Jury member @ DAAD

Fine Arts, Design, Film committee
February 16th, 2018

The Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst [German Academic Exchange Service] appointed me for two years as a jury member to their Fine Arts, Design, Film committee.

Via the DAAD's website: "The DAAD is the world’s largest funding organisation for the international exchange of students and researchers. Since it was founded in 1925, around two million scholars in Germany and abroad have received DAAD funding. It is a registered association and its members are German institutions of higher education and student bodies. Its activities go far beyond simply awarding grants and scholarships. The DAAD supports the internationalisation of German universities, promotes German studies and the German language abroad, assists developing countries in establishing effective universities and advises decision makers on matters of cultural, education and development policy."

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Petit Biscuit “Presence” Album cover by Quentin Deronzier.

A list of 25 Principles of Adult Behavior

by John Perry Barlow (October 3, 1947 – February 7, 2018)
February 11th, 2018

Via Kottke: "Silicon Valley visionary John Perry Barlow died last night at the age of 70. When he was 30, the EFF founder (and sometime Grateful Dead lyricist) drew up a list of what he called Principles of Adult Behavior. They are:

1. Be patient. No matter what.
2. Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, not blame. Say nothing of another you wouldn’t say to him.
3. Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
4. Expand your sense of the possible.
5. Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
6. Expect no more of anyone than you can deliver yourself.
7. Tolerate ambiguity.
8. Laugh at yourself frequently.
9. Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.
10. Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
11. Give up blood sports.
12. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Don’t risk it frivolously.
13. Never lie to anyone for any reason. (Lies of omission are sometimes exempt.)
14. Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
15. Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
16. Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.
17. Praise at least as often as you disparage.
18. Admit your errors freely and soon.
19. Become less suspicious of joy.
20. Understand humility.
21. Remember that love forgives everything.
22. Foster dignity.
23. Live memorably.
24. Love yourself.
25. Endure.

Here’s what these principles meant to Barlow:

'I don’t expect the perfect attainment of these principles. However, I post them as a standard for my conduct as an adult. Should any of my friends or colleagues catch me violating one of them, bust me.'

You can read remembrances of Barlow from the EFF and from his friends Cory Doctorow and Steven Levy."

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DVD sleeve by Center for Visual Music, Los Angeles.

Oskar Fischinger: Visual Music

New DVD by the Center for Visual Music, Los Angeles
February 8th, 2018

The wonderful people at the Center for Visual Music released a new DVD with outstanding, classic and rare films by the Father of Visual Music and the great-grandfather of motion graphics.

Via the CVM: "Featuring Fischinger's famous Composition in BlueMuratti greift ein (the waltzing cigarette ad), Study no. 8Study no. 5 and Study no. 2 from his groundbreaking series of abstract animation synchronized to music in the 1930s, which screened in first run theatres worldwide. Plus the films Squares, An American March, Pierrette I, Coloratura, Swiss Trip (Rivers and Landscapes), newly restored animation tests from the 1920s, 30s and 40s (many never completed or released), and home movies from the 1920 and 1960s. Region free."

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Visions of the past (album, 1994) by Robert Leiner.

The good of boredom

by Andreas Elpidorou
February 3rd, 2018

Via Taylor & Francis: "I argue that the state of boredom (i.e., the transitory and non-pathological experience of boredom) should be understood to be a regulatory psychological state that has the capacity to promote our well-being by contributing to personal growth and to the construction (or reconstruction) of a meaningful life."

Thanks to Elmar Hintz for the cover!

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We’d all like to be a little happier

Most unhappy people are unhappy for the exact same reason
February 2nd, 2018


Via Quartz: "The problem is that much of what determines happiness is outside of our control. Some of us are genetically predisposed to see the world through rose-colored glasses, while others have a generally negative outlook. Bad things happen, to us and in the world. People can be unkind, and jobs can be tedious.

But we do have some control over how we spend our leisure time. That’s one reason why it’s worth asking which leisure time activities are linked to happiness, and which aren’t.

In a new analysis of 1 million U.S. teens, my co-authors and I looked at how teens were spending their free time and which activities correlated with happiness, and which didn’t. [...]

Every year, teens are asked about their general happiness, in addition to how they spend their time. We found that teens who spent more time seeing their friends in person, exercising, playing sports, attending religious services, reading or even doing homework were happier. However, teens who spent more time on the internet, playing computer games, on social media, texting, using video chat or watching TV were less happy.

In other words, every activity that didn’t involve a screen was linked to more happiness, and every activity that involved a screen was linked to less happiness. The differences were considerable: Teens who spent more than five hours a day online were twice as likely to be unhappy as those who spent less than an hour a day.

Of course, it might be that unhappy people seek out screen activities. However, a growing number of studies show that most of the causation goes from screen use to unhappiness, not the other way around. [...]

Somewhat surprisingly, we found that teens who didn’t use digital media at all were actually a little less happy than those who used digital media a little bit (less than an hour a day). Happiness was then steadily lower with more hours of use. Thus, the happiest teens were those who used digital media, but for a limited amount of time.

The answer, then, is not to give up technology entirely. Instead, the solution is a familiar adage: everything in moderation. Use your phone for all the cool things it’s good for. And then set it down and go do something else."

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Jury member @ Institute for Popular Music

Folkwang University of the Arts
January 26th, 2018

Director Hans Nieswandt invited label owner and influential musician Gudrun Gut, Popakademie Baden-Württemberg's president and CEO Udo Dahmen, and me to evaluate his brainchild, the Institute for Popular Music at Essen's well-known Folkwang University of the Arts, from a perspective of a critical friend.

We spent one day with the pop institute's faculty, and their students talking about their teachings, projects and plans. The candor, courage, and sensibility of all the people we met was beautiful and mind-blowing. Plus, I always love to visit the Ruhrpott.

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Girl and Dinosaur (1970) by Arthur Tress.

Can Machines Create Art?

by Mark Coeckelbergh
January 20th, 2018

Via Springer: "As machines take over more tasks previously done by humans, artistic creation is also considered as a candidate to be automated. But, can machines create art? This paper offers a conceptual framework for a philosophical discussion of this question regarding the status of machine art and machine creativity. It breaks the main question down in three sub-questions, and then analyses each question in order to arrive at more precise problems with regard to machine art and machine creativity: What is art creation? What do we mean by art? And, what do we mean by machines create art? This then provides criteria we can use to discuss the main question in relation to particular cases. In the course of the analysis, the paper engages with theory in aesthetics, refers to literature on computational creativity, and contributes to the philosophy of technology and philosophical anthropology by reflecting on the role of technology in art creation. It is shown that the distinctions between process versus outcome criteria and subjective versus objective criteria of creativity are unstable. It is also argued that we should consider non-human forms of creativity, and not only cases where either humans or machines create art but also collaborations between humans and machines, which makes us reflect on human-technology relations. Finally, the paper questions the very approach that seeks criteria and suggests that the artistic status of machines may be shown and revealed in the human/non-human encounter before any theorizing or agreement takes place; an experience which then is presupposed when we theorize. This hints at a more general model of what happens in artistic perception and engagement as a hybrid human-technological and emergent or even poetic process, a model which leaves more room for letting ourselves be surprised by creativity—human and perhaps non-human.

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Scene from Rabbits (2002) and Inland Empire (2006) by David Lynch.

Polish Poem (2011)

Written by David Lynch and Chrysta Bell, produced by David Lynch
January 11th, 2018

I sing this poem to you
On the other side I see
Shining waves glowing
It’s far away, far away from me,
I can see it there
The wind blows outside
And I have no breath
I breathe again and know I’ll have to live
To forget my world is ending I’ll have to live
I hear my heart beat fluttering in pain missing something
Tears are coming to my eyes
I cry
I cannot feel the warmth of the sun
I cannot hear the laughter
Choking with every thought
I see the faces
My hands are tied as I wish
But no one comes
No one comes
Where are you?
What will make me want live
What will make me want to love
Tell me tell me
I sing this poem to you
To you
Is this this mystery unfolding
As a wing floating
Something is coming true
The dream of an innocent child
Something is happening

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Eye clinic in Tainan, Taiwan (1962), photo by Wang Shuang-Chuan.

End of 2017

Ten Thank-Yous
31st December, 2017

Basecamp For 12 years I hosted a lecture series called BASISLAGER at the Institute For Music And Media. It all started in June 2005 with the wonderful John Tilbury, who gave a witful talk on how to play Morton Feldman, and performed three of Feldman's beautiful piano pieces. The last talk in this series was held by super smart Cal State professor Sylke Rene Meyer in June 2017, who introduced non-linear storytelling. It was simply mind-blowing to meet these wonderful artists and thinkers, and hear those 70 outstanding lectures.
Through the years many, many, many students were involved filming the BASISLAGER talks, and now we have a golden archive. Thank you so much, especially Lukas Baumgart, Christian Frentzen, Laura Greco, Sebastian Heidelberg, Julian Martinz, Beate Meinert, Peer Seuken, Lukas Truniger, and Miriam Voth.

Book This year's favorite book is Uncreative Writing by one of my heroes  – a hero, first and foremost because of his archive UbuWebKenneth Goldsmith. Every page had another idea or reminder or hint that inspired me, and filled me with fresh energy. My friend Swantje Lichtenstein translated it – I loved the German version.

Concert Got invited to join the Kompakt family for Wolfgang Voigt's Gas concert of his latest Narkopop release an Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn this summer. [The best name for an album ever?]
Not only was the music brilliant – dense and superbly light at the same time – I also enjoyed the visuals by Cologne-based Lichtfaktor, and lovely Jennifer Trees.

Game David O'Reilly did it again. His latest brain child Everything is fucking awesome beyond belief. You get a glimpse on where games and non-linear storytelling are headed. And I just love to listen to Alan Watts' voice talking about What is Reality.
An informative article about Everything quotes O'Reilly's view on his game, "the world as subtracted from the idea of the self".

Inspiration The most beautiful and awe-inspiring lessons this year came via Dana Falsetti and Jessamyn Stanley, two yoga teachers who encourage people to adopt more forgiving and affirming attitudes towards their bodies. Especially women have been told for too long that their current state of being isn't ok, when really it just is – in other words, it's all just about experience.

Memory The 1978 Nice Mover record by Gina X Performance was a life changer for me – back when I was 14 or 15. Tracks like No G.D.M. (Dedicated To Quentin Crisp), Be A Boy and Black Sheep initiated the trust in my own energy, even if called "too" something.
This year I met Gina X through my fabulous friend and witty artist Prof. Dr. Swantje Lichtenstein, who invited Gina to one of her seminars at HSD. Ladies, I am indefinitely grateful.

Relaunch Finally, after procrastinating for years, I relaunched my website this year. Germany's very best graphic designer, Chris Rehberger, and one of my oldest friends and Typo3 wizard, Tristan Thönnissen supported me.
I am thankful beyond words, gentlemen, because I so love my new outfit. You are the best. You are amazing. I love you.

Series Of all the series I saw this year two stood out: Sense8 by Lana and Lilly Wachowski as well as Twin Peaks by Mark Frost and David Lynch. For me Sense8 is pop culture at its best – "its stunning visuals, Wachowski wackiness, and great heart". Twin Peaks on the other hand is complicated, to say the least. I loved watching it with friends, especially episode 8 Gotta Light? – read this, Trying to Make Sense of the Show’s Most Bonkers Episode.

Teardrops I am trying to learn to let go of all anger and let the tears roll. I am still a beginner. After this year's Bundestag elections in which an ugly right wing party got elected with 12,6 % I went to a concert by Onita Boone's band VIP-Lounge. She has an amazing voice plus she is a brave and fabulous choirmaster. At the end of a life-celebrating concert she had us all, everyone in the audience, singing and screaming Lennon's Imagine. Yeah, and we cried.

Transformation My colleague, Prof. Oliver Kruse, told me about Thich Nhat Hanh's European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, and this summer the world's best DJ and I went to their open house. The work and energy of all Dharma teachers at EIAB, their community, and visitors slowly but steadily transform this intensely dark place [in 1938/39 the Nazi government deported over 700 mentally ill persons from this former hospital] into loving grace. We are deeply grateful.

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

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Bennet Meyer

V&T [Vernunft & Triebe]
December 17th, 2017

Vernunft & Triebe by Bennet Meyer is an expressive and jarring digital collage that shows a violent inner fight between the human's good sense versus its instincts impulses and desires.

Via Bennet Meyer: "The human mind’s good sense requires its natural origin, but condemns it at the same time. V&T is an experimental video clip that shows an audiovisual interpretation of an inner fight between good sense and urge."

Vernunft & Triebe is the diploma project of Bennet Meyer in the Motion Design post-graduate program at the Baden-Württemberg Film Academy, and was supervised by Alexander Hanowski and me.

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