Author profile picture

Imagine a massive installation capable of capturing people’s movement, sound, and behaviour and then reacting to it. Imagine an experience of magnetism where people themselves become magnets creating new sounds. An enormous magnetic tape loop – MGNT, was designed by What If Collective and it won the first STRP Award for Creative Technology (ACT), consisting of 30,000 euro. 

The team of What If Collective which comprises the architect Toon Rooijmans, the industrial designer Rhys Duindam, the creative programmer Luuk Schippephey, and the designer Lola Gielen developed the prize-winning MGNT. To put it simply, MGNT is a big sensor composed of microphones and small sensors which allow for the installation to sense the people around and react to their movement and behavior. Then the people themselves transform into magnets creating new sounds on the tape which subsequently turn into  particles lighting up the tape. As people change their distance from the tape, the sounds vary correspondingly – the closer the people are, the bigger their effect on the sound is.

Rooijmans, the architect in the team of What If Collective, explained that the creation of MGNT was like a dream had come true for him. One year ago he was dreaming of building impressive installations and then he met the other three members of the team at a musical hackathon at VPRO Medialab where the idea of MGNT came into being and gradually thrived into an actual installation bigger than in his own dreams. “Everything fell into place”, Rooijmans stated recollecting his initial dream dating back to exactly one year ago.

The idea, which was born at a musical hackathon, was aimed at connecting the past with the present, that is – experiencing the power of magnetism in a way similar to how the pioneer of electronic music – Dick Raaymakers, once did. The Collective installation makes it possible for electronic music to be experienced in a more accessible way by a big audience at Natlab. According to the jury of STRP ACT “MGNT is a real festival work that connects to the look and feel of STRP and absolutely comes into its own in the Klokgebouw at Strijp-S.”

STRP ACT is a new awards series merging the world of creative arts and the tech world into one and supporting creative thinkers and people with vision and imagination. Apart from its first prize of 30,000 euro which is bestowed on established talents for recently developed works, STRP ACT has two additional awards of 15,000 each for young talents. The winners of the STRP ACT for recently graduated talents were Leanne Wijnsma and Bernhard Lenger.

“Smell of Data” and “Culture of Fear”

Leanne Wijnsma has been working on her project Smell of Data for several years and the money from the STRP ACT award will help her finish the filming of her documentary “Smell of Data”, which is premiering at STRP Biënnale. In her documentary Wijnsma shows her strive for a more “instinctively alert internet users of data leaks on personal devices”, as she calls them. She believes that the sense of smell is essential to people because noses are one of the best survival mechanisms in identifying danger and that since smell does not work at a digital level people are no longer warned of the lurking dangers in the online space. Wijnsma is also planning to develop a new olfactory station with the prize money where people will be made conscious in a sensorial way of the data that they unconsciously leak and the threats and dangers that this poses to them.

The other graduate talent who was awarded 15,000 is Bernhard Lenger who is developing the  project Culture of Fear which probes into what Fear actually is. Exploring history and various domains, Lenger tries to let people understand how important it is to fear but not to be manipulated by it. Lenger has developed a sensor with which people can face their fears and try to understand them, thus, helping people fight one of the most common human emotions. The jury of STRP ACT called Lenger’s Culture of Fear an “extremely urgent and strong concept, full of current affairs value and social impact.”

This first edition of STRP ACT was done in partnership with Brabant C., Sint Trudo, and Park Strijp Beheer and all works which were presented there will be premiered on 24 March during the STRP Biënnale 2017.