About

I design augmented reality experiences, philosophize about them and collect rare 20th century furniture. Trained as an artist-philosopher, I studied fine art at the Royal Academy in the Hague and philosophy at the University of Amsterdam, my main interests being metaphysics, philosophy of language and iconoclasm.

In my works I strive to reveal the time-based structures and rhythms that enable the rise of human language, thought and vision. More specifically, I seek to contribute to the experimental development of possible infrastructures of the Metaverse. I currently live in the Hague in the Netherlands.

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Meta

Metaphysics started out as a name for all Aristoteles’ texts that did not fit into his main categories. So it had quite a modest start for a word that would evolve to hold the grandest of thoughts on the foundation of everything. It became something referring beyond physical life, and this beyond was to contain the foundation of all physical life: it was to give the reason for every thing to exist. 

Fast forward to Descartes and the meta position became the only real position. I think therefore I am. The meta is not anymore a spiritual realm to aspire too but became the starting point for those lucky enough to recognize themselves in this thinking ego (western, white, educated males). Meta and ego had become very intimate indeed. What was now considered beyond, the alien, was physical life itself, and anyone not resembling the male ego, anyone working, giving birth and looking specific rather than symbolic was relegated to a state of ‘mere’ physicality. The knowledge that all this ego needed a whole lot of physical work in order to sustain itself was brushed aside. The Meta was not to give the reason for existence, it was to be the reason for the existence of everything else. This hierarchical system of repression of everything and everyone needed to sustain these ghostly egos was part of what is called The Enlightenment, but of course much of its structure and reasoning has remained in contemporary culture, business and politics.

Thankfully we then got quite slew of less enlightened thinkers who did not accept this reversal. So while it the Meta-Ego marriage may have inspired colonialism, neoliberalism and concepts like that of The Matrix and Squid Game, it was not a concept that lingered too long in philosophy itself. The meta was shown to be a far more dynamic concept, one that can take time and change into account, so that you cannot and need not tie it to any everlasting truths. 

This is why I love the concept and hate it at once. I hate the concept when a group of people thinks it owns it. Then it it dangerous. I love the concept as an action, as a way to actively try and step aside of your current perspective and to alter it. To look behind the curtains, not to find everlasting truth, but to find a bigger landscape as well as adding a different set of eyes to look at it: to augment your vision. This is also why I love the whole concept of augmented reality.

Enter 2021 and Facebook rebrands itself as Meta. At first I was very shocked about what seemed to me this gross appropriation of an important historical concept. But on the other hand, it is a final conclusion to those philosophies that changed meta from an aside to be an all-enforcing and ordering ego. To the history that took meta as something that can be owned. Facebook will provide the order and the ego, and we will be its physical mass. 

However, philosophy as a whole does not arrive at a conclusion. The history is circular and its concepts ever returning. So while the concept of the all ordering ego is slowly collapsing under its own weight, we, making up the physical mass of any network, can always take action to interfere, to step aside and to use a system in a way it was not meant to be used in. I belief in the development of meta as a stepping aside: a strategy to not get stuck in any particular system, and a way to not get stuck with your self. 

So as a modest contribution to the Metaverse I envision myself developing methods, effects and half-exising objects and perspectives that upset any images of the world and the self that are a bit too straightforward and one sided. I want to help people trip into new perspectives. 

It’s Raining Me effect. Try it here.

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Machiavellians

This contemporary view of identities as brands is suffocating. A person is not a brand. A person is not either good, harmless, or, when it makes a mistake, an evil to be boycotted. And likewise, boycotting something bad, cannot automatically make someone good. Harm is in everyone. We all see and do things in ways that are bad for others, so nevermind our self-image.

Does that mean we should engage in a neverending war over perspectives? I think it means we have to do all we can to curb any power that solely represents a single perspective, including our own. I really don’t believe it is ever any specific person’s wrong step causing things to be bad. Instead I think we should ask ourselves how this person, group or we ourselves have gotten enough power that this could indeed bring harm to others. This is never actually about the other. If we want to live in a less Machiavellian society can we please try and be honest enough to not see ourselves as the good ones? We are the Machiavellians. I’m so tired of people being judged right or wrong, cemented in identity, instead of a being that can make mistakes. This creates the illusion that as long as we support the good people, the clean ones that did not take any wrong steps, we can be equally good and clean. Please! That is turning the simple fact that the individual, the group and the earth cannot share a single perspective into a horrid ideological war of identity against identity, of good vs bad traits. For the sake of a better world, can we please try and be a little more evil, and a little less of a person and take our steps to a better world from there, so that earth can become a place of interaction instead of a stage to act out our illusions?

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About Me Pic

I am interested in any experiments in which our aesthetic ideals and the uncanny outside world clash, and I believe this is the only way for reality to emerge. Beauty is real. For this reason I cannot believe that any fully autonomous self-definition -the fantasy of being solely what we want to be or belief we are)-, without any pestering influences from outside, can ever lead to any kind of transfigurative beauty. That is, on its own, it cannot lead to anything real.

Seeing all our faces in augmented reality painted over with the most unsophisticated retouch blurs -as an afterthought instead of an engagement-, I decided maybe instead I should sometimes post something more resembling what I think I look like in the mirror. This is not more real per se, but at least it bears witness to a more sophisticated battlefield of what we see, what we don’t see and what we want to see, than any cartoonesk reimagining of ourselves in AR. This is important to me, because my aim in AR is generally to introduce a measure of disorder or add an imbalance to it. I seek to point out the entropy in digital space, so that reality might emerge. Different from at least the idea of VR, AR clashes with offline human reality by definition.

I see my father reappearing in my face. I see an older me that smiles less but looks less uncanny. I see I am tired. I see I am angry for no specific reason. I see the boyish features that I thought were with me forever giving way to something more, dare I say.. manly? grown-up? Aging is an opportunity for disorder, and so an opportunity to engage with the thing you call yourself as something new.

The only question is now, how is this self-study of changing facial features relevant to people who may have never seen a physical you? Well maybe it isn’t at all but I will still put this photograph here for future self-reference and as my about me pic.

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Standing In Front Of A Map

A perfect language is like a perfect map. But then when the map is finished, what to do there? And would you have anything to say in a perfect language? You would be superfluous. Maybe you would try and force yourself into an awkward position so that you and the map can be in a picture together, as if you really are there, somehow.

A Roman marble head of Venus, ca. 1st-2nd Century A.D. & a selfportrait in AR

Perhaps a more meaningful image of the world would be an image in which the world and the self are not so awkwardly divided. This image is one that can never be completed as we and the world constantly change over time. This image is far from perfect. It is the image of your experience of the world, while it is happening. It changes and morphs because it is influenced by things it does not know, cannot see or did not predict. It does not simply spread a perfect white terra incognito over them, as yet to be conquered. The unknowns are not exactly there to be pointed at. Instead you experience them as fear, excitement, curiosity, desire… as the announcement of the new.

Unfortunately we are still stuck with all those maps. And while we can’t find ourselves in it, collectively we do place all and each person as ‘a kind’ onto the map. And while a map that incorporates more ‘kinds’ in an equal way is better than one that defines less, we may likely find it lacking. And although we must fight any map that does not represent us, the fact remains, we should also ask ourselves what or whom the map is useful to. Its use is to categorize and organize, which can be done in more or less fair ways, but it offers no inspiration whatsoever about what to do in a world that looks like this perfect map. So we may be tempted to draw in some enemies, maybe an exciting unknown wilderness and other opportunities for adventure and conquest, so that we feel we take part in this world.

But of course we are not on this map, and while such a map may be very consoling, in the end it is nothing but a sign of existential poverty. And so is the perfect language: such a language would organize, but it would not express. If the world it describes would uncontrollably change, what would then be its use? Instead of painting a perfect picture and then maneuvering ourselves in front of it for a selfie, we may find ourselves intimately joined to the world, and better visualized in an imperfect patchwork of unrelated thoughts, limbs, desires and half finished sentences. Because we make sense of a world in movement, of a world onto which every little act may lead to unpredictable results and changes. Language helps us to invent ourselves and the world as we move along. Its goal not to organize and fix. Instead it constantly organizes and re-organizes in order to move about. In this second more practical approach, we have no need for universal truths in order to make a move.

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Coming Out

To come out as someone belonging to a general category on the basis of specific experiences has always felt a little fake to me. It makes me feel as if I am an impostor. Not only do I always want to escape other people’s judgements concerning my identity and escape the categories I was supposed to belong to, I wanted to flee my own judgements concerning these just as much. This wish to flee is easily misunderstood. Society is hierarchical and deems some categories more preferable than others. And so the wish to flee becomes suspect, as if it is could never be anything more than a wish to not belong to an ‘inferior’ category.

However, I grew older and feel no shame in posing as whatever category I want to. I am in a situation that is privileged enough so as to be able to feel somewhat independent of these judgements, and do not feel I always need them in order to feel real. I feel I am real even as a an impostor.

INTERFACED with Marcel Proust

Language is always fixed and curtailed by culture. Language is magic because it can talk about things that are not themselves present. Language is also magic because a single word or sentence can be transposed and reshaped to fit new objects and situations. At the same time, there must also always be a certain amount of rule and order in language for it to make any sense in a social group. However, its rules are never universally fixed from now into eternity.

For instance: the word tree incorporates all trees, and all these trees can differ so much from each other that you wouldn’t even have deemed them to be of the same ‘kind’ if it wasn’t for the word. Meanwhile, the word can also be used to describe many things that are not trees at all, but that in someway or another resemble something tree-like. These other things may look more like a tree than many trees do. A word can become a metaphor. The possibilities of words to refer to other things are endless.

You may choose to then always look for the most universal of characteristics: those that are always shared by any member of a ‘kind’. Such people talk often of the true meaning of things. However, I do not belief language to work this way. I don’t think it would have much use at all if it would be restricted that much. And even completely tied down into logical formulae, language always preserves its possibility to be transposed to a different situation, to become a metaphor and to enlarge or change its extensions. Just notice how often the scientist begins to see what happens within their organization of language into a specific chain of causes and effects as something that can be lifted from the subject and projected onto completely different aspects of life. This is not necessarily because the formulae are true, but because this is the way language works.  A simple sentence I am {put something} may not even change what is between the brackets, due to cultural conditioning, and may stay the same all through ones life while the experience connected to it: the extension {you} is completely changed. 

Culture make communication possible by fixing categories to a certain degree. However, as entropic systems grow, change, break and die, they cannot be fixed for all eternity, or language itself would be of no use. Communication must be able to respond to a changing environment and have a use in situations which are not completely known or understood. There has to be an openness to change, so it is always possible to make a different use of words. Any culture possesses a whole host of different uses of language. You will generally find a very organized use of it, with rules and fixed formulae for instance in its sciences, in its magic spells, and at the same time a much more playful and transformative use of it in its poetry.

In any culture, one may discover not to actually fit the categories provided by this culture, or to fit, but only in a category deemed inferior. Such discrimination happens through the restricting of language by that culture, and directs not only the order of the words but also of the body. You may be forced to come out and fight for your right to be a different body, and take up space. If however you have the luxury to be ‘normal’, and you do not need to come out as different, I want to argue that it is time to also perform a coming out. You either are, or are not completely tied to the categories your culture, your ancestors and the people in power have provided for you. If you are ‘normal’, {you} comes courtesy of those with the power to fix the categories. I imagine you may want to come out as not fully controlled by just that.

Instead: come out to yourself as {something} else. Your relation to yourself is mediated by the language that is shaped by the society in which it is used. But you can take some control over how this language mediates your own understanding of yourself. Just as it is the magic of language to be able to describe change and to exist in a changed context and to change itself, you are equally equipped to do just that yourself. You are the dynamic being for which this dynamic medium has its use. Go beyond what you know, and extend in time and beyond the categories you think make sense at this particular moment. Because the categories will change, and are not making sense to exactly everyone in equal measure right now either. There are always people suffering because of them.

So, ‘normal’ people who do not need to come out but may want to come out as emancipated from the powers that defined them. Pay homage instead to a being that changes, that surprises, can be unpredictable and will always discover desires and experiences that it had not imagined it could have. Come out as many little different things again and again.

This does not imply for a need to try to be anyone else, or to change that with which you are comfortable. It simply implies to be not quite so much as a finished whole, fixed in time. Start using the words used to describe identity, and which culture has made very heavy as if it was ammunition, and use these words instead as you would try on a piece of clothing. However much you like wearing the same loose sweater, have you never enjoyed the physical sensations of wearing something very different instead? Have you ever tried on a skirt, a dungaree, tights, a feminine pose, some masculine aggression? Wearing these in the right playful circumstance will give you goosebumps and a lot of pleasure. And while you may not discover a need for any particular change, you will discover yourself and the language you use as itself existing through change.

And so just as you would put on some new style of clothing sometimes, try out some new words to describe yourself. In a new or unsure situation, you can only measure the use of what you said and did in this situation by reflecting upon it afterwards. You will discover yourself as an entropic being that needs change as much as it needs conservation in order to persevere in time. Experiment with what you could be and feel, instead of being what you think you are regardless of context. The latter being can only persevere if backed up with the terrible powers of an oppressive culture. And this enormous spending of power certainly does not constitute a well formed entropic system.

Would you prefer to be yourself rather through force or play? Through force you are going to need the backup of many others. And many of us will not get this backup. And if we would, we would hurt a whole lot of yet other people that do not fit. Instead, through play you can interact with the language you and others depend upon, without the need to fix yourself as a particular word in a fixed spot inside of language. By universally defining what you and others are, you will likely alienate even yourself in the process.

Anyone identifying as normal will automatically come out as not in control of their own judgement. If instead you try to follow along the stream of change, something only an equally changeable being and its language can do, you may discover your own footsteps and follow them instead.

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Entropy

The higher the entropy, the higher the disorder. Any being persevering through time must keep its entropy as low as possible in order to extend its existence. In order to keep its entropy low, the being needs to consume energy, producing more disorder as a result. A system may destroy another system to keep its own entropy low, but may then also accelerate the pace of entropy as a whole. And in the case of some of the more ‘advanced’ animals, they may even sacrifice a larger system which they themselves depend upon. This may not seem like a very smart strategy, but in order to understand itself as its own system, it will often to a large degree ignore, or even be completely oblivious of the many other possible systems and dimensions.

It is impossible for any system to get a full grip on the constantly changing web of interconnections between each subsystem. What we might understand as the whole are just our models of understanding posing as a whole. As this can never incorporate all that we are not aware of we always end up with just another part. The sum of everything does not have any unifying characteristics in the way that our understanding does. To even call it a whole is misleading: it is ordered by the chaos. The ‘whole’ is nothing but the sum of all beings capable of unpredictable moves.

To experience yourself as a dissolving part of larger and smaller unknowns is not a matter of understanding and control but an act of the imagination. It is to have trust in all those feelings, desires and visions that came from beyond your self control and knowledge. It is to have a spiritual vision that can mediate between what you think you are and what you can’t think yet. While this may sound unpractical and esoteric, in our everyday lives we are very capable of navigating a world full of unknowns, often hardly being bothered by what we do in fact think we know. Maybe it is not our being that feels this existential need for a fixed identity, but our society: just one possible system, subjected to entropy itself.

Systems as they are understood in a scientific and logical sense are always closed enough so as to be controlled. An entropic system is always open ended. It is only in a reasonably stable system that we can imagine ourselves to be equally defined and unchanging. In a changing system however, this fixed view of things, and the resulting wish to seek conservation may not at all help to keep the overall entropy low. We may be burning away our world at an alarming speed simply by refusing to imagine ourselves, our identities, desires and visions as being capable of transformation.

We are much more open ended than our own idea of identity permits. Once we find ourselves in different or in shifting circumstances we discover ourselves to be very capable of experiences beyond what we thought we were. We may not even notice that we are not quite the same any longer. The part that will help us persevere, is the part that has no need to confirm to our laws and beliefs about this persevering self. Does this mean we should give up our control alltogether?

It means we should give up the idea of the possibility of complete control in advance. But it does not mean we should give up our self-determination altogether. Our actions do influence and change, it is just that we cannot ever quite predict what those changes will be and what we will feel like beyond the temporary image we understand as ourselves. I belief a well-formed entropic economy will favor reaction over prediction and influence over control.

This state of things has a very exciting consequence: prediction won’t help a system beyond what it defines itself to be. And so it is not the truth of a system that matters, but our trust that there is an existence beyond our temporary understanding and a trust in our imagination to see something there. Not facts or status quo, but imagination, experimentation, dreams and visions will help us to navigate time while constantly falling apart and reassembling. We are always changing course or changing to remain on course.

We could imagine ourselves, or any system moving through the world, as boats that are simultaneously being built while falling apart, all the while seeking to navigating the waters of time and trying not to sink. The best images of this process are those that express dynamics rather than characteristics. As successful entropic beings, we should not seek to control our future shape through prediction, but instead seek to open ourselves up to experience the life of a being that is never exactly itself.

Welcome In The Entropocene!

On the fine art of navigating time, or: how to micro-manage your entropy and let the Universals take care of themselves.

The Entropocene is a collection of experimental explorations and meditations on the concept of entropy. It will investigate the practical and artistic implications of entropy in life by looking at contemporary phenomena and concepts such as augmented reality, climate change, late-capitalism, (post-)identity, sexuality & re-wilding. The aim of this growing collection of meditations is to develop a practical approach to understanding oneself as a continuously adapting vehicle navigating time seeking a slower demise. Eventually, I hope these explorations will become a practical DIY guide on going back to nature without going back in time. Welcome in the Entropocene!

Broken AR / Music: Farmer In The City by Scott Walker