. There is one coming for April as well 😉

I suggest you let it play in the background in shuffle-mode whilst reading this blog post, as I believe it may augment what I am trying to share.

The cover is a picture from Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadisches Ballett (Triadic Ballet), a choreography with costumed actors transformed into geometrical representations of the human body.

ballet black white

Ballet colour

There is also this wonderful video testimony of one of the early performances of that choreography

The video sent me back in time – clockdust time – when I was a 6-year old schoolboy. For the very first time in my life, I stood – proudly – in front of a huge whiteboard in the classroom – it was a blackboard with white chalk – and we were invited by the teacher to properly write the letters of the alphabet with white chalk on this blackboard.

It must have been my early creative juices, but I could not withhold myself drawing big white spirals instead of well-formed a’s and b’s, etc. on that black-black blackboard. Result: punishment and the lesson learned that a classroom is not a place for creativity and imagination.

In vain, the seeds were sown, and spirals, spheres, labyrinths, maps, and foams became – with hindsight – an obsession. I love the endlessness, and the recursiveness of these shapes and forms. Especially double, entangled spirals or labyrinths get me going…

This high-end Balenciaga Summer 2020 production, with music from BFRND, is a perfect timestamp of our times. Grim black coats, at times almost German SS uniform like Arial race,… our sleepwalking into fascism. One thinks The Matrix, hard as stone, sharp as a knife, and greyed out faces. Will we take the Red or Blue pill? Blue for sure is the backdrop for what Balenciaga call “Power Dressing”.

balenciaga moods

Balenciaga Summer 20 reimagines dressing for work: power dressing, no matter what one does as a job. Looks transform a wearer in the way a uniform can. Unlike their archetypes, though, garments and accessories are made using unconventional processes.

They talk about New Fashion Uniforms, Seamless Tailoring, New Trompe L’oeil, Super Plissé, Pillow Parkas, Fetish Gownsn, and Wearable Ballroom dresses.

Models of various career tracks interpret and play on beauty standards of today, the past, and the future.

Enter Masks, a new book by James Curcio, about Bowie and other artists of artifice. I spotted the book in a guest post by James Curcio on Ribbonfarm’s always excellent blog.

maskhrfinal-82106-290x400

The difference between a king and a beggar, a soldier and a murderer remains in the realm of performance, a kind of farcical mummers trick that we agree to play along with, if often unconsciously.

The bulk of the book is about Bowie’s unique conceptual art, his capability to create new coherent worlds and identities. I miss Bowie.

The post and book also refer to French philosopher Jean Baudrillard’s book Simulacra and Simulation, apparently required reading for the actors of The Matrix before filming. According to Wikipedia, Baudrillard is “best known for his analyses of media, contemporary culture, and technological communication, as well as his formulation of concepts such as simulation and hyperreality.”

It cannot be happenstance that I find a reference to Simulacra and Simulation in “Design Unbound”, fantastic two-volume work on “Designing for Emergence in a White Water World”, by John Seely Brown and Ann M. Pendleton-Jullian, a print-only MIT Press publication. Chapter 14 is about “World Building”: “much more than just the setting for a story, word building creates coherent contexts that stories become to inhabit”

This is very much avant-garde, feels a lot like Cobra world-building practices like New Babylon by Constant Nieuwenhuis.

I feel like I am drifting into a thin timeline, and time is slipping through my fingers like clockdust. A shaken gravity, with no reference framework, unable to make U-turns, and affront reality with an open mind, heart, and will.

I need a new backdrop, a new backstory to make or break sense. I want to liberate myself from the harness of fixed time and space. An opening-up that leads to more vulnerability – and less power dress. With proximity, intimacy, and closeness – like the closeness and blissfulness that is evoked in “Two Sleepy People” in the March 2020 Mini-Ride.

In that sense, the from/to framing of before and after COVID-19 is misleading. I believe we have to start thinking of ourselves as analog/digital assets whose state is updated in real-time ànd asynchronously, our lives continuously evolving through space and time. We are indeed astronauts, in need of coherent world-building and navigating clockdust till eternity.

I have time. You have time. Both clock-time (Chronos) and experienced-time (Kairos). Ping me if you want to continue the conversation. I’d love to hear where your clockdust has settled these days.

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This post is a semi-transcript of a fantastic talk “Space in the mind of a machine” by media artist Refik Anadol. My post is not intended as a literal transcript, but rather as a collection of – often poetic – idea clusters of Refik’s talk. None of the ideas are mine, I just tried to condense it and brush some highlights.

The talk was given on 4 December 2019 at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-ARC). The website of SCI-ARC itself is nirvana for all beauty and art lovers out there, and worth spending a virtual visit of a couple of hours.

The talk was transformative for me, in the sense that it made me realize we truly have entered a new reality and a witnessing the dawn of a new area, full of beauty, poetry, and artistic interventions that create alertness and aliveness similar to the 16th-century renaissance.

After a long intro, his talk starts at 2:46

 

 

Criticizing the idea of canvas

Dimensional explorations

Augmented structures

“Design is a solution to a problem; art is a question to a problem” – John Maeda

Humans, Machines, and Environments in a symbiotic relationship

Can a building dream?

“Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward” – Kierkegaard

The data that we leave behind us

Data “dramatization” vs. Data Visualisation

The invisible space of Wi-Fi, 4G, radio signals, etc.

A poetic exploration of invisible datasets

Data Paintings

At a certain moment, Refik Anadol quotes Philip K. Dick, author of the 1968 science fiction book “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, later retitled Blade Runner, and basis for the 1982 initial version of the film.

Electric Sheep

Quote Philip Dick

This inspires Refik Anadol to seed the following insight:

A simulation is that which does not stop when the stories go away

Stories are responsible for our human desire for resolution

But the simulation is only responsible for its own laws and initializing conditions

A simulation has no moral, prejudice of meaning

Like nature it just is

There is some poetry hidden in this abstraction of data

Exploring data sets that have this quality of meditation

The architect as an operating systems designer, a beautiful “speculation”

Quote Blaise

Finding the moment of remembering

Finding the moment of entering a dream state

“Machine Hallucinations”

Collective memories of spaces

To make the invisible visible

Hallucination narrators

Dream narrators

The Selfies of the Earth

Machine Hallucinations

Refik is asking questions that are not just a fancy-fications of a bunch of algorithms

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Another rabbit hole bringing together some reflections on creativity, demolition, patrimony, and poetic ruination, as so often in this blog inspired by architectural insights and metaphors.

bouwmeester

My attention was triggered by an article in the Jan 11, 2020 weekend edition of De Standaard, a Flemish newspaper. The article was about landscaping, and more specifically “ontharding” (I would literally translate it as “softening”). In this case, softening that what was hardened in the first place. Abandoned and neglected residential and industrial sites, where the soil is still covered by the concrete and rubbish of empty buildings.

It was part of a study supported by the “Vlaamse Bouwmeester”. “Bouwmeester” means “master of building”, “bau-meister”. The term is ill-translated into “Flemish Government Architect” on the official website. The full study can be found here (PDF in Dutch).

The core mission of the Flemish Government Architect is to promote the architectural quality of the built environment. The Flemish Government Architect and his team advise public patrons in the design and realization of buildings, public space, landscape and infrastructure. In addition, the Flemish Government Architect stimulates the development of visions and reflection, with an emphasis on interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral initiatives. The Flemish Government Architect acts as an advisor to the entire Flemish Government.

In short, the article and the study plea for restoring public space by the demolition of 1/5th of hardened space/surface in the Flemish landscape by 2050.

I had a flashback to “Cradle to Cradle”, the 2002 book that alerted me for the first time to a possible vision of sustainable production and architecture. The idea at that time was that reducing waste was just not good enough, and to be sustainable we needed to add value back into the system. As an evolution, the article about the softening of landscape goes one step further: from reducing waste to creating open space by the demolition of vacancy.

“Sloop geeft blijk van falen” – “Demolition evidences failure”

It was happenstance that I was reading around the same time Dan Hill’s 2015 book “Dark matter and trojan horses. A strategic design vocabulary”. I will come back to this book in subsequent posts.

Dan Hill was/is looking for (open) spaces as well, quoting ex-FC Barcelona football player and current Al-Sadd (Quatar) football team coach Xavi Hernández:

 “Think quickly, look for spaces. That’s what I do: look for spaces. All day. I’m always looking. All day, all day. Here? No. There? No. People who haven’t played don’t always realise how hard that is. Space, space, space. It’s like being on the PlayStation. I think ‘shit, the defender’s here, play it there’. I see the space and pass. That’s what I do.”

Already more than 20 years ago, architect Cedric Price was arguing for demolish-able buildings with open re-usable spaces.

fun palace

Cedric Price’s Fun Palace – inspiration for Centre Pompidou in Paris

OK – I confess – as from that moment I went down the rabbit hole and saw demolition and abandoned architecture everywhere. Like in this recent Guardian article, arguing the case for fully demountable buildings.

“We have to think of buildings as material depots,” says Thomas Rau , a Dutch architect who has been working to develop a public database of materials in existing buildings and their potential for reuse… He has developed the concept of “material passports”, a digital record of the specific characteristics and value of every material in a construction project, thereby enabling the different parts to be recovered, recycled and reused.

But there is also something poetic about abandonment, up to the point where we could consider keeping these ruins and equipping them with sensors to listen to patrimony.

In his beautifully reflective post “Instrumental Revelation and the Architecture of Abandoned Physics Experiments”, Geoff Manough introduces the concept of “poetic ruination.

Like menhirs, these abandoned seismic sensors could now just stand there, silent in the landscape, awaiting a future photographer such as Grigoryants to capture their poetic ruination.

Lebbeus Woods was inspiration to Geoff Manough and London-based architects Smout Allen for the project L.A. Recalculated:

Woods depicts an entire city designed and built as an inhabitable scientific tool. Everywhere there are “oscilloscopes, refractors, seismometers, interferometers, and other, as yet unknown instruments, measuring light, movement, force, change.” Woods describes how “tools for extending perceptivity to all scales of nature are built spontaneously, playfully, experimentally, continuously modified in home laboratories, in laboratories that are homes.”

Instead of wasting their lives tweeting about celebrity deaths, residents construct and model their own bespoke experiments, exploring seismology, astronomy, electricity, even light itself.

seismic sensors

Seismic Counterweights
From L.A. Recalculated by Smout Allen and BLDGBLOG

Like architects think about (industrial) sites listening through sensors to seismic undercurrents, I started wondering whether we could not use this metaphor to reflect about our organizational structures; structures not only as hierarchical structures but the more encompassing set of system rules and patterns of an organization – I referred to it before as organizational patrimony.

How can we listen to and signal about the pulse of this organizational patrimony? How can we be aware of it, appreciate it, respect it, and build upon it in our rebellious acts of creative destruction?

I imagine a cohort of humans – like a colony of ants – having 24/7 sensors and laboratories everywhere in organizations; in every office, cubicle, meeting room, coffee corner, etc. And I don’t mean robotic sterile sensors feeding AI models. I mean real humans, measuring, documenting and signaling patrimonial changes in the structure of corporate structure, so they can send early warnings of experiments that have become useless and therefore have to be ruinated, or – in the worst-case – signal cases of patrimonial breakdown and demolition. In search of the material depot and passport of our organizations.

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EX-perience is “out”, IN-tervention is “in”

When I talk about “experience”, I mean:

  • The new hype of artistic “experiences” at art exhibits
  • “Experiences” at events
  • The “experience” of driving a car
  • The “experience” in whatever, like tasting chocolate, as promoted in advertisements

It is almost always about “entertainment”, easy/easier/more convenient consumption, not forcing you to learn a new (or old/existing) language.

CycleGAN - December 22nd 2019 at 3.16.22 PM

Petervan Artwork © 2020 – Canvas through CycleGAN cloud AI model

 

When I talk about “intervention”, I mean:

  • Provoking
  • Asking questions
  • Challenging assumptions
  • Planting speculations
  • Through visceral (sensorial) triggers
  • Creating better “resonances”
  • Playing your harmonics, like harmonics in music
  • Hearing the real-real sound (like in Neil Young Archives)

Formats can be analog and digital artwork, performances, events, retreats, writings, poems, blogs, installations, exhibitions, immersions, soundscapes, recordings, documentaries, time capsules, AI warps, and fairy tales 😉

Interventions help us rediscover what is real, what resonates, what makes us go into frequency, what moves us, etc. And all this with a direction, with an intention: to enable spiritual, moral and aesthetical advancement at systems’ scale.

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During my visit to SFMOMA on 15 Nov 2019, I was standing on the terrace of the 7th Floor looking North-East into Natoma Street, and wondering what the curved-walled building on the left was about.

SFMOMA

I did not pay much attention until I was reminded of this view in this article about floating utopias in The New-Yorker of 11 Dec 2019. Below is a view from the other side, probably taken from the Providian Financial rooftop on Beale Street, looking South-West. At the far end, you may recognize the SFMOMA building. The building in the front is Salesforce Park, a lush rooftop arcadia of rolling meadows.

Salesforce Park

Salesforce Park.Photograph by Karl Mondon / The Mercury News / Getty

The article in The New-Yorker is about the utopian, surveilled and orchestrated architecture in the middle of the astonishing inequality of homeless people in all the other streets of San Francisco:

Taxpayer-funded, corporately branded, suspended above the homeless, the park is an irresistible metaphor for the city’s socioeconomic tensions. It also feels like a bid, or a prayer, for a certain vision of its future.

Salesforce Park as a model for the rest of San Francisco—vertical, expansive, ecologically minded, expensive, sponsored, and surveilled.

“I feel totally orchestrated,” Cranz said, placing her hand on the railing separating us from the plant life. “I’m acutely aware of how managed everything is.”

Shuttle Constant

Two days later, I bumped on-line into the magical world of the Dutch artist Constant Nieuwenhuis and especially his Magnus opus “New Babylon”, another utopia, a city designed to respond to Homo Ludens’ need for playing, for adventure, and for mobility.

 

In New Babylon there are no single houses

The whole city is one immense covered collective house

A house with countless rooms, halls and corridors,

In which one can roam for days or weeks,

But where one can also find

Small spaces for privacy

New Babylon is a labyrinth

Inexhaustible in its variations

A palace with a thousand rooms

timeline art

Constant was one of the founders of Cobra, an avant-garde art movement established on 8 Nov 1948. The movement only existed for three years, but forever changed the landscape of postwar European art. Cobra was perhaps the last avant-garde movement of the twentieth century. Constant was the author and co-signee of the initial COBRA Manifesto “La Cause était entendue” – “The Case was Settled”.

Les représentants belges, danois et hollandais à la conférence du Centre Internatiopnal de Documentation sur l’Art d’Avant-Garde à Paris jugent que celle-ci n’a mené à rien.

La résolution qui a été votée à la séance de cloture ne fait qu’exprimer le manque total d’un accord suffisant pour justifier le fait même de la réunion.

Nous voyons comme le seul chemin pour continuer l’activité internationale une collaboration organique expérimentale qui évite toute théorie stérile et dogmatique.

Aussi décidons-nous de ne plus assister aux conférences dont le programme et l’atmosphère ne sont pas favorable à un développement de notre travail.

Nous avons pu constater, nous, que nos façons de vivre, de travailler, de sentir étaient communes ; nous nous entendons sur le plan pratique et nous refusons de nous embrigader dans une unité théorique artificielle. Nous travaillons ensemble, nous travaillerons ensemble.

C’est dans un esprit d’efficacité que nous ajoutons à nos expériences nationales une expérience dialectique entre nos groupes. Si, actuellement, nous ne voyons pas ailleurs qu’entre nous d’activité internationale, nous faisons appel cependant aux artistes de n’importe quel pays qui puissent travailler – qui puissent travailler dans notre sens.

Paris, le 8 novembre 48.

Cobra Manifesto page-1

Cobra Manifesto - Image from Beinecke Digital Collections

After reading “Homo Ludens – A Study of the Play-Element in Culture” by Johan Huizinga, Constant develops the idea for a futuristic city. He develops this idea by drawing maps, writing texts, building constructions, and models.

Homo Ludens

Constant worked for almost 20 years on New Babylon (1959-1974). Today, there is a foundation to preserve and promote the art collection and intellectual legacy of the artist.

From Wikipedia:

The goal was the creating of alternative life experiences, called ‘situations’

Perched above ground, Constant’s megastructures would literally leave the bourgeois metropolis below and would be populated by homo ludens–man at play.

In the New Babylon, the bourgeois shackles of work, family life, and civic responsibility would be discarded. The post-revolutionary individual would wander from one leisure environment to another in search of new sensations. Beholden to no one, he would sleep, eat, recreate, and procreate where and when he wanted. Self-fulfillment and self-satisfaction were Constant’s social goals. Deductive reasoning, goal-oriented production, the construction and betterment of a political community–all these were eschewed.

It is obvious that a person free to use his time for the whole of his life, free to go where he wants, when he wants, cannot make the greatest use of his freedom in a world ruled by the clock and the imperative of a fixed abode. As a way of life Homo Ludens will demand, firstly, that he responds to his need for playing, for adventure, for mobility, as well as all the conditions that facilitate the free creation of his own life.

Some of the constructs in Constant’s vision reminded me of the sketches and models of Buckminster Fuller’s Dimaxyon House of 30 years earlier).

Dymaxion House

Buckminster Fuller, Dimaxyon House, Chicago, USA, 1927

Constant passes away in Utrecht on August 1st, 2005, at home with his wife Trudy van der Horst. He is buried at Zorgvlied in Amstelveen on August 6th. On his grave:

In art freedom manifests itself in its highest form.
The creative imagination.
Art creates an image of the world that didn’t exist before.
No. More than that.
An image that was unthinkable before.

I’d love to see a 21st-century version of Cobra, a collective of artists, thinkers, creators, tinkerers, and experimentalists, leading into a movement of fresh thinking. Not necessarily and exclusively an art-movement, but an all-encompassing societal-movement, with more time and air and oxygen for our children to play, where they naturally can grow into what they are best at, with a renewed freshness and renaissance, a new corporate and societal spring, celebrating the power of imagination and creativity, as a response to our dull political landscape of non-zero games.

A new New Babylon, a new city to play, a new avant-garde propelling us into the highest forms of freedom.

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This is a supplement to my post about the end-of-year assignment Art and Culture at the Academy of Visual Arts in Ghent.

Dutch version here.

Dear Fiorella,

Your lessons were always fun for me. You speak in poetic and philosophical words and sentences. I have written them all down and someday I will publish an anthology of them. Chris and Inge advised me to use them as inspirations for my paintwork.

Here are a few examples of sentences and statements that flow from your mouth:

THE CHESSBOARD IS EMOTIONLESS

A GOOD ARTWORK DOES NOT GIVE ANSWERS

THE INTENSITY OF SLOWNESS

BEING BROKEN IS A STATE OF BEING

WORKING WITH CLAY DOESN’T MAKE NOISE

WE CAN ONLY SEE EMPTYNESS WHEN WE FILL IT

THERE SHE LIES IN ALL HER GREATNESS

LYING IN DEATH

360 POSSIBLE VIEWS

IN RELATIONSHIP WITH THE ENVIRONMENT

AND KEEPING TRACK OF THEM IN OUR HEAD

“THE PARCOURS”

CREATION OF THE POSSIBILITIES

TO LET THE IMAGE EMERGE

BLOCKING OF THE VISUAL BRAIN

WHEN IS SOMETHING BECOMING TIRING?

WHEN YOU CANNOT DETERMINE YOUR OWN TEMPO

YOU CAN TAKE A SMALL STEP

TAKING A HUGE SPACE AT THE SAME TIME

THE BRAIN IS LIKE AN OFFICE

A HOUSE WITH ROOMS

SOMETIMES YOU NEED OTHER KEYS

With gratefulness,

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Dit is een aanvulling op mijn post over de eindejaarsopdracht Kunst en Cultuur aan de Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten in Gent.

Dutch version. English translation here.

Fiorella,

Je lessen waren voor mij altijd genieten. Je spreekt in poëtische en filosofische woorden en zinnen. Ik heb ze allemaal opgeschreven en ooit publiceer ik een bloemlezing van ze. Chris en Inge hebben me aangeraden om ze te gebruiken als inspiraties voor mijn schilderwerk.

Hier zijn een paar voorbeelden van zinnen en statements die zo uit je mond vloeien:

HET SCHAAKBORD IS EMOTIELOOS

EEN GOED KUNSTWERK GEEFT GEEN ANTWOORD

DE INTENSITEIT VAN DE TRAAGHEID

BREUK IS EEN STAAT VAN ZIJN

MET KLEI BEZIG ZIJN MAAKT GEEN LAWAAI

WE KUNNEN EEN LEEGTE PAS ZIEN ALS WE ZE VULLEN

DAT LIGT DAAR IN ZIJN GROOTSHEID

DOOD TE LIGGEN

360 MOGELIJKE STANDPUNTEN

IN RELATIE MET DE OMGEVING

EN DIE IN ONS HOOFD HOUDEN

“HET PARCOURS”

CREATIE VAN DE MOGELIJKHEDEN

OM HET BEELD TE LATEN ONTSTAAN

BLOKKEREN VAN HET VISUELE BREIN

WANNEER WORDT HET VERMOEIEND?

ALS JE JE EIGEN TEMPO NIET MEER KAN BEPALEN

JE KAN EEN KLEINE STAP ZETTEN

EN DAARDOOR EEN ENORME RUIMTE INNEMEN

DE HERSENEN ZIJN ALS EEN BUREAU

EEN HUIS MET KAMERS

SOMS HEB JE ANDERE SLEUTELS NODIG

In dankbaarheid,

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