Karen Lancel

Karen Lancel studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy Amsterdam and graduated in 2002 from Dasarts. Lancel creates together with partner Herman Maat ‘meeting places’ in public spaces. These ‘meeting places’ - performances and installations -  are designed as seductive, visual environments where the audience is invited to experiment with social technologies and to reflect on their own perception of body, identity, community and alienation. Lancel/Maat research contemporary social systems in a mediated society. For every ‘meeting place’ they develop an especially designed montage of physical and virtual interaction. Through their ‘meeting places’ Lancel/Maat show social portraits of urban mediated life. The works of Lancel/Maat are internationally shown. Karen Lancel is a also a PhD candidate at the Systems Foundation Delft Technical University and a researcher at the Interface Studies UvA/ASCA.

In her current research project TELE-TRUST Lancel explores how in our changing social eco-system we increasingly demand transparency; while at the same time we increasingly cover our vulnerable bodies with personal communication-technology. For TELE_TRUST Lancel designed a hybrid play zone for a vulnerable process, of balancing between fear and desire for the other. In a visual, poetic way they explore the emotional and social tension between visibility and invisibility; privacy and trust.

TELE_TRUST takes place in dynamic public spaces. Here Lancel invites the audience in six interactive, full body data-veils. The data-veils combine visual elements of full body covering wearables in eastern and western traditions. They are inspired by a monks’ habit and a burqa; as well as by a ‘trustworthy’ chalk stripe business suit. When wearing a data-veil your body becomes an interface: flexible sensors are woven in the smart textile of each data-veil. The data-veil functions as a membrane, the six data-veils form a digital network. By touching your body in the data-veil you can meet others in the network. You meet in an intimate virtual experience, to exchange stories on horror and beauty: Am I here with you? Who is watching who? Who is controlling who? And in whose body?

Selected exhibitions
Ars Electronica Linz, Austria; ZKM Karlsruhe, Germany // De Appel Amsterdam, NL // Transmediale Berlin, Germany // Eyebeam, New York, USA // Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, NL // Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, NL // Artfair Artforum Berlin, Germany // Urban Screens 08, Melbourne, AUS // ISEA 04 Helsinki, Finland // Biennale Villette Numerique, Paris, France // Art Center Nabi, Seoul, South-Korea // Smart Project Space Amsterdam, NL  // Chinese European Art Center-CEAC The Second Art @ Science International Exhibition/Symposium, Beijing, China // Dutch Institute for Media Art Amsterdam (NIMK), NL // V2_LAB for Unstable Media  Rotterdam, NL // Second new media Art Exhibition at Millennium Art Museum Beijing, China.

Selected publications

  • Stalk Show, with Hermen Maat, in: Urban Screens Reader, eds: S. McQuire, M. Martin, S. Niederer, Inc Reader #5, Amsterdam, Institute of Network Cultures, 2009, pp. 191-198.
  • Tele_Trust, RTRSRCH Vol. 3 No. 2, Amsterdam, 2011, with contributions by: Geert Lovink, Erik Kluitenberg, Caroline Nevejan and Marijke Hoogenboom.


research outline Tele_Trust