DEMO Festival 2022 was a blast

Published by on Thursday December 1, 2022

Last modified on December 31st, 2022 at 13:50


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This year I had the honor to be part of the DEMO Festival as a curator. It was a super interesting and formative experience for me! The idea behind DEMO is quite unique: What if all outdoor displays in public spaces would show no advertising for 24 hours, but exclusively motion graphics by the best artists and designers worldwide? This is the idea that Studio Dumbar/DEPT brought to the world in 2019, transforming Amsterdam Central Station into a giant exhibition. The event was a huge success at the time and after a 3-year break, DEMO 2022 would go into the next round. This time, however, with a much more ambitious idea: Instead of limiting the festival to the central station of any major city, this time it should be the entire Netherlands. To make this possible, a large part of the Dumbar crew worked intensively together with Global for months.

From the spring of 2022, I came on board to participate as curator. The team was extremely diverse and interesting: YONK, Connor Campbell, Koos Breen, Liza Enebeis, and Josephine van Kranendonk. All amazing personalities! In July we met to look through the pre-selection of 3600 video works from all over the world. For this, we spent two whole days being irradiated by a 55″ monitor set up vertically. I was very happy to bring a category into the program called Algorithmic Adventures. That’s what I once called one of my workshops and I have to say I really like this alliteration.

The DEMO 2022 curators crew: Niels van der Donk, Liza Enebeis, Koos Breen, Vicki Young, Connor Campbell and me

I was in Rotterdam for DEMO a total of 3 times and really enjoyed my entire stay there. It was really inspiring to visit Studio Dumbar, sit in the office for a few days, and get to know the whole team. I am especially grateful for the really close collaboration with all the curators. I learned a lot about motion design and broadened my horizons: I realized how differently you can interpret the theme and that you can almost always find the same principles.

The event itself was an incredible flash. On October 6, I drove from Rotterdam to Amsterdam in the morning to give a guided tour of the Amsterdam train station (which I didn’t really know very well until then) at 11 am. Then, one by one, many of the creatives whose work was selected for DEMO trickled in. I had a bit of a feeling that my Instagram feed had turned into a train station because I ran into seemingly everyone I’d been following for years. I’ll list a few names now and take the risk of forgetting someone who should also be mentioned here:

Fred Egidi (Tapiwo), Sander Sturing, Cope Studio, André Burnier (who came all the way from São Paulo), Laia Ferran, Monica Losada, Dennis Hölscher, Lucas Hesse, Anna Fay…

I’ll stop listing now, I don’t want to risk forgetting someone with whom I might have had a valuable and long conversation. There were simply hundreds of exciting people I met.

The new Demoscene

My talk in the Royal Waiting Room was, surprise surprise, about the demoscene. In the 1980s and 1990s, there was a vibrant community of programmers and artists who made motion graphics with code and extreme effort. Back then, there was no software for it as we know it today. You had to write everything yourself with really heavy programming languages. For me, there are so many parallels between the demoscene back then and what I experienced at DEMO Festival that I dared to assume that this connection was intentional.

In the end, there was a panel discussion from which one interesting question stuck with me. James from INTL Assembly wanted to know why the festival was called “Design in Motion” when design itself is always purpose-driven. I thought about it a lot and realized that the term “design” is interpreted very differently depending on the country. In Germany, people think of radically reduced products by Braun and, of course, the geometry of the Bauhaus. From my perspective, the Netherlands has a much more experimental and open approach to the subject. Martin Lorenz once said to me on a side note that the Germans strive for clarity and beauty in design, whereas Dutch design primarily embraces the interesting. I have visited the Het Nieuwe Instituut, a museum for architecture and design, in Rotterdam several times and I could feel that.

All in all, DEMO was a mindblowing and intense experience. In 2019 it was the Central Station, in 2022 the complete Netherlands. Next time the whole of Europe? We will see.

Lastly, I would like to thank a few people: Thanks to Sander Sturing and Liza Enebeis for bringing me on board. All the staff at Studio Dumbar for the incredible and insane effort they put into this heart and soul project. Especially Josephine, who pulled all the strings together and held it all together, has to be given the highest respect. Thanks to all the curators for broadening my perspective. Last but not least to all the people I met at DEMO.

Photos below by Aad Hoogendorn.


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