Doors of Perception 4 (1996)

For your day by day report on Doors4 please visit its Diary by Jules Marshall and Jouke Kleerebezem. For transcripts of the speeches see the Content page.

Session 1 Session 4 Session 2 Session 5 What they say about Doors of Perception Session 3 Session 6
Amsterdam, 7 & 8 November 1996

Final programme:
The theme of the fourth Doors of Perception conference was 'speed'. By design or not, we now live in a world dominated by speed - from the TGV to CNN. Speed defines our products, our environments, our way of life, and our imaginations. But is faster always better, or is there a price to be paid for a constant acceleration of production, information, and daily life? And - crucially - does the value we place on speed prevent us from living more lightly on the planet?
The Doors of Perception conferences look at multimedia and the information superhighway from a distinct perspective. They say, 'yes, this stuff is amazing - but what is it for?' This year's meeting explores that question in the context of 'speed'.

Can one be modern, and slow? Speed is embedded in our culture. It drives the design of artefacts, systems, and environments. In computing, transportation, or work, this is obvious; in entertainment, education or health, acceleration is less visible. But what about the future? Is it time to build 'selective slowness' into the design of our lives? Might a combination of ultra-fast information, and slowed-down movement, be a sound strategy for sustainable designs?

This is the final printed programme, although any late changes or updates will be posted on our website, where you can also register via email. There are only 840 seats - and 1100 delegates came to Doors 2 - so you genuinely need to register now to guarantee a place. We urge international visitors to get here by Wednesday evening, 6 November. We've made the conference into a dense two days -it starts promptly at 9.30 am on the Thursday morning - so that you may devote a weekend in Amsterdam to your own meetings and networking.

The complete proceedings and documents generated by the previous three Doors of Perception conferences will be Schorlty available online, together with this year's Doors 4 programme. As well as the extensive Doors 3 'info-eco' material, the site will include most of the Doors 2 Cdrom and the proceedings from Doors 2 '@Home'.

Thursday 7 November, Session 1
Speed made visible: the cultural power of acceleration

We live at ever-higher speeds. In modern technological culture, speed has been internalised as an end-in-itself; our designed world further reinforces the value we place on speed. John Thackara, director of the conference, introduces the first session in which critics analyse the cultural power of acceleration, and designers and artists use new media to make it visible. Speakers include professor Stephen Kern, author of The Culture of Time and Space 1880-1918; he describes how speed emerged as a driving force of 20th century life, an icon of modernity. Rick Prelinger will delve into his famous archive of early cinema and tv advertising to illustrate our preoccupation with ever-faster speed - how it changed work and business, our sense of time and place, our relationship to nature, the creative process. Danny Hillis, Vice President for Research and Development at Walt Disney Imagineering, founder of Thinking Machines, and expert on super-fast computing, explores the paradox that 'the more computers know, the slower they get, whereas the human mind has the opposite property'. There follows a discussion involving designer Benno Premsela, political economist Susan George, evolutionary biologist Tom Ray, and trend analyst Jan Wyllie. The morning is wrapped up by Andrew Ross, Professor of Comparative Literature at New York University, and author of The Chicago Gangster Theory of Life and Strange Weather.
After lunch Doors of Perception embraces Amsterdam's famous modern music scene. The celebrated young pianist Ivo Janssen will perform Brasil Semfim, by Christian Lauba, a remarkable piece of music, based on repetitive rythm, that is performed at dazzling tempo.

Session 2
Why speed matters: ecology and sustainability

Speed drives a way of life in which we produce and consume at an increasing pace. What if a desire for constant acceleration runs up against the carrying capacity of the planet? Wolfgang Sachs from the Wuppertal Institute, the environmental think-tank, and co-author of the widely acclaimed Sustainable Germany, asks wether we are stuck in the fast lane of resource depletion and should continue to design with speed in mind. Professor Juliet Schor, author of the forthcoming Beyond Consumption, looks at the speeding up of life and its social and economic impact. Jacqueline Cramer, a professor of environmental techology at the University of Amsterdam, and a senior adviser to Philips, looks at strategies for durability as an alternative to products with ever-Schorter life expectancies.

Session 3
Europe At Speed

High-speed trains, and ultra-fast information networks, are being built all over Europe. But for what? Architect and city designer Rem Koolhaas, who has spent a decade at the centre of this infrastructural revolution, will talk about 'bigness' and 'fastness'. Geographer and transport critic John Adams looks at the cultural drivers of mass mobility. Adriaan Geuze, a landscape architect, explores interactions between our experience of 'nature' and the man-made environment. Design scenarios for a 'virtual airport' will be presented by Professor Gillian Crampton Smith (Royal College of Art), design producer Tadanori Nagasawa, and Conny Bakker from the Netherlands Design Institute.
Early evening, following the conference programme, there will be drinks so that people can stay together and meet (location to be announced).

Friday 8 November: Session 4
Changing speed: scenarios for selective slowness

"High speeds for all mean that everyone has less time for himself" (Ivan Illich)
Speed defines most of the artefacts and designed environments that surround us. Fast cars, fast cities, fast networks. Can we change speeds? Conference co-chair Michiel Schwarz introduces the session on how we can imagine a future with different speeds in mind. The renowned social thinker Ivan Illich, who first analysed 'speed' as a fundamental cultural and political issue twenty years ago, will critically examine the experience of speed as a hallmark of progress and modernity. Together with musicologist and drummer Matthias Rieger, and biologist-diver Sebastian Trapp, Professor Illich will investigate the modern transition from rhythm to speed. Philosopher Hans Achterhuis will then look at utopias of speed, and suggest ways we may begin to build 'selective slowness' into our designs for the future.
We then ask: can the next phase of modernity be based on "lightness", a more satisfactory balance between fast and slow? Could selective slowness be consistent with economic growth and modernity? We take a cue from developments in Asia, where 'life at different speeds' already reigns. Architectural publisher Kayoko Ota will examine ultra-fast urbanisation in Asia's new cities. Designer Jogi Panghaal then leads a panel discussion about information technology and development in India. With: Internet sociologist Ravi Sundaram; architect and computer researcher Ranjit Makkuni, from the Indira Gandhi National Center for Arts, who now works at Xerox Parc in Silicon Valley; and Sam Pitroda, chairman of WorldTel and technology advisor to the Indian prime minister.

Session 5
From terabits to terra firma: design for different speeds

We return to the central question in Doors of Perception: 'what are global networks and multimedia for?'. This high-density session features design scenarios: what might it mean in practice to design with different speeds in mind? What role can information technology and connectivity play in 'light' products and environments? What would they look like, and how would they behave? The use of information technology to explain and circulate new knowledge will be illustrated by Richard Saul Wurman, the information architect and founder of the TED conferences. Other state-of-the-art presentations by: Jeet Singh, partner in Boston's Art Technology Group, on their new website for Harvard Business School; multimedia creative producer Pascale Bastide, with ethnographer Claude Gaignebet, on their new cdrom Time; TV and multimedia producer John Wyver of Illuminations; and designer Willem Velthoven of Mediamatic, Amsterdam on design by algorithm. Ezio Manzini and Marco Susani of Domus Academy in Milan, then introduce design scenarios concerned with 'turning products into services - and experiences'.

Session 6 Final Debate: Speed, Information, Design.
With keynote speakers and surprise guests.
On Friday evening you are on your own for dinner but later on the Doors party is produced once again by The Supperclub.

What they say about Doors of Perception:
"Europe's annual get-together where designers rub brains with scientists and philosophers" THE EUROPEAN

"brings together the international avant garde in new media and computer networks" NRC HANDELSBLAD (NETHERLANDS)

"briliant insights on the internet and sustainability" ECONOMIC TIMES OF INDIA

"interesting ideas and interactions: what people will want to do, and why, with the new technologies" LINDA STONE, Director, Virtual Worlds Group, Microsoft Corporation

"the most stimulating and indispensible conference on content aspects of the new media" JEFFREY SHAW, Professor, Director of the Institute for Visual Media, ZKM Karlsruhe

"significant in its attempt to develop collective intelligence over computer networks" TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION SUPLEMENT (UK)

"Doors of Perception is not just another conference; at this unique event you really experience the coming new world of culture." PIERRE LEVY, professor of Hypermedia, University of Paris at St. Denis, and author of L'Intelligence Collective

"this forum for designers and digerati" WIRED (USA)

"designers, thinkers, movers and shakers come from all over the globe" DIGITAL MEDIA (USA)

" For a window onto design and cultural production in Europe, Doors is unequivocally the conference to attend. It never fails to leave you wiser, intrigued, invigorated and hunry for more." CHEE PEARLMAN, editor, I.D. Magazine, New York

Also during Doors of Perception 4: The Speed of Light, The Speed of Sound, an installation at the Netherlands Design Institute, in collaboration with The Photographers' Gallery, London.

Doors of Perception website
Further updates on the programme for the conference will be posted on our website (whose webmaster is Kristi van Riet). The site also contains proceedings of our earlier conferences, results of design workshops, booklists, and other resources.

Doors of Perception was organised by the Netherlands Design Institute. The programme for Doors of Perception 4 is developed by John Thackara (the Institute's director) and Michiel Schwarz (Foundation 567). Doors of Perception workshops are organised by Conny Bakker. The conference was produced by Geke van Dijk and Annelou Evelein (both ACS-i); its press and media manager is Maarten Reesink (ACS-i).

Netherlands Design Institute, Keizersgracht 609, NL-1017 DS Amsterdam Telephone: +31 (0)20 551 6512, Fax: +31 (0)20 620 1031 E-mail: editor@doorsofperception.com
WWW: http://www.doorsofperception.com


updated 1996