Willem Velthoven

Always Do Your Best

Bert Mulder is dead. We miss him

Bert was a brilliant friend and a board member of Mediamatic for nearly 30 years. The words "Always do your best" sum up the fourth of "The Four Agreements", a shamanistic spiritual handbook by Don Miguel Ruiz. Bert made this the heading of the invitation and programme to his funeral on 11 January 2020.

 

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Bert Mulder op het podium van "Kom je ook? 6 – Oops!" - Editie 6 van de "Kom Je Ook?" - conferenties ging over leren van grote fouten. Een line up van dappere sprekers deelde momenten uit hun carriere waarbij zij verantwoordelijk waren voor dramatische mislukkingen. En natuurlijk vooral over wat zij daarvan opstaken. Bert opende de conferentie met een key-note waarin hij verlede over een groot automatiseringsproject bij de Tweede Kamer dat faalde toen hij informatiemanager van het Parlement was. Links in beeld luistert presentator Riemer… Andreas Conradi

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In the late 80s a friend, the artist Paul Perry, said he was planning a visit to the then A-grade public broadcaster Veronica. I was surprised, because Veronica wasn't exactly the broadcaster where those working in the arts wanted to be found. But Paul told me about the advanced things they were doing with computers. It sounded interesting so I went along. We set off to Hilversum and were welcomed by the head of ICT Bert Mulder. He showed us how this young broadcasting company was using video in a revolutionary way on its local network. It was such innovative technique. I had never seen this!

 

But I was especially impressed by Bert's vision regarding the consequences of technology. This man not only thought about the wonderful technical innovations that interested us so much (they had a secret trial version of Apple's Quicktime. Wow!), but also on how we were going to shape our work and lives with this. How our way of collaborating would change and our access to information would explode. 

 

What a smart, well-informed man! And he had a sense of humour!

So shortly after our first meeting I asked if he would join the board of the Mediamatic foundation. And Bert agreed. 

From that moment was Bert was an adviser and avid supporter of our work. In good times and bad, we could always count on Bert.

But he was above all a friend. 

He often came and contributed in all sorts of ways to our meandering evolution. Bert was more eager to learn than anyone I have ever met. He would continuously be absorbing information from different areas of expertise, and would always be searching for significance and wisdom in this ever turning kaleidoscope that was his world. In 1991 he described this in his still noteworthy contribution to the "Old Media Issue" of our Mediamatic Magazine, titled "Media, Information and Me".

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Mulder - Bert Mulder bio for his Contribition "Media, Information and me" from p.92 of Mediamatic Magazine vol.6 issue 2/3 - "The Old Media Issue" winter 1991-1992

With: Bert Mulder

In the meantime his career evolved. Together with Dick Rijken he set up the first Dutch course in Interaction design at the art academy in Utrecht, became information manager for parliament, started the consultancy Informatiewerkplaats (information worksop) and went on to become a lecturer in technology and society at The Hague's polytechnic. As an advisor he was involved in numerous interesting projects in the Netherlands and the rest of the world and gave growth and advancement in the cultural sector a hand.

At Mediamatic he was active as supervisor as well as in other roles. He was for example a speaker at the first Doors of Perception conference that we organised in 1993 with the Dutch Design Institute at the time. 

I can still picture him sitting with his wife Hilde at one of the tables of our El Hema restaurant during the opening of the exhibition in 2007 at the Post-CS building.

After which he came to speak at yet another conference we had organised (Son je Ook 6: Oops in 2010) about what he had learned from the biggest automation failure at the House of commons (photo above). Or he would help out by acting as moderator at other events.

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Moderator Bert Mulder overlegt met Willem Velthoven over de publiekspoll tijdens "Kom je ook? 10 #FAIL" - Bert modereerde de Mediamatic de 10e editie van de Mediamatic conferentie over innovatie in de cultuursector. Deze editie: #Fail was de tweede keer dat we sprekers uitdaagden om te vertellen over kapitale fouten die zij hadden gemaakt in hun carrière. Bert was zelf op dapperen en wijze wijze met de billen bloot gegaan toen we dit voor het eerst deden in 2010 tijdens Kom je ook? 6 – Oops . Foto door Guido van Nispen . Gevonden op Flickr.com Guido van Nispen

But he also personally ensured grey import - from his beloved Sweden - with an impressive explosive assortment of surströmmig for one of the fermenting events at our present location. 

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Surströmming Tasting at Zuur Markt - Curious and brave individuals try surströmming, very stinky fermented herring, illegally imported by Bert Mulder, at Zuur Markt. Bert spent all day serving this cultural rarity whilst providing the visitors with background stories.

With: Bert Mulder

Last summer I called Bert to fix a date for his farewell dinner. The increasingly strict rules of Cultural Governance had, to everybody's annoyance, forced us to bid farewell to Bert as board member (after nearly 39 years). He then told me that wasn't enjoying food much and that he feared he might be suffering from something serious. His premonition was proven right and we were forced to say goodbye to each other for good. Bert died on the 3rd of January 2020. 

We will not forget Bert. He continues to encourage and inspire us. Thank you Bert.

I cannot succeed in describing everything Bert did, not even only what he did for Mediamatic. It's too much to sum up in this small piece. But below are some pictures from our archive of the moments that Bert was here. 

 

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Hans Aarsman en Bert Mulder at "Kom Je Ook?" - De meest bemoedigende spreker Hans Aarsman samen met de zeer bemoedigende dagvoorzitter Bert Mulder. Foto taken by Govert de Jong at "Kom Je Ook?" 10 - FAIL. October 4, 2011   Govert de Jong

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Bert Mulder modereert stemming - Bert Mulder over het stemmen na de DOEN Pitches bij Kom Je Ook 11: Onze Club. Simone Schoutens

With: Bert Mulder
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Bert Mulder @ Mediamatic - It's Happening Now! - All visitors of the It's Happening Now performance event on may 6, 2007 were photographed at the entrance.

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Bert Mulder en Michel Langendijk at the Symbolic Table - During a demonstration of Mediamatic's Internet-of-things meets social Media innovations in the the beginning of the 21st century. Symbolic Table used NFC/RFID tags to connect people in physical space to the social network with meaningful gestures. Image taken at the Mediamatic offices on the 3rd floor of the DuintjerCS building in Amsterdam.

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bert mulder -

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DOEN pitchers - Dagvoorzitter Bert Mulder overlegt met Willem Velthoven voordat het stemmen op de pitches kan beginnen. De pitchers zelf dragen een draadloos NFC-pollingstation waarop de deelneus konden stemmen met hun RFID Ik-Tag. De Ik-tag was een gepersonaliseerd token waarmee deelnemers zich konden indentificeren als lid van Mediamatic's sociaal netwerk Anymeta. Govert de Jong

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Taking pictures with IkTags and ikCam -

With: Bert Mulder