Another Interesting Day

This year we hosted our one-day conference An Interesting Day in Amsterdam.

On August 16th, we swapped out Norwegian fjords and invited 250 people out to play in our curated ball pit at De School.

PLAY

Play is serious business. For this year’s conference, we wanted to create a space where playing is encouraged, celebrated and explored. While we invited speakers, artists and guests based on their professional backgrounds, their talks and showcases were not strictly about work. The conference was all about freedom and the unexpected.

It was recess, basically.

TALK

Anna Holmes, Ida Tin, Zach Lieberman, Joy Mutai, Elise By Olsen & Morteza Vaseghi and Tracy Ma gave fun and inspiring talks on their work, motivations, and playfulness. Each being announced by Pasquale D’Silva and Simon Panrucker through impromptu introduction songs.

What women (really) want
Writer and editor, Anna Holmes, proved that frustration can fuel creation. With the creation of Jezebel, Holmes changed people’s idea of what “female” is by offering a counterweight to the superficial media directed at women. Since having moved on to Topic, an online magazine at the forefront of culture, Holmes has also come to appreciate the power of visual storytelling.

Power to (49.56% of) the people
Ida Tin, motorcyclist and CEO of the menstrual and reproductive app Clue, is all about the cycle. By providing women with scientific data about their bodies, identities and ways of being, Tin believes Clue can empower women to claim ownership of their own health and lives.

Playing the present, tensely
Tracy Ma, visual editor at The New York Times, regularly pokes fun at politicians, conventions and herself in her work. Ma believes playfulness can be a useful tool, one that needs tension to be effective. For her Bloomberg Businessweek cover featuring Warren Buffet, she found exactly that in combining the face of an old, white male with the aesthetics of a teenage girl’s bedroom.

Play it forward
Joy Mutai works with Block by Block and UN Habitat to improve the lives of people in developing cities. Through the use of the open sandbox game Minecraft and mixed reality, people are invited to influence the development of public spaces in their own communities.

Because Recens 
For Elise By Olsen (editor) & Morteza Vaseghi (art director), playing has been an integral part of their collaboration. From turning the cover of their teen publication Recens Paper upside-down, to nominating By Olsen for a Guinness World Record as a stunt, the duo has made a lasting imprint on the publishing industry.

There and back again, and again, and again
Zach Lieberman, artist and experimental hacker, talked about his School for Poetic Computation, his daughter’s artwork and how to find one’s personal expression through playful iteration. His explorations with audiovisuals and AR resulted in an app that lets you to play with dynamic text and space, called Weird Type.

PLAY

After the talks, we opened the doors to the playground, a place where people could immerse themselves in installations and performances, and mingle over cocktails and giant inflatable balls.

Yuri Suzuki, sound artist and designer, showcased his pieces “AR Music Kit and “OTOTO” that invites the audience to interact with electronic instruments fashioned out of saucepans, plants and cardboard cutouts.

While NSDOS and Tobias von Hofsten of Teenage Engineering joined experimental forces to do the work for us, pushing the boundaries to explore the possibilities of electronica. Minds opened, blown and reassembled.

Artist Katja Heitmann combines theatre, dance, visual arts, performance and installation. Through the beautifully unsettling performance “Pandora’s Dropbox”, Heitmann forced us to stare the human condition in the face and ask ourselves: where does humanity end and machine begin?

Bjørn Gunnar Staal, of experimental design studio Void, aims to blur the boundaries between digital artefacts and the ‘real world’. We were fully mesmerised by his tactile light installation that allowed us to create blaring electronic sounds when making waves in the water.

The Rodina set up a score-based video game for people to play or watch throughout the day. The installation is part of their performative design, a field that establishes a multidisciplinary connection between graphic design, actions and bodily presence. Designer Tereza was present and handed out necklaces for skills and appreciation to all who tried out for the high score.

DANCE

In the evening, we put down our cameras and danced — like nobody on the internet was watching — to the beats of Carista, regent of sultry DJ-sets, and eclectic DJ and producer, Cinnaman.

The curious case of the stolen bike tyre
We’re so grateful we get to do this, and want to thank everyone who made this a fun, weird and interesting day.

And thanks for all the feedback — we’re taking notes!

Huge thanks for organising An Interesting Day. It was amazing. Of course it was different from last year, but on many fronts I thought it was better and richer — although Oslo’s nature and surroundings are hard to beat.
  • Make a conversion chart to determine which of Better & Richer and Hard To Beat means 10/10 to figure out where to host AID next
Just wanted to let you know how grateful I am to have been able to attend. Thank you so much. My dear friend Zach told me about how much work you’ve put into this (enough that he hasn’t seen you for the past two months)! Honestly, it was an INCREDIBLE, very very interesting day and an unforgettable way for me to celebrate my first visit to Amsterdam. I appreciated so much that the speakers were diverse and each awe-inspiring, and I met so many wonderful people at the conference. Hats off to you and Bakken & Bæck for creating such a beautiful thing. Thank you.
  • Buy a hat rack
My bike tyre was stolen outside the De School lol. Other than that, event was great. Thx for organising.
  • Hire bike police

Check out aninterestingday.com for more photos, and videos of the talks.