Age of Wonderland - Big Data, Big Dada

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Can big and open data be a tool for social innovation?

Can it tackle the intricate global and local challenges our planet is facing? 

A Provocative Seminar with Age of Wonderland fellows:
Paz Bernaldo, Branly Lopez, Budi Prakoza,
and speakers of Tactical Tech, DatActive, IJsfontein and Hacking Habitat.

More info:

How to take an activist attitude towards big data corporations? How can we view data as something that we can tap into to learn about ourselves and see a different angle in the discussion, and how we an attribute data to push for social innovation? These questions have moved from being niche discussions to topics designers, artists and engineers are working on, often in multi-disciplinary teams to cover the breadth of knowledge and skills needed to challenge global issues. We discuss the above and many other questions with Age of Wonderland fellows and many more great guests: Fieke Jansen (Tactical Tech), Jan Willem Huisman (IJsfontein) Kersti Wissenbach, (DatActive) and Ine Gevers (Hacking Habitat). We will be guided through these questions by Danielle Arets (Design Academy Eindhoven).

Big Data

The promise of big and open data has rebooted a tradition of positivist enlightened thinking, assuming that the analysis and application of large amounts of information will lead to a ‘better’ world. Easy data collection systems have enabled the quantification of our every move, activity and thought, and as such, has produced an endless repository of information. 
Data technology is able to visualise and crosslink matter, which would otherwise never be related to each other. This raises ethical questions on the mining of information, its ownership and the responsibility that goes with safeguarding our privacy. Anyone or any company with the access to data or the technology to ‘create’ data can become a revolutionary power. If data is the new gold, oil or solar energy we urgently need to explore new ways to discuss such topics.
The seminar is part of the Incubation Week from 23 May – 1 June in which the Age of Wonderland fellows 2016 present and start their projects. During their stay in Eindhoven they will establish new kinds of collaborations, develop their visions on social innovation and co-creation and explore knowledge exchange with local companies, artists, scientists and other creatives. The concepts, ideas and experiments that will develop are on show to the international public during Dutch Design Week.

Location: NatLab, Eindhoven
More info: Age of Wonderland

Future Food Seminar

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The future food seminar will reflect on social innovation within the topic “From challenging to designing our future food system”.

As part of Age of Wonderland, a social innovation program by Hivos, Baltan Laboratories and the Dutch Design Week, the Future Food Seminar will reflect on social innovation. The seminar brings together a range of perspectives and thought-provoking ideas for the re-invention of global strategies for the design of our future food system.

Invited guest speakers from different backgrounds will share their ideas and insights. Selected policy makers, designers, researchers, CSOs, entrepreneurs and consumers from around the world will participate to discuss the issues at stake. The exchange of knowledge and solutions will provide input to design the future food system. The international creatives of the Age of Wonderland programme will be present to share their views, projects, and experiences. Confirmed speakers for the Future Food Seminar are: Marcel Beukeboom (Head Food & Nutrition Security, Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Koert van Mensvoort (Artist and philosopher, founder of the Next Nature concept and ambassador of Dutch Design Week 2015),  Prof. dr. ir. Gerard de Vries (Former Head of project group WRR report “Towards a Food Policy” and Advisory member of the WRR), Camilla Toulmin (Economist/Senior Fellow of International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)), Nat Muller (Independent critic and curator of “The politics of Food” at Delfina Foundation in London (UK) and Mr. Ruyonga(Mayor of Fort Portal, Uganda).

More info: Age of Wonderland
Location: NatLab, Eindhoven
Organizers:  Baltan Laboratories, Hivos

FRIDAY AFTERNOON LECTURE #3 – Sara Diamond, President of the University of the imagination

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Data, data everywhere – how can we make it speak? 

We could describe data as the resource of the twenty-first century – gushing in plenitude; it must be harvested and refined to be of value. Visual analytics bears relevance to open government records, self-produced data, and health and industry data sets alike. In a data-based economy designers and artists must be integral to the creation of tools which convert data to manageable, meaningful and beautiful communication.

And a special performance by experimental guitar virtuoso Aart Strootman.

The talk will suggest a series of going concerns in the field of visual analytics, such as aesthetics, design methodologies, the use of metaphors. It will provide examples drawn from the work of OCAD University’s Visual Analytics Laboratory, research at the Centre for Information Visualization and Data Driven Design and the work of artists and designers. What skills sets are needed for the visual analytics researchers of the future?

About Dr. Sara Diamond

Dr. Sara Diamond is the President and Vice-Chancellor of OCAD University, Canada’s “university of the imagination”. She holds a PhD in Computing, Information Technology and Engineering, a Masters in Digital Media theory and Honours Bachelors of Arts in History and Communications from Simon Fraser University. She is an appointee of the Order of Ontario and the Royal Canadian Society of Artists and a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for service to Canada and the winner of the 2013 GRAND NCE Digital Media Pioneer Award.  She founded and led the Banff New Media Institute from 1995-2005. Diamond is a data visualization, wearable technology and mobile media researcher, artist and designer. She is co-principal investigator on the Centre for Information Visualization/Data Driven Design, leads OCAD University’s Visual Analytics Laboratory and holds significant funding from Canada’s Natural Science and Engineering Research Council. Her book (with Sarah Cook) Euphoria & Dystopia: The Banff New Media Dialogues, a history of the boom, bust and reset years of the first wave of digital media is currently available; published by Banff Centre Press and Riverdale Architectural Press, University of Waterloo.

About Friday afternoon lectures

Gilles Holst, first Director of the famous Philips Natlab, already proclaimed in one of his official research reports, researchers with sufficient freedom and an open mind are most likely to be successfl. We – Baltan Laboratories, Holst Centre, TU Eindhoven, EIT ICT Labs and High Tech Campus Eindhoven believe this original vision for the Natlab could easily be forgotten in these times of increased specialization. Proactively addressing this issue, we committed ourselves to setting up a series of lectures that revive the original Natlab spirit. Are you a researcher, artist, designer or any other creative and inspired enthusiast? Then you should not miss out on this unique occasion to become inspired by top-notch speakers and to meet with like-minded souls.

Location: Gaslab, TU/e
More info: Baltan Website

Baltan Laboratories – Age of Wonder

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The beauty and terror of progress

28, 29 & 30 March 2014

Age of wonder is a festival of our times: difficult to capture in one sentence. It is probably best described as a string of longer TED-talks about big ideas, artistic experiments and mythic stories. The international programme takes from art, science and technology and consists of lectures, films and documentaries, installations, performances and more.

We live in interesting times. Our rapidly changing world makes us dream uncertainly of both utopian societies and nightmarish scenarios. We want to reinvent the world, society and our lives. For that, we need to look beyond our own frames of reference and specialisations.

During the festival Age of Wonder, we will zoom out at our spot on the timeline and look to the past and the future. With a distinctive programme focussing on bold visions and big ideas. In so doing, Age of Wonder takes the essence and the existence of the 100-year-old NatLab as a starting point: a space where, detached from the outside world and the issues of the day, you can open your mind full of wonder to insights old and new.

Location: Natlab, Eindhoven
More info: Age of Wonder site

Baltan sessions #4: On the threshold of beauty

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Kees Tazelaar, expert on electronic music will give a lecture presentation about his forthcoming book On the Threshold of Beauty in which he explains the early history of electronic music in the Netherlands.

If you think it all started with disco in the 1970s and house in the 1980s, you’re a few decades off the track. Tazelaar’s book, which will be published by V2_ later in 2013, shows how since 1925 pioneers at the Philips studio’s already were laying the foundations for what was to come.

Kees Tazelaar (The Hague, 27-7-1962) came in touch with the world of electronic music when in 1981 he followed a course at the Institute of Sonology at the University of Utrecht. In 1987 he continued his studies in The Hague at the Royal Conservatory: two more years in sonology, to be followed by four years in composition with Jan Boerman, with whom he graduated in 1993. In 2013, Kees Tazelaar filled the Edgard Varèse guest professorship at the Technical University of Berlin. Since June 2010 he is the head of the Institute of Sonology at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. In May 2013, Kees Tazelaar received a PhD from the Technical University for his dissertation On the Threshold of Beauty: Philips and the Origins of Electronic Music in the Netherlands 1925–1965.

Location: Baltan @ Natlab, Eindhoven
More info: Baltan Laboratories


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Lecture by Ivan Sutherland, “Inventor of the first graphical user interface”

Invited speaker of the second series of the Friday Afternoon Lectures is Ivan Sutherland (USA). In his talk Computers Yet to Come, Sutherland shares his vision on the essence of computing and computer programming, showing us that our current mode of operation is based on outdated paradigms that originate from the time that computers just started to emerge.

Computers Yet to Come

When computers were new, vacuum tube logic was very expensive relative to the wires used to communicate between logic units. The intervening 65 years have completely reversed that cost structure. Today, transistor logic is essentially free and communication is the major cost of computing. Wires for communication occupy nearly all chip area, cost most of the delay and, worst of all, charging and discharging wires costs most of the energy computers use. In spite of this complete reversal in the relative cost of logic and communication, there has been little change in how we compute. Programming languages still focus on operations and fail to provide control over communication. Ivan Sutherland will elaborate on possible angles to tackle this ‘mismatch’, for example by moving algorithms from software to hardware. We’re long overdue for a fresh look at the architecture of computing systems. ‘Computers yet to come’ will be very different from those of today.

Ivan Sutherland received his PhD from MIT in 1963. With a well-known thesis, called Sketchpad, he was involved in what was the first graphical computer interface. He holds ACMʼs Turing Award (the ‘Nobel prize of computing’) and the Kyoto Prize. Ivan is a full time Visiting Scientist in the Asynchronous Research Center at Portland State University, and holds more than 60 patents. Dr. Sutherland is a member of both the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences.

About ‘Friday afternoon lectures’

Gilles Holst, first Director of the famous Philips Natlab, already proclaimed in one of his official research reports, ‘researchers with sufficient freedom and an open mind are most likely to be successful’. We – Baltan Laboratories, Holst Centre, TU Eindhoven, EIT ICT Labs and High Tech Campus Eindhoven believe this original vision for the Natlab could easily be forgotten in these times of increased specialization. Proactively addressing this issue, we committed ourselves to setting up a series of lectures that revive the original Natlab spirit. Are you a researcher, artist, designer or any other creative and inspired enthusiast? Then you should not miss out on this unique occasion to become inspired by top-notch speakers and to meet with like-minded souls.

Location: Auditorium Natlab, Kastanjelaan 500, Strijp-S, Eindhoven
More info: Baltan Website


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Lecture by Joe Davis
The mad scientist of MIT

About Joe Davis

Part free-spirited artist and part mad scientist, Davis is a maverick in both circles. Davis has been embraced as a genius by some and dismissed as crazy by others. But in the world of scientific art, Davis is a pioneer and a legend. He has spent the last few decades as a “research affiliate” at MIT and has also worked as an “artist-scientist” at Harvard Medical School, where he has a lab in the Longwood Medical Area.

About ‘Friday afternoon lectures’

Long ago Gilles Holst, first Director of the famous Philips Natlab, already proclaimed in one of his official research reports, ‘researchers with sufficient freedom and an open mind are most likely to be successful’.

We believe Gilles Holst’s original vision for the Natlab could easily be forgotten in these times of increased specialization. Proactively addressing this issue, we, Baltan Laboratories, Holst Centre, and High Tech Campus Eindhoven, committed to setting up the initiative that revives the Natlab original spirit. Inspired by this idea, we invited Joe Davis for the first in this series of insightful lectures. Referencing his own vast and varied art-science research, he will show why boundaries between disciplines, like art and science, should cease to exist because they limit true freethinking.

Are you a researcher, artist, designer or any other creative and inspired enthusiast? Then you should not miss this unique opportunity to be inspired by top-notch speakers and to meet with like-minded souls. Our initial plan is to set up a series of four lectures over the next twelve months. As we move along, we might also add other activities to our repertoire. If you have ideas or suggestions about this initiative or if you want to structurally join our small organization team, do not hesitate to approach us.

Location: High Tech Campus 34
More info: Baltan Website


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“A project that embraces both art and science and balances on the border of imagination and reality. Which is perhaps the most exciting place to be – as a scientist and as an artist!“ - Robbert Dijkgraaf

Book presentations

Baltan Laboratories explores the possibilities and boundaries of the merging of Art and Science with two compelling book presentations by Jalila Essaïdi and David Rothenberg. Both speakers reveal their fascination for the arts and the natural world through their unconventional research practices, which enable the ability to comprehend the unexplored behind nature’s genius.

BALTAN SESSIONS # 2 – ART, SCIENCE AND EVOLUTION, March 20th 2013 from on Vimeo.

Dutch artist Jalila Essaïdi will present her book “Bulletproof skin, Exploring Boundaries by Piercing Barriers” about the project 2.6g 329m/s. As one of the three winners of the Designers & Artists 4 Genomics Awards, Jalila Essaïdi (1981) created a piece of ‘bulletproof’ skin. For this purpose spider silk, proportionately many times stronger than steel and made by transgenic goats and worms, was seeded with human skin cells and has grown into a ‘bulletproof’ human skin. By creating this ‘bulletproof’ human skin Essaïdi wants to explore the social, political, ethical and cultural issues surrounding safety. With this work she shows that safety in its broadest sense is a relative concept, and hence the term bulletproof.

Musician and philosopher David Rothenberg (USA) presents his a talk based on his book‘Survival of the Beautiful: Art,Science and Evolution’. An exciting and almost hallucinating book about why nature is beautiful and how art has influenced science. Artists get inspiration from nature, but can we say that nature itself creates art? Survival of the beauty starts with a walk in an Australian forest. A bird has built a beautiful sculpture of twigs, blue feathers and blue cutlery. It’s made by the male to entice a female to mate. A biologist explains that the bird in case of shortage of material won’t hesitate to kill a blue bird just for its feathers. Even with humans killing for your art is rare. This bird, says Rothenberg, gives food to the thought that art in a pure form can be created by animals other than humans.

About Jalila Essaïdi

Jalila Essaïdi is a BioArtist who uses Biology and the Life Sciences as an artistic medium. Her artwork is about the recognition of the transience of matter and a human desire to keep and hold. Jalila Essaïdi studied Bioart at Universiteit Leiden and is the founder of BioArt Laboratories. The project received an honorary mention of Prix Ars Electronica 2012. This was truly a “bullet heard round the world”— Jalila’s story was immediately picked up by the Associated Press, the Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post, CNN, EuroNews and the BBC. Watch Jalila at CNN:

About David Rothenberg:

Rothenberg has written and performed on the relationship between humanity and nature for many years. Taking inspiration from Charles Darwin’s observations that animals have a natural aesthetic sense, philosopher and musician David Rothenberg dives into the mysteries of why we create art, and why animals, humans included, have innate appreciation for beauty. Rothenberg is the author of Why Birds Sing, on making music with birds, that was turned into a feature length BBC TV documentary. Rothenberg is professor of philosophy and music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Watch the BBC documentary “Why Birds Sing”, after a book by Rothenberg.

Organizer: Baltan Laboratories
Van Abbemuseum, Auditorium. Eindhoven


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A lecture by Marius Watz

During the lecture Watz will explain the state of computational aesthetics, from early pioneers to the recent boom in creatives working with code. From infoporn to data sculpture and generative landscape painting, what new ideas are coming out of this new movement? And how do you deal with algorithmic clichés anyway?

Marius Watz is an artist working with visual abstraction through generative systems. He is known for his bold use of colors and hard-edged geometric compositions. Watz is a lecturer at the Oslo School of Architecture and at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Department of design. He has given many workshops and lectures on topics like as computational aesthetics, live cinema and digital fabrication.


Marius Watz (NO) is an autodidact, he dropped out of Computer Science studies to pursue visual work based on parametric processes. Watz has exhibited internationally at venues including Victoria & Albert Museum (London), Todaysart (The Hague), ITAU Cultural (Sao Paulo), Museumsquartier (Vienna), and ROM for Kunst og Arkitektur (Oslo). In 2010 he was commissioned to create “Prime”, a permanent public artwork for the Bybanen light rail system in Bergen.

In 2005 Marius Watz founded Generator.x, a curatorial platform that has resulted in a series of events related to generative art and design. Generator.x 1.0 was a conference at Atelier Nord in Oslo, accompanied by a travelling exhibition organized by the Norwegian National Museum that lasted until the end of 2007. A Generator.x concert tour of audiovisual performances was initiated in March 2006 and continues to this day. He is currently based in New York and Oslo.

Organizer: Baltan Laboratories
More info:
Location: TAC, Vonderweg 1, 5611 BK Eindhoven.



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Short presentations & Screenings

What happens if we move beyond any marketing strategists’ one-liners of ideas about the museum of the future becoming more social, open, co-produced, personalized, augmented, and outside, beyond its own walls? There seems no way around it that this will happen in more or less concrete forms, but how will this really affect the institute, the infrastructure of museums, and moreover the content that gets produced.

Moderators and organisers of the conference, all professionals working in the field of practice and theory of art, will shed their light on the future and show their favourite (sci-fi) visions of museums in the future. Thinking from the content we may witness another future.

A preview of what will be on show:
Neil Cummings and Marysia LewandowskaMuseum Futures: Distributed

Museum Futures: Distributed is a machinima record of the centenary interview with Moderna Museet’s executive Ayan Lindquist in June 2058. It explores a genealogy for contemporary art practice and its institutions, by re-imagining the role of artists, museums, galleries, markets, manufactories and academies.

See a preview of the film on You Tube, and for the first time in the Netherlands the full length version during the evening of the 14th!

Location: Plaza Futura, Eindhoven
Organizer: Baltan Laboratories is een platform dat zich richt op het live uitzenden en registreren van de cultuur van de stad. Muziek, symposia, theater, lezingen, debat, techniek, festivals, kortom 'dat' wat de stad doet leven!

Live & on demand!

Een greep uit de locaties: Eindhoven, Tilburg, Breda, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Arnhem, Den Bosch...

Voor meer info over livestreaming en de OpenWebcast video services:
tel: 040 281 0862 / 06 4872 4413



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