Cartalk #1 Dean Allen Spunt Antwerp-Amsterdam 3 hours

It all happened in the fifties, all that . I used to live in a real hot rod area. They would build hot rod cars and go racing.

So, guys in white T-shirts and blue jeans I presume?

Yes, exactly. Obviously it was just like that in the 50ties. But there was a big hot rod culture in this place where I lived for years,

I don’t like nostalgia. I think you should stick to the age you live in…you know.

Yeah, nostalgia can be…a tough thing

That song is a tell tale sign of the excess in the eighties!

…or off how technologies influences our lives… Wait how do we get out of here?


Exit! Who sang that song again? Huey Lewis?

I don’t know. I think it is, I don’t know.

Get out of my dreams and in into my car… Billy Ocean? We are leaving Antwerp a bit late but I think that’s fine. The set up won’t take to long.

Yes, I already informed Maxine about it.

What the hell? Oh, OK, I see. We could have gone the other way. Parking lots always look like roller skating rinks or something.

I love this

Hey Dean, Thanks!

Was there supposed to be a seat in the back? Or…

There could be…

When you bought it there where no seats in the back?

There’s no seats no.

That’s good. It’s great for a band to go on tour.

I know!

… if your two people, like Randy and me.

You’ll have to learn to drive stick though!

Oh, but Randy can drive stick.

I never learned, isn’t that funny?

Yeah, it is, but not too surprising since your from LA.

When I started driving it was rare, less common, to have a stick shift in America. But all the older cars do. All the Volkswagens. Trucks.

Funny thing, when I was in LA we had a rental car, an automatic. I thought that automatic shift was so scary!


Of course, because I’m not used to it.

You don’t do anything, you just let it go.

I know it’s easy. But so boring as well.

Wait, where am I going…Right!

I’ve driven a stick shift before I wouldn’t trust that I could do it long distance…

…or uphill or things like that. That’s the tricky part right?

It’s fine.

It’s easy?

Think you just need to go to a dead end street and practice for fifteen minutes or so and then you’ll be fine. So, if you want we can delay our arrival a little bit more…

Do donuts? Do you know what a donut is?

Yeah, of course I know what a donut is.

Not the food, but the trick. Car trick.

Ah, no, what’s that?

You go into an empty parking lot—it’s a very suburban, Californian thing. Maybe it’s a suburban American thing even. I don’t know. Anyway, you go into an empty parking lot and you just spin in a circle very fast, with your car.

Until you get nauseous?

Yeah. It’s kind off fun though. I would do it when I was thirteen or fourteen.

Thirteen or fourteen? And driving?

Yeah, Well no. The kid that was sixteen and had a car, would be driving around and go

‘Donuts’. Then we would all spin around…

Kind of stupid!

So, you would just pull up the handbrakes?

Oh yeah, yeah. Oh maybe that’s what it is. You would go fast and then hit the e-break.

Would be nice to learn some tricks!

Not very smart, but when your thirteen or fourteen, you’re not very smart…your still learning.

Everything is still exhilarating.

Remember what I was telling you yesterday, about the drive I would do with Stefan?

The drive to Paris? Sounds romantic.

Sounds romantic, but doesn’t need to be.

Could be.

Yeah, Doesn’t need to be. (laughs) Anyway, he mailed me to ask if we where still doing this trip. So, we started talking about it and as it turned out he needed to get some stuff for an exhibition from Hamburg to Paris. And I thought “perfect, we’ll just do it then. Kill two birds with one stone and all that.” Because if he needs to be there anyway, we could do the drive then. At first, it seemed like we where going for that option, but later that week he mailed, that he thought it might not be the best idea for me to fist drive all the way there and then back. But to my opinion is the complete opposite. Of course it’s silly and stupid, but then on the other hand, if it’s possible, then why not? If you have the time, whatever…

How long would it take you?

I think it would be two days

Oh shit, that’s long! Is it worth it?

I think it could be. But, I’m not going to do it if he’s sort off stressed out already about his show…or unsure about the whole idea of driving there. But the reason why I’m telling this story, or what I wanted to point out, is that people are so rational. I don’t know if you are a very rational person but I’m really not. I’m a super irrational person, by choice.

By choice?

Well, yeah, it is so easy to say no to so many things, just because they are irrational…


… maybe because it’s not the most interesting or smart thing to do.

Like going to an empty parking lot to spin some donuts. But then your life becomes this stable line. And I’m not sure I want that.

I can rationalize a lot of things inside my head. For instance this trip. It wouldn’t have made sense to a lot of people because one, I’m just spending money. I mean. And the performance is different from rock-performances

… there’s not a lot of return in it. Just a trip that bleeds.

Well, some people go to Tibet in search for that.

Yeah right, so, I’ve rationalized this trip in my head so that it makes sense.

A yes, like that. But that’s the good kind of rationalizing. It’s so crazy, that it makes sense.

Yeah, It makes sense!

Aw, I really need to do something about my breaks.

Oh yeah, joyful we’re passing the now.

So, tell me, which was the nicest performance on this trip so far?

Oh, oddly enough Can gallery in Athens.


The actual vases looked pretty amazing.

And last night in was great too. I think.

Hey! Did you take a picture of that?

I did…But, yeah, I thought the sound from last night was the best.


And Kunsthal Athena… They’ve all been really great.

Different atmospheres.

Yeah, very. I’ve been recording them.

Oh that’s going to be interesting to hear. All those different spaces.


Yeah (hesitant), I’ve been looking at it kind of different. I’ll make…

…A tape?

No, I want to make a vinyl, but mainly because of the size I think.

Cool, one escape! You guys don’t have personalized licence plates do you?

We do but they cost so much money.

It’s not like in LA, or even America, where people actually communicate trough them.

Yeah, my dads got a couple.

Oh really? What do they say?

He has one…well, when we where kids he owned a big van that we would use for our travels. There’s my mother, my father, me and my two brothers. So, the licence plate would say ‘SPUNT FIVE’.

Spunt five?

Yeah! And then when I was about nineteen I bought the van from him to tour, for bands. And it still said Spunt five. We would travel around and people would call the van the Spunt five…


Yeah, and then he has another one on his car, a Mercedes. And it said DR1S no DCSCV1 which meant Doctor of Chiropractor Santa Cruise Valley and then one, number one.

Wow, look at that guy.

Shit, he looks like…

Kaczynski? The Una bomber?

No, not him. I was thinking of someone more innocent. Oh well, never mind.

That’s a popular look here in Antwerp: older guy with long hair. Balding and long hair.

And a beard!

What’s up with that?

It’s a thing! That’s a style!

I asked Bram about that and he said ‘No. They just let themselves go’.

HA! Maybe he said no because that’s his future look!

He said that’s my look.

Ha! Oh here is where the fashion show is on tonight. The graduation show.

Oh yeah? Vaast was telling me that this is also the time when all his students have juries.

Yes, but that’s kind of nice because normally those shows are for free.

And you can just walk into their studio and have a look. So you don’t only see an end result but also their process.

Right…I avoided school so I don’t relate to this idea of judgement.

When did you drop out? Did you finish high school?

Oh yeah, I finished that. And then after I went to Art summer school at CalArts.

And then from there on I went to community college, called college of the canyons. I was taking art & jazzclass

brrr jazzz-class

yeah jazz-theory-class. But then I left and went to Santa Monica city college.

But it failed me, so I left. I didn’t go trough that system of critiquing,so that idea of winning or loosing always seems so off putting to me. Even the idea of grading. You know I understand critique and your friends and the whole ‘hey I don’t get this’, ‘I like this’ but it’s the same  reason why I don’t like awards or winning something I mean, it seems having someone tell you if it’s good or bad. Who gives a shit! I don’t need some validation from someone to tell me they like it or not. It’s for me, so.

Yeah, but that’s amazing because for most people, reaching the point where they do not feel the need for validation for the things they do is such a long process.

They need time in school to look for that

Exactly! You are super lucky to have that as a basic instinct

Fancy hair salon. They all have short hair and beards.

What’s up with that, right! Oh, and don’t forget about their fixed gear bikes.

That culture is around everywhere.

That’s also globalization.

Yeah, It’s like the vase.

But a lot of

In LA we call them the new male.

The new male?

Yeah, they dress pretty sharp, they’re aware of street culture, but they are also very sophisticated, almost like an English dandy…Everything is kind of proper, but it’s in this street, masculine way.

It’s consuming a style.

We’re just consuming for an identity.

You find it trough the things you wear, listen to, …Well, let me come back to our validation topic from before then. When you have a band you are going to come across a lot of people that are evaluating what you do. Just by showing up or not showing up to a show, they are already validating or critiquing your music.

Yeah, but that’s different. Especially, where I come from: an underground scene. People don’t come because of the advertising, they come because they seek it out. So it’s not necessarily that you go to impress people. When I was a kid there was one magazine called maximum rock and roll that had revue’s of punk records. It wasn’t necessarily that I listened to the reviewers opinion. It was more about noticing this or that record was out. It was like an add.

In art it’s the same: you  have  a review or a critique.

But in art it’s different. I think in art a reviewer does have more impact and a more important role. They are able too…

Break something?

Yeah, in music critique that would be rare. A lot of writers don’t understand the nuances so it doesn’t have such a big impact on the music itself.

This is a great place by the way. Next time your around!

No, but then if you think about it a lot of kids… This is how it is.  You do a show and then you just find your own validation in that.

You already have it. For me validation is just I had an idea and I did it. And that’s it.

And if people don’t like it, too bad. But a lot of kids that are just a bit lost, and construct there identity too conscious by picking out certain clothes, listening to this or that,…

That’s part of being young don’t you think?

I’m now just trying to get out of here. Oh, OK, I know how we can go.

I like open studio days. I enjoy it. But that reason is the same reason why I don’t get the awards. It doesn’t mean anything!

We got nominated for a Grammy.

Oh really?

…Yes, and they said ‘come to the Grammy’s’ but we said no. To us that sort of misses the point: someone telling me I won. What did I win? The best show? A bunch of people in a room that decided our shows are great? That happens every day, in some room somewhere, when some kid go’s ‘I like this record more then this record’. We got nominated for best graphic design…best packaging. But we got beat by Metalica.

(laughs) What?

Yeah, they’re the ones that won the award.

Funny! Having said that—I do like the graphic designer you guys work with.

Yeah! I love his work.

Yeah, we worked together a lot. We grew up in the same town. As a matter a fact his band was one of the first punk-rock bands I ever saw. I was thirteen and we went to this club in Hollywood called Phil’s thrown. He was in a band with this kid called Aaron, that’s now playing in The Liars.

Ah yes, of course.

Well, he was also from the same town and we went to Hollywood to see them and some other bands. This was, by the way, the first time that I ever went to Hollywood on my own. Well, with a group of friends. One of my friend’s dad drove us. Dropped us off and went ‘Ok, I’ll see you kids in a couple of hours’. It was 1993 or something, and this club had been there since the 80ties, and I remember I walked in and it smelled like pis and there was an old punk-ladie looking like Vivian Westwood selling hotdogs in front.

Good combo.

I was taking in everything. In a way it was so confusing! I was listening to punkmusic, but my knowledge was limited. This was something I read and heard off, but to me, at that moment it became real. And very raw. Freaky! But we went in, saw the bands play. Brian, who was the singer ended up throwing pumpkins in the crowed and pulling his pants off.  Or maybe it wasn’t him, but somebody did. And to me all of that was just mind blowing cool. After them there played a band called corporate condo, a band from my high school. And right as they started playing, the headline, some older guys from San Diego who dressed like the sex pistols, pulled out a gun on one of the kids of my high school. So, we got rushed into a car by one off the older kids, like ‘ You kids you’ll stay here. Some shit is going down’. All pretty crazy to me. Anyway, that’s how I known Brian.

Does he still play?

Not really. But, he was in the sound-check performance I was telling you about. He played bass or yeah, effects. And we did a record together, eh…

Actually, could you move that.

Yeah what is that? It’s a metal rod with some paper around it?

Yes, blue-print paper.

Why is that in your car?

Don’t ask. Strange things are moved in this car constantly.

OK, when you pull over, I’ll move it.


But we did a record together for this thing called sound screen design. They put out ten inches about artist books. And was asked to do one. So, him Randy and me made some music together.

He’s not a trained musician?

No, but neither are we.

I don’t think that’s a necessity

. I would never thing about learning how to play music  an academy.

But, that’s what Bert was talking about in his performance yesterday as well. There is so much beauty in people that don’t know anything about a medium other than the enjoyment they get from it. When you start making something that’s weird or new, like your performances, people always need time to get accustomed to the new perspective. They need to shift the way in which they look or listen to something. In the beginning nobody will even consider it music, but after a certain amount of time it suddenly has a name, a definition, a history. Where now, in this moment, everything is still blurred and out of focus. And very exiting!

Yeah. When there’s no real historical context to put it in.

Damn, I’m so happy we came this way. Look at all that traffic we’ve avoided already.

Shit! Oh, do you want to pull over here? So we can move this thing and I can go pee. Very road-like!

Oh well hello. Dean!

Everything al right? I was just thinking in the bathroom…

Oh really.

Yes, I do my best thinking there.

A lot of people apparently. My Greek friend, Menelaos has a theory about that. He says more blood go’s to your brain, more oxygen…Anyway, tell me, what where you thinking about?

I was just thinking that I would like to avoid all award ceremonies.

In your life?

Uhu! I don’t know how many I would ever get, but I think I would like to avoid it.

Ah man, bad traffic! Antwerp is crazy, getting in and out of the city is always difficult.

And it’s only three o’clock!

Yes, we are almost as bad as

Pffft, this is worse! I mean LA is bad, but only during rush hour. Other than that…

It’s kind of smooth, it’s true!

…and there are a lot of side streets.

Maybe on Friday rush hour will start a bit earlier, because people get of earlier.

But, I don’t know, in LA it’s more about timing. You just avoid going out at certain times; like if I was to go to the store and I thought about it at four thirty then I would wait until about seven. Or, would go to that store and not that one. But, Beth doesn’t mind traffic.

She likes traffic?

Yes, she grew up with it. She enjoys being in the car and driving. Randy as well, he will just go for a  drive.

…driving is fine. Traffic, on the other hand. Traffic is horrible, also physically!

I try to avoid it driving all together.

So for you it’s like a necessary evil?

No it’s fine, but I could live without a car.

Even in LA?

Yes, even there. There where periods I didn’t have a car in LA. I would just use the bus or drive my bike. Now that I live in Mt. Washington it’s a bit more complicated. We’re going to Rotterdam?

We’re going to Breda, then to Utrecht and then Amsterdam. It should take us two hours. Now, maybe Three.

Because of the traffic?

Yeps. I always like looking at the logo’s of trucks because all of them handle with the same message but the variety is huge: some of them are ingenious, others are just lame.

Maybe, that’s what you can design…


Maybe you should design…


Maybe the plates! Fuck standardisation!

Go crazy on it: ‘No it’s fine you can use as many letters as you want. Why limit yourself to six’.

Or ‘why would you use a readable font if you can use Dingbats: smiley, hand, square,…’I like emoji.

Me to, The shit with two eyes is the best.

Communicating trough text became so much more fun since emoji exist. Before texting was very vague, it was hard to convey a certain emotion: it was impossible to see if you where yelling or excited. But now, you just add a little shy face and everybody would get it. Or I feel like eating a plate of pasta: now you just text a plate of pasta. It’s mostly the faces and the hands…

And the palm trees. There’s a lot of those in mine! Or, the cool smiley with the sunglasses.

Oh, I know what’s up. Life is just going to get better. Oh, yes!

Too warm?

Yes, I am. Your not? Sitting here in your sweater.

It’s got some holes in it.

That’s good, adds character.

Oh look at that. What is it?

Ah, That’s where they are working on the ecological soft shoulder of the highway.

Why does it have holes like that?

Because it resembles a binocular, so you look at what’s behind the sign. Nothing but nature. Ingenious!

Cute. Yeah, I like it too. Traffic’s moving!

So, you said Beth likes to be in the car to think? I can relate to that. Or like Randy to just go for a drive.

I don’t get so much enjoyment out of it. To just get into my car and drive. I don’t like driving without a destination.

Yes, but then you have a goal: listening to this record.

Right, but I meant no physical destination.

Did you know that at Def Records they have a car in the mixing studio? Just to  listen to their mixes?

For the feeling?

Yes, but also for the specific acoustics.

Yeah, I like listening to music in the car. Our last record was really, or maybe even all of our records are thought off as driving records. Maybe because we’re from LA.

Yeah? Do you test how they sound in a car.

We can’t really deny that we think about our music like that. Because that’s how you listen to music most of the time.

and how much variety there is. Makes sense, since everyone just sits in there car for a huge part of the day.


That’s quite specific for LA I think.

Radio’s a funny medium. Where I grew up there where only a few good stations on FM radio and  a lot of religious stations on AM.

God, you grew up in boredom?

Yeah, because there wasn’t any radio outlet. It’s funny. While Beth and Randy… Beth grew up in Colombus, Ohio a college town. So she could listen to college radio. Indie stations an such. And Randy grew up near Clearmount college. So he could listen to their radio. So from an early age on they could figure out there interest and saw their interest shift to this more independent scene. …Where you had to go all the way to Hollywood. Where I had to stumble upon things. It would gather more and more information and store it like a squirrel. Oh look, this is why your warm! You have to push this down. Otherwise the air conditioning doesn’t work.

AHA! Thanks Dean!

You’ve never driven your car before?

This is a new feature! Wow, global. And it’s the same here…Wow amazing

You didn’t know that?

No! Oh, this is great!

I’ve never had air conditioning in my car. If it get’s to hot in LA you can deal with it. But if  you live in a city like Palm Springs or something you have to have it. Because it really get’s to hot.

I’ve never given it any thought I’m more fascinated by the form of this hidden feature you discovered.

It’s not hidden, it’s right there. You didn’t know about it.

It’s good!

Very nice. This is very road trip, I need to pee again. I had like two cups of coffee, four cups of water. It’s good.

What else did you do this morning?

I just drank all kind of liquids to prepare for our road trip.

Ah! So we can stop more. Smart!

I don’t know. I woke up late. I’m still a bit jetlagged. But, Bram made me tofu scramble. He had never made it, but I walked him trough it.

That can’t be too difficult. How do you do it?

Well, you just start with some oil and some garlic and onions; And then you put some vegi’s in it and crumble the tofu. Simple. Is there a stop coming or?

Yes, there we go! Let’s get a coffee.

I need one!

Only in Europe!


That would never fly in the USA Are you still recording?


Wow that’s going to be the longest…

How many page’s do you think it’ll be?

Well, sometimes I’ll do some editing.

Like when you start talking about some stupid stuff?

Yes, but I normally leave in the directions. The ones where you go ‘Oh, we should have gone left’.

Oh yeah, that’s cool. Because, it’s those things that break up the conversation and put you in to where we’re at.


But, if you leave it on it’s going to be hours and hours and hours. Or yeah, pages. It’ll take for ever to transcribe.

Well, that the nice thing about it, it becomes a kind of essay. I think it can only say something about this space when it’s an ongoing process. An exercise that I repeat over and over for the next two years until it becomes a collection of all kinds of different talks. And trough it I hope you can get a sense of this space and the setting or the wandering. I’m very curious how it will turn out myself…For me transcribing these talks make sense because of my own background with interviews: I enjoy reading an interview in my couch  while being somewhere else in my head. And I hope these talks would have a similar effect on others. That’s the whole idea. Wandering!

Would be interesting if you would map out who your going to or where your going to.

Yes, I hear what your saying. Some game rules: like the amount of pages, the time, the fo…Oh no traffic, Quick, switch lanes. This seems to be better.

Are we still in Belgium?

No, we’re in the Netherlands now.

Ah, it’s so beautiful here. In the Netherlands.

Well we’re here. I’m sure you can find Amsterdam on your own from here.

Just a couple of ours to go. What time is it?

Four o’clock. I think.

You need to change the time on this clock. Is it still winter-time?

Yes, I can’t change it, because I took the radio out.

It’s fine. It’ll be winter again one day.

Six months? I think this is us. Oh no wait. Next exit!

(…) As to being defined as a musician; it never felt right. Only because I think about playing music, a lot, I play music it’s a part of what I have to do. But I could as easily call myself a manager…

Sculpter, producer, friend,…

…Booking agent, all sorts of things. With this last record we did though, I accepted the role of professional musician, in interviews When we started the record I thought ‘Yes, it’s true I am a professional rock ‘n’ roll musician. That was sort of the beginning: I make music an you listen to it even though it’s experimental it still is.

It’s very experimental. I don’t know if a lot of people are aware of the music you make. Which is not a bad thing.

Yeah, Yeah it’s sometimes…

But, I don’t mean only the music No Age makes. But a whole scene that just isn’t know with a big audience. I don’t know.

It’s easy to just hear something and form your opinion and move on…We’ll run into situations where the promoters don’t even know how we sound and are surprised. Maybe because they never listened to us before, maybe because we’ve been promoted in a different vibe. That’s happened a few times.

Yes, but it’s also because the genre you guys plays doesn’t get a lot of airtime. So, not a big audience is acquaint with this type of music. And that’s too bad. Maybe if the music that is played on the radio would be more diverse, people would find their way easier to this genre as well. It’s like you where saying earlier that you where triggered by this music before. When you where young and that you went on some sort of treasure hunt looking for more. Well, not everybody has that energy, but this doesn’t mean  that they wouldn’t like it once they hear it. And not only that one commercial wonder of the moment over and over again.

But commercial radio is still interesting, because there’s the phenomena of the DJ but often they are not the ones that pick the music. They have  a list of things they get to play whatever advertisers or supporters of their label wants them to play.

Car-radio, its a funny thing.

Yes. You know, people singing. I play drums a lot on the steering wheel.

Good acoustics!


I’m reading a book about the history of sound in motion (Footnote: LINK TO PDF) at the moment.


Yes, It fits very well with what you where describing earlier. But also with one of my future drives with Yuri Suzuki. He’s an artist that works a lot with or around the notion of these two aspects together. His whole practice is based on it. For instance, he transformed one of those typical black cabs into a receptor for citynoises that then be translated by the ‘car’ and converted into a musical piece. Which would then be broadcasted again while moving trough the same streets.

Like you mentioned before, sound is made to listen to or aims to be listened to in a specific place. But, It’s also nice to notice how a space can be present in music or in a conversation.

The simple fact that a car is one of the only place where you can still take the time to sit down and listen to something or someone blows my mind. Most of the time the car is where I would listen to a whole new album, simply because that’s when I have time for it and am not distracted.

Yes, it’s becoming a rarity that you just sit down and listen to a whole record. Looking at it’s sleave. I mean, I do that. But probably less often then before.

But in a car, you can’t or at least you shouldn’t be watching your phone. You need to focus on the road a bit, maybe your talking to someone, but other then that this time is yours. And there’s this constant movement.

The scenery that changes…

Exactly! Instantly everything becomes filmic.


Good talk Dean. Good Talk.

Yeah, kicking ass!

It’s too late… nice.(maybe a extract to the song on mouse-over ?)

 baby, now,it’s too late.

Though we really did try to make it. Oh, a cherry orchard!

A cherry orchard?

Should we go and buy some?

I can just jump out and grab some.

Deal! Do it now!

We used to do that when I was a kid. From where I lived there was a “small” road, the 126, it would take you around 45 minutes to get to the beach. The whole drive you would be surrounded by orange groves. So we would just get out and pick some.

Yeah, reminds me of one of my earliest memories. When I was younger we would often go to the south of France. And one summer we rented a house that was surrounded by cherry orchards. So, at night, me and my cousin would sneak out to eat cherries until sunrise.


How many times have you been on tour in Europe? Six? Ten? Twenty?

Do you mean by car? Because sometimes we just fly in to do a show. Driving I bet we’ve done around fifteen.

So you must have seen a lot of it

Yes, A lot of truck stops.

Touring is a funny way to see a continent.


I’ve been working on this idea of making a record that is from the public domain and combining it with clip art. There’s really not a lot of input from me aside form the selection. Maybe I’ll even hire someone to play the music for me instead of playing it myself.

You mean like elevator music or???

Anything that’s made to be used for free, things that are free from copy writes. I read this book recently, it’s called the sounds of capitalism, it tells the history of how music was used in advertising or how music originally became mass produced and how, trough radio mainly, music became adopted for selling products . Because originally radio programs had to be funded to get airtime. So for instance you would have radio shows named after products; like the Kodak radio hour.

Kind of like the record you showed me before from the Renault company.

Yes, exactly. So it started like this. Before advertisements there would be funding or sponsorship. But the programs would try to be tasteful, because this idea of selling something was not yet in the conversation. It wasn’t about the money yet, more about the prestige. As it go’s on they developed these ways of using songs in jingles and then finally ended up actually making songs for a specific product It’s a nice book. It just go’s trough the history of all that.

It sounds interesting! Who wrote it?

The writer is a professor at UCLA. His main argument in the book is that these days the  distinction between popular music and advertising music is nonexistent You can’t differentiate anymore between the two. Pop music is commercial and visa versa.

You mean like how certain songs get written for certain artists, not because the artist is interesting or promising but because they can reach a certain crowed of people trough this music.

In this book it’s not as open and clear as that. He talks more about the sound that is more open and commercial…Almost as if our tastes have adopted a certain commercial aspect.

And we are trying to move away from that again.

It’s funny, we became more global but also became more localized.

That’s because when we leave our own surrounding, when we go to another city, when we leave everything behind, we get confronted with the fact that—because we’re so globalized—everything is just the same, but different. And as soon as we touch ground we are confronted with that fact. I think that this disappointment makes us want to protect the things or traditions we think are unique or local.

Yes, it’s true, there’s not so much difference.

It’s a bit the same as when people move from county A to county B. You become more nostalgic of your own heritage and traditions, just because you need to get a grip on all the changes happening around you. I never would have guessed to whiteness that within myself, in my own behaviour. But ever since I’m living in The Netherlands I’m more proud of Belgian products, behaviours and things… All of a sudden…

You want Frensh fries?

Well yeah, obviously. It’s like all of a sudden Belgium is the best. Though, I think it is a weird country as well.

Of course. Your always are going to miss home.

Yes, but I think it’s more because, from a certain distance, everything becomes lovable again. Even though the trend of loving something local is as well global.


What surprises me is that my generation, or our generation doesn’t seem to have so much rage. We have this giant crisis and, unlike the 80ties punks, we sort of go with it. ‘Oh yeah, it’s a crisis. It’ll pass’.

Maybe because we can see much more trough our Google searches and Wikipedia annotations and are like ‘yeah, seen this before. civilisations fall

‘meantime, what text did I get’. But, maybe it’s also because we take matters into our own hands more. This performance tour is a great example of that. You got up and did it.


We seem to blame less people. If nobody knocks on your door to come and find you, you go looking.

It’s interesting that you can seek out your own more efficient then before. You don’t even need to like the same things as your friends. There’s no cultural perimeter that tells you what is good or bad. Now. My reality is so much more different then somebody else’s reality just because we have so much more options;  in food, the music, art, clothes.

I wonder if now, since it’s so open if kids are still finding a connection?

I think its also because parents want their kids to fit in. You still want them to feel part of the same group.And kids play with others and then discover these new things. So how was highschool in America? That must have been horrible? It is in any case so…

It was alright. I didn’t do any of the…is that a swan.

Yeah! And a windmill! There you go! You don’t see those in the states?

We’re almost in Amsterdam aren’t we?

Yes, That’s the city right there.

That wasn’t too bad.

Pretty painless drive.

Hamstertown. Isn’t that what they call it?

Hamstertown? No. They say Dam’k. I don’t know where they get it from.

It’s like Vegas. The European version. That’s what we call it in America. Are you ok?

I’m just a bit tired. Still.

Well, we are almost there.

Time to get some fresh air…

We can go out, walk around.

Yes, we should. It’s a interesting neighbourhood…I wonder if they, at one point would be interested in setting up Kunstverein LA.

Well, I wonder. Supposably LA is a big art town so, it’s good to look into. There’s always something happening.

It is! Always was, ever since the 70ties.

Always, kind off.

Baldasari made sure of that!

But then nobody really turned their heads toward the city because of him. It wasn’t until Mike Kelly came around, who stayed in LA and didn’t move to NY after school, that things started changing. But I think LA’s underground culture, has always been attractive. For the music scene at least.

Yes, It’s weird that there is this destict LA sound, even bands from totally different genres can sound similar.

Kind off. In the early 2000, coming from LA was very unreal. Everyone lived in Portland or Brooklyn. LA wasn’t a cool place. It was a place bands would avoid because there wasn’t really a scene. But it was always good for the stuff we where into, the particular underground scene.

I don’t even know what it was. Experimentation. But no real scene. House shows. Not anything more then Roy Allen and stuff.

There’s a photo on one of your record sleeves. It’s You and Randy and all these others standing in front of this place…

…The Smell.

Yes. I think that place did a lot in terms of establishing an actual scene in LA. A gathering point. It’s a bit similar to what Vally is now doing with his space, 019.

Yeah, great space.

Hang out!

Yes, hang out, but we would also work on things together there.

I think it was similar to what Scheld’apen was for Antwerp in the early days. And you will find it in any city you go to: a place that sparks.

Well, it’s something that’s needed. That’s not found in the regular circuit of galleries and museums or institutions. You don’t get that amount  of freedom.

Yes. No rules.

No the only rule is that you show up.

And aesthetic of it all is still open, still to be determined.

Yes, and it grows organically out of the events. For instance if you look at historical music scenes like punk or new wave bands.

Or whatwas for the Manchester scene…

In one sentence, you can’t help it. Or you do it on purpose. When we where young, and played at , we would champion the differences in a way. We would play together with a hard core electronic band, but then the band that came after would be rapping. Or there would be a guy painting. Different styles and different ideas of what music was would mix. So, when we started touring with No Age people would be like ‘Oh, wow, a two person band, how did you come up with that?’ And really, there was no thought behind that. It wasn’t that thought out.

What is this street? Damn, it’s beautiful out.

Yeah, welcome to Amsterdam by the way! Oh, should I go right here? I think I should.

Oh wait, I know where we’re at I stayed in a hotel down this street.

Well, maybe you’re going to stay there again tonight.

I hope not, it was the smallest room ever! And we shared it with, maybe, eight people? It was when we toured with No Age and Mika Miko.

True, because that’s your ex-girlfriends band? Right?

Yeah, and her sister Jenna. And Kate.

I don’t know them. The band quite before I started interviewing.

Kate just graduated from CalArts.

Good for her!

Well, maybe one day you’ll hear about her art or something.

Maybe one day I’ll book her.

Yeah, your going to book her? I could see that. I feel your going to be a curator or something. Is that what you want to do?

No not really, but I think it’s something I’m becoming more and more.

You could also be…

I want to be. Well, if I could choose what I’m going to be, I would choose to be part of a editorial board for a magazine. And I’m pretty sure that I’m always going to be a curator of some sort of space. And I wouldn’t mind doing some tours before I’m thirty, just so I can drive around a little bit and take care of things.

Like your doing now. Maybe you can curate a space in which you are also part of a editorial team.

Oh well, we’ll see. We are here now. Thanks so much for the talk!


Cartalk #2 Gregor Huber Zürich-Brno 8 hours

You should put the recorder here, otherwise we are just going to get your end of the conversation.

We don’t want that.

So, your sister writes plays?

No, she’s a theatre director. She was doing this piece called “Kleist in Thun”. It’s from Robert Walser. If I remember correctly, it’s about the young writer Kleist arriving in the Swiss mountains, suffering from melancholia. The piece describes his ambiguous view of the of the romantic mountain landscapes.


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Wow! Look at that building. All mirrors!

This would be a great place for an Italo Disco69 party.

Right! I agree.

In Belgium, back in the 90ties, we would have these raves with Acid house. They made a really good documentary about it a few years back called The Sound of Belgium.1And it traces all these random party houses on the side of the road and links it to the history of that subculture.

Belgium used to be a techno hotspot, wasn’t it? We did this workshop in Karlsruhe about the history of techno from a visual point of view.

Oh, so you explored the history of the  smiley’s.


 Well, they are kind of part of it. It started in Detroit and Chicago


…and with disco and all that.

Disco, of course . But what is interesting is how that sound changed when it came over the ocean. And if you listen to the music from The Netherlands and Belgium it’s kind of…


Violent and dark!

If you compare it to the music that was made in Germany or the UK around the same time you hear that the sound is more ecstatic. While In Holland and Belgium it was more harsh, which sound-wise was closer to Detroit Techno.

Yeah. In the documentary I saw this is explained as well, I think you would like it, they zoom in on the importance of timing and how the sound is linked to the things that where happening at that moment. Basically, what they’ve tried to point out is that Detroit Techno might not have existed if the climate would have been slightly different. If factories weren’t closing, disco wasn’t as popular the years before,…

So, there’s all these elements that all of a sudden where connected: the urban and social situation in cities at that time, the whole musical influence from Krautrock, with for instance Kraftwerk. But as well the technical aspect : the synthesizers that where all of a sudden at hand or merely the fact that drum machine existed. So, it’s a big coincidence that …

…things happened when they did.

 Yeah. But at the same time, end seventies early eighties, you see that in three major American cities—New York, Chicago, Detroit—with similar infrastructures, three different kinds of music styles arise: Hip Hop, House and Techno. These genres all had similarities in the beginning.

Yes,true. But the Acid house that was created in Belgium also had this dark sound because of what happened around the people that were creating it. I think that this music was strongly influenced by the urban structures and the mentality of that time. The fact that we just had a new highway, that we have a culture of meeting up in the bar instead of in each others houses and all those roadside cafés where people would go dancing until they were kicked out. But, parties in Belgium are still like that. No curfew. München!

Should we take this exit?

 I think so. Yeah, yeah, yeah. This is right!


Ausfahrt! It showed München, but it’s not an Autobahn. Saint Gallen?

I don’t know. Oh wait, this is the Austrian border already!

Ah! I’ve never been this way.

 We are in Austria now!

Nice! Wow! That is one special building! How would you describe that architectural style? Everything?

I’m guessing that this is the way to Bregenz and that is really one of the ugliest places.

We should change this music. This is just too sad.

So, I’ll just pick a song blindfolded!

Sounds good!

The Doors?

Yeah. LA woman!

You think? Yeah. Your right, it is! Hollywood bungalow…

a lucky little lady in the city tonight! whoooh!

I think it’s time for some sunglasses. I’m switching to holiday mode!

So, are we in Germany now?

I think so. This is a good song!

Yes, Nicholas Jaar.

I think I’m going to skip it. Wow, what do you have here. Electric Avenue? Martin Rev? Everybody loves the sunshine.Oh wait, I love this song.

Now I’m curious!

Suicide it’s like Elvis on Acid. Not only in this raw, punk way. They’ve done some others that somehow sound poppy.

I know what you mean. Cheri Cheri, for instance, is also a good example of that!

Yes, or their third album, which has more of a Twin Peeks feel to it. It’s a good song for the end of an evening. At the end of…Oh there’s a lake.

Oh my god! A lake! Right here!

There’s an exit coming up!


Should we take it? It’s so much fun to realize that this time is ours! That we can just decide where to go with nobody else to determine our agendas.

Yeah it’s great.


Let’s go left here? And park? Aha, Grill and Chill, that’s where we should take a stop!

When was the last time you went swimming in a lake?

I went swimming on my birthday, a few weeks back, in the middle of the night. It was the first time this year, and the water was still somewhat too cold.

And another good story about swimming involves the previous Brno Biënnale, when we went out of the city to go swimming in this beautiful lake.

Do you have any lake stories?

Yes, there’s one from last summer that I hold very dear. I went swimming with my friend Vita one night in the bay of Kotor and it looked as if the stars were reflecting in the water. It looked as if there were stars shooting from the tops of our fingertips or at least that’s what it looked like. Nobody else wanted to go swimming that night, but it was worth it!

It’s so easy to rationalize things and not do them. Like this trip for instance…Driving from Arnhem to Brno via Zürich isn’t the most sane thing to do.

But then again…

When did you do the first drive? Or what was the moment that you thought that these kinds of drives could have a meaning?

I guess I became more aware of the space when I noticed that I had driven my last car for over 300.000 kilometres and I only had it for two years, so that’s a lot of driving or time spent in this space. I became kind of nostalgic of that time spent I guess, or how it functioned for me. For instance, when I was working as an assistant in this little library in Belgium, I had to drive for forty minutes each day to reach my destination. And that would be some sort of a transition zone between the life I was living in Antwerp, and the life I shared with the people in that village. I also went to Ghent quite a lot by car and it would often happen that I would start the drive with a problem in the back of mind and then have it solved by the time I would reach the city. Or even when I was younger some of the best talks I would have with my mum would happen when we would drive home together from somewhere. I guess this space just offers itself for the most intimate talks. Maybe it has to do with the way in which you are positioned within this space. So, when I moved to Arnhem I had this naïve idea that I could just throw a party for my car to celebrate it. And that thought made me even more aware of how much this technique effects us. Our cities, our behaviour.

Now that I live in Arnhem my car has become even more of a tool to escape. It’s become even more a symbol of personal freedom. Its a very specific sort of space, which doesn’t only effect the design of the vehicle but also it’s surrounding space and to a certain extent even the conversations held in it. The whole ideology behind the invention or the illusion of freedom intrigues me and the effect it has on a person of course. It’s a two-sided coin. It’s a selfish, polluting tool. A drag when you take it to a city and an attack on your nerves sometimes…But then on the other hand, here we are, driving to Brno…

Yes, I know what you mean.

A car is a very selfish thing to own.

But on the other hand there are not so many moments in a day where you get a break from the efficiency with which you have to manage your time.

Yes, in a way it’s free time  because you’re stuck in it anyway.

Direction Nurnberg?

Yes, I would say so.


Exciting! To me it’s a bit similar to what you were saying earlier about dreaming and how it is actually a moment in which your mind is free to go wild in a way. When you step into the car normally your destination is already set, so until you reach that point you have all the time to yourself. The sound of the car also has quite a soothing effect on me personally. I don’t know. Its all these little things.


So, your interest in this space lies in its limitations; because you can’t get out and because your not really distracted by other things. And in a way it can also be very intimate: to be in this weird configuration together with another person, for a certain amount of time, which changes the way in which you talk to each other. It’s different from when you would be standing in a bar or on the street.


I hitch hiked a couple of weeks back. I went on a trip with my friend Noah to research a specific area in and around Zürich called Sihltal. We walked for over five hours to reach the end of the track and just couldn’t manage to walk all the way back. But, because the area is becoming more and more deserted, no more trains were going back to the city that day. So, we decided to hitch-hike. We were picked up by a very strange guy. You could already tell from the interior of his car that something was off. He had a kind of towel wrapped around his steering wheel and things like that. And when my friend asked him about it, he gave her a very sleazy answer. I tried to deviate the conversation by thanking him for picking us up and by saying that now a days there are a lot of perverts picking up people. But his answer was mind blowing. He just turned around to me, sitting in the backseat and said:   ‘You know by the time you find out it’s already too late’. Noah and I exchanged a look and then asked him to drop us off  at the next upcoming railway station.


That’s creepy!

We were only in the car for a couple of  minutes, but it was very creepy.


Yes, and you’re in such a vulnerable position at that moment. And you just know that anybody who hitch hikes or picks up hitch hikers is somewhat crazy. Or concerned…

In a good way sometimes.


Yes, luckily.

Still direction Nürnberg?


Yes, Nürnberg, Regensburg.

Just go straight here. No wait.

There was an arrow saying A32 flughthaven. Do you think we are going in the wrong direction?

Maybe. Next time let’s write a post-it with the route on it again.

It’s really difficult to say.

Maybe I’ll turn around.


We should get onto the A9, direction Regensburg. Yes, take this exit!

Did you get a reply from Radek?

Not really, the only thing he replied to my text was: ‘haha, good luck’.


That doesn’t sound promising.

Worst-case scenario is that we have to sleep in your car.

That’s not too bad.

What kind of person is Radek?

Radek…He’s a wild child. It’s always really fun to hang out with him. We’ve been friends since day one. We had a super funny evening once in Lausanne, when I was invited there for the Swiss Design award. We were supposed to sleep at the apartment of a friend, but because in the end we went with, maybe seven people, Radek and I had to sleep on a sofa-bed together. And it had a huge dent in it which meant that the both of us kept rolling to the centre of the bed. The weather was also very warm these days, so, it was also a very hot night. Add, on top of that, two cats which Radek and I are both hard-core allergic to…


Oh no!

So, the whole night was just… Oh look, Prague is already on the signs.



Visiting your house made me realize how much I miss having a house. I now have an apartment in Arnhem, but it’s not a place I invest in. I can’t wait to have an apartment again that is more than a place to sleep and store some stuff that doesn’t fit into the studio. Werkplaats can be a weird place…You just spend so much time there.

I’ve never been there. I would love to see it once.


But you’re visiting, right.

That’s going to be edited out!

Yeah, we’ll edit …

…all the nonsense that we’ve been talking about! In the end you’re going to end up with a talk that’s just two pages long.

With a lot of singing…

We could sing our conversation!


A sing-along-car-drive! A kind of musical!

Yeah! That’s the next step! I was recently in a performance piece which was basically a three hours long musical. I was astonished that I liked it, because normally I have a very hard time with a lot of theatre… For example, the Schauspielhaus we worked for was so conservative in their vision; in their thinking about theatre, considering it as just a stage, actors,…and it was a bit…


Hmmm. I’ve always had problems with theatre and the whole world around it. Though, I have no problem at all with theatricality in other forms. In photo’s for instance.

Then you would have liked the work we did for them. We didn’t see a need to illustrate the Theatre Stage. Photographed Theatre never worked for me. Theatre is meant to happen live and direct and it never really works in photography. We were more interested in the theatre that surrounds us. For example in the city. So we went looking for the theatrical aspects in media, advertising, television,…

Yes, I liked it very much! What’s this sound? Oh, OK, It’s just the road!

In Czech Republic the roads are…


No, they are really nice.

Oh yeah?


At least the one from Prague to the North is fine. I have no idea how the road is from Prague to Brno.

Just another ten hours!

I hope so.


Germany has some nice woods!

When you where in LA last time, did you go to the desert?


Alas. Laura and I really wanted to go, but Bardhi wanted to meet up with friends in San Fransisco. Our plan was to first go there and then return to LA to see the dessert. But the trip took us ages. It was crazy. So in the end we didn’t get there. I’ve been to California twice now and I’ve never seen the desert. Isn’t that sad?

Next time!


Yeah, that’s the plan.

So, where do you see yourself living in the future. Belgium?

No. If I would move back to Belgium, I would move to Brussels, not Antwerp. I definitely wouldn’t move to Berlin, but other than that all options are still open. I can still choose where I want to be, but it is coming to this point where I want some sort of stability. Well, not necessarily stability, more a rest from being in between places for a longer period of time. It’s nice to be at home somewhere, if only to leave it all behind.

What’s the problem with Berlin?

Nothing, I like to go there on a holiday, but as a city it’s too hip. Too many people from the same sector in the same place. It’s some sort of Hollywood for artists; everyone goes there thinking they’ll make it, but a lot of them end up working in a bar.

Hmmm, I’m also not that down with Berlin. But when I was in Rome the other day I asked myself, if I could live there. Then again, I could live in many places. I like the tempo of New York City. If I could choose, I would live in a city where you feel that there’s something happening at that moment–instead of living in the  legacy of that energy.

Such a sad song!

But the surroundings are super nice! We should be getting to the boarder.

Let’s take a break.

Yeah, let’s do that.

Is the music part of the transcript?

It can be.

And do you transcribe everything?

Initially, yes.

How long does that take you?

The transcription of a drive that takes an hour takes maybe half a day.

But I guess it’s fun to listen to it again?

It’s mostly weird.

I can imagine, because you’re just focusing on the words. You don’t see expressions or anything. The  story happens outside of the page, in your head.

Exactly, it just is what it is. Maybe in the end it will turn out not to be enough. And then I guess I’ll have to find another way to say what I want to say about this space. But somehow its a good feeling to not be too secure about the outcome of all of this.

Are you insecure about it?

Sometimes, yes, of course. I just wonder why am I doing this. If it makes sense? If it needs to make sense? All that jazz…I hope it makes sense.

I think there will be a lot of parts in the conversation that will be a bit boring for a reader. Certainly after a while. But I think it offers a really good frame for what you are trying to say. So…I think I would be interested in reading it.

Well, you are at least going to have to read your part…

We could also talk about what we are seeing at the moment.

But, then we would not be talking to each other, but to somebody else.

That’s true. Did I tell you about this diary archive I visited recently? Did we talk about that when we met in Berlin?

I can’t remember.

Didn’t we have a conversation about the diary and the idea behind keeping a diary? And how it aligns with the idea of making a publication in which you are already talking to somebody else, a potential reader. Yes, Czech Republic here we are…

I guess this weird statue is the border then. But, did we talk about that? I really can’t remember…

Yes. I think I told you about the diary archive I visited close to Karlruhe. Where they keep thousands of diaries of all kinds of people. Anyway, it started as a private initiative and kind of grew from there. It’s a place where mostly diaries of deceased relatives are brought.

That’s such a beautiful gesture.

Yes, but what is fascinating is that more and more people are sending their own diaries to them on their own initiative. Mostly very young people who, in a way, see this as a kind of publishing platform. Or at least as a place where they can be sure that their thoughts are externalised. Making their mark sort of? Especially when you’re young—sixteen or something—I think you have this need to confirm your existence.

But it has more to do with a personal search for an identity I think. More than anything else maybe. In the end it doesn’t really matter if somebody reads it or not.

But I think when somebody makes the effort to send his diary to this archive, it’s also becomes a way of getting in contact with other, kindred spirits.

Maybe even finding someone that understands all of it.

Some sort of affirmation?

Yeah. Then on the other hand they also receive donations from very old people who have written down their autobiography for this specific archive. Because they hope it’ll be of interest of useful for someone else. A future generation…


What was interesting was that most of these were from men, not women. Something I didn’t expect. But that seemed to be connected with a certain generation. A generation of young men that survived the war.

So, in a way their stories are also some sort of personal therapy?

Maybe. But the other thing that was striking is that the men of this generation obviously believed that their life was more interesting than the women of that same generation. Even though their life wasn’t so spectacular. They may have spent their whole life working as a clerk in some big firm, eating the same lunch every day… These stories sometimes take up a whole shelf. Nowadays, more women send in their diaries.

I think there’s also something perverse about it.

What’s perverse about it?

I don’t know. I think, although probably this archive exists for scientific research, it’s still quite an intimate, intrusive idea to read somebody’ s diary. Or to let somebody read yours. But then again, as you said before, when somebody starts to write it’s almost as if you have a possible reader in mind already.

Yeah, but if you send your own diary to this place you almost intend for it to be read.

For me it relates somehow to voyeurism. It almost feels staged in this way…

It’s difficult to say. Sometimes it will be, sometimes it won’t. But, like the conservator of this archive pointed out, with all the social media we have at hand now, some of this ‘self publication’ has a much higher frequency on line. Even if it goes outside of the classical format of the diary. It has almost become an inherent part of our every day life to send out these traces of our own existence.

…like bread crumbs.

Yes, and what’s more interesting is that, because of the popularity of social media, the archive has received even more diaries.

Since social media?

That’s the hypothesis they have; the conservator has the feeling that externalizing yourself or the desire to see more traces of yourself in the world, is influenced by the use of social media.

So the classic medium of the diary isn’t disappearing. It’s…


…catalysing with this new form.

I guess because… Well, for instance these status-updates are making us more aware of our daily life. Where we are, what we eat,…It almost becomes this thrill-seeking-competition.

Thumbs up. I have the feeling that for kids that are now in their teens it has become too important to capture their every move. Because social media has such an important role in the social structure of their life.

Yes, it’s becomes this Kafkaesque situation in which your word is not enough. You have to have proof that you were there or it didn’t happen.

You have to have a picture.

And that picture needs to be shared!

True. It didn’t happen if you didn’t share it. This whole idea of writing a diary is an interesting way of looking at this behaviour we see happening more and more, all of the time.

I agree.

We thought of doing something with that, together with the theatre group of Esther’s sister. She is doing a lot of research based performances.

Oh shit, what is that?

Wow…It’s a big eagle!

Better take a picture of this or it didn’t happen!

Wait let me get my camera…

I’ll slow down a bit. Look at this, I can drive 40km/h on the highway because there is just nobody around.

Aha, it’s an advertisement for some local beer.

So, how many frames have you got left on your role of film?

Twenty-eight. There are some Rome and some Pasolini memorial pictures on this film as well.

Oh well, we’ll just use those as documentation for our trip.

Somewhere around there should be a diner that has the shape of an airplane?

Oh, let’s stop there then.

But, how do you see this diary project evolving then, if it is already to be called a project?

I think it can be called a project. We started by photocopying the index of every diary and we have a kind of abstract of each of the diaries in the archive.


… because the people who brought their diary there had to write, in a few words, what it was about. And they also had to give a reason why they were writing a diary.

Those are probably already interesting.

Yes. And the people that run this organisation were really nice and very helpful. All the volunteers are old historians that meet up once a week to talk about the diaries they read.

And you don’t think that there is anything funny about this situation?

Of course, but from a perspective of writing history these writings add a very valuable dimension. You see, most historians base their perception on the past by researching very official papers, lawsuits, money records,…but diaries offer an insight into history from a whole different angle.

I see. It’s like following ghost trails. Trying to interpret what is missing and maybe discovering a pattern that says something about a specific time or event…Like this one!

So, who’s reading your conversations?

I don’t know yet.




So now maybe you can play some music. Didn’t you have music?

I’m not sure if I have music.

If not, I have a great selection of CD’s.

Maybe I have a something. Let me see. I have Italo Disco, reverberation radio… what do you prefer?

It’s all good.

OK, I wouldn’t mind listening to The Beach Boys. Italo Disco is maybe for another time…

The way back…

Yes, on the way back. Or let’s start with reverberation radio, because it’s really

a very nice mix.

And after we can listen to this CD. Wow, this is weird?

Where are we going?

Straight, but this is a very weird exit.

Oh yeah. I see.

Never seen anything like it.


OK. We’re off again for the last two hours.

This is perfect music for the end…

Aaaah. Yes,but, I would find your position more difficult then mine. Because you can’t really do anything.

Well, I’m kind of trying to dance a bit. I’m also not that tired right now.

haha! Well, when I went to Chaumont a couple weeks back I wasn’t the one behind the wheel and I couldn’t, just couldn’t stay awake. And when you give in to this feeling of false fatigue for one minute, you’re done. You become a car-zombie for the rest of the ride.

Now the pretty light comes out. But it’s really good that we had this swimming stop. I think it woke us up.


Doing this drive without that stop…


I think Danny from Experimental Jetset also likes this radio station.

It’s very Californian in a way, with a lot of weird stuff in it…

Uh huh. I also listen to KXLU a lot. This campus radio from OC. When you listen to it online, during the day, you hear the music of the graveyard shift. Weird!

Ah Yeah. So it’s the music that is just on loop. The night music. I sometimes listen to the NY public Jazz channel. I listened to a lot when I was living there. But when I listen to it now it’s also always the night-shift. Elementary jazz, which I don’t really like. It’s not the same.

Oh no, I’m really not into Free Jazz.

Free Jazz? No? I like Sun Ra. Their music has some very experimental parts which are not just noise, but where the patterns somehow connect and come together. I like that. When there is more space between things. Or for instance Don Cherry is one of those guys whose sound is a very reserved, free kind of jazz. Which I like a lot.

I just have a bit of an aversion to it because I dated somebody for quite a long time who was himself a free jazz musician. So when the relationship ended, it took my love for free jazz.

Oh, so you’re not good friends now?

No, it’s still burned land.

Was it a long time ago?

Almost four years ago. And it was also good that it was done. The relationship took so much effort. But it’s more the way in which it ended that keeps me angry. I think he really wanted to be friends. But I just couldn’t. It was done.

Hmmm. Maybe if somebody hurts you on that level, maybe you just couldn’t respect him anymore.

Something like that. It’s just a sad story.

[sings] ’It doesn’t matter anymore’

Right! Positive! Brno! Yes. Finally it is on the sign. Are you OK?

Yeah. I’m pretty relaxed. You?

I’m fine. How long do you think it is still until we reach Brno?

Maybe two hours.

You mean one. right?

Yeah, sure, one hour. It’s time for some serious xylophone intermission it seems.

Yeah! Hit it!

Rock on dude!

It looks like we’re back in the fifties.

[sings] Sitting all alone and thinking about you still. Sitting in my room and crying for you. Why, did you have to go. Why do you have to go? I hope Radek has fixed us some dinner.

Well, maybe just text him. “Radek, by the way, now that you fixed this problem for us, can you also fix us up with some food…and pay for it?”

I’m really happy that I’ll see him. It’s been over a year.

Uh huh! I still can’t believe I’m driving around in Czech Republic. Feels like a very random series of events have brought me here.

[laughs] OK, let’s put on some Italo Disco.

Perfect! Wrong county for it though.

This song has the most horrible singer. But still, it’s a very good song. Very cool.

OK. Question. What was the last thing that blew your mind?

In life?

Yeah. Like…Well for instance when I was still in school my math teacher, as an introduction to the lesson, introduced us to the connection between human anatomy—basically our five fingers—and the construction of our mathematical system. He said: ‘just imagine if we had six fingers instead of five, and what impact that would have on how we’ve constructed the world around us…’

Ah, OK.

We would come to the same solutions, but would get to the answers in different manners. Just imagine how our buildings would look, because not 45° but 30° would be a standard angle…

That to me was quite mind-blowing.

Here is the voice…I’ll have to think about your question. Is this a traffic jam?

Aaargh! We’re never going to get there!

It’s funny. Because in Italo Disco it often happens that the lyrics don’t even make sense, they just somehow sound cool. A friend just sent me a translation of this song called “Slice me Nice”.

Or someone shouts ‘the night train’ in the middle of the song.

Yes, but somehow it has to be a practical attribute…That’s how you get all those baking bread metaphors. Hmmmm, something that blew my mind…

To answer your question, I guess these moments when you realize that you have different layers in your psyche. And that you know them or think you do. I just remember that, when I had this phase where I wasn’t doing so well, and had this weird fascination with al these different aspects of my own psyche. Just seeing that you are like this, but also that you are like that and that and that and that…is kind of mind-blowing.

But was there some sort of cause?

Well, maybe it was just a time when suddenly I was concerning myself with things I never thought I would be concerned about. During the daytime it wouldn’t affect me, things I didn’t realize even, but then later still resonated in my mind.

Yes, I see what you mean.

So, now that we have to play some more Italo Disco to counter this subject.

Haha. Bring it on Georgio. I Like the whole subculture around it too, around this Italo Disco scene. The idea of these musical temples…I can see it happening that, when I’m done with this project, I decide never to ride in a car again.

Haha. Just throw everything away…

And become a reactionary. This drive has been relatively painless, but it would be nice to arrive now.

Are you feeling tired?

No, I’m fine. But I think it could be nice to get out of the car now, see the city, see how far I was off with my mental sketch of how Radek looks…

I’m just curious.

Hey, but at every point I felt really good here, in this car. I’ve never driven this far without getting at least a bit nervous or something.

Really? Oh, what a nice compliment!

Maybe I should wait with it until we get there safe…

Oh, Right! Don’t want to jinx it now!

No, but I’m a very easy going driver.

Oh, look at that, that’s worth a picture!

I didn’t take a lot of pictures on this trip.

We did, with the  ‘eye of our mind’. But you did bring a lot of cameras !

I don’t really like digital cameras. I don’t really know how to use them.

It’s kind of the same. Don’t you think?

No, not really. I always have the feeling I can still change it. I’m not as focused as when it just comes down to this one shot.

I see what you mean. It’s more of a viewing aid?

Is your intern still studying?

She is. In Leipzig.

Aha! Good school.

Yes. She is very quiet and very clever. She’s not this designer-designer who just likes form, but she’s also looking at the subject from different angles. This thing with an intern is just…

A lot of work?

Well, no, it’s just that taking on an intern is always a bit risky because the atmosphere in the workspace is affected a lot by it. So if your aura doesn’t   fit, then it can become quite strange.

Tell me about it.

Did you have this kind of experience?

Yeah. A big part of being at Werkplaats or a lot of your energy at Werkplaats goes just to that.

So are there some people that, when they step into the room make you think:

“Oh, I’m really happy there are other people here at the moment. And it’s not just him and me?”

For sure! In Werkplaats it’s not necessarily a personal dislike, the group is also affected by just one person’s bad mood, or stress…luckily it also works the other way around. Did you hear about this Korean laughing wave? Where just three girls started laughing and then spread it throughout the school.

And it went out of their class?

Yeah. Out of their school even. But laughing is so contagious…Thinking about it already makes me happy.

OK, let’s see if that would work in Brno! We arrive and we just make the whole town cry.

Crying is very different.

I’m not sure. Maybe you’re right, because laughter it is more based on a mimicking reaction.

It’s somehow similar to yawning.… and when you see somebody crying, your reaction is more aiding. You try to figure out what’s wrong.

It’s not like you start crying as well. Wow! This is a scary road, the lanes are very close to each other.

I have the feeling that the time on your clock…

…is off. I know!

Yes, but I also have the feeling we are getting closer to it.

huh? Damn. It’s an eternity!

What kind of music do we want to hear?

More Italo Disco of course.

Of course.

Why did you bring that subject up earlier about the atmosphere in a studio?

Do you sometimes have that?

Sometimes, yeah. On the weekend or when Ivan is not at the studio, I open the door and just hope that I’ll have the space for myself.

So that you don’t have to be very social.

… So that you can listen to music and not care if it’s right or too loud.

That’s different from our space. Because everybody has their own routine and comes and goes as they please. And all these different rhythms find their alignment within the structure of this space; some people come in very late, others very early but stay late, there are people that leave for two weeks, but when the’re back don’t leave their desks accept to go to sleep; there are people that are there all the time but procrastinate…

Like me!

Like you?

Yeah, the later the hour the more efficient I am. But I take a long time to get into the rhythm.

I can work quite efficiently in the beginning of the day. After lunch I’m a bit less concentrated, but then as people start leaving for home, by the end of the day I get very focused again. But I prefer weekends, when nobody is there.

When it’s your paradise.

Yes, sometimes I just get the best ideas then. I read a story about light flashes that are produced when you’re driving trough a lane of trees, in France for instance, and how they can affect your brain. Because the light mimics a stroboscope. Some people, after hours of driving, were affected by it and it changed how they experienced their surroundings. Or the dreams of people that would have been asleep on the passenger seat of the car, would suddenly shift by this effect.

Like a dream-machine?


The publication from Chaumont kind of deals with that idea of perception.

Who did it?

A French designer. Olivier Lebrun.

A friend of mine also made a very nice publication about it. Her name is Joske. She made a work where she would test how her surroundings could effect her dreams. She would build these crazy DIY research instruments, made from window wipers, pens, and strings and would then go to bed hooked up to them. But aside from being her own subject, she would also be the researcher reporting about herself in the third person. Like: “The subject didn’t sleep very well. Constant movement was noted throughout the night”.

Oh really.

Uh huh. And she also created her own dream machine out of a Crystal. Well, your story made me think of it.

Nearly there! I got a text from Radek. I remember this hotel, pension he arranged for us. It’s sort off close to the big square and the church. It’s right in the centre, but I don’t know if I could recognize the exact street. And Brno is kind of big.

Not big like Zürich you mean.

No, No.

Oh, then we’ll be fine! You know what would be nice to see? Some former communist statues.

So funny that you say that, because I was just thinking about something in Prague which might interest you.There is this communist mausoleum on top of a hill, that has a very interesting story of how it was instrumental to different ideological movements. It looks very…


Modernist. But then it has this little statue in front of the first democratically elected leader. But then, when the Nazi’s invaded, they used this place as their commando centre. The same building. And that after, when the communists came they took over the same space and turned it into a Mausoleum, where they would display the bodies of former communist heroes. And they had a sort of hospital in the basement of it where they would cool the bodies. It was, at the time, the most sophisticated place to preserve bodies.


And they had a system that would elevate the bodies from the fridge into the showroom.

That’s crazy! And it’s still like that?

No, now it’s a Museum the Czech Republic’s history. But you can still see the traces of the other functions the building had in the structure of it. And what’s interesting is this  museum had to question how they would use this space today. So they decided to incorporate the history of the building in the display about Czech history.

Which doesn’t really…

Which doesn’t really work. They kind of have a perspective from the present, where everything from the communist era is preserved as bad, and so it’s a tainted view.

I see…It sound very interesting. I would love to see it.

Well, it’s in Prague.

Oh, so let’s go right now.

Yeah. Just another five hours driving.

We can do it.

On top of the eight we’ve already done!

Moscow, here we come!

I’m keeping you to that! Just so you know.

Oh you’re tired. I can see it.

No, no I was just looking at that bird in the sky! And the light!

Yes. And at the end of a drive like ours…

OK! Keep the camera ready!

Ah! For the next highway structure they are building here?

Exactly! OK it’s coming up.

Too late.

I didn’t really see what you wanted me to…

It’s a difficult task I gave you. I was just sort of fascinated by these structures they are using to make pillars for bridges over the highway.

Kind of monumental.

That part is going to be edited out too.

I think there will be some more parts

That will need to be edited out.

Oh yes. What are we listening to?

Oh, just silence.

Oh, is that what this is.

You want to listen to some silence?

I can put some silence on, I think I have that in my play-list.

Well, if we follow John Cage’s train of thought there’s no such thing, right.

Just imagine if you could play actual silence.

I don’t think I have anything left on my iPhone. I cleared everything because I didn’t have any space left.

We can listen to the recording of our conversation.

That would be meta-meta. To listen to it while recording it again.

When we get to the point where our conversation went in a circle. It just took us eight hours.

So, Silence or The Beach Boys?

I have something. CD’s!

Ah! The volume is really high now, so maybe turn it down first.

Let’s try this one. Oh, it’s not working. Or we can listen to Sonic Youth?

Yeah! Sonic Youth!

And maybe we should take a picture of our dashboard too.

OK. Maybe it’s not the right moment to listen to Sonic Youth.

No, I agree. It’s not the right music for the end of this trip.

It makes me a bit nervous and stuff.

OK let’s see what else we’ve got.

Are you going to try that first CD  again?

Yes because there’s a really good mix on it. You would like it. It’s got some Italo Disco on it too.

Doesn’t seem to work.

Hmmm, no. That’s too bad! But I have some more here. Number two!

Running up that hill? The original or the version by Chromatics?

Chromatics. Wow? Was that a deer?

Dangerous! I’m always afraid they are going to run into the street. In the US we saw hundreds of them.

Yes, but that was so beautiful. It was standing so close to the highway as well! Normally when you see a sign alerting you for deer, you don’t even catch a glimpse.  I’m going to drive a bit slower, because this road is horrible; and I don’t want to elongate our trip by standing on the side of the road myself.

Is this…


This song…

Oh my god!

[sings] “Hurry boy it’s waiting there for you. It’s gonna take a lot to take me away from you…I blessed the rains down in Africa. Gonna take some time to do the things we’ve never have…”

Oh! The wild dogs that cry out in the night? Alright!

I’m just gonna sing along. Sorry!

When the chorus comes you’re going be ready right! I can’t believe this CD. Are there more gems like that coming up?


And again…Hilarious! Toto! I don’t know how many karaoke bars were…

You cannot ever never listen to that song again and not think of this trip.

Ha! I know.

No, definitely not. Quite an eclectic mix.

I can’t believe we’re almost there.

This has been an endless drive.

And for you it’s the second day in a row…

True! And these roads are really bad! Adding some tension to our trip.

I’m a bit scared of all these holes and bumps.

We kind of look like tourists at the moment. It’s as if we’ve been in this car for ages!

[laughs] Well, we’re getting closer!

Are we really? Maybe we’re stuck in a time loop.

Stuck in a moment. What about some Beach Boys?

Fucking Brno! Where are you?

Somewhere in these woods! It must be almost a 1000km away from Zürich!

Similar to going to Berlin.

And now in the dark this road gets even scarier!

Yeah…I don’t know if I have a lot of talking left for tonight…I’m pretty happy with the amount of talking for today, so maybe dancing would be a good alternative.


Well, yes, I’m very happy you’re saying that, because I think we need to stretch!

Oh yes. We can combine the two.


I can’t believe we’re finally getting there! Well, it’s probably the wrong town. Not Brno, but Bruno. Or something like that.

“No, you’re in the wrong Brno. What we are having here is a gardening event.”

Fuck it then we’re going to that gardening event.

We’ll go there and we’ll have fun. Just a few minutes left.

So is there anything you still would like  to share?

You mean…Are you still recording?

So, you recorded my singing?



Yes! But don’t worry! Nobody will hear you, because I was singing much louder!

Cartalk #3 Olivier Lebrun Paris—Karlsruhe 10 hours

It should be here… I think.

Alright…Can I just go here?
This we need too I guess.


When we get to the highway we should pick up a cable, because mine broke on the way here

What kind of cable?

Kinch to kinch


Where’s the other stuff?



(the GPS starts in on the conversation) Links afslaan, dan links afslaan

mmmh Germany!


So how do you know Urs?

Via email!


So, I was telling you about this book ‘Stolen Works of Art’  that I published back in 2010. As a self-published. And it was distributed by Motto Berlin.

GPS: NA 250m, aan het einde van de weg, links afslaan.

(laughs)   WOW! What is she saying?(laughs)


Ja! Nee! She seems friendly

Yeah, she kind of is…but still, I’m putting the sound lower
Hey did you hear about the fact that they are trying to give emotions to computerized voices?

Yeah! Yeah ! Especially for these kinds of utilizations.

(Engine ignites.)

Yeah, but where are so used to synthetic voices now… someone was bound to do that.

(Sound of the motor in the background over-throwing the conversation )



C’est parti!


Oui. C’est parti, une party.


So, yeah, Urs…We had been in touch because he had been proposing, on his website—yeah…she doesn’t want to talk to you anymore…


Not even that… She doesn’t even show me the way!


I think, I’m not sure, but I don’t know how to get to Germany from this street.
(laughs) from this street… (laughs). hmm, well, that’s handy…the one time I decide to take a GPS, it fails me!

I can look on my phone if you want…

I think it’s going to be to the right!

Yeah! Sounds good! Just wondering- do you still want to buy a cable? Because then maybe we need to buy it before we get onto the highway…

Ah, yeah, but I think we can do it on the highway.


OK. The GPS is up now. Ah, and it’s to the left.

Yeah! Cool!

It was quite nice to drive trough Paris this morning!


Yes. It’s felt a bit like site-seeing!

That means you where lucky! You came from the inside. I fear that there is a BIG traffic jam because of a flood in the West.

Oh, really?

Yeah. Everywhere.

Damn. That’s not so good for us.

No but it’s fine we’re not going west.

So, back to the story, so you where self-publishing this book…

Yes, and Urs was proposing on his website a bootleg of this book called ‘how to make your own living structure’.

Ah! Yes.

And he was proposing it as a swap—meaning, you would give him a book and you would get this book in return.

So I send him an email asking if he would swap his book for a copy of my book ‘stolen works of art’. But he mailed back saying ‘ Ej, I’m sorry, but I don’t have any copies left of the ‘how to make your own living structures’ but I’ve seen your books, because we used to host Motto Zurich in our office and I really like it. Let’s keep in touch BTW.’ And I was ‘Ej co, thanks. I have this other publication I’m working on, maybe it could interest you—but I was not trying to find a strategy to approach him or anything…’

Nah, but that’s most of the times the best strategy. Sincerity

Yeah, and it was more like ‘hey, I didn’t think about it, but I’m doing another self-publication similar to the stolen work of art. Maybe it could interest you?’ and he replied ‘hey man, I wished I had done it by myself, let’s do it’. This  was two years before we released the book.


Because at that time, Urs, with Rollo was only using the Risso-machine.

(In the distance an ambulance sound in the background resonates)

And in fact it was a total mess to make a book with the Risso. At some point, even if the book had only four hundred pages.

Can we go here? Maybe that’s not the best plan…c’mon babes! Move!

(the ambulance sound gets closer)

Where do you go to in these narrow streets?

OK. Saved. And now?

You have to cross the intersection.

It’s red!

(A Car honks)

Yeah ! yeah !

Hey Ho!

I’m curious how… ah yeah!We have to take the A3.

So yeah…

Yeah! Risso-printing that’s so popular…

It’s funny because for students it’s a kind off phantasm… ‘Wauw a Risso machine can do books, how cool is that’. And I’m like ‘you know, email can do books, talking can do books,…’


Content makes books, not the machine.

Yeah. Nice!

Wauw. Watching this guy on his bike is like watching a movie.

It’s not a movie, It’s a drummer. He’s more like the main character of the movie.

Yeah! Yeah!

He practised all night…

The moment of his life is today…

Today he’s auditioning for one famous jazz musician.

Yeah! will succeed. Today is a good day!

It’s a good day!

I’m a kind of emotional robot—with the voice—I can tell you where to go, very politely. ‘So please can you go…I’m sorry can you take this exit’.

(laughs) haha! The  sweet French version!

‘No! Watch out! Don’t go there!’

‘Take care!’

(As they pass by an aggressive driver…)

(Singing) ‘It’s a Jonny, in a car, driving fast’.

Nice. Some traffic.

Brussels! Perfect!

Yeah! Yeah!

So we’re going back to your country, almost…

(laughs) No, let’s not go there!

I think, when you came to Paris, you must have passed by this way… Maybe.

I came from Montreuil.

Ah, yes, that’s here…

Could be… Risso. I’m not sure about it. It’s good that these possibilities are there and that you can make a book very easily, fast, on your own. But it also puts a layer on top of things, makes it look prettier, while it’s often still shit!

Yes! Totally!  Between 2008 and 2010 I spend a lot of time in Berlin… and…

Because, you had the brilliant idea of moving there?

Yeah, like many people…(with irony)


But I never did! I would stay for maybe one month in January, to visit friends. And I also was seeing someone with a flat in Kreutzberg.  So we where visiting a lot.  It was sort of around the time that I quite my job as an assistant…I was letting go of everything. I was growing a new skin, you know. I was really considering Berlin. But it always took about two weeks there for me to change my mind and be like ‘OK, common let’s go back to Paris’. 

(laughs) ‘Hey Paris! How have you been?’ 

It was cool, for a little while. But at that time Motto, for instance, would be packed with books in blue and gold. Red sometimes. Risso everywhere.

Car honks in the back

Hey, come on! But you where unable  to look at a individual project, because everything looked alike. Everything looked exactly the same. We would even rate books by ‘if they would fit in Motto or not’. The shop became a grading tool for everything that came out. Quite interesting…But I have to acknowledge that for my own work Motto has played a big role… Alexi was one of the first people who wanted to distribute the ‘Stolen Works of Art’ book…I think there where 140 artworks in the book, so we made 140 copies of the book. Mainly because I didn’t have the money to print more copies…

Yeah! And then luckily it works out conceptually as well…

Yeah! Yeah! Full of concept!

(laughs) It’s nice that you tell it like it is!

(laughs) ‘Let’s find a number that makes sense and fits my budget…’  But this book had a snowball effect…a bit similar to what happened to the Simpson book I did with Urs.  But the story there was a bit different. As I explained earlier, I knew Urs via mail, and I was of course, interested in Rollo Press and their approach…Urs was talking a lot about William Morris, the role of production to and all that… And it made me realize how important it is to publish, with a publisher. More than to publish something by yourself, because…

Yeah, it has to do a lot with distribution as well and our sort of … I don’t know—it can feel so lonely when you’re your own content manager, designer, audience…

Yes, it’s interesting, because…taking up that role  as graphic designer in my own practice, was also a way for me to question what it was that I had been doing since years, for museums, for clients, for institutions as an assistant for other designers…

I guess it was as well an outlet for things you couldn’t do in that role?

Yes, also. I mean when you are an assistant people are always telling you how important it is to do your own stuff, to find your own language… But if you make it too much into your own thing, you get told that you need to respect the chain of command. As a matter of fact, in the beginning of my assistant-career I had a encounter with this…I worked for a studio who was designing the identity for a furniture design festival, but at the same time I was approached by a furniture designer, who was exhibiting at this fair, to make his catalogue. But my boss at that time took me aside and to me ‘there’s two options:(kuh) either you do this book, which means you take a two months leave from the studio—and who knows if there would be a place for you if you come back or…’

Oh wow, that’s harsh!

That was quite bad, yeah.

He was giving you the freedom of choice without choice! You can do what you want, but if you do that, you’re out…’

Yeah! But the other option was nicer…Since I was his part-time assistant, working for him five days a week, he proposed  to make the studio bigger. I was still quite young at that time, quite loyal and I was impressed that he would take me on as a employee… So I told the furniture designer that I couldn’t do the catalogue and took the job. But, it turned into a mess, because the fact was that this furniture designer used to be good friends with the graphic designer I was working for…

Aha! And not any more…

Yeah, now they where like foes. Enemies!

OK! I understand now: you where win between fires! Cat fight!

It was silly that I was caught in that. But at some point I also wondered if the furniture designer didn’t approach me because he was playing some sort of game…

It felt a bit like the child of divorced parents. But it was a good lesson. Many years after, when I tried to establish my own practice, I tried to avoid these discussions with people.

I like what you said earlier about trying to establish your own practice you where trying to reach outside the cultural field. I like that very much! Because, in a way, as a designer you’re almost schooled to enter this field, whilst there is such a huge field where design might have a bigger impact still.

Where it is more needed.

Yeah I’m always underlining this… For example, my parents, they used to be accountants, but the books we used to have at home where not about accounting… There where al kinds of encyclopaedia, archaeology books,… let’s say a more vernacular library with a lot of images. I had friends that would had the whole Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, at home. You know all these very rich looking objects.

Yeah! Status symbols! Often even the bookcase surrounding it looks expensive…<

Yeah! It’s a certain aesthetic…But me, I used to look at books instead of reading them. And when I started as a graphic designer I used to always feel insecure. I had the feeling that I had to be more intellectual, theoretical,…

That everything needs to ‘fit’—like the number of copies of a certain edition…

Yeah! It’s super good to know every writer, philosopher, artist from every century…

…but it’s also good to not care too much, you know?

… yeah, but for me, when I was in school I remember there would always be someone telling me ‘You have to read…’ But this had the reverse effect on me, always! I used to have this reaction. If I want to, I will do it…but the authority in their message stood in the way of the joy…  The book that made me fall in love with reading is ‘Candide’ by Voltaire. It’s a novel about this guy discovering the world, a very simple story, but very interesting from the point of philosophy and sociology…  It’s a story that I really feel close to, because it’s all about experiencing something.

It’s a story you always come back to at different stages in your life?


I wonder  now what mine is…hm!

This summer I read Italo Calvio’s Baron perché. About a guy who lives in a tree. Do you know it?

No, But it sounds super good.

Oh! It is super good! Calvino is an Italian writer from around the same period as Voltaire. And this book is about a kid, a baron to be, who’s mother was an of officer in the army and who’s father’s very rich. His parents choose to give him a very strict education, the kind of education suitable for a nobleman. But one day, after the kid gets punished by his father or his mother …

One of them…

Exactly! …After this the boy climbs into a tree and refuses to come down. Never. So he lives his whole life in the tree…For me that very close to Candide, because throughout the book he gets to know a lot of people in the tree…there’s also a story about books (very interesting) So, that was basically the only kind of literature I was close to when I started out as graphic designer. And as I to you I felt a bit lacking… I felt that I should hide the fact that I didn’t know so much…It’s maybe also related with the fact that I’ve had a very strange, how do you say that, parcours…

Ah yeah! I know what you mean—discourse…

Yes, quite atypical in terms of design schooling also, because in high-school I actually studied economical & sociological studies. So when I finished high-school I actually went onto university to study that! But just because I didn’t know the name of the practice I wanted to do…

It a super interesting combination though, because I think a lot of graphic design, or at least my graphic design, has got to do with sociology… More with how people behave and choose to communicate, then which paper, fonts, whatever…

Yeah, sure…Maybe, … it’s not that I am the bad son of graphic design. It’s just that I tried to find myself in the middle of all this… What’s funny is that I took a two years course, a very technical one, in which I would design logotypes for pet shops and all this. And after I graduated my diploma would state that I have a degree in visual communication, but after this I did a one year post-diploma kind of thing. In the beginning in 2000.

Fourteen years ago! Crazy! You could have a teen-aged son!

That’s crazy! I’m 36 now, but some of my students think I’m 28… (laughs) But it’s funny because in terms of generation I’m closer to some designers who are 48, but  in terms of cultural background I’m also close to people who are much younger… I feel in between sometimes…

Right! So, you finished this two year technical course and then afterwards you went to a post-graduate which was more liberating?

Yes. It was an art school in Paris, but not at the Beaux Arts. It was a school for art and architecture…

Ah! Wait! What’s the name?

EPSAA. It’s a national art school.

Near Canal Saint-Martin?

Ah, no. It was in the 14th back then. But right now it’s located outside of Paris.

But what interested me was this combination between art and architecture, since, before I entered this school, I used to live in this specific city with my mother.

Which was?

Which was Cinquante temps en Èvry. There are  five of these kinds of cities build, around Paris, which where built in the late sixties called Ville Nouvelle.

Le Corbusier style?

Sort of, but not in terms of urbanism or architectural thinking. It’s just a…for example Cinquante temps en Èvry doesn’t exist as a city, it’s just the name of the five cities united.


Quite complicated…What’s interesting about this city is that, when I arrived at age sixteen, I noticed that there was a very strong separation between classes… One city is devoted to the lower class, another to the middle class and  the other is devoted to the upper-class… Which is more like a gated community then a village…  And this has always fascinated me, so when I graduated, I decided to focus on this topic.  I worked in close collaboration with a museum called EcoMusée, who’s main focus is the research of an identity of a place. They look at how these cities have been constructed and what their sociological impact is. Ironically, what they where lacking themselves was a good communication system for their institute…

So I developed this for them,…and it had all the aspects to make something nice out of…Wauw! A very nice car behind us (laughs)

Oh! Yeah! (laughs) Wauw! Fuck! Some people!

Rich students! (laughs)

(laughs) But how did you get to know this place?

I used to do a lot of skateboarding… and the city was perfect for that…all the architecture was quite sharp and there was nobody in the streets, never… So you could basically skate everywhere! But one day there where these two guys, from the CNRS, a research centre in France, who where investigating skateboarding in a urban context.


So they came, interviewed me, my mother even, how our relationship was (laughs) And via them I discovered the museum…Since they did a screening of the documentary there.

It was really crappy. It was this kind of documentary in the style of (with a low voice)Look at the skateboarders in the city. Who are they?”

“What are they doing?” (laughs)

“Are they bad?” (laughs)

So, where you sitting on your skate board and talking about what it means to be a skateboarder?  (laughs)

Yes. It was totally that! (laughs) But via these two researchers I actually got involved with the Museum. I got access to their archive an everything… and found some very interesting information on how this city was planned out.  For instance, I found out that—in the ideology of this city—all the bars had to be closed at nine, because they don’t want people to be drunk… But in reality that made many people, for instance me and my friends, drink in public areas.  We would just hang out and have beers on a bench somewhere. And since we had a car, we would also travel to Paris, because we felt that was the place to go…

Asterix park!

It looks  closed. For winter. We should stop!

Yeah it’s funny…These parks seem more exciting in winter.

They are beautiful!

OK, so…

Yeah! I discovered many things about my city and especially how it was developed to create frustration for the teenagers.

It’s a very interesting topic… It’s actually about the design of a situation as well. The stage is set and different things can manifest within its boundaries, but in a way,  it’s already been planned out…


But if it’s well done, it can also work quite interesting… Even if it fails, it could still be an interesting topic to study…

For sure! After this I moved to Paris… at that time my interest turned to this world of graphic design and all that. I mean,  it’s weird I grew up skate boarding: graffiti culture and all that… I wasn’t…

So, what was your tag name?

(laughs) It was quite funny at that time … My tag name was list.

(laughs) Probably!

and I still work a lot with indexes and lists… So, maybe …

It’s still related! (laughs)

It wasn’t conceptual at all. And BTW I made a lot of friends with this background. Graphic designers that where in the game. I’ve had some funny encounters like that… In Switzerland for instance. I started a conversation with someone and soon after we where talking about how one of his friends spend a night on my couch back when I was sixteen.

So, back to how you knew Urs…

(laughs) Actually… Urs wasn’t into graffiti, he was into skate boarding.

(laughs) Yeah! But he did sleep at your friends place… Anyway what I was going to tell you…do you know this place called The Barbican, in London?

Yeah, sure!

After it was build, they purposely left the surroundings un-designed … There was grass, but they didn’t make pathways leading unto the entrance or places where one should walk… which is of course very strange in a urban context where everything has been planned… But they left it open because they wanted the inhabitants to make their own little paths… and based on those, the actual infrastructure was planned out.

OK. So they saw it from the users point of view?

Exactly! So people would take the shortest ways, the most beautiful viewing points, …

That’s a nice idea!

Its a nice idea right! Very democratic. Efficient. It’s very liberating.

Funny, I was there two months ago.

Oh really? For Karel Martens his show?

No! No! I am actually working with a publisher who’s based in London. And somehow we met there. We walked around the building. It’s an astonishing building!  It’s a kind of…Well, growing up in the suburbia of Paris I’ve experienced up close what it means to live in this kind of projects. And normally it’s a failure…

Yeah! Epic failures even!

…but there it’s not at all the case… What’s even more astonishing is that it’s a sort of upper-class place to live…I went there with He was telling me that a friend of his lives there and that they have strict rules on how to live in the building… for instance, you are not allowed to dry your laundry on the balcony…

Yeah. A friend of mine, Camile, and architect who just moved to London, is also going to live there. Completely  by chance…


But it’s true. It’s amazing that this is a project neighbourhood people want to move to…and it’s also a bizarre location for this type of project, central London, a place you’ll rather avoid

Uhu, it feels more like a gated community… even though there are no fences.  #00:09:42-1#  But I didn’t know about this piece of history that they really investigated people’s use of the space…

I don’t know if they did that when designing the building…or to what extend…but for sure for the courtyard!

This makes the strict rules people are obeying to live there even more absurd! But, yeah!

I’m talking a lot…

Yes, but that is also the intention of this trip!  I mean it’s six hours…

True. But it doesn’t have to become a monologue. You can drive the car but you can also guide me trough the speech…

That’s the idea!

 So I just gave you some background onto how I ended up being a graphic designer…  I’ve been assistant for a Parisian studio for two years. Just after my studies. I think I was 23. And this guys where really nuts. They  where the coolest guys around at that time. They where telling me stuff like ‘Man, we are the Wu Thang clan of graphic design’ and ‘you’re part of our crew’.


These guys where already in their forties at that time and very well know in the graphic design scene…

What was the name of their studio ?

They where called La Beau Matic. They became famous because they where doing these participating projects… At that time what they did was very ground-breaking. So yeah, I went to some lectures, some design festivals, like Solomon on the river, just to discover what this practice was about… and with these guys I felt quite comfortable. I thought ‘Cool. I’m part of a studio. I look like a graphic designer,…’

“I’m wearing the right sneakers…”

Yeah! Man! I even put all of my stuff in their studio! But for the first year I was paid about 3000 Euro’s


For the whole year?

Yeah, and I didn’t know what was behind this, because I worked on a lot of things: websites, identities,… And I was very happy just to work as a graphic designer…


That’s nothing!

Fucking poor!  (laughs)

 ‘What’s that?’ And these guys…

Oh wauw!

Look at these surroundings.

It’s beautiful here.

Yes. This is a big natural reserve.

OK so you where talking about this studio, 3000€, Wu Thang Clan paying you absolutely nothing…

Yeah! Like the Wu Thang…I mean they played something very seductive and I was still naive, missing some knowledge or experience about how to deal with this things…

But step by step I started to define for myself how to eat the cake: what situations where co, how to deal with situations that are not…  That was interesting. The bureau I’m talking about is called Labomatic, but they would also have a sitter company called Ultra Lab, something they used for their more artistic purposes. And it took me one year to understand that their position wasn’t very clear… They used graphic design to approach museums, but when they had the trust of the client they would switch the focus onto their artistic ambitions… Their own project.  #00:15:51-3# But also visa versa, when they where approached by an institute as artists they would talk or invoke their practice as designers… I don’t know, there was a thin line that was constantly crossed.

They where playing a game.

I think they where a bit schizophrenic  in what they wanted to be or how they wanted to be seen…

It relates to what you where saying before. The graphic design scene, like any other, comes with a sub-culture:  the conferences, the look you mentioned before, the right gear and the attitude…It’s sort of an identity cloak. I sometimes have the feeling that stating that you ‘don’t want to be seen as a designer’ is part of that re. Some designers really want to be acknowledged by the art world… What they are doing is, supposedly not design, but often is so self-referential that it can hardly be seen as art. Most of the time the places where their ‘art’ is shown is in environments created by graphic designers, for graphic designers about graphic design…

Totally… And these guys are a perfect example of that… And they showed me what I didn’t want to do! I really think…like…I want to pursue my profession as a designer… It’s not…

…A bad thing to be!

 It’s  a job! I always point out the fact that for instance as I mentioned before, my parents are accountants, but it’s that they talked about their Excel sheets all the time…or their programs. I mean, it’s a fun profession. You can meet people and do things that look cool, anything, but it’s still a profession. A field. And let’s look at it like that!

And that’s why I try to…

…get the cash!

Yeah! Make it rain!

Make! It! Rain! (laughs) 

To-tal-ly! (laughs) But maybe I’m also a bit schizophrenic, because I don’t want to make a lot of money with what I do…

No. (laughs) Of course not…3000€ a year works fine. (laughs)

(laughs) No. But for example. This Simpson book, we stopped making it. That was an intentional decision. You know, …it works with books the same way as with songs, you can become a one hit wonder, like some singers from the eighties.  I could be know as Simpson-boy…  #‘hey look there go’s Simpson-boy…What’s up…are you making a South-park edition next… or!’

(laughs) Could be… I actually approached you because of the design you did for the Chaumont Catalogue. Thought that was really well done! Tough to get into at first, but a really nice when once you do. I bought that book for our library, because I though it was too expensive—OK but a book like that it’s maybe the right price… You would think that the organization would find a way to reduce the price, so that the book actually gets sold…to all these ‘poor’ students. But so I bought it for our library in the hope that it would be refunded and I could read it. But I fell in love with it and decided to keep it for myself…

Ah! I should have given you one then…because I have a lot of copies left…

Probably! Because nobody wants to buy them for that price!  (laughs)

No! But the story about this catalogue is…well, actually the book is still unreleased.

No! Really?

OK, tell me this story…

Hm…OK. I was approached by, not the Chaumont festival, but by Alex Balgiu & Thierry Chancogne. Alex is  a very close friend of mine and Thierry is a supporter of my work since years…I don’t know why, but he is. And they where invited by the Chaumont festival director, Ethien Hervy, to make the catalogue.

I’ve seen this guy… It feels as if he’s organizing this festival just for the prestige it brings him…

 The festival defiantly creates a hype around him. And the festival is…

…going down hill?

Also… we can talk about a graphic design festival when you need to pee… about their necessity and why we do them or attend them. Referring to my parents again—I doubt that they’d make a accountant festival? I’m not sure… But anyway…Chaumont used to be on of the good graphic design festivals, a very political one… It was close to Gropius and all that and Etiene was named art-director of the festival five years ago. He actually has a background in journalism…he started out as a journalist, working for a magazine called Etappe Graphic. So, he used to know a lot of designers and design, but I think his best and far most quality is to be a nice guy…


…and he invited Thierry and Alex to rethink the purpose of the annual publication… They decided to turn the focus of the catalogue away from what was happening at the festival and see it as an extra stage that would run parallel to it…  Something that could reflect on the festival while also stand on its own… Something that would represent this festival in another way.

Which is basically how we should approach every catalogue… If you are going to produce a publication at an event,you have two choices: it can be a exact copy of what is shown or it can alter the way we look at what is shown?

Exactly! But since this catalogue has been made I’ve had so many people coming up to me to complain about it’s form saying ‘Ah man, it should have just the posters’. Even people with a critical, experimental look onto design would say ‘What this festival needs is just a proper catalogue…’.

Well. I liked it!

Thank you! I liked it also but it has been a very tough project… A long fight… I was also involved as an editor. So when we started the conversation about what this thing could be—a conversation Thierry and Alex had already started— I saw the potential but was also sceptical. I could see where the project could have some trouble… As you know there where a lot of people invited to contribute to the catalogue… And Alex had a very precise view of who he wanted an why…but Thierry, being Thierry,  was more generous with his invitations… He basically made an open call to around 30 designers asking ‘Hey, we want you to contribute. Send something to us before January. Bye’. But without framing the project a bit.

So, leaving the people he invited excited but direction-less…

A bit. But then, when I got involved I also asked to also invite a couple of people… I asked Abbie Hoffman who made this book called ‘Steal this book’, which describes how to steal books in eighty different ways.

Ah yes! I’ve seen that lying around.

…for me, inviting him was very interesting because… I’m not sure if this discussion can be easily be understood, but OK,…

Don’t worry about it. That’s my editing problem. It’s fine. It’s complicated, but this is also one of the reason why I do this project. I want to hear stories…And what better place to do that then with the French countryside at your feet?

 That’s true!

So Yeah…continue…

OK…All the projects I’ve talked to you about so far: ‘The Simpson book’, the ‘Stolen Works of Art’ book & the Chaumont Catalogue, I always try to imagine how this object is going to exist on the market…What the value is of having that book on your shelf and how its distributed. For the ‘Stolen Works of Art’ book this was very interesting… I used to work with the Musee D’art Modern and when it happened that these five artworks where stolen—it wasn’t against the Museum that I made this book—but I was genuinely surprised to find this selection of artworks on the Interpol website. Just a selection of forty of the most recently stolen works of arts, unconsciously curated by the employees of Interpol. It might not be intended, but nonetheless it becomes a selection, an on line exhibition…

Yeah, it’s a good book. It also reflects the, now ever more applauded, role of the curator. (laughs) Imagine if we would make a stolen artworks edition in ten years ‘as they might look now’, similar to how they do it with missing people. What would that look like… different frames, maybe some are over-painted, some used as garden furniture, …

(laughs) Yeah! Sure! (laughs) But it’s interesting Interpol website devoted to this is not an institution devoted to displaying art… or at least that’s not their primary goal. And it’s reflected in the really poor quality with which they represent the stolen work. This really struck me! The only image of these stolen artworks that exist, that are available in our collective mind, the only possibility for us to view these stolen artworks, is in the form of very bad JPEG’s.  But these two aspects really became the backbone for the publication: which got the form of a museum catalogue, because of this unintentional selection aspect, but with these really bad images.  So, I printed some copies, at that time with burp, and…Bam. Done.

… when I Berlin next, I went to Alexi and presented the book to him. And he said ‘Cool! send me 50 copies of this books. I’ll sell them!’. So that’s what I did. I send some copies from Burp directly to Motto and that was that. After that I just continued working on other projects… but at some point I went to this Yves Saint Lambert bookshop, here in Paris, and there was MY book! Very close to the museum of modern art books, so I was really like… ‘ Yeah’.  Jimmy Crickets!

Oh yeah! I love this one! I’ll just go and drive behind it so you have enough time to take a picture…

OK. (picture by olivier here) Got it.

It’s funny because I always wanted to do this on one of these drives: ask someone to take pictures of the signs and logo’s on trucks… I always find them very amusing. Somehow there always variations on the same theme, always smooth and in the distance and all that…

Yes, it’s astonishing. Sometimes you see a truck on the road and the typography is quite strong.

Yeah! Yeah! But it has to be strong, because its meant to be seen in movement. Which means you have to be able to read it, fast. And on top of that it has to look appealing.

But there is this use of typography, a certain brand that comes to mind, that… that’s very strong…BTW, there is this French guy called Eric Tabuchet who made an alphabet called A, B, City. It’s based on the letters he found on trucks…many of them have just one large letter on their back. So, he has an A, a B, a C of all these different trucks driving trough different landscapes. It’s cool.

Do you know Ed Fella?


Your story reminds me of him, a bit. His selection of hand drawn road-signs from the most remote places around America is one of my favourites of his.

All these polaroids he’s made or…

Yeah. Those!

I’m very interested in how, because of where you are, your visual language gets transformed. What’s fascinating about the polaroids he’s made is that you can still see that, in all the signs he documented, the typography and iconography still refers to the official signs issued by the state. But because most of the places where he took those photo’s where so remote ‘personality’ crept in…just because it was done by someone with a paintbrush

Yeah and aren’t there also some that are vinyl cut, but then cut by hand and stuff like that? What I like is that most of the people that made these signs aren’t thinking like professional designers.


There’s just a need that’s being fulfilled.

That’s also what I loved and what fascinated me in my d neighbourhood in Antwerp. It’s exactly the same. That feeling of pragmatism.

I think… this is why I talk not only about the practice, but as well about the profession… I’m also approached sometimes by… for instance David, the furniture designer I share my studio with… when he started sharing the studio he asked me if I could design his website… but he had a website, and it worked well with his work…

… So you didn’t want to change it…

Yes. Although, some weeks ago we discussed it again and we concluded that his site does have some limitations, in terms of use… so in the end we are doing it together, but for years it has just been his own to. I think it’s also…

…fine! With these things its not always a lack of knowledge of design though, more a lack of programming skills.

Back in 2000 I used to know it a bit…

(laughs) Back in 2000. Seriously!

But I’ve learned to collaborate with people on these particular cases. And that works fine as well. I used to know a very good programmer.  A very skilled, nice guy. And that a part of designing as well…


Yeah! Some people got skills that you don’t, which can be exchanged for things that you do…In a way the developer designed the projects we’ve worked on together as much as me.

Yes. You influence each other.  I think that’s….mmmh… like I told you before… the project we’re working on now. This thing! When I became aware of this space and was looking for an interesting way to share that awareness with others, I went trough all kinds of options. The main problem was coming up with a form which would display the space and it’s capacities and limitations without pointing them out too much. Without trying to educate a spectator of something…  So, one of the ideas was to host events in this car and another was related to the idea of time-capsules, whatever, … but  in the end I realised that the framework it had already was more then enough. And hosting conversations in it is a way to bring that out…. It’s actually very interesting to leave ‘what it should be’ open for discussion. Because in this scenario, these interviews- or rather conversations- they become the work. So, not only do I invite you to go for a ride, to advise me on my work, to tell me stories, actually you mainly are collaborating on this work with me. You become part of the discussion and trough them you get a sense of the space without pointing at it directly.

…As you proposed it to me ‘Maybe we can go somewhere, maybe you need a lift to the airport…’ I didn’t need that, but using this opportunity to go and visit a friend made sense. Especially because they have this project with there students concerning a Twingo.

Totally! It’s funny, because I saw David the other day and out of the blue he just said ‘So, you’re coming to Karlsruhe I heard…’ And I even didn’t know that he was teaching there.

Yeah! It is funny because when I told Urs. ‘ Maybe I’ll visit you with this girl that just contacted me about a project involving a car…’ he said ‘ Yeah, I’ve heard about this girl, doing car talks’ .


and then I said ‘Ej cool! So, we are coming’.

(laughs) I tried to involve Urs already in SO many of my projects. It’s crazy.

Do you know him?

Not really. Like you, via email… I would write to him and be like ‘Hey, Urs, What about ….’ but he’s always too busy for the things I invite him to. Although he was supposed to come to Antwerp with his students from Karlsruhe and do something at my Night shop. But the trip got cancelled. Would have been fun though.

He’s a very nice guy. We are working on a new project at the moment…

It’s a secret!

No! No! Not at all.We are working on… there are many mini-stories within this story…

It’s good. We need this literary influence (laughs) This conversation is turning into a modern 1001-nights.


You just continue, and by the time we get to Karlsruhe you’re going to round up the whole story by saying ‘and that’s how I got to know Urs Lenhi’.

Yeah (laughs) Totally! So, when we where in Chaumont last, we where both very disappointed by what we saw. Basically with how we experienced this graphic design exhibition. And we where having this conversation while we where walking in this old factory that is used as an exhibition space.

I saw it. It was very badly done. This huge space where Will Holder, Metahaven, some students and whoever where exhibiting–very confusing set up!

That’s the space. So, we where having this discussion about the value of this festival; in terms of history, in terms of reflection… sometimes it just looks like we’re horses with blinds on. We just focus on what is in front of us, our little world… And there was this sticker on the wall, a reminiscence of the old function of the building, and it showed a hand that being compressed by a factory tool and it said ‘take care of your hands’–something like this. But this shape, together with the way the words where set around it, still felt very fresh. And throughout our conversation we kept referring to this drawing until suddenly one of us said ‘Ej, we should look for the guy that made these!’. As it turned out it was done by a guy called Bernard Chadebeck who, for forty years, had been an employee for the company issuing these drawings. So, we started searching the web but all I could find was this brochure of an artistic walk near where I used to live when I was a kid. In the Valloisse, not so far from Parc Asterix. And this brochure had similar drawings to the one we had seen and the curator of this thing was Bernard Chadebeck.

This guy!

This guy! With his phone number and email address on this brochure as well. So, I send him an email asking him if he, by any chance, was thé Bernard Chadebeck who made this sign of a compressed hand for the factory in Chaumont. and after two days I got an answer that he, in fact, was thé one. So I introduced myself and Urs to him that we would like to talk to him about his work. And so he replied ‘Ej cool, meet me at my house. Saturday’.  So, Urs travelled from Switzerland to go with me, in my mothers car, to the house of house to spend the afternoon. I think we talked for about five hours…

Wow! That must have been such a rush, finally talking to this one person you’ve been trying to find starting from a random drawing, in a random place…

super nice! His wife was preparing ice-cream in the kitchen for the ‘two guys’.

Like visiting your grandparents…

Totally! Plus his house is located near the Seine, which meant that we had an amazing view of boats passing by. It was a very relaxing afternoon in July to have a talk with him about his practice. What’s fascinating is that he was just an employee, not in a graphic design or advertisement bureau, but off this government run institute where, from the age of twenty-three he started to develop a practice that questioned form and function of how safety rules used to be communicated.   The institute was set up in the late forties, just after the war, and the iconography that they used to produce to describe this situations where really …

Machine oriented… technical.

Technical, yes, but also very socialistic… you know like propaganda posters for war with imagery of huge factories drawn with very bad perspective, with a very existential image of a worker, who’s looking very sad, as if he’s going to dye…the images advocated a conflict between machine and worker. And he changed that. He thought those images where very scary and that they should find a way to make these drawings more human, more friendly.

Yes, because especially when you’re scared then something go’s wrong.

Uh! He was really imagining a guy, working in a factory for eight or ten hours a day and  how this person was addressed by these signs…they could go for what they where going with ‘you can’t put your hand’ or ‘you can’t do this’…which is very degrading. Or use something less demanding. So the first thing he did was change the language… Second thing he did was to extract the human figure from these drawings and replace them with animals. And Elephant,…

Oh really?

Yes, very much in the spirit of Jean De La Fontaine and his fables. So, during his career he developed a very strong identity for this institution and we thought ‘Ej! Let’s publish this work’.

That’s great!

Yeah, and I’ve invited a friend of mine, who is theoretician, to write about…

This relationship…

Yes, but I’ve asked him to extend this topic to an era that starts with the industrial and ends at the current, service oriented society.

I guess now information and exchange is more important then service. But twenty years ago…it was a whole different story.

Yeah. … It’s remarkable how much institutes communicate these days.

But it’s interesting to see this evolution in communication & work from a post-war environment to the near present trough the career of one person. One example which was very interesting was the phenomena of the ‘Burn-out’. This is an externalities of the changes that occurred in the work environment. Before the seventies this just didn’t exist… and it’s interesting to see how these new symptoms are being incorporated into the system created by Chadebeck.

Uhu.. It’s interesting to approach such a rich topic trough the story of one person’s career.

Yes, It works like a Trojan Horse. This person is a figure who’s personal history stands for an era. For me it’s also a way to research the sociological and economical aspects I was mentioning earlier.

Yeah, It’s all starting to make sense now.

And the guys work is just amazing–sometimes his drawings look Paul Rand’s stuff or Savignejak’s stuff… so, it’s close to graphic designs history in a way, but, this is not a figure that belongs to our general knowledge…NO, it’s just an employee, doing his work, five days a week, …

… Without fame or money. So what was the next step?

Well, we went to the institute where he used to work, where they have around five-hundred images.


And next month Urs, me and the girl who is head of communication of the institute, but who is now also involved in our project… It’s silly, because, you know…Urs and the economical backdrop of Rollo Press has always been something he managed on his own. It’s always a bit fragile, it’s never been about the big profit. But the girl from the institute proposed to help us out budget-wise, if we would make the book in French, or at least bi-lingual,

There you go!(laughs) Why not!

(laughs) Yes. We didn’t ask for anything, but if they are proposing… It’s good. Our next trip is to an Ecomusée, similar to the one I designed the identity for when I was graduating, but this one is located in Le Creseaux, near Saint- Ethienne. It’s a city that has a long history in terms of big industry and it has totally collapsed now…

Of course… crisis!

But they have a selection of three-hundred posters of security imagery, and we are going to dig into that pile and see if we can find… It’s very funny how this project is coming together. It’s almost like a police investigation. We started out with this one singular drawing and then, from there, started to meet all kinds of people that slowly but surly give us more and more clues to what this publication is about.

This seems like a much more exiting way of publishing… It’s more adventures.

Sometimes it is opposite: you have a very precise idea of what you’re going to find, you just need to find it. But before we met Bernard we thought he would have a huge archive of his work… Yeah! Let’s go to Brussels.

But is this GPS sending us in the right direction?

Did you enter Karlsruhe as the final destination?

I did!

No. OK. It’s going to be fine because Karlsruhe is look,…it’s here.

I mean I’m fine with going trough Belgium, but I have the feeling we should be heading more east.


Me too.

Let me check.


There are two way to get there…

And we are taking the one trough Belgium?

Yeah. I don’t know why.

It’ll take us forty minutes more.

But it’s weird that it’s taking us in this direction.

Maybe. It’s going to be fine. We’re going to go on the A2 then Vallenciene and that’s fine.

Imagine… it’s going to be like this “ha ha ha let’s go to Belgium. Yeah, hahaha oooooh fuck we’re here.” 

“time to improvise!”

“Hello Urs? We’re calling from somewhere in Belgium.Would you be OK with meeting us here?”

 I actually called him. He won’t be there tonight…


 I know. Your sad.

No. There will be plenty of people to talk to.

Yeah. He’ll drive tomorrow morning because his son was a bit sick and his wife ad to go to school. He asked me to ask you if you would like to present your project to the students?

I wouldn’t mind, but I didn’t prepare for anything like that though.

Who has ever prepared something for that. (laughs)

No, but I didn’t bring any materials…but hey, I just designed myself a website. Maybe it could prove it’s use. (laughs)

 I think it can just be about this project.

Yes, I think it will be good to present it to a fresh audience. We can cramp them all in the back of the car. Or open the windows. Or use the car as a blackboard. Ah, or you can actually interview me…

Yeah! Let’s make it a precise one.

No. For sure!  But before we do. Let’s get back to the conversation we where having about the design conference in Chaumont! I was also very disappointed, or rather, bored. Since I’ve been in Werkplaats and because I’m travelling a lot because of this project, I’ve been going to a lot of different design related events…and what bores me is that it’s always the same but slightly different. Always the same people, with he same approach to the same topics…

In Belgium there used to be a good design festival though. It was called Bold Italic, but they pulled the plug on it. I think because they where tired, because they had the feeling that 10 years was enough or maybe because these festivals are popping up like mushrooms in autumn…I don’t know the exact reasons. And I think it’s really sad, since the only alternative we have is ‘integrated’- a very expensive, more commercial oriented festival.So, I decided to take it onto myself to organise a festival.

Hey, cool!

Yes. (laughs) But I want to make it exactly about the things we’ve been discussing before or what we’ve been commenting on when talking about Chaumont. I want it to be about this graphic design boredom, this sub-culture and how we also enhance our own locked-in syndrome. But, again, I would like to look at it from a point of view which is approaching this topic, without directly referring to it.  I want it to be about language and location. More precise how design is altered by the use of a certain group of people or visa versa. What’s not unimportant to this whole story is the location, called Het Bos, where this conference will be held. And this venue is good example for the discussion I’m trying to open up, since it’s organisation recently was forced to move from one location to another.

D’ accord.

… and the group of people that used to attend the d location, as well as the organisation running it are experiencing some sort of identity crisis. One of the ways in which this becomes visible is their visual language… It’s just going in every direction imaginable, because, since they moved they redefine themselves more as hosts. Meaning, they offer their space to different collectives.  And of course each of these collectives have their own visual language. So, the visual identity the now have is a non-style. Which is actually quite fitting for a platform, it’s just sad that this is not recognised and exploited more. So, I proposed to do this festival together with them, at this new location, about their case. But not by talking about them, but by looking at other locations, with a similar set up. The conference itself is about graphic design, but focusses on the message its meant to distribute. But to underline the subject of location and it’s effect on language also in the set up of the stage, I’ve invited the guests to re-adapt the idea of a presentation. I would like them to use of the space in a different way. Far from the traditional portfolio slide show. One experiment which I plan to try out here is to place audience and speakers on the same level. So that it already becomes more informal. A second one is to place not just one, but several screens in the auditorium. One on each wall, so that a spectator needs to switch his position constantly. And then last but not least, the guest speaker should try to approach this topic via his own work, but in a more loose sense. The talk should resemble a best-man’s speech: critical, but entertaining.  So if you would like to come…

Yeah. Sure. Sounds cool. How long does the talk have to be?

It could vary between fifteen minutes and more…

Funny, I organised something similar for my students last week. A speed dating class! They each had to bring an object; a book, a stone, whatever, which they then had to present to each other in seven minutes.

Some sort of show and tell?

Yeah. But it was fun. Because sometimes they complain about books, but the only thing they bring to this class are books… and not even the good ones, but books on books! So I was like ‘What? What is this shit’ 

I brought a card game for people with low vision the session after.

Ah nice!

Yeah. In terms of graphic design it’s beautiful. Huge numbers. Two colours. Bam. But I brought it mainly because I just wanted to show them that design has to fulfil it’s function in a way. And you can just find that out by looking at things. Also things that are not necessarily related to the topic.But education is yet another topic. For me teaching…

True. We spoke about it in our mail. So how does it relate to your practice?

… I’m actually going to quit teaching qt the end of this year.

Oh really? You can’t say that after declaring that education is a big part of your practice… What happened? Are you bored of it?

Yeah. Well, no, it is a big part of my practice, but I need a break from it. I’m thirty-six now, which is not too old or too young to be a teacher…And I am close to many teachers that are from a different generation, but,…

Aaah this truck!

This one is great!


But, continue…

But like in every school, there are some tutors who have been teaching there for years and who are mainly there because it pays the bills…And I always promised myself not to become part of that gang…And teaching in Reims is not that interesting at this time…because it’s full of these teachers who are afraid of change…every time I propose something it feels as if I’m the bad son. There’s a strange dynamic there. And I’m not saying this to put these people down, it’s their choice, but my choice is…


Yes, and different. And I don’t feel like pursuing this. And I really feel comfortable giving workshops…It’s funny, when you where talking about the conference and how you’re setting it up, it made me think of a workshop I’m going to do in Nancy. And what I enjoy about workshops is that, within a very short frame of time, you need to find a form to talk about the content you want to address. Whether that’s in the form of a publication or, as I’m intending there, a radio show…

Oh, that’s nice…

Remind me to tell you something about that later!

…My friend Jessy, who’s from New York, introduced me to her friend–Stefano I think he’s called. He was at the Werkplaats as well and he lives in LA now.

… I think you mean Steven Serato,

Yes. That’s him. Him and Jessy are close friends and she introduced me to him because I want to make this 24 hour long radio show, that would travel around the world as it’s being broadcast. So I’m trying to find people in as many places,…

Did he tell you about the project Werkplaats sit for the LA Art Book Fair, two years ago?


…OK. I’ll tell you about it later.

 Was it about the same topic?


We have this pirate radio station in Werkplaats called Phantom Radio

It rings a bell…

It’s a pirate radio station that was set up by a guy called

A super nice guy.


Of course…

But for the first Art Book Fair WT attended, they just installed a radio, but broadcasting from Arnhem, in real time. Because of the 12 hour delay it meant that, when the book fair would open at 11 am local time, people in Arnhem would be drawing themselves to the radio room in the dead of night to broadcast their chapter. To publish their work.

Some where telling stories, others hosted a talk show,… Al these different forms in which you can disseminate your content…it’s a nice medium.

I think that’s a good thing to do. Especially because, as a teacher I see many students idolising the book as a form, without thinking if the content fits this form. For me radio emission, broadcasting something is as valuable…

…but less tangible, which sometimes scares people, I’ve experienced… Are you going to work together with Steven on this?


I also know some people there. If you need some more contacts.

Sure. Because for me it’s important that the students are activated, that they set up some sort of collaboration, …

to get them out of logo type design… I think it would be good to brief them in advance. To have them think about something they would like to talk about, maybe an object, that they can transform with the use of this medium. As far away from anything readable as possible. A rock would work best.

I did another workshop recently in Reims, which was for students from the first till the last years.

Wow! That’s a huge gap!

Uhu. And what I asked them to do was to bring something from their book shelves, and all of the combined content we would try to fit together somehow. So it was mostly about editing.  The idea was quite simple. We had four days, form the 17th till the 21th, and four walls. So each of these walls became a page… page 17 till 21. But what the students had to do was combine the texts and images they had retrieved in a way that made sense. It was very fun. Also because they really had to work together on this…and I think that it created an awareness on how information is treated. How it is edited, communicated and finally how it is displayed. What we did in the end is paint the whole page lay-out they had made, directly onto the wall they where assigned to…it was a large scale project. It was co.

But in general I think that workshops offer a better format than courses to discover these new ways of… They are the playground to find new experimental ways of thinking.

Totally! Especially since the focus in French at cos really lies on production… And for students it can be very though, because one semester is 3 or 4 months, and you ask of them to produce not one but many things within that time. And the fact is, when you start working, you know that a process to develop something can be much longer…This book I’m doing with Urs for instance… It can take three years…Who knows…

…No rush…

Yes, but some institutes also mark students on time, and I’m not comfortable with this way of thinking. Or assessing. Workshops are different, time is a given thing in that situation… What you set out to do has to be done in three or five days.

Mmmh, because of that I do think they need some sort of given structure. A strong from that is provided by the person giving the workshop. I think if that is absent, if there is too much left open, it just turns into a mess…I mean, I don’t think the focus should be production, but I would like to learn something or at least have fun… One of the best workshops I ever attended was when I was in my final year at Sint-Lucas. Bart de Baets …

I don’t know him.

You would like his work a lot! You kind of have the same humour… He has this ‘whenever-it-comes-out’ fanzine called Dark and Stormy and its basically a selection of stories that he and his co-editor, Rustan Söderling, encounter. The topics run from: ‘I made a list of famous things to say before I dye’ to ‘My bike was broken and I had to walk home’.  Sometimes intellectual, most of the time just funny…


But so he, together with Joris Kritis, came and gave this workshop based on the movie ‘ The Breakfast Club’.  And what they did was they decided the whole school in five groups, one for each character in the movie, and then gave these very simple assignments every day that would help you to define how your character was transformed onto paper…So for instance one of the assignments we got, being ‘Bender’, was ‘to define the ten hottest girls from the 90ties.’


Just simple assignments that in the end came together in quite nicely. In a way there was already a very tight grid: A publication about The Breakfast Club, in five sections, with in the part of Bender 10 of the hottest girls from the 90ties. But how these girls actually where, in which order and how the images where treated was defined by the group that represented this character.


And I thought that was the most meaningful lesson out of that whole experience, to see how somebody designs something without actually being involved in the details…Leaving those details open in order to be surprised.

Hm…Art education in France is turning more towards the student. Constantly making them aware of what they are studying to be and constantly making them aware of the fact that they might be doing it for many years. Preparing them for the fact that you really have to fight for your position in this profession… It’s seldom that somebody calls you up out of the blue to tell you ‘Ej man, your designs are so co, I would like you to make me a poster.’ 

It’s preparing them for the ultimate box match…

Yes, its learning them to define their practice. And this is the most important question. It’s not about who has the most talent or the best skills, it’s about knowing where you want to go. Take me for example. When I started working, I constantly kept in mind that I was running a Marathon instead of the hundred meters. You know? A practice is something you have to develop, and it takes time. But at this point, education in French art school is …

It’s funny, teaching is a big part of you’re practice but you seem to be unhappy with the structure around it… But you don’t necessarily have to teach in an art school, you know.… you could just teach anywhere…. You could have classes in a coffee shop, I mean, If you don’t like the set up, change the rules…



What I like about education is that it’s sort of an exchange…it’s a two way street. I think I learn as much from my students as they learn from me.

I was going to switch to the right lane here…but I guess I won’t.

The GPS tells me I should go straight.

But we could do it.

Just means I have to turn around…

 I don’t know why.

It already says it’s going to take us one hour longer.

It wants us to take the longest road.

(laughs)  Of course!

It’s all planned.

But maybe if there is a stop. I need to go to the rest-room at some point…

Ah. No worries, I brought a bottle…

Ah! That’s rough!  (laughs) Man versus the wild.

(laughs) Bear Grills style!

OK I love that show!

I saw a group show yesterday at Palais de Tokyo about the ‘insiders’. Most things where shit…

Ah cool! (with irony).

But there was one work which was quite interesting. This guy who lived inside of a stuffed bear for seventeen days, in the natural history museum. But really living there: eating there, sleeping there, cooking,…

Aaah, yes, I’ve seen this work…It’s Point Cheval, a guy in a very situationist mood. There actually a collective of two guys…The other one is biking around France…They are quite interesting…

Yes, they are funny…A bit like Pinocchio inside of the whale…But you would think that after spending three days inside of a bear, whatever point you had for doing it, would be proven by then. Right? Why do it seventeen days? Why?

(laughs) maybe he got the money to do it for seventeen days.  Maybe he didn’t have an apartment for that amount of time…

(laughs) that would be a good reason!

So education… I wonder… It’s also strange to be teaching at art school now, because I couldn’t get into them when I was a student myself. My application was always refused…that’s how I ended up a technical school  for design.

That’s so sad! (laughs)

(laughs) Yeah. I was the black sheep! But I’m still sometimes uncomfortable when I’m employed by an art school.

You shouldn’t. In the end it doesn’t matter!

No, I know.

Being exerted to an ‘artistic’ school, based on you’re portfolio basically means that you have potential to be an artist, but aren’t yet. But how these things are defined is completely subjective.

Sure. I know al this. But in France, where you graduate from, also means something. Whether it’s the Art Deco, The Beaux Arts,…  It means so much for French graphic design that when I met Frederic, to become his assistant, he advised me to tell people that I’m an autodidact.

(a bit aggravated) That’s the thing…I was reading an interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist in the New Yorker yesterday…He’s one of my, and many, favourite curators… and the reporter wrote a beautiful sentence to describe him. He wrote:  ‘he’s got the uneasiness of an autodidact.’ And to my opinion you’ve got that same thing about you! You seem to have this idea that you are less then someone else, who went trough the proper discourse of becoming a graphic designer, but actually you’re much cooler. And that’s because you didn’t take this correct path…

I know. But what I mean is … I’m full of uncertainty and I’ve doubted everything I did,  and I’m  not always sure because I don’t always agree with the official way of doing stuff…

But that’s a good thing!

Yeah. But I also not something I want to underline …

You don’t want to be known as the outcast.

Yeah. Or the Forrest Gump of the Graphic Designers. (laughs) The guy who was close to everything, but ended up with nothing…

(laughs) ’Run Olivier, Run’.

I’m just trying to define my practice. If we go back to The Simpson book. I started making it because, at  that time, all the books that seemed to be coming out where self reflexive on their own design.

Books on Books!

Books on books!So the first draft I made for The Simpson book, was criticising this phenomenon.  I mean, I like The Simpsons, their a part of my culture, but the main reason for making this book was not because I am that devoted to the show.

I don’t think it comes across like that.

Funny enough, I think it does, because most people who buy the books are not so much into graphic design as they are into The Simpsons.  But that’s fine as well. It’s good that it spreads outside of the graphic circle.

OMG. The Simpsons have thought me so much. They basically thought me English. And humour!

Same here!

How much money would this be you think?

The Payage?

Until here?

Maybe twenty Euro’s.

I can pay you back some money… I don’t know if it’s part of the deal or not…

No! No! You don’t have to give me anything.

I just hope that I have enough…

(Window gets lowered down)

If this fails, then you can help!

It worked! Open sesame! 1,2,3! Lucky me!

What where we talking about? Ah yeah,… The Simpsons!

To me the book didn’t come across like that…It just felt like a very subtle comment on the seriousness of design, and it was just very funny.

Yes. It took a long time to organise and edit everything.

Yes, and to find them… You must have scanned so many episodes in search of books…

A lot, a lot….but I also found a lot of things online already, on fan sites. There’s books, but many other things as well… There’s a site where all of the architecture from the Simpsons is featured…


Yes! There’s a big online community of people that are scanning the Simpsons for their interests. It’s quite interesting…

It makes sense. To really make people belief in this fictional society it has to link up to our own. And because our lives are represented in theirs, it becomes very easy to comment on our society. Episodes where you have, for instance, the monorail issue are a clear example of that. It a modern animal farm, or, to get back to what we where talking about before, Fables by La Fontaine.

Yes, It becomes more yellow, more friendly but it is still a comment. It digests our culture. And publishing this book with Rollo Press made sense, because it’s also then it also started circulating as an art object, in the scene it’s criticising.  Al of a sudden it appeared  on fairs, around the globe, in little pop up stores,… the project made a sort of loop.

You should probably write to Matt Goring to ask if the book can be featured in one of the upcoming Simpson Episodes.

That was the idea… There is a funny story behind that though. So when we published the book we made 1000 copies and it was sold out almost instantly. It was silly, because at that time I was visiting LA, and I got forwarded a link to one of my books on Amazon. And it was being sold there for eight-hundred Euro’s.

What? That’s absurd. I’m so happy to have bought a copy before the prices went up…

It’s crazy, but from an economical point of view it’s interesting to see how a book can live, be sold out, can become rare,… Maybe this step was even more interesting for me then making the book. You know? I took a screen-shot of that book on Amazon, because it became a project by itself… So after this Urs asked me, ‘Man, what do you think? Should we reprint it?’ and I said ‘Yeah. OK. But I don’t want to make a second edition, but a second volume…’ What interest me was how the image of the object could change. The purpose of an object as an object. So, what I did for the second print–since I didn’t include any of the books from the most recent  Simpsons episodes– was , again, take all of the images since the book has been released and add them to the second edition. So it’s is actually totally different.

Ah really? Didn’t know that…

Yeah. But I don’t want that to be visible anywhere…It’s something you have to discover. The only hint…

Maybe, I didn’t know that because I haven’t seen the second edition…I guess that’s the only way to find out, when comparing both copies…

Well, I have some, so maybe I can be grateful for this ride and send you something… The only hint you get is the sentence on the spine…

Yes! Be very grateful in terms of sending me stuff…

Ah this is quite funny…

You know what this is?

Yeah…It’s a hill that has been made….

…by the mining industry…

Yeah. But I’ve crossed it a few times already, this year, and it always surprises me because it looks huge, but isn’t at all. The little tree on the top makes you miscalculate the size of this hill. It’s a trompe l’oeil.

And they made a fake ski station on it. Well it’s not really fake, it’s just made with synthetic grass… So in summer you can see people skiing there…

Oh no! Interesting… But you where saying that the only hint there is to find out which edition you have is the sentence on the spine, how come?

 It’s a different sentence.  Just a small wink. And then maybe the second hint is that on the second edition we took of the price…This was a direct request from the booksellers. For example, this co shop in Paris called ‘Colette’, do you know it…

(Without enthusiasm) Yeah. Yeah. I do!

They where selling it for twenty-five Euro’s!


At the time that everyone else was selling it for the price on the cover, which was 12 Euro’s. I got some funny mails from friend asking me about that. But, as a study, it is still interesting…

As an economical study…OK, one more project I need to talk to you about!

Ah wait there is a gas station coming up.

Do you need a gas station?

No, you needed one!

Ah yes, totally!  I forgot about it. When I’m talking…

There’s a really nice building coming up by the way.

Have you been here before?

Yes, this is the way I came. This area is really some sort of a French brother of the American Mid-West…All these greenhouses and big industries… very scenic.

It used to be very industrial here… It’s all about the mines. So in the mid West it might have been the same…Maybe…But it’s all kind of rough looking…

Yeah! Look at this building…It’s huge! It must be quite impressive to stand next to that!  And the colour is kind of cheerful… So yeah, I like this building… Probably everyone that lives in this town, works in this factory…

Probably…Although there is a lot of unemployment as well in this region.

Hey, this boat is from Antwerp!  Represent… But you where about to tell me about this project.

Ah yes. I wanted to talk to you about the project we did the second time Werkplaats attended the LA Art Book Fair. It was called Breaking even and it was all about the economy of the book. The focus of this project really lay on how these art book fairs operate and the economic aspect behind it. Because, as a book-dealer, if you are lucky enough to get an invitation to attend the fair, it means you have to find someone to open your store wherever you are located, or close down for the week, you have to book a flight, transport the books, get a hotel, taxi’s,…. from an economical perspective, the least you have to is break even… On the other hand there are these fancy design school like Yale and Werkplaats who get offered a space for free at these events, a space others have to pay for, because it also brings a certain audience… but the irony is that we don’t have any money to get there, or no prerogative of selling something. We’re just there for the viability… So what we came up with was to use ourself, the knowledge we have, as a currency. Our presence would be covered by a number of workshops we’d offer at the fair. Attending one of those workshops was $50, but in return you would get a book for free- A book with the value of $50 dollars… So, the money of people would pay for the workshops would pay for our ticket there, and the production costs of the and  in return.

The book they


… focusses on the constructed space inside of a vehicle that–by accumulation–transforms and manipulates our behaviour and everyday surroundings. In order to reflect on it’s in-between setting, the public/private character it upholds and the time spend in it while travelling from A to B, guests are invited to join the initiator of the project for a ride in her Peugot Partner. The direction is chosen by the passenger who, in exchange for this service, offers up a moment of their time. The project is about making connections, getting places, fast, and within that gap fitting in some space for reflection and wandering.


Car Talks is an initiative by Yana Foqué.



  • #1Dean Allen Spunt
  • "Yeah? Do you test how they sound in a car. We can’t really deny that we think about our music like that. Because that’s how you listen to music most of the time. When I was there it struck me how popular radio still is and how much variety there is. Makes sense, since everyone just sits in there car for a huge part of the day."


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Peugot Partner Publishing, located in the trunk of the car, is a sister project to cartalks. It focusses on the externalities*  that come out of the project… the talks are edited according to the form that carries the content… Similar to how the framework of the car transforms the way in which the conversation is formed, the form alters the way in which the content is put out… The raw data visible on this on-line archive re-enters the physical world.

All products are produced in-house…
From content to distribution…



CARTALK 1: Dean Allen Spunt
Pocket Book
110 x 150 x 10 mm


12.50 €

CARTALK 1: Dean Allen Spunt

90 min


8 €


complete Vol. !

CT 2 Paul Elliman

CT 3 Gregor Huber
Pocket Books
110 x 150 x 10 mm


20 €



* “Externalities are the by-products of usership. Economists define externalities as the inadvertent or indirect benefits or costs that result from a given activity or transaction. (…) One classic example of a positive externality is beekeeping. Beekeepers keep bees primarily for their honey, which accounts only for a modest contribution to the general economy. A spillover effect or positive externality of their activity is the pollination of surrounding crops by the bees (some 80% of all crops are pollinated in this way) – which generates a non-monetised value incommensurably greater than the value of the harvested honey. The implications for usership are tremendous.Detractors of usership invariably point to its negative externalities. Champions of ownership bemoan the fact that they cannot monetise the positive externalities of their activities that users enjoy for free. But usership is in fact akin to pollination – users are like bees, as it were, producing incalculable externalities. As Yann Moulier Boutang has argued (rather optimistically) in The Bee and the Economist, we may currently be transitioning from an ‘economy of exchange and production toward an economy of pollination and contribution’ – that is, an economy of usership.”


BY Stephen Wright