We are happy to announce that from many compelling proposals submitted to an open call for the KABK Research Group 2021, the following have been selected from Fine Art, Vibeke Mascini; from Master Artistic Research, Jasper Coppes; from Graphic Design, Katrin Korfmann, Hannes Bernard and Louis Braddock Clarke.

The proposals were reviewed by Alice Twemlow, Fenna Hup, Rachel Bacon and Martha Jager.

Overview of the participants and their research projects:

Keywords: fertile sediment, environmental debris, New Nature, artistic metabolism, vegetal and geological thinking.

In his essay ‘on art as planetary metabolism’, philosopher Michael Marder describes the human subconscious as ‘plant-like’, rhizomatic and something not centrally governed by a mind. If our subconscious minds act ‘plant-like’, Marder deducts that capitalism might behave along vegetable routes as well: it metabolises inputs into outputs. Marder’s point is that capitalism is really bad at this, quoting Marx that: consumption would eventually result in a metabolic rift’. The indigestibility it entails’, he writes, ‘is trauma - psychic, bodily, environmental, planetary, ontological …’.

Since March 2020, a Dutch distributor of granite has been dumping contaminated granite in several lakes that are part of Over de Maas, an area of ‘New Nature’ in Gelderland. To me, this seems a clear example of a metabolic rift. I also realised that it was exactly the same material I filmed on the muddy estuaries in Greenland–which the country hopes to export to Brazil in the future to re-mineralise depleted soil. As a potential fertiliser in Brazil and contaminant in The Netherlands, this material exhibits an ambiguous status between pollution and restoration.

How, I wonder, could an art project kick-start the halted metabolism of these granite sediments that are dumped into Dutch lakes? How could art initiate a process transforming this indigestibility into nourishment? Marder proposes three artistic strategies which seem particularly appropriate in this axis of pollution/restoration:

1. Create awareness about what nourishes us and what we do with our waste.

2. Expose or display what is indigestible.

3. Unclog halted digestion—act as a catalyst; influence the conditions under which the flows between the extreme ends of metabolism would resume.

The focus of the Design and The Deep Future Research Group presents an excellent opportunity for me to propose a research project that investigates these three modes of artistic production in response to environmental damage. In collaboration with soil scientists and local activists, I will investigate the indigestible/nourishing aspects of granite dust. I also plan to visually map the ‘extreme ends of metabolism’ in this case: comparing resource sites in Scotland and Greenland and destinations in The Netherlands and Brazil. As in previous projects, to contextualise my field research, I will publish a series of short essays that propose ways of ‘unclogging the halted digestion’ between the above mentioned geographical and mental positions. These essays will inform a new, long term filmproject.

I will share the outcomes within the MA Artistic Research, my international network (especially the Reading Landscapes group at the GSA) and other platforms at the KABK and beyond. I strongly feel that continuing the research that I started on the topic of solidarity at the KABK has now taken a direction that offers exciting new perspectives for my own work as much as for the research community at the KABK. I feel it is time to look at environmental practices less as a theme within art and to start thinking about the environmental aspects of art itself or, in Marders words, ‘to think about what the battered world will do to us and with us’.

Film still from Aasivissuit (2020)

Keywords: Contamination as collaboration, Proliferation of digital photography, Image waste, Materiality of Image Data, Collaborating with Image ruins, Circular ways of living, Re-use, Post photography

Can methodologies that evolve from non-anthropocentric ways of living such as contamination as collaboration, polyphonic assemblage, circular systems, coexistence, interspecies relations and impermanence be adopted for artistic methodologies that reflect on, engage with and activate digital image debris? How can I, as an artist, use these methods to animate, materialise and transform digital photo waste into post photographic art?

My proposed artistic research project reflects on non-anthropocentric ways of living described by, e.g., Ana Tsing, Emanuele Coccia and Donna Haraway in conjunction with the proliferation of digital images and the thereby growing problem of digital Image waste.

It is well known that we produce a huge amount of physical garbage on a global scale. But the fact that we also generate an enormous quantity of digital image debris is discussed much less. Every day, millions of photographs are produced, shared, ignored, discarded and forgotten. We live in times of visual acceleration, consuming and producing more and more images in less and less time. Through our increasing deployment of multiple captures, bursts, post-production edits and our prolific sharing, the photographic image exists in a state of continual flux. The quality of cameras on our smartphones is constantly improving. We now have the possibility of scanning the world around us at any moment everywhere. I am because I can capture, archive and share my experience in the form of a photograph. In turn, this becomes my memory and the glue for building our virtual world. But whereas memories can be forgotten, image data is burned on hard disks and stored in infinite growing data center, energy sucking digital landfills called ’the cloud’. But what happens with the virtual waste that appears from the constant proliferation of digital photography? Can we possibly use these leftovers to flourish artistic strategies and creative methods?

Making art in times of pandemic, makes collaboration, affinity and symbiosis more urgent than ever. I recently exchanged my key concepts with digital artist Chris Core and designer Céline Hurka, and we founded the art collective Wastescapes Extended. As a team, we will experiment with digital photographic leftovers of my most recent project Wastescapes. Wastescapes Extended will use my image trash from the series Wastescapes for the creation of art and design. This forms the first layer of the application I herewith want to propose to you.

During the KABK research group 2021, I want to engage with digital photographic leftovers, those forgotten unsolicited image data, and use them as material.

For this project, I want to form an alliance between artistic methods that derive from non- anthropocentric ways of living in conjunction with processing digital photographic Image Trash into art.

I want to gain knowledge of and investigate photographic Image Trash. What is the definition for image waste? How, why, and where is photographic image debris located and stored? Who owns it and who has the right to delete it or keep it in limbo?

Accordingly, I want to delve into non-anthropocentric concepts of collaboration, coexistence, interspecies relations and circular ways of living and activate these concepts in my creative making. Here, I want to develop artistic methodologies that embrace, adopt, bond, experiment with and care for photographic Image debris.


Keywords: care, caretaker, ownership, property, autonomy, thing, nature, natural resources, law, agreement.

Based on the vulnerability of nature conservation in a legal system based on ownership, can the legal role of a formal ‘caretaker’ be a meaningful example of imagining other ways in which a person or institution relates to nature and natural resources? Can the relation of ‘caretaker’ instigate an alternative notion to property, one that invites and demands awareness, mindfulness and care?

The Caretaker is a practice-oriented research project that investigates the legal role of a ‘caretaker’, the specific relation (including limitations and responsibilities) of a person or institution and a natural resource that by law cannot formally be owned. Departing from a previous artwork of mine (This Giant Time, 2019) as a case study—a project in which I incorporated spermaceti that I had no formal ownership of. I will explore caretaker-ship as a more mindful relation between beings and so-called ‘things’. With the help of a legal adviser, I will research, map and speculate over alternatives to ‘property’ of nature and natural resources in which the notion of responsibility has a central role.

In daily life, we often take part in financial transactions that are ethically opaque. With purchasing a product or ‘thing’, we are granted ownership over this product or thing generally without having to deal with ethical questions regarding the source of its production. Taking for granted that (the building blocks of) these products we bought have been rightfully extracted in the first place. There is a question of ownership that goes way beyond labels such as ‘Fairtrade’ and ‘biological harvest’ and critically and profoundly questions if there are subjects and objects in this world which cannot and/or should not be owned?

Some products are deemed illegal to own, either because they are considered to pose a threat to the functioning of our society—as is the case for instance with certain drugs or toxins—or because they are (extracted from) resources or species which are under conservation or protection. Relating to products is deeply engaged with the ethics of property and responsibly. The latter, however, is often undervalued or entirely absent. With my research, I will be critical of the notion of ownership without responsibility when it comes to the ownership over nature and natural products and resources. Changing the relation to ownership almost instantly changes the relation to waste, which is something I also look forward to explore within the research group.

This Giant Time, 2019 spermaceti, wick, functioning clockwork with antenna. 170x70x40cm

Keywords: Accelerationism; Anthropocene; (Cyber) Time Crisis; Deep Time; Technocracy; Political Fiction; Generative Narratives; Design Imaginaries; Media Appropriation & Scraping; Collage & Pastiche; Gesamtkunstwerk.

The Long Now is a non-linear, multi-channel video and audio ensemble and media research tool appropriating the narrative conventions and thematic structures of an opera. The work is developed and generated by a series of machines and databases of text, images and video footage while coded scripts prompt new and original montages and musical compositions with each edition. This format allows for novel approaches in theory and fiction writing, artistic and media research. Media scripting in combination with methodologies such as scraping, sampling, coding and design-fictioning produce divergent outcomes and unexpected iterations: creating a multitude of speculations on the future of time—including some not imagined or intended by its designers by re-appropriating and re-purposing contemporary (digital) media artefacts into new narrative imaginaries on crisis. The generative soundtrack, operatic compositions and vocal samples are made in collaboration with O Future, an LA-based duo best-known for their minimalist orchestral electro and soundtrack scoring of Lars von Trier’s Melancholia and Ai Wei Wei’s Vivos. The Long Now also commissions original recordings from the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Development of The Long Now is supported by the Danish Arts Council.

The Long Now examines various themes concerning cultural and social relationships to time. The work explores (and mediates) the often volatile contraction and collision of vastly different time scales, from the deep geological and cosmic time scale through the temporal malaise of ‘the end of history’ to the rapid techno-acceleration and urgent, impending crises imposed by rapid climate change. The work is prompted by a series of discussions between the late cultural theorist Mark Fisher and leftist Italian philosopher Franco 'Bifo' Berardi on the ‘Slow Cancellation of the Future’: a disruption in cultural time present in the late stages of globalized, neoliberal capitalism. Their analysis explores some of the cultural and temporal implications of economist Francis Fukuyama’s notion of the ‘end of history’. They suggest that contemporary music, art and pop culture are trapped in a feedback loop of nostalgia: hardly capable of presenting something new or exhilarating. Meanwhile, technology—specifically within the digital sphere—has become the seemingly singular channel to parse human progress and hope for the future regardless of industry’s production of digital waste and influence on climate crisis acceleration. These diametric temporal trajectories are brought into direct conflict by the impositions of an ‘Anthropocene Media’, whereby deep time (and its vast geological scope) bursts into the present as a series of shocks and stutters across social media posts, timelines and news headlines.

From this thematic background, The Long Now assumes a retro-speculative narrative projection — asking how we might look back upon our current age and from what possible future realities? This design-sci-fi framing raises several research questions:

● What kind of alternative imaginaries might form around such stark contrasts without falling into the trap of reproducing existing pessimisms or dogmas?

● How can artistic research and cultural production accelerate new futures for existing narratives of environmental, political and economic stagnation?

● How might a more pluralist reading of the contemporary time and environmental crises be engaged in non-linear narrative or by the (re-)appropriation and re-use of popular mass media and discourses?

● Can critical theory be queered and fictionalised along ideological lines through generative art?

These questions provoke a discussion on new formats, techniques or digital technologies that would support imaginative alternatives and pluralist perspectives in contemporary media. If novel scripting or composition tools can overcome the stalemate of ‘no future’, how might they function and relate to existing methods of artistic research? And can they foster interdisciplinary (and remote) collaboration between artists, designers and musicians through a generative, digital gesamtkunstwerk?

The approach of The Long Now is to explore new ways of interpreting, relating and interpolating the problematics of the present day – which we often experience as a series of disconnected shocks or disruptions via media. The work attempts to engage and synthesize a more pluralist definition of this present by adopting a (speculative and fictional) future position. The Long Now processes these layers of complexity through a fictitious storyline and generative techniques in the tradition of programmatic music in performing arts such as opera and ballet. The work, however, does not aim to provide a singular answer or account but rather brings together (in visuals and dialogue) the various agents, components and aesthetics that contribute to the topology of the present in a more pluralistic fashion. It does this by sampling and adapting theory writing into fictional script-writing, as well as through scraping, sampling and re-appropriating popular media artefacts into generative narratives.

A technical prototype of the installation and generative operatic system.

Keywords: Extraction, Phenomena, Anomaly, Field, Anthropocene, Melt, Paleomagnetism, Artificial, Landmasses, Spooky-action.

Out of Focus samples the shifts in iron magnetism at Cape York (Greenland) to navigate the entanglements of mineral extraction, indigenous cosmology, post-colonialism and climate change. How do we design and build live interfaces for sampling Earth’s changing textures?

In the proposed geological era of the Anthropocene, we observe rapid and artificial shifts in the land, both above and below our feet. This is seen in the western idea of nature as ‘the other’ and land-grab domination mentality, where zones of climatic changes present themselves.

My position in the field of media arts is to disassemble the idea of ‘the other’ and develop collective knowledge through research, tools, formulas and narratives—adopting an all-inclusive creative ethos. The work and research trajectory I undertake propose alternative ways of seeing, reading and communicating with our rapidly shifting climatic landscape, a characteristic that is almost intangible to humans. The topographic and artificial landmasses of the current contemporary landscape breathe a necessity for new perceptions and technologies that encourage different understandings and altering of perceptions. Methods will be examined that question the mode of vision as a primary source of knowledge production and instil new languages into processes of Deep Time and the Earth.

The research trajectory of Out of Focus follows themes of data overload and analyses what kind of materials influence geological frequencies. A mode of dematerialisation is used to develop storytelling to suit the methods of the project, Design and Deep Future. In Out of Focus, I explore the uncertainty of science as being a poetic value within the fragile nature of landscape frontiers. This process uses the design of ‘phenomena’ not only as a research theme but as a dramaturgy to plot and link geospaces.

Research for 2021 is concentrated and embedded within the geo-spatial, post-colonial and native-cosmic conditions of Northern Greenland. In this terrain, an uncovering occurs – as the Arctic melts, mineral conditions influence technologies of ice. A journey takes place involving historical accounts of meteoric harpoons, nuclear-powered research centres, paleomagnetic inversions, primal energies, throat singing ecologies and disseminated drilling licences.

Research is separated into the following:

  • Dialogues on Earth: Interviews
  • Testing the Earth: Materialities
  • Instruments of Matter: Technologies and geo-tools
  • Research Fossilisation: Editing and public dissemination
  • Cinema Expanded Expedition: Film case study

The primary outcome focuses on a full-length documentary film traversing the specific site of Cape York, Greenland.Throughout the film we encounter the 2021 research presented in performative interviews. Essential for the out-comes are the ‘Instruments of Matter’, (geo-tools) as immersive multimedia installations that produce sound-data to embellish sensory textures on visuals.

Digital Desktop Collage. Research arrangement show-casing Tupilaq (Inuit Demon), Cape York meteorite, and Greenlandic landscape.

This year’s Research Group differs from those in previous years in that selected tutor-researchers will work not only on individual projects but also collaboratively, as a group, on a range of initiatives and interventions that respond to the central imperative of the Design & the Deep Future research project.

The project explores ways in which design and art can intervene in or interpret various aspects of climate catastrophe, planetary degradation and the loss of biodiversity. Sub-themes include, but are not restricted to:

  • Geological time

  • Infrastructures of waste and trash

  • Repair and re-use

  • Matter and materials

  • Bio design

  • Space junk

  • Digital detritus

  • Plastics and microplastics

  • Ferality and contamination

  • Climate imaginaries

  • Climate migrations

  • Climate justice

The collective aspects of the group will include creating a lexicon of key terms (visual and text), collating an open-source library of references and resources, nurturing an international network of allied researchers and making and sharing essays (text, audio, visual and video). We are also concerned with developing and explicating new methods for researching this topic and for embedding it in education at KABK. The Group’s work will culminate in a conference, publication, online platform and exhibition at the end of the year.

Tutors in all departments (both in Design and in Fine Arts) were invited to apply, provided that they will be employed as a tutor at the KABK for the full duration of the Group March 2021 - February 2022. Tutors selected for the Group will attend at least 10 all-day gatherings and use the time between sessions to further develop their projects. Participation is compensated with an extension of 0,2 fte in the ‘jaartaak’. For freelance tutors, an equivalent provision is made.