Why I like James Turrell

Posted in Art, quotes and advices, Transmedia Research by tpdr on December 24, 2009

2 quotes from the website of De Pont museum in Tilburg (the Netherlands) summarize why I like James Turrell’s thinking:

– As a pilot and cartographer, Turrell knows that theoretical models, which have been developed in order to understand light, color and space, have only limited validity. His observations from the cockpit are, for him, an important source of inspiration: the changes in light and color that take place with a change of course at twilight, or the influence of fluctuating weather conditions on one’s perception of space. ‘If you go high enough, you can see the reflections of light on the moon change,’ he once said in an interview. ‘The color changes as the light glides by. You can know things without touching them, without handling with them, even without being there. You can feel things with your eyes. Observation is much closer to thought than words are.’

– ‘I’m interested in invisible light, light that can only be perceived by the mind,’ says Turrell. ‘I want to address the light that we see in dreams. I’m interested in doing works that seem to come from these places, in order to create an experience of wordless thoughts.’

I share his idea that theoretical models only have limited validity when it comes to understanding light, space, … . It is my reason for being interested in subjective maps. At the moment I might even be moving more into his direction as I am working with light and projection also in oder to create this kind of environment to take people to a different space/place.

Also like Turrell I am fascinated by the different colors of light one can perceive at different times of the day or in relation to the weather conditions. Even at night, with the artificial lights I don’t find the spectacle less interesting. Even though we don’t really pay attention to it, all these artificial lights have a different color and are also, maybe not in the same amount as natural light but still, influenced by the weather conditions.

My idea at the moment is to start again from my first light experiments with the see-thru-mirror wall and the rgb -pixel-tracks (see video doc here) and base my content on a particular/specific/chosen location. My goal can somehow be described as an attempt to create a visual and auditive personal/subjective representation of this chosen location, to transport its atmosphere into an exhibition space, like Robert Smithson in his ‘Non-sites’-pieces, create a hyperlink between the exhibition space and the chosen, outside and distant location. You could say that I am trying to see if I can make a ‘subjective map’ people can walk through. If holograms would exist I would maybe use these…but since this is not the case I will stick to my see-thru-mirror (which comes close to a hologram kinda feel in some way, especially with the projection on it), colored light and sound(when you consider sound to have a sculptural/physical aspect…one could say sound can also be some type of hologram).

The thing that needs the most attention for now is what to do with the sound-part. The best way to integrate it would be to make it the equivalent of the see-thru-mirror foil. This would mean that I would need to think about what mirror-sound or mirroring-sound would mean and what transparency could mean when applied to sound. This will need a new post obviously.


Toshiya Tsunoda

Posted in MediaArt, Sound Art, Transmedia Research by tpdr on December 16, 2009

Long time since I made a post here, but that is also because I have been looking for inspiring artists and works. Since a few months I have been focussing on reading about architecture and sound. Doing this I got interested in Japanese sound artist Toshiya Tsunoda. His technique to do field recordings using contact microphones to capture the vibrations in different materials that are present at a certain location (or should I say in a certain ‘field’), captured my attention. Especially the fact that he focusses on these environmental vibrations points out that our environment is constantly in motion, it is alive. Also buildings can suddenly be thought of as ‘living things'(e.g. in 2000 at the ICC in Tokyo people could listen to the walls, to see pics and read more click here).

To hear some samples of one of his albums Solid Vibration click here. Inspired by his work I started thinking more about vibrations and the fact that even all we believe is immobile, our environments are in constant motion. Of course in some cases it is quiet clear that they are in motion, evolving, in flow, etc. But this is not always the case. Thinking about this I started wondering whether this could be somehow combined with my passion for mapping and cartography, taking into account that I have been working on a subjective mapping project in the past that was all about setting up a dynamic, personal/subjective map.

Building a Mediated Environment (video documentation)

Posted in Transmedia Research by tpdr on August 24, 2009

I have put a small sample video online to illustrate the experiments I have been doing with the minimal setup of a projector, a see-thru-mirror-wall and 2 rgb-pixeltracks. The video images porjected on the mirror foil and the wall behind it are of my own creation, even though they are a temporary version. The sound is a mix of my own remix of solar sounds provided by the SOHO (SOlar Heliospheric Observatory) with added sounds and bleeps from COH for the final part.

To see the video click here to be directed to the vimeo site.

Setup of ‘Building a Mediated Environment – Transmedia Research 1.1’

Posted in MediaArt, Transmedia Research by tpdr on August 24, 2009
In the previous post I promised to add more documentation so here it is. Feel free to watch new pics here1s.

Building a Mediated Environment – Transmedia Research/1.1 (Transmedia Input Year 2009)

Posted in Transmedia Research by tpdr on June 9, 2009

The mediated environment I was planning to build was supposed to become a mirror room, made of 4 see-thru-mirror walls. The single visitor inside would be confronted with a virtual landscape, projected on the outside of the mirror walls. However as the viewer moves around the space, he will trigger the lights on the inside of the mirror room, eventually making it so bright inside that the walls become mirrors again. At this point they would reflect each other and take the visitor to a sort of endless space. The displacing effect would be a reference to the displacing effect of media, connecting us to different spaces than our own. At the same time I would be researching the integration of media in architectural space, connecting myself to the field of Interactive Architecture.

As this project depended strongly on the effects and characteristics of the used materials, it took a little more time than my other works to get it going. At this point I have started testing different see-thru-mirror foils/filters and built one wall in order to try and combine it with a projector. The images below are all taken while experimenting with this first, basic setup (not yet using the landscape images). As this led to some unexpected results, showing the projected image slightly on the see-thru-mirror foil, showing the same image more clearly on the normal wall behind the mirror wall and creating a distorted, reflected image on the opposite wall, I decided to stick with these effects a little longer. I also added RGB-Led-tracks that originally reacted to the footsteps of visitors, however in the video documentation I will post soon it responds to music which I find less appealing.

As every new step exposes new possibilities I feel like I have to take my time to document each result and evaluate its possibilities in order to find new solutions, to change direction or to use some revealed effects for other projects.

As this is clearly a work in progress, I will post new documentation regularly, also commenting on the results, problems that need to be solved, new inspirations, etc.




Carlos Cruz-Diez

Posted in MediaArt by tpdr on February 28, 2009

About a week ago I found this colorful spread which had to promote a work by Carlos Cruz-Diez (°17/08/1923, Caracas, Venezuela). The ‘folder’ was published by Hans-Ulrich Obrist of the Serpentine Gallery in London, but the most interesting information I found on the homepage of Carlos Cruz-Diez. The work, which was promoted, is called Chromosaturations and is an artificial environment. As a visitor you enter three small rooms, next to eachother. One is a filled with green light, a second one with red light and the third is colored by blue lights. On pictures I thought it looked already interesting because you can really see the mixing of color on the ‘borders’ between two rooms. Then again I realised the effect in reality must be a lot stronger since color is perceived and generates ‘after-images’.

As Carlos Cruz-Diez has been researching color in art for a long time, and since he also wrote the most important information in a pdf on his site, people interested in color should really read this document.

Media Ecology

Posted in Theory by tpdr on February 12, 2009

This post is based on a text I wrote last year for a seminar called ‘Media Ecology – Beyond Cross Media”, under the inspiring guidance of mr. Willem Van Weelden.


‘Media ecology’ (ME) is not easy to define, but still I will make a modest attempt to be as thorough as possible. At the same time I will try to make clear in what way this field of research could still be interesting to me in the future.

Actually I am a real fan of the term ME, because as Matthew Fuller also remarked, both words individually carry a big load. (Matthew Fuller, 2005, Media Ecologies, Materialist Energies in Art and Technoculture. Cambridge Press MIT, p.2) The word ‘media’ refers to a whole domain and ‘chain’ of different media types, including the process of ‘remediation’. Instead of eliminating each other, old and new media help one another to find their (new) place in the media landscape. For example the invention of the Internet did not main the end of television or newspapers, but it did force these media to change their way of functioning. The second word, ‘ecology’, refers to the study of organisms, their structures, their mutual relations, their dynamic behaviour, …, in short the study of the systems related to living organisms.

Neil Postman described the term ME in 1971 as the study of how media influence our perception, feelings, values and our chances of survival. He would also describe it sometimes as the study of media as ‘environments’, linking the term immediatly to the actual study of ecology, but in both cases the most important subjects for him were the structure, the content and the impact of the media. In one way or another people are influenced by their media environment, especially when we talk about their behaviour, feelings and actions since the aspects of the media related to their structure and content determine how and what we can communicate or use the media for in a given situation or context. (Wikipedia (open content), n.d., (, 20/04/2008)

In the same period Marshall McLuhan also defined ME. To him it was about studying the way we could connect all different media in a way in which they would help each other instead of eliminiating one another. (Wikipedia (open content), n.d., (, 20/04/2008) When you put it in this way, I am afraid it feels to much like a definition of ‘cross mediality’. This last term also often seems to have become a fancy word, especially used by ‘marketing boys and girls’ trying to impress their client or boss. In this way ‘cross mediality’ just points to much in the direction of ‘trying to get a commercial message to the customer in as many ways as possible’. To me ‘cross mediality’ doesn’t go much further than ‘an excursion along different mediated moments’. ME, in my opinion wants to go beyond this, which is why I prefer a more moralistic and filosophical definition like the one of Postman. At the same time I have to remark that his description needs an update. These days you can hardly separate the structure, content and impact he mentioned, especially with the new technologies we know today. I guess it needed somebody with a more contemporary view, like Matthew Fuller, to redefine this field of research.

According to Neil postman, media also shape the cultural norms and values, the political and social organisation of a certain society. (Jensen Dehaes (jan 2005), ‘Scouting a New Media Ecology’. (, 20/04/2008). In this way he already suggests a certain interdisciplinarity, but it is Fuller who mentions this in a more explicit way by refering, in his book ‘Media Ecologies'(MIT Press, 2005), to thinkers in the domains of literature, cybernetics, filosophy and art. The examples he uses in the same book to underline certain thoughts emphasise this approach by linking ME to phenomena like hacking, revealing the political and social concequences at the same time. As for one of most important remarks, I would have to refer to the connection he makes between ME and the ‘merzbilder’ of Kurt Schwitters. This statement reminds us of the thought that by connecting different components, the outcome of this becomes bigger than the usual outcome of the addition of the components. This phenomenon seems to be the consequence of the poetic potential that can be found within every object, by means of associations or by formal aspects. In this way a ‘conceptual-in-between’, an extra meaning as meta data appears as part of the connections. To Fuller it is there for important to consider the way in which we can become aware of and make use of these new dimension of the objects. (Matthew Fuller, 2005, Media Ecologies, Materialist Energies in Art and Technoculture. Cambridge Press MIT, p.1-4) Because of the links he makes between ME and literature this comes very close to what you could call ‘intertextuality’, again refering to what happens in the ‘in-between’, the ‘inetr’ of two contents or two objects.

I would propose that, taking into account the fact that content, structure and impact are almost completely mixed up, we add the interdisciplinary insights of Fuller to the original definition of Neil Postman. ME should in this way pay more attention to the extra meaning that comes with objects by means of their aesthetic or poetic potential and the meta data of their connections. The suggestion of Fuller to examine what happens when certain connections are made, by studying the effect actually making these connections, seems to me to be an important proposal when it comes to a workable methodology.


I am aware of the fact that even after this attempt to define ME, the term still remains sort of ‘slippery’. Part of this is due to my insufficient knowledge of the theories of certain filosophers, quoted by Fuller. On the other hand the field is still very dynamic, which is a positive thing for me, but it makes it hard to give a clearly defined description.

In another text of Matthew Fuller ‘Towards an Ecology of Media Ecology’ I could conclude that we are moving in the direction of more media ecological projects that try to mix media ecologies with natural ecologies. First of all this would mean that we will try to create works that take the ecological consequences of media into account. Secondly, future projects will try to examine ways in which ecological organisms can create a powerful alliance with certain media.

We can be sure that media will be more and more interwoven with our natural/physical environment, and since all these networks we already know today take care of the global connections, it is not so strange that people will look for a this kind of opportunities. I am looking forward to the future and lets keep an eye on this to make sure we discuss new developments in a thorough way.

Wunderkammer Oh Wunderkammer

Posted in MediaArt by tpdr on February 6, 2009

The Wunderkammer, also known as Cabinet of Wonder, Cabinet of Curiosities, Kunstkammer and Wonder-room, were first created mid-sixteenth century, even though they were still a piece of furniture, a cabinet. As soon as the cabinets became to small for all the objects relating to history, ethnography, natural history, geology, aercheology, religion, art, etc. they became real rooms. These spaces could be seen as a microcosm and a theater of the world or even a memory theater, all precursors to museums. Controling this microcosm one could feel like a ruler of the world, but what I find interesting is that I can imagine people getting aware of their own modest position in the world and feeling connected to the outside world in a mental way standing in this homely space.






I have been interested in this concept since a long time, just last year I worked with a collection of objects as representation of my own mental world, my own memory theater. Also looking at artist inspired by the same concept of Cabinets of Curiosities, like Wesley Meuris or Hans Op de Beeck, I have kept thinking about it. Then I sudenly noticed a relation to a project my colleagues at Transmedia and I have been working on these last months. The project is called the Magenta Room and is based on the Dream House Project of La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela and deals with the concept of inside/outside. For more details you can check the blog, but I just wanted to explain more about the relation with the Wunderkammer as I mentioned.

Working with the idea of inside/outside the Magenta Room filters the natural light comming in, changing the contrast and increasing the recognition of subtle changes of the sunlight. At the same time, during the daytime you can look from the inside at the outside but when it becomes dark outside the filters become a mirror. One extra is the fact that we are also working with the sound of the sun. This sound from outer space, hearing it while having two feet on the ground inside this rather small room, in combination with the previously described effects, made me feel like I think I could feel standing in a Wunderkammer. To be more precise, as I mentioned before, I think you can also in this room feel connected to the rest of the world, even feel connected with outer space and reflect on your own humble position as part of this bigger cosm.

In short I associate the feeling of microcosm meeting macrocosm in one room with both the Wunderkammers and our own Magenta Room. Talking to the senior researcher who initiated this project, Frans Evers, about this, he concluded that it this sense we could call the Magenta Room a possible 21st century Wunderkammer, which is fine by me. Still one major difference has to be put forward on this context, namely the fact that the Wunderkammers were stuffed with objects and the Magenta Room, on the contrary, is a totally empty room, no objects that are not part of the architecture.

For myself I can conclude now by saying my thinking about how a Wunderkammer should look, will never be the same again.

Some Advice 1.0

Posted in quotes and advices by tpdr on December 10, 2008

At the moment I am taking part in this workshop called Trans Architecture/Environmental Media. During these sessions I took some notes that I think should be put in a list so I won’t forget about them, but they might as well be useful to others. Most of them are quotes from Frans Evers, our senior researcher on this project.

  • Before the 70s artworks could be categorized rather easily. Since the art world has become more complicated it is hard to see in which field you belong so you should just create your own field or even better your own ‘inter-field’.
  • Artists should also ask themselves what the ‘connectedness’ of today’s society does with with our sense of presence or tele-presence.
  • Try to think impossible possibilities. Never mind the present powers of technology, imagine what could be possible or should be possible in the future and simulate it.
  • Don’t forget to read texts written by artists.
  • Seduce instead of trying to manipulate your audience, because everybody manipulates so you don’t need art for that.
  • An experience can be really powerful, especially when people feel they are trigering it themselves.
  • Try to trigger the emotions and memories of your audience so they will create their own adventure.
  • Always pay attention to what the environment provides. Often you can use a lot of things/information/objects/etc. that are already there.

#End of list