Stil from the film 'The Invisible Woman' (1940).


My pyramid
June 5th, 2021

Faith – Honesty – Serenity
Creativity – Intuition – Joy – Love – Music – Presence.

Take another step toward what matters.

[ Latest additions ]

Grid systems in graphic designs

A visual communication manual for graphic designers, typographers and three dimensional designers
by Josef Müller-Brockmann

A true legend of a book. And now online for free.

Via Eye Magazine: "I have always felt obliged to make a constructive contribution to the future of society. I have never lost the feeling that I have a task to perform. What pleases me is that I have always sought what is better, that I have remained self-critical, and that I am still interested in things outside my own field. My library is the expression of my curiosity. I would advise young people to look at everything they encounter in a critical light and try to find a better solution. Then I would urge them at all times to be self-critical."

[ Latest additions ]

Talk @ field notes / Initiative Neue Musik

Design brief - a useful requirement for visual communication
May 11th, 2021

Lisa Benjes, progam coordinator at field notes in Berlin, invited me to give an online talk for contemporary musicians. I will introduce a specific way to brief designers as a tool to optimize their visual communication in order to get in contact with their listeners.

Via field notes' website: "field notes is a central resource of information and mentoring for the contemporary music scenes in Berlin provided by inm – the initiative neue musik berlin e.V. Its goals are to strengthen and improve production conditions for the independent contemporary music scenes in Berlin, and to raise public awareness of social relevance of the art form."

[ Latest additions ]

Jury member @ DAAD

Postgraduate Studies in the Fields of Fine Art, Design, Visual Communication and Film
April 29th, 2021

Had the great honour to serve as jury member alongside my wonderful colleague Uwe Reinhardt for the Postgraduate Studies in the Fields of Fine Art, Design, Visual Communication and Film committee at Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst [German Academic Exchange Service].

Via the DAAD's website: "The DAAD is an association of German institutions of higher education and their student bodies. Convening in a general assembly, they elect the Executive Committee which oversees the organisation’s day-to-day operations. Since it was founded in 1925, the DAAD has supported more than 2.6 million academics in Germany and abroad. It relies on a strong organisational structure, a worldwide network of partners and alumni and a motivated staff of over 900 employees."

[ Latest additions ]

Being different, 1970-86 (1981) by Anna Oppermann, single canvas, photo emulsion on canvas, hand-coloured.

Workshop @ Academy of Art and Design Basel

April 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th, 2021

Rasso Auberger invited me to give the 4-day workshop at HyperWerk (Institute for Postindustrial Design) in Basel. HyperWerk is one of the institutes of the Academy of Art and Design in Basel. The students at HyperWerk are trained in complex process design to initiate and shape the social changes of the future.

Had the great pleasure and honor of co-teaching with Ralf Neubauer.
We named our workshop TEXTFILMSOUNDZITIERCOLLAGEN, and introduced the students to the estate of artists such as Mark Leckey, Arthur Lipsett, and Anna Oppermann.

Ralf and I also invited Phantom Kino Ballett (Sarah Szczesny and Lena Willikens) to talk with us about their deep and transformative performances. We asked Lena and Sarah how they managed to evolve their content, visions, and techniques during the pandemic.
And finally we read All about love by bell hooks as well as This is water by David Foster Wallace with the students.
The students worked in teams to compose a found footage-based experimental short film.

[ Latest additions ]

Sarah Maple, The Worlds as we know it, 2020.

Zoom fatigue

...and their simple fixes
March 6th, 2021

Via Stanford University: "In the first peer-reviewed article that systematically deconstructs Zoom fatigue from a psychological perspective, published in the journal Technology, Mind and Behavior on Feb. 23, Bailenson has taken the medium apart and assessed Zoom on its individual technical aspects. He has identified four consequences of prolonged video chats that he says contribute to the feeling commonly known as Zoom fatigue. [...]

1) Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact is highly intense.
Both the amount of eye contact we engage in on video chats, as well as the size of faces on screens is unnatural. [...]
Solution: Until the platforms change their interface, Bailenson recommends taking Zoom out of the full-screen option and reducing the size of the Zoom window relative to the monitor to minimize face size, and to use an external keyboard to allow an increase in the personal space bubble between oneself and the grid.

2) Seeing yourself during video chats constantly in real-time is fatiguing.
Most video platforms show a square of what you look like on camera during a chat. But that’s unnatural, Bailenson said. 'In the real world, if somebody was following you around with a mirror constantly – so that while you were talking to people, making decisions, giving feedback, getting feedback – you were seeing yourself in a mirror, that would just be crazy. No one would ever consider that,' he added. [...]
Solution: Bailenson recommends that platforms change the default practice of beaming the video to both self and others, when it only needs to be sent to others. In the meantime, users should use the hide self-view button, which one can access by right-clicking their own photo, once they see their face is framed properly in the video.

3) Video chats dramatically reduce our usual mobility.
In-person and audio phone conversations allow humans to walk around and move. But with videoconferencing, most cameras have a set field of view, meaning a person has to generally stay in the same spot. Movement is limited in ways that are not natural. 'There’s a growing research now that says when people are moving, they’re performing better cognitively,' Bailenson said.
Solution: Bailenson recommends people think more about the room they’re videoconferencing in, where the camera is positioned and whether things like an external keyboard can help create distance or flexibility. For example, an external camera farther away from the screen will allow you to pace and doodle in virtual meetings just like we do in real ones. And of course, turning one’s video off periodically during meetings is a good ground rule to set for groups, just to give oneself a brief nonverbal rest.

4) The cognitive load is much higher in video chats.
Bailenson notes that in regular face-to-face interaction, nonverbal communication is quite natural and each of us naturally makes and interprets gestures and nonverbal cues subconsciously. But in video chats, we have to work harder to send and receive signals.
Solution: During long stretches of meetings, give yourself an audio only break. 'This is not simply you turning off your camera to take a break from having to be nonverbally active, but also turning your body away from the screen,' Bailenson said, 'so that for a few minutes you are not smothered with gestures that are perceptually realistic but socially meaningless.' [...]

He notes that humans have been here before. 'When we first had elevators, we didn’t know whether we should stare at each other or not in that space. More recently, ridesharing has brought up questions about whether you talk to the driver or not, or whether to get in the back seat or the passenger seat,' Hancock explained. 'We had to evolve ways to make it work for us. We’re in that era now with videoconferencing, and understanding the mechanisms will help us understand the optimal way to do things for different settings, different organizations and different kinds of meetings.' "

[ Latest additions ]

American Magus (2002) is a documentary by Paolo Igliori about Harry Smith (1923-1991) – compiler of a famous three-part folk album, film-maker, painter, anthropologist, obsessive collector and thinker.

American Magus (2002)

Rare documentary about Harry Smith by Paola Igliori
Febuary 21st, 2021

Via MUBI: "A documentary about the brilliant and versatile cult figure Harry Smith (1923-1991) – compiler of a famous three-part folk album, film-maker, painter, anthropologist, obsessive collector and thinker."

Via Wikipedia: "Paola Igliori (born in Rome, Italy), is a poet, writer, photographer, essayist and publisher. She became a resident of New York City from the 1980s, when she first moved there, until 2003 when she returned to her home country. [...]

In 1996, she edited and published American Magus: A Modern Alchemist, a book about then largely unknown (though well known among artists, since the 1950s) American artist, painter, poet, film maker, essayist and collector Harry Everett Smith. Igliori had developed a strong personal relationship with Smith, who, by some accounts, died in 1992 in her arms "singing as he drifted away", at the Hotel Chelsea.[3] In 2001, she wrote and directed a documentary about Smith, titled American Magus."

Thanks to Cindy Keefer at Center for Visual Music!

[ Latest additions ]

Can't Get You Out of My Head: An Emotional History of the Modern World is a six-part BBC documentary television series created by Adam Curtis. It was released on BBC iPlayer on 11 February 2021.

Can't Get You Out of My Head

An Emotional History of the Modern World by Adam Curtis
February 13th, 2021

Via The Guardian: "Examining the power structures and political intrigue that have shaped our world, the filmmaker’s new BBC documentary series is a dense, ambitious triumph. [...]

The power dynamic, how it shifts, how it hides and how it is used to shape our world – the world in which we ordinary people must live – is Curtis’s great interest. He ranges from the literal rewriting of history by Chairman Mao’s formidable fourth wife, Jiang Qing, during the Cultural Revolution to the psychologists plumbing the depths of “the self” and trying to impose behaviours on drugged and electro-shocked subjects. He moves from the infiltration of the Black Panthers by undercover officers inciting and facilitating more violence than the movement had ever planned or been able to carry out alone, to the death of paternalism in industry and its replacement by official legislation drafted by those with hidden and vested interests. The idea that we are indeed living, as posited by various figures in the author’s landscape and (we infer from the whole) the author himself, in a world made up of strata of artifice laid down by those more or less malevolently in charge becomes increasingly persuasive.

Whether you are convinced or not by the working hypothesis, Can’t Get You Out of My Head is a rush. It is vanishingly rare to be confronted by work so dense, so widely searching and ambitious in scope, so intelligent and respectful of the audience’s intelligence, too. It is rare, also, to watch a project over which one person has evidently been given complete creative freedom and control without any sense of self-indulgence creeping in. It is always exciting to be in receipt of the product of a single vision. Not quite singular, perhaps: I suspect a lot of men born, like Curtis, in the 1950s, harbour many of the same concerns and would make a lot of the same arguments, although most would lack the ability to enshrine them so accessibly or attractively. But nevertheless, a triumph. For Curtis, of course, but also for publicly funded broadcasting. No commercial channel would have touched this thing. Unless, of course, that’s just what Auntie wants us to think."

Watch it here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.

On top of it Can’t Get You Out of My Head features music by fabulous composer Natalie Beridze.

[ Latest additions ]

Mosi-oa-Tunya (the smoke that thunders), Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Year of the Metal Ox

Starting now
February 12th, 2021

Via Wikipedia: "The Ox (牛) is the second of the 12-year periodic sequence (cycle) of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar, and also appears in related calendar systems. The Chinese term translated here as ox is in Chinese niú (牛), a word generally referring to cows, bulls, or neutered types of the bovine family, such as common cattle or water buffalo. The zodiacal ox may be construed as male, female, neuter, and either singular or plural. The Year of the Ox is also denoted by the Earthly Branch symbol chǒu (丑). The term zodiac ultimately derives from an Ancient Greek term referring to a circle of little animals. There are also a yearly month of the ox and a daily hour of the ox (Chinese double hour, 1:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m.). Years of the oxen (cows) are cyclically differentiated by correlation to the Heavenly Stems cycle, resulting in a repeating cycle of five years of the ox/cow (over a sixty-year period), each ox/cow year also being associated with one of the Chinese wǔxíng, also known as the five elements, or phases: the Five Phases being Fire (火 huǒ), Water (水 shuǐ), Wood (木 mù), Metal (金 jīn), and Earth (土 tǔ). The Year of the Ox follows after the Year of the Rat (the first year of the zodiacal cycle) and it then is followed by the Year of the Tiger."

Thanks to Swantje Lichtenstein!

[ Latest additions ]

"Paper Sound" by Nikolai Voinov (1930), electronic music with animation, 4K restoration.

Paper Sound by Nikolai Voinov

1930s Soviet optical synthesis animation looks positively futuristic
January 18th, 2021

Via Create Digital Media: "It’s synthesis from paper – sounds crafted quite literally by hand, using drawn animation, then optically synthesized. But after this 4K restoration, it’s clear how much these 1930s inventors were ahead of their time.

I first saw this animation, like a lot of people, via Moscow-based historian Andrey Smirnov, who writes the following description of artist Voinov for Austria’s Institut für Medienarchäologie:

'Nikolai Voinov (1900-58) began his career as an animator in 1927. In 1930 he was involved in the production of the first drawn ornamental soundtracks at Avraamov’s Multzvuk laboratory. In 1931 he left and started his own research at the Cartoon Studio of the Moscow Film Factory as a developer of ‘Paper Sound’ techniques. These were based on the synthesis of sound waves by means of paper cutouts with the carefully calculated sizes and shapes produced by his newly invented tool, the Nivotone. (Andrey Smirnov)'.

You get a full roster of paper-optical synthesis. (It’s hard to even know what to call that – it’s essentially a hybrid of optical-analog synthesis machines and traditional cell animation or other hand-drawn techniques.)

That includes:
• Variophone – Evgeny Sholpo, 1930 Leningrad / Lenfilm (who also works with the legendary Georgy Rimsky‐Korsakov
• Working directly on optical track of the film – Arseny Avraamov (who also had his own 48-tone microtonal system) – he worked across the USSR and Germany
• Paper sound techniques – Nikolai Voinov (Nivotone)
• Anushen Ter-Ghevondyan – Armenian composer and audiovisual inventor based in Yerevan at the Soviet studio there (I have fairly sketchy notes, presumably worth a separate research), also worked with paper, animation, and optical synthesis [...]

The variophone itself was tragically lost in a missile attack in the Siege of Leningrad, meaning this is another thing to blame on Nazis this week – although futuristic electronic music sometimes had the Soviet bureaucracy as a foe, too. (So it is with those who advance culture, I’m afraid, generally.)"

Thanks to Phillip Schulze !

[ Latest additions ]