On Friday 25th of November 2016 we held a very special Edition of Otlet Salons at BOZAR, Brussels with keynote Eric Joris, internationally recognized as one of the pioneers in the field of virtual reality and mediated performances. CREW and Eric Joris participate in European and international academic and technological research programmes. A result of these collaborations was part of this Otlet Salons Edition. We started this Edition by visiting the installation Collateral Rooms.
The subject: ‘Virtual Reality’ appears to be transformational by nature: instead of looking at an image, one feels to be a part of it. This embodiment is enhanced by physical movement, touch, sound, etc… Inside VR the distinction between live and mediated reality blurs. It is this shifting moment in between the perceived and the embodied world, the ‘transitional zone’ that became ‘the stage’ of CREW’s live performances and research. That evening we discussed this ‘transformational’ aspect and the major implications of it.
Panel: We asked Wouter Vermeylen to add a more commercial background to tonight’s discussion. He is founder of Yesplan, a company that specializes in software architecture for the cultural sector. He is also co-owner of Handelsreizigers in ideeën which delivers ideas and devises customized concepts, inspired by the arts and sciences. Our second panel member was Dr. Katleen Gabriels. She is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher on Technical vs. moral proximity: The ‘hidden morality’ of ‘continuous connectivity,’ in which she focuses on the ethical aspects of Internet of Things and on the virtualization of moral relations. Because of the central role of human experiences in this Edition’s subject we asked therapist Veerle Meurs to join the panel. She shared her ideas about why VR can helps us to a large paradigm switch: The way I perceive influences what I perceive – What I perceive influences the way I perceive, and the consequences for our understanding of our senses, the “truth” and creativity.
Read the full report

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  • Koen Vanmechelen Edition:
    Thursday the 9th of June 2016 we were invited to a unique venue: The Open University of Diversity in Hasselt. This is the atelier of artist Koen Vanmechelen. We were extremely happy to be able to present an evening with a very high level of interaction, with internationally renowned artist Koen Vanmechelen and the newly elected rectors of two universities. We started at 7PM with a complimentary visit to explore the Open University of Diversity, after which the presentation and plenary discussion took place. Vanmechelen purposefully named his studio ‘university’ after the original meaning: a place where people can come together and exchange ideas. ‘Elements of society must enter the studio in order to make works of art with a universal quality’, he explained. His practice forms an opportunity to reflect on existential questions and contemporary issues that relate to diversity, globalization, racism, genetic modification and cloning. Vanmechelen’s ideas are not limited to the art scene.
    Two newly appointed rectors, Prof. Dr. Caroline Pauwels (VUB) and Prof. Dr. Luc De Schepper (UHasselt), reflected on what a university should be, especially in relation to society. One of many questions raised this Edition: Is there a place for artists within universities? De Schepper responds by turning the question around: is it useful to conduct fundamental research within in the arts?
    Read the full report or watch the video-reports: 

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  • Jeremy Denk Edition:
    Friday the 5th of January 2016 we organized a very special Edition in Antwerp. Keynote was New York based pianist Jeremy Denk; one of the most expressive musicians of the USA. New York Times describes Denk as someone ‘you want to hear no matter what he performs’. Please check out his blog Think Denk:
    Jeremy joined us to share his reflections on Bach’s Goldberg variations. We moved from his playing and insights towards a broader reflection on music, arts and mathematics inspired by the ideas reflected on in the iconic (and Pulitzer prize winning) book “Gödel, Escher, Bach” by Douglas Hofstadter.
    Three panel members with various backgrounds (arts, mathematics and physics) explored the links between their fields of expertise and this intriguing musical work.
    – Frederik De Wilde (graphical artist,
    – Henk Barenbregt (mathematician in love with Hofstadter’s Godel, Escher and Bach,
    – Christian Maes (Institute for Theoretical Physics, KU Leuven,
    For their third Edition, Otlet Salons invited US pianist Jeremy Denk for a musical soiree centered around Bach’s Goldberg Variations: one of the most famous and difficult pieces for piano ever written and a challenge for both pianist and audience. A high-ceiling apartment and an eclectic mix of chairs and listeners forms the intimate setting wherein Denk proves his skills as performer by wittily illustrating the skeleton of the piece while playing excerpts ‘that go directly to the soul’.
    A three-men panel (physicist, mathematician, artist) interacts with the musician and the diverse, involved audience on the subject of the seeming paradox between the soul and the mathematical foundation of the piece and the tension between art and science in general. The freely flowing discussion leads to the broader notion that science in its core seeks to describe an external reality; art and music are more about dealing with the world from the human perspective.
    Full report: read the full report for quotes of panel members and highlights of the evening.

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  • Mundaneum Edition:
    Friday the 25th of September was a bright and sunny day. A guided historical visit of Mons European capital of culture and a guided tour in the Mundaneum Museum made this a very special edition of the Otlet Salons. Pieter Colpaert was our keynote speaker on the topic “When data want to be reused“. We all are data curators: we make lists, create spreadsheets, put content on websites or pages etc. In certain cases, we are curating that kind of data where we want it to become useful for the entire world: e.g., opening hours, encyclopediae, statistics, bus or train departures, maps, catalogues or scientific results. What intrigues all of us, is how we can make this data as useful and widely used as possible. We discussed how we maximise the reuse of our data using three key questions:
    1. Who should do a bigger effort: the data publisher or the data user?
    2. How do we include the real world in our data, and how could that work world-wide?3. Don’t we restrict the use of our data by choosing a data model or language? How can we open up our data to as many use cases as possible?
    4. And how about copyright?
    Pieter Colpaert is researcher at iMinds, working on open communities and the use of public data.
    Panel members were:
    Femke Snelting is an artist, researcher and designer at the intersection of design, feminism and free software and she is a member of Constant VZW.
    Marc Vael is an international expert on IT governance, IT audit and privacy. Marc is a lecturer at the Solvay Business School and the University of Antwerp Management School. He is also a board member of the global membership organization for IT professionals ISACA
    Jan Van Hee is head of the dept. of libraries and media at the Arteveldehogeschool in Ghent and founder of Maarifa, a company that offers global services in IT. Over the years he developed a lot of expertise on strategic information management, library management, content management and social media. He is editor of the textbook “information management”.
    Philippe van Impe is a social entrepreneur and startup coach. He is founder of the European Data Innovation Hub and strong man of the Brussels Data Science Community. He organizes non-profit hackatons and closes the gap between academics and business in using analytics as a base source of information.

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