Baltan Laboratories initiates, mediates and shares innovative research and development at the intersection of art, design, science and technological culture.
Published by Baltan Laboratories — October 2012
The Future of Offline Filesharing.
The Baltan Cutter Or the thin line between intuitive and generative.
Angelique Spaninks. Director of MU and new director of the STRP Festival in Eindhoven.
Post-Digital Print Conference & Book launch.
Shared by Eyebeam, Baltan Laboratories & Jonas Lund.
Collecting and Presenting Born-Digital Art: Lindsay Howard.
The Future of Offline Filesharing The Dutch version of the Facebook slogan literally translates as: ‘Facebook helps you connect and share everything with everyone in your life’. This slogan scares me. What is ‘everything’? Who is ‘everyone’? Does Facebook literally mean everyone – and therefore a significantly larger group than that of those we have confirmed as ‘friends’ ? txt — Irma Driessen
For a moment I am confused. This happens more often when you take language literally, and yet that is what I want to do; the words do not seem to be meant ironically. Sharing everything with everyone in your life. That must be hell, if you ask me. A world in which you constantly have to be on your guard, because this sharing of information usually happens without your knowledge or permission. Girls Around Me is an app that cleverly exploits the ignorance and indifference of many Facebook users. The app detects the presence of girls in its direct environment. It then supplies information which an ill-wisher could easily use to create confusion. ‘Hi. We were at secondary school together. How is your brother Mark?’ Strictly speaking the app did not break any rules, but it is not surprising that it was soon informally labelled the ‘stalker-app’. And it remains a fact that Facebook keeps its privacy settings carefully hidden and changes them regularly. Facebook wants you to share everything with everyone in your
life; bad luck if everyone happens to include someone with evil intentions. And even if you are aware of what information you are sharing, and are cautious and alert, other people can still share things on the network that you would rather they did not,
‘In the future everyone will be anonymous for 15 minutes’ for example, by tagging you in photos. Going online, logging in, means becoming visible and relinquishing your privacy. ‘In the future everyone will be anony mous for 15 minutes,’ says David Darts, inventor of the PirateBox. He holds one up in the air, a small white box, hardly bigger than the palm of your hand – to use Darts’ own words, ‘basically internet-in-abox’. It turns out to be a mini router with a USB flash drive sticking out. And indeed, for the time being it is a tiny internet, not just in view of its hardware, but also of its soft-
ware. The USB flash drive contains a bare, completely stripped website, a chat box and a file-sharing mechanism. Exchanging files takes place anonymously. The PirateBox does not keep account of who logs in. This anonymity is an important criterion. In fact, Darts originally conceived the PirateBox to by-pass the firewall of his university network so that he could freely exchange files with his students. Anyone who happens to find himself in the vicinity of a PirateBox can access it freely via WiFi. Initially, an occasional user will perhaps be irritated by the limited possibilities of the network. He cannot use it to check his mail. But then he will possibly become charmed by what he finds. Which could in fact be all manner of things. I think the PirateBox is charming! I see it as a prop in a nostalgic spy movie. Cold-war romanticism. Which reveals that I do not live in a country ruled by a dictator, where the possession of certain documents is dangerous, where censorship abounds, where there is no freedom of expression and no free internet. And yet I think: charming. If without being asked I dump something into the mailbox of people I do not know, I am guilty of spreading spam, but if, again without being asked, I place something valuable on the street and see someone bend over and find something he was not looking for, is that not magic? In a time in which everything can be found at the click of a mouse, and in which internet is always on, scarceness and coincidence are appealing. Of course, the fact that I found mainly MP3 files in the PirateBox demonstrated by Darts, and no shocking WikiLeaks documents, says very little about the potentially revolutionary nature of the PirateBox and everything about man and his circumstances. Just supply him (= Western man) with some advanced tools with which to produce and distribute knowledge (internet) and before long he will be putting silly cat films online.
Skateboard with a PirateBox attached — Image: Aram Bartholl
Nevertheless, the PirateBox provides plenty of food for thought. In fact, behind the two symbols that Darts has attached to his PirateBox – a copyleft sticker and the Jolly Roger – is the idea, the ideology, that the internet should be open and free. Free as in free speech, not free beer. Free because nobody owns it. Free because the user is free. Contrary to what we might think, currently this freedom simply does not exist. ‘We don’t own stuff, we purchase it,’ says Darts. Apple does not supply a screwdriver with its hardware. It does not want you to unlock and jailbreak your iPhone in order to install other than its own permitted software. Apple does not want you to install a new battery
yourself when within a year the old one fails or starts to function badly; it wants you to buy a new iPhone. ‘But if you can’t open it, you don’t own it,’ argues Darts. At least a book made of paper is really yours, you can do what you want with it and need not fear that someone will sneak into your house at night and steal it from your bookcase, like Amazon did to a few Kindle users with George Orwell’s 1984. Listening to Darts has made me realise: the new reality has materialised long since, piracy will only keep on increasing, it will spread from films and music to the world of things. Technology is unstoppable. Soon I will be able to print designer p. 01
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parasite. Dead Drops do not have sunglasses and vases by Hella Jongerius at home. The BREIN this disadvantage. But they do have another: from day one, every Foundation is going to be busy. technology, every storage medium, is doomed to become obsolete. Is I do not know whether this is a anyone still using floppy discs, zip bad thing. It all depends on the discs or DVDs? Within the foreway you look at it – which is true seeable future, Bartholl will have of everything. Copyright was conleft behind a world full of unusable ceived at a time when it took a protrusions. huge investment to print books, press gramophone records, and The provocation emanating from make films. Now tools are cheap. both projects – PirateBox and Anyone can make something and Dead Drops – is an interesting one. put it online. This undermines the After all, what do we really want to old earnings models. You can get share? With whom? And who is to angry about this or take a differbe allowed to know? Are we willent view and see illegal downloads ing to surrender ourselves just like as free viral marketing. Putting it that to a few American companies: more existentially, ‘How can you Apple, Google, Facebook? own the sound of music?’ (Aram Bartholl). And in fact, what is hap‘Don’t be evil’ is Google’s slogan. pening is not that new at all. Before But as David Darts remarks: there the invention of the radio, the are various levels of improper gramophone record and the CD, all behaviour before we reach evilness. musicians earned their money by Because what seems to be a wonperforming live. derful development, the world as a single huge network, with everyone Dead Drops being friends with one another, has Just as the PirateBox, Dead Drops is an evil twin in an underlying archialso an anonymous, offline, peer-topeer file-sharing system, created in October 2010 by the Berlin-based media artist Aram Bartholl when he ‘If you’re not paying began to cement USB flash drives for the product, you into all sorts of walls. Dead Drops form as it were an extra memory in are the product.’ the nooks and crannies of a city. Or extra letterboxes. tecture of espionage, surveillance, want of freedom, and loss of priWith a Dead Drop – just as with vacy. It is a system we pay for ourthe PirateBox – you can upload selves, by handing over our private and download files, even though data. Because it is not us who are you have to place your laptop a litthe users of social networks, it is the tle awkwardly against a wall to do advertisers. ‘If you’re not paying for so. And the project is not entirely the product, you are the product.’ offline; if it were, it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. ‘True anonymity is too dangerous,’ A map can be found on deaddrops. says Eric Schmidt (former Google com, a database showing all the top man). ‘If you don’t have anything locations of all the Dead Drops. to hide, you have nothing to fear.’ But Among other things, this site also what if that is precisely the develrelates how Bartholl placed a few opment that scares us? Imagine Dead Drops in the MoMa building, that one day you would really like so that anyone who owns a laptop to hide something – but this has containing a few works of art, could suddenly become impossible. upload one and claim that one of his works is at MoMa. You can click but you can’t hide There are alternatives. There is soft The strength of Dead Drops is that, ware that allows you to browse unlike the PirateBox, the system anonymously (Tor). There are social does not need a source of energy. networks that are controlled by the Because however liberating the new users themselves (Diaspora). And, communication technology may be, in the words of Maarten Doorman, we are dependent on energy. All we do not need to join the herd these wireless devices, laptops and that obediently eats the fodder smartphones devour energy. ‘Every dished up by Google. We can place rechargeable device I own is like a PirateBoxes on windowsills, or take new pet that must be fed,’ writes John them with us, and see what we Maeda in The laws of simplicity. come home with. We have a choice. We can participate and hide. The PirateBox has to be plugged in, which hampers its use – even though during the masterclass Essay resulting from a masterclass by Darts managed to dismantle a light David Darts and Aram Bartholl, bulb and tap its energy source in June 6-8, 2012, at MU | STRP | Baltan order to feed his PirateBox like a Laboratories (Dutch Technology Week) A Dead drop in NYC — Image: Aram Bartholl
The Baltan Cutter. Or the thin line between intuitive and generative. txt — Eric de Haas
In 2010, I began working on creating a new visual identity for Baltan Laboratories. During this research process, more and more examples of generative graphic design started popping up, which I started to investigate as possible examples that could be used for Baltan. Since Baltan is an organisation that profiles itself at the intersection of art, design and technological culture it seemed very appropriate to investigate these new ways of dealing with visual identity. Whereas a traditional graphic identity is defined by a logo, the choice of colours, typeface and a set of rules for applying these elements, we are witnessing a strong shift towards more organic/random identities. This shift has been triggered by a change in available tools and mediums, and a move from print to screen. Although fascinated by a lot of good generative design, such as the MIT Media Lab identity created by TheGreenEyl (in collaboration with E Roon Kang), I found myself less interested in the generative process and more in the moment when the design is deemed to be finished. In the case of generative design the script determines this. Where in generative design creativity occurs at the very beginning and middle of the process while creating a concept and writing the code, it leaves very little room for intuitive decisions at the end of the process. This end phase of a design process, where you can decide to redo the entire layout or change all the colours, is what ultimately speaks to your intuition as a designer and can be part of a signature. The next logical step was to design a tool that would have some of the same features as a generative tool, but would still need a human hand and eye to complete the outcome, a tool that would need the specific skill of the user. Good examples of this type of tool can be found in many scriptographer tools, where the hand or the operation of a mouse/pen can strongly determine the output. Inspired by this, I contacted Jonathan Puckey, a co-developer of the scriptographer platform, and asked him to help us create a tool. The topic of generative-versus-intuitive triggered some interesting conversations
with Jonathan, which fortunately encouraged him to work with us on this project. We then entered the most difficult phase of deciding what this tool should do. Jonathan and I started a blog that was used to document a period of correspondence between the two of us as a way to develop our thoughts around the Baltan tool: I would write a letter/post that Jonathan would answer in the form of a script/tool. (This correspondence can be found at http://baltanlaboratories.tumblr.com) We began by looking at the first tool known to mankind, the bone or stick that could be used either as a weapon or as a tool to crack things open. We discovered that the old saying, ‘all tools can be used as a hammer’, did not really apply to digital tools, but tried to simulate this by developing a version that could create and destroy. From here we drifted off into the weird evolution of the mouse as a drawing tool. What the mouse basically did
This feeling of too much control made us wonder if this could be the reason that for the last ten or fifteen years a lot of projects have appeared that try to have an unpredictable or generative output. was separate the hand from the eye. We then experimented with using the keyboard as a drawing tool, and when we found out that this minimised the chances of making mistakes, we started questioning whether or not mistakes are essential to the drawing process or if this is a romantic idea triggered by the feeling that we have too much control over our toolset. This feeling of too much control made us wonder if this could be the reason that for the last ten or fifteen years a lot of projects have appeared that try to have an unpredictable or generative output. Could the lack of traces or textures
common to analogue tools, such as the inconsistent flow of ink from a pen or a brush, trigger an urge for unpredictability in relation to their digital counterparts? Do we actually need to turn things around? Do we need a tool that has to learn how to complement its user, a tool with a memory, a tool that learns? But wielding the tool also creates memory. Each outcome created using the tool changes its potential and therefore becomes part of its memory. This can only happen if the tool provides us with a logical framework to work in, and only when the outcome can be considered to be a layered series of decisions with traceable influences. This was why drawing with a keyboard felt unnatural: the engineer already made all decisions. We needed to find a way to emphasise the decisions, possibly by limiting them. Perhaps prehistoric cutting tools contained more than enough choices. Maybe it represents the perfect example of a tool where the person operating it creates a memory and learns along the way, learning to work more rapidly or in more detail. The final version of the Baltan Cutter was very close to one of the original sketches and can be best described as a 2D sculptors tool. It basically has two functions: cutting and chipping. Both functions operate in a very clear way, so that users actually can sculpt if they learn how to operate the tool, but it also leaves room for intuitive cutting. Although we initially started using the Baltan Cutter for Baltan’s identity-related items, we are finding out that the simplicity, limitations and the learning process of handling the tool create fresh outcomes and leave a lot of space for intuition and creativity. By consistently applyingthis output in different ways it alsostrongly impact on the identity because it generates graphic images that have a certain level of autonomy and authenticity, making them very recognisable in appearance.
Read the correspondence between Jonathan and Eric:
A discussion with Angelique Spaninks. Director of MU and new director of the STRP Festival in Eindhoven. In this Baltan Quarterly, we put the focus on the role of Baltan as connector. We are looking at the connections that we have made with different partners and people. And more specifically at how things are connected in Eindhoven in the field of art and technology. In this interview with Angelique Spaninks, we explore what’s happening here in the now, and what we can imagine for the future.
Interviewed by Angela Plohman. April 2012
Angela Plohman (AP): I would like to talk to you about the terrain of art and technology in Eindhoven, which is often overlooked. People often focus mostly here on design and technology, at least that’s how it’s externalised to the outside world. The community here is quite interesting in that sense - the community of makers who are interested in art and technology. What did this landscape look like when you started at MU? Angelique Spaninks (AS): I’m not sure if there was a big art and technology crowd. I think it came from outside. Because Eindhoven is ‘technology city’ and MU is focusing on art, the link was made. But I do think there is a lot of interest in artists working here. By artists, I always mean ‘artist’ in the broader sense: designers are involved, as is everyone who is creatively making stuff. There is widespread interest in what technology can bring but not at the high-tech level. It’s very much a high-tech industry here and it’s very low-tech technology and art that should find each other. And the discrepancy between the two is still there. Which is a good thing because it’s not like it’s a closed off thing that’s all set in stone. The tension between the two is interesting to me. AP: It depends who you talk to, but many people make a clear and strict distinction between art and design.
In the design world especially. But I think a lot of the designers
I deal with and who I believe are interested in art and technology, are very autonomous designers. They are looking to experiment, to try out new techniques, new materials, and new combinations of materials. Like Lucas [Maassen] – he’s a very good example of someone who is quite successful in the design field, with his chairs, but his real fascination is with art and technology, more than anything else, which to me is interesting. AP: And also whether you’re looking at technology as a subject or technology as a terrain, rather than what companies such as NXP are making, or...
It’s also like with Dries [Verbruggen] and Lucas coming up with the post-digital thing. It’s very much Eindhoven I think, this whole ‘new aesthetic’ movement. They were all here last year: James Bridle, and Bruce [Sterling] as well. That says something – that the use of technology in a physical way, in a crafty way almost – is at a high level here. It’s a new way out of the distinction between these fields, and out of media art, which is also too defined. And I really like these little escapes that are happening, and the people who are thinking not so much in new ways but about new ways of combining things.
That’s what I find exciting here, too. The art community here is very different, with fewer borders, less... AP:
Smaller even. The smallness of the community means that it can more easily open up to designers, to technologists, to whatever other
fields that might be appealing. And that is where you can find these interesting connections. AP: So the definitions are kind of useless actually here.
Well, not useless, but you have to stretch them. You have to be able to stretch definitions.
the Informal Academy, lectures, workshops, a symposium with STRP, an exhibition at MU, and so forth. All these components weave this network of interesting things, and when people become aware of all this they start sensing the city as a good place to work. AP: So, the connections that we make between organisations working in this field are actually the crucial links.
AP: How has your approach to this field at MU changed over time? How you deal with technology- AS: They are vital. A great exhibition based projects? Or is it just another part of culture that you address? that is acknowledged worldwide is interesting but not enough. AS: Yes, it’s one of the tools that artAP: It feels as if the time I’ve spent ists and designers and creatives use, and I’m particularly interested in here has been a period when it’s new uses of applications or whatevbeen very easy to collaborate. It’s er, and the outcomes. Technology very open and not too competitive. is about how we use it. That’s the AS: Yes, and I hope it stays that way, interesting part. I’m concerned with what artists or designers do but I’m not sure if it will. If it was with it, because they expand the up to me it would. And of course possibilities of what can be done. I’m a player in the field, so I could And they like to make their own do something. But not everybody tools, and bend or hack the technolthinks that way. ogy, use it in a different way or flip AP: It’s not how it’s set up, of course. it into something that can lead to new ideas. Lots of things come into play that affect how we work. AP: Do you think we support this AS: I think collaboration only works enough here? Of course we do support local artists and designers, but as long as it doesn’t happen for it’s I’m wondering if there are steps we own sake. It has to have a purpose; can take to encourage more local it has to come from a shared vision, makers. or a similar mentality with a collective goal. You can’t work with AS: I try to. The initiatives you take everybody, and you shouldn’t want to. If only one institution survives at Baltan are one way of opening in each field, then collaborating will up the field. You can’t limit your be difficult because they’re so difactivities to inviting someone to do ferent. Why would you collaborate? a workshop once a year. That won’t Even if they become bigger islands, open up enough. So you have to they’re still islands. present a programme that includes
AP: If you look at the ecosystem here, it’s reasonably strong and quite unique because many different organisations are trying to do lots of things and fulfil specific roles. So if you look at the link between MU and STRP at present, how do you see this working? And why did you want to do it?
I agree that it might be better to have more smaller organisations that collaborate and complement each other, but inherently that’s not a strong way of working. In times when you have to count every penny, it may not be the best or the most economic way of working. So my reason for setting up this MU/ STRP combination – two foundations with different profiles and workflows but the same mentality – is because it makes both stronger. You can keep your finger on the pulse and focus more on what is necessary and good for this ecosystem. I don’t want to eat it all. That’s not what it is about. It’s being able to get in the money you need to make both work optimally at a high level in the given situation. I believe in it and hope that it works. Having a larger organisation is not a bad thing. It’s not a multinational, after all. But this isn’t what I’m busy with; I’m not trying to set up a second Van Abbemuseum either. These are two hands-on organisations that work in the cultural field in a productive way.
But with a shared artistic vision.
Yes, and working in different media. MU takes care of the exhibitions, which are experimental and innovative but also multi-dis-
ciplinary and very hybrid. STRP is the biennial, which is a big festival. Additionally, it presents semi-permanent installations, as well as symposia or workshops. These can be organised independently, or with partners such as Baltan or MAD. These are means to invite internationally-renowned artists to come and meet people in Eindhoven. To get a sense of Eindhoven. And maybe return someday to make a bigger work, be part of the biennial or make an installation. This can weave the net stronger. AP: That’s really important because actually it’s the relationships that you are creating with artists that will leave traces here.
STRP has always been the festival that brings existing works here, installs them, and gets a load of people to experience them, which is a good thing. But these artists are also developing new work. And what are they developing? Most of the time, in my experience, by talking to them you get the new ideas. What MU does is make exhibitions that showcase new ideas and new work. And tries to make that into something. Which is something that you can really do once you’re in both situations, talking to the artists. So that’s the thing that will be even more successful. This is hard to do if it’s two different people, and your agenda is always full, and the connections aren’t made that naturally.
AP: And do you think there is still something missing in this chain in Eindhoven, even though there are so many new developments as well?
Well, I think that what can be improved is visibility of the work for a wider public. STRP certainly has a large audience, to an extent. But that has been limited to once a year and now once every 2 years. That’s not enough. I want it to be more visible. Even in small settings. I want it to be visible in cafes. I want it to be visible when you come out of the train station. And especially more visible at Strijp-S.
So a more distributed approach, rather than waiting for everyone to come to you once a year? AP:
That’s why I like Aram [Bartholl]’s work. His ‘dead-drops’ will be put out all over the world. But to have some in this city permanently, and to be able to put something on there, or to use it for a guerilla-style action, that is interesting to me.
And it does leave traces in the city, which slowly accumulate and become more sustainable over time, because it’s a notoriously difficult audience here. AP:
That can be the challenge and the advantage. If the audience here gets into it then it would work anywhere.
But why do you think that is?
Maybe that’s the great question. I don’t know… scepticism, perhaps, or a worker’s mentality. People appear to be more and more proud of what is happening here, and more and more aware that lots of special things are happening. And it’s not that it attracts huge crowds, but that’s not how I define success anyway.
AP: I totally agree. How do we define value? How do you place a value on what you produce as a cultural organisation? If you hold a large festival that is well-attended by thousands of people, you have a better chance of being funded next time. But how many of these people have been seriously affected by what they have encountered in this single event.
…or can even talk about what they experienced? They don’t have to be life-changing experiences. It could be as simple as, ‘Hey, I went to this town and I could connect my laptop to a USB port in a wall and find out what was happening there’. That’s an interesting thing.
Some of our other activities have an impact that goes beyond the fact that visitors entered through the door and were counted, such as intern ships, or workshops or exchanges. AP:
That’s also important. I was noticing over the last couple of weeks that a lot of things happening
here have been covered in national newspapers. Of course, the headlines never mention ‘Eindhoven’; they never say ‘Eindhoven promoted this’, or ‘Eindhoven hosted the world premiere’. But Eindhoven has appeared in so many articles, and it’s all technology-related; bio-tech, music, architecture. If you could cover that, then you’re intrinsically important to this field as a whole. It’s not like city promotion, but rather being on the map in the minds of people working in the field. I think both the people who are actually doing and making stuff should know, and the people in the streets should know. And if we can make more people aware then we’re on the right track. But it’s always a matter of communication and media and networking, also for people in the street.
AP: To have focused and regular updates would be a huge benefit. The combination of all these different aspects of the city – high-tech people, cultural workers, Strijp-S – all these make this a unique place. There’s so much happening here.
AP: And we have to figure out new ways of doing that.
Yes. There should be someone at the local newspaper who is focused on these sorts of things. I’m going to talk to the editor...
AP: They should have a special column for this.
It has to be written by someone who is genuinely interested in the field and would like to know more. There are so many studios to visit where you can talk to people about these things. I would love to help them find that out.
I was thinking of making an alpha/beta lounge at Strijp-S, linking them in an informal way and inviting people to come and talk. I think this would help us build up an audience of students, High Tech Campus people, creatives.
AP: All of whom are looking for places and opportunities like this. Everyone is busy laying the groundwork to create these communities, and it would be wonderful if we could connect them.
And if that’s in a STRP/MU setting or in a NatLab setting, I’m fine with it either way, just as long as it happens. It’s the type of thing I would love to set up and work out in a constructive way. But I don’t want to do it on my own. I already have enough to do.
AP: Most things are done better in collaboration. It’s almost silly nowadays to do things on your own. That’s how I see a sustainable future for organisations as well. You share the workload and the knowledge.
Work together. Be inclusive in the way you work. That’s important.
Image from last years STRP campaign: STRP Mutants, a collaboration between HeyHeyHey & Bart Hess
Book launch & Post-Digital Print conference by Alessandro Ludovico txt — Alessandra Saviotti
Collaboration is better than compe tition, this could be the motto for Alessandro Ludovico’s work during his residency programm at Baltan Laboratories and Onomatopee in Eindhoven. As Alessandro Ludovico constantly said during the workshop with local students. at the PostDigital Conference and to other people who visited the events at Onomatopee, his project is not about books or publishing; it is a social project. The nature of the places involved in the project, Baltan Laboratories and Onomatopee, is hybrid: the first is between art and science, the second works through art, design and publishing, but both are founded on the constant cooperation of people with different backgrounds. Developed in Eindhoven, the project is the result of the collaboration of many design students who helped Ludovico build the “Do It Yourself” Scan machine. The scan is composed of a simple wood structure to support the book, a lamp to correct the light reflection, a Plexiglas cover to steady the pages, and a digital camera directly connected to a computer. The process is very simple and in less than five minutes you will be able to have your favorite or rare book digitalized and ready to share. Indeed, the aim of Ludovico’s entire work is sharing, networking and re-inventing processes to build new realities and new projects using the web as the new space of production.
So, why did he choose to work with books, the last touchable medium tools that remain resistant to complete disappearance? The answer is clearly described in the brand new book “Post-Digital Print. The mutation of Publishing since 1894” presented during the final conference on the 2nd of June. Quoting the author ‘Probably because it still comes with the very best interface ever designed’, and I strongly agree. Moreover, the paper is not only the medium or a carrier as could be a DVD, a VHS or a CD; it is the display itself. Ludovico’s decision to organize a conference to present his book is perfectly in line with his networking-based methodology. He asked for a re-read of his publication by inviting different speakers for each chapter according to their different expertise. What I found very revealing was how the different presenters were all deeply connected to each other – in a sort of digital parallel world – even if coming from different backgrounds and bringing to the table different experiences, skills and opinions on the topic. The first chapter, “The death of paper (which never happened)”, was introduced by Ludovico himself. He presented an historical perspective on seven particularly representative cases that occurred during the last century through today, while underlining that any new medium always claims to be better than the old one. Is that true? The second chapter, “A history of alternative publishing reflecting the evolution of print”, was presented by
Alessandro operating his “Do It Yourself” bookscanner — Image: Boudewijn Bollmann
Florian Cramer, Course Director Media Design M.A. at the Piet Zwart Institute, Willem de Kooning Academy Hogeschool Rotterdam and a board member of WORM. He is a researcher in comparative literature and aesthetics, a writer and activist in the field of computer culture and free software in relation to experimental arts. The third chapter, “The mutation of paper: material paper in immate rial times”, was assigned to Marcel Mars, who defined himself as an advanced Internet user. He is currently resident at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht with a project that analyzes the business strategies, vision, corporate missions of Google, Facebook, Amazon and eBay (GFAeB), and the way these firms design technical infrastructure, create rules governing users’ access to data and services, and appropriate counter-cultural values and identities. Simon Worthington spoke about the Fourth Chapter, “The end of paper: can anything actually replace the printed page?”. Worthington is the founder of Mute, an online magazine dedicated to exploring culture and politics after the net. As we can read on the website ‘the magazine was founded in 1994 to discuss the interrelationship of art and new technologies when the World Wide Web was new born’.
Beyond Data 2012
Baltan Laboratories and Kitchen Budapest’s joint publication presents their collaboration called Beyond Data. The two labs brought their different working method ologies and networks together in a series of workshops in which Dutch and Hungarian artists and designers explored new ways of embodying digital data. The book takes the reader past different phases of the project, introduces the different activities in chronological order and provides insights into the creation process in the form of photographs, sketches, and the participants’ personal impressions.
Contributions by: Attila Bujdosó, Amanda McDonald Crowley, Trevor Hogan and Eva Hornecker, and Attila Nemes have been specially commissioned to reflect on the three different layers of the entire project: the collaboration between the two labs; the temporary lab format and methodology and the theme Beyond data’/data embodiment/beyond visualisation. Edited by: Angela Plohman and Melinda Sipos Language: English Price: € 25,00 (excl. shipping) ISBN: 978-90-815830-2-2 Full colour, paperback, 142 pages Send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org to order your copy.
The Fifth Chapter, “Distributed archives: paper content from the past, paper content for the future”, was presented by Dušan Barok, an artist and cultural activist involved in critical practice in the fields of software, art, and theory. Nat Muller closed the conference presenting the last chapter, “The network: transforming culture, transforming publishing”. She is an independent curator and critic based in Rotterdam and the Middle East. Her main interests include the intersections of aesthetics, media and politics, and media art and contemporary art in and from the Middle East. Ludovico did not write a book just to read. “Post-digital print” is a tool with which anyone can identify and read while thinking about the relationship they have with the act of reading itself.
A Blueprint for a Lab of the Future 2011
A Blueprint for a Lab of the Future is Baltan’s second publication, following The Future of the Lab, which was launched at ISEA2010 RUHR (International Symposium on Electronic Art) in Dortmund. This extensive publication presents the results of and reflections on Baltan’s
two-year pilot phase u ndertaken from 2008 to 2010. Edited by: Angela Plohman Language: English Price: € 25,00 (excl. shipping) ISBN: 978-90-815830-0-8 Full colour, paperback, 343 pages
Send an email to: email@example.com to order your copy.
Post-Digital Print The Mutation of Publishing since 1894 2012
This book re-reads the history of the avant- garde arts as a prehistory of cutting through the so-called dichotomy between paper and electronics. Edited by: Alessandro Ludovico Language: English Price: € 15,00 (excl. shipping) ISBN: 978-90-78454-87-8 Two colours, paperback, 192 pages Order your copy at www.onomatopee.net
International shared residency A collaboration between eyebeam (us) and baltan laboratories (nl) For artists, shared residencies offer a context that’s more than simply time and space to work. By residing at each partner organization, time and space is multiplied across locations and each location brings its own culture to the work. In this case, the collaborative potential between Baltan Laboratories in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, and Eyebeam Art + Technology Center in New York City is exponentially increased — both organizations are deeply committed to supporting the process of artistic creation from early stages through to the end project. This collaborative residency is organized around the theme of “Cultural Economies” with the goal of instigating new work that critically examines the ability of artists and artistic production to maintain large cultural relevance in an age of increasingly limited resources. In the open call, the question of how artists can retain a cultural relevance while living ‘in an age of limited resources’ was raised. During the residency, Lund will explore sustainable models for creating a revenue stream for primarily net artists working online. Lund will document his discoveries, research results and future projects in a true open source spirit.
formance of time within networked systems and our shared online experiences. His interest stretches across a range of interdisciplinary media, focusing on the reciprocal potential of combining web based works with video, performance and installation. Born in Sweden, Jonas graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in 2009 and is currently pursuing a master at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam. His latest projects include The Paintshop. biz, Selfsurfing and an attempt to break the Guiness World Book Of Records of most comments on a Facebook post. ‘There are five major ways for companies (and individuals) to make a profitable model; Advertisement, Subscription, Royalties, Freemium and Crowd Sourcing, all coming with their own set of problems and benefits. Looking at the art world at large, artists make money by Sales, Commissions and Sponsorship (private or governmental), which is hard for any artist and even more for artists working with net art, as it’s less probable that any of the above methods will generate a steady income until you’ve reached a certain level of success.’
rative creational process; since its launch, it has produced over 2,500 paintings but it performs rather poorly in regards of sales. So instead of looking into how I could optimize the market aspect of the Paintshop, I will explore the larger context. What’s the incentives for purchasing net art online? What’s the value of such purchase and what’s the most important parameters to the value/incentive ratio?’ Jonas Lund will start as an Artist in Residence November 19th at the studio of the Van Abbemuseum. Lund will present his work-in-progess as part of the working conference that takes place at the Van Abbemuseum on December 14 and 15. He will also discuss his ideas during the next Informal Academy. His final presentation takes place in February at Eyebeam (NYC). Please subscribe to the Baltan newsletter and visit our website for more information. This residence is also supported by Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam.
Baltan Laboratories presents a brand new series of monthly events for post-secondary students in Eindhoven called the Informal Academy. These evenings are focused on sharing innovative ideas at the intersection of art, design, science and technology.
To learn more about the residence:
The Informal Academy offers students a platform to share the research and projects they are working on with fellow students from related programs in Eindhoven.
Jonas Lund is an Amsterdam based artist. His work explores the per-
‘The background to my interest in monetization of net art is connected to the outcomes of The Paintshop, which is successful in the collabo-
upcoming baltan events
visit baltanlaboratories.org for program updates
Van Abbemuseum (backside entrance)
Giant Step Presentation
Presentation at Sonica
14, 15 Dec.
Collecting and Presenting Born-Digital Art. Working conference at the Van Abbemuseum.
Joe Davies: Mad Scientist of MIT Van Abbemuseum (backside entrance)
Sharing innovative ideas at the intersection of art, design, science and technology.
They have the opportunity to expand their network in an informal setting while gaining extra knowledge and feedback from like-minded participants from otherschools: TU/e Industrial Design, Fontys Hogeschool ICT & Media Design, and Design Academy Eindhoven.
Read more about the informal academy:
Janne van Kollenburg, student Industrial Design, Eindhoven University of Technology
Workshop: Neighbourhood Satellites Energy Harvests. MU.
Museums of the Future. Plaza Futura.
‘Informal Academy to me means a club without codes, demands or obligations. The only thing you need is an affinity for the disciplines of art, technology & design, and a passion to share, discuss or explore this with others. Because I believe in the richness that a rises when differentmindsets (of different educational backgrounds) come together, I thought it would be interesting to join. I have been to the “Academy” and can confirm that it is. I invite you to join and see for yourself!’
Joe Davis: Mad Scientist of MIT
19 Nov. - 19 Dec.:
Jonas Lund Artist in Residence A shared residency program with Eyebeam (NYC). He will also discuss his ideas during the next Informal Academy meeting.
4 November 2012, 15.00 — 17.00
12, 13 Dec.
Tools series: Cd-rom Hackaton led by Rhizome’s Ben Fino-Radin. Van Abbemuseum (backside entrance)
Baltan session: David Rothenberg (US) How artinfluenced science.
Entrance € 5,00 (limited seats available) Van Abbemuseum, Auditorium
life science meets society and society meets life science.
(entrance via museumcafé)
Baltan Laboratories and BioArt Laboratories proudly present a sunday afternoon session with artist/scientist Joe Davis (US). This event is part of Shaking Science, a series of events in November, where
The film 'Heaven + Earth + Joe Davis' will be screened at the exhibition "BioArt Not Stirred" a joint collaboration between BioArt Laboratories, MU, Verbeke Foundation, Holst Centre & Netherlands Bioinformatic Centre and Baltan Laboratories. Visit the website for more information. p. 07
Collecting and Presenting Born-Digital Art: An interview with Lindsay Howard. Interview with Lindsay Howard, by Annet Dekker.
I met Lindsay Howard when I visited New York in Spring 2012 to do field research for the conference ‘Collecting and Presenting BornDigital Art. A matter of translation and (historical) knowledge)’. While talking with people at Eyebeam about the possibility of a shared artist in residence with Baltan Laboratories I became interested in Lindsay’s view on contemporary art and the work she has been doing as Curatorial Fellow at Eyebeam as well as Curatorial Director of 319 Scholes, a non-profit exhibition space in Brooklyn dedicated to promoting work at the intersection of art and technology. Her work uses experimental curatorial models to reflect what she sees as an essential shift in contemporary culture, specifically a growing interest in collaborative creativity, open source philosophy, and unlimited access to information. What follows is an excerpt of our talk. AD: What is your background and how did you get interested in digital/net art?
I started my practice as a blogger, looking at and writing about Internet Art. Since I started curating shows in physical space, I work with more new media and interactive art. The web is so pervasive, though; I find that the artists who are working on the Internet, or incorporating that imagery, those habits, that language into their practices to be the most relevant.
I saw John Michael Boling’s goooooooooooooooooooooooooogle.com piece sometime around 2005 and it blew my mind. Up until that point, I just used my computer as a practical tool for writing papers and as a way to socialize and share (chat rooms, p2p networks), but John Michael’s work introduced me to the web as an artistic platform. You are currently working for different organizations; a non-profit gallery/exhibition space and Eyebeam. Could you share some of your experiences of working in these different settings and particular contexts? For example, how does it affect your practice? AD:
I’ve been the Curatorial Director
at 319 Scholes for two years, and for the last eight months I’ve been the Curatorial Fellow at Eyebeam. I would say on an ideological level, they’re very similar organizations: both are proponents of open source practices and support artists working at the intersection of art and technology. Physically, too, they’re both big, rough warehouses. 319 Scholes has a reputation for being a radical space, which is a result of giving artists total freedom. Because we run tight and lean with a two-person staff, we can also be more agile in our programming decisions. We encourage artists to reconfigure the space or paint or spend a week living in the gallery during installation: whatever they want to do to create their vision, which yields some incredible results. On the contrary, Eyebeam provides more of a support system. They have a full administrative staff, equipment and installation crew, and communications person. I’m used to doing everything for an exhibition: curating, promoting, installing, and sourcing equipment, so it’s been a more streamlined experience organizing an exhibition at Eyebeam. I can focus more dis-
tinctly on working with artists and putting together programs. Recently I had a discussion with artists and producers about the usefulness of open source, it seems that even though source code is available it is hardly ever used by others mainly because of the personal way of coding and the complexity that derives from such project based working. What is your approach to open source?
these works in a museum rather than viewing them from home in a browser?
Open source is not always pretty; it lays bare one’s work with all of its flaws. However, there are cultural advantages to working in this way – think of Wikipedia. The beauty of the open source philosophy is that it not only gives a person a product, but the ability to improve that product along with the building blocks to create something completely new.
AD: Something that struck me was that 319 Scholes puts quite an emphasis on preservation, whereas most galleries/organization don't really think about it until they have been around for some time, their first priority is on presenting work. Why do you think it is already important to think about preservation from the start?
AD: As for your online exhibitions, what do you focus on? In the past we've seen examples ranging from lists of links to commissions to documentation about the work. What is our preferred or even ideal ‘model’?
C.R.E.A.M. was my first online exhibition, and it was commissioned by a specific organization: Art Micro Patronage. The AMP platform is designed to give artists the opportunity to receive monetary rewards for their online works, a concept that immediately resonated with me. The artists were given screenshots of the AMP website in advance, and most of them chose to adapt their works to be more site-specific and in dialogue with that framework. The works were hosted independently on the artists’ individual sites, and then iframed in order to hang in the virtual gallery.
Do you feel it is necessary that digital art enters into established museums or organizations or do you think there are other better places where it can be presented and kept? In which case what would be the future role of museums? AD:
Digital art is the most contemporary art, and its assimilation into museums is inevitable. The question is: why should one go see
In 2011, we had a graduate student named Geetha Pedapati ask to use 319 Scholes’ past exhibitions as data for a course she was taking called Art of the Archive at NYU ITP. We figured, why not? What we didn’t expect was how much we would learn from the data visualizations she rendered of our exhibitions, which drew out the trends and movements during the process. Since then, we’ve become a bit archive obsessed.
Practically speaking, the importance of an archive is providing complete documentation so that new works will be less likely to tread similar ground, and instead build upon and extend the conversation. We’ve set the bar quite high for ourselves and, as a result, now that we have all this documentation, sometimes I’ll get emails from artists or curators years later asking me to update or alter the way a work is represented. Having a proper archive of one’s work has become the new normal, and that’s an important change for the field.
This interview is the first in a series of interviews with upcoming curators leading up to the conference Collecting and Presenting Born-Digital Art. A matter of translation and (historical) knowledge. A collaboration between Baltan Laboratories and Van Abbemuseum, taking place 14 & 15 December 2012.
For more information and interviews check the website:
“WALLPAPERS” installation by Nicolas Sassoon and Sara Ludy at 319 Scholes
Publisher: Baltan Laboratories Postbus 4042 5604 EA Eindhoven The Netherlands Managing director & editor: Olga Mink Graphic design & editor: Eric de Haas Printing: Drukkerij Snep Edition: 2000 Supported by: Mondriaan Stichting Gemeente Eindhoven p. 08
Thanks to: Annet Dekker, Alessandra Saviotti, Irma Driessen, Jonas Lund, Angela Plohman, Eric de Haas, Aram Bartholl, Heyheyhey & Bart Hess, Boudewijn Bollmann and everyone who has contributed.
Eindhoven, 2012 www.baltanlaboratories.org firstname.lastname@example.org