A Guide to FIBER #1 – by Anne Spaa

We know, we know – our festival programme is massive. So how to choose? We asked some of our friends to tell you which parts of the programme they are stoked about. Read the recommendations of Anne Spaa, design researcher from Eindhoven.

Guide-to-FIBER: Friday

Sometimes, something brilliant hits you. In this case, it seems to be FIBER’s theme ‘Prima Materia’. They draw the comparison between contemporary art, music, design and the practices of alchemy. While diving into the list of speakers, exhibitors and music acts to prepare myself for the festival, the theme becomes more and more brilliant as I go.

Being a starting design researcher, I found a historical soul mate in the alchemist – they too practice the ‘mystical, irrational pseudoscience’ in times of changing eras.
I have a newfound frame for the pieces of my designer’s jigsaw puzzle and suddenly I am feeling like a new age alchemist.

I’ll enter the festival with a quest: finding my fellow new age alchemists! Friday’s focus: search for those that philosophize or go into the great detail!

Cis van Heertum

I’ll start my festival with a crash course on alchemy by Cis van Heertum [bibliotheca philosophica hermetica], hoping she will be a helping hand in discovering what I could learn from the alchemists. Specifically, could she ease my troubled mind when it comes to documenting and communicating the processes and outcomes of my design practice?

Jussi Parikka

Parikka is one of those researchers that I somehow am not able to ‘grasp’ through the internet. So I’ll join his talk, curiously, hoping to hear some about what I came across while investigating his digital tracks. How does he think the material world influences the immaterial world and vice versa? (part of the work at his research office Archaeologies of Media and Technology (ATM)). What are his ideas on why media is billions year old? (from his book A Geology of Media) And how does he explain our insecurity about networks through the history of computer viruses? (his Digital Contagions book)

Ralf Baecker

Ralf Baecker is a continuous must-see for me. I think this will be about the third talk I’ll attend from him, but it is a necessity. I often think, seeing his posts on Instagram, ‘what is this thing he is working on now?!’. His works dazzle me, and they only make total sense when he himself explains them to me.

Yoni van den Eede

For those who know a wee-bit about my graduation project ‘Disrupting Clocks’, Yoni van den Eede talks about very similar topics: philosophy of technology – how technology seems to have more existential impact on our lives than we might realize – and the influence of ‘efficiency’ that make us humans try to organize our daily lives in not-so-human ways. I am expecting exciting in-depth philosophical thoughts and some new views on the ‘art of living’!

Panel Artefact Exhibition

Already having planned when to ‘sneak out’ during the conference to have good and quiet look around the exhibition – its only a 15-minute walk from the conference location to the Looijersgracht 60 – I’ll prep myself by attending the panel discussion Artefact Exhibition ‘On Alchemy and Magic’. While being curious to hear about the artists’ ideas about the festival’s theme, the most exciting to me is seeing moderator Karen Verschooren bringing three artists* together in one discussion.

*Femke Herregraven, RYBN, Tobias Revell & Natalie D. Kane.


To me, the music and perfomances track of the festival is just a matter of getting immersed. The easy thing on Friday is, I don’t have to move! At the Brakke Grond I’ll be waiting for the artists – amongst others Paul Prudence! – to show of their skills on stage. I believe tonight some of them are taking me off the world for a while… a good warm-up for Saturday’s program at Shelter!

Guide-to-FIBER: Saturday

New day, new focus. I’ll go into my Saturday at FIBER seeking for some more fellow new age alchemists. Particularly, the ones that speculate on how technology moves from being a novel species of the world to one that is part of the established order in the next era.

The morning show of JaJaJaNeeNeeNee-radio will be the best way to slow-start my second day at the conference. It’s always nice to freshen up on the talks I carefully chose. Even more so, when it is the curators of FIBER themselves who are refreshing my mind.

If yesterday’s party was too much of a success for you, the picture will lead you directly to the online radio!

Tobias Revell

Apparently, his main inspiration comes from his “own anxieties about the future”, though these anxieties don’t make him fixated on weird or scary details. Instead, in his talks he creates historically aware narratives filled with catchy and often surprising examples, making his talks at the top of my all-time favourites. Together with his Haunted Machines partner Diana Keene, alchemy has already been the topic of their one-hour radio show for the Serpentine’s Transformation Marathon, making me curious what more he has to say. I must watch myself saying all these things, as I want to save myself a seat…

Parlor of Futures

I know, what the future beholds must remain a mystery, but this tarot card reading will be for the common good. Call it the mystical but hands-on alternative to SWOT or SMART – or any other way to justify it for yourself to ‘predict’ the future – but I am going!

Source: futureparlor.tumblr.com

Source: futureparlor.tumblr.com

FIBER x V2_ Emerging Practices

Rather than having to google for all the new emerging talents, they are brought to the stage. I’m curious, and happy with the Q&A at the end! After the introduction of the new talents, its nice to hear some reflection on what impact Art fairs and festivals have on the development of emerging talents. Taking time to discuss such topics and opening them up to the public is something I personally like about the organization of FIBER.

Darius Kazemi

As said, today’s focus lays on finding those that help me understand the status quo technology might have when it is become another established species of our planet earth. Darius Kazemi, is such a new age alchemist. Being inspired by the book ‘Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing’ by Ian Bogost (who has become a fan of Kazemi himself), Kazemi develops technological creatures that can think on their own. Amongst them is Prof. Jocular explaining to you what is funny about (even the not-so-funny) tweets. Where I’m proud to understand that suggestions on Facebook and Bol.com are done to seduce me into a selffulfilling prophecy of having good taste, this talk hopefully brings me enlightenment about the species called ‘the internet’.

Elisa Giaccardi

Prof. Giaccardi‘s does some interesting design research. With her thing-centered research she is an activist for the emancipation of things – an inevitable part of the process for something to reach the established order. Curious to hear how she enables things to speak out for themselves, she might even address how things can re-invent themselves. Does this mean that things will soon understand their evolutionary processes better than we humans understand our own?!