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[Nettime-nl] In Memoriam Jip de Kort
Geert Lovink on Sun, 19 Oct 2008 10:39:04 +0200 (CEST)


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[Nettime-nl] In Memoriam Jip de Kort


Jip de Kort, 1971-2008
http://www.kwark.org/

By Momus, Sat. Oct 18, 2008
http://imomus.livejournal.com/

We're here and then we aren't. The transition to non-being can happen  
with ridiculous suddenness, and for no good reason. It can happen to  
young people in good health, people who seem as vividly alive on the  
web after their physical being has ended as they did before it.

Someone who should be reading this page isn't. Someone who should be  
updating us with fresh information about his life never will again.  
Jip de Kort went to sleep on Sunday evening and never woke up. His  
heart, apparently, just stopped. He was 37 years old. I learned about  
this when I was in London. His friends tell me he felt no pain.

Jip's Facebook page announced on Saturday "I'm starting a trip to  
Sprang-Capelle today". At 1.06am on Sunday evening his status feed  
announced "Jip is returning to Utrecht today". He died a few hours  
later. I'm not sure whether it happened in Sprang-Capelle or his home  
town of Utrecht.

Jip -- one of the staunchest Momus fans, and one of the gentlest  
people I've met -- was a self-mediator. On his Flickr page and on his  
Kwark page Jip posted photos of his life. We shared something that I  
recognized when I started looking at his photos in 2003, something to  
do with the gently obsessive need to record the world in digital form,  
and record himself too.

Jip was the perfect model of the digital dandy, someone who endlessly  
recorded not just his travels and his experiences moving through the  
world with his girlfriend Stef Swaczyna, but also experiments with his  
appearance. He photographed his ever-changing clothes and hair with  
something that wasn't as much narcissism as a gentle wonder, amused  
and bemused.

With Jip's disappearance, this digital archiving -- and Jip was also a  
master of those digital languages, C and Perl and Shell and PHP and  
Javascript -- makes sense in a new way. Jip made himself present in  
digital space almost as if he knew that he wouldn't always be  
physically present. He really seemed unusually aware of the  
preciousness of every moment.

I first wrote about Jip in my website essay about photoblogging in  
2003. When Phaidon asked me to write a book about photoblogging a  
couple of years later, I described how Jip had trained my eye:

"Dutchman Jip de Kort likes coloured plastic, art galleries, fire  
extinguishers, and trains. The plastic bottles in his bathroom are  
arranged according to colour, like a Tony Cragg installation. Jip  
clearly lives to photograph. He does it with an eclectic, sensual  
abandon, and as a result I feel like, first, an initiate and, later,  
an intimate in his world. I understand his love of plastic, his  
affection for the future, his gentleness and the harmonious,  
hedonistic pacifism of his life. Oh, the words are so much uglier than  
the images – ‘hedonistic pacifism’, indeed! The photos train me to see  
as Jip sees, to recognize his holy holies, his habits, his fetishes,  
his wounds."

Jip picked up "hedonistic pacifism" for the Religion slot on his  
Facebook page. He must have liked the phrase, or been amused-bemused  
by it. When I think of Jip -- and we met less than ten times in total  
-- I think of the deep, gentle, calm, benign energy that radiated from  
him.

One of the last projects Jip was working on -- part of his lifelong  
efforts to map digitally the more benign parts of lived experience --  
was OpenStreetMap Utrecht, an interactive, scalable map which marks  
pedestrian routes as well as car routes:

That concern for the human application of digital technology goes  
right to the heart of what Jip was all about: making humane things  
with technology. Teaching code to help us live.

The last time Jip and I met was in his hometown of Utrecht, this  
January. Jip had organised a Momus concert in Kikker Theatre, where  
his girlfriend Stef works. He showed me around Utrecht, a place of  
zooming bicycles, pretty canals, chiming churches, art museums, cafes.  
A really lovely town, in fact. Jip, who was always into the most  
advanced culture and knew my tastes, took me to some great graphic  
design bookstores and galleries. You can see the kind of things he  
liked from his photos; digital things, futuristic things, creative  
things, laptop concerts, art installations, food, travel. Or something  
as simple as splashing around in puddles in the garden, as he  
documented in one of his last YouTube videos:

I wasn't able to attend Jip's funeral, which happened on Friday in  
Utrecht. Asked to choose one of my own songs for the ceremony, I  
selected Rhetoric from my Timelord album, a song about the endlessness  
of love. I will return to Utrecht and play a memorial concert for Jip  
soon, at Kikker Theatre. But I'd encourage you to look at his photos  
on Flickr and on Qwark. They're not just documents of a life well- 
lived and well-valued, the sweet and precious and simple and complex  
and sensual life that Jip lived, they're now a very poignant reminder  
to all of us that we won't always be here.

Three weeks before he died, Jip bought a new digital camera, a Nikon  
Coolpix P6000. There are millions of Jip-pleasures and Jip-experiences  
that should have been recorded to the P6000's CCD array that now never  
will be.

In Mika Taanila's documentary about tech-utopian artist Erkki  
Kurenniemi, The Future Is Not What It Used To Be, Erkki explains why  
he takes so many photos of his life. He believes that an advanced  
civilisation of the future will collect the digital traces we're  
leaving now and re-assemble cybernetically the lives and personalities  
of those of us who documented everything. If Erkki is right, Jip will  
live again, with all the textural richness he experienced the first  
time around. In the meantime, Jip will be -- for those of us who knew  
him and were touched by his work -- not just a much-missed and dear  
friend, but a principle, an object lesson in how to value and record  
life.



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