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Artist-in-Residence Baltan Laboratories


view over Eindhoven

From May-September, 2009 I will be artist-in-residence at BALTAN Laboratories in Eindhoven, The Netherlands where I am developing a new site-specific project titled “The City is Creative”. In “The City is Creative”, everyday acts of performativity as depicted on YouTube videos are located and reenacted within the city where they took place.

Project description:

People meet in different ways now, even in the most strangest manner. Imagine flying over a city and witnessing all the things that are taking place there. Connect to Google Earth and find Eindhoven, a small city in The Netherlands. As you get closer, a number of YouTube videos  appear on top of the city. As you bring up each video you start to experience what is taking place there. Did you know about the man that juggles? That there is a flying saucer in a park? That a young couple are moving into their new apartment? About the people who like to dance tango? Somebody who is an aspiring singer? Every one of these people are broadcasting their experiences. What would it be like if somebody tried to contact them back?

As an outsider to the city of Eindhoven, I found myself in a surprising situation of gaining access to three enormous and abandoned factory buildings, called De Hoge Rug, located within the Strijp-S area. After spending some time exploring on my own and sometimes frightening myself by getting lost in the bowels of the buildings, I decided that I wanted to take some people in with me so they could also have this experience. I found some people in Eindhoven via YouTube who displayed a tendency for exploration, exhibitionism, absurdity and adventure and asked if they would like to visit a place is the city that is hidden and inaccessible.  I asked them if they wanted to make a new video based on a video they had already made, using the empty offices, hallways, and factory spaces as their playground and inspiration. I was pleasantly surprised that many responded.  

In 1946 the world’s first television broadcast took place from the NatLab, a laboratory located within the Strijp-S area and home of Philips headquarters where product development research was conducted for the company. Formerly known as the ‘Forbidden City’ because of a restrictive entrance policy into the the area, Strijp-S was a hidden city within a city. In the mid 90s, when Philips moved a majority of its operations out of Eindhoven, the Strijp-S area was targeted for an urban development project called ‘The Creative City’ which intended to  transform the area into a centre for  culture, business and living in ways that merged together technological innovation and economic development with the creative class. Estimated date for completion is in the year 2018.  The Creative City, was first evoked by Dutch avant-garde artist Constant Nieuwenhuys, who in 1952 started a 20 year project where he described a utopic city called ‘New Babylon’ that moved from a rational functionalist to a ludic society, a place defined by the inherent and untapped creative potential within all of its citizens and where creative play took place outside of the economic domain. ‘The Creative City’, as it is currently and globally described, brings the economic into the creative domain, where culture becomes the key to urban revitalization and economic growth. 

While the future results of the Strijp-S’ ‘The Creative City’ remain to be seen, ‘The City is Creative’ explores the daily performances and actions that occur throughout Eindhoven as described by Constant’s ‘New Babylon’. Actions taking place within Eindhoven are introduced into the emptiness of the factory buildings. A YouTube video first broadcasted to anonymous viewers becomes relocated within the city, provoking an intimate encounter between public and video’s creator.  A series of documents from conversations and interviews with each person brings together biographical information, observations and comments about the past/present and future state of Strijp-S and also personal experiences about exploration, movement, play and discovery.

from Strijp-S ‘The Creative City’ brochure

Constant Nieuwenhuy’s ‘New Babylon’

‘The City is Creative’ is co-production between Flux-S and Baltan Laboratories where Michelle Teran is artist-in-residence developing this project. A final presentation of the ‘The City is Creative will be presented at Flux-S,  a dynamic, cross-disciplinary, annual art event during the transitional period from Strijp-S — the forbidden city to Strijp S — the creative city.