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Baltan Quarterly

Baltan Laboratories initiates, mediates and shares innovative research and development at the intersection of art, design, science and technological culture.

Published by Baltan Laboratories — August 2013

A Continuation

An Algorithm

An Essay

An Interview

A Residency

A Report

Baltan goes Natlab

Marius Watz

Bartaku’s Undisclosed Poésis of the Photovoltaic Effect

How to define and reflect on digital aesthetics: Christiane Paul

At Harvard Medical School with Joe Davis

Energy Harvesters for a more sustainable life

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p. 02–03

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p. 06

p. 07

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Baltan goes Natlab. A continuation of the NatLab legacy.

txt – by Wiepko Oosterhuis

On 5 October 2010 André Geim and Konstatin Novoselov won the Nobel Prize for physics for discovering graphene, a two-dimensional version of carbon. A new material with promising properties for among others the semi-conductor industry. The ultra-thin graphene originated from the ‘crazy’ experiments that Geim is famous for, and which Novoselov liked to collaborate on. Friday evening experiments, they called the fun experiments on which “you should spend at least 10 percent

of your time”. In such an experiment they stripped a super thin skin of graphite from the point of a pencil with a piece of Scotch tape. Another famous example is the experiment in which they floated a frog in an ultra-powerful magnetic field. He won the Ig Nobel prize in 2000 for this – a parody award for improbable research. All this does not sound very serious. As though the most important discoveries in physics this century came about by accident. This is of course not the case. Geim and his fellow scientists are investigating continue reading on p. 02

Natlab personnel conducting research and experiments around 1935 — Archive image: Regionaal Historisch Centrum Eindhoven

p. 01


continuation of page 1

the fundamental laws of physics, with the application of the scientific method. But they need freedom of thought to achieve this. A certain degree of playfulness helps them to make unexpected discoveries. It is a characteristic of fundamental research. They don’t work towards an application, they don’tinvent, but they research and discover. This approach of curiosity and wonder is shared by scientists and artists alike. Even though artists go that little bit further. Not only are they not limited to a particu-

‘In a time in which fundamental research is under increasing pressure and industrial research is steered by protocols, art is an outstanding free domain.’ lar method or protocol, breaking with convention is an important objective. In a time in which fundamental research is under increasing pressure and industrial research is steered by protocols, art is an outstanding free domain. Unfettered and uninhibited, the artist, in principle, can still actually experiment and research autonomously. The heyday of the NatLab was in the three post war decades where in great freedom both industrial and fundamental research took place

highlight

and money did not seem to play a role. The basis for this was laid in 1914 by the director Holst who created an academic atmosphere, in which researchers were given lots of space and were regularly addressed by the greats from their profession like Albert Einstein. The economic circumstances have changed dramatically since the 1970s and, consequently, applied research received increasingly more priority over fundamental research. However, both industry and science know; that you cannot have one without the other. Fundamental uninhibited freedom in research and experimentation results in new insights and perspectives. We cannot turn the clock back. Today, a NatLab old style is unaffordable for a company. But art is equally subject to change. Artists now also inhabit the domains of technology and science. They do this with the curiosity and wonder of the scientist and add their own autonomy and playfulness. It is this idea of art being inspired by and working within the realm of science that provides a new interpretation of the core of what the old NatLab represented. Baltan laboratories has been founded to promote and create a climate for research and experimentation in this field. By moving into the original building of NatLab hundred years after it’s foundation, Baltan recognizes it´s glorious past and at the same time celebrates a continuation of it´s spirit.

HIGHLIGHT

Baltan goes Natlab We’re moving! In August the Baltan headquarters will move to the newly renovated historic Natlab building. Groundbreaking ingenuity, such as the CD player, tape recorder, and the first radio and TV broadcasts all happened at the famous Philips Natlab. We, soon-to-be inhabitants, are eager to revive that initial Natlab synergy.

As Plaza Futura expands its activities on arthouse cinema and theatre, and Broet focuses on the production and education of filmmaking, Baltan advances its impact on local art, design, science, and technology. The broad spectrum of media culture covered by this united effort will evolve Natlab into a contemporary hotspot at

Strijp-S, linking a heritage of famous multimedia and audio artworks. For example, the Natlab enabled Xenaxis’, Le Corbusier’s and Varèse’s pioneering sound tracks for Poeme Electronique, an immersive sight, sound, and architectural experience that premiered in 1958 at the Brussels World’s Fair. Baltan Laboratories is named after Kid Baltan, Dick Raaijmakers, an important inventor in the field of electroacoustic music at the Natlab, and an outstanding example of the benefits of combining art and research. Baltan will sustain the Natlab original spirit in which innovation and experimentation were key factors, through creative inquiry. We hope you will join us at the Natlab grand opening celebration on October 11! We’ve planned exciting surprises to mark this important milestone in our own history.

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Marius Watz: The Algorithm thought police

mwatz.tumblr.com February 13, 2012

Earlier today I made an off-hand quip on Twitter in response to Jer Thorp tweeting a link to 3D Voronoi code (incidentally written by the excellent Frederik Vanhoutte.) The following snowball chain went as follows:

Tweet #1: @blprnt We talked about this. Voronoi is off limits until 2015, it got used waaay too much by architects in 2011. Tweet #2: Temporarily banned algorithms: Circle packing, subdivisions, L-systems, Voronoi, the list goes on. Unless you make it ROCK, stay away. Tweet #3: (And if you don’t think an algorithm can rock, we have nothing to talk about.)

Inevitably, this generated a certain amount of retweets and responses, both positive and critical. So before anyone starts thinking of me as the Algorithm Thought Police, I’d like to clarify my statements in more nuance than 140 characters will allow. So let me restate my point. Yes, heavy use of standard algorithms is bad for you. That is, it is if you wish to consider yourself a computational creative capable of coming up with interesting work. If you’re a computer scientist or an engineer standard algorithms are your bread and butter, and you should go right ahead and use them. Upon “discovering” an elegant algorithm that yields compelling visual results (say, circle packing or reaction-diffusion) there is a strong temptation to exploit it as is, crank out a hundred good-looking

images and post them all over your Flickr, your blogs, what have you. I’ve done this. If you’re reading this you’ve probably done it too, and you know what happens next. Suddenly you find that the dude/ dudette next door “discovered” the exact same algorithm and made a hundred images just like yours. And there’s egg all over your face.

excellent work is made using them. But you should learn to be mature in your field the way that any other creative is: By learning to recognize the canon and creating your own niche within it (or, if you’re feeling rebellious, in opposition to it.) Being taken for ignorant or immature is just not a good way to establish your bona fides.

Given this situation (which also applies to hardware, by the way) some people have the gall to proceed to try to beat up on the other creative simply they did their work the week after you did yours. To say that this is foolishness is to understate the problem, which is:

What do I propose as an alternative? Roll your own. Not as in come up with your own Voronoi alternative, but as in make sure you add your own creative signature to the work. Modify, remix and modulate. Check your work for algorithmic laziness. It’s oh-so-very tempting but it never pays off. If any CS student on the planet could walk into a lab and code the exact same result in an hour you’re just not trying hard enough.

You cannot lay claim to “owning” any given algorithm (or hardware configuration), unless you have added significant extra value to it. To do so is at best ignorant. Besides the problem of ownership, there is the even more serious issue of cliche. Most powerful algorithms have been used to death already, and you don’t need to add to your labor by having to distinguish your work from every mediocre computational creative who took a

‘Modify, remix and modulate. Check your work for algorithmic laziness. .’ shortcut and published a Voronoi diagram as is. Yet surprisingly many people make exactly the same mistake time after time. Try watching the Generator.x Flickr group for a while and you will see the same classics paraded past you once a week. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experiment with great algorithms. After all, they are great and much

PS. I would have liked to take the time to go through some of the “worst offenders”, but I figure most of them should be fairly obvious. For instance, I tend to name the oh-so-wonderful Voronoi because a horde of “parametric architects” have given it a dirty name and thought they were clever while doing so. And before you throw the first rock at me, here is some lovely circle packing I did back in 2007.

PPS. Jer Thorp should not be considered in any way to be an advocate of algo-cliche, despite being the genesis of this rant. Jer’s work is an excellent example of mixing known solutions with brilliant personal touches.

To see more of Marius Watz’s work, visit http://mariuswatz.com/


PUBLICATION

essay

Bartaku’s Undisclosed Poésis of the Photovoltaic Effect Speculative Scenarios, or what will happen to digital art in the (near) future? While there is a growing understanding of the use of technological tools for dissemination or mediation in the museum, artistic ex­periences that are facilitated by new technologies are less familiar. As an art discipline, the language is still new and the theory is still being formulated. The technical knowledge required to facilitate the production of this type of art or art research is not usually found in a museum. To better produce, present and preserve this type of

Contributors: Christiane Berndes Sarah Cook Annet Dekker Sandra Fauconnier Olga Goriunova Jussi Parikka p. 04

Christiane Paul Richard Rinehart Edward Shanken Jill Sterrett Nina Wenhart Layna Whit

work, an understanding of its history and the material is required to undertake any in-depth inquiry into the subject. In an attempt to fill some gaps the authors in this publication discuss digital aesthetics, the notion of the archive and the function of social memory. In the centerfold three future scenarios are presented in which the authors speculate on the role and function of digital arts, artists and arts organisations.

Edited by: Annet Dekker Language: English Paperback, 144 pages Order a free copy (excl. shipping costs) online via www.baltanlaboratories.org

txt – Irma Driessen

‘The quantity of energy that the sun sends to the earth in a single hour is sufficient to provide the whole of humanity with enough energy for an entire year: a modest 150 billion kWh,’ I read in a newspaper (Trouw, 26 March 2013). That sounds promising. Every hour! What’s the problem? Is there any problem? The problem is harvesting that energy. We are glad if every now and then scientists manage to scrape the yield of a solar cell up by a percent. Good news is no news. Bartaku wanted to see if he could copy a solar cell using only natural elements. He managed to do so. Ingredients is in this case perhaps a better word, his solar cells are meant to be eaten. Aronia, the apple berry, is an important component, the berry’s pigment converts sunlight. Carbon, that keeps the intestines clean, functions as the conductor. Together with a handful of other components they form small constructions, little stacks, a kind of haute-designed-cuisine. Participants at the e-tapas event are able to assemble the solar cells before eating them.

‘Lab assumes experiment, exchange of ideas, co-creation, instead of selling you something or some idea.’ For Bartaku, words are important. Words steer thought. He is not at all happy that his tasting has been announced as ‘e-tapas’. The name is misleading. His event is not about ‘e-tapas’. It isn’t even about food. ‘E-tapas are part a bigger story.’ That bigger story, that’s what his work, his research, his art is all about. To discover bigger story, you need to spend more time than the three minutes it takes to construct the solar cell and pop it into your

mouth. To be able to tell this bigger story, Bartaku organizes workshops, a word he doesn’t like either. Lab is perhaps a better word. Lab assumes experiment, exchange of ideas, co-creation, instead of selling you something or some idea. Bartaku wants to question our attitudes to energy. Industry doesn’t do this. Industry uses terms like efficiency, yield, economy, leaving little space to discover the fundamental relationship with the world around us. We are energy, he says. Everything is connected, big and small. Energy cannot disappear, it can only transform. This transformation is what it’s all about. Participants at e-tapas don’t just eat an exceptional tapa followed by a chocolate made by Amaro, washed down with Aronia wine or beer. They are part of this bigger picture. He calls them ‘Temporary photoElectric Digestopians’, his project ‘Undisclosed Poésis of the Photovoltaic Effect.’ As he talks, and explains, Bartaku is standing in the food lab in the Ketelhuis, sprinkling a whitish powder (‘agar’) into a red substance. He carefully weighs a few grams. He is making gelatine. He looks like an alchemist. Carole Collet stands next to him; she is making miniature electrodes from cooked strings of pasta, covered with tiny strips of edible silver. The flakes of silver stick to her fingers. She has to make 144, assistants help her preparing the components so that the public only need assemble the solar cells later on (= stack the parts). ‘E-tapas’ certainly forces you to think, although not immediately. It is spectacular. A carefully laid table, with tableware made from flax, designed by Collet. A long row of people shuffling by, bent over the ingredients. At the head of the table is a dazzling lamp, an artificial sun that you cannot help but look at. You have to look at it, before swallowing the cell, in order to experience an electric tingling on your tongue. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if

the electrodes Carole Collet prepared could be plugged directly into your brain, fantasizes Bartaku. What fantastic images, what kind of conscious stimulation could this produce?

‘E-tapas’ certainly forces you to think, although not immediately. Many people ask Bartaku what you can do with this transformation of light into electricity on your tongue (‘photovoltaic effect’). Nothing, is his answer. Well, you could link 66 people and light a small LED. Or perhaps create an electric kiss, as took place in the 18th century at public demonstrations, when electricity – as ‘current’– was a novelty and the human body appeared to be a good conductor. I doubt if this would work. The circuit is pretty leaky. Not everyone feels the tingling. The sensitivity differs from person to person, says Carole Collet. There is of course the excitement, the anticipation, in everyone beforehand, during the shuffle along the table to the supreme moment. And there we stand, tongue stuck out, with on it Bartaku’s alchemistic wafer. A heliotropic moment, recorded for posterity. We are Bartaku’s charge. He absorbs our surprise, our response, our hesitation. He takes a photograph. Unfortunately, online little leaks away, except perhaps context, through the passage of time. What remains is a series of heads, of people trying to balance a tiny construction on their tongues. Of course, you can decide to swallow the tapa straight away, and not have your photograph taken, but then you will never know the electric potential, the volt meter measures, when you take your place on the chair, in the light of the lamp. ‘E-tapas’ is part of the EU program Techno Ecologies.


Photo by Cocky Eek

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interview

A changing aesthetics, or how to define and reflect on digital aesthetics: An interview with Christiane Paul This interview is part of the upcoming Baltan publication ‘Speculative Scenario’s’ edited by Annet Dekker. ­ The publication­takes a closer look at different scenarios for born-digital art in the future. Taking some of the discussions of the conference Collecting and Presenting Born-Digital Art, several authors were asked to elaborate on specific issues that are relevant for the discussion about collecting and presenting and preservation of born-digital art, today as well as in the coming future.

Interview with Christiane Paul by Annet Dekker

Christiane Paul is the Director of the Media Studies Graduate Programs and Associate Professor of Media Studies at The New School, NY, and Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts at the Whitney Museum of American Art. How would you define a digital aesthetic, and how does it relate to contemporary art? AD:

There is no easy answer. Computability has introduced so many different aesthetic facets that I think it profoundly changes the notion of aesthetics for digital art and beyond. To outline some of the basics, computability entails the ability to break down images into discrete units; generative possibilities; the separation between the front- and back-end of the artwork, where the back-end could be a complex mathematical language and the front-end could be abstract visuals; and new forms of connectivity across continents and spaces, which are causing a redefinition of space and time. Theorists and philosophers like Bernard Stiegler have examined the latter in terms of economics and individuation, among other aspects. On the one hand, we have this instant connectivity that crosses spatial boundaries and leads to a flattening of space, and, on the other, we see an emphasis on the local community. In 1992 Benjamin R. Barber wrote a visionary article, ‘Jihad vs McWorld’, juxtaposing globalism and tribalism—the brand consumerism that created the Global Village, the jihad and tribal wars that all emerged at the same time.1 Such a comparison is not coincidental and signals the reconfiguration of space and time. CP:

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Another key aspect of computability revealed by participatory and interactive artworks is the consideration of response as a medium. Myron W. Krueger already wrote about this in the early 1970s; the response to a digital work differs very much from that to a painting.2 You can of course argue that any artwork is ‘interactive’, in the sense that it involves a mental activity, but in the case of participatory digital work interactivity becomes a truism. Response here refers to an act through which the viewer, user, or participant changes the work. A connection can be made to some performance art or Happenings in which participants can also change the artwork. The frameworks in performance vary, but often there is a limit to what you can do. These limitations also exist in some digital artworks, or games, where you select elements from a preconfigured database that may branch in different directions. More open projects take you to the point where you can completely reconfigure the artwork. So response varies a lot. It is a highly complex system that deserves further analysis within the parameters of every artwork. When you talk about changes in the notion of aesthetics, to what do you exactly refer?

and I think there now is an interesting shift to understanding computability and the generativity of code in terms of aesthetics. For the first time in the history of art we see a more profound disconnect between the back-end of a work and the materiality of its front-end. When moving close enough to a painting you can see brush strokes. Photography, film, and video introduced an increasing gap between the negative or the filmstrip or tape and the images we look at, but in code and computer art you deal with a back-end of mathematics and algorithms that very often seems to have little to do with the visuals it produces on the front-end. This is an interesting challenge to explore in understanding a work’s aesthetics. Of course this also applies to instruction-based art in general, for example, Sol LeWitt’s work – on which some of Casey Reas’ projects are explicitly building – and several Dada pieces, but most of these instruction-based works didn’t produce visuals in the first place.4 All these aspects together introduce a shift in aesthetics – to the point that computer art and code can be deeply aesthetic in a conceptual way.

AD:

While looking into aesthetics and notions of aesthetics related to the computer for the conference in December, I discovered that the Wikipedia entry on aesthetics, apart from building on Kantian and Hegelian theories, also has a section ‘Aesthetics and information’, which considers computer algorithms in relation to aesthetics.3 Over the years, the notion that beauty is not the only criterion for assessing aesthetics has been gaining ground,

CP:

Would this shift also be one of the reasons why museums have difficulty accepting computer-based art, because they aren’t always aware of the evolving relationship between the front- and the back-end? AD:

Yes, I think this is a big challenge, not only for institutions but also the audience. Most people approach an artwork through the visuals at the front-end – which is one of the reasons why conceptual art faced opposition – and they don’t understand, or even care about the back-end. Florian Cramer

CP:

has written about how the poetics of construction tend to move behind the front-end and its perception.5 At the same time there are huge differences when it comes to the levels of engagement that a digital work requires, and it’s not always necessary to know much about the backend, although it often is extremely valuable to understand it. Quite a few people have written about digital art; nevertheless, it seems that these texts sometimes get stuck in their own discourse. Do you think these texts should be translated into a contemporary art discourse, or would you rather see something in between, a new taxonomy, borrowing from both sides? AD:

‘I think new media art has been approached from the same perspec­tives and criteria as traditional art.’ It’s a difficult issue, and I don’t have a solution. Although there is a huge need for translation between traditional art-historical discourses or discussions of aesthetics and new media art, I’m not sure if there really is a gap in language or taxonomies. I think new media art has been approached from the same perspectives and criteria as traditional art. For example, Lev Manovich has analysed and talked about the 3D image in terms of traditional theories of perspective and constructing space within painting; in particular, he has applied constructivist techniques and the notion of montage to new media.6 New media art looks at many of the

same themes and issues that have been discussed in art for centuries; to name a few: the construction of identity, representation, abstraction, realism, etc. All these issues are discussed in digital media and other arts, and there definitely is a continuation of the dialogue. I don’t think new media theorists or practitioners are particularly guilty of not creating bridges, but I see obstacles when it comes to having these considerations enter into contemporary art discourse. Claire Bishop’s article titled ‘The Digital Divide’ in Artforum (September 2012) is a good example of this rift.7 We are also facing the challenge that it becomes increasingly difficult to write about many older new media works, because they are vanishing. So it is important to document their history and, in order to do this, we need more momentum and funding, which in turns requires acceptance within the art world at large.

Read the full interview with Christiane Paul in the publication ‘Speculative Scenario’s’

CP:

1

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1992/ 03/jihad-vs-mcworld/303882/. The article was later adapted into a book with the same title (New York: Random House, Inc., 1995). 2 http://thedigitalage.pbworks.com/w/page/22039083/ Myron%20Krueger/. 3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aesthetics/. 4 Sol LeWitt (1928–2007) was linked to various movements, including Conceptual Art and Minimalism; for more information about Casey Reas, see http://reas.com/. 5 Florian Cramer (2002) Concepts, Notations, Software, Art, http://www.netzliteratur.net/cramer/ concepts_notations_software_art.html. 6 Lev Manovich (2003) New Media from Borges to HTML. In The New Media Reader, edited by Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. http://www.manovich.net/DOCS/ manovich_new_media.doc. Lev Manovich (1999) Avant-Garde as Software. In Ostranenie, edited by Stephen Kovats, Frankfurt and New York: Campus Verlag. http://www.manovich.net/DOCS/avantgarde_ as_software.doc. 7 See also the discussion related to the print article on Artforum.com, Talkback, http://artforum.com/ talkback/id=70724.


summer session

upcoming

visit baltanlaboratories.org for program updates

At Harvard Agenda Medical School with Joe Davis Friday 20 Sept.

12 October

24 October.

Back to the Future of Natlab The Friday Afternoon Lectures #2:

Lecture:

Workshop:

PAUL MILLER AKA DJ SPOOKY

Piccolo printer

Lecture by Paul Miller aka DJ Spooky, that Subliminal Kid. In this lecture, Miller shares his ­ideas­and work about his art-­ research project “Antartica”.

Led by Greg Saul from Diatom Studio, http://diatom.cc/piccolo Piccolo is a low-cost kitset device that uses servos to create a ­mechanism for tinkering with or developing for basic 2D or 3D ­ CNC output.

Computers Yet to Come

Baltan Laboratories is sponsoring a one month Summer Sessions Residency in collaboration with the George Church Laboratory at Harvard Medical School, and Joe Davis, who will mentor the residency. For the 2013 Summer Sessions, emerging artist Špela Petrič will be developing her project ‘Humalga: Towards the Human Spore’. This art and research experiment attempts to genetically hybridize and modify the human and alga, thus creating a trans-species, the humalga. Špela Petrič wrote a report from Boston.

Ivan Sutherland, inventor of the first graphical user interface Location: Natlab,

Kastanjelaan 500, Strijp-S, Eindhoven. Time: 15.30 - 16.30 Free entrance

Location: Natlab Time: 14.00

Free entrance

Location: Natlab, Baltan Basement

Thursday 3 Oct.

22 October

Baltan goes Natlab:

Batlan Basement:

Subscribe to particpate before 15 October via: info@baltanlaboratories.org

SNEAK PEAK

Open Lab Sessions #1

On invitation only Location: Natlab

The Open Lab session is a new ­initiative by Baltan to explore the idea of open collaboration, innovation and participation.

Friday 11 Oct.

Location: Natlab, Baltan Basement

Celebration: Joe Davis – Photo by Boudewijn Bollmann

Grand Opening Natlab

Dear Olga, I will briefly write to you about my experience thus far as well as suggest a possible format for the output of the residency.

Location: Natlab Time: 19.00 - 02.00

The first two weeks in Boston have been nothing but exciting. Joe is a wonderful host. He has taken the time to give me “personal lectures” on his work as well as his views on art, science, society, culture, technology and many other topics and lead me around both Harvard and MIT, introducing me to people (mostly scientists), who could contribute to my art/sci practice. The contacts I am making will be invaluable in the future, since they will open doors to the otherwise so inaccesible scientific establishment. The second day after my arrival we went hunting for microorganisms in the ponds of Mt. Auburn cemetery and proceeded to culture and observe them in the lab. He showed me how to construct a cloud chamber for the macroscopic detection of cosmic rays as they pass through our environment (and ourselves). So far, I’ve attended 5 “lab meetings” at the Genetics Dept at Harvard Medical School, which were informative to me from the perspective of techniques that are on the cutting edge of molecular biology (which I haven’t yet heard of despite the fact I was disconnected from the field barely two years). During my stay at Harvard, I am working on two projects. The first - Voyager/140AU, which deals with emancipated space technology and is in the field of interest of Joe as well, is the one I intend to carry out practically. I intend to test four different protocols for the creation of simple chemical systems called protocells, which are proposed as a model of prebiotic life. I’ve prepared the protocols for these experiments and am waiting for the ordered chemicals to arrive. The second focus is on the Humalga project. The biological realization of this project quickly becomes ethically unacceptable (even using model systems, it is almost impossible to display it outside the lab). Also, it requires at least several months to accomplish the smallest of steps. That is why I am leaning towards using the precious little time I have here to seek out people that would be willing/able/interested to collaborate with me in the future, and to receive critical and constructive input regarding my ideas. So far, I have initiated discussions with incredibly knowledgable people. To point to a few - Dr Jay Li, a researcher at the Wyss Institute, working in the field of stem cell technology, Dr Joe Loureiro, a computational biologist, currently a lead researcher at Novartis, and Dr Thomas Schwartz, working with nuclear pore proteins and specializing in protein structure. My plan for the next two weeks would be to carry on these discussions and brainstorm on the topic of human species survival, space travel and biotechnology, all connected with the general topic of my art projects. I would like to outline several possible/probable(?) strategies to develop a “human spore”, making the humalga but one of the options. As the output I envision a video of collected material (videos) overlaid with inspiring or important statements from the discussions. Please let me know if the plan satisfies your requirements. Sending you hot hot hot greetings from Boston, Špela (July 20, 2013)

DJ SPOOKY @ BALTAN GOES NATLAB PARTY, 11 October: DJ Spooky, aka that Subliminal Kid, gets the party started with dance music at the Natlab Opening! After the opening night party, DJ Spooky returns as Paul D. Miller, on Saturday afternoon for a lecture about his research on Antarctica and his book "The Book of Ice". Don't miss this chance to purchase a signed copy after the lecture, and chat with Paul in person about his ground-breaking art research on one of the earth's last frontiers.

DJ Spooky aka Paul D. Miller is a composer, multimedia artist, editor and author. Miller's work as a media artist has appeared in the Whitney Biennial; The Venice Biennial for Architecture, the Ludwig Museum and many other museums and galleries. His book Sound Unbound, an anthology of writings on electronic music and digital media is a best-selling title for MIT Press.

04 Let them publish and take part in international scientific activities.

aware of their responsibility for the future of the company.

Photo by Danielle Levitt

Gilles holst

The 10 commandments of Gilles Holst 01 Engage competent scientists, if possible young, yet with academic research experience.

05 Steer a middle course between individualism and strict regimentation; base authority on real competence; in case of doubt prefer anarchy.

02 Do not pay too much attention to the details of the previous experience.

06 Do not divide a laboratory accor­ding to different disciplines but create multidisciplinary teams.

03 Give them a good deal of freedom and give a good deal of leeway to their particular idiosyncrasies.

07 Give the research laboratories independence in choice of subjects but see to it that leaders and staff are thoroughly

08 Do not try to run the research laboratories on a detailed budget system and never allow product divisions budgetary control over research projects. 09 Encourage transfer of competent senior people from the research laboratories to the development laboratories of product divisions. 10 In choosing research projects, be guided not only by market possibilities, but also by the state of development of academic science. p. 07


REPORT

Energy Harvesters for a more sustainable life A scientist, a teacher, a designer, a new media artist, a multimedia artist, a web designer and an art curator were some of the people who participated in the workshop Neighbourhood Satellites Energy Harvest, led by Myriel Milicevic and Hanspeter Kadel. It was stimulating to see how the different backgrounds of the participants shaped the activities during the day. Given the various skill sets, collaboration was spontaneous and based on mutual help, especially during the construction of the energy harvester. But, let’s start at the beginning… txt – Alessandra Saviotti

Berlin-based Myriel Milicevic and Hanspeter Kadel have been investigating the possibilities of reusing waste energy produced by contemporary cities since 2009. To do this, they investigate questions such as: How can citizens use these surplus energy supplies? What would a local micro-power network – where free energy can be collected, distributed and exchanged – look like? How can we introduce new technologies and how we can use them? They want to use leaked energy as a resource by collecting waste products from urban infrastructures, including light pollution, heat waste from air conditioners, vibrations caused by traffic, and sound pollution. Underground Currents, the first large system of harvesters, was installed in the Neuköln, Neighbourhood Satellites Energy Harvesters

U7-line metro station in Berlin. Maryen and Hanspeter attached small windmills to the platform that were activated by the air forced past them by approaching trains. The electricity generated by the small blades was used to broadcast audio recordings about alternative economies, technologies and societies. Eindhoven is called the City of Light because it is the birthplace of Philips. Here, the idea of building a portable harvester to collect light pollution was simply flawless. Each participant suggested and discussed a way to more efficiently use the waste energy produced in the city. The proposals were very clever and revealed how aware the participants were of the topic. Among others, the most interesting propositions related to the use of energy emitted by people. As a matter of fact, a lot of the waste energy

produced in cities comes not only from mechanical devices, but also from people. Proposals included installing vibration energy harvesters on streets to generate energy from people’s movements, devices that collect the heat emitted by human bodies, and devices that collect shower water. At this point, the goal of this small temporary community was to find a way to connect every device, idea and system not only in terms of technical infrastructures but also to generate new forms of economy. One participant suggested raising public awareness by ‘keeping the process small and local, because in this way decisions are easy to take’. Yes, but after understanding their potential, ideas have to escape from the small communities where they are conceived to be able to change the world one step at a time.

After a productive discussion, the group started assembling the DIY energy harvester. Myriel and Hanspeter provided hands-on assistance in what was actually a really simple procedure – it took everyone less than two hours to construct a harvester that collected light pollution and use the energy collected to recharge batteries. Soldering transistors and wires and handling small solar cells aren’t obstacles anymore if you think about the potentiality your brand new energy harvester might have.

Proposals included devices that collect the heat emitted by human bodies To test how the harvester worked everyone was given a map of the neighbourhood and went outside with the prototype. We wanted to see how much of the light pollution around MU could be transformed into re-usable energy. Shops, cafes, candles, neon lights, hazard lights from cars, Christmas trees, light boxes displaying

McDonald’s advertisements, tanning shops, lights embedded in the ground, video screens and traffic lights were among the light sources tested. All of these produced lots of waste energy to recycle. Now, imagine making it viral around the city. Imagine spreading the energy harvesters from Eindhoven throughout the Netherlands, then to Europe and finally to the rest of the world. I don’t think Myriel and Hans Peter want to solve the global problem of waste energy and pollution, but I believe their intervention made people aware that small changes are possible in our consumer society. Nor do they want to be considered as amateur scientists, inventors, or engineers – their aim is to understand the complexity of a problem through a semi-scientific approach, and then use it in the fertile territory of art to make people aware that through symbolic actions a sustainable transformation could be possible.

Read more about Neighbourhood Satellites Energy Harvest:

Colophon Publisher: Baltan Laboratories Natlab Kastanjelaan 500 5616 LZ Eindhoven The Netherlands Managing director & editor: Olga Mink Graphic design & editor: Eric de Haas Printing: Drukkerij Snep Edition: 2000 Techno Ecologies: Stimuleringsfonds EU fund p. 08

Supported by: Gemeente Eindhoven Thanks to: Irma Driessen, Živa Pikaja, Marius Watz, Wiepko Oosterhuis, Annet Dekker, Alessandra Saviotti, Eric de Haas, Boudewijn Bollmann and everyone who has contributed. Eindhoven, 2013 www.baltanlaboratories.org info@baltanlaboratories.org

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Baltan Quarterly 2  

The Baltan Quarterly is a print publication exclusively focussed on the intersection of art, design, science and technology. This edition...

Baltan Quarterly 2  

The Baltan Quarterly is a print publication exclusively focussed on the intersection of art, design, science and technology. This edition...

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