Author Archives: dirkheylen

Boston. Science. City. Art.

At the preconference of the Society for Affective Science in Boston I gave an invited talk in the session on Affective Computing. We had taken a few days extra to explore Boston a bit further. We loved it.

We spent about six hours in the Museum of Fine Arts and saw less than half what is on show. It is simply amazing. Luckily they have nice food as well.

Food in Boston MFA

Food in Boston MFA



Robby, TED-x, Paris

It is crazy times again. Friday, my PhD student Robby van Delden brilliantly defends his thesis. Steering Interactive Play Behaviour. I have to miss the party afterwards driving to Hasselt where I will present a TED-x talk on Saturday. Returning home on Sunday to leave again for Paris on Monday for a project meeting.

On Robby’s thesis: “Play is a powerful means to have an impact on the cognitive, social-emotional, and/or motor skills development. With the introduction of technology new possibilities emerge to provide engaging and entertaining whole-body play activities. Technology mediates the play activities and in this way changes how people play. We can use this to design systems that encourage wanted types of behaviors with technology.”

Robby's PhD Defense

Robby’s PhD Defense

Hockney, Michelangelo and Sebastiano in London

There were some good reasons to get away for the weekend to London. Prime reason was to see the Hockney exhibition at the Tate

London weekend

London weekend

but then of course there was food, Tate Modern with the magnificent Rauschenberg exhibition, the Shard, Design Museum and what proved to be the most interesting part: the Michelangelo and Sebastiano exhibition in the National Gallery. The Guardian had a nice review on it.

Fun Weekend in Enschede

On Friday, 24th Gijs Huisman defended his thesis on Social Touch Technology successfully at the University of Twente.


Excellent work. Proud of my former PhD student, now a young Doctor.


But also nice were the exhibitions in Tetem, de Twentse Welle and Rijksmuseum Twenthe.

In Tetem the AKI Electrique exhibition and the Hyper-Reality video from Kelichi Matsuda were fun and interesting to watch. Very enjoyable.


Besides the exhibition on well-known and less well-known Renaissance artists from Italy (Rafael, Titiaan, Tintoretto, Savoldo, Moroni…) with the lesser known ones being the most interesting in this case, the Rijksmuseum Twenthe also showed the magnificent exhibition of works by Silvia B.




Art, Art and More Art in Paris

We had aimed to visit both the Magritte and Hergé exhibitions in Paris, but unfortunately we didn’t manage to book in advance for the Hergé one – so we missed that (standing outside for one and a half our in the cold didn’t appeal to us). Instead we went to the Orangerie and Jeu de Paume. It was a fabulous weekend of art, art and art (and a bit of food).


The Centre Pompidou did not only have the Magritte exposition on offer but also a retrospective of Cy Wombly’s work. It is always quite a different experience of seeing 50+ paintings of an artist in one exhibition instead of just one picture in a whole collection mixed with other artists. What happened at the Tate exhibition of Rothko some years ago, happened here as well. We discovered how to look at and read a Wombly painting. I can certainly also recommend Roland Barthes’ texts on Wombly.

One of the best parts of the Magritte exhibition was the interview with a journalist on the curtains that frequently appear in his work. The interview went a bit like this (check the audioguide app):

Journalist: there are certain themes that occur often in your work. Is it ok to talk about themes / Magritte: no I don’t like that word. I would rather use the word figures. Journalist: Curtains is one of the figures you often use. Why? Magritte: Because they exist. Journalist: But there are so many other things that exist. Magritte: Yes, but I have a limited repertoire.

Another fascinating exhibition was at the Orangerie. American Painting in the 1930s. Soon to be seen in London.



Utrecht CS

Fun to see Utrecht CS livened up by Belgian Cartoon Characters. With Le Chat (Geluck) being one of my favourites). HRH Mathilde from Belgium visits Utrecht Central Station.

(But why are not more Flemish cartoonists represented?)