January 29, 2019 - Het Nieuwe Instituut - I See That I See What You Don’t See
e-flux Architecture
January 29, 2019
January 29, 2019

Het Nieuwe Instituut

Rudy Guedj, I See That I See What You Don’t See, 2019.

I See That I See What You Don’t See
Dutch participation in the XXII Triennale di Milano
March 1–September 1, 2019

Triennale Milano
Viale Alemagna, 6
20121 Milan

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I See That
I See What
You Don’t See 

Dutch participation in the XXII Triennale di Milano, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival

The Netherlands is one of the most illuminated countries on the globe. Its productive landscape—dependent on data, technology and energy—illustrates a 24 hour economy that emphasises efficiency and growth. At the same time, this Cartesian territory reflects the changing relationship with the natural rhythms connected to, and affected by, the cycles of light and darkness. In a world that is always switched on, the traditional dichotomy between day and night seems no longer relevant in terms of productivity, while the experience of clear, starry skies has become a rarity.

This hyperconnected and controlled environment where the borders between nature, ecology, technology and culture increasingly fade is the result of persistent acts of design. By questioning the overarching yet invisible presence of this environment, the Dutch contribution to the XXII International Exhibition of La Triennale di Milano speculates on design as both problem and solution, as a destructive as well as restorative endeavour.

I See That I See What You Don’t See, responds to the general theme Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival. Designers, artists and researchers from the Netherlands and further afield present a layered picture of the current multispecies relationship with darkness, setting in motion imaginative critical responses to it. Their research, films, performances, sound and scent-scapes together form a viewing mechanism that evidences how current modes of understanding the environment are designed, and how they could therefore be redesigned.

In this context, the relation between the possibility of seeing and forms of oppression and emancipation becomes relevant. Yet here the exercise of looking, seeing, and revealing what generally remains concealed purposely avoids the metaphor of light as wisdom and knowledge. Rather, the project aims for an understanding of the contrasting effects of light access, deprivation and overexposure on different bodies; the influence of radiation on human and non-human behaviors; the impact of the maximisation of the land by lighting technologies for year-long crops and floriculture production; the coexistence with the invisible yet pervasive architecture of the digital; the perception of instances of synchronicity with the cosmos; and the role of design in these realms.  

Through projects that establish crossovers between design and biology, forensic science, cosmology, or activism, and venturing beyond the traditional notion of product, the Dutch pavilion aims to challenge the dominance of the market, as well as hegemonic powers, in the design discipline and practice. By sharpening our perception, which tends to be affected by the condition of permanent performance, the contributions are also a catalyst for a form of political, cultural and ethical restorative design. 

Design is, therefore, positioned as a critical practice that problematises conventional ways of inhabiting and experiencing the world founded on human control and exploitation of other bodies. Designers could operate in domains that demand their capacity to make translations, raise awareness, visualise challenges and inequalities as well as not-yet-recognised collective common good, to open spaces for transgression. These are the recurring pursuits of the research initiatives launched by Het Nieuwe Instituut in such fields as automation, materials, and datafication.

Commissioner: Guus Beumer, artistic and general director at Het Nieuwe Instituut
Curators: Angela Rui, design curator and researcher; Marina Otero Verzier, director of Research at Het Nieuwe Instituut and Francien van Westrenen, head of Agency at Het Nieuwe Instituut
Participants: Academy for Urban Astronauts; Ramon Amaro; Danilo Correale; Design Academy Eindhoven; Het Nieuwe Instituut, departments of Research and Heritage; Lucy McRae; Melvin Moti; Bregtje van der Haak; Richard Vijgen and Leanne Wijnsma
Art Direction: Maureen Mooren
Design: Rudy Guedj, graphic design; Olivier Goethals, spatial design

In addition to the exhibition at La Triennale di Milano, the Dutch participation will feature a parallel public program in Milan and Rotterdam. 

Read more about:
I See That
I See What
You Don’t See:


The XXII Triennale di Milano
The XXII International Exhibition of La Triennale di Milano, titled Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival, will take place from March 1 to September 1, 2019 and will be curated by Paola Antonelli, senior curator of Architecture and Design and director of Research & Development at The Museum of Modern Art. Broken Nature will reflect on the relationship between humans and environments at all scales—from the microbiome to the cosmos—including social, cultural, and natural ecosystems. 


The presentation is made possible with the generous support of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. 

Het Nieuwe Instituut
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