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The City is Creative

site-specific installation
Commissioned by Baltan Laboratories through an artist-in-residence and presented at the Flux-S Festival, Eindhoven.
Baltan Laboratories and Flux-S Festival co-producers.


People meet in different ways now, even in the strangest of manners. Imagine flying over a city and witnessing all the things that are taking place there. Connect to Google Earth and find Eindhoven, a small city in the Netherlands. As you get closer, a number of YouTube videos appear on top of the city. Did you know about the man that juggles? That there is a flying saucer in a park? A young couple are moving into their new apartment? The people who like to dance tango or the person who is an aspiring singer? People broadcast their experiences. What if somebody tried to contact them back?

As an outsider to the city of Eindhoven, I found myself in a surprising situation of gaining access to three enormous and abandoned factory buildings, called De Hoge Rug, located within the Strijp-S area and former headquarters of the Philips company. After spending some time exploring on my own and sometimes frightening myself by getting lost in the bowels of the buildings, I decided that I wanted to take some people in with me so they could also have this experience. I found some people in Eindhoven via YouTube who displayed a tendency for exploration, exhibitionism, absurdity and adventure and asked if they would like to visit a place in the city that is hidden and inaccessible. I asked them if they wanted to make a new video based on a video they had already made, using the empty offices, hallways, and factory spaces as their playground and inspiration. Many accepted my offer.

With a minimal play on words in the title of her interactive installation, Michelle Teran refers to the concept of The Creative City by the Dutch avant-garde artist Constant Nieuwenhuys. In the early 1950s, this artist started the project New Babylon, which centred on the inherent, but still unused creative potential of citizens. His goal was to generate a new perception and construction of the city and community, one that went beyond economic motives.

Teran has transposed this experiment into the present and, using Google Earth, has sought out people living in Eindhoven who have displayed stimulating originality via films shown on YouTube. Whether they are jugglers, dancers or science-fiction buffs, they all show unbridled creativity and curiosity coupled with the urge to share their fascination with others.

Teran invited them to re-record their videos in, and in the context of, De Hoge Rug building, located within the former Philips industrial terrain and future site of the urban development project The Creative City. In an interactive installation, the video makers and their audience can meet in a new and more intimate way. Visitors can influence the projections themselves, using infrared torches; it is up to them how much and what aspects, they want to learn about the makers. It is they who determine the frames, on their own or together with other visitors. At the same time, files displayed on the tables document the entire development process. Personal stories, visions and discoveries bear witness to a perviously invisible, unmistakably fertile, movement.

Miryam van Lier, flux-s festival catalogue text

The City is Creative explores the daily creative acts taking place throughout Eindhoven that are often overlooked. These reinterpretations are experienced through an exploratory interactive installation within the building site where videos were made. This creates a double facade. The video makers never imagined that their works would be exhibited beyond the realms of YouTube, and the public is exposed to the untapped creativity of the city.

An archive of documents from conversations and interviews between the artist and creators brings together biographical information, observations and comments about the past, present and future state of The Creative City of Strijp-S as well as personal reflections on what it means to create, document and broadcast.

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