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During the temporary closure of Het Nieuwe Instituut, a weekly newsletter provides an update on our online programming and a selection of our online content. This web page is based on Newsletter #9 - 21 May 2020.

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Graphic Design Koos Breen

Songs from Another Room: Music Video in Quarantine

Music videos have always been both commercial tool and boundary-pushing medium. They expose dominant narratives and socio-political issues, question cultural norms and offer artists an often experimental space for depicting alternative realities. Now that Covid-19 means that we have to live confined and distanced from each other, video platforms ensure that we can continue to gather together and attend performances of live music. And designers – including musicians, filmmakers and graphic designers – are using the audiovisual environments of music videos and streamed concerts to evoke feelings of closeness and community, thanks to the shared experience of listening to songs from another room.

Now Online at Het Nieuwe Instituut

In this newsletter, we announce new programme items – this week, a live radio and video broadcast in collaboration with online radio station Operator – while also highlighting the richness and lasting relevance of the institute's publicly accessible web archive. This archive has grown into a collection of more than 6,000 pages and 250 ‘web magazines’, characterised by a social perspective on design.

Set Stage Screen: Realities of Postproduction

Set Stage Screen: Realities of Postproduction takes a closer look at how contemporary video culture forms a public space for consumerism, activism and emancipation. Behind the videos that viewers watch on their screens, there lies a kind of parallel world of constructed spaces and a unique material reality. This reality behind the video often remains invisible and inaccessible. Using a series of videos, designs, interviews and essays, the installation offers a peek at the technologies, design strategies and forms of representation which are used to depict the alternative realities of music videos and live concerts. The installation can be seen in real life at Het Nieuwe Instituut from 1 June (in the next edition of the newsletter you’ll receive information about the reopening of Het Nieuwe Instituut’s buildings to the public).

For the Record: Urban Imaginaries, live radio and video broadcast with Operator
Event 11 June 2020

Some music videos give visibility to the daily reality of local communities, transmitting their specific living conditions across different continents via online platforms. In the time of Covid-19, lockdown and home quarantine, the information supplied by music videos contributes to a solidarity and collectivity that transcends (national) borders. This live programme is about the way local circumstances and changing views of public space are represented in music videos. It also examines how fan culture and online communities are dealing with the current situation, as well as which video production methods are possible in the 1.5 metre society.

Fireworks for Myself: Drake's “Toosie Slide” Music Video and the Politics of Going Viral by Jason King

The Toosie Slide music video by hip-hop superstar Drake is a five-minute ‘sad boy’ reflection on soulless spaces full of splendour, but stripped of life. The video, which was released on 3 April, is a controversial statement, widely experienced as provocative, about the Covid-19 pandemic. In this essay, Jason King (Associate Professor and Head of Writing, History & Emergent Media Studies at NYU) examines how Drake exploits the viral properties of online videos to promote his music during a pandemic, and how the video presents problematic class differences and confirms the difference between indoor and outdoor spaces in the Black lived experience.

For the Record Essay Series

In a series of video essays, writers and other experts explore music videos and live events and their underlying ideology, genre, technology and design history. With contributions from Guus Beumer, Craig Buckley, Rüdiger Campe, Francesco Casetti, Liselotte Doeswijk, Jason King, Momtaza Mehri, Eliza Steinbock and Léa Catherine Szacka.

Video channel: Designing Realities and Digital Diasporas 

For the Record’s series of live programmes is modelled on a kind of public recording studio. This model not only depicts the production and post-production techniques that are used in video, but is also used to record the conversations and can even distribute them as video. Watch the new videos Designing Realities and K-Pop Fandoms and Digital Diasporas.

Commissioning in the Time of Covid-19

Every week, Het Nieuwe Instituut invites a designer to create a cover for the website in response to the question: What’s occupying you now? Designer Karl Nawrot: “This piece is taken from a short series of paper clay objects entitled The Inhabitant. […] Architecture often plays an important role in my work and over time I try to keep track of the spaces I visit – physically or mentally. These traces can take different forms, including drawings, paintings or even objects, as in the project I’m presenting here.”


On Friday 22 May at 8pm, Het Nieuwe Instituut will premiere The Power of Transparency, a series of 14 one-minute videos made by artists isolated by Covid-19 in China, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. 

A reading of the music videos released in quarantine (LA Times).

Meriem Bennani and Orian Barki's Instagram series 2 Lizards about a fantastical reality in New York City under Covid-19 (Instagram page)

How to keep clubbing during lockdown (Freeze) / Club Quarantine (Instagram page)

Music venue Annabel in Rotterdam temporarily transformed into a green screen recording studio, free to use for local artists (Facebook)

Visit online the exhibition of Rafaël Roozendaal by LIMA; listen the podcast and watch the exhibition of the screensavers that he put together for Het Nieuwe Instituut. 

Artist Hito Steyerl, who delivered the Benno Premsela Lecture in 2016, uses Covid-19 isolation as a means to work on global exchange and fraternisation in her project, Letters against Separation.

Can AI write a Eurovision Song Contest song and make a matching music video? A Eurovision song and music video, made by AI (with the help of Willie Wartaal). Watch Abbus now!