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The visual identity for NICA artist development was created by Cologne art director Christian Schäfer.

NICA artist development

Outstanding jazz and contemporary music artists
September 15th, 2020

About a year ago Svenja Doeinck asked me to join her in the process to define the identity for a program, which offers outstanding musicians from North Rhine-Westphalia working in the field of jazz and contemporary music a platform for artistic profiling and professionalisation of their careers.

In our first sessions Svenja introduced me to Pannonica de Koenigswarter’s book Three Wishes: an Intimate Look at Jazz Greats. "Compiled between 1961 and 1966, it is a book of interviews with 300 musicians who told her what their three wishes would be, and is accompanied by her Polaroid photographs. The book was edited for publication by Nadine de Koenigswarter, whom Nica always introduced to people as her granddaughter but who was in fact her great-niece." (Wikipedia)

Svenja Doeinck and I explored the biography of Pannonica (shortened to "Nica" as a nickname), and quickly became obsessed with her character and legacy. It was obvious to us and felt inevitable that we had to name the artist development program, which was led by Svenja Doeinck and funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, after Pannonica "Nica" de Koenigswarter because she was the most fabulous and glamorous jazz patron of all times.

Later in the process art director Christian Schäfer took over and now works on defining and creating the visual identity for NICA artist development program based on our briefing.

The NICA program started with four amazing musicians, and I am so delighted to now support three of them. In our sessions we work on exploring their ideas concerning a public and visual communication strategy with their enchanted fans.

 

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Pan Tau was able to change his appearance into a puppet, to conjure up miscellaneous objects or to do other magic.

Is happiness U-shaped everywhere?

Age and subjective well-being in 145 countries
September 12, 2020

Via my all-time favorite blog the New Shelton wet/dry: "A large empirical literature has debated the existence of a U-shaped happiness-age curve. This paper re-examines the relationship between various measures of well-being and age in 145 countries. […] The U-shape of the curve is forcefully confirmed, with an age minimum, or nadir, in midlife around age 50 in separate analyses for developing and advanced countries as well as for the continent of Africa. The happiness curve seems to be everywhere." Continue reading Here: Journal of Population Economics

Via Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization: "I examine the relationship between unhappiness and age using data from eight well-being data files on nearly 14 million respondents across forty European countries and the United States and 168 countries from the Gallup World Poll. […] Unhappiness is hill-shaped in age and the average age where the maximum occurs is 49 with or without controls."

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This might be the most important talk of your life.

The Basics of Nonviolent Communication

by Marshal Rosenberg (1934-2015) in San Fransico 2020
August 30st, 2020

Via Wikipedia: "Nonviolent Communication (abbreviated NVC, also called Compassionate Communication or Collaborative Communication) is an approach to nonviolent living developed by Marshall Rosenberg beginning in the 1960s. NVC is based on the assumption that all human beings have capacity for compassion and empathy and that people only resort to violence or behavior harmful to others when they do not recognize more effective strategies for meeting needs.

NVC theory supposes that all human behavior stems from attempts to meet universal human needs, and that these needs are never in conflict; rather, conflict arises when strategies for meeting needs clash. NVC proposes that people should identify shared needs, which are revealed by the thoughts and feelings surrounding these needs, and then they should collaborate to develop strategies and make requests of each other to meet each other's needs. The goal is interpersonal harmony and learning for future cooperation. [...]

Rosenberg invites NVC practitioners to focus attention on four components:

• Observation: the facts (what we are seeing, hearing, or touching) as distinct from our evaluation of meaning and significance. NVC discourages static generalizations. It is said that When we combine observation with evaluation others are apt to hear criticism and resist what we are saying. Instead, a focus on observations specific to time and context is recommended.

• Feelings: emotions or sensations, free of thought and story. These are to be distinguished from thoughts (e.g., 'I feel I didn't get a fair deal') and from words colloquially used as feelings but which convey what we think we are (e.g., inadequate), how we think others are evaluating us (e.g., unimportant), or what we think others are doing to us (e.g., misunderstood, ignored). Feelings are said to reflect whether we are experiencing our needs as met or unmet. Identifying feelings is said to allow us to more easily connect with one another, and Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable by expressing our feelings can help resolve conflicts.

• Needs: universal human needs, as distinct from particular strategies for meeting needs. It is posited that Everything we do is in service of our needs.

• Request: request for a specific action, free of demand. Requests are distinguished from demands in that one is open to hearing a response of no without this triggering an attempt to force the matter. If one makes a request and receives a no it is recommended not that one give up, but that one empathize with what is preventing the other person from saying yes, before deciding how to continue the conversation. It is recommended that requests use clear, positive, concrete action language."

The Nonviolent Communicator is "an online tool to help you create a communication that honors the NVC structure, and helps you identify the emotions you are feeling. Based on the The 4-Part Nonviolent Communication (NVC) Process model developed by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D."

Thanks to Michael Beil!

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"in Pursuit of Venus", the panoramic video by Lisa Reihana, is a moving image interpretation of the French scenic wallpaper "Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique".

In Pursuit of Venus

by Lisa Reihana
August 21st, 2020

Via In Pursuit of Venus: "In Neoclassical France, entrepreneur Joseph Dufour used the latest printing innovations to produce Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique (1804), a sophisticated twenty panel scenic wallpaper. Mirroring a widespread fascination with the Pacific voyages undertaken by Captain Cook, de Bougainville and de la Perouse, the wallpaper’s exotic themes referenced popular illustrations of that time. Two hundred years later, Maori artist Lisa Reihana employs twenty-first century digital technologies to animate Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique. Enlivened with the sights and sounds of dance and cultural ceremonies, a vast video panorama is populated by a myriad of people drawn from across New Zealand and the Pacific.

Separated by two centuries, both the wallpaper and video are set against an utopian Tahitian landscape. While Dufour’s work models Enlightenment beliefs and ideas of harmony amongst mankind, Reihana’s reading of the past is darker and more nuanced. The artist foregrounds the complexities of cultural identity and colonisation by including scenes of encounter between Europeans and Polynesians."

Listen to Lisa Reihana talk about her work.

Thanks to Miriam Stein!

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"Fiorucci made me Hardcore" by Mark Leckey, 1999.

Fiorucci made me Hardcore

Music can boost your immune system
August 18th, 2020

Via Jean Gabriel: "Studies have been conducted that display evidence of music enhancing the amount of antibodies in your system. The presence of antibodies can be determined by measuring the level of cytokines in your blood. Cytokines are a critical component as their purpose is to allow communication between the cells that make up your immune system.
Subjects during this study were asked to simply sing for a period of one hour. Their cytokine levels were measured both before and after the duration of the music activity. Levels were shown to have increased after the hour of belting out your favorite songs, which means that the overall effectiveness of the immune system may have increased."

Thanks for reaching out to me, Jean Gabriel!

Via Wikipedia: "Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore came out of a discussion between Gavin Brown, Martin McGeown and Mark Leckey. They were at a gallery private view in London, and Emma Dexter, then a curator at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), talked to Leckey. He argued that the most exciting art form of the time was the music video, and intrigued, Dexter invited him to make a work demonstrating it. It was later first screened at the ICA.
The title, Leckey said, was about the notion that 'something as trite and throwaway and exploitative as a jeans manufacturer (Fiorucci) can be taken by a group of people and made into something totemic, and powerful, and life-affirming'."

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While reading the interview with Bruno Latour consider listening to Ellen Arkbro. Fabulous and mind blowing composer from Sweden.

The Gaia principle

Bruno Latour explains
June 7th, 2002

Via The Guardian: "This seems to add a political edge to James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis, which explains how Life acts to maintain habitable conditions for itself. You have long been a champion of this theory…

Lovelock locked us in! While Galileo used a telescope to reveal that the Earth is part of an infinite universe, Lovelock used his electron capture detector to reveal that the Earth is completely different from any other planet because it has life. He and [Lynn] Margulis spotted Gaia. Lovelock from space, taking the question as globally as possible; Margulis from bacteria, taking the question from the other end, both realising that Life, capital L, has managed to engineer its own conditions of existence. For me that is the greatest discovery of this period, though it is still not very much accepted by mainstream science. This may be because we do not yet have the tools to receive it.

Why do you think scientists are still wary?

That such an important concept is still so marginal in the history of science is extraordinary. I have done everything I can to make it accepted. But scientists are reflexively cautious. The cosmological shift from Aristotle to Galileo is the same as that from Galileo to Gaia. With Galileo, our understanding moved outwards to an infinite universe. Grasping that took a century and a half and faced resistance. Gaia is not just one more concept. It is not just about physics and energy. It is Life.

Your work has often challenged the objective, God’s-eye view of science. You argue convincingly that humanity cannot be so detached. But the political right have twisted this approach to undermine all expert knowledge on the climate and nature crises. Any regrets?

A critique of how science is produced is very different from the post-truth argument that there are alternative truths that you can choose from. Post-truth is a defensive posture. If you have to defend yourself against climate change, economic change, coronavirus change, then you grab at any alternative. If those alternatives are fed to you by thousands of fake news farms in Siberia, they are hard to resist, especially if they look vaguely empirical. If you have enough of them and they are contradictory enough, they allow you to stick to your old beliefs. But this should not be confused with rational scepticism.

Has the Covid-19 crisis affected our belief in science?

The virus has revealed the number of things you need to know to decide what is factual and what’s not. The public are learning a great deal about the difficulty of statistics, about experiment, about epidemiology. In everyday life, people are talking about degrees of confidence and margin of error. I think that’s good. If you want people to have some grasp of science, you must show how it is produced."

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#blackouttuesday ✊

“Trust me, nobody is mad at you for being white. Nobody.”

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson
June 2nd, 2020

Via Yes Magazine: "9. On my very first date with my now husband, I climbed into his car and saw baby wipes on the passenger-side floor. He said he didn’t have kids, they were just there to clean up messes in the car. I twisted to secure my seatbelt and saw a stuffed animal in the rear window. I gave him a look. He said, “I promise, I don’t have kids. That’s only there so I don’t get stopped by the police.” He then told me that when he drove home from work late at night, he was getting stopped by cops constantly because he was a black man in a luxury car and they assumed that either it was stolen or he was a drug dealer. When he told a cop friend about this, Warren was told to put a stuffed animal in the rear window because it would change “his profile” to that of a family man and he was much less likely to be stopped. The point here is, if you’ve never had to mask the fruits of your success with a floppy-eared, stuffed bunny rabbit so you won’t get harassed by the cops on the way home from your gainful employment (or never had a first date start this way), you have white privilege.

10. Six years ago, I started a Facebook page that has grown into a website called Good Black News because I was shocked to find there were no sites dedicated solely to publishing the positive things black people do. (And let me explain here how biased the coverage of mainstream media is in case you don’t already have a clue—as I curate, I can’t tell you how often I have to swap out a story’s photo to make it as positive as the content. Photos published of black folks in mainstream media are very often sullen- or angry-looking. Even when it’s a positive story! I also have to alter headlines constantly to 1) include a person’s name and not have it just be “Black Man Wins Settlement” or “Carnegie Hall Gets 1st Black Board Member,” or 2) rephrase it from a subtle subjugator like “ABC taps Viola Davis as Series Lead” to “Viola Davis Lands Lead on ABC Show” as is done for, say, Jennifer Aniston or Steven Spielberg. I also receive a fair amount of highly offensive racist trolling. I don’t even respond. I block and delete ASAP. The point here is, if you’ve never had to rewrite stories and headlines or swap photos while being trolled by racists when all you’re trying to do on a daily basis is promote positivity and share stories of hope and achievement and justice, you have white privilege."


Thanks to Zoë Irvine!

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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 RogerEbert.com 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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