The Evening of... Siegfried Zielinski

"The Three Princes of Serendippo - Responsible for recipes, taste, mixture, montages and time line: Siegfried Zielinski" (D); assisted by artist David Link (D), musician Jan St. Werner (D) and chef cook / artist Tom Fecht (D).

The Evening of... Siegfried Zielinski

The Evening of Siegfried Zielinski; photo: Jan Sprij

Feb 2003
19:00 to 22:00
location: Pakhuis Las Palmas (Arena), Rotterdam

The Three Princes of Serendippo is a fairy tale, which was rediscovered by English writer Horace Walpole in the 18th Century. Its protagonists are permanently making discoveries, finding and and inventing things, which they did not search for and which nobody asked them to invent.

Zielinski's guests, media artist David Link (D) and musician/composer Jan Werner (D), explore SERENDIPITY as a method, a concept of thinking and constructing the world of art, machines and programs. There will be no product: the evening will be an attempt to create a process, where the participants allow themselves to be surprised and to surprise the audience. In this, Zielinski will be assisted by photographer and sculptor Tom Fecht (D).


Nederlands / Dutch text

The Three Princes of Serendippo is een sprookje dat in de 18de eeuw werd herontdekt door de Engelse schrijver Horace Walpole. De protagonisten doen voortdurend allerlei ontdekkingen en vinden vanalles (uit), zonder dat zij dat van plan waren of iemand hun dat gevraagd had.

Zielinski ontvangt als gasten mediakunstenaar David Link (D) en musicus/componist Jan Werner (D). Fotograaf en beeldhouwer Tom Fecht (D) zal hem assisteren. Zielinski's gasten houden zich bezig met serendipiteit als methode, als concept voor het denken over en het construeren van de wereld van de kunst, machines en programma's.
De Avond van Siegfried Zielinski leidt niet tot een product, maar poogt een proces op gang te brengen waarin de deelnemers zichzelf en ook het publiek willen (laten) verrassen.


Food for Thought: The Evening of Siegfried Zielinski by Christel Vesters

A well-known guest of V2_ and DEAF himself, this evening it was Siegfried Zielinski's turn to be the host and welcome his guests for his Evening of... For this occasion, the Arena had been changed into a classy restaurant. Tables set up with white linen, silver cutlery and crystal glasses were installed around the center stage. Together with musician Jan St. Werner (Mouse on Mars) and media artist David Link (aka Gabriel), the German theorist Zielinski had prepared a menu that would not only stimulate our taste buds but all our senses and our brain cells.

Entitled The Three Princes of Serendippo the menu existed of Italian food; different bits of theory, prose and poetry; slides and projections; sound and music entirely derived from cooking noises.

Responsible for recipes, taste, mixture, montages and time line: Siegfried Zielinski, the bottom of the menu mentioned. On the table on one side of the stage, glass bowls with different ingredients and some heavy duty cooking equipment were set up. During the evening Zielinski and co. would be preparing the Italian dish 'Pesto alla Genovese' and a complementary mix of sound and image. Chef cook / artist Tom Fecht was in charge of the 'kitchen' and at the same time responsible for the slide projections, running from one side of the stage to the other. In the center Zielinski, when not lecturing, made his contribution by graining the basil in a mortar, adding another element to the stage performance.

The evening promised to be an entertaining performance in which the potential of mixing, knitting, linking different ingredients would be demonstrated both in the practice of food preparation and thought production.

After everyone was seated, the evening started with a reading of excerpts from Peregrinaggio di tre giovani, figliuoli del re di Serendippo, an Italian fairy tale from the 16th century. After having disappointed their father, the three princes are banned from the kingdom and sent on a pilgrimage. On their journey they are constantly making discoveries, finding and inventing things they did not search for and which nobody asked them to invent. Hence the principle of serendipity: a method that allows for unexpected discoveries and insights to emerge during the process.

We try to answer your questions before you are able to ask them. With this statement Zielinski started off an evening that would explore and demonstrate the performativity of the principle of serendipity on three different levels. First of all by juxtaposing excerpts from different theoretical sources, the unexpected combinations might produces new insights. Secondly within the preparation of food; although one follows a recipe, every time something is different - ingredients; temperature, circumstances - these factors coincidentally might lead to another/better result. And thirdly - although not completely orchestrated by Zielinski himself - the combination of table guests might lead to pleasant encounters, conversations and, who knows, maybe some chemistry.

Throughout the evening, the principles Zielinski introduced from theory or other literary sources were juxtaposed with David Link's observations of artistic computer programming, and the art of cooking. In the preparing of a dish we have to take into careful consideration how to treat the substances and ingredients, the way of mixing and unmixing the substances. It takes care, grace and time to mix the ingredients. It desires knowledge and experience, you have to work through the materials, understand their nature, and follow through the principles of the recipe. Both cooking and computer programming are a process of 'trial and error' and a process that can not by fully controlled, leaving space for unexpected inventions and discoveries. Also, both practices strive for perfection, so each time the 'product' is further develop and failures eliminated. The best result always desires time and grace.

Standing in the middle of the stage, Zielinski explained the process of mixing: ingredients are transformed into a final result that differs from its starting situation. Again, we need patience and the right tools to achieve a good result. The final outcome is an assemblage of the different ingredients - not a homogeneous whole - in which the essential characteristics of the ingredients remain imaginable. For instance you can still detect the specific taste and color of the pepper, because it is different from the basil, and again, different from the garlic. In a way Zielinski's explanation offered a nice metaphor for the principle of 'data knitting': you bring together a selection of heterogeneous ingredients, transforming them into a new autonomous substance, but which is mixed in such a way that the essentials of the ingredients remain imaginable.

In addition to short lectures on 'Time: Kronos & Kairos, duration & moment'; 'Perception: theory of pores'; 'random & indeterminism', one of the 'intellectual' ingredients was the introduction of Edouard Glissant's theoretical notion of 'creolization'. According to Glissant, relations between countries, cultures and nation states, of knitting so to say on the level of nation-states, is not per definition everywhere the same. In Western Europe we historically have a small territory with one center, the Mediterranean Sea. From this historical circumstance there has always been a desire for unification; economically, ideologically etc. In the Caribbean on the other hand, the geographical situation is scattered, it is a fragmented territory. Historically there never has been a desire - or a ground - for unification. According to Glissant this has lead to a different type of connections between neighboring countries.

Without specifically denoting and explicating the structure of the evening, Zielinski's menu offered a multiplicity of links, combinations, mixes and in the course of the evening unexpected insights, maybe even some knowledge was actually produced. For instance, introducing Glissant's idea of creolization exemplified how different situations might lead to different types of connections, of links, with a consequentially a different outcome.

The evening of Zielinksi showed us Serendipity, it also showed that gaining knowledge and producing food is an active - learning - process in which we have to be open for the unexpected, because maybe it will presents moments of genius.

report by Christel Vesters, 2003


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