New Archive Interpretations
#1 Richard Vijgen
Richard Vijgen is an independent designer and programmer. In 2009 he founded Studio Richard Vijgen, a design company for contemporary information culture. Richard is interested in new strategies for looking for stories contained in large data sets. Although his work is embedded in the digital domain, he is always on the lookout for links with physical or social spaces. His designs, interactive installations and visualisations vary in scale from the microscopic to architectonic constellations, and his clients are equally diverse. He currently teaches information design and interactive architecture at the ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in Arnhem. The first commission for New Archive Interpretations was made in connection with Het Nieuwe Instituut's Structuralism exhibition.
A landscape of boxes, or the archive as digital playground: "One of the great advantages of the digital age is that it is easier to present the same information in different ways, and in doing so to reinterpret it and imbue it with meaning."
Structuralism in the Netherlands strove to build a new social space in which both the individual and the collective could thrive. Architects designed buildings that offered plenty of space for social interaction and inspired people to experiment and use their imagination. At the same time, the structuralists rebelled against the rational, bureaucratic building style that predominated in the 1950s. The goal was to make a clean break with traditional, hierarchical forms of building and social relations. These ideas led to complex forms in which buildings continued to be hierarchical in nature (large spaces were divided up in a very systematic way into smaller spaces) but the form was supposed to stimulate creativity and give the residents the opportunity to put their own stamp on their surroundings.
For this first commission we chose to take the archiving system Adlib (the system that Het Nieuwe Instituut has adopted to archive its collection) as the point of departure. Adlib is a software package that categorises, localises and internally links all the objects, papers, photos and other documents that Het Nieuwe Instituut houses in its collection. By taking this all-embracing system as an example, we will be able to explore the extent to which the system behind the archive influences the form of the archive and how it is used. By looking at a specific part of the archive, namely the part containing information about a number of structuralist architects, Richard Vijgen looked for specific approaches and experimented with new models, with the aim of gaining new insights in to the archive and ways of using it.