[ExI] Next Nature
pjmanney at gmail.com
Mon May 19 03:09:56 UTC 2008
Billed as "More than 25 visionary statements from artists, scientist,
designer, filmers, writers…" the Biggest Visual Power Show
presentation of "Next Nature"
came to the historic Million Dollar Theater in Downtown Los Angeles
this Saturday night, May 17th, appropriately across from the utopian
architectural landmark, the Bradbury Building.
"Next Nature is the nature caused by human culture," a very h+
concept. What initially interested me was that Kevin Kelly (Out of
Control) and Erik Davis (Techgnosis) would be among the presenters.
However, it turned out I had read Kelly's presentation essay, "The
Seventh Kingdom of Life" before and Davis' talk on the mythological
relationship between our conceptions of analog and digital was not one
of his strongest, especially since the visuals by Niels Schrader
overwhelmed Davis' thoughts. However, what got me to stay were all
the other artists, predominantly Dutch and all previously unknown to
me, whose work was profound, funny, cutting edge and a
thought-provoking step in understanding humanity's relationship with
nature and technology.
Our emcee for the evening was artist/scientist/organizer/curator Koert
who explained why the Dutch have such a profound appreciation of the
manipulation of nature. The Netherlands is a country that only exists
by dint of nature-changing technology. Reclaimed from the sea, the
land is a densely populated bulwark against the encroachment of the
natural world. The Dutch understand perhaps better than most that
people design and craft the world around us to suit our ends.
My date for the evening was Norman Gilmore, tech
entrepreneur/futurist/software architect/business analyst and fellow
avantgardist. He enjoyed the show as much as I did.
My personal highlights out of over two dozen presentations were:
Joris Van Gelder's magical interaction technology. This young man
just graduated from Eindhoven University of Technology. From his
early studies observing how people bring magical expectations to their
interactions with technology, he developed a "magical" remote control
for Bang & Olufsen which is one of the cleverest, sexiest devices I've
seen. As Norman said, if Steven Jobs doesn't kidnap the boy and ferry
him (magically) back to the Apple kingdom, he's crazy.
Katinka Simonse aka Tinkebell, an animal rights artist/filmmaker,
"mockumented" her slaughtering and skinning her pet cat to make into a
purse. Her fabulous faux-naïveté and sweetness, her political
incorrectness and the gory, graphic how-to images of the all-too-real
skinned dead cat made Sarah Silverman look like a complete wimpy
Filmmakers Rene Daalder and Folkert Gorter, who lead Space Collective,
"where forward thinking terrestrials exchange ideas and information
about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living
the lives of science fiction today." It looks like a fun and
stimulating creative community.
Casey Alt's fabulously slick and disturbing "Slightly Sociopathic
Software" digital presentation called "Vasillogix" was a very American
presentation! Part American Psycho, part Gattaca, part Dale Carnegie,
I highly recommend watching it once he posts the completed film.
Floris Kaayk's film "Metalosis Maligna was another cute mockumentary
about the spread of post implantation infection from metal implants,
causing bodies to sprout chaotic metal structures like a Meccano set
Christian Bramsiepe made a snappy graphic short on intelligent design
(or the lack thereof). [Click on "arbeitsproben" and it should be the
Extreme Green Guerillas, a mockumentary on the ultimate green martyrs:
Even the two dozen or so interstitial videos designed by Arnoud Van
Den Heuvel, depicting a generic car graphic doing clever and
technologically ironic things were well executed.
I expected a bigger turn out for such a wide-reaching program, but I'm
not sure how much PR was done to promote it. It deserved a bigger
audience than it got. Let's hope "Next Nature" travels and gets more
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