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Femke Snelting reads computer code from a cyberfeminist perspective, noting the cultural assumptions and blind spots behind the programming. With the audience she will read the BioVision Hierarchy standard for motion capture. What assumptions about the human body does it conceal? What effect do these have when movement is translated into code?

20:00 – 22:00

Het Nieuwe Instituut
Museumpark 25
3015 CB Rotterdam


Programme€ 7,50
Programme students & Friends of Het Nieuwe Instituut€ 3,75
Thursday Night Dinner (without programme)€ 17,50
BankGiro Loterij VIP-KAARTfree

This edition of Reading Room will be dedicated to a collaborative dissection of the Biovision Hierarchy file format. Biovision Hierarchy (BVH) is an ASCII file format used to import data from various motion-capture systems into 3D-animation software. It was developed in the mid-1990s and remains one of the most commonly used file formats for transposing movement captured in physical space to a computational environment. Around this relatively legible format, a rich ecology of software tools has emerged. The file format functions as a boundary object between practices and bodies, as it is used by animators, game developers, interface researchers, medical professionals, dance historians, sports analysts and engineers.

Together, we will analyse the BVH specifications and samples of the file format in order to understand what imaginaries of the body are encoded into it, what a bipedal skeleton hierarchy consists of, and how rotational data for rigid bodies might constitute a movement in itself.

This reading of the BVH file format has been developed with Adva Zakai in the context of Possible Bodies, a collaborative research project initiated by Jara Rocha and Femke Snelting on the highly concrete yet simultaneously complex and fictional entities that ‘bodies’ are, and the material and cultural conditions of possibility that render them present. Adva Zakai is a choreographer, performer and curator who explores how body and language are perceived through each other.

Thursday Night Dinner

Join us for a special dinner with the speakers at 18.30 hours, before the Thursday Night event. Prepared with fresh, organic products, dinner is served in Het Nieuwe Café and costs €17.50, including drinks. Make sure you reserve a seat at least a day in advance.

Introductory programme

On Thursday 24 November the exhibition Space Embodied. The Russian Art of Movement, 1920-1930 is a place for cultural exchange. Conny Janssen Dances, one of the leading contemporary dance companies in the Netherlands, is hosting an exchange with dancers from Saint Petersburg’s Kannon Dance Company. Between 7:30-8 pm they will present the first outcomes of their collaboration to the audience. You are invited to attend this unique performance. Please register here.

Femke Snelting

Femke Snelting develops projects at the intersection of design, feminism and free software. She is member of Constant, a non-profit, artist-run association for art and media based in Brussels. She co-initiated the design/research team OSP and the Libre Graphics Research Unit to investigate how digital tools and creative practice might co-construct each other. Together with Jara Rocha, Seda Guerses and Miriyam Aouragh, she is a member of the Darmstadt Delegation, assigned to explore techno-political and socio-emotional relationships between activist and technological practice. She was an art, science and business fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude and currently teaches at a.pass (Advanced Performance and Scenography Studies) in Brussels and at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam.

Reading Room

The Reading Room is a series of evenings dedicated to the act of collective reading. It is a place to decipher and interpret the world with its countless languages and systems, including phenomena that by their ubiquity evade investigation. Led by an artist, researcher or designer, a small audience will reflect upon a concept, a text, an object or an image. The Reading Room is a space for intimate, provocative conversations. It is a place for creative confusion and sometimes even frustration, in which speakers and audience are not looking for concrete solutions but for higher resolutions. Subjects in previous Reading Rooms include exhibition, surveillance, migration, liquidity, museum, insecurity.

Delany Boutkan, Marten Kuijpers, Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, Setareh Noorani
Alex Walker