Mark Koppenberg

Make the difficult seem easy and the truth look beautiful

Mark Koppenberg

Designer and public outreach specialist, with Brainclinics since February 2019

Where did you study?
I studied graphic design at the Rietveld Academy where I studied under the legendary designer Gerard Unger and have never stopped learning. I love good typography (I like bad typography as well, as it sends tingles down my spine, which is an autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR). During my career I worked at The Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, for several design studios and for a data processing company. I will take a classical approach when designing pages (or everything, really), very thorough and craftsmanlike, and deconstruct, rebuild and improve from there. A well executed design is the result of an iterative process, where you ask for and answer to user-feedback. The good thing about designing is that it is never really done, you just try to come as close to completion (or perfection if you like) as you possibly can, before deadline strikes.

Have you been a designer, like forever?
Yes! But besides that I also worked as an artist… uh, let me rephrase that… I also worked as a very obscure artist, promoting Open Source (or “fuzzy”) Philosophy, which unlike all other philosophies and, indeed, all religions, is not “structured” -or rigid-… but undetermined in form and shape and therefore greatly expanding our possibilities. You probably remember Alfred Korzybski and his Non Aristotelianism, in which case you undoubtedly will have heard of a mathematician called Weyl, who wrote:
“Indeed, the first difficulty the man in the street encounters when he is taught to think mathematically is that he must learn to look things much more squarely in the face; his belief in words must be shattered; he must learn to think more concretely”
To think concretely… a man who thinks in terms of structure, rules and laws would not know how do it any other way.
Mathematics is not fuzzy at all.
Every time mathematicians present “proof” of a thesis…. they will use mathematics… which is an abstract philosophy completely walled in by structure, strictly bound by rules and forever imprisoned by the laws of logic.
There is no escape. A mathematician will never be able to think “outside of the box”.
A fuzzy philosopher easily deconstructs Weyl’s thought and builds upon it a wild and blossoming new reality:
“The first happiness man experiences when he unthinks is that he can see things as pure as they are; his belief in death will be shattered; he is truly free”.

You described yourself as a very obscure artist… Could you elaborate on that?
Sure. I mainly made animated movies which I showed at exhibitions and subsequently unleashed upon humanity through the internet. My most popular movie was viewed about 18,000 times, which means it was seen by approximately 0.0002 percent of the worlds population. I consider that worthy of the qualification “very obscure”. I also performed with these movies in front of select audiences at festivals and art fairs, promoting Fuzzy Philosophy as a “Guerrilla Evangelist”. I managed to convert exactly no one, doing that. Uh, maybe a handful of people, so let’s lower the bar and call it “almost a success”.

I guess you learned something from that?
I have! Design is all about communication: a badly designed message is worse than having nothing to say at all.

What do you hope to achieve at the research institute?
Quite a lot actually. Research Institute Brainclinics is probably at the forefront of brain research and I think their expertise and knowledge of disorders like ADHD and depression is perhaps unequalled in the world (certainly in The Netherlands). As a designer I possess a unique combination of skills and I intend to use those skills to help their research output look as good as possible so it reaches a larger audience and better reflects the quality of the research institute’s scientific output. This means: great and clear graphics, translating the scientific content through language and illustration, and, for instance, actively promoting the findings of the institute’s researchers (as published in the form of printed books or dispersed via electronic means) through, for instance, social media and press releases. In addition to that I will probably try to improve the quality of presentations and posters. As a person I like to look back on my working day and know that I made a difference. Brainclinics gives me that opportunity.

What do you enjoy outside of work?
I like art, so I visit museums and galleries, I like walking, watching movies, going to concerts or dance performances, reading, evenings with friends and family, and I enjoy photograpy, drawing, writing and building electronic musical instruments. The sounds emitting from some of those instruments attract the neighborhood cats, and this is a good thing: I am a cat person.