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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

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.

Profile for Baltan Laboratories

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...