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DEAF serves as a public forum and meeting place for young creative talent as well as established professionals whose work focuses on our contemporary technological culture. V2_ Institute for the Unstable Media started DEAF in the mid 1980s; it continues as an independent entity beginning this year, as V2_ turns thirty.

DEAF provides an important platform for a generation of young talented and creative artists and designers as well as a broad audience. At DEAF, we look at current social and cultural urgencies with a fresh, critical view. Art, design, fashion, music, science and technology are combined effortlessly, crossing paths in playful, visionary and critical projects.

DEAF2012’s exhibition, project presentations, symposium and performances will show a broad audience what artists and designers are creating in their labs and how their discoveries can contribute to the development and design of technology and society at large.

DEAF2012 will also serve as a place for (inter)national experts to exchange knowledge and experience and forge new connections that will help them take the next step in their professional development.

DEAF2012 Theme

In our daily lives, nonliving matter plays a crucial role in nearly everything we do, often beyond our immediate control. For example, the food we eat influences our mood and behavior; the technologies we use shape our social interactions; and climate impacts on our daily rhythms. On a more global level, modern material science, recent natural disasters and the current state of the global environment also indicate that the causal power of nonliving matter can no longer be denied. Acknowledging this ‘power of things’ not only provides new insights into many phenomena, but also changes the way we relate to the world, as we step away from our contemporary, arguably hazardous, human centered worldview. With The Power of Things as its theme, this edition of the Dutch Electronic Art Festival explores a radically different worldview: one that breaks down the categorical distinction between the living and the nonliving and attributes a vital force to both.

The theory that there is a vital force within nonliving matter has appeared at various points in history, but the idea that matter has causality and agency seems to be becoming more widespread than ever at present. “Vitalist” philosophies and materialist approaches are flourishing in philosophy and science. But art is the field where material causality exerts its strongest force. As every artist knows, the outcome of an artistic process is largely determined by the materials used. While scientific experimentation predominantly aims for a better understanding of what matter is, art explores what matter does. Knowing what matter does contributes to a greater knowledge of how things – whether foodstuffs, commodities or something else – act and what their particular propensities or tendencies are. Recognizing the power of things could even reveal how seemingly passive things have crucial impacts on social issues, political affairs and environmental problems. By embodying it in tangible works, art helps us to acknowledge this power.

Previous editions:

DEAF07 – Interact or Die!

DEAF04 – Affective Turbulence

DEAF03 – Data Knitting

DEAF00 – Machine Times

DEAF98 – The Art of the Accident

DEAF96 – Digital Territories

DEAF95 – Interfacing Realities

DEAF94 – Generated Nature