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".
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.
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.
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.