Four interventions in Leuven

Artist Dries Depoorter confronts people with adding speech to cameras by speaking out loud what they observe, emphasizing how much of our public life we are revealing to collective data gathering. Studio LA challenges our perspective on surveillance with their voyeuristic approach of a one-way mirror foil in an old street in Leuven. Harry Nuriev questions our relationship with more and more machines that collect data on how we live  and we have accepted in our homes, by using 4 transparent surfaces, cleaned by robots that gently move along the surface. Finally, AMO challenges our perception of our believe in DATA by re-purposing an old machine room building in Leuven to a new temple for DATA.

1. AMO 

Sint Maartensdal | Halo, 2018.

When Renaat Braem designed the Machine Room Building as part of the Sint Maartensdal housing project, it’s function was to keep all dwellings warm, supplied with heating. The building was clearly designed, clearly different in its architectural articulation, pointing out it’s important function. The building resembles a modernist cathedral, including a tall tower, central in the urban composition.

With HALO, AMO discussed the role of new technology that will most likely return in our urban fabric as new cathedrals or temples to accommodate our growing digital needs. AMO adapts the Machine Room building into a hypothetical space for worship, a new typology in our future urban fabric. Bright light beams create radials of a HALO that intersect the buildings volume. The center of the HALO is in the Machine Room caretakers circular watch-platform.

AMO | Halo
AMO | Halo

2. Studio L A 

Hanengang | Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all

The spatial installation ‘mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?’ makes the phenomenon of 'self-reflection' an experience. The artwork responds to the phenomenon of 'being watched' - a phenomenon that has become stronger within the growing digital and technological evolution.

Do we still look at ourselves, at who we are and what different identities we have? How can we, in a society in which we often are being lived by the system, zoom out and can we, through a reflective method, understand and identify ourselves, empathize with others, and discover our own truth?

A mirror can be a constant self-reflection. It symbolizes the threshold between the conscious and the unconscious of the mind. On the one hand it confronts ourselves and what’s surrounding us, on the other hand there are things we do want to see or that we previously considered non-existing that now stand out. Identity - or the self-image – isn’t a fixed concept. Identity is to relate yourself to. Identification is a process that is never finished and never fixates things. It is an open process.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest of them all takes the passer-by back to 'the self' and asks the question: what is my role and position?

Studio LA | Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all
Studio LA | Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all

3. Dries Depoorter 

Martelarenplein | Surveillance Speaker, 2018

"Surveillance Speaker” is an installation by Dries Depoorter about surveillance and artificial intelligence.

The artwork showcases in a critical way the latest breakthrough in computer vision software. “Surveillance Speaker" exist out of a camera, computer and speaker. Though the speaker we hear what the camera sees in a sentence that starts with “I see..”. For example: “I see 3 people in an exhibition watching paintings” The audience can interact in a playful way how a computer can see. How do you look in the eyes of a surveillance camera that can speak?

Dries Depoorter | Surveillance Speaker
Dries Depoorter | Surveillance Speaker

4. Harry Nuriev

Martelarenplein | S.S.T.A. (Siri, Sophia, Tars and Alexa)

The exhibition is themed around the particular brand of fear the modern era inspires.

The viewer has a sense of being lost in a technological wasteland where the original purpose of the simple machine has been erased—in its place is an oddly spooky and beautiful remnant of progress. This large post-minimalist sculpture has a striking kinetic quality—not only does it lean too and fro, but the glass panes have active robotic window cleaners moving across its surfaces. Gesturing towards an eerie future, the animated robot induces a fear of technology, and recalls the suburban pastime of the car wash.

The unifying theme behind the work on view is the erasure between industrial beauty and technological threat. Nuriev seems to argue that no one is safe from change—but there is fleeting beauty to be found in our loss of control.

Harry Nuriev | S.S.T.A. (Siri, Sophia, Tars and Alexa)
Harry Nuriev | S.S.T.A. (Siri, Sophia, Tars and Alexa)

Curated by Samir Bantal.

Influenced by conversations with institutes from the art world, tech world & academic world, Samir will curate a series of artistic interventions within the public space of the intimate city of Leuven. Interventions that critically respond to a new reality, constantly challenged by the digital world.

Samir is director of AMO, the research & design studio of OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture), a leading international practice in architecture & urbanism (founded by none other than Rem Koolhaas).