Blog about our residence as part of the Summer Sessions network in a co-production of UNTREF and V2_ Lab for the Unstable Media, with support of the Creative Industries Fund NL.
Updated week by week.
Thanks for reading 🙂
This week we were busy finishing all the things we needed for our Near Strangers installation to be ready for the Test_Lab: Summer Sessions 2017. We painted our wall, placed all the Circuit Portraits on it, connected everyone and then placed the Memory Sound Box in it’s place.
It was a week full of hardworking and now we feel very happy with the results. We are very grateful to the V2_ staff, who were always there to help us. We are also very grateful to Javier Lloret, who helped us A LOT, or as we would say, “nos echó un cable” in more than one occasion.
Here you can see a bit of our last days:
And also, we wanted to show you a part of Rotterdam that we are really going to miss: The Maastunnel. This is a tunnel made for pedestrians, bikes and motorcycles to cross the Maas river, which separates the city in north and south. Ride with us through this video!
Also, some pics of the Charlois Gang (that’s Claudia, Tin, Juan Camilo and I, who lived south in Charlois during this residency):
This week was about production and exploring Rotterdam’s surroundings. We made version 3 of our Memory Sound Box, replacing vertical image format with horizontal to work better with photos of places. We also finished most of our Circuit Portraits and decided to use pixel LEDs instead of single LEDs for their backlights. We are now working on how both projects will be connected and placed in space at our final exhibition. And last, but nevertheless, Yeoul’s korean dinner initiative was this week’s cherry on top.
On Tuesday we made our first roadtrip! We went to Utrecht with Tin (our colleague from Croacia) particularly to visit the Speelklok Museum, which has an amazing collection of self-playing musical instruments. We were so lucky that we arrived just before the musical tour, in which we could hear and watch this incredible machines working. Besides this experience, we really enjoyed the city’s old canals and historic centre. Utrecht used to be a roman fortress around year 50 a.C. and then became an important medieval city. Now it hosts the largest university in the Netherlands and it’s #4 biggest city in the country.
On Saturday we went to The Hague. What an amazing city! Full of modern buildings and parks. We arrived by metro from Rotterdam and then went to the beach by bike.
After dipping our feet into the North Sea, we headed to the opening of Jan Kees van Kampen’s Lingua Franca, a sound installation exposed at a World War II bunker! We were really amazed (almost hypnotized) by Kees’ work, developed at the Royal Academy of Art. It’s hard to describe, but it was an installation in which water and light were modulated by sound waves. It was a dialog between algorithms. A room (in this case, a bunker) was filled with low frequencies which were literally visible thanks to a kind of oscilloscope made from water coming out of speakers and a strobe light. It looked like magic. YES. As if Jan could play with time, freezing it and then turning water into a new state of matter, one between liquid and gas… I told you it was difficult to describe, so we’ll try to explain it with photos (which were actually very difficult to take due to the strobe):
This week we started producing our first object prototypes. The first one was the Memory Sound Box. On week 2 we built a box and realized that we needed a more accurate way of working with sound. We decided to put the speaker, the sensor and the volume control in the front of the box. So now, the first thing you see on the front of the object are two spaces: one for the picture and below it, one space for the speaker, sensor and volume.
We also began to test which is the best paper to print the portraits and later transfer them onto the copper plates. The results of our first attempts with ordinary paper were not very good, but when we used a different material (a transparent sheet for laser printing), a notorious change in the transfer process happened. We are still researching which is the best paper here (similar to the one we used in Argentina) to use as a substitute of the PBC printing paper.
On Thursday, V2_ organized the Network Session, in which we met people from other institutions/fields and introduced them to our work. Delicious snacks and drinks were flowing as our guests visited our work spaces, where we could show them our working progress. Several of the attendees found our work interesting and shared their own stories about their Near-Strangers with us. Later on, we asked them if they wanted to be part of our portrait network project.
On Saturday we had dinner at Rae’s place with our Summer Sessions’ colleagues. Everybody had to cook something and dessert was our responsibility, so we made some vegan arroz con leche. Everyone cooked so delicious that we want to keep on doing this (hopefully) every week.
This week was very soundy. V2_ hosted the ambient edition of Noodlebar *serving you the best in electronic music since 2012* on Thursday (or donderdag in dutch). Magnus (our Summer Sessions’ colleague) presented his set with hypnotizing radio sounds and beautiful textures. We watched Elfferich & Moll playing minimal music on their keyboards and then we felt into a dreamy-like state with Dråsa‘s loops and voice. At the end Nacho Córdoba came with his FUEGO, a dialog between him and an unknown machine which he says allows him to travel through time. For sure we traveled to the 60s when we saw his BBC-Radiophonic-Workshop-looking Caja Negra. Also, on that same day we met Tin from Croatia, another of our Summer Sessions’ colleagues. He will be working with sound and e-waste.
On Saturday we went to an opening in DordtYart (Dordrecht), called Sense of Sound. We took the WaterTaxi, arrived at Dordrecht, saw an old windmill (!!!) and after eating something at Villa Augustus, we headed towards the expo. The venue was an old fabric with lots of reverb and light coming from the glass windows and ceiling. The place was filled with instruments and sound-making machines. Some of them were old and some of them were new and ready to be used, like the ones made by Hans van Koolwijk. A composition with beautiful notations was made for the Ensemble Interface and they performed with Koolwijk’s strange and beautiful instruments specially made for them. The result was quite mesmerizing. By sunset (which is pretty late during the summer, aprox at 21:00 hrs.) we were back in Rotterdam dancing to amazing sounds from Africa at the Festival Magia ❤
Regarding our work here, we started thinking about how it will look at the final exhibition. We decided we are making portraits of all the people we meet here and then hanging and connecting them to form a big network of known and unknown strangers. Juan made some renders of how it could look, but we still are thinking about presenting it outdoors:
We also made some amplifiers for our Memory Sound Box project: boxes with pictures that tell/whisper stories about near-strangers meeting.
After travelling for 15 hours, I finally arrived at Rotterdam, a beautiful city full of nature, bikes and people from all over the world.
When I got out of Rotterdam Central, the city’s main train station, the sun was up and the wind was super strong. I actually struggled while walking with all my stuff to V2_, a big green building surrounded by trendy galleries, bars and restaurants. When I got there, I first met the people from the office, this big place that looked so not like an office to me because they have this cave-like surface and this transparent-plastic walls to separate their workspaces, which is actually very cool. There I met Alex, Dineke, Norman, Anne and Steffan. I gave them some alfajores and then I went down to meet the rest of the team: Jan, Florian, Boris and Sebastian.
After all this, I went to Wolphaertstraat 74B, our new home. We live here with Ash, a girl from New Zealand that studies art. We loved it: its a super-illuminated, all-white-painted duplex. The hard part was climbing the super narrow stairs with my luggage. The easy part was falling asleep after a long trip from Buenos Aires.
Once I showered and slept, I went to V2_ for a reunion with all the other artists of this year’s Summer Sessions. I met Claudia from Portugal, Rae from Taiwan, Yeoul from Korea and Magnus from Norway. We had some dutch beer and then some pizza. A few hours later, at midnight, Juan Camilo arrived (!!!)
During this week we’ve been working on our project, thought as the work we’ll develop during this residence in which we are outsiders being welcomed and welcoming others. We are interested in working with technology as a way of preserving the human experiences and memories behind the migration crisis in Europe. The concepts behind this project are the following:
Our first project, the Circuit Portraits, is a series of reactive portraits that invite the audience to meet and hear some near-strangers: strangers that we see everyday, that live with us and still, remain as strangers to us. These portraits react to touch or proximity and when they do, they reveal themselves or tell a story. We believe that human interaction is fundamental for social integration and this project invites us to take one step forward onto meeting someone we normally wouldn’t. Here’s a bit of register of the work we’ve been doing: