Unpacking the 3Package Deal: Dries Depoorter x Frank Kolkman

July 5, 2017

The past year, we’ve caught up with the fifteen eclectic, genre-bending participants of the 3Package Deal 2016 as they worked on their craft and prepared themselves for their final presentations in the wide-ranging fields of visual arts, fashion, film, theatre, urban dance, social design and even olfactory art. On the steps of EYE Filmmuseum, we spoke toDries Depoorter (media artist) and Frank Kolkman (designer).

Depoorter and Kolkman have met before in the ‘small world of media art.’ Both artist reflect on the implications of technological developments on society, but the outcome couldn't be more different: Depoorter creates extremely topical installations and web projects about social media, surveillance and identity 'almost every week'; Kolkman investigates socio-political and ethical questions through experimental design - long-term projects that ‘come together’ at the end. Depoorter is rapid fire, Kolkman full focus.

They both want to make complex issues easy to grasp, although Depoorter's projects seem more accessible at first (‘I always try to make things easy to understand, kind of like my mom and friends to get it too’), whereas Kolkman - who often collaborates with universities and research centers – bases his work on theory, for a potentially specialist audience. The past year, he researched the impact of current medical technologies on the human dying process. Depoorter is working on a dating app which bases its matches on search history. Love and death in the digital age.

Beyond their shared interests, what do these two young talents want to know from each other?

DdP: Is it possible to ask more than one question? Frank, do you have fixed hours in the day
during which you work?

FK: I try to do my office tasks during office hours and spend the rest making room for inspiration, even in the evening. The 3PD offers the opportunity to develop projects that don’t need to be an instant commercial success.

DdP: Work never stops for me. It’s 24/7. It’s bit of a problem, by my girlfriend understands [though Depoorter added a donation button to his website a few years back, captioned: "After too many hours, this is just for a gift for my girlfriend", ed.). If an idea comes up, I want to start on it right away.

FK: Where do those ideas come from?

DdP: Anything and everything. Simple things, too. I write everything down and go through my notes every day, in case I forget. Sometimes I worry that someone else in the world has had the same idea at exactly the same time. That it’s like a race to see how makes it first. I want to make sure it’s done well.

FK: My ideas aren’t always about the future. Future technologies can be used to look back on the beliefs of today. Large commercial companies are already selling the future, so I prefer to look at it from another angle: are these scenarios what we want? They’re glorifying, but everything is mentioned without any context. I feel artists are supposed to evaluate those beliefs.

DdP: I agree. I’m more focused on the current. Take the dating app I’m working on for example.
What have you been working on?

FK: My coalition told to create something within the theme 'End of Life'. We’re making an installation, an artificial out of body experience with live video, film, objects, touch and 3D sound. It will be shown in for the first time in August, in Amsterdam. Our dying process has shifted from being a domestic activity to something that happens in a nursing home, but medical professionals lack tools to manage it properly. We have completely industrialized and ignored it. All humans have an existential fear of death, but it’s hard to gradually rapproach – you can’t half-die. Parapsychological research has shown that people who’ve had a near death experience are much less afraid of death. Imagine being able to reproduce such an experience digitally, with VR for example, and being able to get it as easily as a CT scan?

DdP: I don’t really deal with those subjects. My work is about the Internet, surveillance, privacy. I am working on a bigger project at the moment too, a flag that moves in the opposite direction. I’ll need your mindset for that, to make sure I don’t want to finish it in one day.

FK: My work is kind of speculative. I can’t guarantee it’ll work.

DdP: If a project doesn’t work, do you consider it failed?

FK What interests me is coming up with a way to express something so it paves the way for a discussion, and so I can gain a sense of whether something’s believable or not. It doesn't have to work.

DdP: It's interesting to measure every new approach, taking it further and further.

FK: An engineer’s work is done when all the licenses have been signed. But in our line of work you want to bring in an audience at some point – maybe even before it’s completely finished.

About the 3Package Deal

The 3Package Deal talent scheme - a collaboration between the AFK and Bureau Broedplaatsen (BBp) - assists and encourages exceptional young artists through affordable live/work spaces, a development budget of € 22.500 and professional encouragement from a coalition of renowned Amsterdam art institutions.

Dries Depoorter is part of the Film coalition formed by EYE, the Filmacademie Amsterdam, Binger Filmlab and IDFA. He has just been selected for IDFA DocLab’s Very Very Short. His solo exhibition You Only Live Online can be seen in Tetem (NL) until 30 July.

Frank Kolkman was selected for the Social Design coalition by the AMC, Museum Vrolik, Waag Society, Makerversity and De Punt. He’s also been nominated for the Dutch Design Awards Young Designer Award.

Text & Images: Lauren Mae Murphy