We’ve been to see CODED MATTER(S) in Amsterdam

10 Oct

Sjef van Gaalen explores codespace.

Coded Matter(s) is produced by FIBER (Amsterdam, NL)
info@fiberfestival.nl / www.fiber-space.nl

I’m in Amsterdam – more precisely, up on a balcony in the Flemish arts centre De Brakke Grond – for Coded Matter(s): Unfolding Space, the first in a series of events organised by the audiovisual network FIBER. We’re gathered here to explore how digital technologies are changing the fields of art, design and music.

The city isn’t just bricks and mortar any more, you know: it’s become infused with the network, code fusing with material hardware to form a new “codespace”. This is the kind of Smart City rhetoric you’ll have undoubtedly encountered over the last few years – but don’t knock it. If nothing else, it’s been generating an extraordinary visual repertoire:

Networks and the city merge: Timo Arnall’s Immaterials

3RD by DUS Architects and Monobanda

You can find out more about LAb[au]’s practice in their monograph MetaDeSIGN.

The introductory talk by Michiel de Lange is, well, introductory, and Els Vermang of LAb[au]is here to do little more than show and tell. Moco Raffael Ziegler of Elektropastete promises more. For a start, he’s rocking a bad-ass Spock Shirt. His snappy presentation shows the evolution of Elektropastete from the joking “Verein zur Förderung Elektronischer Tanzmusik” (Society for the Promotion of Electronic Dance Music) to a legit company doing award-winning work for high-profile agencies. It’s basically another projects show and tell, but their work with projection mapping and drone swarm installations are well worth checking out:

Daniel Berio rounds off the evening. He created the Graffitizer, the only physical installation present at the event:

The installation algorithmically generates vector shapes based on Berio’s sketching style, then projects these onto a paper screen while a plotter draws on the shape outlines. The machine can be left to auto-generate works which Daniel sees as just souvenirs of the installation; but he also has a GUI through which to tweak the variables and steer the form of the output, using it to generate other artworks, paintings, and laser-cut 3D collages.

A wrap-up panel discussed the dread level of these new technologies, and explored questions of ownership around the codebase that enables and underpins these works. It ended the way these panels usually end — with the hapless panellists having to explain what art is but a performance of Trinity by Oscar Sol and Iris Heitzinger, aka Electronic Performers, brought the evening to a rousing conclusion.

An IR cam captures the dancers’ movements, then uses the stage floor as a projection canvas upon which algorithmic augmentations of her movements are mapped, creating an exploration of sound, visuals and human movement through space that successfully delights and disturbs. If you have a chance to see this performance live anywhere I highly recommend it.

This was the first Coded Matter(s) event in a series that FIBER are running alongside the annual FIBER Festival, and I’d say overall it was a success. It sold out and the waiting list was long, so better get your tickets on time if you want to attend the next event on Sunday 10 November, the afternoon matinee Sound Hackers. An investigation of new expressions in sound and music, it features a great roster of interactive audio works and talks. See you there?


Sumit Paul-Choudhury loses his musical grip. Read “Midnight at the Singularity Disco” in Afterparty Overdrive (Arc 1.3), out now.

Also on the blog: multimedia curator Honor Harger talks to Simon Ings.

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