[ISEA2011] Paper: Rudi Knoops – Curiosity as an artist’s brief


In this paper I will discuss some of the techniques that I use as an artist to instill curiosity. The criteria for my ‘discourse’ are set out by Stephen Bann in his book “Ways around Modernism” (Stephen Bann, 2006) wherein he formulates an “ambitious brief for the present-day artist in respect to curiosity”.

I will elaborate on this brief with references to my own work, and show how a media-archeological mindset, facilitated by a strong interest in and linkeage between art and science, can be an important source of inspiration for an artist.

Being a media artist, I try to expand the code of the video apparatus by subverting parameters of the medium. One media-archeology based technique that I employ is re-injecting analogue elements into this highly digital apparatus. The technique of anamorphosis is one such analogue form of mediation that I employ in my PhD research: using multiple cathoptrical anamorphoses with multiple optical (analogue) ‘lenses’ as mediators between the digital apparatus and the observer.

This approach touches the core of my PhD research wherein I explore how interventions on a number of parameters of the video apparatus can generate a sense of wonder and curiosity with the observer, in search of a contemporary iteration of the concept ‘cinema of attractions’ (Tom Gunning, 1990).

‘Cinema of attractions’ being an everpresent undercurrent surging to the surface whenever the fascination for and the explicitation of the medium takes the lead.

It is clear that this stress on curiosity as part of an artist’s brief also has an impact on research methodologies being used: research through design could in this context easily be rephrased as research through curiosity.

Finally I will take this discourse one step further: if the artist succeeds in passing through (part of) his own deeply personal mode of curiosity to his audience, only then can curiosity start to offer the building blocks for a new epistemology for the present day (Madeleine Grynsztejn, 2007).

  • Rudi Knoops studied literature and communication sciences. He has worked for the Audiovisual Services of the University of Leuven (Belgium), Behoud de Begeerte, VRT, Kunstenfestivaldesarts. Presently he is lecturer at the Media, Arts and Design Faculty (MAD-faculty) in Genk, Belgium – a collaboration between KHLim and PHL – and in his audiovisual arts practice he focusses on literature, science and/or music related themes. In a research project in the arts MULTIPLE voice/vision he further elaborates his research interest music/audiovisual arts. September 2010 he started a practice based PhD wherein he focusses on multiplicity in audiovisual arts: Exploring the multiple in a ‘cinema of attractions’Media-archeology offering inspiration for a methodology of deconstruction and subversion of the perfected apparatus that video has become,  he uses multiple instances of specific interventions in search of a contemporary iteration of the concept ‘cinema of attractions’. rudiknoops.com

Full text (PDF)  p. 1388-1394