Publication of 'The Cabinet of Curiosities: Between Curatorial and Ethnographic Practice'

  • Axelle Van Wynsberghe

Abstract: As researcher and co-curator of Creative Coding Utrecht’s HELLO WORLD! exhibition, I produced the ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’, a multimodal space in the exhibition through which audience members explored the tools and practices of creative coding. Creative coding is an interdisciplinary practice whose works treat digital technologies as material for creative practice. The community that has established itself in the Netherlands is composed of a range of creatives: they are artists, designers, programmers, performers, musicians, scientists, and craftsmen. From the Cabinet of Curiosities emerges an intricate collection of stories that challenge conceptions of technology as ‘rational’, ‘objective’, or ‘neutral’. It revisits the 19th century wunderkammer as a way to classify and recompose knowledge and address the technic and aesthetic as intimately intertwined. This paper suggests that creative coders’ correspondence with digital technologies illustrates their processual and relational nature, and offers further insight into novel forms of ethnographic approaches to the digital in line with New Materialist understandings of matter. Positioning technology as a form of inquiry, this paper addresses creative coding as part of an ontological search for how we relate to the world around us. Composed of physical tools, software screenshots and demos, prototypes, exhibition videos and interactive puzzles, the cabinet immerses the audience into the experiments and works of creative coding culture. It showcases the process of making as a ‘weaving together’ of artifacts that ‘momentarily hang together and coheres’ and invites the audience to think together with them (Ingold, 2013).

Full article in the Entanglements Journal.