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There is a new 9 minute video profile about David Lynch. The text that goes with it is beautiful. I just made a transcript out of it. Enjoy.

david lynch curtains up

Cinema is a language

It can say things

Big abstract things

And I love that about it

 

Some people are poets

And have a beautiful way of saying things with words

But cinema is its own language

And so you can express a feeling and a thought

That can’t be conveyed any other way

 

It’s a magical medium

 

For me it is so beautiful

To think about these pictures and sounds

Flowing together in time and in sequence

Making something

That can be done only through cinema

 

It’s so magical

I don’t know why

To go into a theater

And have the lights go down

It’s very quiet

And then the curtain starts to open

And you go into a world

 

Although the frames of a film are always the same

The same number in the same sequence and with the same sounds

Every screening is different

 

There is a circle

That goes from the audience to the film and back

Each person is looking and thinking

And feeling and coming up with their own sense of things

 

I like a story that holds abstractions

And that’s what cinema can do

 

I was a painter

I painted and went to art school

I had no interest in film

 

One day I was sitting in a big studio room

And I had a painting going

Which was of a garden at night

It had a lot of black with green plants

Emerging out of the darkness

 

All of a sudden these plants started to move

And I heard a wind

And I thought “Oh, how fantastic this is”

And I began to wonder

If film could be a way to make paintings move

 

An idea is a thought

It’s a thought that holds more

Than you think it does when you receive it

 

But in that first moment there is a spark

 

Desire for an idea is like bait

You bait your hook and then you wait

The desire is the bait

That pulls those fish in

Those ideas

 

Little fish swim on the surface

But the big ones swim down below

If you can expand the container you are fishing in

Your consciousness

You can catch bigger fish

 

When I started meditating

I was filled with anxieties and fears

I felt a sense of depression and anger

Anger and depression and sorrow

Are beautiful things in a story

But they are like poison

To the film maker or artist

 

You must have clarity to create

 

You have to be able to catch ideas

 

Life is filled with abstractions

And the only way me make heads or tails of it

Is through intuition

 

Intuition is seeing the solution

It’s emotion and intellect going together

 

Personally, I think intuition can be sharpened

And expanded through meditation

Diving into the self

 

There is an ocean of consciousness

Inside each of us

And it is an ocean of solutions

 

When you dive into that ocean

That consciousness

You enliven it

It grows

 

And the final outcome of this growth of consciousness

Is called enlightenment

Which is the full potential for us all

 

There are many many dark things

Flowing around in this world now

And most films reflect the world in which we live

 

In stories, in the worlds that we go into

There is suffering, confusion, darkness, tension, and anger

 

But the filmmaker does not have to be suffering

To show suffering

 

Negativity is like darkness

You turn on the light and darkness goes

 

We’re like light bulbs

 

If bliss starts growing inside you

It’s like a light

 

You enjoy that light inside

And if you ramp it up brighter and brighter

You enjoy more and more of it

And that light will extend farther and farther

 

Maybe enlightenment is far away

But it is said that

If you walk toward the light

With every step things get brighter

 

Every day for me gets better and better

And I believe that enlivening unity in the world

Will bring peace on earth

 

So I say “Peace to all of you”

 

UPDATE: most quotes in the video are taken directly from his book “Catching The Big Fish”. I started re-reading the book after having seen/listened to this video.

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“But that is not logic!” she cried out about my latest creation. “I don’t care in logic!” I responded. “I am in the business of the irrational…”

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Horses by Berlinde De Bruyckere in Mukha
Part of Sanguine/Bloedrood exhibition on Baroque

I have something with – or better against – logic, facts, being normal. I am not really interested in doing things that are logic. They feel dry, life-less, un-emotional, un-spiritual, un-aesthetic, and too-efficient.

With the focus on facts (real or alternative), metrics and logic we witness the loss of the subjective.

I was looking back into my “open threads” file – a collection of reflections, thoughts, interesting articles, links etc. – and found back this great quote from T Bone Burnett’s speech at the 2016 AmericanaFest.

T Bone Burnett by Anna Webber for Americana Music Association

T Bone Burnett by Anna Webber for Americana Music Association

“Technology does only one thing- it tends toward efficiency. It has no aesthetics. It has no ethics. Its code is binary. But everything interesting in life- everything that makes life worth living- happens between the binary. Mercy is not binary. Love is not binary. Music and art are not binary. You and I are not binary.”

In other words, technology, and by extension facts, logic, and AI, miss the notion of heart, mind, and spirit.

Apparently Japanese have a word for this unity: “kohoro”. This Quartz article points to the real difference between man and machine.

“The human heart is rich in intuition; it possesses attributes such as illogicality, hunger for novelty, creativity, infinity and openness. Computer simulation is deterministic (closed); it lacks diversity and is an embodiment of dryness. I believe that this is the decisive difference between computers and human beings.”

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Sculpture by Thea Gvetadze in MUKHA, Antwerp

There is also a much darker side to the illusion of facts. Or when the devil manages at convincing people that only his facts are the real facts. Joe Edelman wrote a great post “Five days with the devil” about that about a year ago. With hindsight, this is such an important insight: how the devil of facts kills how humans interact:

By offering the to-do list, he reduced all values to logistical goals.

By replacing flirting and discovery with an enhanced coordination, he re-cast collaboration as a trade for goals, rather than a mutual exploration of values.

By offering us acute perception, the devil stole our ability to discover value in our environment. He convinced us only facts were real.

By offering us empathy and understanding, he removed our capacity to protect each other, which depends on recognising values.

By preventing us from sharing reasons, he cut us off from us certain social processes: from deliberation about values, from co-discovery of values. It’s exactly these social processes, which make our choices meaningful.

“He convinced us only facts were real.” Read that sink in for a moment. It’s like someone says, “Don’t believe what you hear or see, only believe my facts are real”.

Facts ignore that what cannot be measured, what is at level of meaning, beyond sense-making. It would be better to capture information, knowledge and insight at a more condensed level. Like in an artefact: an eternal repository of high quality information captured before its entropic death.

In his excellent book (Amazon link) “Strange Tools. Art and Human Nature”, Alva Noë confirms:

“What is at stake is not the facts. What is at stake is how we assimilate, make sense of and finally evaluate the facts”

In other words, the future is not about facts. The future is in the victory of the subjective, the nuance and the romance.

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This is an essay (longer read) about maps. There is no big message, no purpose, no call for action, none of that. Just recording and documenting of some reflections about maps. I don’t know where it came from. Suddenly I had enough notes to try to make something coherent out of it. Hope you enjoy the trip.

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Modern Biking App Map – Notice point #27 – Denderbelle Lock

The theme of maps maybe emerged from my biking tours. Or from my recent tendency to do recordings: soundscapes – of probably better “silence-scapes” – of broken silence in nature. A sort of witnessing and documenting what was at that moment.

Maybe it emerged in preparing my upcoming performance for Finnovista in September: one of the themes is “learning” and I found that quality of observing says more about learning than teaching. So I used maps as a metaphor.

Maybe I am still intrigued by Simon Wardley’s situational awareness maps, which are all about observing, and mapping out position and movement.

wardley map

Simon Wardley - example of situational awareness map

Position on a map is often about geographical location and relations. But there is also the position in time: what was, what is, what can be. And like there is position of location, there is also position in time.

The time element hit me when I was bicycling along the river “Dender” and made a pit stop at the lock of Denderbelle. It’s a relatively small lock, and you can still walk over the doors of the lock to the other side of the river.

There I found this map on a tourism panel:

old map

Old map of the area Aalst-Dendermonde – before 1769

Before 1769, the Dender was a meandering river that was very difficult to manoeuvre for ships. It was Charles de Lorraine – at that time Duchy of Brabant, Austrian Netherlands – who gave the order to straighten the meanders and build two new locks. Today, the river feels more like a canal that goes almost straight from Aalst to Dendermonde. It has a very well maintained towpath along silent borders, which makes it a nice bike trip.

Close to the lock, there is still the old ferry house, now inhabited by an artist. There was a chain pulling the ferry from one side to the other. Even today you can still see the stairs on the shore where people boarded.

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Denderbelle ferryhouse – Anno 1915

Maps as documents of past ways of living. Thanks to Richard Martin and Mark Storm, I discovered the Maps of Days by Grayson Perry.

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Map of Days by Grayson Perry – 2013 – Etching 111.8 × 149.9 cm

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Video with the artist Grayson Perry

‘A self-portrait as a fortified town, the wall perhaps my skin. Each day I worked on it I finished by marking the point with the date to highlight the passage of time in the production of art to reflect the forming and reforming of one’s identity. The ‘self’ I think is not a single fixed thing but a lifelong shifting performance. My sense of self is a tiny man kicking a can down the road.’

Grayson Perry

The map is an awesome alternative way to document one’s life. Richard Martin arguments that the question “what is your map” probably gives better answers on who you are than asking “What do you do?” or asking for your linear CV or portfolio:

In the Map, Perry presents his complex personality and plural identity in the form of a walled city. Streets, buildings and other locales represent personal traits and behaviours, indicating a self-exploration that embraces both the positive and the negative, that poses questions, as well as providing answers, binding together truth and fiction. At the centre of Perry’s map is a labyrinthine garden, in which a figure walks, off-centre, pursuing ‘a sense of self’. Each time I look at the Map, either in a gallery or online, I question how my own version would differ from Perry’s. What words would I choose? What images?”

The same applies with the question “where do you come from?”. Should one say “a Chinese artist” or “an artist from China”? If you say “a Chinese artist” then you place the work of the artist in an ethnographic bubble, a cultural bubble. But when you talk about an artist coming from somewhere, you just connect the artist with a geographical starting point. I prefer the latter.

qiu map of total art

Map of Total Art by Qiu Zhijie – Ink on Paper – c. 5m length!

The work of Qiu Zhijie is fascinating. Check out this video interview with him and curator Davide Quadrio about the exposition ‘Qiu Zhijie: Journeys without Arrivals’ that was shown from 1 april – 24 september 2017 in the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven.

One year later, this video still resonates with me, so I made a full transcript of it, some extracts below:

Qiu Zhije is an artist, and he is producer, teacher, student, curator. He is a Master with capital “M” in Calligraphy. He is one of the most respected calligraphers in China.

As from 2010, I started drawing maps. If somebody asks me who I am, I answer I am a cartographer. Drawing maps is close to art, organizing exhibitions, teaching and researching. It is also writing. I feel it is a very multi-faceted way to show my talents as calligrapher.

qiu map and child

For me, maps are a source of knowledge at arms’ length distance, knowledge you do not acquire on the field, but from the sky, like a bird’s eye perspective. Then you can move that knowledge on a flat surface, to understand the correlations between what belongs together. Things should not be understood individually, but in the context of their relation to each other. So maps have a lot of influence. Making maps is a way to re-establish the integrity of the world because they illustrate the correlations on how everything relates to each other.

Teaching has always been an important part of my life. By teaching I keep learning. I continue to actualize and renew myself. Although teaching takes a lot of time, it is never a loss of time. On the contrary, it allows me to learn. That’s why I define teachers as those who organize the process of learning”. I like to teach about things I don’t know much about. I like subjects that I am highly interested in, so we can dig deep to know more.

His work is extremely free of themes, but also so encyclopedic. And so easy to connect with the idea of museum as a collection of objects and things. At the same time, his work is also able to crush this idea of objects and really enter into a world of fantasy.

Maps are models. Maps mark the land, they are landmarks. They document the “land-scape”, as a sound-scape documents the sounds.

Artist Andrew Pekler even created a sonic map of phantom islands.

Andrew Pekler

Phantom Islands – By Andrew Pekler – online experience, turn sound “on”

Andrew Pekler explains:

“The sweet spot for me is when a piece I have made can be simultaneously heard as both a field recording and as a completely composed, synthetic construct,”

Making maps is a sort of learning, a form of in-the-field-research and observation. Sharing with others what I am seeing, give context, some sense of coherence of position and direction/movement, and with some suggestions for maneuvering.

But in my case it is making pictures, writing and composing and creating a body of work from each trip. Field recordings, sound- and image-scapes like maps, at times creating a bizarre alienating, almost David Lynch kind of atmosphere, trying to resonate at another and additional level than the pure cognitive.

In that sense, I feel my current (art)work is getting closer to my real self, helps me to untether my soul, act as a witness, getting closer to alertness. With crispness, organic textures, precise rhythms,…

heartbeat

Natures Heartbeat – Online animation of earth’s heartbeat

In that sense, I am still doing the same as during my time as event curator. But the work is becoming more a documentary, a map, a set of interventions, interruptions and provocations that hopefully lead to higher states of alertness and aliveness.

Some kind of heartbeat that maps your open mind, heart, and will into a broader context.

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PS: Mark Storm suggested I add the Buckminster Füller Dymaxion Map. He is right! How could I – as a true Bucky fan – have missed this one? 😉

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Also an interesting link via Mark Storm on this Bucky topic.

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There is nothing to report since my previous update of March 2018. I could have stopped here, but I didn’t and kept going. So, in case anybody would be interested, here we go.

This post is more a snapshot in time, of a period when nothing must or should. Where there are no more bosses, managers, and no deadlines. When time flows like the water of a slow river in its bedding. When there is time to be aware of the silence of the house when the family is still sleeping. When you start noticing the little sounds that break apparent silence. When there is time to notice the growth of the corn on the fields and the grass on the lawn.

hans op de beek

"The bed a raft, the room the sea, and then I laughed some gloom in me." 
Life sized sculpture © Hans Op de Beeck 2018 @ Galleria Continua in Art Basel.

The corporate jacket became too small to thrive; I needed the sort of freedom that Venkatesh Rao recently described in his post:

“Freedom lies in the privilege of being able to solve a problem for aliveness, rather than money”

Although problem solving is not good enough. As Nora Batenson wrote:

“The problem with problem-solving is the idea that a solution is an endpoint.”

Problem solving is reactive; creating what you want is pro-active.

It feels like I am pivoting. When time flows well, I create interventions, interruptions and provocations that lead to higher states of alertness and aliveness. Formats can be artwork, installations, performances, immersive learning experiences, writings, soundscapes, recordings, documentaries, or just casual conversations.

I feel privileged to create what I want to create, and to be able to apply the A.F.E.A.R. principles at will.

Family

It’s almost a year now since we settled in our new house, including my little art studio. And it still feels it was the right thing to do.

On May 1, 2018 we celebrated our 25 years of marriage. We went out for dinner with our parents to thank them for giving us birth, care and opportunities. Thank you Mieke for your endless patience with this always-unpredictable guy, your care, and your encouragements when doubt creeps in.

Astrid is doing very well at school. And she is starting to show first signs of her puberty, especially developing her little character 😉

She made this nice little paper rabbit and greeting card for my father’s day:

paper rabbitfront fathers day croppedtext fathers day cropped

The Artschool Project

The 2017-2018 Art Academy year has come to an end, and I already blogged about my latest work in The Story of 4 Paintings.

curieuze

On March 31, 2018 I also participated for the first time in my life in a pre-selection of an art competition. The competition was called “De Curieuze Collectie” (The Strange Collection). My coaches had encouraged all students to participate. Only a few did.

Philippe Van Cauteren

Philippe Van Cauteren – Artistic Director S.M.A.K.

The jury was a quite eclectic mix, and included some people you normally don’t have access to like for example the Artistic Director of S.M.A.K. (Museum for modern art in Ghent). So I though why not, let’s give it a go.

This year’s theme of the collection was “Vox Populi – Populism in times of social media”. I presented some of my “Hot Dogs Tonight – Prison Window” work.

To make a long story short: I did not make it to the last 10 finalists. But it was a good experience to present in front of a select jury and a very diverse group of artists and locals. With hindsight, I feel that I tried to say too much, tried too hard not to be obvious: some level of vanity, which shows also in the background text I submitted to the jury (and a bit embarrassed now…)

“Hot Dogs Tonight” depicts a social media based panopticon, where the citizens are subject to continuous surveillance by governments, organisations and institutions. Attacked in their privacy, the citizen only sees the familiarity of her own cell. The convenience of the social media leads to an illusion of options, limited by the populist discourse of political demagogues. The Vox Populi becomes a Vox Populistus, a myopic view of reality, a fragmentation of time and identity. This lack of protection and security causes eventually a loss of personal leadership, courage and risk.

On June 12, 2018 I presented my Jan-June work for year-end evaluation at the academy: the latest work of The Story of 4 Paintings and some of my “Hot Dogs Tonight – Prison Window” work, especially the World Clock installation (physical version).

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Petervan Artwork © 2018 – World Clock – 7 time zones 
Acryl on canvas 7x20x20cm

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Petervan Artwork © 2018 – Prison Window project – Acryl on Canvas – 20x20cm

I am happy to report that I passed. Even better, two of my works(the Garden and the Blue Boat) were selected for the year end exposition of the academy on 23 & 24 June 2018 in Ghent.

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Next year, I will probably do some sort of specialisation or crossover, as I very much enjoyed the combination of digital and canvas this year.

About Silence

Some years ago I was diagnosed with auditory hypersensitivity, which in laymen terms means I hear extremely well. I hear for example the blood streaming through my veins in my head. It’s a soft rustling, but not very disturbing, no worries. On the other hand, I can’t stand television sets playing too loud, or the sound of the highway in the distance, or the crowds in subway stations. But I do like a loud rock concert or performance. “Functional loudness” if you want. So let’s say I am hypersensitive to noise pollution.

It dawned to me only recently that I could actually do something with this sensitivity. I started recording silence. Or rather, I started recording the noise pollutions that are disturbing a wonderful silence. Like the sound from a small motorcycle in the distance, passing by, and Doppler effect disappearing on the other end. Same with planes, trains, bicycles, voices, the list goes on.

Like in painting, it feels that this is also about managing contrasts and the spectrum of contrasts: loud/soft conversations, light/dark, calm/wild,….

Some of these recordings include video, some not. I plan to use some of these “silence-scapes” in my upcoming performances and/or installations as well. It’s a bit weird. I may get myself a GoPro camera and some decent audio gear, although my iPhone 6s captures it quite well. For the video below, I was just holding my iPhone in my hand when driving. Simple.

Biking noise and silence. 
An 8-minute raw non-edited capture of a bike tour 
in the area of Aalst (Belgium), illustrating sound and silence
To be used in some upcoming performances. 

 

About time

My tempo has become so slow and peaceful that it starts to be incompatible and dysfunctional with the rat race of so called “normal” life of deadlines, busyness, and fragmentation of everything.

That’s what I wrote a while ago as some reflections on this theme.

Jan Fabre

Jan Fabre self-portrait - Part of series "Promises of a Face"

The first occasion where this dysfunction hit me was during a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels, where my cousin is senior curator. He just had curated and opened an exposition confronting contemporary multidisciplinary artist Jan Fabre with the (mainly Flemish Primitives) classic artists (see also below). He gave me a quick-guided tour on the latest at the museum. I could not follow him (mentally). In one-hour time he gave me so much information, it seemed to me that I couldn’t process it all anymore, I needed more time to let it fully come in.

Around the same period, I was picking up again my Ableton skills ànd reading Venkatesh Rao’s “Tempo: Timing, Tactics and Strategy in narrative-driven decision making”, describing virtuoso how “tempo” is an always present but less outspoken aspect of our relationships between people, corporations, etc

In that book, he categorised some archetypes of tempo synchronisation. Some examples look very much like Gantt Charts.

Tempo archetypes

Extract book "Tempo" by Venkatesh Rao

 

The tempo intervals made me associate immediately the visual metaphor of the “Venkatesh Gannt Charts” with the user interface of the music composition software Ableton Live (that I use to compose soundscape for my performances).

Especially the Ableton “session and arrangement view” visualizes in a very similar way the bars, tones, pitches, rhythms, tempos, velocities, automations, and quantizations of an arrangement or musical composition.

ableton interface

Ableton Live music software – arrangement view

One also hears intuitively when the score is right or not so right. When the beats are too digital and lack human variation. Life is more than bits and bites and rhythms in an arrangement…

Again, like in painting, it feels more and more that my work is about managing contrasts and the spectrum of contrasts: loud/soft conversations, light/dark, calm/wild,….

Exhibitions

Still trying to visit an art exhibition once/twice every month. During the last 3 months, I went to see:

 

John Kotter cropped

John Korner – Running Problems

 

  • “My Queens” by multi-disciplinary artist Jan Fabre, honoring the 8 important women in his life in a dialogue with the Flemish artistic tradition (curated by my cousin Joost Vander Auwera). I was very impressed by the monumental Carrara marble bas-reliefs with incredible detail

My Queen

Detail of Carrara marble bas-relief by Jan Fabre

 

 

 

Upcoming performance

I am very excited to have been invited again to do a performance at the Finnovista Summit in Mexico-City on 12-13 Sep 2018. I was invited last year, but the event needed to be cancelled halfway due to the 7,4 magnitude earthquake on 19 Sep 2017. So the organisers were so kind to invite me again.

The theme of this year’s event is “Listen, Learn, Lead”. Manoeuvring through this theme, I will make a new performance, recuperating some material from last year, but also with new elements from my artwork series “Prison Window” and other metaphors capturing my reflections and insights of the last year. This time, and in addition of the multi-media approach, I plan to include props on stage, possibly a life camera feed, even some vestimentary attributes, and a lightning script for the light technician.

centro cultural

The venue is indeed fantastic: it is the main concert hall of the Centro Cultural Roberto Cantoral, a real theatre stage with all the audio/lightning whistles and bells one can dream of.

The working title of the performance is “Get out of the prison cell! – An artistic reflection on listening, learning, and leading”

Chickens and Pigs Project

A nickname for our garden and chicken farm.

The chickens are doing fine, thank you. Normally 2-3 fresh eggs everyday, but recently – because of the warm pre-summer here in Flanders – one of my hens is broody. I told you, I have nothing to report 😉

The garden is developing well. We now have different salads, tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, carrots, paprika, berries and raspberries. And the trees in the orchard start developing apples, pears, cherries, and prunes.

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Petervan Vegetables © 2018 - Lettuce still free of snails – June 2018

 That was just in the garden. Small stuff compared to what my uncle Hubert and son David are doing. They are professional farmers cultivating several hectares of land and keeping a livestock of about 250 cows and sheep.

One of my long time bucket list items – driving a tractor through Flanders’ Fields – finally became true. It is an almost Zen-like experience to make nice straight lines in open fields, with just the sound of the tractor and the warm wind blowing through the open window of the machine.

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Farmer Petervan on tractor of uncle Hubert, Aspelare, Belgium June 2018

I was impressed by the technology on board of these modern tractors. They have a joystick, auto speed control, airco, etc. and some of them even have GPS to make really straight lines, or to ensure no part of the land is sprayed twice, a matter of efficiency and cost control. Also the seats are awesome, better than in most cars.

I also learned a lot about nature: when cows keep their tail up, it means there’s thunderstorm underway, and when swallows fly low over the pasture, there is a good chance of rain coming. We also saw a lot of hares, and even a fox.

What’s next?

Besides the obvious year-end resolutions (renewed every quarter or so), the plan for July – Sep 2018 is to work on:

  • V1 of “Casual Conversations” aka Studio Oxygen
  • Make and publish some more Silence-recordings
  • Create 1 painting every 2 weeks > 6 paintings in 3 months
  • Write 1 blogpost per month
  • Mexico Sep 2018: make and rehearse the new performance

Looks like I am running out of time 😉 So, that’s it for this edition. If there is something worth reporting, next update is for Sep 2018.

Warmest,

 

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Main liberty post

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – Liberty in Prison – Digital Mix

 

Spoiler: there is nothing in this post that is business, FinTech, Blockchain or AI related.

General

It has been a quiet couple of weeks since my previous update of Jan 2018. I am getting used to the post-employee rhythm of the day: art, garden, chickens, biking. My day schedule is getting close to “the perfect day” as described in Freed From Desire.

The Artschool project

Most of my artwork is related to the Hot Dogs Tonight (HDT) project. If you want an intro on HDT, check out my previous post.

As the HDT is at times so geometrical and becoming a real obsession – and to assure you and myself that I am not completely flipping – I sometimes alternate with more organic work like this:

Main messing

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – Messin’ – Acryl on canvas – 120x100cm

But back to HDT: Marie-Ange, one of my teachers at academy, introduced me to PVL, who had been experimenting a lot with painting on canvasses that themselves where prints on canvas.

When he heard about one of the sub-projects of HDT, he suggested me to go fully digital and print on canvas instead of painting on printed canvas. He sounded like a perfectionist: nothing below 750 dpi, always use high quality print shops, only use Adobe Photoshop, etc

So I “perfected” the prison window to this reference shape (all formats, colours, line weights, etc are now documented for different sizes…)

Main reference

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – Reference Prison Window – Digital Mix

I also tried a bigger painting (120x100cm), with 720 little prison windows. The yellow went fine, but for some reason the purple paint started creeping under the mask tape, and I lost the precision of the preparatory work. I tried to hide the imperfections with carbon black acryl markers, but made it worse (although some disagree).

I should have tested these new markers a couple of times on test surfaces before applying it to the 720 HDT canvas. Also the canvas started undulating after applying and re-applying so much tape. Again, some good lessons learned in addition of having become some semi-expert in mask taping.

Main big one

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – 720 Windows – Acryl on canvas – 120x100cm

I also started to prefer the shape without the prison bars: hoping less is really becoming more. I experimented with different settings, formats, colours, with/without lines, taped lines, acryl marker lines, etc.

This time using very cheap 20x20cm canvasses from the local Action-store (discounter)

main 2 small windows

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – Small windows – Acryl on canvas – 20x20cm

Main 20 experiments

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – 20 experiments for essence – Acryl on Canvas – 20x20cm

People seem to be intrigued by the HDT work, and it can serve many different (post-fact confabulated) narratives. Some narratives that seem to tick/stick:

Golden Cage: the life of employees with all the perks and stocked fridges, but still living and operating as self imposed inmates, loosing all sense of agency, and keeping quiet and obeying whatever real or imaginary authority. I can imagine HDT full-size installations with different insides/outsides to let the visitor experience what they missed by staying inside the cage.

Main 4 city views

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – NYC/SFO/LON/SYD – Prints on Canvas – 20x20cm

The whole theme of surveillance, sous-veillance and the prison guard’s option to open the window at will, or worse overlooking all the prisoners in Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, so well put into the social media context in Andrew Keen’s Digital Vertigo. Keen has btw a new book out “How to fix the future”. The look from within the prison cell, seeing the sunshine outside. The look from outside, seeing the cheap light bulb inside.

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Petervan Artwork © 2018 – Inside/Outside – Print on Canvas – 20x20cm

Trumpism: Americans seem to be frustrated with it. There seems to be a sort of complacency that leads to statements like “As long as it does not burn in my house”. Your own house has become a prison cell and/or refuge. “Liberty in Prison” seems to appeal to that, as well as the baseball hat referring to some other possibilities than America First. Same for all the shootings in schools, schools being experienced as danger zones: Schools behind bars.

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Petervan Artwork © 2018 – Liberty/School behind bars – Digital Mixes

The HDT shape can also be seen as some sort of code, a symbol, an icon, a tag, a font, a sign-of-the-times. I have used it as part of the design of the world clock installation, or contrast experiences in Green/Red/Blue. For the world clock, I also have a more complex design with gyroscopes and smartphone holders, and a smartphone app to take pictures/selfies from behind the prison window.

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – World Clock - Installation 6 acryl canvasses – 20x20cm

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Petervan Artwork © 2018 – Green/Red/Blue – Acryl on Canvas – 50x50cm

The algorithms of the online print shops pointed me to cross-sell offerings for all sorts of merchandise. I have now received designs for T-shirts, baseball caps, notebooks, mugs, pencils, stickers, etc

I could not resist and ordered the black T-shirt, and it did arrive nicely in my mailbox two days after uploading my JPEG file to the print shop. The caps are not ordered yet. Still hesitating for white caps, or red caps to make the link with “Make America Great Again” and to find some alternative tagline. Could be something with “resist” or “released” or ???

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Petervan Artwork © 2018 – Merchandising – The T-shirt exists 😉

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Petervan Artwork © 2018 – Stencils/Templates/Etches/Monoprints

The HDT project unleashes many other ideas. Some folks refer to the Blue Dog Phenomenon by George Rodrigue or the OBEY memes of Shepard Fairey, who recently even started covering huge apartment blocks with his memes. I have no idea where HDT will lead me. It just happened to me. There is no plan. Let’s celebrate happenstance.

My academy teachers told me there are enough ideas now, and it’s time to “execute” and make some of the existing work “presentable”:

  • Most of my canvasses are stitched on wooden panels. After a while, especially with a lot of tape-work, they start undulating. I need to get some of them properly framed (or do it myself) so they look somewhat “neat”.
  • I have load of digital work and try-outs. My teachers say that that work is worth seeing as well. This could include printing some of my digital designs on high quality paper and presenting them in some kind of gift box that people can browse through

New tools

I completed my studio with the following new tools:

Co-creation: Prison-Window-as-a-platform

I am playing with the idea of making available the Prison Window in different formats (PSD, JPEG, etc) and inviting other creative folks to have a go with it and sharing their results with the community. I will probably do a separate post with invitations and assignments for that.

I will probably start simple with some Google-Doc folders, but wondering if any cloud platform already exists to do just that. Also interested on any models for licensing and compensation models for collaborating artists. You never know somebody wants to buy this stuff. Just ping me if you know of any platform or models that can serve my needs. I will be eternally grateful 😉

The Pigs & Chickens Project

Just a moniker for my garden project. And for this edition just some pictures will do.

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Petervan Industrial Constructions © 2018 – Self made vegetable box

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Petervan Chicken diversity/inclusion/#metoo 2018

Interesting quotes/random ideas/reflections

  • About Trump: “As long as it is not burning in my house” and “The destruction of complacency”
  • About time: “Future Memories”
  • About employees: “Self imposed inmates”

Social media disconnect

As in “the perfect day”, I am now almost completely disconnected. I have unsubscribed from almost all mailing lists. I am down to about 2 emails per day and of course an empty email box. My mobile can only take calls and text messages. 3G is disabled. I have stopped tweeting, FB-ing, etc. I put a blocker on my browser (https://blocksite.co/) on my laptop and mobile and it does what you’d expect it to do. I feel I have more agency with my time. I am enjoying the physical and emotional silence.

What’s next?

During Apr – June 2018, the plan is to work on:

  • Hot Dogs Tonight, with a focus on wooden 3D objects, and more rough and bigger scale projects
  • Pigs & Chickens Project
  • Studio Oxygen (see previous post)
  • Lots of biking (it’s spring and summer after all)
  • Whatever feels interesting (A.F.E.A.R.) and comes naturally into my flow: a couple of leads developed after my latest post, we’ll see how that goes.

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Petervan Artwork © 2018 – Green – Acryl on canvas – 50x50cm

That’s it for this edition. If there is something worth reporting, next update is for June 2018.

Warmest,

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“Pop is not the same as populistic”, says Winy Maas from MVRDV Architects at minute 14:19 in this wonderful talk about innovating in the future of architecture. This sentence got me thinking about roles, styles, and staging. This post is a follow-up on “Is being normal boring?”

Winy

The talk is about design and architecture, but you will notice it’s really about a different way of living, of reflecting about our world. Also check out The Why Factory: a global think-tank and research institute led by the same professor Winy Maas. You can also find some awesome research publications there.

Winy talks about things such as:

  • Porosity and air
  • Transparency, mirrors and infinity
  • Individualism: Is it about staging, making a statement?
  • The stair and activating our roofs
  • Activating new circuits
  • Block attacks (around min 32 – 33)
  • Infrastructure follows your composition
  • From Small to Big
  • From Individualism to Collectivism
  • From Egoism to Wegoism (W)EGO
  • And about pop and populism

Pop is about the (style of) the performer. Pop is about belonging to a tribe. The tribe of the style of the performer. Pop is about selfies. Pop at its worst or most extreme is probably like Netherland’s rap “artist” Boef performances who films himself on stage, and his fans filming himself filming film.

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Rap "artist" Boef performing live

A strange loop of pop. A strange kind of loop. Like an endless mirror.

Instead of that endless empty mirror of pop, I prefer the mirror of Claudio Monteverdi, not only for the magic polyphonic music by the Huelgas Ensemble on this record, but for the way Monteverdi was staging as an artist.

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The Guardian described his work as “the extra chronological disjunct here is enjoyably disorienting”

“Enjoyable Disorienting” ! Wow !

It has to do with self-image or self-picture. Picture as in Alva Noë’s Strange Tools. Picture of a role. It has to do with role. Being somebody or nobody. With or without role. Anonymity.

The anonymity I am thinking about is one of role-lessness. The anonymity of being normal. The anonymity of Buzz Aldrin, who was the second man walking on the moon. Being in the front, or blending in the background, like the fashion designer who just says hello at the end of the show and then disappears. Who is the composer and who is being staged? Without the composer, all the rest does not happen.

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Art and philosophy are strange tools (of staging), says Alva Noë in his excellent book (Amazon link): he explains the difference between choreography and dance:

  • “Choreography, as we have seen, is not dancing, it is an engagement with dancing as a phenomenon”
  • “Choreography, and all the arts, are organizational, or rather, as we shall see, reorganizational practices”
  • “Choreography makes manifest something about ourselves that is hidden from view because it is the spontaneous structure of our engaged activity”

Roles and titles. Role-ness or title-less. Is the focus of our energy the work itself or the attention for our confabulated stories – crafted after the facts – to make/fake sense of why we do what we do? Titles are usually confabulations. That’s why it is probably better to drop them altogether from our bios, business cards and alike. They are an explanation after-the-fact. To make/fake sense for and about ourself. The attention is on self, not the other, not the audience, not those who come to listen.

Too many labels. No Brand. “No Logo (Naomi Klein): taking aim at the brand bullies”

Painting the role. Painting the knight, the farmer, the father, etc and not the man. Filming the filming rapper or not. Rembrandt and Cranach are not in the same kind of business. They made different kind of pictures.

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Cranach on the left - Rembrandt on the right

Painting the man (as a mask – or the physical container) and painting the person is a different kind of business. Staging the speaker and staging the person is a different kind of business. Staging content is not about letting see what others already see. It is about letting see what you see and others do not see yet.

Like Monteverdi, who was already looking back from some distance at the previous century – already inventing a kind of neo-Renaissance gloss that simultaneous confirmed him as a master of the old polyphony and blazed into new baroque sounds and styles

Whether it is in painting, or making poetry, or architecting an experience, I believe we have to approach all of them like artists. By practicing and getting better at the art of staging, staging like in choreography. This goes beyond pop, roles, and style. A different kind of business: the business of stagecrafting. Or is this yet another strange loop of labeling when I just want to get rid of labels, roles, and titles?

 

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Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise in Minority Report – 2002

I had the opportunity to visit the R&D facilities of a big company, big like in 100K+ employees. I was invited to their brand new R&D site housing 1,500 researchers in brand new fully sustainable buildings (solar panels, recycles water, etc.) in the middle of nature. I was the guest of the Global Innovation Manager.

I have seen this mix/blur of innovation and R&D elsewhere and I had in my career many discussions about where innovation sits on the spectrum from pure R&D work to pure enabling unit. I have also seen several “oscillating patterns” where a company starts at the R&D end, swings to the enabling end, swings back again to the R&D end and so forth. I have written many times before on these and other oscillating patterns, that are in essence caused by structural conflict (with a big shout out here to Robert Fritz, see previous posts).

To be precise the R&D site of big company was a pure R-site. Pure research, no development. Often structural conflicts arise when R is reporting into the marketing department, which is more about the D (product Definition and product Development). The R is a different animal than the D. Or when R sits with IT and D with marketing and the structure of the company obstructs high quality flows between the two groups, instead of cultivating them.

But that was not the case at big company. Being an R-site, the site was full of R-people, most of them engineers. But the R-site of company was making use extensively of artists are part of their R-projects.

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Studio/Atelier Rinus Van de Velde – picture by Joke De Wilde

This was not an “artists in residence” program where the company sponsors an artist to do their artwork. Or where business executives are invited into an artist’s studio for a one-day workshop in the mess of the artist’s working environment, hoping the creative virus would infect them.

No, this was about deeply integrating artists within the R-teams of the company. And they were doing this at scale, in collaboration with a world-renowned academy, changing artists every month, and an international art curation and selection panel.

In part this was inspired by the lateral thinking of Edward De Bono, inventor of the term “lateral thinking”.

This was indeed all about creating collisions between the creative orientation of the artists and the reactive/responsive orientation of the engineer who is looking how to best solve a problem.

In setting up these collisions, the innovation manager was in fact what I would call an “Architect of Accidents”. It suddenly hit me that research was not about searching but about finding.

Research is not about searching but about finding.

The role of the R-teams was to see what they could FIND when they collided. Nobody said: “Let’s find a balloon”. The mission was “what can you find?” if you collide these elements.

This is in big contrast with what I have seen in other R&D/Innovation teams where challenges are set up to solve a particular problem (a problem in search for a solution). A whole “search”-process is then set-up to capture the ideas/solutions, plus some stage gating to further filter (read frame to the be liked by the decision makers), and the end result is that after a while everybody feels like they are fulfilling the system vs. creating what they want. No wonder the change agents get frustrated!

Robert Fritz compromise

It reminded me of Jean Russell’s four types of inquiry, so nicely illustrated in the concentric circles of Jay Standish at OpenDoor (#gratitude):

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Indeed, this was a story of continuous learning, from what is imaginable, what is possible, what is testable, and what is provable.

Research with artists at big company was about finding what is imaginable.

And different practices have different preferences. Good artists are more than just good craftsmen; they let you see/find/discover something that was always there but that you would not find without their help. They let you find what is imaginable. Most engineers can probably be mapped to the science or math circle, with a preference to test and prove things are true, can work.

And different practices have different methods. As you can see from the concentric circles second picture, the philosophy circle is more about theories of change, where as the scientists want to test the assumptions of these theories and reduce the set op options that can be proven to be true.

What the R-team at big company was doing was an effort of being open to new (or existing) insights. In that sense, learning is about letting go of ego. Finding is about being open for the unexpected, the un-searched.

In that sense, my initial spectrum from R&D to Enabling was probably the wrong framing. I tend to prefer these days the concentric circles.

To open the nut, to find the crack inside, one must integrate artists in the innovation flows, especially to help find what is imaginable.

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I am in the business of cultivating high quality connections and flows to create immersive learning experiences and structural change. Check out: https://petervanproductions.com/

 

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