Alicja Konkol
Alicja Konkol ©

Waag Open: the language of material

The man-made world consists of all sorts of materials. This evening, Waag Open presents two art installations that investigate our relation to the materials that surround us. 

Myles Merckel’s will present his art installation Magnetic_Zoology (2023) and Alicja Konkol will show her video essay From Ore to More (2023). Both artists have recently won the KABK Waag Award 2023.

Can materials speak? 

In Merckel’s project, the audience can experience the chirping of birds and the chirping of “mechanical birds”—hard drives that are processing the data of bird sound recordings. Merckel has created his own database, using the audio files of bird songs that are labelled as “with worst quality”, meaning that the recordings are full of (background) noises due to the fact that the recording apparatuses were not able to cancel them. He was surprised by the resemblance between birds chirping and the squeaking sound of the hard drive when it becomes momentarily dysfunctional. Instead of "representing" sounds of nature, he foregrounds the fact that nature is often mediated by technology. But we often tend to ignore this kind of preservation technologies, like the air conditioner at the zoo, or our hard drive in the laptop. In Magnetic_Zoology, however, the material of technologies speaks in a chorus with the mediated sound of nature.

A different take on ‘speaking materials’ is presented in a lecture performance by Alicja Konkol. What does silver tell us when it is in the form of a 16th century brooch? And does its story change when it takes shape as a silver spoon, that is forgotten in grandma’s cupboard? In Konkol’s From Ore to More, the artist takes a semi-archaeological approach to silver, while repeatedly melting archaeological artifacts sourced from digital archives, fusing them together. The project explores the breakdown and rearrangement of forms, and the memories and entropies between forms. In this project, silver is a material that speaks not only when it is moulded into a shape, but also when it is in the proces of transmuting and shapeshifting. 


19:30 - 19:40 hrs | Welcome & introduction by Zoénie Liwen Deng
19:40 - 20:10 hrs | Artist talk by Myles Merckel about his installation ‘Magnetic_Zoology’ 
20:15 - 20:45  hrs | Video Essay ‘From Ore to More’ by Alicja Konkol 
20:45 - 20:55 hrs | Short break
20:55 - 21:20 hrs | Discussion + Q&A moderated by Zoénie Liwen Deng
21:20 - 22:00 hrs | Drinks

Waag Open

Waag Open is a monthly public programme focused on today's themes. We organise various workshops and present collaborations between scientists, designers and artists. Once a month, Waag opens her doors for programmes that can be attended by anyone and everyone.




7,50 (including 1 drink)


Nieuwmarkt 4
1012CR Amsterdam

Due to her monumental state the Waag building does not have elevators. A gender neutral toilet is present on the first floor.