"The best way to predict the future is to change it." George Church, Harvard University. 

Scientific research is accelerating, but what if the science machine uses science to improve itself as well as ourselves autonomously? Are we then at the dawn of an intelligence explosion? And what will be the impact on human nature; will we be in control, will it try to beat us, or will we merge into a single life form? Do we know what the possible futures are, and what futures we actually desire? 

And most importantly: can we change the future by speculating on it? 

Creative researchers from the Leiden University Media Technology MSc program will imagineer new realities, blending art, science and technology into a thought provoking, disorienting mix of utopia and dystopia, hosted bij De Vrijplaats in Leiden.

This will not be a static expo, more a playful research space that mixes scientific approaches to art with creative approaches to science and research, for all audiences. The researchers work from personal inspiration and curiosity and create physical works to explore their concepts or engage the visitor to evoke ideas or questions. Many installations are interactive, some are early studies and prototypes, others will be more polished end products.  And all will speculate on  alternate futures that are yet to come, or that have already happened without you noticing. And all let you make your mind up yourself.

The creative researchers will be around to discuss the concepts, inspiration, ideas and methods behind their work, and even hack some more on the fly. 


Friday June 3

15:00 - 20:30 Expo Open

Saturday June 4

12:00 - 18:00 Expo Open
19:00               Vrijplaats Vegan Dinner
21:00               Special Vrijplaats programming for the expo: Night of the Modular Monster Synths w. The Monoranger & Crever

Hosted by the Vrijplaats Leiden, Middelstegracht 36. 

Admission is free, we would appreciate if you sign up at our Facebook event and spread the word! 


 // TouchPoints // 
by Robbert Ritmeester

What constitutes ‘being close to somebody’? Grooming and cocooning on the sofa with the telephone switched off? Or quite the opposite, by being in touch and touching base 24/7 through Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp? Never in the history of mankind have we been connected in a scale, and with a variety of means as nowadays. Yet we haven’t cracked the problem of virtual touch.

 This installation is not investigating bonding, grooming and closeness as elements of modern days’ communications; as a matter of fact it does the opposite and takes small drawbacks from these types of communication like Skype and see how they are experienced as jamming stations when being physically close to someone. It is about being sensitive of somebody being close to you.

Touch_Points from Robbert Ritmeester on Vimeo.

 // WE, THE ROBOTS // 
by Carlos Martín, Helena Frijns and Lucía Martín

You, cyborgs, are social animals. Through collaboration you have achieved goals that seemed difficult, and almost impossible to achieve as individuals. You have used collective behaviour in society as a powerful tool to trigger changes in the course of history, and we know that this group skill could easily escape out of your control. We, the robots, are calling to explore the idea of collaboration between robots and humans.

// DeepMeaning // 
by Dan Xu

"He who does his work like a machine grows a heart like a machine, and he who carries the heart of a machine in his breast loses his simplicity. He who has lost his simplicity becomes unsure in the strivings of his soul."

Now we are in an era that the machine intelligence is growing rapidly. Let alone the one that beat the best human player in chess games. It can also speculate your interests from search history, recognise your drunk friend from pictures within seconds, even make diagnosis. With this promising intelligence,  do the machine know what it is talking about or we ourselves are projecting meanings to it? Or do we still posses the ability to distinguish bullshit?

by Jasper Schelling


All media are products of their time, yet some of them stay longer with us than others. In the waxing and waning of media technologies, especially in the last 200 years, it has been science that has given us the opportunities to develop new media, yet it is society that finds the place and use for them. With in media res you’re asked to reflect on the relation between technologies and the social interactions they enable.

 // A World in Flux // 
by Maximilian Roele and Petra Kubernátová

Everyone has a different perspective on the future. Some say the future has already been determined by the things we've done, while others actively work towards a better future. With the press of a button, you too can see one of the many visions of the future - even if it's a future you never desired, but still set in motion with that single action.

 // Forced Focus //
by Hélène Trommelen and Emily Klerks

More and more technologies require our constant and unfaltering attention. Multitasking and quick responses have become the norm. Do you feel your attention is constantly divided and does maintaining focus seem like an impossible task? Test whether you have the strength to be free from distractions.

 // The Wood Wide Web //
by Laurens van Mulukom, Els Aarts en Sieta van Horck

Do trees communicate? Recent studies suggest that they might be more interconnected than you'd think. These plants are not individuals competing for survival, but are rather helping each other to survive by interacting through their root systems. In this installation they tell you their story

 // What is an elephant? // 
by Giorgos Bouzias

From the way we do teaching at both computers and humans, one can say that we could potentially outsource that job to a computer without much difference. But what about parenting? A concept broader than teaching that completely shapes us as ethical and social beings. 

The project is trying to communicate potential outcomes in a narrative fashion.

 // Tailored sound //
by Matthijs Hilgers

Music changes a lot. Just compare the music of the past to the music of the present and it will become clear that music is ever evolving. But not only music changes, the way we listen to it as well. Do you think people of 50 years ago could imagine listening to songs on electronic handheld devices? That begs the question: "how will we listen to music in the future?"

This project dives into the possibility of music generated on our environment, enriching us with the weather forecast, departure of the train we usually get and more. Feel free to stop by and listen to a fragment of what the future could sound like!

// Lie to me // 
by Haoran Ding

Even before the time of Internet, we humans lied almost everyday. Now with the shielded identity of the Internet, would it be easier for us to lie? Should we worry about the accuracy of communication in the cyber world? Come sit down and tell me a lie. Experience the shifting of your own identity through the project.   
"Oh, by the way, you look good today." : )

// Ørsted //
by Riccardo Martorana and Jonathan Hielkema

Every second of our life we unconsciously interact with portions of reality that we are not able to perceive. We continuously trigger sequences of events between elements that we can't see, hear or touch. We are perpetually surrounded by imperceptible events and we interact with them. 

Every electronic device or electric tool produces an electromagnetic field around itself, waves and waves permanently surround us, despite we don’t perceive their presence. How do we interact with them? Did they change over the years according to the evolution of our devices? Is it meaningful to talk about electromagnetic pollution?

// Cold Reader // 
by Maral Gurbanzade

Future scares, future fascinates, future haunts, one thing it never does is - actually comes through the door. The elusive entity it is, future is nothing more than many nows later. It is the now of tomorrow. Then why do we want somebody to answer us what the future will be when the future itself wants an answer to the same question? 

The audio installation placed in the Brain Car, provided by the Amsterdam University of applied sciences is designed to get people practically brainwashed by the greatest contemporary and late scientists and science fiction writers, by their message of what the future should be. The audience is the silent and lazy spectator, who comes around to listen and make up their mind about what they think the future will become. Or not. 


// Take your time // 
by Stijn van Linden & Matthijs Theelen

One of the walls of De Vrijplaats will be decorated with eight clocks. The installation takes place when you're not looking. Once you approach every clock will slow down to free your time. 

// Identity Web// 
by Robin Bergman

Identity, whom we are, what we do and the rights an individual has are values that can be valued an criticised. Within our physical and virtual world, someones's identity can be ambiguous and not always as honest and trustworthy as we might think. In our physical world, we have objects as passports and identity-cards that certify our identity and give its owner legal rights from the nation those documents are granted by. for our virtual world we don not have such clear rules or documents that affirm our identity. Our virtual identity is formed by interaction with interconnected physical devices. Identity Web is a project that investigates the relation between the physical and virtual identity and vice versa. 

 // Got Meat? //
by Jonna de Kruijff

With the increasing popularity of vegetarianism and veganism, more people think about the impact agriculture has on the planet, especially industrial meat farming. Development for alternatives to meat is ongoing, with several alternatives, like tofu, being available now. But what if the alternatives start getting weird? Would you eat a laboratory-grown stem cell burger? Or a burger made of worms?

 // Side Projects: Old New Media / Space // 
Various researchers

In preparation for the expo the researchers created small playful side projects in the areas of Old New Media and Space. See movie below for an impression and the portfolios on the right for details.


We are honored to be hosted by De Vrijplaats, Middelstegracht 36 in Leiden, on Friday June 3 (15:00-20:30) and Saturday June 4 (12:00-17:00). The Vrijplaats (literally ‘free place’) is a cultural and social center, which brings together a multitude of nonprofit-making organizations and individuals and provides them with a space where their innovative ideas can unfold as freely as possible. So this fits very well with the Open Lab Expo, as well as Leiden University's motto, Libertatis Praesidium (bastion of freedom).




In media technology one trend, technology or fad quickly follows the next. For anyone with an interest in media technology  and creative science it is important to be up to date with the latest and greatest, from augmented reality to dna editing, and from fabrication to responsive environments. However it is equally important to be able to critically reflect on these trends, to connect these to classical discussions, and to identify what is really novel and what is merely a hype. Only then we will truly be able to research and imagineer for the future in non incremental ways.

The New Media New Technology class explores the latest new media and creative science technologies and concepts, organized by more timeless themes such as new media history, social relationships, space and intelligent perception and action, so that these technologies can be placed into perspective and context. The course follows a tinkering approach and is a mix of lectures and practical assignments, and students are asked to create works that incorporate a new technology or concept and motivate why it is not just a gimmick or hype. Prototypes and end results will be presented at an exposition open to the general public.

New Media New Technology is a course in the Media Technology MSc Programme at LIACS, Leiden University, The Netherlands. The Media Technology MSc programme is a place where students are encouraged to formulate their own scientific questions, and to translate personal inspirations and curiosities into their own research projects. To answer these questions, students create actual products, because we are convinced that by doing and creating, new scientific insights into the underlying question are encountered. 

Lecturer & Curator: Peter van der Putten
Teaching Assistant & Creative Producer : Jeroen van Oorschot

Past editions of NMNT can be found here.