Researching ways to connect the digital world to our physical space is a recurring theme throughout many of my projects. I let properties or applications of both worlds complement each other and I seek to create a combination consisting of the best of two worlds. I connected website-statistics to plant growth, for example. And I literally brought two worlds of a different dimensions together during Museumnacht 2008. The Physical Virtuality installation at the NEMO science centre allowed visitors standing on an "intervirtual'balance to really feel the presence virtual visitors feel under their feet.
I try to make digital phenomena tangible. The reason for doing so is that I want to study the value and significance of pixels and virtual phenomena. Often dismissed as inauthentic, I suggest that the online world is just as real as our physical world. I make digital translation of concepts into matter to open up a discussion on that topic. During an "augmented reality" walk in The Hague participants sought contact with the virtual attendees. Both types of participants were moving around on one single Google Map. Which type of participant was 'really' there? Or was the difference in dimension lifted?
Despite a solid technical background and a fascination with the consequences and impact of new technical developments, I explore the technique in a wider context. Making things faster, better or bigger, is not my goal. Preferably, I slow down technique or make it unlogical. laborious and slow. I shift the relationships between relevant or sometimes unnoticed facets of technology and the current social context. I visualise otherwise transparent, unconscious or routine processes. I raised a "Publicity Plant", growing based on references from websites and blogs. The growth was also influenced by a relatively unknown phenomenon: the information that each Google search invisibly communicates to websites it finds. The growth of the plant was thus an exact translation of our contemporary ego, which also flourishes as a result of online attention and many Google hits.
ANALOG COMBINED WITH DIGITAL
I'm not only interested in exploring the latest technological developments. I also apply old technology. The bluescreen technique from the "de-surveillance" project existed for decades, but a simple inversion of the current application, provided a new and surprising effect. I'm very much charmed by analog technology and basic raw materials with a sentimental value and a physical tangible feeling. The perception of materials, strength, wear or finiteness is difficult to replicate only in a digital presentation. An installation which was a hybrid form of digital control with matter, was "Drip". It was an interactively controlled drip, battling (for attention) with an abundance of software and hi-tech. The drip defeated the ingenious technology. It did often grab someone's attention for tens of seconds. Because in the digital realm nothing is impossible, almost nothing is really spectacular. The extension of digital technology with unusual non-digital elements brings back the excitement. Added to that, it forces makers too to explore new approaches. A system involving water or a plant is much more difficult to master than the newest version of Macromedia Flash.
AUDIENCE ANNO 2009
Another reason for my interactive projects to seek contact with the world outside of the screen, is the decreasing concentration of the contemporary public, which is overwhelmed by the amount of digital inputs. The "Youtube Video Jukebox" is a response to that. The spatial implementation of the phenomenon 'watching Youtube videos' requires a physical effort from its users. There's an endless offer of opportunities to an audience nowadays, and anything can be done at any time. Why should something be done now? It is currently difficult to draw the attention of a public and hold it. The video distribution system "Mobile Thrill" for that reason kidnaps someone's phone, which prevents prematurely walking away. Waiting for the return of the phone, the tension rises, making the viewing experience an intense and attentive one.
In the "Sousveillance choreography" which was performed during the 2008 edition of TodaysArt in The Hague, unsuspecting passersby played the main role. This project revolved around the theme how to make interaction tempting, easy and attractive to a contemporary restless (festival)audience. The project went even one step further: the choice of whether or not to participate did not even need to be made. In a narrow alleyway, numerous huge blocks were shifted around by invisible command of a choreographer. People had to adapt their walking route to the objects. Their 'dance' around the objects was filmed from above. The objects were filtered out of the picture. What remained was a choreography with a massive participation. A solution to the problem outlined earlier.
SOLUTIONS AND PRESENTATION
I monitor new technological developments closely, but especially from the point of use. I respond to trends or try to anticipate them. The form in which I present my research is in many cases an installation or an intervention in the digital or physical space. Or a related mix of those two. The work is often meant to provide an answer to myself and the public. By showing a solution, I visualise the underlying problem. As the "Sousveillance" project shows, I not only question or just call for discussion, I also provide an exploration of solutions.