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About "Version: prototypical lab" project, proposal, ideas and documentation.

'Design for disassembly', 'design with recyclable materials' and 'design from the OS grid'. Those are the rules of thumb which comprise Openstructures, a modular construction model based upon a shared geometric grid. Can this model provide a shared framework for tinkering, prototyping and constructing. A collaborative model where everyone contributes with parts, components and structures. And can this framework become, quiet literally, the space, modular and open, within which all experimenting can take place. Gert Aertsen explores the possibilities of this model for the use in his newest projects and collaborations. He invited David de Buyser to collaborate .

To Dominique


From: lahaag <#######>
Subject: Re: research paper
Date: 26 Aug 2011 14:17:58 GMT+02:00
To: dom <#######>

Hey Dom,


I'm still working on new windmills and devices, dealing with the same concepts as the old ATKN project: energy, art, communication, poetics, … Part of this development is happening now for OKNO and the TIK project. Together with others, I'm developing wind clocks, which are to be put anywhere around the world and get connected to generate a new standard of time, the TIK time, wind time. Anyways that's the concept. It's very much related to what I was doing with the ATKN project. That's probably also the reason why they asked me to participate.

One of the issues, that arose again during the TIK project, is how to present this research or development to the public. A lot of it is tinkering and playing around. Ideas get put down on wiki's, are explored in small models during workshops. There's lots of ideas formulated and concepts made. All very experimental. A lot of threads come out of this research, but not all, lead to something. But that doesn't make them less interesting, tough. They are part of the process. But how to make this process interesting for the public. The public being this collective of people who look at your work with different interests : people expecting to see a work of art, participants in a workshop, other artists looking for information, people interested in the technical aspects, …

On the other side there is the artist, me. I want to share my work with my public, and am concerned how to do this. My work being in progress, under development, in the state it currently is. Normally as an artists you don't show all the intermittent stages of the development of your artwork. You show the end result. But what if this processes is what you are really interested in?

At the same time I was thinking about my own position as an artist, what to do with my organization, my space and so on. As I'm no longer involved in a collective, being no longer part of OKNO, and not setting up Code31 meetings, much resolves about my individual art practice. How to get people involved, to participate, to relate my work to, get the necessary feedback, for inspiration and energy, … I mean, I have always functioned within collectives, and collaboration is essential in my work. How to open it up again?


Taken from a project proposal written to Dominique Leroy, following my residence at Ecos in march 2011.


The organizations I used to be part of, (OKNO/Code31) always provided me with a framework, facilitating the working process, enabling the ideal conditions for creative work. Since I'm no longer part of a collective, how can I create it by means of my own work.

In the future of the lab the discussion is on how labs function, what they have in common, what the prototypical lab could look like. A lot of what is discussed also applies to the work or working method of the individual artist. So I wondered, looking at it form the point of an individual artist, what could be a prototypical way of working for me? What does working within these labs or collectives mean for my working process. How to engage?

Moving your project from one lab to the other, presenting during a exhibition held by organization A, participating or leading workshops for lab B, discussing online on a platform maintained by C. Al these are stages in the development of a project.

Version builds upon Openstructures, a project which explores the possibilities of a modular construction model based upon a geometric grid. This model provides a shared framework for tinkering, prototyping and experimenting. It's a collaborative model where everyone contributes with parts, components and structures. At the same time it can literally be the platform or the space, modular and open, within which all this experimenting can take place.

Version is a reflection on a working method. A process based upon a consensus on a formal approach of "how to make things" in which sharing and experimenting are key elements. The focus is on the creative process rather then on what comes out of it.

Version refers to 'version control' , a system used to manage changes to documents, programs, and other information stored as computer files. It is most commonly used in software development, where a team of people work on the same files.

Version starts with the development of "Version:base". A small mobile lab, built according to the principles of the openstructures model. It is a simple empty shape which holds space for two persons. This is the starting point. It will get shaped, altered or expanded. New components will be added. Parts will be removed. It will get transported and installed at different locations. Parts will get abandoned. All according to the development of projects within the version context.

What shaped my ideas for this approach was my involvement in the OKNO project Time inventors kabinet, and my residency at Ecos. Why not really make a kabinet, after all I am involved in this project which is Called Time inventors kabinet. And what's a kabinet other then a lab or a workspace. My workspace would become a kabinet. That was a start. Then I thought to make it mobile, meaning I should be able to displace this lab. It should not be inside my workspace. Especially not as I'm working with wind. I had to take my lab outside. I had to make it open. Open in the sense of an open lab. Open for people to enter and participate. A kabinet is also a piece of furniture, a shelve, a display. Then I came across

In there I found the structure, the form which my cabinet should take. Or the way I should proceed in building my Kabinet. I can built my projects using this modular construction model and at the same time built structures within which to show my work. In this sense the work would be the workspace. The workspace would reflect the method. Within this structures I can built my experiments, explore my ideas. The structure can expand and grow according to development. At the same I can invite others to participate to work within the structure.

It's open versatile modifiable adjustable expandable light mobile, others can built upon, add, adjust, use, …

About Openstructures

the openstructures ruler or geometrical grid



A few examples of projects I'm currently involved with, which I would like to develop according to the openstructures model.

  • ATKNv2 : a second version of the ATKN windmill, this time a speech generating windmill. Working on this within the TIK framework.
  • proposal for Ecos, Nantes : a possible scenario, working and implementing ATKNv2 at Ecos site in Nantes
  • A Laboratory of the open fields : starting point is an empty lab, easily implemented at remote sites.
  • F-Box : working together with David De Buyser who engaged himself to embed his new work in the version project.
  • daylighting : dealing with no natural daylight in my artists studio
  • BeeObservatory :



scenario for Ecos

I'm still working on new windmills and devices, dealing with the same concepts as the old ATKN project: energy, art, communication, poetics,

The idea is to start working on the site in Rezé, CENTSIXSEMENCES.

First thing to do would be to install version:base. It contains space for two people. I would very much like to open it up, so people are invited to join me from the very first moment.

I need some elevation to catch the wind, so I thought to start building upon the concrete building, or upon the wall surrounding the site. I thought of building a bigger, traditional style type of windmill. I came across a model in 1800 Mechanical Movements, Devices and Appliances (Dover Science Books) , which I would very much like to built using the openstructures model. See if I use it to drive a bellow with this windmill. cfr. Von Kempelen.

This would be my first work, seeing how and where to built it on the Rezé site.

Smaller structures could be exported into the city, to other interesting locations. These smaller structures could contain small experiments, tryouts, to gather data and experiment with, ….

Parts of the structure, that i use to built the windmill, could be expanded or used for other purposes. For instance a piece could contain a small greenhouse, or an extension could be made to fit a barrel to gather rainwater. Whatever, … I think there are lots of possibilities, which fit the other concepts you are working on with ecos, for instance we could design small structures, which could be attached to balconies to grow plants.

Ecos small.jpg Currentsituation.jpg Base1.jpg Settingupstructure.jpg
00 : Current situation at Réze site 01 : First step --> installing Version:base 02 : Building platform on top op the existing structure for windmill project ATKNv2.
Base extended.jpg Withmill.jpg Trunk01 copy.jpg Container.jpg
03 : extending base 04 : Installing a new type of windmill. Trunk 00 : adding module for moss_experiment by [David De Buyser ] 05 : container for storing air compressed by windmill ATKNv2
... Speakers added.jpg On wall.jpg Withgreenhouse.jpg
Trunk 00a : adding platform for growing moss 06 : adding sound chambers for sound. 07 : moving sound chambers onto wall surrounding ecos site Trunk 02 : Adding greenhouse for urban gardening project
Removing windmill.jpg ... Pier.jpg ...
09 : removing windmill Trunk 01 : building windmill on remote site 01
... Duckz.jpg Riverborder.jpg ...
Trunk 02 : building windmill on remote site 02 Trunk 03 : building windmill on remote site 03

scenario for OKNO greenroof

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Sc o-04.jpg Sc o-02.jpg Sc o-03.jpg
00 : Current situation : Okno terras 01 : First step --> installing Version:base 02 : installing worktops and small greenhouse 03 : setting up small windmill to compress air in outer corner
Sc o-05.jpg Sc o-06.jpg Sc o-07.jpg Sc o-08.jpg
04 : quick sketch for hanging shelter 05 : building racks for shopping baskets to grow herbs 06 : some kind of shelter at the entrance 07 : close of greenhouse and shopping basket rack
Sc o-09.jpg
09 : construction for growing vegetables

BeeObservatory | Bee monitoring

This project is a collaboration with Annemie Maes, artist and beekeeper. Annemie asked me to design and construct a hive to observe the bees.
The design is based upon the Leaf Hive, invented by Swiss naturalist Francois Huber in 1789.
The combs in his hive could be 'browsed' or examined like pages in a book. At the back the combs where attached to each other with a piece of fabric and in closed position held together with a piece of rope.

Huber1.jpg Huber2.jpg Huber3.jpg Abeilles.png
00 : The Leaf Hive by Francois Huber 01 : The Leaf Hive by Francois Huber 02 : The Leaf Hive by Francois Huber 03 : "Nouvelles Observations des Abeilles"
BH 002.png BH 003.png BH 005.png BH 007.png
BH 001.png