Beyond this commission, Maaike usually uses Dropbox as a way to share holiday photos. Whoever she goes on holiday with, she creates a shared Dropbox folder that everyone can put their files into. “It gives easy access to everything,” she says, “and is also a nice way to keep everything organised by type file and date.” As someone with a self-described “bad memory,” Maaike prefers to use offline and online organisational tools like Dropbox as they allow her to sort her files from anywhere and at any time. Discussing the project generally, she adds: “It opened my eyes to a new way of organising files. Instead of having everything in folders by date or kind, there can be different ways that might be a better fit for how you want to use certain folders.” Whether that’s by sorting memories or inspirations by colour, physicality or the emotion an image evokes, Maaike says: “Ulm’s digital archive gave me ideas.”
The artist’s first impression of the archive was its striking broadness. From architectural drawings to furniture design, it was “clear there would be enough to pull inspiration from.” By looking at the images available, she gained insight into what it was like to study at Ulm, comparing it to her own art school experience in turn and assessing that “things looked so much better in the 1900s.” Taken by the beauty of the objects from within the archive, Maaike often wonders: “Where did we go wrong with designing functional things like chairs and household items?”
Her painting is an extension of this idea. It depicts a futuristic city where scale is distorted and objects can also function as buildings or vehicles. In the painting, she subtly depicts a number of objects from the archive hidden in plain sight. Maaike also sees the painting as a kind of exhibition space in this way, all the objects can be viewed in one place but they also have another purpose. “I noticed a lot of squares throughout the archive,” she adds, explaining the painting’s composition, particularly referencing the Fibonacci sequence which she spotted a few times. “It led me to create a piece that uses squares to spiral you, the viewer, in,” she adds. “I wanted to approach it with a graphic abstraction as this seemed fitting for Ulm.” In this sense, the artwork’s stylistic details are fairly simple and pared-back, much like the modernist minimalism pioneered by Ulm students.