Anticipating Affordances

March 12, 2018: A Great Leap Forward for the field and our NWO VIDI-project ‘The Landscape of Affordances: Situating the Embodied Mind’! After four years of hard work Jelle Bruineberg, the PhD-student on that project, succesfully defended his impressive PhD-thesis ‘Anticipating Affordances: Intentionality in self-organizing brain-body-environment systems’. Well done Jelle!

Art installation for a time of climate change: Deltawerk //

On September 27th 2018, the largest artwork of RAAAF | Atelier de Lyon so far openend: Deltawerk //.

A huge wave basin in the National Monument Waterloopbos served as a test location for the Delta Works. With the aim of creating an indestructible delta, engineers experimented with, among other things, meters high tsunami waves. We have excavated and sawed open this colossal 250-meter-long monument of the Dutch struggle against water.

Deltawerk // by RAAAF | Atelier de Lyon

Deltawerk // physically questions the famous Dutch pursuit of indestructibility. Just like our National Monument Bunker 599, which has been sawn through, it is a plea for a radically different approach to cultural heritage: Hardcore Heritage.

Read more about this in Frontiers in Psychology, Metropolis NYC, Volkskrant, etc.:

Dutch national newspaper Volkskrant announces cultural highlights of Fall 2018, including our new artwork Deltawerk //

New RAAAF fire installation in UNESCO World Heritage

In June 2018 we opened RAAAF’s fire installation Hidden Worlds at UNESCO World Heritage site Cappadocia, Turkey. The entire valley was set on fire as part of Cappadox Contemporary Art.

Teaser of short movie Hidden Worlds

Hidden Worlds reflects literally and figuratively the life worlds behind the landscape of Cappadocia. After sunset it shifts the focus from the volcanic landscape to the many oppressed ancient cultures that hided in the valleys. Behind the millions of man-made holes in the rocks several underground cities are obscured from view.

On a timeline of thousands of years, the caves in the valley of Ortahisar just got abandoned very recently: only 40 years ago. Currently most people don’t notice that for centuries this valley was the center of life in Ortahisar. Reflected on the inner cave structures the silent movement of the flames at night makes one feel the human presence in these ancient hidden worlds. From a distance it deepens the experience of a forgotten city that is brought back to life.

RAAAF research trip in Cappadocia to select a valley for our art installation

Some important new publications on the Skilled Intentionality Framework for Ecological-Enactive Cognitive Science

In 2018 we have published several new academic papers to develop aspects of the Skilled Intentionality Framework (SIF) for Embodied Cognition and our new approach of Ecological-Enactive Cognitive Science more in particular.

In two papers published in philosophy journal Synthese we deal with topics that are seen as central for understanding so-called ‘higher’ cognition: anticipation, planning, and dealing with the absent and not-yet existing. We have also collaborated with the renowned neuroscientist Karl Friston to model the complex joint agent-environment system that is at the core of our approack. Finally, for a chapter for the Oxford Handbook Series we have written an introduction to the Skilled Intentionality Framework.

Van Dijk, L, and Rietveld, E. (2018). Situated Anticipation. Synthese.

Bruineberg, J., Chemero, A., and Rietveld, E. (2018). General Ecological Information supports engagement with affordances for ‘higher’ cognition. Synthese 196(12), 5231–5251.

Bruineberg, J., Rietveld, E., Parr, T., Van Maanen, L., and Friston, K.J. (2018). Free-energy minimization in joint agent-environment systems: a niche construction perspective. Journal of Theoretical Biology 455, 161-178.

Rietveld, E., Denys, D., and Van Westen, M. (2018). Ecological-Enactive Cognition as Engaging with a Field of Relevant Affordances: The Skilled Intentionality Framework (SIF), in Newman et al (eds.) Oxford Handbook for Embodied Cognitive Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 41-70.

New interviews and publications on the topic of Hardcore Heritage

With RAAAF we have developed a new way of giving meaning to historically burdened cultural heritage. We call this approach “Hardcore Heritage”. Bunker 599 below is an example of it. Read more our approach in The Architectural Review, Frontiers in Psychology, Metropolis NYC, Dutch national newspaper Volkskrant via this page on the RAAAF-site:

Bunker 599 by RAAAF | Atelier de Lyon (photo: Allard Bovenberg)

New grants awarded for work on adaptive systems and Deep Brain Stimulation

In 2018 we have been awarded two new grants form the University of Amsterdam’s Research Priority Area Brain & Cognition (ABC).

The first is an ABC Talent Grant for a Postdoc-position for my VIDI-PhD Jelle Bruineberg. He will be working on the topic of ‘Explanation in Adaptive Agent-Environment Systems’.

The second one is an ABC Project Grant for a Postdoc on ‘Closed-Loop Deep Brain Stimulation’ (together with Damiaan Denys, Julian Kiverstein, and Heleen Slagter).

A milestone: Most read article!

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A milestone: Our article ‘A Rich Landscape of Affordances’ is now the most read article in journal Ecological Psychology, surpassing Tony Chemero’s great 2003 paper. This article was co-authored with Julian Kiverstein. To celebrate it, I am making it available as Open Access and present here the link to a follow-up paper that is forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of 4E Cognition.

Rietveld, E., Denys, D. & Van Westen, M. (2018) Ecological-Enactive Cognition as Engaging with a Field of Relevant Affordances: The Skilled Intentionality Framework (SIF) In Newman et al. (eds.) Oxford Handbook for Embodied Cognitive Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Read ‘A Rich Landscape of Affordances’ here (PDF open access)


Recent and upcoming lectures

Built Explorations of the Future (“Gebouwde toekomstbeelden”), lecture in Dutch, together with Ronald Rietveld. Pakhuis de Zwijger, Amsterdam. June 30, 2017

Disability and Skilled Intentionality, lecture at the “Phenomenology and the Body – Contemporary Perspectives” symposium. Nordic Society for Phenomenology, Trondheim, Norway. June 16, 2017

An Ecological-Enactive Approach to Language in Conversation (together with Julian Kiverstein), lecture at “Getting Real About Words and Numbers” symposium, Erasmus University, Rotterdam. June 12, 2017

The Skilled Intentionality Framework for understanding ‘higher’ collaborative embodied skill, lecture at the “Distributed Cognitive Ecologies of Collaborative Embodied Skill” symposium. Senate House, Institute of Philosophy, London. May 26, 2017

Complementarity of Art & Science, lecture at NIAS-KNAW, Amsterdam. May 18, 2017

Hardcore Heritage, lecture at ‘Het Klaslokaal’ series at De School, Amsterdam. March 29, 2017

Neurophenomenology and Deep Brain Stimulation, lecture at ‘What is Happening to our Brain’ (Studium Generale), Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam. March 15, 2017

Trusted Strangers, presentation for the City of Amsterdam. February 14, 2017

Breaking Habits, presentation and installation at the Mondriaan Fund, Amsterdam. January 1, 2017.

Affordances and Freedom in Skilled Actioninterview by Sarah Meuleman for Enactive Seminars Online (ENSO). December 1, 2016

Situating the embodied mind in a landscape of affordances: RAAAF at work, lecture at “The Psychology of Space” symposium, Delft University of Technology, Delft. November 11, 2016

Dealing with the relevance problem in the Skilled Intentionality Framework (SIF) (together with Julian Kiverstein), lecture at the Computational Cognitive Science (CCS) lab, Radboud University, Nijmegen. November 11, 2016

Embodied Cognitive Science, lecture at the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam. October 20, 2016

Interdisciplinary research: Situating the embodied mind in a landscape of affordances, lecture at the “Recalibrating Excellence” symposium. Rathenau Institute, KNAW, Utrecht. October 10, 2016

Trust and uncertainty in OCD: Before and after DBS (together with Julian Kiverstein), lecture at Symposium on Matthew Ratcliffe, department of Philosophy, University of Amsterdam. November 22, 2016

Intentionality in social coordination: The case of making architecture (together with Jelle Bruineberg), lecture for ‘Skilled Action as a Complex System: Affordances and Social Coordination’ satellite workshop, part of Conference on Complex Systems (CCS), Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam. September 21, 2016

The future of the artist’s archive: the case of RAAAF, lecture at the Boekmanstichting, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts & Sciences, Amsterdam. September 16, 2016.

Inauguration speech at the Society of Arts, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts & Sciences (KNAW)

Recently Ronald and Erik Rietveld were inaugurated as members of the Society of Arts at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), which promotes cross-fertilization between the sciences and the arts. Other artists at this Academy are Anton Corbijn, Arnon Grunberg, Barbara Visser, Heddy Honigmann, Iris van Herpen, Jaap van Zweden, Louis Andriessen, Pierre Audi, Paul Verhoeven, read more...Below you will find a video of our inauguration speech at the KNAW (in Dutch) and an English translation of our text.



Inauguration speach by Ronald & Erik Rietveld at KNAW, d.d. April 1, 2016.

“For us this is a great honor! The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), where the arts and the sciences meet, has invited us to become members as a duo; a duo that operates at the intersection of architecture, visual art and philosophy.

ERCfigure2forwebsiteWhat you see here is a philosophical worldview. Philosophers normally make a world in words, typically in books without pictures. This is a materialized and experiential translation of my philosophical research at the University of Amsterdam. It is a landscape of affordances. Affordances are the possibilities for action that the environment offers us. Your seat affords you to sit on it, a book affords reading, etc. The installation that we built offers many opportunities for supported standing, leaning and hanging, and invites you to frequently switch positions and postures throughout the day. This installation also represents my position within the philosophy of the cognitive sciences. Cognition is not something that takes place purely in our heads. Cognition is made possible and supported by the affordances available in our human ecological niche.

What you see here is a spatial thinking model. This dissected monument represents our way of thinking and working. The work:
– breaks through existing conventions,
– breaks through indestructible structures,
– breaks though different disciplines, and
– breaks though past and present, looking for new meaning in the future.

This installation, which we provocatively named The End of Sitting, is also a vision on the office of the future, of 2025. It explores what a world without chairs and tables might look like. In the coming years we would like to make more of these visual explorations of the future. This fits perfectly with what has become both a tradition of the KNAW as well as a strategic priority of the scientific part of the Academy, namely the making of future explorations. However, there is an important difference. The foresight studies to be made here at home have typically been written reports. What we want to do is start from our own fascinations and make imagination central to our foresight in a visual way. We would like to build foresight; to materialize thinking models. By building our visions on the future we make them tangible and sensible to people. We call these visions that we build at the intersection of visual art and architecture, “architectural art installations” or, ‘bouwkunst’ in Dutch (literally translated as building-art).

More than ever, the field of architecture needs new types of ‘bouwkunst’:
– A ‘bouwkunst’ that goes beyond the pragmatism and efficiency thinking of today.
– A ‘bouwkunst’ that develops new spatial thinking models.
– There is a need for a ‘bouwkunst’ that encourages new radical experiments, free from conventional constraints.

In short, working from within the KNAW, we wish to dedicate ourselves to making architectural art installations that show society new vistas.”



Vacant NL rated as one of the Top-10 of Sexiest Models of All Time

The installation Vacant NL – RAAAF’s contribution to the Venice Architecture Biennale 2010 – is in great company in this piece on Architizer: Lebbeus Woods, Antonio Gaudi, Jorn Utzon, Tadao Ando, Yuraka Sone and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe amongst others.






Upcoming lectures etc. Spring-Fall 2016

The brain embedded in a rich landscape of affordances. Talk at symposium ‘Worlding the Brain’, University of Amsterdam (UvA), March 17, 2016.

Materializing a philosophical worldview. Inauguration speech as member of The Society of Arts, The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), Trippenhuis, Amsterdam, April 1, 2016.


Beyond the borders of philosophy and architecture? (in Dutch), Philosophy Cafe, Cafe Trianon – Berg en Dalseweg 33, Nijmegen, April 5, 2016.

Guest lecture on ‘Wittgenstein’s relevance: Perspectives for cognitive science’, University of Amsterdam, Department of Philosophy, April 8, 2016.

Situating the Embodied Mind in an Unorthodox Landscape of Affordances. Invited lecture at workshop ‘Orders and disorders of spatial experience’, Dept. of Philosophy, University of Memphis, April 16, 2016.

Guest lecture on interdisciplinary work in embodied cognitive science. MSc Brain & Cognitive Science, May 3, 2016.

Member assessment committee, PhD dissertation ‘A horizontal attitude: Gibsonian psychology and an ontology of doing’, Ludger van Dijk, University of Antwerp, May 9, 2016.

The Skilled Intentionality Framework for ‘higher’ embodied cognition: How our ecological niche scaffolds skilled intentionality in architecture. Invited talk at workshop ‘Moving cognition beyond its basic ecology’, University of Antwerp, May 10, 2016.


Invited talk on ‘The End of Sitting’ at the Netherlands Association of Human Movement Sciences (VvBN), Public and Occupational Health, VUmc, Amsterdam, May 18, 2016.

Affordances for language use in enactive cognition (together with Julian Kiverstein), talk at the 1st International Conference on Language and Enaction, Clermont-Ferrant, France, June 1-3, 2016.

The Hospital of 2025. Invited RAAAF-session at conference ‘Building the Future of Health: Game Changing Concepts for Healthy Aging‘, with Ronald Rietveld & David Habets, Groningen University, UMCG, June 3, 2016.

The University of 2025. Invited talk at Jonge Academie, KNAW, Symposium on Reinventing Universities. Landgoed Zonheuvel, Doorn. June 3, 2016.

The annual ‘New Leonardo Lecture’, invited lecture ‘Situating the Embodied Mind’ at Honours programme, Dept. of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, June 17, 2016.

Washington University, studio visit at RAAAF, June 29, 2016.

End of year lecture. ArtEZ, Zwolle – “Exploring the World of Affordances”- June 30, 2016.

Invited talk at workshop Aesthetics and the 4E Mind, University of Exeter, July 4-5, 2016.

City Scapes Gallery, lecture on Hardcore Heritage, Marineterrein Amsterdam, July 7, 2016..

Ecological information for “higher cognition” (together with Jelle Bruineberg). Talk  at European Workshop on Ecological Psychology (EWEP 14) Groningen. July 8, 2016.

Satelite workshop ‘Skilled Action as a Complex System: Affordances and Social Coordination’,  Conference on Complex Systems, University of Amsterdam, September 21 2016.

Rathenau/CWTS, invited lecture on interdisciplinary research. Utrecht. October 13, 2016.

Invited talk at Enactive Seminars Online (ENSO seminar), December 1 (t.b.c.)