frankly collective


Frankly Collective is research duo Merle Findhammer and Nai-Syuan Ye, based in Arnhem, the Netherlands. We consider ourselves interdisciplinary storytellers with a background in graphic design.

Project name: EARTHS

Status: Continueous

The “Earths” project is an artistic rendering/interpretation of the possible new Earths that were found by the Kepler space telescope.

Kepler’s mission was to discover earth-like planets outside of our solar system. It served for nine and a half years, until it met its retirement in 2018. Kepler searched and scanned millions of stars and gathered their data using a light-receptive method called transit. With the data gathered by Kepler, we are technically able to find the perfect alternative to Earth. The more a foreign planet mimics Earth, the more optimal conditions will be on that planet for humanity to live on.

In our project ‘Earths’, we graphically organize Kepler’s dataset and create artistic renderings for each “Earth candidate”. These renderings are created digitally and are based on all data available for a planet: for instance, if a planet has a rocky surface, the planet rendered will have a rocky texture.

Our rendering/interpretation is based on our understanding of Earth, and therefore be subjective to what we know. By taking purposefully subjective artistic liberties in our planet renderings, one could question whether mimesis is the right tool for finding perfection — perhaps not. If we want a perfect copy of Earth, we would have to create it ourselves. However, Kepler’s goal is not to birth a new Earth: it is to find the perfect imitation/alternative to Earth. We are fascinated by the Kepler space telescope and its search for alternative Earths, because it strives to find 100% similarity to the current Earth we live on. Mimesis in many cases is nothing more than striving for a 100% similarity. In this way, Kepler’s dataset is fundamentally built on mimesis.
As artists we possess similar tools for mimesis: we are translators of ideas, and translate desires, words and images in our head, to the paper.

Project name: Post Unicode

Status: Continueous

The Unicode Standard (in short: Unicode). Unicode is “a character coding system designed for worldwide interchange, processing, and display of written text of all languages/technical disciplines of the modern world.” In other words: the characters of Unicode fall between written/visual and physical/digital language. Additionally, we as humans found Unicode being the ‘mother tongue’ of the digital environment oddly appealing.

With our project ‘Post Unicode’ we wish to deconstruct the general set of Unicode into something messy, human, emotional and personal. Post Unicode will be a growing archive, consisting of multiple subprojects. We will create Post Unicode Stories (short stories each with one unicode as the main character), Post Unicode Podcast (a podcast where we attempt to ‘pronounce’ unicodes), and Frankly Standard (a social experiment in which we rename ourselves). With Post Unicode, we will also be able to improve our professional and practical knowledge/skills in writing, project development, funding and getting our work out there.

○ is a person who enjoys lonesome. ○ doesn’t like to go out. When a message comes in, ○ thinks about it for 30 seconds to reply. ○ is afraid of invitations. When someone approaches her, ○ would like to stay at a certain distance. It seems like ○ condenses the whole universe into her own little shelter room. ○ is a woman who enjoys lonesome.

It’s another rainy day. ○ ‘s room doesn’t have a curtain. ○ put the window sticker instead. It makes the window rendered grey. ○ thinks rainy days are quiet, quieter than sunny days. As if all extremes rotated into tenderness. And ○ enjoy this rainy day.

“Buh-doop.” The sound of the message coming breaks the silence. ○ look at the screen. It said “How are you?” ○ found it hard to reply. ○ doesn’t want to reply. ○ doesn’t know how to reply.

It’s A who is texting ○. The last talk they had didn’t end up well. It was a sunny Friday. A jump into ○ in the supermarket. They had a catch-up and A asked ○ why ○ never contacts her? Why is A always the one who approaches her first? ○ answered it honestly, “I don’t know what to say. My life is simple, there is nothing that I can share about.” A wasn’t happy about the answer. A thought ○ doesn’t treat her as a friend. Actually, ○ didn’t mean anything harmful. ○ is just a woman who enjoys lonesome.

↑ is a person who always looks up. ↑ hits the building, the study, the cloud, and reality. ↑ always move forward but not backward. ↑ has dry eyes, sore back, and a floating brain. ↑ doesn’t know how to stop. ↑ just look up.

↑ wants to be on top, but there are always things higher than ↑, taller than ↑, stronger than ↑, and prettier than ↑. ↑ cry but he couldn’t even see the teardrop. ↑ wants to shout but the position of looking up numb ↑’s throat and sound. ↑ has never seen his reflection in the mirror, therefore, ↑ only know himself from others’ opinion. ↑ looks up but ↑ is always down.

↑ is in a panic because of his position of looking up and moving forward. ↑ is afraid of what is in the back, in the front, and in the future. D is a robot and a friend. D doesn’t have emotions. ↑ asked D for comfort and help. D is surprised ↑ is down. For D, it is very confusing that ↑ is down since the blue motion doesn’t exist in the robotic world. They hugged but ↑ is not better, and D feels nothing.

↶ is a person living in the clouds who is constantly sad. The sadness that ↶ hold in her body is twisting the surrounding. ↶’s sunflower is dying because of her sadness. The outside is blue because of ↶’s sadness. ↶ has been staying in her room for 5 days because of her sadness. ↶’s life stopped because of her sadness. ↶ is swallowed by sadness.

↶’s finger is on the keyboard for 3 hours now trying to send this email that has been postponed for a week. The left over tea stares at the only word - “Hello” in the beginning of the email wondering if it will be drank any soon. It is a really important email to ask for someone to do something for ↶. The sad thing is, ↶ doesn’t think she is that important for anyone to do anything for her. Asking became hard. Even the question mark became aggressive when ↶ types it. ↶ doesn’t want this, but apparently, ↶ needs to do it. ↶ sips the tea and try to evade the email by thinking of other options.

D tells ↶ that she will try everything to help her. But D also said she has nothing to offer. E says she will ask for ↶ but she also hasn’t reply ↶’s message for 2 weeks. F said she will do some research for ↶ but she doesn’t even know what ↶ is doing. ↶ is grateful that they promised such things but ↶ already know that she is a burden considering this situation. It is just her who is not trying hard enough. It is just the sad her who is a dust of this planet who doesn’t deserve anything.

↶ grabs the tissue for the tears from sadness. This roll of tissue paper is running out. ↶ cried a lot. F suggested ↶ to not care that much. Yet, ↶ is running out of time. ↶’s time is like this roll of tissue paper, ↶ used it as many as she want when it is new. Now, ↶ have to use it one by one since it is almost finish. The tea is flowing on the table, but her tissue is not enough anymore. ↶ haven’t go out for 5 days. She needs more tissue paper and the sunflower in her room needs more sunlight. ↶ asks her sunflower, ”Why do we have to parasites on the sun and still gets sunburn?” ↶ hasn’t be happy for a long time.

↶ brings the sunflower outside, dig into the clouds and find a new roll of tissue paper. The sun is probably helping. ↶ is no longer sad anymore. The sunflower likes it outside, so ↶ says her goodbye and swim back to her room in the clouds since the email is still not sent. However, the left over tea in her room had turned into oceans. The goldfish is swimming inside tea ocean with confusion. Then, it started to rain. The thunder light is like paparazzi from the sky trying to capture ↶’s worthless life.↶ carefully closed the door, and go for more rolls of tissue paper.

Project name: Motherland

Status: finished

Collaboration with:
Andrea Galano Toro and Boetie Zijlstra

MOTHERLAND is a collaborative publication written by four female students talking about distance in context to the motherland or a “home”: approaching it as a person, a physical place, or an object that carries meaning to them. “The motherland” is the origin they all derive from. The publication explores distance from literal and metaphorical angles.

“We are the daughters of our mothers, our homes, our stories. All these things make us, whether these are the places where we grew up, the food we were raised with, the smell that reminds us of Sunday mornings or the songs we memorized. What is the motherland to you? How far away are you from it? And how can you go back to it?.”

(editor's note)

Project name: Microscript

Status: Finished

Inspired by “Microscripts” by Robert Walser (short stories written in minuscule handwriting by an inmate), we each developed two visual methodologies with which we attempted to correspond. Inspired by Walser’s method of microscopic writing in newspaper margins, Merle created a custom, illegible miniature font based on how ink visually bleeds into paper. Nai-Syuan based her method on the multiple phases of translation Walser’s writing went through. She recorded herself reading the source, visually mapped the words she caught by listening it back and repeated this process until she was going mad and/or physically exhausted.

Project name: Cirroteuthidae

Status: finished

"Cirroteuthidae" is a poem we wrote based on the images attached.

Project name: Trading Post

Status: Continueous

'Trading Post' uses mail correspondence to transfer information, underscoring the complex concept of trade as part of the NL/TW (colonial) interaction. This approach allows us to share our observations, considering the spatial and temporal separation the countries once had.

frankly collective

Frankly Collective is research duo Merle Findhammer and Nai-Syuan Ye, based in Arnhem, the Netherlands. We consider ourselves interdisciplinary storytellers with a background in graphic design. The main thematic focus of our work practice is the fluidity within and our relationship with Otherness: we are interested in strange conversations, weird looking objects, things not belonging. Through storytelling, writing, coding, illustrating, designing and inventing we generate our own, quirky, customizable, interdisciplinary, ‘language’ to express.

Want to get in touch? Reach us at