Categoriearchief: Sociology

The studie of the development, structure and functioning of human society.

Industrial Evolution

Maarten Vanden Eynde
City of a thousand trades, 2007

Maarten Vanden Eynde city of a thousand trades

Maarten Vanden Eynde city of a thousand trades 2

Birmingham played a leading role as front runner for the Industrial Revolution, changing the world beyond recognition and paving the way for the largest population explosion in human history. In 1791, Arthur Young, the writer and commentator on British economic life described Birmingham as “the first manufacturing town in the world.” The Lunar Society, based in Birmingham, was the brain and fuel for the machine that powered the evolution of human civilization. The members of the Lunar Society were Matthew Boulton, Erasmus Darwin, Samuel Galton Junior, James Keir, Joseph Priestley, Josiah Wedgwood, James Watt, John Whitehurst and William Withering. More peripheral characters and correspondents included Sir Richard Arkwright, John Baskerville, Thomas Beddoes, Thomas Day, Richard Lovell Edgeworth, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Anna Seward, William Small, John Smeaton, Thomas Wedgwood, John Wilkinson, Joseph Wright, James Wyatt, Samuel Wyatt, and member of parliament John Levett.

In 2007 most of the manufacturing companies have moved out off Birmingham to other parts of the world where labor is cheaper. Together with the companies the knowledge to manufacture things is disappearing. In two generations there will be hardly anyone left who has the ability to make something. The Eastside area is being redeveloped and the predominant manufacturing business will be replaced by a service and culture oriented industry. Some huge factories are already transformed in yuppie-flats. I went around visiting every factory of Eastside to excavate the remnants of the manufacturing industry.

Above the Jennens road I only discovered university buildings and brain parks for the IT sector. In the middle there is Millenium Point and huge shopping areas surrounding the Bullring, one of the biggest shopping centers of the world. Everything is imported. Only in the south east, in Digbeth (the historical center and birthplace of Birmingham) I found manufacturing factories. Half of all the buildings is empty already, abandoned, to let. The others are scheduled to leave within a few years, some even in months. It felt like I was just in time to collect a few samples before it’s all gone. Like a contemporary archaeologist I wandered through the area to look for left overs. I asked the factory owners if they wanted to contribute to the collection of manufactured goods being made in Birmingham anno 2007. I wanted to preserve them for future archaeologists to discover. It was now or never.

The reactions were overwhelmingly positive. Somehow the necessity to preserve something of this important period in the history of Birmingham does not need much explanation. Almost 90% of all the manufacturing companies participated and did so by giving samples for free. The only three things I had to buy – because they were too valuable and too big – I got with a huge discount. After 30 seconds of suspicion I was welcomed very friendly and personal life stories came on the table accompanied with a cup of tea.
The stories were very consistent and similar: after having worked in the factory for all their lives, often even for several generations, it was not possible to compete with the cheap imported goods anymore. The rents became too high, hiring more people too expensive. The ground was to centrally located and therefor to valuable. They were simply bought out. Offers which they could not refuse… Or their children were not interested or skilled enough to take over the company. They all felt part of a disappearing tribe, the last generation of traditional workman.

I asked two pieces of each object, referring to Noach’s arch and proving somehow the multiplicity of it, the possibility to be mass produced and re-produced if needed. It takes two to tango… The objects are lined up, from small to big, marching to an uncertain future, destiny unknown.

Maarten Vanden Eynde Industrial Revolution 1

Maarten Vanden Eynde Industrial Revolution 2

Maarten Vanden Eynde Industrial Revolution 3

Maarten Vanden Eynde Industrial Revolution 4

Maarten Vanden Eynde Industrial Revolution 5

‘I remember Birmingham being epitome of modernity… Birmingham was the future – in a sense it has been the future, but that bit of the future is worn out now and we need a new one’

[Will Alsop, architect]


Rem Koolhaas

Rem Koolhaas

Victor Hugo imagined a peaceful ‘United States of Europe’ inspired by humanistic ideals. The dream was shattered by the terrible wars that ravaged the continent during the first half of the 20th century.

However, a new kind of hope emerged from the rubble of World War Two. People who had resisted totalitarianism during the war were determined to put an end to international hatred and rivalry in Europe and create the conditions for lasting peace. Between 1945 and 1950, a handful of courageous statesmen including Robert Schuman, Konrad Adenauer, Alcide de Gasperi and Winston Churchill set about persuading their peoples to enter a new era. New structures would be created in western Europe, based on shared interests and founded upon treaties guaranteeing the rule of law and equality between all countries.

Robert Schuman (French foreign minister) took up an idea originally conceived by Jean Monnet and, on 9 May 1950, proposed establishing a European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). In countries which had once fought each other, the production of coal and steel would be pooled under a common High Authority. In a practical but also richly symbolic way, the raw materials of war were being turned into instruments of reconciliation and peace.

Join the forum on Europe Day, the 9th of May on


Maarten Vanden Eynde

Maarten Vanden Eynde new European Flag 2012

The present project Europe2008: In Varietate Concordia aims to stimulate international discussion about the future policy of the EU and ultimately to press for a fundamental change of course. Gradually even the stars on the flag should vanish, leaving us eventually with a universal clear blue flag, the flag of Planet Earth. Is a conceptual ideology desirable and more importantly: is it a realistic possibility?

Join the forum on Europe Day, the 9th of May on


Maarten Vanden Eynde

Maarten Vanden Eynde new European Flag 2010

Since January 1st, 2007, the Union consists of 27 member states! Is further expansion desirable when the old 25 member states cannot successfully bring about an unequivocal policy? Does Europe need borders and if so, where do you draw the line? Croatia? Bosnia Herzegovina? Albania? Or Turkey? Georgia? Azerbeidzjan? And what about Russia? Or Canada? Israel?

Join the forum on Europe Day, the 9th of May on


Maarten Vanden Eynde

Maarten Vanden Eynde new European Flag 2008

We have drifted too far away from the Utopian ideas that were essential to the foundation of Europe. Equality concerning basic resources and means should create freedom and stability that will make war in the future unnecessary. ‘To unify Europe is to make peace’, said the spiritual father of the European idea, Jean Monnet, in 1950.This is an ideology similar to that of the League of Nations and the United Nations and which should apply to the entire world population. And it is precisely this deviation, this betrayal of the ideology, which causes the present suspicion and ultimate rejection of the European Union. Is Europe a new country with new borders, or is it a concept for freedom and equality?

Join the forum on Europe Day, the 9th of May on


Maarten Vanden Eynde

Maarten Vanden Eynde new European Flag 2006

In 2006 there were still only 15 countries represented on the flag. The ten new member states of the European Union, which joined in 2004, have not been treated equally due to fear of a tidal wave of economic refugees. A special backdoor provision was created to allow each member state to implement its own restrictions (until 2011) against one or more countries at will. This inequality and discrimination is at odds with the founding spirit of the European Union. Should free movement of people, goods, services and capital be implemented universally and immediately upon accession to membership of the EU or is an adjustment period a better strategy?

Join the forum on Europe Day, the 9th of May on

Ontological Internet

internet ontology

A representation of the internet
(Credit: Bill Cheswick, Lumeta Corp.)

In both computer science and information science, an ontology is a data model that represents a domain and is used to reason about the objects in that domain and the relations between them. Ontologies are used in artificial intelligence, the semantic web, software engineering and information architecture as a form of knowledge representation about the world or some part of it.

The term ontology has its origin in philosophy, where it is the name of a fundamental branch of metaphysics concerned with existence. According to Tom Gruber at Stanford University, the meaning of ontology in the context of computer science, however, is “a description of the concepts and relationships that can exist for an agent or a community of agents.” He goes on to specify that an ontology is generally written, “as a set of definitions of formal vocabulary.”


Swoogle is a search engine for the Semantic Web on the Web. Swoogle crawl the World Wide Web for a special class of web documents called Semantic Web documents, which are written in RDF (Resource Description Framework). Swoogle is a research project being carried out by the ebiquity research group in the Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).

Computer Modelling to Influence Public Opinion


Dr. Chris Evans
Science Fact, 1977

‘Anyone who doubts the potential of computer modeling to influence public opinion and action should remember that the whole of the modern surge to ‘ecology’ and the rejection of thow away capitalism arose because of the first large-scale computer simulations – the warning of the Club of Rome that continued profligacy with natural recources would lead to the destruction of modern society’.

The Club of Rome is a global think tank and centre of innovation and initiative.
As a non-profit, non govermental organisation (NGO), it brings together scientists, economists, businessmen, international high civil servants, heads of state and former heads of state from all five continents who are convinced that the future of humankind is not determined once and for all and that each human being can contribute to the improvement of our societies.

The Club of Rome was founded in April 1968 by Aurelio Peccei, an Italian industrialist, and Alexander King, a Scottish scientist.

Hasan Özbekhan, Erich Jantsch and Alexander N. Christakis were responsible for conceptualizing the original prospectus of the Club of Rome titled “The Predicament of Mankind.” This prospectus was founded on a humanistic architecture and the participation of stakeholders in democratic dialogue. When the Club of Rome Executive Committee in the Summer of 1970 opted for a mechanistic and elitist methodology for an extrapolated future, they resigned from their positions.

The Club of Rome raised considerable public attention with its report Limits to Growth, which has sold 30 million copies in more than 30 translations, making it the best selling environmental book in world history. Published in 1972 and presented for the first time at the ISC’s annual Management Symposium in St. Gallen, Switzerland, it predicted that economic growth could not continue indefinitely because of the limited availability of natural resources, particularly oil. The 1973 oil crisis increased public concern about this problem.

I, Librarian

waste of time
Josh Lesnick, 2006

Hilda Kruger
I, Librarian, 2005

‘The fast and continuous technological change that is characteristic of the information society we find ourselves in has demonstrable impact on the way librarians go about their business. This paper offers a scenario of technological changes already in the pipeline and yet to come, and how those changes will impact the role of librarians in the future. One of the main concerns of this paper is the continued relevance of information professionals as infomediaries in our future society.

Will brick-and-mortar libraries still be relevant fifty years from now?
Lees verder

CompSpeak 2050

William Crossman is a philosopher, futurist, and professor involved with issues of education, media and technology, language and culture, and human rights. He is Founder/Director of the CompSpeak 2050 Institute for the Study of Talking Computers and Oral Cultures

‘The prospect of escalating conflicts and tensions around the world, together with the ongoing search for global peace, demand that we create technologies which allow everyone to communicate with everyone else. Voice-in/voice-out (VIVO) talking computers, using online voice-recognition technology, will allow all people to access the world’s storehouse of information merely by speaking, listening, and viewing graphics. We live in a world in which 80% of the population is nonliterate or functionally so, thousands of different native languages block or deter easy communication amongst people, and millions suffer from disabilities that prevent them from reading and/or writing. However, using a VIVO, a person won’t need to know how to read or write text in order to store and retrieve information. VIVO’s instantaneous language translation function will enable that person, while speaking only in their own native language, to converse with all of humanity. And if they had a disability that barred them from accessing text, they could speak, listen, or sign via their VIVO. By lowering these historic barriers to global communication, VIVOs hold the potential for democratizing information flow worldwide–one key step in creating democratic nations that support human and civil rights, freedom, justice, and equality as the necessary bases for world peace. Without our being able to hear–literally–the voices of the world’s disenfranchised, world peace will remain an illusory goal. Over the next decades, as VIVOs enable more and more of those voices to be heard, and as written language/text shrinks as our technology of choice for accessing information, the electronically-developed countries will evolve into oral cultures. By mid-21st Century, written language/text–which is essentially an ancient technology for storing and retrieving information–will be a thing of the past, and by mid-22nd Century, all nations and communities, including those we build in space, will be informationally united in a worldwide, yet diverse, oral culture.’

Mission Statement

The Institute’s mission is to study, learn, speak, consult, promote dialogue, and write about:

1. The social, cultural, and philosophical implications of talking computers and voice recognition technology–that is, the ways that talking computers will affect every area of human activity.

2. The replacement of writing, reading, and written language itself by talking computers and other speech-based and non-text visual technologies–a process that began in the 19th Century and will reach completion in the 21st Century.

3. The parallels that exist/will exist between today’s oral cultures around the world and the oral cultures that the United States and the other electronically-developed countries are becoming.

4. The ongoing school literacy crisis, its causes and its solution. The impact that talking computers will have on education in the 2lst Century.

5. The nature, history, uses, and effects of written language as a technology specifically developed to store and retrieve information under the specific conditions of the agricultural revolution 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.

6.The role that human evolution plays/will play in the development of information technology (including talking computers), and vice versa.

7. How to make sure that the human right of all people, nonliterate or literate, with disabilities or without, to access the stored information of our world via talking computers is realized in the 21st Century.

‘By enabling us to access stored information orally-aurally, talking computers will finally make it possible for us to replace all written language with spoken language. We will be able to store and retrieve information simply by talking, listening, and looking at graphics, not at text. With this giant step forward into the past, we´re about to recreate oral culture on a more efficient and reliable technological foundation’ -William Crossman-

The Future of Writing

Vilém Flusser

… ‘Writing is an important gesture, because it both articulates and produces that state of mind which is called “historical consciousness.” History began with the invention of writing, not for the banal reason often advanced that written texts permit us to reconstruct the past, but for the more pertinent reason that the world is not perceived as a process, “historically,” unless one signifies it by successive symbols, by writing. The difference between prehistory an history is not that we have written documents that permit us to read the latter, but that during history there are literate men who experience, understand, and evaluate the world as “becomming,” whereas in prehistory no such existential attitude is possible. If the art of writing were to fall into oblivion, or if it were to become subservient to picture making (as in the “scriptwriting” in films), history in the strict sense of that term would be over.’

‘If one examines certain Mesopotamian tiles, one can see that the original purpose of writing was to facilitate the deciphering of images. Those tiles contain images impressed upon them with cylindrical seals and “cuneiform” symbols scratched into them with a stylus. The “cuneiform” symbols form lines, and they obviously mean the image they accompany. They “explain;” “recount;” “tell” it. They do so by unrolling the surface of the image into lines, by unwinding the tissue of the image into the threads of a text, by rendering “explicit” what was “implicit” within the image. It may be shown through text analysis that the original purpose of writing, namely, the transcoding of two-dimensional codes into a single dimension, is still there: every text, even a very abstract one, means, in the last analysis, an image.’ …

Nice Indians!

Maarten Vanden Eynde
Nice Indians, 2007

Maarten Vanden Eynde nice-indians

Most of the ‘Native Americans’ are situated in the state of California, 627.562 to be precise. More than twice as much as in number two, Arizona. It’s the last refuge corner of the United States, the bottleneck towards South America. While driving through the Grand Canyon you are confronted with many native Indian shops next to the road. In the most desolate environment they sell original Indian jewelry and other souvenirs to passing tourists. They usually make themselves noticed by putting hand painted signs NICE INDIANS AHEAD fifty meters before the little store, followed by NICE INDIANS when you pass the store and about another fifty meters further they remind you or call you back by saying NICE INDIANS BEHIND! TURN AROUND…
In a way, this sums up the whole history of the United States, starting from Columbus to the present day. From the day the Europeans went to America (NICE INDIANS AHEAD), followed by the period in which ground was traded for pearl necklaces and new cities were build (NICE INDIANS), up to the present day where the tourist industry is profiting from the ancient wild west image and mass producing genuine Indian props (NICE INDIANS BEHIND). I want to copy/paste this time line into the contemporary topography of LA by replacing the signs into the city of Los Angeles.

Maarten Vanden Eynde nice-indians ahead


Interstate 5 (abbreviated I-5) is the westernmost interstate highway in the continental United States. Its odd number indicates that it is a north-south highway. Its southern terminus is at the international border between the United States and Mexico in the San Diego community of San Ysidro, California. Its northern terminus is at the international border between the United States and Canada at the Peace Arch in Blaine, Washington. An extensive section of this highway (over 600 miles or 965 km), from approximately Stockton, California to Vancouver, Washington, follows very closely the track of the Siskiyou Trail. The Siskiyou Trail was based on an ancient network of Native American footpaths connecting the Pacific Northwest with California’s Central Valley. By the 1820s, trappers from the Hudson’s Bay Company were the first non-Native Americans to use the route of today’s I-5 to move between today’s Washington State and California. During the second half of the 19th Century, mule trains, stagecoaches, and the Central Pacific railroad also followed the route of the Siskiyou Trail. It runs straight through Los Angeles which makes it the perfect road to place the time line.
The signs have to bridge the highway, so by driving on the Interstate 5 in the city you will pass through time and be confronted with the unspoken and forgotten reality of colonial history. NICE INDIANS AHEAD – NICE INDIANS – NICE INDIANS BEHIND.

San Fernando Galaxy

Piero Golia

San Fernando Galaxy, 2006
photo 30×40 inches


Night vision of San Fernando Valley, California, USA

‘America is nowhere so perfectly as in Los Angeles’ ubiquitous acres. One gets the impression that people came to Los Angeles in order to divorce themselves from the past, here to live or try to live in the rootless world of an adult child. One knows that if the cities of the world were destroyed by a new war, the architecture of the rebuilding would create a landscape which looked, subject to specification of climate, exactly and entirely like the San Fernando Valley’.

(Norman Mailer, from Superman comes to the supermarket, 1963)




Europe is facing it’s most difficult challenge: how to create a united Europe? After the referenda on the new European Constitutional Law and the following disappointment about the French and Dutch NO, Europe is further away from unification than ever. But as a result inertia about Europa was replaced by genuine interest. What does it mean to be European? What do we represent? How much personal identity do we want to hand over to become a unity? The project is about the European Union as a whole and wants to raise questions about Europe in the past, the present and the future. Is Europe a new country with new borders or a concept for freedom and equality?

Maarten Vanden Eynde

Europe2006, 2006
Spun-poly silkscreen (155 gr/m2 polyester cloth), 100 x 150 cm


On the 9th of May, the official Europe Day, the new flag was presented throughout the whole European Union.

Participating Cultural institutions include:

The Vienna Künstlerhaus and State of Sabotage in Austria, The Latvian National Museum of Art and Gallery Noass in Latvia, Lokaal 01 in Belgium, Pantheon Gallery in Cyprus, The DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art and Booze Cooperativa in Greece, Stanica Cultural Centre in Slovakia, SCCA/Center for Contemporary Arts-Ljubljana in Slovenia, Galleria Rubin, Viafarini, PAN/Pallazo della Arti Napoli and ILOYOLI Lab in Italy, Casino Luxembourg – Forum d’art contemporain, Galerie Frank Gerlitzki espace ApART and ON25 societé civile in Luxembourg, Galeria Bielska BWA and Wyspa Institute of Art in Poland, CCB/Centro Cultural de Belem in Portugal, Kulturcenter HUSET and Charlottenborg Exhibition Hall in Denmark, Sally Stuudio and Tartu Kunstmuuseum in Estland, The Korjaamo culture factory in Finland, FAUX MOUVEMENT – centre d’art contemporain in France, Kunstverein KISS, Temporäres Museum, Untergröningen in Germany, The Contemporary Art Centre (CAC) and Vartai Gallery in Lithuania, St James Cavalier, Centre for Creativity in Malta, Artpool in Hongary, Four, The Irish Museum of Modern Art and Pallas Studios in Ireland, Tranzit Social Platform in Czech Republic, The Tapper-Popermajer Art Gallery in Sweden, La Mekanica in Spain, Hidde van Seggelen Contemporay Art and Ben Janssens Oriental Art in London UK, Smart Project Space, Kunstruimte Wagemans, Expodium, Lokaal 01, Sign, Peninsula, STROOM Den Haag and CBK Rotterdam in The Netherlands….

‘I left the ten last newcomers out, not because I don’t think they aren’t part of the EU, but because they are still not accepted as full members by the old EU countries. People coming from one of these countries don’t have the same freedom of movement through Europe as the rest of the Europeans. Although this is one of the basic rights as a European citizen. Europe is a concept for freedom, not a new country with new borders.

I think Europe should present itself as a variety of countries not as a unity. It is not a homogeneous circle of stars and it will never be one, so I put every star back on it’s original position, as the capital of the different countries. Like this an ‘abstract’ sky full of stars appears. The borders are opening…’

Maarten Vanden Eynde