INSTANCE focuses on the research of the CC®P, the research foundation supporting the CCP of Vanmechelen

Lifetime project: 1 April 2013 - 31 December 2013


Artist: Koen Vanmechelen
Researchers:  Jan Aerts, Peter Claes, Yves Moreau, Dirk Vandermeulen and Marc Proesmans

Belgian Koen Vanmechelen (°1965) is a conceptual artist of international fame. Diversity is a central theme throughout his pioneering work. For the past ten years, Vanmechelen has collaborated on this theme with scientists from a broad range of disciplines. These groundbreaking projects earned him an honorary doctorate at the University of Hasselt.

Koen Vanmechelen is best known for his ‘Cosmopolitan Chicken Project’ (CCP), a unique artistic project, initiated in the late nineties. The project focuses on chickens and the process of crossbreeding national chicken breeds, in order to create true ‘cosmopolitan chickens’. The 15th crossbreed, a combination of the Mechelse Silky and the Egyptian Fayoumi, was presented at the 54th Biennial in Venice. In 2012, the Poulet de Senegal was added to the project. In 2013, the Slovenian Styrian will also be included in the crossbreeding project.

(c) Koen VanmechelenVanmechelen uses a wide pallet of media for the realization of the three main projects that make up his oeuvre. These include video, glass, installations, paintings and sculptures. The three projects are ‘Cosmopolitan Chicken Research Project’ (CC®P), the wooden statue ‘Cosmogolem’ and the fertility project ‘Walking Egg’. The three foundations supporting these projects have recently been brought together in the ‘Open University of Diversity’, a new institute in Hasselt.

After graduating as a Master in bio-engineering at KU Leuven and a career in the pharmaceutical industry, Jan Aerts conducted promotional research at Wageningen University (the Netherlands) on chicken genome sequencing and annotation. Following this research,  Aerts also collaborated on the cow genome sequencing and annotation project. He currently works as an assistant professor at KU Leuven, focusing on biological data visualization and personalized medicine. 

Film clip: TEDxFlanders

Yves Moreau works as a professor at KU Leuven and collaborates regularly with the iMinds ICT Institute. He develops computational strategies and instruments for the diagnosis of congenital genetic conditions and the identification of disease-causing genes. His long-term goal is to extend these methods to the identification of possible therapies for a series of congenital disorders. 

Dirk Vandermeulen currently works as a professor at the faculty of Engineering Science at KU Leuven and conducts research for the iMinds e-Health Institute. He develops computational algorithms for biometric, forensic and medical image analysis. His research has a specific focus on the use of generative, static morphologic models of autonomous structures.

Marc Proesmans works as a project and innovation coordinator for the Electrical Engineering Department (ESAT) at KU Leuven. He is a former employee/manager at Eyetronics, a company specializing in the production of 3D profiles and models for the VFX market. Proesmans is responsible for (and specializes in) Virtual Reality, 3D scanning, modeling and visualization. He will use this expertise to make adapted 3D recordings from a scientific point of view.

Peter Claes is a postgraduate researcher at the Electrical Engineering Department (ESAT) at KU Leuven. Since 2011, dr. Claes has been working as a research expert in morphometrics at the Medical Image Computing (MIC) research group of the center for Processing Speech and Images (PSI). In his current position, he applies his technical-scientific knowledge on biological and medical science.

INSTANCE focuses on the research of the CC®P (Cosmopolitan Chicken Research Project), the research foundation supporting the CCP of Vanmechelen. The CC®P researches how the different crossbreeds can lead to augmented genetic diversity. The study of hybrids plays a key role in this project. The effects of crossbreeding on the genetic diversity of chickens can generate important insights, as these results could apply to the human race as well.

The research of CC®P created a drive to visualize results through different methods. Although automated data mining algorithms can extract interesting information from the data, it is proving difficult to pass this information onto a broader audience.

INSTANCE builds on this by using data visualization as an adequate instrument to give the audience an idea of the underlying genomic reality of the project. INSTANCE will use both interactive and non-interactive data visualization technics on the data set. The project consists of two overarching research themes: a comparative study between genetic material of the different generations of cosmopolitan chickens and the Red Jungle Fowl (gallus gallus, the primitive chicken); and a morphometric simulation of the latest crossbreed, the 17th generation, based on previous generations of the CC

The eventual visualization is a threefold, multimedia installation. The basis for this will be a stuffed chicken of the 17th generation of the CCP. This chicken will be confronted with a chicken modeled on the acquired morphometric data and corresponding predictions. The third part of the installation will be a direct translation of the DNA data, through 3D scanning and printing. 


Venice welcomes INSTANCE at the Pavilion 0

(Pictures by Yu( c)hen)

Pavilion 0 is a transnational pavilion (25 artists, 12 nationalities) of a fictional country in the distant future. As a symbol of a common, cosmopolitan future, it serves as a reply to the nationalistic logic behind the pavilions in the Giardini. Curators of Pavilion 0 are Thomasz Wendland and Grzegorz Musiał, who chose Vanmechelens installation ‘Evolution of a Hybrid’ as the ‘entrance marker’. “The installation consists of a transparent container in which I processed the genetic output of my Cosmopolitan Chicken Project into a work of art,” says Koen Vanmechelen. “This happened in close collaboration with scientists from the University of Leuven and within the framework of the Art&D iminds program”.

“The installation consists of a transparent container in which I processed the genetic output of my Cosmopolitan Chicken Project into a work of art,” says Koen Vanmechelen, who idealized the project. “This happened in close collaboration with scientists from the University of Leuven and within the framework of the Art&D iminds program”.

For more information on the event:

About the project: go to their official website


Project details

Project type: Art&D project/IM-Pact

The Art&D program is meant to encourage fruitful and innovative cooperationbetween artists and researchers. iMinds offers artists a one-year grant to carry out their artistic and ICT-related projects. The grant covers, among others, the costs of the technological research that is being carried out in the framework of the project.

The International Media Pact (IM-Pact) ran from 2008 until 2012, it was a joint research program of iMinds and ICTRegie in the field of digital media. This project model is no longer applicable.

Detail type: Artists in residence

Lifetime project

1 April 2013 - 31 December 2013


IMinds contact: Martijn Bal
Project Lead: Koen Vanmechelen
Research Lead: Dirk Vandermeulen, Jan Aerts, Marc Proesmans, Peter Claes, Yves Moreau

Research departments