In September 2015, the new Research Group of the lectorate Art Theory & Practice took off. Participants for the academic year 2015-2016 are Anja Hertenberger (Interactive/Media/Design), Els Kuijpers (Graphic Design), Ewoud van Rijn (Fine Arts), Judith van IJken (Photography) and Joost Grootens (PhDArts). The Research Group is chaired by Janneke Wesseling.

Anja Hertenberger, work in progress, 2016


The need to deal with the overload of information we are confronted with nowadays has given rise to a new approach to graphic design, described as information design. Information design shares the cultural ambitions of graphic design, but it cannot do so without explicitly addressing the technological and political context in which it operates. Information design sets itself the task to synthesise vast amounts of data into clear and manageable narratives. This process demands fact-finding, editing and translation into formats that allow the reader/user to instrumentalise the information. Throughout history maps and atlases have presented such a format. A major change took place when digital tools became available that challenged some of the fundamental aspects of the map and its graphic language.The research question underlying this project is: What are the narrative devices for maps now some of its fundamental notions have lost significance through developments in digital technology? And as a sub-question: How can maps on paper remain a relevant and urgent format in the Information Age?

JOOST GROOTENS studied architectural design at Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. As a graphic designer he is self-taught. His studio designs books in the fields of architecture and urban space, specialising in atlas and map design.
Grootens is head of the Master Information Design at Design Academy Eindhoven. He has also lectured and been an external examiner at various institutions throughout the world, among them KADK Copenhagen, ETH and ZHdK Zurich, écal Lausanne, ISIA Urbino, RCA London and ENSAD Paris.

Anja Hertenberger works with so-called wearable technology and e-textiles. In these fields the relationship between body, technology and environment takes centre stage. In her proposal she combines theories about the body, movement and the senses with material-technical and technological experiments and an exploration of body awareness methods. The aim is to develop new teaching tools for alternative uses of sensor technology and soft electronics in art practices.

ANJA HERTENBERGER is an artist who researches identity in relation to media, surveillance, power, control and man-machine interaction. Her research takes material shape in interactive installations, performance art and e-textiles, which have been exhibited in Germany, The Netherlands and several other European countries.
Hertenberger is involved in the E-Textile Workspace at V2_ in Rotterdam. She is also one of the main developers of the e-textile/wearable technology lab ‘WEtec’ that was recently implemented at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. In addition, she teaches interactive design and interactive textile, curates for the Media Art Festival Friesland and has co-organized the SOFT symposium that took place at the KABK in 2014.

Graphic design as a form of visual communication is part of a long and interdisciplinary history of communication. Els Kuijpers asserts that conventional research did not invest (enough) in this rich and complex design discourse. In order to address this lacuna a history of mentalities of the design practice would need to be written. The insights following from this account may constitute the preconditions for a broader concept and practice of design, because of its socio-economic orientation.

ELS KUIJPERS is a critic, teacher and curator in the field of visual communication and culture, who sees design (like writing) as cultural (that is value) production, an interest that stems from the assumption that language (visual and textual) constructs meaning in dynamic, social processes.
Kuijpers was head of the research center and editor academic publications at the Jan van Eyck Academy, Maastricht; curated exhibitions for Kunsthal Rotterdam, Museum voor Communicatie, The Hague and Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; conducted international MA workshops on editorial design and lectured widely at art and design schools in the Netherlands and abroad. Author of Ootje Oxenaar (010 2011), And/or extended (nai010 2013) and Strategies in communication design (Vam 2015).

Ewoud van Rijn proposes that play and ritual, held to be central to spiritual practices, also are active constituents in the production and presentation of art. In case of the art practice, however, the possibilities for the audience to partake in the production of art on the level of content, meaning and significance seem to be limited. That leads to the research question: how can play and ritual be conditions for art production and at the same time function as frameworks for audience participation?

EWOUD VAN RIJN is an artist who lives and works in Rotterdam. His work is fueled by the recurring discussion on the end of art. This has led to an artistic research into the remnants of ‘dead’ cultures and the rise of spiritual (neo-pagan) traditions.

Today, more than ever before, we are surrounded by pictures of ourselves, states Judith van IJken. With these images in our head we are well aware of what we look like from different points of view. What is the influence of this (hyper)consciousness of one’s own representation on the development of the photographic portrait? Van IJken combines sociological, art historical and philosophical literature research with practical, photographic experiment. The aim is to gain a better understanding of the meaning and significance of the photographic portrait in our time and to open up discussions and debate with students.

JUDITH VAN IJKEN graduated cum laude at the photography department of the HKU University of the Arts Utrecht in 2001. She continued her studies at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. Her work has been exhibited throughout the world, for instance in Amsterdam, The Hague, Shanghai, New York and Budapest. She combines her art practice with lectures and workshops at art schools such as St Joost Masters in Breda and Parsons School of Design in New York and with a teaching position at The Royal Academy of Art in The Hague.
The central theme in the photographic work of Van IJken is the relationship between individual and social identity. To what extent is personal identity determined by social context and to what extent is each individual capable of determining his or her own identity?