This happened UTC flies again

Last Monday another This happened Utrecht toke place in the Akademietheater. The 14th edition already, the first with a new team, as founding father Kars stopped, and Alexander is doing the Amsterdam edition now. Ianus is the constant factor doing Utrecht, now together with Evelyn and Tijmen. It was an amusing and interesting edition. A short report.

The biggest attraction up front was without any doubt the Orvillecopter, a stufffed cat made into a Drone like flying object. Bart Jansen is an artist creating installations and paintings. The cat is his own cat that died by a car. It turn out the head need to be replaced due to miscalculations in the molding interior. The weight was the biggest issue. He showed nice the different attempts he had to make to get the thing right. In the end a stronger engine did the job. The Orvillecopter crashed the evening before and one of the rotors was broken, so no live flying performance, still a great thing to see in real life.

Another public magnet was the touch lamp Fonckel of Philip Ross. You can think what you like of the form and the touches you need to make, it is definitely touchy.  I found especially the process interesting; how he used dansers to let the product become human like. Great thinking, there is a big movement in making products with real character especially in with connected products. People like Russell Davies and Toby Barnes do great presentations on that. I found it a bit disappointing how the research was translated in the product; it is rather one dimensional just a fancy on/off switch. It is a great lamp with great operations, but the character the dansers had is not met, like the part where the dancers are teasing the reader. I hope a next version will be enhanced with sensors that can react on your behavior in the light, instead of just touch controls.

A very good presentation by Diana Wildschut of the Knopjesmuseum (Tweak show). They showed the struggle to let their work present and the way guerilla tactics do the trick. The installations emerge from the performance. She did hardly show anything of the product, only of the context of creating and bringing it to the user, which is the main part of the interaction. Very This happened in that sense. I hope I will be able to experience the installations myself one time.

A big part for arty installations this time at This happened. Or a frozen installation as you the Fonckel lamp. Maybe a representation of the team, or just a good fit for the This happened-way of storytelling. We will discover when we see what the next edition will bring.

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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.

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