open mind

open mind 2010 february

On February 25 and 26 of this year, Pavlov E-Lab organized a small-scale presentation of the project Open Mind / Misdirection in the freezing cold, in the street.

see here for video

Julian Vincent argued that one should learn from nature and from the power of art, so we can learn how to deal with misdirection without danger. “Go back to your natural origins” he pleaded, after having given us many different examples of misdirection techniques.

Mo Stoebe’s abstract video images of different forms of optical illusions were of an un-earthly quality, like Kubrick’s Space Odyssey in 2001, and Arnold Veeman’s music made you wonder whether you were listening to city noises or music.

The audience bravely withstood the bitter cold, and joined us for a mug of hot chocolate afterwards. Below you can see a number of photos taken that night (by Roelof Bos).

For this edition of Open Mind Pavlov wanted to focus on bionics once again, as it turned out that the study of structures and processes in nature is a rich source of inspiration for artists.

Naturally we invited professor of Bionics, Julian Vincent, to join us again, as he is one of the leading scientists in the UK, as well as a creative spirit. Besides, he has a strong urge to experiment, and is currently working on a book about design recognition in art and in nature. Filmmaker Mo Stoebe and composer Arnold Veeman both work in an abstract design language, and are both looking for new ideas and concepts in science.

After having worked together intensively for the past 15 days, they concluded that every work field has its own limiting factors: methods, focuses and arenas. Here the differences between different art disciplines can be just as big as between art and science. It is a challenge to discover in which cases the different limitations have a surplus value and may lead to new insights, and in which cases they paralyze each other. It was also motivating to work towards a performance; it gave us a direction and it forced us to make choices together, so discussions weren’t just for the sake of debate.

The discussions that took place early on in the process actually lead to something constructive, and no concessions were made. This resulted in great scenes with contents sometimes having to combat form and poetry, with factual information.

The performance was actually realized together: Arnold presented his composition, based on the twelve-tonal system as underlying limitation, which was then turned into a time-line with time-slots that are accurate to the second, spread out over text, images and sound. Julian came up with the misdirection theme, and pointed out a possible direction, with his encyclopedic knowledge of natural techniques. Mo was in charge of the visualization, after having analyzed optical illusions like Buster Keaton did, for instance. His images were the visual spine around which texts, music and additional images were created.

 / / / / how it all started

We live in an urban jungle filled with deception, and we swim in a stream of images and sounds that promise us all kinds of things. Advertisements promise us eternal bliss, ultimate health and fuller, softer lips. On Facebook everyone only presents his or her best sides. Are they city sounds or is it music?

If the truth depends on the way you look at it, how do you know what is true? Which principles are hidden behind these deceptions? What can we learn from processes in nature?

In January and February biologist Julian Vincent, filmmaker Mo Stoebe and composer Arnold Veeman will explore the theme ‘misdirection’ together. They get their inspiration from nature and the arts: they admire the work of Buster Keaton and M.C. Escher, who were both masters of optical illusions, but they are also interested in the octopus, who is a true camouflage artist. They will try to develop a toolkit that will help the modern city dweller cope with deception.
The different approaches and individual temperaments of the participants promise a fascinating process and an intriguing performance!

open mind, stage 1 - a report
After having worked together intensively for a five-day period, Mo, Julian and Arnold continued to realize their work individually.

Julian started writing texts for the musical scheme, which will include some ‘hardcore science,’ as well as more easily accessible parts. They are made to fit Arnold’s stringent scheme: a time line that is accurate to the second.

Mo went out to shoot film material of his ‘white cube of misdirection’ in the freezing cold this week, in the large Frans Maas hall: an old, industrial, cathedral-like construction in the middle of nowhere. This expedition brought Mo and his assistant Diederik Stevens in a Stanislav Lem state of estrangement; a kind of Stalker-like universe in a vacuum, with the earthly rumble of trains shunting, and the shrill sound of the freezing wind whistling through the building’s cracks and crannies in the background.

In the morning work was done on the different white cubes: they were tested and then immediately improved: a clear case of 'rapid prototyping'. Building, testing, constructing, testing, approving, recording… The vast scale of the building is apparent in the film footage, and the subterranean sounds are also included. We were worried that the white cubes might not have enough character, but we’re not concerned about that any longer. The texture and atmosphere of the building give the white cubes a ‘rough edge’, and every other location in the hall leaves its traces.

Mo will now fly back to ‘planet London’ so he can do the editing as soon as possible, and we will then see each other in Bath next week.

Arnold’s orchestra has also been assembled: about 10 musicians will try and tackle his graphic score. He wants to compose both tonal and atonal pieces. One part will be dedicated to Mo’s images, and the other will be performed with his deceptive musical techniques.

Next week we’re off to Bath: two days of hard work, and then the performance will take place on the third day. Julian is busy promoting of the event, as we speak.

open mind - stage 2
about the workperiod in Bath

On the last day stress kicks in as the performance is pressing us to make decisions and work hard to match the deadline. We will present at he Royal Literary and Scientific Institute, which has a long history of experimential and innovative presentations. Bath has been a place for that kind of spirits for a long time.

Yesterday the working session was great. Julian and Mo discussed what kind of principles are at work in the video's and how that would combine wiith the actual text of Julian.

Arnold gave his perspective from the music point of view. The real interaction of ideas we wanted. We also made some decisions about the 'dramatic' structure of the piece.

And finally the public presentation. Afterwards there were heated audience debates. It was very usefull to get feedback from the audience on what we're doing in this stage. The result of the day that sticks in my head: science and art both choose their own constraints...that might be compatible or not.

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who / what / where
subject misdirection
participants Julian Vincent, Mo Stoebe en Arnold Veeman

date 25 and 26 february 2010
performance 19.00 - 20.00 - 21.00h
location De Beren - between supermarket de Jumbo and Het Paleis. see here for google maps
duration 30 minutes per performance
atmittance free


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