De Brakke Grond,
a Flemish cultural center in Amsterdam, invited me to be an artist in
residence for their
Victorian Circus IV new media festival in April 2008. They paired me up with Belgian
artist Angelo Vermeulen, whose work with biological systems and video games I had been
admiring from afar, and asked us to collaborate together on an installation for the festival.
Over the course of about a month Angelo and I traded ideas in email. We slowly settled on a vague
idea involving competition between a robotic system, a human system, and an insect system. When
we arrived we got right to work, improvising with materials we had brought and things we could find
around the building, in the trash, and in local shops. We ended up with a strange plant watering
contraption made from recycled materials, some very wet plants, lots of tape and hot glue,
crickets and mealworms, an ultra-high-tech insect sensing system (two bolts hanging from wires),
and a wide variety of shiney plastic blue things found at a kitchen gizmo store.
We built the installation in an open studio environment, so while we were working people attending
the festival, De Brakke Grond staff, and other artists and students involved in the festival would
wander in and chat with us. We had lots of good conversations with people about trash, techno-junk,
animal rights, cricket feeding and mating habits, bio-art, and "what's that smell?" (it was the
Thanks to: Angelo (http://www.angelovermeulen.net)
for being such a fun collaborator, the staff of De Brakke Grond for their
tireless support and enthusiasm (and for teaching me how to make bread+butter+sprinkles for lunch),
the participants in the Victorian Circus and the DasArts students and faculty,
and all of the nice people who came to talk with us while we were building the installation.
And special thanks to Jan De Pauw for getting the whole thing rolling...