This fall, PST ART, presented by Getty Museum, will take over Southern California with over 70 exhibitions carrying the theme of science and technology. To inaugurate this event, Cai Guo-Qiang, known for his explosion events (pictured is Sky Ladder from 2015), will present a daytime firework event at the LA Coliseum, entitled WE ARE. Using organic, sustainable pigments and advanced AI, this will be the first choreographed drone formation equipped with pyrotechnics in US history.

What if absolutely everything is conscious?

More on panpsychism
July 13th, 2024

Via Vox: "The big problem for materialists is what contemporary philosopher David Chalmers dubbed the hard problem of consciousness. In a nutshell, the problem is this: You’re conscious. But if you’re just made of non-conscious matter, why and how exactly could consciousness arise from that? […]

Panpsychism lets you bypass the hard problem of consciousness altogether. That’s because the panpsychist starts out with the right ingredients. If you believe that consciousness resides, however minimally, in matter’s tiniest building blocks — atoms, electrons, quarks — then it’s much easier to explain how sophisticated forms of consciousness can eventually arise in, say, humans. This fits very well with the theory of evolution, which says that creatures gradually became more complex as they evolved. […]

In a landmark 2006 paper, Strawson took this idea and ran with it, making a radical argument: Materialism, he said, actually entails panpsychism. Consciousness is real. (We know that from our own experience.) Everything is physical. (There’s no evidence that immaterial stuff exists.) Therefore, consciousness is physical. There’s no radical emergence in nature. (We don’t get something from nothing.) Consciousness emerging from totally non-conscious stuff would be radical emergence. Therefore, all stuff must have some consciousness baked into it."

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A page from the manuscript for Galina Ustvolskaya’s Symphony No. 2. (Credit: Paul Sacher Foundation, Basel)

Where are the Female Composers

Evidence on the Extent and Causes of Gender Inequality in Music History
June 17th, 2024

Via Association for Cultural Economics International, "Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Frédéric Chopin are household names, but few will recognize Francesca Caccini, Elisabeth Lutyens or Amy M. Beach, who are among the top-10 female composers of all time. Why are female composers overshadowed by their male counterparts? Using novel data on over 17,000 composers who lived from the sixth to the twentieth centuries, we conduct the first quantitative exploration of the gender gap among classical composers. We use the length of a composer’s biographical entry in Grove Music Online to measure composer prominence, and shed light on the determinants of the gender gap with a focus on the development of composers’ human capital through families, teachers, and institutionalized music education. The evidence suggests that parental musical background matters for composers’ prominence, that the effects of teachers vary by the gender of the composer but the effects of parents do not, and while musician mothers and female teachers are important, they do not narrow the gender gap in composer prominence. We also find that the institutionalization of music education in conservatories increases the relative prominence of female composers."

Read full paper by Karol Jan Borowiecki, Martin Hørlyk Kristensen, Marc T. Law here.

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Dagsson is an Icelandic cartoonist, comedian, and person.

Anekdote zur Senkung der Arbeitsmoral

A short story by Heinrich Böll
May 6th, 2024

Via Wikipedia: "Anekdote zur Senkung der Arbeitsmoral ('Anecdote on Lowering the work ethic') is a short story by Heinrich Böll about an encounter between an enterprising tourist and a small fisherman, in which the tourist suggests how the fisherman can improve his life. It was written for a Labour Day programme on the Norddeutscher Rundfunk in 1963, and is considered one of the best stories written by Heinrich Böll.

The story is set in an unnamed harbor on the west coast of Europe. A smartly-dressed enterprising tourist is taking photographs when he notices a shabbily dressed local fisherman taking a nap in his fishing boat. The tourist is disappointed with the fisherman's apparently lazy attitude towards his work, so he approaches the fisherman and asks him why he is lying around instead of catching fish. The fisherman explains that he went fishing in the morning, and the small catch would be sufficient for the next two days.

The tourist tells him that if he goes out to catch fish multiple times a day, he would be able to buy a motor in less than a year, a second boat in less than two years, and so on. The tourist further explains that one day, the fisherman could even build a small cold storage plant, later a pickling factory, fly around in a helicopter, build a fish restaurant, and export lobster directly to Paris without a middleman.

The nonchalant fisherman asks, 'Then what?'

The tourist enthusiastically continues, 'Then, without a care in the world, you could sit here in the harbor, doze in the sun, and look at the glorious sea.'

'But I'm already doing that', says the fisherman.

The enlightened tourist walks away pensively, with no trace of pity for the fisherman, only a little envy."

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Bazon Brock is a German art theorist and critic, multi-media generalist and artist. He is considered a member of Fluxus.

How political should art be?

Bazon Brock on artistic freedom between vandalism, activism, and censorship
May 4th, 2024

Bazon Brock supervised my dissertation in the late 90s. My first encounter with his disputability was in my early 20s in one of his seminars on aesthetics. For almost 40 years I have listened to his ideas, e.g. during my studies at Bergische Universität Wuppertal, on conferences, online, and when I invited him to talk about basecamps at the Institute for Music and Media. He was always supportive, and I am so grateful for his support.

This week I went to hear his keynote for the opening of the 70th International Short Film Festival in Oberhausen. Bazon Brock is now in his late 80s, still raging, still challenging his audience, and still relevant. I was quite impressed.

If you speak German listen - with an open, serene mind - to this interview from November 2023. Please consider his arguments in all earnestness and openess, do not let self defensiveness get in your way because then you would risk missing interesting ideas.

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The greatest danger for design

Interview for Campus Magazine at Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg
April 1st, 2024

In October 1998 I started to work for Germany's renowned film school, Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg (FABW). It has been a challenge, pleasure, and honor to chair the Motion Design class for almost 26 years now.

This year the FABW invited me to do an interview for their Campus Magazine with their head of press, Andreas Friedrich, he asked me among other things, "Your biography reads as if there must be at least 48 hours in a day. How do you manage all your activities?"

My answer, "I self-consciously perceive that I‘m ultra-fast, even when I‘m talking. What I have to deal with is that I make mistakes. This insanely high speed and the fact that I do many things at the same time is almost a kind of handicap. As a result, I always need people to look at things again. Here at FABW, for example, I could not do my job properly without Jürgen Klozenbücher, Motion Design Study Coordinator, and I feel deep gratitude for this kind of support. That‘s why I have a great openness to criticism, because I depend on others to correct my mistakes. I also often provoke backlash from people who shy away from my pushiness. Today I don‘t care so much what others think of me and I trust my inspiration more and more as I get older. The motto I like best at the moment is: Love what loves you back! So don‘t shake doors that won ́t open. And I just need a community, people who are specialists. I am a generalist, I can do a lot of things, I can talk about everything, but I am not an expert."

Happy to share the interview in German and English.

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Heidegger, Martin: Identität und Differenz (1955–1957)


Last and First Men  (2020) by Jóhann Jóhannsson
February 22nd, 2024

Via Wikipedia: "Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson directed and scored a multimedia Last and First Men, 'combining a film narrated by actress Tilda Swinton and accompanying score played by the BBC Philharmonic' at the 2017 Manchester International Festival. The 16mm black-and-white film is predominantly of memorial sculptures erected in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. Jóhann collaborated with José Enrique Macián on writing the narration adapted from Stapledon's novel. [...] In 2020, a film of this work was released as Jóhann's debut and final directorial work, with composer and sound artist Yair Elazar Glotman completing the work after Jóhann's death in February 2018."

Outstanding cinematography by Sturla Brandth Grøvlen.

Via The New York Times: "Based on the 1930 science fiction novel by Olaf Stapledon, the film mainly consists of 16-millimeter black-and-white images of abandoned monuments, identified in the credits as being in the Balkans. No humans appear. While the camera surveys the asymmetries of the monolithic sculptures, often pondering the sky through negative space in the stonework, Tilda Swinton delivers a voice-over that begins with an epic poem-style invocation ('listen patiently') and is framed as a dispatch from two billion years from now, when our descendants, bracing for extinction, share a telepathic hive mind and have appearances that would look grotesque to us."

Via Variety: "To the accompaniment of Swinton’s measured voiceover and Jóhannsson’s alternately shiver-soft and stormy score, Grøvlen’s camera slowly and gradually explores these vast, eerie forms of stone and concrete as if they were natural wonders, sometimes opening on peculiar, unidentifiable architectural details before revealing their looming place in the landscape. That no historical or even geographical context is given for these harsh, magnificent tableaux of indestructible human folly is somehow apt: Their meaning will inevitably be as lost and open to interpretation by future generations (or, in our narrator’s wording, 'species') as they are here. The crisp, hard lines and contrasts of Grøvlen’s monochrome compositions allude to the Spomeniks’ stubborn permanence: Perhaps they’re all the eighteenth species has left of ours, after however many intervening apocalypses.
That underlying theme of what we leave, of endurance in the face of the ephemeral, is hard not to consider in the light of Jóhannsson’s own 2018 passing. Intended or otherwise, Last and First Men finally stands as a brutally beautiful memorial to his own life and artistry, ready to be reinterpreted and appropriated by any audiences who stumble upon it in years to come. That makes it a severe work, but not a bleak one:
As it prompts consideration of how and when our species will end — see it as a tactful climate change warning if you will — it also invites wonder at our capacity to evolve and invent, and a kind of zen respect for the universe that, as Swinton’s unnervingly unfazed messenger gently reminds us, will outlive us all, even when our mightiest monuments tumble."

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Students in my Visual Music class acquire knowledge of design principles and techniques by producing visualisations of sound/music – e.g. as installations, videos clips, VJ sets, installations, and computer games.

Visual Music Studies 2024

Annual show of student's Visual Music projects
January 22nd, 2024

Every year composer and assistant professor Marcus Schmickler and I host the Visual Music Studies at Dusseldorf's Filmwerkstatt. This year's class - Noah Bugalski, Anna Hummen, Vladyslav Masko, Lena Ruzicka, Meryem Saral, Konrad Simon, and Jakob Walheim - will present their final projects on February 14th, 2024.

Creating a work for this show is part of the assignment in my Visual Music class at the Institute for Music and Media at Dusseldorf Robert Schumann conservatory. Many of the students decide to concentrate on transmedia installations, others are interested in video clips, experimental film, and animation as well as audiovisual performances.

The students are supported by an amazing team of assistant professors: Prof. Ulla Barthold, Leon Monschauer, Jan Höhe, and Christian Schäfer.


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Vivienne Westwood (8th April 1941 ~ 29th December 2022). Photographed by Juergen Teller.

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Dangerous Old Woman
January 8th, 2024

Via SoundsTrue: "Dr. Estés asks, 'Did you know, you were born as the first, and the last and the best and the only one of your kind, and that eccentricity is the first sign of giftedness? These are two of the crone truths I have to offer you.'
We are each born with two forces that give us every lens we need to see who we really are: the wild and ever-young force of imagination that contains intuition and instinct, and the wise elder force of knowledge that holds boundaries and carries the heart of the visionary.
Through captivating stories including Snow White, Las Tres Osas, and The Ruby Red Fox, Dr. Estés illustrates why this twofold way of being old while young, and young while old is the secret to holding and replenishing the center, thus living wildly and wisely ensouled amidst life's travails and triumphs. [...]
'If you are not free to be who you are, you are not free,' says Dr. Estés. The freedom to be different means one can continue to deepen the work of bringing your one-of-a-kind legacy into the world."

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD, is an internationally recognized scholar, award-winning poet, diplomate senior Jungian psychoanalyst, and cantadora (keeper of the old stories in the Latina tradition). She is the author of the bestseller Women Who Run With the Wolves and the audio series Mother Night, Seeing in the Dark, and more.

You might want to start listening here:
Clarissa Pinkola Estés: Untie the Strong Woman
Clarissa Pinkola Estés: The Dangerous Old Woman, Part One
Clarissa Pinkola Estés: The Dangerous Old Woman, Part Two


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Do[o]mestic Bliss series by Cristina Rizzi Guelfi inspired by Betty Friedan's book The Feminine Mystique.

End of 2023

My Gratitude List: 10 things
December 31st, 2023

Book Another role model on my path to become that dangerous, old women is larger-than-life artist Grace Jones. Her autobiography I'll Never Write My Memoirs, as told to Paul Morley, is breathtaking, surreal, and hilarious. A quote from Barbara Ellen's review for The Guardian, "Before she leaves, I ask her – what does she think helped her survive all those years in worlds that have chewed other people up? 'Again, it’s that thing of selling your soul – that would chew you up. I can’t be bought and people hate that. Everybody has their price – but not me.' "

Concert In September a friend took me to see Colombian multi-instrumentalist Lucrecia Dalt performing ¡Ay!’s contents, accompanied by the drummer/ percussionist Alex Lázaroin at Cologne's philharmonic as part of Tobias Thomas' wonderful Round series. I was blown away by the extroverted and humorous show.

Documentary Saw Saudi Runaway, directed and written by Susanne Regina Meures. The film shows a young woman in Saudi Arabia filming herself as she attempts to flee before her arranged wedding. A a suspenseful and courageous documentary. "Although the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is at the centre of world affairs, very few authentic images of life there exist. Muna’s story is of great urgency and relevance and essentially summarises a human rights drama at its core."

Exhibition The Ludwig Forum Aachen presented Ya Estamos Aquí [We’re Here Already], the first survey exhibition of the Cuban artist Belkis Ayón (Havana, 1967-1999) in the German-speaking world. Curated by Eva Birkenstock and Annette Lagler. Material, themes, craftsmanship, intensity, and the sublime presentation were jaw-droppingly exciting. Thank you, Sarah Sczcesny for making me go!

Film SUM is a transdisciplinary performance art project by Kelvin Kilonzo and Pablo Gīw. This year they worked with filmmaker Maurits Boettger on Dyschronia, a stunningly beautiful video questioning the notions of movement in a post-apocalyptic scenery. I had the great honour to work with Kelvin and Pablo as they prepared to premiere Dyschronia at Julia Stoschek Foundation in Berlin.

Health This year saw me reading quite some books on women's health pre, during, and post menopause. I could not believe that most of the information is not available to every women entering her forth decade. Ladies, it is ultra important to get yourself educated on this topic, and all the wonderful options you have. A good place to start is here and here [in German].

Record My favorite this year was without a doubt Róisín Murphy's album Hit Parade produced by DJ Koze. The track I still hear in a continuous loop is Free Will, and I wholeheartedly recommend to read some Alan Watts with it. Can't wait to see her perform in my hometown in March.

Talk Went to see Thomas Metzinger at phil.Cologne, was surprised about his unexpected handsomeness, and received a reminder on Immanuel Kant's Innere Redlichkeit [intellectual honesty]. Being honest with myself is necessary for me in order to stay sane and healthy. If interested you might also want to consider this 2017 essay by Thomas Metzinger.

TV Series Food might be the single most time-consuming subject of my life, in almost every way – good and bad. I wasn't sure if I really wanted to watch The Bear. But the reviews were all in favor of it, "Flawless performances, boundlessly beautiful direction and a spare, allusive script, all of which are as good in the quietest moments as the more plentiful loud ones, turn the story into something properly special." (The Guardian). I so loved both seasons.

VMD23 Colleague and friend Christian Schäfer invited Vicky Wehrmeister to perform at IMM's annual Visual Music Day. Her performance, her humble but powerful posture, singing with this incredible lightness, kindness, and inscrutability got really under my skin. We are so honored and pleased that she is now part of our fabulous faculty for the post-graduate Klang und Realität program at IMM.

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

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Latcho Drom (1993)

French film directed and written by Tony Gatlif
December 11th, 2023

Via Wikipedia: "The movie is about the Romani people's journey from north-west India to Spain, consisting primarily of music. The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival.

The film contains very little dialogue and captions; only what is required to grasp the essential meaning of a song or conversation is translated. The film begins in the Thar Desert in Northern India and ends in Spain, passing through Egypt, Turkey, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and France. All of the Romani portrayed are actual members of the Romani community. [...]

The use of music in the film is highly important. [...] The film relies on music to convey emotion and tell the story of the Romani. Musicians include the Romanian group Taraf de Haïdouks, La Caita (Spain), Remedios Amaya and gypsy jazz guitarist Tchavolo Schmitt.

The soundtrack was composed by Dorado Schmitt, who appears in the film."

Watch Latcho Drom (1993) in good quality without subtitles.
Watch Latcho Drom (1993) in not so good quality with subtitles.

Thanks to Sarah Szczesny!

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