Digital Care: Dick Raaijmakers

Ideophone I by Dick Raaijmakers

Ideophone I was first presented by Dick Raaijmakers in 1967 at the opening of the Steim Studio for Electro-Instrumental Music in Amsterdam. Raaijmakers' primary concept is that of a loudspeaker that functions as an active ‘speaker’, and produces its own sound. The artist realised the idea by connecting the output to the input of the loudspeaker in the rotating sculpture. As a result, the loudspeaker can now produce sound using its own signal without requiring an external input.

Ideophone I is the first of a series of three sound installations. It consisted of 36 loudspeakers in total, and each one had a steel ball and a glass tube. The pattern-organised loudspeakers were housed in a chrome casing that swayed back and forth. Ideophone I serves as a visual and instructive representation of both the mechanics of work behaviour and the information with input-output sound that is visible with the steel ball. By saying ‘You see what you hear’, Raaijmakers was emphasising in this artwork’s importance of both acoustic and visual form of Ideophone. 

Dick Raaijmakers, Ideophone I. Photo by Bram Vreven, Ideophone renovation project.

Raaijmakers' compositions, and performances have served as a source of inspiration for numerous artists since the late 1950s. Dick Raaijmakers, commonly known as Kid Baltan, was a Dutch thinker, composer, and theatre creator. Although he is regarded as a pioneer in the fields of electronic music and tape music, he has also produced a significant amount of sound installations, experimental musical theatre productions, radio pieces, and theoretical writings like 'Machine Reading' that have influenced other writers. 

Ideophone I was one of Raaijaker’s early works; the first version was made in 1969-70 and was updated several times afterwards. The modified version of Ideophone was shown in 2011 at the Wittteveen+Bos Art+Technology Prize. The jury agreed that the winning artwork has more than just artistic values of experiment with sound and space. In the late 1960s, Ideophone addressed problems about how people act in a technologically advanced environment, and the question of what happens when technology takes over the room is still relevant today.

Dick Raaijmakers, Ideophone I. Photo by Bram Vreven, Ideophone renovation project.

The sustaining of the people's engagement with technology as represented in the sound installation Ideophone is significant. To sustain the artwork, the restoration is presently ongoing research and treatment as part of the Digital Care Program. Ideophone I was reconstructed in 2011 to commemorate the Witteveen+Bos Art+Technology Award with the The Netherlands Media Art Institute (NIMk) co-commission. In order to guarantee the successful operation of the work (for REBOOT exhibition and later presentations), Bram Vreven will sustain the alignment of the working parts and their operation to minimise the sparks and damage to the glass tubes and loudspeakers.

Event Digital Care: Dick Raaijmakers

On Thursday, 1 June, Digital Care: Dick Raaijmakers was dedicated to Ideophone I by Dick Raaijmakers. Its reconstruction as well as accompanying artistic approaches were highlighted at DCR in The Hague

For more information about the event, please visit the event page by clicking here or in the section on the right of this page. 

Bram Vreven on Ideophone I during Digital Care: Dick Raaijmakers at DCU, den Haag on 1 June.

Research on Ideophone I

A research report on the work Ideophone I by Dick Raaijmakers is available upon request. If you need access, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us at

About Digital Care and REBOOT

Nieuwe Instituut and LI-MA present the exhibition REBOOT: Pioneering Digital Art. Featuring key works from the Netherlands from 1960 to 2000, plus new work by contemporary makers, REBOOT reveals the influence of digital technology on art and society. The Digital Care trajectory functions as a strong basis for the run-up of this public exhibition which runs from 8 October 2023 to 1 April 2024 at Nieuwe Instituut. The exhibition presents the impact of digital technology in art and society and builds on the Digital Canon of the Netherlands, compiled by experts in 2017-2019 commissioned by LI-MA.

Digital Care and REBOOT are supported by Creative Industries Fund NL, Mondriaan Fund, and Network Archives Design and Digital Culture.