Department of Search Book Launch

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Order this book at Hybrid Crocodile
Outside Europe at Etsy

The Department of Search was established in 2014 at Science Park Utrecht. For three years this artist run organization experimented with action research interventions, to explore new forms of encounters between artists and scientists. This book unfolds the findings and speculates on the potential of a shared space to formulate fundamental questions of the future.

The Department’s basic procedure is simple: artists thoroughly search University premises and the spaces inside, around and between the buildings, for clues, cues and ideas they can use. They share their findings, models, and project ideas with local scientists. A search is conducted for shared values and what they may lead up to. Often from this intensive adventure a wide panorama of potential, a collection of debatable futures, will emerge.

Ed van Hinte

Carlijn Diesfeldt, Melle Smets, Cynthia Hathaway, Ed van Hinte (Getting Acquainted, Shared Values)

Aafke Holwerda, Jan Scheffe, Melle Smets, Cynthia Hathaway, Renate Boere, Carlijn Diesfeldt, Jokko Voogt

Melle Smets

Concept Design
Studio Renate Boere, Den Haag

Printing & binding
Printing house Kopa

ISBN 9789082672541

Commissioned by by the Aardschap Foundation, Utrecht February 2018

This publication was made possible by DOEN Foundation and Municipality of Utrecht.

Zero Footprint Campus

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In Zero Footprint Campus twelve artists were conducting artistic research at Utrecht Science Park. Each in their own way, they drew inspiration from the material provided from their direct environment, such as animals, books, waste, data and innovations. In the hands of these artists, these local sources were given a new value, a value that is important in thinking about the campus of the future. Zero Footprint Campus took place in June 2017. Photo’s: Aafke Holwerda

_MG_1103_MG_1160Read-in, Unlearning My Library. Bookshelf_Research


_MG_1443Cynthia Hathaway, Felt Factory

Arne Hendriks, Asphalt Angiogenesis foto Aafke Holwerda

_MG_1792Arne Hendriks, KankerCel

_MG_1676Expertmeeting lunch

8 rondleiding USPGuided tour

_MG_0976Melle Smets & Kris De Decker, Human Power Plant


_MG_1611Friendly Stalking

_MG_1613Van Blankensteyn, Zero Waste Juicebar

_MG_1572Guido Marsille, Van Blankensteyn


_MG_1201Helmut Smits, Kraanwaterperformance

_MG_0721Laurent Tixador, Nature Helps Man to Take Root

_MG_1085Monnik, Scenario Machine

_MG_1387Bureau d’Etudes, Protestmars


_MG_0886Maarten Vanden Eynde, Future Observatory

_MG_1255Roel Roscam Abbing, Spacekeet

Zero Footprint Campus open!

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Zero Footprint Campus is open from Monday-Friday 10 am-6 pm.  Also the monumental ‘Sterrentoren’ (startower) is free to visit; a reservation is not necessary.

It’s also possible to book a guided tour:

• Every Monday: 4 pm and every Friday  2 &4 pm
• Group tours on request (max. 25 participants)

Besides tours Zero Footprint Campus also organizes debates, lectures, meet-ups etc. Zero Footprint Campus is open from Monday-Friday from 10 am -6pm. Also open on Saturday 17th and 24th June from 12 am-6 pm. For reservations or more information:

Location:  Department of Search-barn, Genèvelaan / Leuvenlaan, Utrecht Science Park



_MG_0920_MG_0134Photos: Aafke Holderwerda

Guided Walk through library by Read-in

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Join for a guided walk through University Library Uithof by Read-in!

“Books are divided into…” on Thursday June 1st 2017 

  • Walk 1 at 11.30 am -1 pm
  • Walk 2 at 2 pm – 3.30 pm 

A guided walk with a library staff member through the University Library Uithof, along special bookshelves, categorizing narratives, and a glimpse into one of the back-end depositories of the library. Moreover, Read-in members Svenja Engels, Annette Krauss and Laura Pardo invite visitors for an analogue bookshelf research in the space of the Utrecht University Library, and introduce their project Unlearning my Library. Bookshelf_Research.



Spacekeet & Kunstmanen

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The Spacekeet, a project by Roel Roscam Abbing, will be able to track satellites as they fly across the sky. One of the parts required for this is a large dish. The main dish will be a do-it-yourself 120cm wire dish. It is based on a design by the Werkgroep Kunstmanen and drawn by Harry Arends. That design uses an F/D ratio of 0.5, the one Roel Roscam Abbing has been building has a ratio of 0.6, which leads to better magnification.

Within the werkgroep there is a lot of discussion on the best way to build (and control) dish rotors. During the last meeting of the werkgroep kunstmanen the members brought along their dish rotors to have a diversity of approaches to discuss and show. From the fully self-built designs, to designs which are clever hacks based on commercial products to more modern 3d-printed designs. The design and building of the rotors is relatively involved, especially for the members who are not inclined to spend hours in a workshop (or that don’t have a workshop). Currently there is no ‘recommended design’, it is all relative to the amount of skills/time/money/patience one has.

An X/Y Rotor can be constructed by using two commercially available rotors and mounting one on the axis of the other. A downside every X/Y motor has is that one motor will carry the weight of both. Additionally it is difficult or impossible to install a counter-weight for the dish itself which requires additional carrying capacity for your motors. The advantage of an X/Y model over an Az/El design is that it can track any point in the sky in a single fluid motion. An Az/El design is limited by the requirement that at some point it crosses through its origin, meaning the whole system needs to be flipped to track something from horizon to horizon. This could lead to losing track of your signal in the mean time.

Follow Roel Roscam Abbing’s blog on collection of all the rotors that where brought to the meeting

How can art and science collaborate?

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The Department of Search is an arts based organisation which was first set up in 2014. Soon after they developed the Zero Footprint Campus project where twelve artists come together to create artistic research at Urecht Science Park in the Netherlands. They have drawn on inspiration from their direct ecosystems and want to provide a new perspective about environmental harm. Sustainability is a highly topical debate attracting a lot of discussion and research. Despite this, not enough research is being applied to the local community. It prompted Zero Footprint Campus to re-design the space which attracts hundreds of students every day. The artists wanted to create a unique place to encourage more people to think about the surroundings that they interact with. This interesting initiative inspired our reporter Emily O’Dowd to speak to the curator and art advisor Carlijn Diesfeldt to discuss how science and art can effectively collaborate to question how public spaces are being used. Zero Footprint Campus is made up of several search projects and an artistic team who are dedicated to growing the impact of the project.

Read more: How can art and science collaborate to raise awareness for the sustainable industry?