On Wednesday night we fled the German mayhem to go to the Kikk festival in Namur, Belgium. After a comfortable flight with Air Brussels we landed in Brussels, where the main station was on fire. As a result we took a wild mix of trains to get to Namur before the train service stopped. A hotel night later the Kikk Festival officially started.
I really did not know what to expect from the festival. The pretty pink website looked fancy and all hipstery and so I quickly agreed to spending some days in the Belgium. The next morning we arrived at the festival’s location: Namur’s royal theatre in the centre of town.
We were greeted by a large theatre hall from the XIX century. Row after row of balconies allowed an ideal view of the scenes on the stage. The stage was soon filled with a wide range of people presenting their work. The Show-And-Tell ranged from rather simple “We did this project and then that” to a bit more elaborate talks circling about an idea that was illustrated by one or two projects realised.
Fortunately the festival was not over-crowded, so finding a seat was never an issue.
I’ll give you a few examples of my favourite talks and projects interspersed with some photos from the time we spent there.
First up is the already mentioned Adam Magyar. He started as a street photographer but quickly reached the limits of what he could achieve with an ordinary camera. He then turned to a more abstract approach. By using slit scan cameras, basically a flat bed scanner sensor bar and a lens, he captured peculiar scenes in large cities. The camera is in a fixed spot, all stable objects appear as stripes in the final picture, while the mobile objects, people mostly, crossing the scanner are captured as identifiable shapes, sometimes distorted. The picture really is only representation of greyscale in the y dimension with the horizontal dimension not being the x in a xy pair but the time dimension. Below is crop out of larger frame to illustrate the idea. His website collects way more examples.
He then put his scanner camera in a train station, scanning a full train when entering the station. Using the natural framing of people in doorways and windows he produced an image of a whole train wagon in a surreal lighting. Examples can be found on his website under the tab “stainless”.
The next iteration in the project was a change of position. Now Adam Magyar stood in the incoming train, pressing a high speed camera against the window and capturing the scenes on the platform. By slowing down the footage 60 fold he creates an odd looking video with very great detail. A video is also found on the website. Every minute in the final video is a second in real time. Movements get slowed down to almost a full stop while the shifting perspective creates a pseudo-3D feeling.
The next guy I want to mention is Stuart Wood from rAndom International. He did not only have a great way to talk and present, he also introduced some great ideas. In one project called “audience” a set of robotic cards was having human like conversations. By pivoting and tilting the card like a human head the installation mimicked a group of people interacting in a weird anthropomorphic way. When approached by a real human all “faces” suddenly turn towards the observer, observing and following him around the room with their gazes. A very weird human-machine interaction with a very simple setup for a great effect. Imagine walking in a crowded room when everyone suddenly stops their business and stares at you.
In another project rAndom International built the “Rain Room“. Basically a room with rain in it. Once the visitor steps into the rain, it stops in a circle around him. A mixture of curiosity and fear strikes the brave wanderers under the rain as he or she has to trust the technology to be kept dry. Stuart Wood told some fun anecdotes about people in cheap black nylon suits who absorbed all the infrared tracking light and got drenched in the process of wandering in the rain.
Other presented projects included musical swings, floating ribbons in Copenhagen or wall climbing drawing bots. There were lots more, the whole event gave me the buzzing idea in my head to build something with electronics and coding and wittiness. Just a few additional mentions.
The Neolucida is a remake of an old drawing aid using a prism to overlay the objects image with the drawing of it.
We also had the chance to watch the documentary on the maker movement, that I can only recommend. It talks about emerging maker cells in the US, manufacturing devices from underwater robots over cars to biotech machinery. If you have the chance to attend to a screening don’t hesitate to do so.
The three of us, a colleague of Doro joined us in Namur, also did a bit of roaming around the city and eating foods and I don’t want to deprive you of some photos of the city and food. Doro and I also visited Brussels. Brussels is a town that exists, we have to acknowledge that but should also leave it at that. If you don’t have a choice and must go there, check out the Charli bakery.
Here we go.
And Belgian Fries and Chocolate are overrated. Their pastries are pretty good, though.
Make sure to click on all those links, it is worth it.
If you still want more, look at all the silly pictures on my instagram.
Like this one.