Modes and Models

Aby Warburg re-created history in the 1920’s with his image atlas Mnemosyme in a non-linear manner: he was not looking for how eras followed eachother, but how subjects re-appeared in time. This method could not be more relevant today: the amount of digital images we are encountering a day has never been so high since we entered the short history of web environments. How does this influence our skills to     read and communicate through images?
Taking the Warburg method as a source, I proposed to research the state of history books today, and experimented how the linearity of history books could be updated with a non-linear narrative, bringing dynamic reading to readers in the era of digital literacy. What could be the history book today?


supported by stimuleringsfonds creatieve industrie nl, Talent Grant
printed by lecturis (NL) and Ernst Dinkla (NL)
thanks to the Warburg Institute (UK)
exhibited ‘In No Particular Order’, Dutch Design Week 2014



‘Modes and Models’ is a case study for intervening as a designer between Warburg’s online archive and the audience (researchers, to students, artists, curious visitors). Based on Aby Warburg’s idea of image collision and anachronism, ‘Modes and Models’ brings together a wide array of contemporary and historical images from the Warburg and other digitised private or commercial archives. All images are
highlighting technological developments that are experienced on the level of an individual, thus analizing the position of the human within different systems. Through images, this project questions the idea of technological revolution and its depiction from different point of views. Can past models can be used for the future? Can present images be modes to experience the past?


mm2 kicsi copy






Participating Images


1.‘Anne, 1.6 km away from you, is looking for (an) (electric) drill.’ Peerby notification (2014), screenshot. An electric drill is used for 13 minutes during its lifespan. Why not share if it is just lying around somewhere collecting dust? – a question posed by Peerby, a virtual sharing platform.

2.‘Muse’ by Hendrik Goltzius (1592), Warburg Institute Photographic Archive, scan. Represented as ethereal women, Muses symbolise creation and knowledge, always holding an object depicting their field of arts or science. Urania is the muse of astronomy in Greek mythology.

3.‘Realtime Synthetic Environment’ (2014) Admiralty underground train station expansion, ARUP One of the busiest transit hubs in the world, Admiralty Underground Station in Hong Kong underwent a significant upgrade. To streamline circulation, the planned site was tested by a simulation in order to collect data of routes taken through the virtual station.

4.‘Wellington Street’ Google Street view (undated), screenshot A street cleaner in Wellington Street, central Hong Kong.

5.‘Lion Tamer’, by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer (1846), painting, Warburg Institute Photographic Archive. Portrait of Mr. Van Amburgh, as he appeared with his animals at the London Theatre shows the celebrated lion tamer dressed as a Roman gladiator with the bearing of an emperor subjugating his menagerie of wild cats.



6.‘Parallels’ by Harun Farocki (2011) ‘Serious Games’, training for war and traumas, screenshot Serious games are simulations of real-world events. “Serious” refers to video games that train for war, education, scientific exploration, health care, city planning, engineering and politics.

7.‘Atlas’ by Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1439-1501), Warburg Institute Photographic Archive, scan Atlas was given the task of holding up the god Uranus on his shoulders as a punishment from Zeus. In many works of Classical art he was represented as carrying the celestial spheres.

8.‘Hong Kong Student Walks to School’, by Sarah Clarke, ABC News, (2014), online image A student walks past a wall fully pasted with protest post-its on her way to high school in central Hong Kong.

9.‘Division of the Universe’ by Giulio Bonasone, mid 16th century, Warburg Institute Photographic Archive, scan. Division of the universe between Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto who each presided over one of the three realms of the universe: sky, the waters, and the underworld.

10.‘Man With an Arrow’ by Hans Memling ca. 1475-80, scan, Washington, National gallery of Arts. The arrow is a reference to the man’s office or rank in an archer’s guild or the painting can be interpreted as the artist himself holding a brush and painting his self-portrait.