This happened, the art edition

Last evening the third edition of This happened Utrecht took place in Theater Kikker. As always four projects were introduced by the makers in 10 minutes and 10 minutes of discussion with the audience completed the story of the making of the product. And as the previous editions the talks were interesting all in its own way. This time their were three out of four art project in contrary to the events before, which gives interesting insights.

Last time I discovered a central theme that was not intended by the organizers of This happened (Kars Alfrink, Ianus Keller, Alexander Zeh). This time I can’t say I found a theme that obvious, apart from the mentioned art angle. Maybe you can say that the craftsmanship in creating the solution was an analogy in the projects, but in the end this is more the central theme of This happened of course.

The craftsmanship was clearly visible in the work of Lucy McRae which she make together with art partner Bart Hess in the collective Lucy and Bart. The journey of discovery to the perfect ‘textile sausages’ shows the dedication of the artists to come to the perfect image. It was fun to hear how they organize a weekly Wibra-session (yes, the low prizes shop that is) to find ideas for materials to create their extended humanism.
Craftsmanship also in the way the two work seamlessly together in getting to the ideal image. In turn the one is the photographer and the other the model, which influences the image, but not the overall concept.
It would be interesting to see if the new projects will reach the same seamless shared craftsmanship.

The second talk was by Blendid. Also a duo, but this time also simultaneously presented by David Kousemaker and Tim Olden. They took us in their quest to the right solution for the interactive installation Swarm. The Swarm consists of a great number of wireless steered balls (Wixels) that can take all colors, hanged like a swarm. The installation was part of an exposition on light art in Eindhoven. The challenge was the form of the swarm itself, but more interesting the way the swarm should have to interact with environment (e.g. people). They choose a interaction based on walking by visitors. The balance between predictable interaction and surprising interaction is very important; you don’t want it to react to directly to the moving person, there should be an element of surprise part of it.
It would be very nice if in the future the Swarm could visualize external data and is transformed to an interactive and open platform. And even better if we could just buy a bag of balls so we can organize our own swarm.

Spoken on craftsmanship; Aldo Hoeben showed the way you can use the wall of a church as a projection screen without any distortion. He developed an intelligent system of reshaping the projection form and intensity of the light depending on the color of the projection wall. Step for step he developed this in an ideal manner. If you want to experience the insides of the Willibrord church in Utrecht you need pass by this installation for sure.
In the future this kind of project models could be very interesting for integrating real life with video streams. Especially when interaction with the projection is possible.

The last presentation of the night was the only on a ‘normal’ product, in the sense it is no art project. Anouk Randag presented her graduation project where she designed a dance-floor that can absorb the dancing energy of the clubbers and translate this to energy for light. With the aim to reduce the footprint of a club, but even more to generate consciousness of the growing environmental problems.
She focusses on the process she used to interact with the users to gather insights. She used brainstorms and gave clubbers a kind of (paper) notebook to describe their wishes. And she investigated the technology options.
It was nice to see that see transformed her original idea of a energy floor to a more flirting and other interactive gaming experience. I also liked the modular character of the floor so you can build every combination of dance floor.

In the end it was a very interesting evening again. With a lot of attention to the possibility to craftsmanship as part of the development, something that could also become the distinctive value of a designer.

Looking forward to the next This happpend on october 26.

Published by


I am a design director at Structural. I curate and organize ThingsCon Netherlands and I am chairman of the Cities of Things Foundation. Before I was innovation and strategy director at tech and innovation agency INFO, visiting researcher and lab director at the Delft University of Technology coordinating Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.

One thought on “This happened, the art edition”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s