[ISEA2011] Panel: Jerome De­cock – MetaDe­Sign “De­sign­ing a (pos­si­bly or seem­ingly in­fi­nite) range of pos­si­bil­i­ties”

Panel Statement

Panel: The Volatility and Stability of WorldMaking as Techné

Al­though sell­ing or ex­hibit­ing ideas as a work of art – a prac­tice ini­tially de­scribed as Con­cept Art – has be­come com­mon prac­tice, the re­sult­ing arte­fact is often con­strained in space and time, ma­te­ri­al­ized by traces, act­ing only as clues that can be only truly and sub­jec­tively cap­tured by mem­o­ries. Sub­cat­e­gory of the afore men­tioned prac­tice, Process art be­longs, as its sched­ul­ing is sug­gest­ing, to the per­for­mance cat­e­gory, as a Rube Gold­berg ma­chin­ery can­not pos­si­bly ac­quire eter­nity and not even pre­tend or fake it. Enter the realm of Sys­tem Art, de­sign­ing and link­ing processes while build­ing a lex­i­con, ef­fec­tively and prac­ti­cally end­ing up in not only cre­at­ing the music but the or­ches­tra and the in­stru­ments which go along with it. Sys­tem Art can be cat­e­go­rized by an­a­lyz­ing the sys­tem’s in­puts and out­puts, from the self con­tained al­go­rith­mic ma­chine that be­longs to gen­er­a­tive sys­tems to the hy­per­linked glob­al­ized and re­al­time-ex­pand­ing con­nec­tive sys­tems. It does allow for in­creas­ing com­plex­ity through the mul­ti­pli­ca­tion of pa­ra­me­ters, his­tor­i­cally link­ing it­self to the con­cept of “Oeu­vre to­tale”, at least through the con­junc­tion of media, where data can flow un­ob­structed thanks to dig­i­tal­iza­tion. Method­olog­i­cal by na­ture, Sys­tem Art does bor­row in­dus­trial meth­ods and an­a­lyt­i­cal ap­proach, both in con­cep­tion and pro­duc­tion, only for­giv­ing about de­on­tol­ogy or ef­fi­ciency as it does not want to be true as sci­ence or pri­mar­ily prof­itable. It does spread the deeply human need to un­der­stand, con­trol and tres­pass tech­nol­ogy or as the cy­ber­neti­cist from the 60’s would put it, “aim for an un­re­stricted co­op­er­a­tion in be­tween ma­chines and minds”. Still in its in­fancy, its sta­tus pro­gressed from “utopia” to “prospec­tive pro­to­types” and to “ar­tis­ti­cally and tech­ni­cally ap­proved” in the last few decades. This pre­sen­ta­tion will cover some “his­toric ref­er­ences” and “the­ory one-lin­ers” and mainly a few ex­am­ples ex­tracted from the re­cently re­leased mono­graph of LAb[au], or­ga­nized by sys­tem type and praxis, com­ple­mented by some artist’s works ex­hib­ited at Me­di­aruimte, LAb[au]’s cu­rated art­space in Brus­sels, Bel­gium, cov­er­ing an ever broader scope of ac­tual prac­tice and con­sid­er­a­tions in Dig­i­tal Art.

  • Jerome De­cock is an media artist and elec­tronic en­gi­neer who is one of the found­ing mem­bers of LAb[au]. Founded in 1997, LAb[au] is an artist group lo­cated in Brus­sels, Bel­gium. It has been founded with the aim to ex­am­ine the in­flu­ence of ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies in the forms, meth­ods and con­tent of art. With a back­ground in ar­chi­tec­ture their mem­bers and pro­jects are con­cerned with the con­struct of ‘space’ and the way it can be planned, ex­pe­ri­enced and con­cep­tu­alised in an in­for­ma­tion age. Even if their pro­jects can be clas­si­fied as ur­ban­ism, de­sign, art, music or dance they all are grounded on an ar­chi­tec­tural think­ing. The at­ten­tion lies in the re­la­tion be­tween ar­chi­tec­ture, light, mo­tion and sound and ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies. Fol­low­ing the cy­ber­net­ics agenda, the pro­jects of LAb[au] deal with processes and sys­tems based on rules. The set­ting of these rules be­comes the major artis­tic act, the cre­ation process, defin­ing the con­tent and mes­sage of the art­work, it’s ar­chi­tec­ture as code. This method, which LAb[au] qual­i­fies as ‘MetaDe­sign’, is de­ter­mined by the tech­no­log­i­cal and artis­tic pa­ra­me­ters. It fo­cuses on the tran­scrip­tion of in­for­ma­tion and its processes to tex­tual, graphic, vi­sual, sonic, spatial… forms, arte­facts. The group name of LAb[au] in­hab­its a pho­netic and a writ­ten mean­ing – the one of the French pro­nun­ci­a­tion ‘labo’ stand­ing for an ex­per­i­men­tal ap­proach and the one of ‘bau’ (ger­man word for con­struc­tion) for the prag­matic re­al­i­sa­tion of pro­jects. This al­liance be­tween the­ory and prac­tice mo­ti­vated the group to found the gallery ‘Me­di­aRuimte’ in the city cen­tre of Brus­sels in 2003. The gallery work stands for LAb[au]’s typ­i­cal func­tion of a col­lab­o­ra­tive agency as for a trans-dis­ci­pli­nary work. LAb[au] showed its work at Kunst-Sta­tion Sankt Peter (Cologne, 2010), BOZAR (Brus­sels, 2009), Emo­cao Art.ficial (Sao Paolo, 2008), Club|Trans­me­di­ale (Berlin, 2007), TENT. / Witte de With (Rot­ter­dam, 2006), Cen­tre Georges Pom­pi­dou (Paris, sev­eral times), Sonar (Barcelona, 2004), New Mu­seum (New York, 2003), Nabi Art Cen­ter (Seoul, 2003), ICA (Lon­don, 2002), Bauhaus (Dessau, sev­eral times), Lou­vre (Paris, 2000), Ars Elec­tron­ica (Linz, sev­eral times), …among many oth­ers. lab-au.com