DreamTimeObjects was initially developed for a submission for Henrik de Vries Stipend 2022, though I was nominated I didn’t win it. But I had already sank quite some time in the installation and decided to go further with it anyway. To me it feels like a milestone-project. One of the works that binds several categories and years of research together and finally it shows what all the effort was for.
DreamTimeObjects is an installation about objects dreaming and forming their own shape. Loosely based on aboriginal mythology where everything was one cosmic soup once and over time dreamt about their own existence and shape therefor shaping themselves. I want to illustrate this by outfitting an object with AI, stylegan3 is used in this particular case trained on custom curated datasets. I chose Stylegan3 for two reasons the first is simple, it is well documented and fairly easy to work with for people outside computer science training. Second, and more important, is that the structure and architecture of this AI is very similar to how the brain produces dreams. The brain cannot ‘make’ anything from nothing, it can only synthesize dreams, thoughts, ideas from things it has experienced or seen before. Try to think up a new color, it is quite impossible for all the colors you will come up with will be a derivation of already existing and seen colors. So by outfitting a seemingly dead or inanimate object like a stone with AI trained on a dataset of stones the AI will dream about stones. To make a connection between the object and the AI I decided to do resistance measurements, the same technique used to measure EEG and ECG, on the object which will give the starting seed for the AI to produce a dream.
I think it is very mesmerizing to be surrounded by these dreams dreamt by the object in the room. To me it is a very visceral experience, almost like watching an animal for the first time and you’re not yet sure whether it is friendly or not. Due to this ambiguous feeling of safe or unsafe the whole becomes quite intriguing and mysterious. Like remembering a lost memory or finding back a totem of once great personal experience.
The ultimate goal within this project is the audience also being able to translate their ECG data into these transformative dreams. It is within the scope of this project that human and object can break out of their form and melt together.
During the making of Norns I got familiar with Alvin Lucier and especially with his work ‘I am sitting in a room’. It triggered something in me that I found extremely interesting. A large portion of that also got incorporated into the software of Norns but I wanted to do more with it.
I found the same principe of recording a recording over and over again in saving a .jpeg image over and over again. Due to the compression of jpeg you lose information of visibility but you gain artefact information which forms a new and before unknown image. Much as with ‘I am sitting in a room’ where the initial recognizable sound gets lost but a new sound of built up sonic ambient resonant artefacts is made.
In ‘Ode to a Master [Mk.I]’ a photograph in .jpeg format is saved about 200-times building up compression and pixel artefacts. Every pixel in the image gets sonified by its changing R, G, B value due to the artefacts slowly forming as growing crystals. Mk.I is appended to the name because I see this as the first iteration of the work. While working on it I realized that the saving of the jpeg image is a nice parallel but not actually being one on one with ambient resonance. I tend to further develop and investigate this project to come to a satisfying conclusion on finding digital data resonance.
The work SACROFAAG / SARCOFAGUS is a work that revolves around the idea of transitioning from one thing into another after death. When we die the body starts to decompose and breaks up into all the different tiny elements that compounds our body. On a human-scale we cease to be, while on a micro-scale we transition from one state into something else. Continuing life in a transformed state.
The large print in the work, a necrogram, is a static visual made by microbial lifeforms that live in grave dirt. The microbes are placed on a photographic piece of paper, eating away the gelatinous layer and leaving a mark in it. This process takes about 8 to 9 months, referencing to the prenatal-state of life.
A large custom-made scanner travels over the necrogram reading the image in terms of luminance. The scanner takes about 75 years to travel the whole width of the necrogram. It feeds its data to a piece of audio-software made by Studio HEX made up of a granular and additive synthesis. The sound that gets produced travels the room the work is shown in and mixes with the ambient sound. Recordings are made by the work that act as a base for the granularization. Incorporating the sound made by the work and surrounding ambience. It stretches that sound and builds upon it. Layering sonic memories while producing new ones.
The whole work is transformative over time by growing and adding layers on top of the base of its creation. Transforming. Evolving. Living.
Loci is a site-specific sound-installation that incorporates several contact microphones in an environment. It makes the hidden sounds of objects in that environment audible. Creating a mystical real-time experience within the surrounding. The project aims in giving the spirit of the place an audible voice by enhancing the atmosphere through sound.
Norns is an interactive installation based on the concept of the transformation that occurs on a timeline. Regarding the personal entropy one is not able to control or change the direction of the entropy. For example a warm fluid will only cool down over a period of time or a falling vase will break into shards but the shards will never form a whole vase again. Because of personal entropy we recall our past and not our future.
Within Norns I explored the idea of being able to influence the entropy by being able to alter the transformation over time. Norns does this by using ambient sound, passing it through custom written feedback cancellation software and sending it through the room the installation is in. The microphone picks up the sound again, which is slightly changed due to the accoustics of the room, and repeats this process until the original sound is no longer recognizable and a whole new sound is created. Which illustrates the transformation over time.
Because the whole set-up is based on interaction and mobility the transformation of the sound changes upon where the different carts are in time and space. Because the source of the sound changes in regard of the room the accoustics also differ therefor enabling the users to control, or influence, the sound. The big green button on the pushing handles gives the user control over the activation and through that control they contribute to the shaping of the new sound.
Very special thanks to Edwin van der Heide for guiding me in this challenging project and period of my life. ❤
For the Groningen Cultuurprijs 2019 Davey Smand was approached to think of something as a goblet or plaque to give accompanying to the big cheque prize. Because it is so fundamentally Groningen, Smand thought the prize also had to be something typical Gronings.
In Groningen there is a long tradition of growing and processing sugar beets, so that aspect had to be incorporated into the prize. Something else that is typical Groningen is the Martini Tower in the city. The locals lovingly refer to it as d’Olde Grieze, which translates into the Old Grey One. Fun fact, the tower used to be higher but in a war with the Venetian pope centuries ago the original top got shot off with canons. In the end the Groningen people defeated the Venetian pope making them even more proud of their tower withstanding the canon fire, at least most of it.
The prize itself is the outline of a sugar beet cut in a laser cutter with a translucent photograph fitted inside.
Zwarte Zwanen, Black Swans, is the photographic interpretation of White Swans. It tells about the double layered nature of the landscape of Drenthe. Where once was a rich Saxo-Germanic culture now the only thing that remains is emptiness. Except for the ones that look for it. For the ones that seek that culture can still find remains of former holy places. Trees, ponds, en marshes on first sight only actors in a desolate landscape but when looked closer, when one can reconnect with the landscape you can find where the gods and elves once lived. Where the humans came to worship and where the deities whisper from the trees or gurgle from the marshes. Be careful that they don’t lure you into the darkness and get lost, for the ancient world is a place of deceit, passion and illusion.
The titles White Swanns and Black Swanns is based on the children’s rhyme:
White Swanns, Black Swanns
Who will go with me to England
The gate is closed and the key is broken
won’t we find a blacksmith that might repair the key.
In Anglo-Germanic culture the kingdom of the dead was in the west. Seen from the Netherlands, England is in the west, therefor it is a metaphor for the kingdom of the dead. The living cannot enter the kingdom of the dead which explains why the gates are closed, only a blacksmith can make or repair the key for the gates. In those times the blacksmith was often also a shaman, for he works with the enigmatic iron. And the shaman is the link between the land of the living and that of the dead.
A commisioned work for the Groninger Bodem Beweging, a party that solves earth quake related damage and other structural problems in Groningen, The Netherlands. The commission was an interactive installation that revolved around the mental health problems that occur with people that live for a longer period of time in earth quake territory.
One of the many problems is people having anxiety attacks, when described they have common grounds in having the feeling of being paralyzed, nightmares and walls closing in on them. This feeling of helplesness was tried to recreate in this installation. The visitor would get into a vacuumbed which would simulate the feeling of constriction and paralyzation. Then the visitor wears a VR-glasses with an interactive visual of a nightmarish bedroom.
The idea was not to recreate the earth quake itself, but the suspense leading up to it. The insecurity and fear.
An interactive installation based upon the pre-Christian tradition of Drenthe, a province of The Netherlands. Whitin this Germanic-Saxon culture they believed that the gods were in the shape of formless energy instead of human form. Also they believed this energy lived inside trees. They performed rituals with sacred trees to come closer to their gods.
The installation is heavily influenced by the ideology of Renee Munnik who states: the more we rationalize the world around us through technology and science, the more we return to a world of mythic proportions. This through the fact that truths are unambiguously and there are reality contaminations through by example the shifting of the online and offline world.
Within White Swans the visitor is given an EEG-headband that measures brain activity and converts this into sound and video. The visual is projected upon a reflective surface that is being moved by a tree. Thereby the visitor and the tree make this magical experience.
“Someone who always has your back, unconditional love and support, does not get angry when you don’t have any time. Turns off the lights, plays your favorite music or shows and reminds you of everything you need. Sounds too good to be true? Not anymore, AffY is the cute and loveable sidekick you have always wanted. Geared up with an impressive AI, AffY is the non-judgmental companion for you, it’s great with humans but also with other another AffY. Get one and find out for yourself.”
AffY is a hugable caretaking robot that is especially designed to keep you company. With it’s silly sloth-like shape, furry outside and strong hands it will hug you and never leave you again.