Notes on Abstract Browsing


Abstract Browsing is a project that consists of both software and physical objects.

The browser plugin is a free software that anyone can install.

When you turn it on, you can surf the web but all web content is reduced to colored rectangles. It shows you the skeleton of the web. It’s like seeing an X-ray of a building, showing the structural elements.
Web pages are built of many smaller elements, information is organized and categorized. Text, images, tables, things we use every day but are not aware of.

I’m interested how our eyes move across the screen, how websites adapt, learn from your behavior, and change over time. Optimized to grab your attention, to never get boring, to tempt you to click and click and never leave.
Websites are constantly maximizing their efficiency, separate from aesthetic concerns. Websites learn from users by trial and error.

Technology asks new questions about composition. I’m looking for unusual compositions. Anti-compositions, unhuman compositions, compositions that humans would not have created on their own.

Abstract Browsing 15  05 02 Gmail

I surf the web every day using the plugin. Whenever I find a composition that strikes me, I take a screenshot. Just like digital photography, I take way too many images, thousands and thousands. The real challenge is editing. Making tapestries out of these compositions forces me to choose. Out of all the files I have, I have to choose which ones become objects.
The physicalization (weaving) brings focus. The software is fast and fluid, textile is expensive and slow. It slows me down, it helps me to pause and reflect.

I’ve tried to spend less time on the computer
turning procrastination into productivity
finding beauty in utility
abstraction => removal of information
from natural perception to material reduction
distraction based compositions
infinite information – infinite compositions
the aesthetics of distraction
abstraction is an escape
appropriated abstraction
weaving => mechanical painting

From Wikipedia
“The Jacquard head used replaceable punched cards to control a sequence of operations. It is considered an important step in the history of computing hardware. The ability to change the pattern of the loom’s weave by simply changing cards was an important conceptual precursor to the development of computer programming and data entry.
Charles Babbage knew of Jacquard looms and planned to use cards to store programs in his Analytical engine. In the late 19th century, Herman Hollerith took the idea of using punched cards to store information a step further when he created a punched card tabulating machine which he used to input data for the 1890 U.S. Census.”


In defense of the silly

To defend the silly is a paradox: when you explain something it stops being silly.

Serious thoughts are serious. The more the thoughts are researched and defended, the more robust they become. They will be scrutinized and attacked and considered and researched and over time they become more and more solid. They are important because many people discuss them and the shared energy gives the thoughts weight.

Silly thoughts appear and leave quickly. It is the mind being relaxed and asking you what you care about when all problems are solved. When there is nothing to worry about.

What do we do with silly thoughts? Are they unimportant? Or are they the most important, because when the mind is relaxed, you can really be yourself?

Thoughts you cannot explain, defend, research, elaborate. These thoughts are considered unimportant, because we cannot explain their value. We cannot point out why these thoughts exist and why they keep popping up in our heads. But they do, they are there and they keep coming back.



the action of taking something for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission.

Is appropriation a form of bullying?

Instead of making something, taking something.

The appropriated one is usually not happy.

The villain is more interesting than the hero.

What does contextualize really mean?
– to bring focus
– to isolate
– to show something that is not art to an art audience
– to present something you did not make in an empty room

Appropriation deals with intellectual hierarchy.

Creation seems naïve next to appropriation.





RR haiku 219

paint drying

grass growing

sun shining


RR haiku 218

dear computer

show me something

something cool


RR haiku 217

sometimes i miss

little holland

except when i’m there


My talk at TNW Europe 2016


RR haiku 216

eggs are great

trees are great

trains are great


RR haiku 215

why are sunsets

more beautiful

than traffic jams


RR haiku 214


i’m older

than yesterday


RR haiku 213



is perfect


RR haiku 212

don’t do too much

don’t do too much

don’t do too much


RR haiku 211

lots of time

too much time

all the time


haiku book


Published by Rollo Press, 160 pages, full color, 11 x 16 cm.

BUY IT HERE ——> Idea Books

Between 2013 and 2015, Rafaël Rozendaal formulated a series of haiku as non-physical artworks that jump from one medium to another. Written on his phone, they first appeared as tweets, then as posts on his blog and Instagram, and later as wall paintings in exhibition spaces and collectors’ homes. Published in conjunction with the exhibition ‘DOings&kNOTs’ at Tallinn Art Hall, curated by Margit Säde, this offset edition reproduces Rozendaal’s wry and terse commentary on various aspects of our digital age and society, from full inboxes, oversaturation of information, and hyper-capitalist drive, to mundane routines, desires, and frustrations.







Abstract Browsing Publication


Abstract Browsing publication now available, 72 pages full color, $20, published by The Printed Web.


Abstract Browsing jacquard weavings

Abstract Browsing 15  05 01 Google Drive

Abstract Browsing 15 05 01 (Google Drive), 266 x 144 cm.


Abstract Browsing 15  05 02 Gmail

Abstract Browsing 15 05 02 (Gmail), 266 x 144 cm.


Abstract Browsing 15  05 05 Twitter

Abstract Browsing 15 05 05 (Twitter), 266 x 144 cm.


Abstract Browsing 15  05 06 Tumblr

Abstract Browsing 15 05 06 (Tumblr), 266 x 144 cm.


Abstract Browsing 15  05 07 Buzzfeed

Abstract Browsing 15 05 07 (Buzzfeed), 266 x 144 cm.


Abstract Browsing 15  05 08 Instagram

Abstract Browsing 15 05 08 (Instagram), 266 x 144 cm.


Abstract Browsing 15  05 10 IMDb

Abstract Browsing 15 05 10 (IMDb), 266 x 144 cm.


Abstract Browsing 15  05 11 Pinterest

Abstract Browsing 15 05 11 (Pinterest), 266 x 144 cm.


RR haiku 210

explaining art

is like

explaining jokes


more new websites








Shadow Object 15 12 14


Shadow Object 15 12 14, 2015
Stainless Steel
111 x 80 cm
Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij