Het Nieuwe Instituut manages one of the biggest architecture collections in the world. Like any other archive, this State Archive for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning only comes to life when the preserved material is studied, interpreted and shared with the public, allowing new ideas to emerge and new stories to be told. Since 2014, Het Nieuwe Instituut has involved designers, artists and researchers in opening up its collection – for example, through commissions in the series New Archive Interpretations – and entices them to explore the role of an archive in their work. Over the past four years, this initiative has resulted in some remarkable projects that have been presented at home and abroad, but not in the institute itself, a central part of which is the collection. Archive Interpretations offers the perfect context to now bring home four different projects.
New Archive Interpretations
Under the title ‘New Archive Interpretations’, Het Nieuwe Instituut launched in 2014 a series of commissions for artists, designers and researchers, under the supervision of Annet Dekker, to examine the influence and impact of the digital archive in relation to its analogue predecessor, the paper archive.
What Remains is a study of the form of the game. Amber Griffiths, Dave Griffiths, Arnaud Guillon, Aymeric Mansoux and Marloes de Valk explore on the one hand the influence of technology and media on our self-image, and on the other the biggest challenge facing people today: global warming. The game is situated in 1986 and uses the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Nintendo Famicom game computers and old cartridges. At that time, according to the makers, we could have changed our lifestyle drastically, but that didn’t happen. The climate issue played no role in public opinion. The game stimulates participants to adopt a critical position regarding the idea of authorities and media.
In her project Dark Archives, Erica Scourti concentrated on the massive storage and classification of personal data through social media networks. What do commercial platforms do with the online image archives that they possess? Scourti placed her complete personal media archive on Google and asked five writers to define search terms. Videos and slideshows were generated with the help of these search terms and the special archive app Magisto, and then shared online. Scourti continued her project by reflecting on the computerization of the archives, and also on the consequences of these archives for the user.
Studio Makkink & Bey
For the 2016 London Design Biennale, Studio Makkink & Bey chose an extremely personal archive as the starting point for its project Design Diorama: The Archive as a Utopic Environment. The installation translates the international network of Studio Makkink & Bey into a three-dimensional blueprint of their living room: a replica of their own collection. The installation implicitly refers to the living and working environment of every designer — an environment that, as in the case of Makkink & Bey, functions simultaneously as a personal archive of objects by former studio colleagues, internees, designers, artists, architects and themselves. Accompanying the installation is an online environment that translates the international design network of Studio Makkink & Bey into a digital archive: www.designdiorama.com
Studio Rotor: Deconstruction
Within the framework of their role as visiting professors at Delft University of Technology, Rotor (Lionel Devlieger and Maarten Gielen) from Brussels, with the support of the Jaap Bakema Study Centre, organized this year a workshop for architecture students in the building that housed the former Ministry of Social Affairs, designed by architect Herman Hertzberger. In the run-up to the partial demolition and redevelopment of this building, students explored the Hertzberger archive at Het Nieuwe Instituut, visited the building and developed radical proposals for reusing building components. The results were exhibited as the findings of an archaeological mission in the public hall of the ministry.
Archive Rath & Doodeheefver
Lernert & Sander
The artist duo Lernert & Sander used the historical collection of wallpaper manufacturer Rath & Doodeheefver in a spatial installation and performance during the Salone del Mobile in Milan (2014). Their project was not only a homage to the rich collection (for which architects like H.P. Berlage made designs) but also a signal to the design world to reflect on the preservation of significant design archives. The archives of Rath & Doodeheefver are currently administered by AkzoNobel.
Archive Interpretations in Gallery 2 shows a video registration of their performance.
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