Mapping Report

Frederik de Wilde, Participatory methods in Electric Organ Discharge by mapit

Used kit: Media Arts Practice

Project: Electric Organ Discharge (EOD)
Organisation: Frederik de Wilde (mapping at Nadine, Brussels – B.)
Moderator: Thomas Laureyssens, Kim de Bisschop
Date: 27/12/2008

Frederik de Wilde is a new media artist who works in the interstice between art, science, technology, nature and humankind. For the creation of his works, he uses diverse techniques: from performance to installation art and from sounds design via video clips to nanotechnology. For more information, see:

Download a high resolution map here.

The introduction to this mapping resembled the introduction to the mappings at FoAM and Constant a few weeks earlier. Again, a predecessor of the ‘multitouch table’, chalk paper and the mapping icons were used. After an explanation of the mapping and after setting up the materials, the actual mapping started. This mapping was one in a series of mapping of media art and design organisations in 2008-2009 (being Constant vzw, FoAM, Frederik De Wilde and Thomas Lomée). These were mainly done by Priscilla Machils, Kim De Bisschop, Jon Stam, Thomas Laureyssens and Liesbeth Huybrechts. Kim was a student, writing her thesis at the University of Brussel (VUB) in collaboration with the Media & Design Academy (association K.U.Leuven).

Usually, a project is divided in four phases: concept development (1), preparation of the project (2), the day itself (3) and the output of the project (4). Since Frederik de Wilde has collaborated with many partners during the course of his project, he decided to map the activities and steps that have taken place (such as preparative work, workshops and the actual results of the project) per partner. For each phase, one sheet of chalk paper is used. The participant of the mapping put the four sheets on top of each other, what allowed him to map and analyze the evolution of the project over time.

The first phase, or the “incubation phase”, lasted for about three weeks and involved Frederik himself. Since Frederik is the only one involved in this phase, he is placed on the map as a key person. The concept started to develop when Frederik visited the aquariums at the Zoo of Antwerp and later started reading (in encyclopedias) about bio-electrical charged fish. There was not yet a clear-cut structure in this phase of the project: Frederik did some research, made notes and archived pictures and photographs on his computer. During the mapping, Frederik explained that in each phase of the project he based himself on research questions. In this phase, the research question was: “what do I want to get out of nature and on which ways?” Later the questions “what can I give back to nature?” and “what can I give my public?” came to his mind as well. Through reading and research, Frederik composed a “hypothetical toolkit”: information and tools which he wanted to use for making the communication between bio-electrical charged fish visible. Next, Frederik filed an application for a contribution to the workshop at iMAL. He also e-mailed the organizer of the workshop, Yves Bernard, to give a more elaborate explanation of his project. A single, thin line from Frederik to Yves symbolized the communication between them on the map.

As the second phase of his project, Frederik pinpointed the iMAL workshop called “open lab”. Frederik called this phase a “trial-and-error-phase”. The workshop took place at “Nadine” in Brussels and lasted 7 to 10 days. The workshop was organized in the framework of .x-med-k. and was sponsored by VAK. The theme of the workshop was how to make communication visible and audible. The key people involved here were Frederik himself and Johannes Taelman of EDM (the Expertise centre for Digital Media, a research institute of Hasselt University). During the workshop, Johannes helped Frederik out when he encountered specific technical problems (for example, during programming). The tools both of them used for communication were face-to-face communication, via coding, via biological experiments, via soldering and through observation. At the end of the workshop, there was an exhibition moment during which Frederik show his work so far to the public. Although the public did not (yet) contribute to his work content-wise, Frederik thought that they did form a motivation for him. He symbolized this by first, adding the public as key people on the map and second, by putting a thin, dotted line on the map between himself and the public. During the mapping, Frederik also realized that he had spent more money then he thought during this phase. Finally, the workshop was documented: among other things, photos were placed on the website of iMAL.

The third phase, which Frederik simply called “OKNO”, lasted for about a week. The research question he dealt with here was “how am I going to present the installation?” The result of this phase was an event: a musical night, focused on experiments with sound. During this phase, there was still no prototype of Frederik’s work; he concentrated on the presentation of his work. OKNO did not prevent Frederik with input; he merely visited the location for its space and the neatness in the gallery, which forced him to focus more on presentation. The key people involved here were Gert Jochems and Annemie Maes of OKNO. Frederik had already met them at the iMAL workshop and they had invited him to show his work at OKNO. Communication that took place here first happened face-to-face. The practicalities of Frederiks presentation were arranged via e-mail and telephone. Annemie organized the event and put the results online afterwards. Frederik had a much intense communication with Gert, which he symbolizes by using the “hands on-icon”. Frederiks performance is situated between a concert and a sound installation. On the map, he symbolizes a thick line to indicate the production of this work. During this phase, a lot of communication took place: on the one hand, there was a lot of communication concerning the production and on the other, a lot of communication happened involving the presentation and the public. Frederik added the other OKNO-artists to the map as “key people”; he had to communicate with them, for exampleto arrange the schedule of their performances. The public at OKNO (which was much larger than the public at the iMAL workshop) was also an important “key person” on Frederiks map. The public took pictures and posted them on Flickr and on the website of OKNO.

The research question for the fourth phase, which Frederik simply called “Lab[au]”, is “what am I going to do with my work as an object?” During this phase, Frederik started working on the prototypes of his work. The collaboration with Lab[au] lasted for about a month and ended with a presentation of the prototype (called “EOD02”). The collaboration with Lab[au] was intense: Jérôme Decock of Lab[au] helped out with the programming and the technical part, Els Vermang looked after the communication and Manuel Abendroth contributed especially on a conceptual level. During this phase, Frederik had several meetings with Lab[au]. During the first meeting, which took four hours, both Frederik and Lab[au] annouched their attention to work with each other. Communication happened first via e-mail and then face-to-face. The second meeting lasted for four hours as well and took the form of a demo (which lead to discussion). Here, face-to-face communication took place again. The next meeting was a brainstorm on the form of the project and lasted for four hours as well. The fourth meeting was all about brainstorming on the concept of the project. This appeared to be the most complex meeting of them all. It lasted for six hours and the participants continued talking over diner. The communication between the participants was intense and took place face-to-face, via telephone and e-mail and via documents. Frederik experienced the collaboration with Lab[au] as intense but extremely valuable for the development of his project. The presentation of Frederiks prototype was very important for him, since it provided a lot of feedback. People simply walked in and started talking about his installation but also posted pictures on the website of Lab[au]. The presentation lead to several exhibitions. On the map, Frederik placed the following keywords next to Lab[au]: information visualization, new media, architecture and audiovisual (and he stressed the link between the latter three).

The fifth and final phase of the project was characterized by the collaboration with Hasselt University. At the time of the mapping, the collaboration had lasted for over two years and was still running. The university was introduced to Frederik via 3E, an engineering company that deals with alternative energy. Frederik especially like the fact that by collaborating with the university, he was introduced to the academic world. This was a new world for him and enabled him to expand his network, for example by putting his work on Wetenschapswinkel Hasselt (a virtual shop where non-profit organisations can seek scientific help or support). Together with Hasselt University, Frederik wanted to make a more mobile version of his installation. A key person here is Jean Mance (head of the department). The students who were interested in Frederiks work and wanted to help him played an important role here too. Together, they worked on the final work of the first “EOD04”. They communicated mainly face-to-face (which, Frederik claimed, he prefers). However, communicated also took place via e-mail and Frederik planned to set-up a wiki on the website of Hasselt University. He also composed press file. On the map, Frederik placed the following keywords next to Hasselt University: electro sensing, biology and making better and finer measurements for fine-tuning his prototype.

The mapping session showed interesting results on the evolution of Frederik’s project. Frederik was very elaborate in his explanations, so the mapping has provide him with a nice feedback on his project. During this part of the mapping, Frederik also discovered what obstacles he faced during his project. The biggest problem he had was finding funding and subsidy.The results of the mapping were not only useful for Frederik himself; they were also an important input for Kim de Bisschop’s thesison instruments and tools for e-culture creations (called: Inventarisatie en casestudies van instrumenten en tools inzake e-cultuurcreaties).