Author: René Rieger


Nanotech Generates the Blackest Black

As the NANO Supermarket opens discussions on the ethics, purpose and usability of nanotechnology, Frederik De Wilde is researching its artistic possibilities. De Wilde is a guest professor at the Transmedia program at the LUCA School of Arts in Brussels and artist in residence at the University of Hasselt. For a few years he has used nanotechnology to generate “super-black” artworks.

One technique is to ‘grow’ carbon nanotubes on a silicon wafer. When a photon approaches the surface it slips in between the nanotubes, and cannot be reflected. Because colors are generated through the reflection of photons, the surface of De Wilde’s artworks appear to be blacker than black. When applied to a complex 3D object it appears to be just a silhouette, because no reflections, highlights or shadows can be seen. The works of De Wilde are reminiscent of Anish Kapoor’s Descent into Limbo shown at De Pont in Tilburg, Netherlands.

Frederik De Wilde takes part in a selection for the TED2013 programme with his talk. Good luck with this.

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Walter Benjamin on Film and the Senses

During the late 1930’s the philosopher Walter Benjamin wrote its widely influential essay ‘The work of Art in the Age of Its Technical Reproducibility’. While describing a general shift in the arts and their perception and warning about the possible exploitation for political purposes his work examines carefully the medium, especially photography and film, and its sensual aspects.[1] He attributes a tactile and palpable quality to film that elevates the medium and stresses its meaning for the human collective.

Benjamin formulates a historical task of film, ‘which is to gain control over technology and its effects.’[2] For him, film is an exercise for the senses to adapt ourselves. It were the ‘successive changes of scene and focus’ that were ‘a true training ground’ of modern perception.[3] Film thus corresponds to the changes that each passerby experiences in big-city traffic.[4] On the one hand the ‘filmic stimuli transcend the category of purely optical impressions’, on the other hand they stay safely or visually enframed in the screen.[5]

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Hiking in Hypernature

An escalator to the top of the hill, for people who like nature but don’t like to hike. This photo was taken at the Montjuïc in Barcelona two years ago. See the original photo here.


Flap to Freedom

It works like this. Position yourself with a friend in front of a battery hen and flap your arms as fast as you can when the music sets in. The harder you flap the faster your bird will move towards a hole in the chain fence – which means freedom!

This installation was displayed at the Village Fete at the Victoria & Albert Museum, where young British designers show their talents. One of them, the creator of Flap to Freedom, is Chris O’Shea, an artist and designer who uses technology to create interactive environments.

O’Shea’s work shows that machines and technology can respond to human needs in a fun and playful way.  However, Flap to Freedom doesn’t work like a rollercoaster or DVD player. Through the interaction emerges a certain connection between human and machine that could change our perception of them. It stands in the tradition of Philippe Starck’s design, which is intended to give the object a place in the human environment. The device becomes our companion and colleague.

Watch the video here.