Aretha Franklin in the concert movie Amazing Grace.

Aretha Franklin

Watch Amazing Grace on Whitsun
May 31st, 2020

Via The Hollywood Reporter: "In 1972, the director spent two days in a Watts church filming Franklin recording her historic gospel album. But he forgot to sync the sound. Now, after 43 years, the film is finally ready to be seen — if Franklin's lawsuit doesnt stop it."

Via The Guardian: "So, after nearly five decades, does the film stand the test of time? Hallelujah, yes! Despite being both unforgivingly overlit and tantalisingly truncated (this trim 88-minute cut abridges or omits some classic tracks), Elliott’s Lazarus-like resurrection of Pollack’s movie captures both the hive of musical activity and fervour or religious ecstasy that thronged through that church all those years ago."

Via Wikipedia: "Odie Henderson of enthused, 'Whether you're religious or not, you owe it to yourself to see this movie if the chance arises. You'll see how much love and feeling went into the construction of the resulting album.' Variety's Owen Gleiberman noted, 'The movie reveals how the fundamental distinction between rock 'n' roll and rhythm and blues was not only racist at its core, but a way for the consumer culture to slice the God out of music that was invented as a way to talk to God.' Jordan Hoffman of The Guardian wrote, 'The film is almost wall-to-wall music, with Franklin barely acknowledging the audience between songs.' The Los Angeles Times' Justin Chang wrote: 'Aretha Franklin didn't transcend the gospel or gospel music; as first her album and now this marvelous documentary remind us, she did more than most to fulfill its potential for truth and beauty, devotion and art.'"

Thanks to Sarah Szczesny!

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Alice Coltrane

A translinear light
May 30th, 2020

Via Wikipedia: "Alice Coltrane (née McLeod, August 27, 1937 – January 12, 2007), also known by her adopted Sanskrit name Turiyasangitananda or Turiya Alice Coltrane, was an American jazz musician and composer, and in her later years a swamini. One of the few harpists in the history of jazz, she recorded many albums as a bandleader, beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s for Impulse! and other major record labels."

Via National Museum of African American History & Culture: "16mm film. This film opens with a collage of photos of jazz musician John Coltrane with a voice-over of a male narrator communicating the musical genius and personal demeanor of the renowned music artist. The voice-over ends with an open-ended statement on John Coltrane's family; leading into an interview with his wife, Alice Coltrane. Alice Coltrane discusses the influence her late husband has had on her life, both musically and spiritually. She speaks of him being a spiritual person, although not tied to one organized religion, his vegetarian diet, and the how he carved time out of his days to meditate. There is footage of their children playing in the yard and walking with their mother. Alice plays the harp and talks about how her music is a manifestation of her spirituality. She discusses her musical career and how she balances that with being a mother and paying tribute to her late husband, but also not wanting to be defined as an extension of John Coltrane's music. Instead, when she finds herself playing some of the music he wrote, she sees herself as sharing in what he produced throughout his career. Footage of her playing the piano at a small jazz concert with a few other musicians plays for two minutes. In the final minutes of the segment, Alice Coltrane explains her relationship with a higher power and the personal enlightenment she has felt and gained through meditation. The film ends with a dolly-out/zoom-out long shot of Alice Coltrane and her children waving from their home."

Thanks to Sarah Szczesny!

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Have been watching "Ride Upon the Storm" by Adam Price recently. This image is from it's title sequence by Benny Box.

In my backyard

Rotkelchen – European Robin
May 24rd, 2020

"Little bird up in a tree
Looked down and sang a song to me
Of how it began"

Via Wikipedia: "Little Bird is a song written by Dennis Wilson and Stephen Kalinich with uncredited contributions from Brian Wilson. It was first recorded by American rock band the Beach Boys and released on their 1968 album Friends. It was also placed as the B-side of the album's Friends single. The single peaked at number 47 in the US and number 25 in the UK.
Brian once said; 'Dennis gave us Little Bird which blew my mind because it was so full of spiritualness. He was a late bloomer as a music maker. He lived hard and rough but his music was as sensitive as anyone's.'
The outro of Little Bird features a musical quotation of the unfinished 1966 composition Child Is Father of the Man composed by Brian Wilson for the Smile album. His contribution remains uncredited."

Via Wikipedia: "The avian magnetic compass of the robin has been extensively researched and uses vision-based magnetoreception, in which the robin's ability to sense the magnetic field of the earth for navigation is affected by the light entering the bird's eye. The physical mechanism of the robin's magnetic sense is not fully understood, but may involve quantum entanglement of electron spins."

Via Project Gutenberg's Birds in Legend, Fable and Folklore, by Ernest Ingersoll:
"Bearing his cross, while Christ passed by forlorn,
His Godlike forehead by the mock crown torn,
A little bird took from that crown one thorn,
To soothe the dear Redeemer’s throbbing head.
That bird did what she could; His blood, ’t is said,
Down-dropping dyed her tender bosom red.
Since then no wanton boy disturbs her nest;
Weasel nor wildcat will her young molest—
All sacred deem that bird of ruddy breast."

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Photo by Swantje Lichtenstein. Taken in March 2020 on a bike ride through Berlin during Corona crisis related lock-down.

Alvin Lucier

I am sitting in a room, 1969/1970
March 26th, 2020

Via Wikipedia: "The first performance of the work was in 1970 at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. In collaboration with his partner Mary Lucier, the performance featured projections of Polaroid images that had been degraded like the voice. [...]

The text spoken by Lucier describes the process of the work, concluding with a reference to his own stuttering:

I am sitting in a room different from the one you are in now. I am recording the sound of my speaking voice and I am going to play it back into the room again and again until the resonant frequencies of the room reinforce themselves so that any semblance of my speech, with perhaps the exception of rhythm, is destroyed. What you will hear, then, are the natural resonant frequencies of the room articulated by speech. I regard this activity not so much as a demonstration of a physical fact, but more as a way to smooth out any irregularities my speech might have."

Every year since 2005 I play this piece to my students and ask them to not leave the room for its duration. Every year I experience something new. Every year I come out of the experience really happy.

Thanks for introducing me to the piece, and for reminding me of its birthday today, Marcus Schmickler!
Thanks to introducing me to Alvin Lucier, Phillip Schulze!


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Issue No 2 of "grapefruits", a fanzine about female* composers and sound artists by Elisa Metz, Nathalie Brum, Elisa Kühnl, and Theresa Nink.


Fanzine about female* composers and sound artists.
February 22nd, 2020

As an assignment in one of my seminars Elisa Metz, student at the Klang und Realität master program, developed the fanzine grapefruits on female [*non-binary] composers and sound artists from scratch.

Her idea for a fanzine emerged after reading the list of female composers which I compiled for a seminar at Institute for Music and Media. Elisa Metz was inspired to learn more about the work of all those composers and sound artists mentioned in the list, and after listening and researching many of them it became important to her to spread their names through a fanzine as a pop-cultural format.

The fanzine’s name refers to the 1964 artist's book Grapefruit by composer and artist Yoko Ono. Ono saw grapefruits as a hybrid of lemons and oranges, a metaphor for her own identity – always being in-between.

Elisa  Metz invited her friend Theresa Nink as well as fellow students Nathalie Brum, Elisa Kühnl, and Anna Schütten to collaborate. During the summer 2019 they released the first issue called Imaginary Sound.
The second issue Performance was released this month at the Palastrauschen event at Kunstpalast Düsseldorf. The fresh issue features AMET, Laurie Anderson, Junko, Annea Lockwood, Julia Mihály und Phew.

In 2019 and 2020 grapefruits was presented during different events, exhibitions, and festivals, such as Brückenmusik 25, Currents – Festival für aktuelle Tiefkultur, Electronic Music Home, Giftshop at Bruch & Dallas and MEKASUBA in Cologne as well as Sparda’s Palastrauschen at Museum Kunstpalast in Duesseldorf.

If you would like to receive a copy of grapefruits, if you have any questions or suggestions, if you would like to write for grapefruits or invite the editors/writers, do not hesitate to contact them at

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Tobias Frei

Social Sincerity
February 19th, 2020

One of the milestones of digital technologies is the possibilty to constantly exchange data between more than half of the world‘s population. But there is an invisible problem for our societies. The platforms, which use the technology to connect people, are not neutral. What began as a race to monetize our attention now bursts important pillars of our society, e.g. mental health and social relationships. The motion design short Social Sincerity by Tobias Frei addresses those issues and wants to raise awareness especially with a young audience.

Social Sincerity is the final year project of Tobias Frei in the Motion Design post-graduate program at the Baden-Württemberg Film Academy, and was supervised by my co-chair Alexander Hanowski and me.

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Henning Himmelreich

After Silence
January 28th, 2020

The motion design short After Silence by Henning Himmelreich addresses the inner process of mental and emotional regeneration of human psyche. To visually represent this process the film uses the imaginary from Egyptian mythology and its concept of the journey into the afterlife in an abstract manner.

The process of self-purification is visualized through both abstract and direct representations of deities and other mythological images, combined with modern graphical elements.
The protagonist is trapped in an uninhabitable world reigned by chaos, which is a visual representation of her own state of mind. As she enters subconsciousness, a mixture of self-reflection and external judgement makes her undergo self-purification. By passing all stages successfully and facing her demons she reaches a state of perfect harmony that purifies the soul. The world around her changes correspondingly and darkness becomes light.

After Silence is the final year project of Henning Himmelreich in the Motion Design post-graduate program at the Baden-Württemberg Film Academy, and was supervised by my co-chair Alexander Hanowski and me.

After Silence won at several international festivals e.g. "Best Sound Design" at 2nd GLOBAL INDIA INT'L FILM FESTIVAL (Pune, India); "Best Experimental Short Film" at 3rd Maracay InternationalFilm & Video Festival (Maracay, Venezuela); "Best Experimental Film" at 1st baltic independent film Festival (Mechelinki, Poland); "Best Experimental Film" at 3rd Canadian Diversity Film Festival (Toronto, Canada); "Best Experimental Short Film" at 4th Canal de Panama International Film Festival (Panamá, Panama).

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"At a high level, it is important to understand that mostnew relationships in 2019 begin online. Traditional methods such as introductions by friends and family, meeting at work, etc. have been outmoded and are increasingly outlier outcomes." from The Dating Market: Thesis Overview.


My pyramid
January 20th, 2020

Kindness – Intuition – Integrity
Presence – Openess – Humor – Love – Trust – Sobriety.

Take another step toward what matters.

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SUR-FAKE (2015) by Antoine Geiger: "This research echoes the SUR-FACE project. It is placing the screen as an object of "mass subculture", alienating the relation to our own body, and more generally to the physical world."

Believe It or Not!

Weird news and MythBusters
January 17th, 2020

Via Wikipedia: "Ripley's Believe It or Not! is an American franchise, founded by Robert Ripley, which deals in bizarre events and items so strange and unusual that readers might question the claims. [...]
At the peak of its popularity, the syndicated feature was read daily by about 80 million readers, and during the first three weeks of May 1932 alone, Ripley received over two million pieces of fan mail. Dozens of paperback editions reprinting the newspaper panels have been published over the decades. Recent Ripley's Believe It or Not! books containing new material have supplemented illustrations with photographs.
Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz's first publication of artwork was published by Ripley. It was a cartoon claiming his dog was 'a hunting dog who eats pins, tacks, screws, nails and razor blades.' Schulz's dog Spike later became the model for Peanuts' Snoopy."

Via Wikipedia: "MythBusters is an Australian-American science entertainment television program created by Peter Rees and produced by Australia's Beyond Television Productions. The series premiered on the Discovery Channel on January 23, 2003. [...]
The show's hosts, special effects experts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, used elements of the scientific method to test the validity of rumors, myths, movie scenes, adages, Internet videos, and news stories."

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Douglas Gordon at Eva Presenhuber, November 2 – December 15, 2019.

End of 2019

Ten memories I treasure
December 31st, 2019

Being present On a weekend trip with a friend and her 2,5 year old daughter I forgot to put my backpack into the car after a hike for mushrooms. Later, when I looked for it it was gone. The next day I thought about going to a lost and found in the next city. Instead I remembered that the city had a huge hospital which is now owned by the Thich Nhat Hanh order, and called European Institute of applied Buddhism. We all went and got invited for lunch. Everything was to be done in silence – getting the food from the buffet, sitting down at a table, and eating. The little girl did it beautifully. For me it was a moving experience in mindfulness. A few days later I got a message from a lady who found my backpack – including my keys and diary. I just love when things like this happen.

Ceremony An ultra inspiring, and brave friend of mine initiated and orchestrated the most beautiful, cathartic, and heartfelt ceremony for her family and friends to say goodbye to her brother, who had just died. I have never experienced anything like this before. A lot of feelings flooded the room, many tears, and sobbing – deeply felt connection and love, straight from the hearts. I was totally overwhelmed, and am still so grateful to have been invited.

Conversations In preparation for my Transformats seminar for our Klang and Realität master program I watched many of bell hooks' conversations. She is a great, kind, beautiful, honest teacher, and an important inspiration for me. You will find many of the conversations here: bell hooks at The New School. The New School says, "hooks (née Gloria Watkins) is among the leading public intellectuals of her generation. Her writings cover a broad range of topics including gender, race, teaching, and contemporary culture. During her residencies bell hooks has held conversations with Laverne Cox, Cornel West, Gloria Steinem, Melissa Harris-Perry, and New School students." Watch them all!

Comedian I think it was the first warm day of spring when I still had a lot of energy in the evening, and looked up the local newspaper to find something to do. I saw that Hagen Rether was doing his Liebe program at the Cologne philharmonic and went although it was sold out. The lady at the tickets told me that someone had just left their ticket for her to give it away for free. It seemed like a sign saying I made the right decision. The show was truly mind-blowing. I laughed and cried for three hours straight.

Concert A friend discovered Angel Bat Dawid in Den Haag where she played her European premiere at Rewire this year. The Guardian calls her debut album The Oracle "one of the year’s best releases in any genre, where swelling vocals, warm organ chords and lilting and freaked-out clarinet lines combine in a profoundly affecting whole". In November I saw her in Cologne on a slow Monday night. She was truly living her process, I think. After the concert I bought her record and asked her to sign it. She gave me a deep hug. Later that night I saw her ran and scream through the place like thunderbolts. I am still in awe.
Thanks to Swantje Lichtenstein!

Film One of my all-time favorite gurus is Laurie Anderson. In 1989 I saw her live for the first time, and went to see her concert film Home of the Brave shortly after. Everything about that film influenced me, and this year I thought about showing it in a seminar, and re-watched it by myself to see if it still has an impact. It did, and I combined the film with interviews about one of her recent project Habea Corpus. Some teachers just stick.

Guided tour In the middle of an extremely hot and dry summer I went for a guided tour to see why the opera building in Cologne has been in a building freeze for three years now. It was nice to walk in the cold basement floors of the amazing structure, which gets dismantle to it's original design by fabulous Wilhelm Riphahn. It was also hilarious to see the total construction madness -especially in the energy, ventilation and water infrastructures- that led to the halt of the renovation. A witty and fun tour indeed.

Loop The track I listened to the most in 2019 was [surprisingly] the ultimate 'pop' composition Allegretto of the Symphony No. 7 in A major by Ludwig van Beethoven. I heard many different conductors. The version I like the best is Liszt's transcription played by uber weird-sexy Glenn Gould. Karajan's 1971 version with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is of course beautiful too.

Tea After my last yoga lesson for this year my teacher placed a little gift next to my mat. I did not know what to say because only I got a present. I asked if I could open it, and it was a little bag with dried Linden flowers to make Limeflower tea from it. It also had a note which said that I can connect with nature and specifically the lime tree in our street through those flowers. The tree and nine others are about to fall for a new school building, and we are both members of a civic group, that wants to save the Linden tree and her friends.

TV The best reality TV I have seen -ever and by far- is Queer Eye. I agree with The Guardian when they write, "there is so much emotional truth going on here and not for a second does it feel manipulated. It sums up the excellence of this show: it has political nous, it has heart, it has style and it feels utterly relevant to now", and in another article, "it is kind and warm, and it is the most feelgood of feelgood TV, and it manages to entertain by crossing, for a time at least, boundaries of class, of race and of sexuality". My favorite fab 5? Of course the one and only Jonathan van Ness.

So, here we are... And what is next?

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