MAY 1998

FRIDAY, 1 MAY 1998

Uploaded some background documents for the Nuclear Garden project. Natural Nuclear Reactors (Oklo), and revised pages on Entropy and Heat Death (Pessimism) and Self-Organization Definitions (Optimism).


Edited and uploaded the Food Chain Suite, a short email discussion with Jouke that took place in August 1993 while we were preparing for the second edition of the Temporary Autonomous Zoo.

Why? Because the Food Chain Suite contains a lot of references to 'fences'. It was as much of a zoo issue then as it is a reactor (containment) issue now.

So I wrote in 1993:

There is NO grace in our dead giraffes. NO indication of grace either.
I was in Artis. I saw the giraffes there. Much better than our giraffes. The solution: Add life?

And so:

The fence is a psychological barrier. The fence is a sign defining private property. The border of a niche. The edge of a culture, the fence is a sign of common beliefs, practices, ideologies.

And Jouke wrote:

Too much time spent in the garden weakens your immune system.

This was good stuff. WASTE NOT WANT NOT.

SUNDAY, 3 MAY 1998

Left: The End of the World? Chernobyl (1986)
Right: Gustave Courbet: The Origin of the World (1866)

Followed up some online references to Radiation Hormesis this morning. Would appear from recent scientific studies that small doses of radiation are GOOD FOR YOU. Makes sense. We did evolve in a radioactive environment...

As JK put it, "Too much time in the garden weakens your immune system." Perhaps, but not in MY garden...

Arjen mailed a response to our Criticality (in Physics and Art) III thread where he suggests that our views differ in respect to Nuclear Garden. He elaborates on his view of the work's 'aura' and The Singularity.

His mail both moved and troubled me. It is sunday afternoon. I decided to give him a call and talk with him. We had a short and strange telephone conversation. I hung up even more troubled. Should we continue this in email?

MONDAY, 4 MAY 1998

Uploaded two VERY OPTIMISTIC manifestos relevant to the 'Criticality' discussion, The Cybernetic Manifesto (Principia Cybernetica) and The Extropian Principles.

Up to Wageningen today to begin installation of my 'non-commissioned' nuclear reactor. Lowie and and his assistant from Keimax were in the garden waiting when I arrived. The front-end loader turned up and we placed the stone and gravel.

David had never met Ronald van Tienhoven (who wrote the project proposal for Belmonte) so we arranged to have dinner together in Utrecht. David and I left the Bowlespark a bit late-- and missed the bus to Ede-Wageningen.

Hoping to save time we took a bus all the way to Utrecht. In the confusion I misunderstood the driver and a trip of (what we thought to be) 40 minutes turned out to be an hour and 40 minutes...

It was a memorable bus ride down the river. Driver fighting with his passengers. David telling stories. Me trying to call the restaurant on my mobile and holding my arm behind the seat to stop my Brompton from rolling out into the aisle.

When we finally arrived, the dinner (the Polman Huis) and the company (Jouke, Ronald, David and myself) were excellent.


Bevrijdingsdag (liberation day). 53 years after the fact it's business as usual for almost everyone--schools and government employees have the day off. Wageningen is the exception (the peace was here signed in 'Hotel de Wereld').

Today all the shops are closed and visiting veterans (Dutch, British, American and Canadian) fill the streets of the town. Lots of emotion. In the afternoon there is a big parade.

At 13:00 my fence arrived. The truck was too big to get past all the trees in the park. The men who came to install it had to carry the sections the last 100 meters to the site. Nevertheless a good start was made.

It rains. The workmen are good humored (they are from the same village in Drente where Jente was born). They will finish the job tomorrow. Had dinner with Fred in a Chinese Restaurant. Returned to Rotterdam in a bus and train filled with vets.

Back in Rotterdam picked up some muffins at Dudok and got a flat tire on the market. Glass all over the place after the 'bevrijdings' concert. Outside the church a couple of guys are fighting. Folded my bike and took the bus home.


Today at Media-GN: Had a meeting with Maarten Regouin and sat in on my first DB (dagelijksbestuur) meeting.

I'm shocked at at Maarten's (and the rest of the board's) attitude.

Dinner with Mark Madel-- he told me a new sex story and gave me some interesting stuff to imbibe. Went back to work and tried to print the Nuclear Garden manuscript. No luck.


Still in Groningen. Managed to printed the manuscript pages and had them blown up to A0 size for the wall of coach house (info center).

Went to USVA to look at the students work (4 of them are participating in the 'Cyberslag Festival' there).

Back to Rotterdam. Went to Maurice Nio's book presentation in V2. Spoke with Arjen Mulder. Afterwards had a bite to eat with Jan van Grunsven.

Warm evening walked Jan to station and had a look at the city that I'm living in.

FRIDAY, 8 MAY 1998

Returned to Wageningen. With the help of one of the gardeners I hung the posters in the coach house. Fred and the board did the press conference. Afterwards I spoke to a number of journalists in the garden. Show and tell.

I'm concerned about the level of computer and network expertise amongst the volunteers. Arranged that the computers are 'idiot' and 'hacker' proofed by the company where we bought the machines.

The weather is perfect and looks good for tomorrow. Had a cup of tea with Fred in the garden at Bowlespark. Played fetch for a while with 'Blinky' (Fred's dog).


Opening day in Wageningen.

Got up early to vacuum and tidy my house. On the train to Wageningen began reading the Constitution of Oceania (for my next project).

The Rector Magnificus gave a speech and tried to explain why the university 'banned' my work. Ardi and Nicolette come up from Maastricht.

Got a ride home with Willemien and Jan-Willem. We had a drink at the Westerpaviljoen.

SUNDAY, 10 MAY 1998

Day off.

Loes and I visit 'Blijdorp' (Rotterdam's Zoo) and buy ourselves new memberships. Even though we are at the gates fairly early--the weather (sunny again) and the fact that it is Mother's Day means the zoo is too crowded for our taste.

Beating a hasty retreat we join a Chinese crowd for lunch in a restaurant on the Westersingel. They eat Dim Sum. We eat rice, vegetables and tofu.

Then shopping: Loes buys a beautiful dress and top. She's enthusiastic and happy. It's good to see her happy.

Home again.

MONDAY, 11 MAY 1998

Took a second day off.

TUESDAY, 12 MAY 1998

Media-GN. Many meetings.


Woke up early (in my old house on the Parkweg) with a craving for coffee. Searched the kitchen cupboards without much hope but finally was able to find some in an old jar. Ahhh...

Page 4 of today's Volkskrant is completely filled with news and background over India's nuclear tests. Great photo from 1974 of Indira Ghandi inspecting the 'site' of a nuclear test accompanied by 3 gentlemen in black suits.

Strange how I feel 'qualified' when I read about the nuclear news today. Qualified to consider the journalism and qualified to consider the subject. Page 4 of today's Volkskrant has become my work.


Lunch with Marlou Thijssen (a top civil servant responsible for the visual arts from the OCenW). Visited with her the rehearsals for our production celebrating the 'Vrede van Munster' at the Grand Theatre.

Tense dinner with Jules, Maarten Regouin (the new Director of the Faculty of Arts) and Jente.

Ended up in a show down with Maarten Regouin. At least it is all clear now in respect to his (and my) desires concerning the future of Media-GN.


Show Down at Media-GN

Situation: Jules van de Vijver is leaving after 10 years as director of Media-GN. Jules has always been a 'strong man', safe-guarding Media-GN's financial and political autonomy (in respect to the 'Hogeschool').

Situation: A new director is sought--someone who can take Media-GN a step further. There are, after all, some very interesting opportunities on the horizon.

In the interim there is a power vacuum. Some people see an opportunity to claim Media-GN to use for their own ends. They are not interested in Media-GN's opportunities. They don't recognize Media-GN's achievement and stature.

I.e. the local political powers (educational institutes, business community) do not want (or do not want to support) a center of excellence.

Media-GN's (hard fought for) autonomy is in serious danger of being lost--plans are made to incorporate Media-GN within a new larger institute including parts of the university, conservatory and art school.

It boils down to different attitudes and different goals. THEY see such a move improving the weaker parts of the 'Hogeschool'. WE see such a move resulting in even more mediocrity at the local level.

It is clear that the 'Hogeschool' does not want what we have to offer... Why waste any more energy trying to convince them of something they do not want?


Meetings this evening in Amsterdam. First with Femke Wolding (coordinator of the Exploding Cinema section of the Rotterdam Film Festival and working at the VPRO), then with Leendert van Lagestein (who I hadn't seen in years) at Amstelveld.

I was planning to talk with 'Van' about the director position in Groningen. Explaining what was happening and my deep disappointment, he let me in on his own mantra for these situations: "Graag of heel niet" (if they don't want it--forget it).

FRIDAY, 15 MAY 1998

Morning: worked on Loes' computer (and snelnet). Did searches for 'grondwet', 'constitution' and 'libertarian' within the NL domain ( Occasionally it's useful to stick to your backyard...

Later in the afternoon I went to a meeting of MFA directors at Das Arts. Heard from Robert Hellier (manager The Design Academy in Eindhoven) that he is planning a conference this fall on 'sustainability'.

Robert explained to me the concept of 'Factor 4': the idea of limiting production and consumption by a factor of 4 in order to achieve sustainability. According to him, 'Factor 4' is the concensus today.

Things are looking up! According to Robert, a few years ago the 'sustainabilists' demanded 'Factor 20'!

I, of course, ranted about Doors 4 Eco-Info and referred him to John McCarthy's 'Progress and Sustainability' site (

Take me away from all this death.


'Cities are not for people: cities are for change.'
Treanor, Paul, An Urban Ethic of Europe

Have once again stumbled across Paul Treanor's site ( and come away with my mind reeling. Who is this masked man? I've mailed out a few requests inquiring into his 'real' identity...

Was a guest at the Couch Club at the IMPAKT FESTIVAL in Utrecht. The 'Couch Master' was Arno van Roosmalen, curator of the Rotterdam city collection. The topic was 'Manuals for the 21st Century'.

SUNDAY, 17 MAY 1998

Spent most of the day reading the papers of "Paul Treanor".

Saw this on a wall near Hollands Spoor station (Den Haag):
Piet Mondriaan

MONDAY, 18 MAY 1998

Met with Amsterdam 2.0 group in Maurice Nio's office in the Brain Park. Arjen has reformulated his questionaire--its become much more psychological and evocative. They've interviewed 8 people so far...

Visited the 'Intertuin' in Rhoon in the late afternoon looking for solutions for my terrace. No large pine trees, I suppose that I'll have to go to a specialist for that.

Had a drink and a bite to eat with Willem Kars (at Bazar on Witte de Witstraat--Mediterranean/California atmosphere, good food). He's started a new job with Philips as Global Design Manager.

TUESDAY, 19 MAY 1998

Caught the 6:37 train. Managed to htmlize "The Future of Cities I" and "The Future of Cities II" before Jouke joined me in Amersfoort and we travelled the rest of the way to Groningen together.

I plan to have Jouke visit the students at Media-GN once a month for the coming period.

The staff called a meeting at Media-GN to discuss the situation around Jules departure. The meeting began with complaints about the way production has been managed at Media-GN...

...and ended with a discussion of the institute's current status in relation to the Hogeschool and Minerva. For many of the people present this was an eye-opener.

Returned to Amsterdam with Jouke. Dead tired.


Evaluation of business project at Sandberg Institute. 4 students showed work. Dick again seemed frustrated with their lack of effort. Partly as a joke, partly serious I suggested that he join us to start a new (Chaos Pilot-like) school.

Jules' suggestion yesterday of doing it as a 'summer school' sounds really 'right'. One month a year preparation, two months summer school and one month a year wrapping up and publishing the results.


Hemelvaart. Today marks the 16th anniversary of my arrival in Nederland.

FRIDAY, 22 MAY 1998

Finally broke down and bought Reiner Knizia's 'Euphrat & Tigris'. Spent the evening setting it up and trying out the rules. Another example of a very complex system generated from a few simple rules.


Picked up some suggestions from and rode my bike over to the library to rent CD's. Rented Red House Painters: 'Songs for a Blue Guitar' and Air: 'Moon Safari'.

Worked on the Amsterdam 2.0 pages. Very low on energy.

SUNDAY, 24 MAY 1998

Worked on Amsterdam 2.0 pages.

MONDAY, 25 MAY 1998

Played a game of 'Euphrat & Tigris' with Loes. I won 10-6.

Strolled over to the construction site of the new new KPN Telecom tower (on the Wilhelmina Pier) and photographed the small wooden bridge which has built for pedestrians.

I saw the bridge for the first time the other day and immediately pictured it as a potential element in a 'rebuilt' Nuclear Garden. I'm intrigued with the idea of crossing the garden on a bridge.

Spent the evening doing my financial administration. Managed to print a few bills.

TUESDAY, 26 MAY 1998

Day at GN.

Start of the day resolution: try and hide (for at least a few hours) in my office--to clean up my desk and catch up on my Media-GN mail.

No such luck. My powerbook's serial connector is loose which makes printing and mailing over the constantly failing localtalk bridge more of a pain than usual. I surrender and start phoning around for a new PB G3.

Expensive pups. But I'm tempted...


Had a very interesting dinner with Mark Wilson at Restaurant-Hotel de Ville. My respect is quickly growing for this guy--he's clearly got 'the power'--but what I am increasingly surprised with is his 'street wisdom'.

Lots that I can learn from him.

Discussed: The CALL OF THE EXTREME (why, what, and who for?) and why artists/I feel obligated to discuss and explain their/my actions (again why, what and who for?). Why all this accountability?

Is explanation a sign of insecurity? There is a Dutch word 'vanzelfsprekendheid' which translates as 'self-evident-ness'. Tonight's acronym: No need to explain. There's NNTE man...


Typical GN:

8-10 Georges. 10-10.30 Jules. 10.30-11.30 Eva. 11.30-12.30 Minerva 200. 12.30-13.30 Visitors from a university in New Jersey. 13.30-14.30 phone calls. 14.30-19.00 Martina, Roger (website), and the 'Vrede van Munster' project.

19.00-21.30 dinner with Jules. 22.18 train home.


Finished doing my financial administration.

Steffy calls to say that Marten Regouin has spoken again to Jules and (during the course of that discussion) has come back a bit on his intention to incorporate Media GN in his new center for 'Image, Word and Sound'.

Checking I see that Pakistan has announced its own nuclear tests. I run upstairs and switch on CNN. Voice over historical footage of mushroom clouds: 'The chain reaction that began a half century ago is still not contained...'

One interviewed American expert believes that a pre-emptive strike would be entirely effective--neither party having the capacity to withstand such a strike and successfully retaliate. This makes the situation extremely dangerous.

Later another expert reports exactly the opposite, that retaliation would be certain--both sides would end up equally hurt.

One wonders... Are the leaders of India and Pakistan getting their intelligence from CNN? If so, it is not in the interests of the region to promote the message of the second expert?

José Ortega Y Gasset in the 'Revolt of the Masses':

1) The uprising of the masses implies a fabulous increase of vital possibilities...

2) The world is the sum-total of our vital possibilities.

3) Civilization consists in the attempt to reduce violence to the ultima ratio, the final argument.

FRIDAY, MAY 29 1998

Started compiling An Index of Possible Cities and their Laws today. Took a crowded train in order to have dinner with Loes. Misanthropist Rule: AVOID all trains to Amsterdam the Friday evening of a long weekend--even 1st class.


Went shopping with Loes. She bought me (as a belated birthday present) a copy of S,M,L,XL (Rem Koolhaas and Bruce Mau) which was on the remainder table at Scheltema Holkema and Vermeulen.

Went to the opening of Kunst Vlaai at the Westergasfabriek. Aldje van Meer is representing Media-GN this year--there is also work there from Yvonne Zijp (De Archipel, Arnhem) and from Arno and René (the 'Lara Croft' mosaic).


Stayed alone at Loes' last night (she was visiting her mother in Zevenaar) so that I could grab a few extra hours online with ADSL. Looked at some of the XML demos at scripting .com and read their 'content server' documentation.

I'm ready to learn some Frontier scripting when I've got some time. It's object database and XML verbs look extremely cool.

Took an early train back to Rotterdam. Cut off the plastic wrapper and started leafing through my copy of S,M,L,XL.

Kudos to Mr. Koolhaas for an excellent book that I've avoided buying the last 3 years (Gerald van der Kaap had a copy conspicuously present on his table at one of our first Amsterdam 2.0 meetings--January 1996).

NNTE man.

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