Presenting his Bauhaus teachings (1921-1931)
March 5th, 2016
Via open culture: "Paul Klee led an artistic life that spanned the 19th and 20th centuries, but he kept his aesthetic sensibility tuned to the future. Because of that, much of the Swiss-German Bauhaus-associated painter’s work, which at its most distinctive defines its own category of abstraction, still exudes a vitality today.
And he left behind not just those 9,000 pieces of art (not counting the hand puppets he made for his son), but plenty of writings as well, the best known of which came out in English as Paul Klee Notebooks, two volumes (The Thinking Eye and The Nature of Nature) collecting the artist’s essays on modern art and the lectures he gave at the Bauhaus schools in the 1920s. [...]
More recently, the Zentrum Paul Klee made available online almost all 3,900 pages of Klee’s personal notebooks, which he used as the source for his Bauhaus teaching between 1921 and 1931. If you can’t read German, his extensively detailed textual theorizing on the mechanics of art (especially the use of color, with which he struggled before returning from a 1914 trip to Tunisia declaring, 'Color and I are one. I am a painter') may not immediately resonate with you. But his copious illustrations of all these observations and principles, in their vividness, clarity, and reflection of a truly active mind, can still captivate anybody — just as his paintings do."
by Aaron Swartz
October 3rd, 2015
Via Aaron Swartz: "JOI also created DMZ as part of an attempt to undo the effects of Hal’s eating mold as a child (recall: DMZ is a mold that grows on a mold). He left it along with the Entertainment (recall: ETA kids find JOI’s personal effects (670: 'a bulky old doorless microwave…a load of old TP cartridges…mostly unlabelled'); the tapes and the DMZ are delivered together to the FLQ) which is about this goal (it stars a woman named Madame Psychosis (a street name for DMZ) explaining that the thing that killed you in your last life will give birth to you in the next). The DMZ and the Entertainment were meant to go together for Hal. Now that the Entertainment has escaped, he needs to get Hal the DMZ."
Via Wikipedia: "Aaron Hillel Swartz (November 8, 1986 – January 11, 2013) was an American computer programmer, entrepreneur, writer, political organizer and Internet hacktivist who was involved in the development of the web feed format RSS and the Markdown publishing format, the organization Creative Commons, the website framework web.py and the social news site, Reddit, in which he became a partner after its merger with his company, Infogami. He committed suicide while under federal indictment for data-theft, a prosecution that was characterized by his family as being 'the product of a criminal-justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach'.
Swartz's work also focused on civic awareness and activism. He helped launch the Progressive Change Campaign Committee in 2009 to learn more about effective online activism. In 2010, he became a research fellow at Harvard University's Safra Research Lab on Institutional Corruption, directed by Lawrence Lessig. He founded the online group Demand Progress, known for its campaign against the Stop Online Piracy Act.
On January 6, 2011, Swartz was arrested by MIT police on state breaking-and-entering charges, after connecting a computer to the MIT network in an unmarked and unlocked closet, and setting it to systematically download academic journal articles from JSTOR using a guest user account issued to him by MIT. Federal prosecutors later charged him with two counts of wire fraud and eleven violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, carrying a cumulative maximum penalty of $1 million in fines, 35 years in prison, asset forfeiture, restitution, and supervised realeas.
Swartz declined a plea bargain under which he would have served six months in federal prison. Two days after the prosecution rejected a counter-offer by Swartz, he was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment, where he had hanged himself.
In June 2013, Swartz was posthumously inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame."
You might also be interested in The Infinite Jest Liveblog (massive spoiler alert !!), Erowid on DMZ, and How to Read Infinite Jest Chronologically.
Dominick Fernow and William Bennett: A Conversation
September 20th, 2015
Via Red Bull Academy: "William Bennett: I became very interested in the technology of drama, particularly method acting and building scripts and performance techniques and things like that. I found it fascinating how much could be applied to music.
Dominick Fernow: Like what?
William Bennett: Well, this is very influenced by Stanislavski, but what they call mask work. Where you just work in a mask or you literally go without a mirror for a couple of days – and how that affects you psychologically. Because so much of what we do, whether it’s in the real world or in the music world, is filtered through our illusion of identity. This illusion that we’ve created about how we see ourselves. When people say, I am this kind of person or I don’t do this, it’s really all an illusion because everything in actual fact is affected by what’s around you rather than what’s inside you. And so a lot of these activities I found very interesting for creating music, because you can get past these obstacles and enter a different domain where you can find very unexpected things.
Dominick Fernow: But is it about losing identity?
William Bennett: It’s not about losing – because there is such a thing as your core identity, the way I see it. But that’s very different from the illusion of identity – what we believe we are. The kind of person we think that we are is very different to what we really are. But it’s very difficult to bridge that gap and, artistically, I find that a very interesting place to explore."
The awesome work of Ozu Yasujirō
August 11th, 2015
A summer flu gave me the opportunity to watch Ozu Yasujirō films.
Via Wikipedia: „Ozu Yasujirō became widely recognized internationally when his films were shown abroad. Influential monographs by Donald Richie, Paul Schrader, and David Bordwell have ensured a wide appreciation of Ozu's style, aesthetics and themes. Ozu was voted the tenth greatest director of all time in the 2002 British Film Institute's Sight & Sound poll of Critics' top ten directors. [...]
In the Wim Wenders documentary film Tokyo-Ga, the director travels to Japan to explore the world of Ozu, interviewing both Chishū Ryū and Yuharu Atsuta."
Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven
August 7th, 2015
Via The MIT Press: "Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (1874-1927) is considered by many to be the first American dadaist as well as the mother of dada. An innovator in poetic form and an early creator of junk sculpture, the Baroness was best known for her sexually charged, often controversial performances. Some thought her merely crazed, others thought her a genius. The editor Margaret Anderson called her perhaps the only figure of our generation who deserves the epithet extraordinary. Yet despite her great notoriety and influence, until recently her story and work have been little known outside the circle of modernist scholars."
Via Wikipedia: "The Baroness was one of the characters, one of the terrors of the district, wrote her first biographer Djuna Barnes, whose book, however, remained unfinished. In Irrational Modernism: A Neurasthenic History of New York Dada, Amelia Jones provides a revisionist history of New York Dada, expressed through the life and works of The Baroness.
The recent biography, Baroness Elsa: Gender, Dada and Everyday Modernity, by Irene Gammel, makes a case for the Baroness’s artistic brilliance and avant-garde spirit. The book explores the Baroness’s personal and artistic relationships with Djuna Barnes, Berenice Abbott, and Jane Heap, as well as with Duchamp, Man Ray, and William Carlos Williams. It shows the Baroness breaking every erotic boundary, reveling in anarchic performance, but the biography also presents her as Elsa’s friend Emily Coleman saw her, not as a saint or a madwoman, but as a woman of genius, alone in the world, frantic.
In 2013, the artists Lily Benson and Cassandra Guan released The Filmballad of Mamadada, an experimental biopic on the Baroness. The story of The Baroness' life was told through contributions from over fifty artists and filmmakers."
Thanks to Swantje Lichtenstein!
by John Cage
July 19th, 2015
Via John Cage: "I determined to give up composition unless I could find a better reason for doing it than communication. I found this answer from Gira Sarabhai, an Indian singer and tabla player: The purpose of music is to sober and quiet the mind, thus making it susceptible to divine influences. I also found in the writings of Ananda K. Coomaraswammy that the responsibility of the artist is to imitate nature in her manner of operation. I became less disturbed and went back to work. [...]
We are living in a period in which many people have changed their mind about what the use of music is or could be for them. Something that doesn't speak or talk like a human being, that doesn't know its definition in the dictionary or its theory in the schools, that expresses itself simply by the fact of its vibrations. People paying attention to vibratory activity, not in reaction to a fixed ideal performance, but each time attentively to how it happens to be this time, not necessarily two times the same. A music that transports the listener to the moment where he is."
Legendary Zen Buddhist Teacher Thich Nhat Hanh
April 5th, 2015
Via Brain Pickings: "Sometimes we feel empty; we feel a vacuum, a great lack of something. We don’t know the cause; it’s very vague, but that feeling of being empty inside is very strong. We expect and hope for something much better so we’ll feel less alone, less empty. The desire to understand ourselves and to understand life is a deep thirst. There’s also the deep thirst to be loved and to love. We are ready to love and be loved. It’s very natural. But because we feel empty, we try to find an object of our love. Sometimes we haven’t had the time to understand ourselves, yet we’ve already found the object of our love. When we realize that all our hopes and expectations of course can’t be fulfilled by that person, we continue to feel empty. You want to find something, but you don’t know what to search for. In everyone there’s a continuous desire and expectation; deep inside, you still expect something better to happen. That is why you check your email many times a day! [...]
The essence of loving kindness is being able to offer happiness. You can be the sunshine for another person. You can’t offer happiness until you have it for yourself. So build a home inside by accepting yourself and learning to love and heal yourself. Learn how to practice mindfulness in such a way that you can create moments of happiness and joy for your own nourishment. Then you have something to offer the other person. [...]
Often, when we say, I love you we focus mostly on the idea of the I who is doing the loving and less on the quality of the love that’s being offered. This is because we are caught by the idea of self. We think we have a self. But there is no such thing as an individual separate self. A flower is made only of non-flower elements, such as chlorophyll, sunlight, and water. If we were to remove all the non-flower elements from the flower, there would be no flower left. A flower cannot be by herself alone. A flower can only inter-be with all of us… Humans are like this too. We can’t exist by ourselves alone. We can only inter-be. I am made only of non-me elements, such as the Earth, the sun, parents, and ancestors. In a relationship, if you can see the nature of interbeing between you and the other person, you can see that his suffering is your own suffering, and your happiness is his own happiness. With this way of seeing, you speak and act differently. This in itself can relieve so much suffering. [...]
The remainder of How to Love explores the simple, profoundly transformative daily practices of love and understanding, which apply not only to romantic relationships but to all forms of interbeing. Complement it with John Steinbeck’s exquisite letter of advice on love to his teenage son and Susan Sontag’s lifetime of reflections on the subject, then revisit the great D.T. Suzuki on how Zen can help us cultivate our character."
Dramatic pauses, ironic self-reflection, and storms of emotion
March 20th, 2015
Via Open Culture: "The footage above is from an extremely rare – and unexpectedly entertaining – video of the philosopher and psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan (1901-1981), giving a lecture at The Catholic University of Louvain in 1972. The film is notable for a couple of reasons:
1. In France, Lacan’s rock star status owed much to his popular public seminars. The charismatic iconoclast had been giving free public lectures for decades, and those lectures were usually packed with students, colleagues, skeptics, young radicals … and fans. The video gives you an idea of what the fuss was all about. Even at 70, Lacan still owns the room, and he has the presence of a stage actor, complete with dramatic pauses, ironic self-reflection, and pitch-perfect storms of emotion (see minute 15:07)
2. At minute 21:37, a politically inspired heckler tries to ambush him. It’s a moment right out of a comedy show, if the comedy show were chic and grainy and edited by Jean-Luc Goddard. Note the grace with which Lacan neutralizes the poor guy, lights his cigar and then concludes the lecture, even though the fallout from their encounter is still stuck in his hair.
Lacan’s ideas have fallen a bit out of fashion in the past two decades, particularly in the U.S., where psychoanalysis has been nudged out of the spotlight by neuroscience and post-structuralism has lost ground to post-colonial studies. But Lacan still has his fans, notably the Elvis of Philosophy, Slavoj Zizek, who dominates YouTube the way his predecessor once did salons."
Thanls to Manu Burghart!
by Zach Blas
March 18, 2015
Via Zach Blas: "Contra-Internet describes the emerging militancies and subversions of the Internet. Comprised of multiple series, Contra-Internet critiques the Internet as a hegemonic descriptor for digital networking and premier arena of political control, as well as documents and speculates upon network alternatives that social movements are developing globally, such as autonomous mesh networks, encryption tactics, and darknets. Inspired by the transgender theorist Beatriz Preciado’s Manifesto contrasexual, Contra-Internet is oriented from a feminist and queer perspective, in an effort to unite such political positions with a hacker ethos. Contra-Internet aims to function as an expansive conceptual, practical, and experimental framework for refusing the neoliberal logic of the Internet while building alternatives to its infrastructure."
Via dis magazine: "The Inversion Practices series is comprised of short, performative videos that utilize various conceptual-technical tactics to abandon and subvert the Internet."
Thanks to Carsten Görtz!
La crevette amoureuse (1967/1975) by Henri Chopin
March 17th, 2015
Via art agenda: "The book is a philosophical parable, consisting of several dialogues between ERnest and MARiette, usually taking place before or after sex. He is characterized as a head of state or head of the world, and peppers his pillow talk with political concerns, the arbitrary laws and decrees of his own domain; his solipsism and arrogance are sometimes spurred on, sometimes discouraged by MARiette. As the book progresses, ERnest’s philosophical boutades appear to be a satire of the intellectualized epistemology of the Descartes-Berkeley-Hume-Kant-Fichte lineage. The text is in fact explicitly dedicated to Kant, whose self-centered brand of skepticism finds an extreme echo in ERnest’s absolutism as a ruler. Increasingly frustrated by the exercise of a power as absolute as it is vacuous (for his theories prevent him from acknowledging the existence of other subjects—both in the philosophical and in the political sense), ERnest ultimately resolves to forsake his name and, thereby, his subjectivity.
This summary, however, does little justice to La crevette amoureuse, which is visual as much as it is textual. Interspersed in its typewritten pages are both abstract and figurative compositions of symbols, reminiscent of Futurist poetry and of typographic art. Even though sometimes illustrative (the book includes portraits of its main characters, as well as geometric patterns), these compositions hardly qualify as illustrations as such, since in a way they are the text itself—they are literally made of the same stuff. The two forms flow into each other with no clear way of separating narration and image; at times Chopin explicitly challenges the meaningfulness of such distinctions, as when he presents a triangular sequence of punctuation marks as the text of one of ERnest’s last decrees. [...]
Chopin’s dactylopoèmes thus appear to be more than witty abstract compositions, or mere (if beautifully crafted) instances of typographic art: in this novel they are legitimate parts of a text. They are not appropriations or misuses of linguistic means to serve a pictorial end: they are extreme instances of their proper use—evolutions, if you like."
by Amanda Palmer
December 28th, 2014
Via Brain Pickings: "Through the very act of asking people, I connected with them. And when you connect with them, people want to help you. It’s kind of counterintuitive for a lot of artists — they don’t want to ask for things. It’s not easy to ask. … Asking makes you vulnerable. […]
I don’t see these things as risks — I see them as trust. … But the perfect tools can’t help us if we can’t face each other, and give and receive fearlessly — but, more importantly, to ask without shame. … When we really see each other, we want to help each other. I think people have been obsessed with the wrong question, which is, ‘How do we make people pay for music?’ What if we started asking, ‘How do we let people pay for music?"
Via The Definitive Reading List of the 14 Best Books of 2014 Overall: "When you’re an artist, nobody ever tells you or hits you with the magic wand of legitimacy. You have to hit your own head with your own handmade wand. And you feel stupid doing it.
There’s no correct path to becoming a real artist. You might think you’ll gain legitimacy by going to university, getting published, getting signed to a record label. But it’s all bullshit, and it’s all in your head. You’re an artist when you say you are. And you’re a good artist when you make somebody else experience or feel something deep or unexpected."
Watch her TED talk!
A conversation between Gean Moreno and Michael Jones McKean
November 8th, 2014
Via dis magazine: "GM: Some of this rewiring may be afoot. Neuroscience doesn’t tire of challenging our cherished idea of a phenomenal self. Certain strands of it are proposing the the notion of a self is just an evolutionary prop. There literally is no such thing as a self, just chemicals firing up the illusion of such a thing as a survival mechanism. It constantly reminds us that there is no me beyond the biochemistry. Once this knowledge seeps into the general culture and replaces our common-sense understanding of who and how we are, who knows what biological and cognitive consequences will follow?"
by Evelyn Bracklow
September 13th, 2014
Via Colossal: "German artist Evelyn Bracklow of La Philie has created an entire new collection of ant-covered porcelain dishes and tableware since we first shared her work here early this year. Many of the new pieces are part of a unique partnership between the artist, Rijks Museum in the Netherlands, and Etsy. The pieces are hand-painted in Bracklow’s studio, signed, numbered and fired to 160 degrees. As unsettling as having insects permanently invading your dinnerware is, I can’t help but be enchanted by how perfectly crafted they are. You can see more of Bracklow’s recent work here."
answered by the singular John Cage
May 19th, 2014
Via Mode Records: "John Cage answers 19 questions on a variety of subjects, using chance operations to determine the duration of his colorful and often witty answers. A unique opportunity to view the Cagean process of chance in real-time."
"Thoreau was very happy to be little known while he was alive. He said it enabled him to do what he had to do. I'm now very well known. It makes me very happy, because I'm able to do what I have to do."
"I think conversation works best when the second thing that is said is not in the mind of the person who said the first thing."
On Being Invisible
April 20st, 2014
Via James Ingram: "Freitag aus Licht (1991-94): My favorite of the operas. Possibly because it is partly about the marriage of people and machines. Its his reaction to the advent of computers (which intelligence uses to seduce us). Possibly also because of its ambiguities and its being sometimes so politically incorrect that one has to laugh (the alternative is too dreadful to contemplate). Also because of Johannes Conen’s fantasic stage realization, and because Freitag-Versuchung is technically the most advanced score I produced for Stockhausen (full use of all my experience and software). Michael Manion did the basic work of creating the initial Finale files, but it was a long way from there to the final score! The score also contains a full photographic record of the production, and is heartily to be recommended. (Buy it! Buy it! Here!)
The piece is a good example of the danger into which his absolute trust in his intuition could lead him. The piece ends with a beautiful auto-da-fé, with mixed-race beings (bastards) being ceremoniously burned. Kathinka calls 'Do you all repent?', but we are not told why they should repent. Nobody notices what’s happening (if Stockhausen notices, he does not care) because he does his best, as always, to make things as beautiful as possible."
Also, check out James Ingram's notations.
Thanks to Elmar Hintz!
Invited Johannes Conen to my Visual Music seminar at the Institute for Music and Media (IMM) in July. Am very excited to meet him and get to know his concepts.
Susan Sontag's superb 1978 conversation with Jonathan Cott
January 19th, 2013
Via Brain Pickings: "In Susan Sontag: The Complete Rolling Stone Interview (public library) — the superb 1978 conversation with Jonathan Cott that ranked among the best biographies, memoirs, and history books of 2013 and also gave us the beloved author on the false divide between high and pop culture and how our cultural polarities imprison us — Sontag, one of the most celebrated minds of the last century, who spent decades contemplating love and being discombobulated over sex, zooms in with her characteristic precision on our culture’s impossible expectations of the relationship between the two:
We ask everything of love. We ask it to be anarchic. We ask it to be the glue that holds the family together, that allows society to be orderly and allows all kinds of material processes to be transmitted from one generation to another. But I think that the connection between love and sex is very mysterious. Part of the modern ideology of love is to assume that love and sex always go together. They can, I suppose, but I think rather to the detriment of either one or the other. And probably the greatest problem for human beings is that they just don’t. And why do people want to be in love? That’s really interesting. Partly, they want to be in love the way you want to go on a roller coaster again — even knowing you’re going to have your heart broken. [...]
I have loved people passionately whom I wouldn’t have slept with for anything, but I think that’s something else. That’s friendship — love, which can be a tremendously passionate emotion, and it can be tender and involve a desire to hug or whatever. But it certainly doesn’t mean you want to take off your clothes with that person. But certain friendships can be erotic. Oh, I think friendship is very erotic, but it isn’t necessarily sexual. I think all my relationships are erotic: I can’t imagine being fond of somebody I don’t want to touch or hug, so therefore there’s always an erotic aspect to some extent."
January 7th, 2013
While reading Christoph Schlingensief's Ich weiß, ich war's [I know, it was me] I was reminded of Allan Kaprow, who was an important influence on Schlingensief's still outstanding projects. Kaprow's thoughts about art resonate and I miss Schlingensief.
Via Journal of Contemporay Art: "Morgan: . . . that again gets back to the reference of life in relation to art, as opposed to art in relation to life.
Kaprow: Yeah. So what could we say about that? It is a matter of paradox; therefore, when I say I’m interesting in un-arting, that is to divest as much as possible in my own work what I know about art. It’s a paradox because I can’t do it any more than, for example, I could follow John Cage’s seeming belief that I could focus on the autonomy of the sound itself, divorced from context or memory.
Morgan: Well, it’s a pragmatic phenomenology, the way I see it. It’s a very practical, almost instrumental use of language and action that you’re dealing with; at the same time, you’re not imposing models from social science to the extent that it is going to dismiss any possibility, any rupture within the enactment of the piece. In other words, there is always room for slippage in your work.
Kaprow: There’s not only room, but I insist on it.
Morgan: When you talk about the absurd, or when I sense the absurd in your works, I don’t see your meaning of the absurd as an existential dilemma, but as another kind of absurd that is more within the process of daily life, the pragmatics of how we actually see reality or ourselves.
Kaprow: Let me give you an example. You’re waiting at a bus stop along with a few other people. You wait for a half hour. The bus comes along and you get on. The fare is a dollar fifty, and you reach into your pocket and you find a dollar and forty-five cents. You say to the driver, 'I only have a dollar forty-five. Will you cash a twenty dollar bill?' He says, 'We don’t cash twenty dollar bills,' and points to the sign on the coin box. And you have to get off. Now this is a typical example of what happens every day in our lives. And we often complain about these things: Why is the world this way? But what’s evident to me is that ninety-nine percent of the world is that way and there is no possible way to change that. Maybe there’s no need to change it, even though the more earnest of us and the world’s leaders keep talking about control and making things come out the way they want them or they think they ought to be. So it’s an attitude toward the world that is perhaps more permissive, a little bit more humorous, more gently ironical, more accepting, even though there is the apparent magnitude of suffering. Some will find this position of mine privileged, indifferent, but, in my point of view, this is the only route toward compassion, whereas insisting on fixing the world, as we see so far, is not successful. We haven’t prevented street people from being street people, or stopping the war in the gulf by the moralisms that abound today. So it’s a different way of looking at the kind of life we have."
from John Cage
November 24th, 2013
by Laura Miller
November 10th, 2013
Via Salon: „What makes Spinoza’s philosophy unsustainable in Goldstein’s view is the fact that ‚in its ruthless high-mindedness, it asks us to renounce so many passions. (Among the passions we must renounce is romantic love, which, Spinoza deduces, will almost always end badly…)' Any love that is dependent on something that must inevitably change and cannot truly be possessed — such as another person — Spinoza explains, is asking for trouble. With a dazzling comprehensiveness, the philosopher seemed driven to topple every species of sacred cow. Anyone who isn’t disturbed by his refusal to believe in the conventional notion of God as a person will surely be put off by his skepticism about the secular religion of our own time, true love.
Key to Spinoza’s heresy was his monism, his belief that everything that exists is essentially a single thing, nature (that is, the infinite universe), and that this is identical with God. (As a girl, Goldstein was taught that Spinoza wickedly equated God with nature, when Jews and Christians agreed that God is supernatural, outside of nature, and a person.) Everything we experience — people, events, objects — is simply a mode of that single Substance or essence. Because God/Nature is infinite and we are finite, we perceive these things to be separate when they are not; all separate identities, including our own individuality, are merely an illusion or misperception. We perceive good and evil when neither really exists, from the perspective of God. The only way we can come to understand the true unity of the world is through the understanding of pure reason, which is integral to Substance in the same way that roundness is integral to a circle.
We can’t fully grasp this — our minds aren’t adequate to the task — but with a dash of intuition, we can glimpse it and experience Spinoza’s notion of true happiness. We can then attain what Goldstein calls a radical objectivity, a perspective that’s outside of our own limited identity. This objectivity will enable us to see the insignificance of our own pains, pleasures and losses except insofar as they help or hinder our ability to reason. We will realize that a life of restraint and peaceful coexistence with our fellow man is exactly what will sustain us in this cause; self-interest and virtue will be revealed as identical. Finally, we will be able to regard with tranquility the fact that we are mortal, that our minds, like our bodies, are simply a mode of the great infinity of Substance, and will someday end.“
Laurie Anderson's Farewell to Lou Reed
November 7th, 2013
Via Rolling Stone: "I'm sure he will come to me in my dreams and will seem to be alive again. And I am suddenly standing here by myself stunned and grateful. How strange, exciting and miraculous that we can change each other so much, love each other so much through our words and music and our real lives."
by Andrei Tarkovsky
November 3rd, 2013
"I prefer to express myself metaphorically. Let me stress: metaphorically, not symbolically. A symbol contains within itself a definite meaning, certain intellectual formula, while metaphor is an image. An image possessing the same distinguishing features as the world it represents. An image — as opposed to a symbol — is indefinite in meaning. One cannot speak of the infinite world by applying tools that are definite and finite. We can analyze the formula that constitutes a symbol, while metaphor is a being-within-itself, it’s a monomial. It falls apart at any attempt of touching it.” —Andrei Tarkovsky
A great talk by Terence McKenna
October 20th, 2013
Via YouTube: "Join Terence McKenna, author, explorer and philosopher for a think along deconstruction of the deepening worldwide weirdness. With his characteristic hope and humor, McKenna examined time and its mysteries, the nature of language, the techniques of ecstasy, high technology and virtual cyberspace, the role of hallucinogenic plants in shamanism and the evolution of human cultures, and the foundations of post-modern spirituality. The lecture and discussion was didactic, syncretic, challenging, eclectic, eidetic and irreverent intellectual adventure."
Thanks to Manu Burghart!
by Ulrike Ottinger
July 29th, 2013
Via Dennis Grunes: "In Berlin, She—the only name the film gives her—wanders on a drunken binge and in an alcoholic stupor in Bildnis einer Trinkerin. Aller jamais retour [Portrait of a Female Drunkard. Ticket of No Return], at its best a remarkable film from West Germany written, directed and cinematographed by Ulrike Ottinger. She is richly, elegantly dressed and statuesque, and mute as in a dream, although there is attached to this no sense of handicap; She is complete as is. The captivating encounters and episodes through which She moves generate a swirl of Surrealism and zaniness. Unless one is New York Times reviewer Janet Maslin, Ottinger’s lovely piece is exceptionally hard to resist. One opens one’s eyes and welcoming arms to it.
Why does She drink? We may infer that she is attempting to blur the coldness and harshness of the non-egalitarian nature of West Germany’s capitalistic system. In a wonderful shot, seeking exit from the airport terminal, She finds herself face-to-face with a working-class woman who is washing the glass barrier that stands between them; She subsequently adopts as her companion a homeless woman pushing her worldly belongings in a shopping cart—a shabbily dressed sister who is as taken up with alcohol as she. She herself suddenly becomes the secretary-receptionist for a business firm; her boss castigates her for drinking the booze intended for his clients. Social and economic injustice is reason enough to hit the cognac.
The film becomes somewhat attenuated and repetitious, taxing the genuine smile it has put on our face, but concludes with a stunning image of She stumbling through a crystal corridor that multiplies her image in bits and pieces, brilliantly evoking the fractured identity that is the culmination of living in a capitalistic society which does its best to divide those who should be sharing a mutually supportive existence. (Breaking or broken glass is a motif throughout the film.) One cannot be oneself in such a world, because one needs others to be oneself: equal others.
Some compare Ottinger’s film to works by Fassbinder, but, early on, there is more the spirit—and the ubiquitous glass—of Jacques Tati’s Playtime (1967), and thereafter the influence, above all, of Věra Chytilová’s Daisies (1966) kicks in."
from David Ogilvy
July 28th, 2013
Via Brain Pickings: "...here comes some priceless and pricelessly uncompromising wisdom from a very different kind of cultural legend: iconic businessman and original Mad Man David Ogilvy. On September 7th, 1982, Ogilvy sent the following internal memo to all agency employees, titled How to Write and found in the 1986 gem The Unpublished David Ogilvy (public library):
The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well.
Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.
Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:
1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.
2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.
3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.
6. Check your quotations.
7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.
8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.
10. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want."
Thanks to Manu Burghart!
Talks about and plays music by Morton Feldman
June 26th, 2013
Via Institute For Music And Media: "Die Kunst liefert keine Wunder, wie die Religion. Sie bietet keine Lösungen, wie die Ideologien. Kunst fordert Verpflichtung und Einsatz, aber sie verspricht nichts." [Art provides no miracles, like religion. It offers no solutions, like ideologies. Art demands commitment and dedication but it promises nothing.]
Bill Cunningham New York by Richard Press
April 17th, 2013
Via Zeitgeist Films: "The Bill in question is 80+ New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham. For decades, this Schwinn-riding cultural anthropologist has been obsessively and inventively chronicling fashion trends and high society charity soirées for the Times Style section in his columns On the Street and Evening Hours. Documenting uptown fixtures (Wintour, Tom Wolfe, Brooke Astor, David Rockefeller—who all appear in the film out of their love for Bill), downtown eccentrics and everyone in between, Cunningham’s enormous body of work is more reliable than any catwalk as an expression of time, place and individual flair. In turn, Bill Cunningham New York is a delicate, funny and often poignant portrait of a dedicated artist whose only wealth is his own humanity and unassuming grace."
by Mark Jacobson
March 30th, 2013
Via Vulture: "There were levels to this game, as I would learn from Kevin McLeod, writer and video-game designer, whose lengthy Shining essay is one of the reigning texts on the topic. McLeod, who declined to appear in Room 237 because he 'didn’t want to be included with a bunch of cranks' (but wound up liking the film anyway), and I had much in common. A pair of Queens boys, we both saw The Shining the night it opened, the then-12-year-old McLeod in the company of his mother at the now vanished Sutton Theatre on East 57th Street. We hit a snag, however, when I referred to Kubrick as 'one of the three or four' greatest filmmakers ever. After a long period of silence, McLeod said, 'Stanley Kubrick is not one of the three or four greatest filmmakers! Stanley Kubrick is a philosopher the equal of Heraclitus, a visual artist on the level of a Da Vinci.' Kubrick combined 'all the great talents of a Velázquez and a Caravaggio,' McLeod contended."
by Jeremy Bernstein
January 12th, 2013
Via Open Culture: "Stanley Kubrick didn’t like giving long interviews, but he loved playing chess. So when the physicist and writer Jeremy Bernstein paid him a visit to gather material for a piece for The New Yorker about a new film project he was writing with Arthur C. Clarke, Kubrick was intrigued to learn that Bernstein was a fairly serious chess player. After Bernstein’s brief article on Kubrick and Clarke, Beyond the Stars, appeared in the magazine’s Talk of the Town section in April of 1965, Bernstein proposed doing a full-length New Yorker profile on the filmmaker and his new project. For some reason, Kubrick accepted. So later that year Bernstein flew to England, where Kubrick was getting ready to film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Bernstein stayed there for much of the filming, playing chess with Kubrick every day between takes. When the piece eventually ran in The New Yorker it was appropriately titled How About a Little Game?"
Here is a link to the interview.
Thanks to Manu Burghart!
by Leos Carax
January 2nd, 2013
Via Dangerous Minds: "In his exhilarating new film, Carax seems to have tapped into cinema’s Akashic Record and brought it to Earth in distilled form. From the opening scene where Carax unlocks the door that opens onto the theater of his brain to the Amen choir of limousines at the end, Holy Motors is as pure as cinema gets. It is about the thing it is, not the thing it is about. It’s reference point is itself. Carax will pull any rug from under any scene to remind us that we are watching a movie and to glory in the artifice of it all. Holy Motors embraces the history of cinema like a drunken poet throwing his arms around the alphabet. The result is a mercurial mindfucker of a movie. (...)
Carax is a Tantric Master fucking the sacred machine of his art with deep fluid strokes. He uses cinema like a particle generator creating a red hot beam of alchemical fire directed at the very center of the viewer’s pineal gland. His intent is to get you high and he does. He draws you to the screen like a moth is drawn to light. He draws you to the screen like a camera is drawn to a woman’s face, or the stars, in their sparkling suicidal glee, are drawn to blackness. He draws you to the screen with the precision of a Bunuelian razorblade tearing open the curtains of your eyes. (...)
One of many goose pimple-inducing moments in Holy Motors is this musical interlude, an accordion cover of R.L. Burnside’s Let My Baby Ride."
by Rosemarie Trockel
December 9th, 2012
You got to admire these two artists. In 2001 and 2002 renowned German artist Rosemarie Trockel produced five videos called Manus Spleen I–V. The films emerge around Manu Burghart, who is a close friend and has been an inspiration throughout the last decade. In autumn 2002 Manu and I went to see the opening at the Dia Art Foundation in New York. Am deeply grateful to have both grande dames in my life.
by Jeremy Denk
December 7th, 2012
Via The New Republic: "A score has nothing to do with paper, or e-ink; it can appear on an iPad or on parchment. A score is at once a book and a book waiting to be written. Perhaps a golden age of music was born with the score and died with the recording. If you are listening to a recording, you are hearing someone’s truth about Bach’s truth, their idea of Bach’s truth. The wonderment is that you may hear truths you never suspected, possibilities you never dreamed—but still you are buying another person’s truth. So I say, in all seriousness, if you don’t play an instrument, take one up; take lessons; make the time. After a while, set some Bach on the music stand and play it yourself. Look at the notes on the page, envision the relationships between them. Don’t just press play. Don’t be afraid; we all live too much in fear and awe of the perfectly edited recordings around us. No matter how halting, how un-transcendent, your technique is, I promise that it may be the best Bach you will ever hear."
Larry Hagman (1931-2012)
November 23rd, 2012
Via Internation Movie Data Base: "[referring to his choice of final resting place for his ashes] I want to be spread over a field and have marijuana and wheat planted and harvest it in a couple of years and then have a big marijuana cake, enough for 200 or 300 people. People eat a little of Larry."
by Tehching Hsieh
November 18th, 2012
From The New York Times: "Art takes total commitment, but few artists maintain it around the clock. An exception is the Taiwanese-born performance artist Tehching Hsieh (pronounced dur-ching shay), specifically, the five, grueling one-year pieces he executed, mostly in New York, from 1978 to 1986. Their subject and material was time itself.
The Museum of Modern Art is devoting a small, gripping exhibition to the documentation of Cage Piece (1978-79), the first of Mr. Hsieh’s One Year Performances. It entailed spending a year in near-solitary confinement in a cell-like cage doing absolutely nothing. The show makes an altogether apt debut for the Modern’s new series of project exhibitions devoted to performance art. Few pieces communicate the medium’s potential and its demands in such a basic, resonant way. (…)
What’s most tangible about the Cage Piece is the almost palpable immensity and emptiness of time, nothing but time, of life as the filling of time. Mr. Hsieh carved a notch for each day in the wall. (He didn’t consider it writing.) He said he spent the time staying alive and thinking about his art."
by Stanley Kubrick
September 23rd, 2012
Via Dangerous Minds: "In an interview with Playboy in 1968, Kubrick gave an answer on the meaning and purpose of human existence, which could almost be a description of 2001:
'The very meaninglessness of life forces man to create his own meaning. Children, of course, begin life with an untarnished sense of wonder, a capacity to experience total joy at something as simple as the greenness of a leaf; but as they grow older, the awareness of death and decay begins to impinge on their consciousness and subtly erode their joie de vivre, their idealism – and their assumption of immortality. As a child matures, he sees death and pain everywhere about him, and begins to lose faith in the ultimate goodness of man. But, if he’s reasonably strong – and lucky – he can emerge from this twilight of the soul into a rebirth of life’s elan. Both because of and in spite of his awareness of the meaninglessness of life, he can forge a fresh sense of purpose and affirmation. He may not recapture the same pure sense of wonder he was born with, but he can shape something far more enduring and sustaining. The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death – however mutable man may be able to make them – our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.'
The documentary 2001: The Making of a Myth is introduced by James Cameron, who looks at the stories behind 2001: A Space Odyssey, examining why the film has endured and why it still generates such interest. With contributions form Arthur C. Clarke, Keir Dullea, Elvis Mitchell, and Douglas Trumbull."
Via Dangerous Minds: "If you or anyone you know insists that they know what Stanley Kubrick’s classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey is all about, they are of course, bluffing, because no one really knows what that film is all about. There was, of course, one exception, and that would be the auteur himself. So what did Kubrick have to say about the “plot” and meaning behind his iconic film?
From a 1969 interview with Kubrick by Joseph Gelmis:
'You begin with an artifact left on earth four million years ago by extraterrestrial explorers who observed the behavior of the man-apes of the time and decided to influence their evolutionary progression. Then you have a second artifact buried deep on the lunar surface and programmed to signal word of man’s first baby steps into the universe—a kind of cosmic burglar alarm. And finally there’s a third artifact placed in orbit around Jupiter and waiting for the time when man has reached the outer rim of his own solar system.
When the surviving astronaut, Bowman, ultimately reaches Jupiter, this artifact sweeps him into a force field or star gate that hurls him on a journey through inner and outer space and finally transports him to another part of the galaxy, where he’s placed in a human zoo approximating a hospital terrestrial environment drawn out of his own dreams and imagination. In a timeless state, his life passes from middle age to senescence to death. He is reborn, an enhanced being, a star child, an angel, a superman, if you like, and returns to earth prepared for the next leap forward of man’s evolutionary destiny.
That is what happens on the film’s simplest level. Since an encounter with an advanced interstellar intelligence would be incomprehensible within our present earthbound frames of reference, reactions to it will have elements of philosophy and metaphysics that have nothing to do with the bare plot outline itself.'"
by Edward Tufte
September 9th, 2012
Via Edward Tufte on Vimeo: "This film is about patient and dedicated teaching, about learning to look and visualize in order to design, about the importance of drawing. It is one designer’s personal experience of issues that face all designers, expressed with sympathy and encouragement, and illustrated with examples of Inge Druckrey’s own work and that of grateful generations of her students. There are simple phrases that give insights into complex matters, for example that letterforms are memories of motion. Above all, it is characteristic of Inge that in this examination of basic principles the word beautiful is used several times." (Matthew Carter, type designer, MacArthur Fellow)
Thanks to Mate Steinforth!
Theodor W. Adorno
September 7th, 2012
Via Knowledgebase Erwachsenenbildung: "In his main theoretical work which is pointedly aimed against Hegel, Adorno said that identity is the primal form of ideology, and applied this to both the instrumental tyranny of the concept over that which has to be comprehended each time and over the irreducible ineffable, as well as the commodity character of the social sphere, which makes the entirety of the non-identical individuals and work commensurable by social exchange as a model of society. The reification, which is equally produced by the temptations of the industrial commodity economy and the logic of capitalistic economy, that is, the basic expressibility of everything by means of the factor of money, seemed to be dangerously all-encompassing to him: The spread of the principle constrains the world to the identical, to totality.
According to Adorno’s understanding, education, as opposed to this false whole, this false totality of unbridled capitalistic production and consumption that immediately plasters over any opposition with new promises, within which the fetish character of the commodity dominates everything and has long since consolidated into a social blinding context, would have the task to strengthen resistance rather than reinforce conformity.
In that Adorno conceived of maturity as a dynamic category, the production of the right consciousness in light of the critical diagnosis of social relations meant in the very first place education for opposition and resistance, for the immunisation primarily of children and youth against the spreading synthetic philistine culture [...] and [...] against the reactionary countertendencies. In an incomparable tone and implacable radicality, Adorno fully stood on the side of the students against the real school and the systemically determined professional deformation of their educators: I would greatly advocate this kind of education of 'picking holes in everything'.
...to a generation who will be born 1000 years from now
August 8th, 2012
“Suppose, Lord Russell, this film were to be looked at by our descendants, like a Dead Sea scroll in a thousand years’ time. What would you think is worth telling that generation about the life you’ve lived and the lessons you’ve learned from it?”
Here is the answer.
The World's Longest Album in History
August 6th, 2012
Via Comatonse records: "As of November 18, 2010, The Guinness Book of World Records officially declined the creation of the category "Longest music album (non-compilation, new release)," so we will not have their certification on this project. (Their rejection was a standard form letter stating they favor categories with more active competition and of greater public interest.) However, this does not alter the fact that at the time of its release on May 31, 2012, Soulnessless is, to the best of our research, the world's longest album. (...)
soulnessless noun, neologism (distinct from soullessness or an absence of soul) 1. lacking or divested of belief systems through which the dichotomy of soul/soulless assumes value; 2. a meta-state critically rejecting religious and non-religious ideologies employing belief in the existence of soul(s), that belief being prerequisite to sensing or conceding presumed soul’s presence or absence ANTONYM soulness neologism."
To figure all the mysteries and secrets, e.g. of the image above, you order Soulnessless now!
Here is an interview with Terre Thaemlitz to get you started.
Also, I finally got my autograph. Yeay!
Thanks to Marcus Schmickler!
by David Foster Wallace
July 29th, 2012
Via The Guardian: "There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, 'Morning, boys, how's the water?' And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, 'What the hell is water?' (...)
But there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race - the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.
I know that this stuff probably doesn't sound fun and breezy or grandly inspirational. What it is, so far as I can see, is the truth with a whole lot of rhetorical bullshit pared away. Obviously, you can think of it whatever you wish. But please don't dismiss it as some finger-wagging Dr Laura sermon. None of this is about morality, or religion, or dogma, or big fancy questions of life after death. The capital-T Truth is about life before death. It is about making it to 30, or maybe 50, without wanting to shoot yourself in the head. It is about simple awareness - awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over: 'This is water, this is water.'"
Or listen to his voice.
Amazing how positive a word can be
June 17, 2012
Via The Guardian: "Yoko Ono: Let me tell you how I met Sam, because it is important people understand about how these things happen. She was probably in a difficult situation like I was in when I made the Yes painting in 1966 [you had to walk up a ladder, with a magnifying glass, to find the word Yes]. I was in a totally difficult situation in my life and I thought: What I need is a Yes, and so I put the word on the ceiling. I never thought it was about to change my whole life by 180 degrees.
Sam Taylor-Wood: Amazing how positive a word can be."
Via Flickr: "Q: How did you meet Yoko?
John Lennon: There was a sort of underground clique in London; John Dunbar, who was married to Marianne Faithfull, had an art gallery in London called Indica, and I'd been going around to galleries a bit on me off days in between records, also to a few exhibitions in different galleries that showed sort of unknown artists or underground artists.
I got the word that this amazing woman was putting on a show the next week, something about people in bags, in black bags, and it was going to be a bit of a happening and all that. So I went to a preview the night before it opened. I went in - she didn't know who I was or anything - and I was wandering around. There were a couple of artsy-type students who had been helping, lying around there in the gallery, and I was looking at it and was astounded. There was an apple on sale there for two hundred quid; I thought it was fantastic - I got the humor in her work immediately. I didn't have to have much knowledge about avant-garde or underground art, the humor got me straightaway. It was two hundred quid to watch the fresh apple decompose.
But it was another piece that really decided me for or against the artist: a ladder that led to a painting, which was hung on the ceiling. It looked like a white canvas with a chain with a spyglass hanging on the end of it. I climbed the ladder, looked through the spyglass, and in tiny little letters it said, YES.
From Lennon Remembers (Jann Wenner editor of Rolling Stone magazine interviewing John Lennon in December 1970)"
And that alone is love, that which never becomes something else. –Kierkegaard
June 15th, 2012
Via The Guardian: "By now I can see we're not going to get anywhere near Žižek's new book about Hegel, Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism. Instead, he tells me about the holidays he takes with his young son. The last one was to the Burj Al Arab hotel, a grotesque temple to tacky ostentation in Dubai. "Why not? Why not? I like to do crazy things. But I did my Marxist duty. I got friendly with the Pakistani taxi driver who showed to me and my son reality. The whole structure of how the workers there live was explained, how it was controlled. My son was horrified." This summer they are off to Singapore, to an artificial island with swimming pools built on top of 50-storey skyscrapers. "So we can swim there and look down on the city: 'Ha ha, fuck you.' That's what I like to do – totally crazy things." It wasn't so much fun when his son was younger. "But now, we have a certain rhythm established. We sleep 'til one, then we go to breakfast, then we go to the city – no culture, just consumerism or some stupid things like this – then we go back for dinner, then we go to a movie theatre, then we play games 'til three in the morning."
by Jiddu Krishnamurti
April 27, 2012
"What is it that we call love? It is this whole field of jealousy, of lust, of harsh words, of caress, of holding hands, of quarrelling and making up. These are the facts in this field of so-called love. Anger and caress are everyday facts in this field, are they not? And we try to establish a relationship between the various facts, or we compare one fact with another. We use one fact to condemn or justify another within this same field, or we try to establish a relationship between a fact within the field and something outside of it. We do not take each fact separately, but try to find an interrelationship between them. Why do we do this? We can understand a fact only when we do not use another fact in the same field as a medium of understanding, which merely creates conflict and confusion. But why do we compare the various facts in the same field? Why do we carry over the significance of one fact to offset or to explain another?
Do we understand a fact through the screen of idea, through the screen of memory? Do I understand jealousy because I have held your hand? The holding of the hand is a fact, as jealousy is a fact; but do I understand the process of jealousy because I have a remembrance of holding your hand? Is memory an aid to understanding? Memory compares, modifies, condemns, justifies, or identifies; but it cannot bring understanding. We approach the facts in the field of so-called love with idea, with conclusion. We do not take the fact of jealousy as it is and silently observe it, but we want to twist the fact according to the pattern, to the conclusion; and we approach it in this way because we really do not wish to understand the fact of jealousy. The sensations of jealousy are as stimulating as a caress; but we want stimulation without the pain and discomfort that invariably go with it. So there is conflict, confusion and antagonism within this field which we call love. But is it love? Is love an idea, a sensation, a stimulation? Is love jealousy?
These are mere ideas, opinions, and so they have no validity. Such ideas only breed enmity, they do not cover or hold reality. Where there is light, darkness is not. Darkness cannot conceal light; if it does, there is no light. Where jealousy is, love is not. Idea cannot cover love. To commune, there must be relationship. Love is not related to idea, and so idea cannot commune with love. Love is a flame without smoke."
Jiddu Krishnamurti Quotes on Love
April 14, 2012
Via TED: "In our louder and louder world, says sound expert Julian Treasure, 'We are losing our listening.' In this short, fascinating talk, Treasure shares five ways to re-tune your ears for conscious listening – to other people and the world around you.
Also, consider Julian Treasure's blog.
Thanks to Manfred Waffender!
Alexander Shulgin Documentary
March 29, 2012
Via Dangerous Minds: "Étienne Sauret’s documentary Dirty Pictures is warm-hearted and appropriately shambolic look at the life of Alexander Sasha Shulgin, the man who discovered the psychedelic effects of MDMA and a variety of other home-brewed synthetic compounds that alter, expand and raise consciousness.
A former Dow Chemical drug developer who early on saw the light (a mescaline trip), Shulgin moved on to independent research in the mid-1960s. With his wife Ann, he developed and tested hundreds of psychoactive drugs, mostly analogues of phenethylamines (which include MDMA and mescaline) and tryptamines like DMT and psilocibyn.
'I understood that our entire universe is contained in the mind and the spirit. We may choose not to find access to it, we may even deny its existence, but it is indeed there inside us, and there are chemicals that can catalyze its availability.' –Ann Shulgin.
Shulgin’s books PiHKAL (Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved) and TiHKAL (Tryptamines I Have Known and Loved) combine autobiography and research into essential reading for anyone who is interested in the science and history of psychedelics and the life of a spiritual revolutionary who has fearlessly led the fight to wrest consciousness from the brain police."
by Stephen Wolfram
March 10, 2012
Via Stephen Wolfram blog: "One day I’m sure everyone will routinely collect all sorts of data about themselves. But because I’ve been interested in data for a very long time, I started doing this long ago. I actually assumed lots of other people were doing it too, but apparently they were not. And so now I have what is probably one of the world’s largest collections of personal data.
Every day —in an effort at self awareness— I have automated systems send me a few emails about the day before. But even though I’ve been accumulating data for years—and always meant to analyze it—I’ve never actually gotten around to doing it. But with Mathematica and the automated data analysis capabilities we just released in Wolfram|Alpha Pro, I thought now would be a good time to finally try taking a look—and to use myself as an experimental subject for studying what one might call personal analytics.
Let’s start off talking about email. I have a complete archive of all my email going back to 1989—a year after Mathematica was released, and two years after I founded Wolfram Research. Here’s a plot with a dot showing the time of each of the third of a million emails I’ve sent since 1989..."
A talk by Cory Doctorow
March 8, 2012
Via Chaos Communication Congress: "The last 20 years of Internet policy have been dominated by the copyright war, but the war turns out only to have been a skirmish. The coming century will be dominated by war against the general purpose computer, and the stakes are the freedom, fortune and privacy of the entire human race.
The problem is twofold: first, there is no known general-purpose computer that can execute all the programs we can think of except the naughty ones; second, general-purpose computers have replaced every other device in our world. There are no airplanes, only computers that fly. There are no cars, only computers we sit in. There are no hearing aids, only computers we put in our ears. There are no 3D printers, only computers that drive peripherals. There are no radios, only computers with fast ADCs and DACs and phased-array antennas. Consequently anything you do to secure anything with a computer in it ends up undermining the capabilities and security of every other corner of modern human society.
And general purpose computers can cause harm -- whether it's printing out AR15 components, causing mid-air collisions, or snarling traffic. So the number of parties with legitimate grievances against computers are going to continue to multiply, as will the cries to regulate PCs.
The primary regulatory impulse is to use combinations of code-signing and other trust mechanisms to create computers that run programs that users can't inspect or terminate, that run without users' consent or knowledge, and that run even when users don't want them to.
The upshot: a world of ubiquitous malware, where everything we do to make things better only makes it worse, where the tools of liberation become tools of oppression.
Our duty and challenge is to devise systems for mitigating the harm of general purpose computing without recourse to spyware, first to keep ourselves safe, and second to keep computers safe from the regulatory impulse."
by Rob Ager
February 11, 2012
Via Collative Learning: "Using unpublished info from the Stanley Kubrick Archives as a key source, Kubrick's Gold Story is a film analysis that uncovers economic themes encoded in The Shining with regard to gold vs fiat monetary systems. Written, narrated and edited by Rob Ager."
Also, you might want to consider Room 237, which "is a subjective documentary feature which explores numerous theories about Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and its hidden meanings. This guided tour through the most compelling attempts to decode this endlessly fascinating film will draw the audience into a new maze, one with endless detours and dead ends, many ways in, but no way out. Discover why many have been trapped in the Overlook for 30 years."
An idea worth spreading
December 24, 2011
Via TED: "Bennington president Liz Coleman delivers a call-to-arms for radical reform in higher education. Bucking the trend to push students toward increasingly narrow areas of study, she proposes a truly cross-disciplinary education -- one that dynamically combines all areas of study to address the great problems of our day. (…)
If you followed higher education news in the 1990s, you have an opinion on Liz Coleman. The president of what was once the most expensive college in America, Coleman made a radical, controversial plan to snap the college out of a budget and mission slump -- by ending the tenure system, abolishing academic divisions and yes, firing a lot of professors. It was not a period without drama. But fifteen years on, it appears that the move has paid off. Bennington's emphasis on cross-disciplinary, hands-on learning has attracted capacity classes to the small college, and has built a vibrant environment for a new kind of learning.
Coleman's idea is that higher education is an active pursuit -- a performing art. Her vision calls for lots of one-on-one interactions between professor and student, deep engagement with primary sources, highly individual majors, and the destruction of the traditional academic department. It's a lofty goal that takes plenty of hard work to keep on course."
by Jenny Holzer
October 22, 2011
Documentary about Carl Gustav Jung
October 15, 2011
Via Dangerous Minds: "Matter of Heart: The Extraordinary Journey of C.G. Jung is a fascinating 1986 documentary that explores Jung’s life through interviews with the man himself and reminiscences from his colleagues, friend and students, some of whom were analyzed by Jung. This is a fine introduction to Jung’s concepts of archetypes and the collective unconscious. Written by Suzanne Wagner and directed by Mark Whitney."
Sung by a nightingale
October 9th, 2011
"Through his use of Beethoven in Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick forges a connection with A Clockwork Orange that underscores some of the central themes of the film — the complex nature of vision, and of looking/seeing, of free-will, of directorial control (the two psychologists in A Clockwork Orange are surrogates for the director) and places Eyes Wide Shut within the larger context of his own work.
The full title of Beethoven’s opera is Fidelio, or Married Love (Fidelio, oder Die eheliche Liebe) and Kubrick’s film is a dissection of a married love that seems, on the surface, all too perfect. Eyes Wide Shut gradually peals away the protective layers and forces the characters to view the deceptions beneath the surface. The film forces us to do the same. The simple password Fidelio means literally I who am faithful, and this suggests a very different orientation for the speaker than the password of Schnitzler’s novella. One enters the inner sanctum not by drawing on past fantasies of sexual infidelity, but by reaffirming – however ironically – some notion of fidelity.
Not only is the meaning of the password important, but so is the bearer of that word and the context in which the transmission takes place. Bill seeks out Nick at the Sonata Café, a dive where he is playing in Greenwich Village. Bill enters and descends into the café by way of a narrow staircase that is illuminated with red lights. He sits at a table in the darkened room and when Nick later joins him, red holiday lights illuminate Nick from the rear, giving him a Mephistophelean air. What’s in a name? His Christian name, Nick, implies a demonic temptation, and that is certainly what takes place. The nightingale is a migratory species of bird whose male sings beautiful songs during the mating season. In Keats’s famous Ode, it is the song of the nightingale . . .
. . . that oft-times hath
Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in fairy lands forlorn.
What could be a more apt description of the world Nightingale permits Bill access to?
The name of the café - the Sonata Café - also suggests a possible structural principal for Eyes Wide Shut. Music informs Kubrick’s films in many ways — thematic and structural. The sonata form consists of a three-part structure that is particularly appropriate to a work that spans three days. Moreover, each of the days has the structure of a sonata: exposition, development, and recapitulation, the recapitulation consisting of an emotional scene in the bedroom followed by a black screen. On the final day, the night never ends, as the passionate confessional scene becomes Bill and Alice’s all- night discussion of Bill’s peregrinations, followed by a coda in the light of day."
From Eyes Wide Shut – The dream-odyssey of Stanley Kubrick by Stuart Y. McDougal
Billy Cobham and George Duke
September 11, 2011
Steve Jobs about working with the legendary graphic designer Paul Rand
September 10, 2011
I asked him if he would come up with a few options. And he said, "No. I will solve your problem for you. And you will pay me. And you don’t have to use the solution. If you want options, go talk to other people. But I’ll solve your problem for you the best way I know how. And you use it or not. That’s up to you. You’re the client. But you pay me."
Watch full interview.
The Quay Brothers
August 26, 2011
Via Wikipedia: "Stephen and Timothy Quay (born June 17, 1947 in Norristown, Pennsylvania) are American identical twin brothers better known as the Brothers Quay or Quay Brothers. They are influential stop-motion animators."
Via Dangerous Minds: "A new documentary by the Quay Brothers which focuses on the The College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the fascinating Mütter Museum will have its premier on September 22 in Philadelphia.
'Through the Weeping Glass: On the Consolations of Life Everlasting (Limbos & Afterbreezes in the Mütter Museum) is a documentary on the collections of books, instruments, and medical anomalies at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Mütter Museum. This short film (running time: 31 minutes) is the first made by the internationally recognized Quay Brothers in the United States.'
The Quay Brothers discuss the making of their new film here."
Am an admirer of their work and highly recommend the DVD The Short Films of The Brothers Quay.
Via Zeitgeist Films: "Best known for their classic 1986 film Street of Crocodiles, which filmmaker Terry Gilliam recently selected as one of the ten best animated films of all time, they are masters of miniaturization and on their tiny sets have created an unforgettable world, suggestive of a landscape of long-repressed childhood dreams."
by Stan Warnow
August 25, 2011
On a personal note, I so enjoy living in Cologne. Just saw Deconstructing Dad about the life and work of Raymond Scott on the roof top of the Museum Ludwig right next to the lavishly, colossal cathedral in a silky summer night.
Via Deconstructing Dad's website:"Raymond Scott (1908-1994) was one of the most prolific and central figures in 20th century music, with a career that began in the 1930s swing/big-band era, and continued through the experimental electronic music age of the 1970s.
Although Scott was a famous figure during the mid-twentieth century, and currently has a dedicated cult following (that includes some of the most renowned artists in the music world), his name — not his music — remains largely unknown to the general public.
But now there is a documentary film about this maverick musician, composer, inventor, and electronic music pioneer that will help raise awareness of this under-appreciated visionary. (…)
Raymond Scott was more comfortable with technology than with people, including his own children. This personal angle is intertwined with the compelling story of a true American music innovator — one who had a meteoric rise to household-name success, followed by a slow spiral into obscurity and now, posthumously, a growing acknowledgment of his central role in modern music and music technology.
In recent years his work has been performed by groups ranging from Rush, Devo, and They Might Be Giants to the Kronos Quartet, and sampled by numerous DJs and hip-hop acts, and adapted by the virtual super-group Gorillaz.
This documentary is a vibrant tapestry of stills, home movies, film and television excerpts (Scott was orchestra leader on the weekly Your Hit Parade TV show during the 1950s), musical performances and interviews."
[Sorry, no English translation available]
August 6th, 2011
Aus dem Buch nur die von Heike-Melba Fendel:
"Sehnsucht ist ein Suchscheinwerfer. Sie wirft ein klares Licht in Ungewisse. Dorthin, wo sie ihre Erfüllung vermutet. Dabei beleuchtet sie manches, was sich in ihrem Strahl verschönt, unwillkürlich. Trifft sie ins Schwarze einer Erwartung, wird sie von ihr verschluckt. Wenn, umgekehrt, Vorhandenes Sehnsucht weckt, leuchtet es auf; aus der Dunkelkammer der Ahnung tritt das Erlebnis ans Licht.
Das Sehnen will in die Ferne, die Sucht in die Poren. Der Widerspruch formt einen rechten Winkel. Von seinem Schnittpunkt aus spreizen sich zwei Geraden Richtung Unendlichkeit, gehen in deren sternenlosem Dunkel dauerhaft verloren. Und mit ihnen all jene, die aus ihrer Glücksvermutung eine bemannte Raumfahrt machen. Das Glück will keinen Aufwand. Es nistet ganz unten im Winkel, dem rechten, in dem sich nicht zu viel Staub gesammelt haben sollte. Neue Besen fliegen gut, aber die alten kommen bis in die Ecke. So sagt man in Köln, wo man um die Vergeblichkeit aller Anstrengung weiss."
They tried to make me go to rehab
August 2nd, 2011
Via Wikipedia: "On the advice of Belgian concert promoter Freddy Cousaert, Gaye moved to Ostend, Belgium, in February 1981 where for a time he cut down on drugs and began to get back in shape both physically and emotionally. While in Belgium, Gaye began to make plans to renew his declining fortunes in his professional career, starting with a tour he titled The Heavy Love Affair Tour in England where he was greeted more warmly by the same London press that had criticized him of the Princess Margaret snub the previous year. The tour ended with two concert dates in Ostend. A documentary leading up to his Belgian concert performances titled Transit Ostend was initially released to just Belgian fans, and was later issued on VHS in bootleg copies following Gaye's death.
After signing with CBS' Columbia Records division in 1982, Gaye worked on what became the Midnight Love album. Gaye reconnected with Harvey Fuqua while recording the album and Fuqua served as a production adviser on the album, which was released in October 1982. The parent single, Sexual Healing, was released to receptive audiences globally, reaching number-one in Canada, New Zealand and the US R&B singles chart, while becoming a top ten U.S. pop hit and hitting the top ten in three other selected countries including the UK. The single became the fastest-selling and fastest-rising single in five years on the R&B chart staying at number-one for a record-setting ten weeks. Gaye wrote Sexual Healing while at the village Moere, near Ostend. Curtis Shaw later said that Gaye's Moere period was 'the best thing that ever happened to Marvin.' The now-famous video of Sexual Healing was shot at the Casino-Kursaal in Ostend.
Andrei Rublev by Andrei Tarkovsky
July 31st, 2011
Via Wikipedia: "The Bell, Spring-Summer-Winter-Spring 1423–1424: Andrei's life turns around when he witnesses the casting of a bell. As the bellmaker has died, his son Boriska (Nikolai Burlyayev) lies to the men that he knows the secret of casting a bell. Boriska is another creative character. He is aware of his own importance and the difficult task at hand. He is able to create through a combination of natural skill and pure faith. Boriska supervises the digging of the pit, the selection of the clay, the building of the mold, the firing of the furnaces and the hoisting of the bell. Boriska collapses in tears when the bell rings perfectly at the inauguration ceremony. Witnessing the ceremony Andrei breaks his vow of silence and tells the boy that they should go together. 'You’ll cast bells. I’ll paint icons.'"
Certified Copy by Abbas Kiarostami
July 24th, 2011
Via The New Yorker: "It’s a mysterious, paradoxical, and deeply ambitious film, which is also something of a lovely manifesto—a tribute to the freedoms that Kiarostami considers essential yet also a warning to those who might consider political and social freedom to be a self-fulfilling and self-sufficient liberation. The film breathes the air of freedom from outer constraints, and the story itself—an unusual one, in which the man and the woman go on a drive to a nearby village soon after meeting and, once there, take on the role of a long-married couple—suggests a range of romantic and erotic options that can’t be depicted in Iran. Yet other constraints are at the core of the film—there’s the bond of marriage, which the couple may or may not have undertaken, and which a host of other newlywed couples seen in the village (famed for bringing good luck) hopefully choose. And there’s the bond of the self, the inescapable and apparently immutable force of character, which seems to compel the free-spirited, unconstrained man, out on a spree, to choose as a mistress the same woman as the one he was, or is, married to. In effect, Kiarostami is filming a version of the Nietzschean eternal return."
TED talk by Daniel Tammet
July 16th, 2011
Via TED: "Daniel Tammet has linguistic, numerical and visual synesthesia – meaning that his perception of words, numbers and colors are woven together into a new way of perceiving and understanding the world. The author of Born on a Blue Day, Tammet shares his art and his passion for languages in this glimpse into his beautiful mind."
Thanks to Heiko Schulz!
Alejandro Jodorowsky (*1929)
July 14th, 2011
Via Dangerous Minds: "Alejandro Jodorowsky and Daniel Pinchbeck 2012 Time for Change is a documentary shot for German TV series Into The Night which aired in November 2009.
This is lovely… literally lovely. Alejandro Jodorowsky and Daniel Pinchbeck meet and discuss many things in this intimate conversation between an old wizard and a youthful spiritual gunslinger. Alejandro gives Daniel a Tarot reading and advice on how to treat women. Pinchbeck wants to discuss the cosmos in general mystical terms but Jodorowsky keeps pointing back to the feminine principle and familial love as the ultimate source of bliss.
Jodorowsky, the master of symbols, has turned toward less flash in his old age and seems somewhat impatient with Pinchbeck’s talk of extraterrestrials and drugs. Jodorowsky has become the old yogi armed with the butterfly net in El Topo who defeats the young gunslinger with his own bullets. In this case, the bullets are Pinchbeck’s didactic cosmic buckshot and the butterfly net is Alejandro’s heart. Art is dead, spiritual materialism is dead, all that matters is what heals… and love heals. It seems that Jodorowsky, even amongst his clutter of books and icons, has found peace within an internal space uncluttered by the flotsam and jetsam of the symbols that he long ago mastered like a juggler masters colorful balls and spinning silver hoops. The glittery aspect of the mystic has given way to the pureness of love. The video ends with Daniel and Alejandro in the presence of their female lovers. Alejandro pats Pinchbeck’s girlfriend’s arm and says to Pinchbeck 'you take care of this here.' In other words, forget about the fucking extraterrestrials and learn to love the Earthlings in your life."
John Cage about silence
July 4th, 2011
A Zen Master was walking in silence with one of his disciples along a mountain trail. The disciple, a young monk, had been thinking a lot about the state of Zen, and wondering just how to achieve this state of being. After hiking through the mountains for some time, the two stopped for a break and rested in silence along side a large boulder. The disciple broke the silence and asked, "Master, how do I enter Zen?" The Master remained silent. After several minutes, the disciple began to feel uncomfortable, wondering if his Master would ever reveal the secret. Just as he was about to ask another question, the Zen Master spoke. "Do you hear the sound of the mountain stream?"
The disciple has not been aware of any mountain stream. He had been too busy thinking about Zen and how to achieve such a state. Now, as he began to listen for the sound, his noisy thoughts subsided. At first he heard nothing. Then, his thinking gave way to a heightened alertness, and suddenly he did hear the hardly perceptible murmur of a small stream in the far distance.
"Yes, I can hear it now," he said.
The Master raised his finger, and with a sage-like look in his eyes that was both fierce and gentle, he said, "Enter Zen from there."
The disciple was stunned. It was his first satori – a flash of enlightenment. He knew what Zen was without knowing what it was that he knew!
They continued on their journey in silence. The disciple was amazed as the aliveness of the world around him. He experienced everything for the first time. Gradually, however, he started thinking again. The alert stillness became covered up again by mental noise, and before long he had another question. "Master," he said, "I have been thinking. What would you have said if I hadn’t been able to hear the mountain stream?" The Master stopped, looked at him, raised his finger and said, "Enter Zen from there."
In this morning's inspiring one-on-one session with a student John Cage's insights and this teaching tale came up. Thanks to Tom Vermaaten!
by Adam Curtis
June 29th, 2011
Via Wikipedia: "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace is a three part BBC documentary series by filmmaker Adam Curtis, well known for other documentaries including The Trap and The Power of Nightmares. It claims that computers have failed to liberate us and instead have distorted and simplified our view of the world around us."
Via Top Documentary Films: "1. Love and Power. This is the story of the dream that rose up in the 1990s that computers could create a new kind of stable world. They would bring about a new kind global capitalism free of all risk and without the boom and bust of the past. They would also abolish political power and create a new kind of democracy through the Internet where millions of individuals would be connected as nodes in cybernetic systems – without hierarchy.
2. The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts. This is the story of how our modern scientific idea of nature, the self-regulating ecosystem, is actually a machine fantasy. It has little to do with the real complexity of nature. It is based on cybernetic ideas that were projected on to nature in the 1950s by ambitious scientists. A static machine theory of order that sees humans, and everything else on the planet, as components – cogs – in a system.
3. The Monkey in the Machine and the Machine in the Monkey. This episode looks at why we humans find this machine vision so beguiling. The film argues it is because all political dreams of changing the world for the better seem to have failed – so we have retreated into machine-fantasies that say we have no control over our actions because they excuse our failure."
Thanks to Sascha Geddert!
by Terre Thaemlitz
June 27th, 2011
Via Resident Advisor: "But that's what Routes Not Roots is all about: Thaemlitz makes his audience feel things, channeling every bit of pain, deprivation and release that led to house music's birth into what sounds like a rebirth, an idea he would go on to focus and perfect with Midtown 120 Blues. Even if it's a little meandering at times, imperfections or not, Routes Not Roots is about one of the most unique and affecting house albums you'll ever hear."
Am a huge fan of Terre Thaemlitz aka DJ Sprinkles. His mission can not be appreciated enough in this newborn century, which is so concerned with identity and self.
Thanks to Marcus Schmickler!
Bazon Brock, 75 today
June 2nd, 2011
From e-flux: "Bazon Brock, born in 1936, studied German philology, philosophy, art history, and political sciences in Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Zurich. During his university years, he also studied to become a dramaturge at the Landestheater Darmstadt. From 1969 on, he initiated first happenings together with Joseph Beuys, Nam June Paik, Hundertwasser, and Alan Kaprow. He held a professorship for non-normative aesthetics at the College of Fine Arts in Hamburg from 1965 to 1978. In 1978, Brock was appointed professor for the theory of design at the College of Applied Arts in Vienna where he taught until 1981. From 1981 to 2000, he held a professorship for aesthetics and cultural education at Wuppertal University. He has organized visitor schools for the documenta in Kassel since 1968. Bazon Brock regards himself as an executive engine propagating his aesthetics of reception in the context of an unusual practice and theory and strives to reintegrate culture into the material process of life in a radical change. A generalist operating in many different media, Bazon Brock has published numerous books, papers, manifestoes, projects for radio and film and presented himself in the USA, Japan, and Europe with about 1600 action teachings, audio-visual performances, and happenings. Aesthetics as Communication. Biography of a Generalist (1977) is regarded as his main work. The focus of his present work is on neuronic aesthetics and imaging sciences. Brock is a member of Forscher-Familie bildende Wissenschaften, an association primarily concerned with cultural genetics and the development of concepts for the civilization of cultures."
Bazon Brock supervised my diploma thesis and dissertation. Still a huge influence on various levels.
Much appreciation and respect plus happy birthday, professor!
The graphics guru to the power elite who is revolutionizing how we see data
May 18th, 2011
Via Washington Monthly: "Edward Tufte is a philosopher king who reigns over his field largely because he invented it. For years, graphic designers were regarded as decorators, whose primary job was to dress up facts with pretty pictures. Tufte introduced a reverence for math and science to the discipline and, in turn, codified the rules that would create a new one, which has come to be called, alternatively, information design or analytical design. His is often the authoritative word on what makes a good chart or graph, and over the years his influence has changed the way places like the Wall Street Journal and NASA display data. (…)
If Tufte’s first book was a critique, his second was a manifesto. Envisioning Information, published in 1990, implored readers to think of information design as a discipline that encompassed far more than the charts, tables, and other purely quantitative forms that had traditionally dominated the field. Graphics aren’t just useful for displaying numbers, in other words, but for clarifying just about anything one person is trying to tell someone else. The book opens with a print of a visitor’s guide to the Ise shrine in Japan and ends around 120 pages later with Galileo Galilei’s drawing of the rings of Saturn from 1613. (…)
As Tufte explains it, basic human cognitive questions are universal, which means that design questions should be universal too. 'I purposely don’t write books with names like How to Design a Web Site or How to Make a Presentation,' he told me.
This attitude puts him in opposition, at least in his own mind, to much of the contemporary design world. As Tufte sees it, graphic design has become a tragic field, a rich and storied craft knowledge that has been taken out of the realm of nonfiction, as he calls it, and into that of fiction, or marketing and propaganda. He told me several times of his contempt for commercial art, the graphic design that is 'part of a fashion and a style and will be different someday.' Most designers, he said, want to do something new each time. 'But I’m interested in the solved problem,' he said. 'I’m interested in high art and real science.' (…)
'That’s the very reason I’m here!' he told me, laughing. 'To fight against decoration replacing precious substance.'"
On another note, also check out the visualcomplexity site.
by Bill Callahan
May 12th, 2011
One last black bird without a place to land
One last black bird without a place to be
Turns around in hopes to find the place it last knew rest
Oh black bird, over black rain burn
This is not where you last knew rest
You fly all night to sleep on stone
The heartless rest that in the morn, we'll be gone
You fly all night to sleep on stone, to return to the tree with too many birds
Here is a rare interview, but go see him live.
That which is in the way is the way.
April 30th, 2011
Eckhart Tolle talk @ Omega Institute in 2003.
A bit repetitive, but worth your time. Wonderful teaching tales and very funny.
April 19th, 2010
Via Quantum Leap: "There is a striking contrast between the extremely formal structure of giant Vuitton and Jacobs's extremely laidback attitude. Hired in 1998, confident and media-wary, he has invented Vuitton's ready-to-wear line, and turned over the world of luxury with limited series of handbags designed by contemporary artists. Marc Jacobs stands at the center of this globalized organization. He is recognized as one of the most potent purveyors of taste and trendsetting. Yet, Marc Jacobs neither sketches nor sews… He is no sewing hand, he is an eye of fashion.
No camera has ever been allowed to film Vuitton's and Jacob’s creation process yet the film unravels an economic and artistic system in a lively manner, maintaining the accuracy of the facts and the glamour, with maximum pleasure for the viewer.
The narrative is not only the classical suspense that builds up before a collection, it is also a demonstration of a new way to make fashion, a very modern mix of chaos and glamour."
Via Medea Film: "Marx Reloaded is a cultural documentary that uses some of the central ideas of 19th century German socialist and philosopher Karl Marx to try to make sense of the global financial crisis of 2008-09. This crisis prompted the US government to spend more than 1 trillion dollars in order to rescue its banking system from financial meltdown. But can the largest financial losses in history really be put down to the natural risks and uncertainties of the free market? Or is there another explanation as to why the crisis happened and what its implications are for the future of our society, our economy – for our whole way of life?
In the early months of 2008 a huge event began to rock the global financial system to its foundations. Billions of dollars were wiped off share prices and commercial banks throughout the world began to collapse like a pack of cards. As the global economy entered the deepest recession for 70 years the message from the mainstream media was simple: this was an anomaly, an isolated financial blip as unpredictable as a tsunami or lightening strike. Although devastating for the millions of ordinary people around the world whose homes were lost and whose jobs and savings disappeared into thin air, the crisis itself was simply one of those extraordinary things: a cataclysm that escapes all rational thinking.
But what were the real origins of this crisis? And what are its ongoing implications for the future prosperity of us all?"
Thanks to Georg Brüx!
Taryn Simon, photographer
April 17th, 2011
Via Frieze Magazine: "While her photographs are so frank and tightly composed that there is little room for abstraction or interpretation, the density of information in the texts that accompany them opens each one up again, like unlocking a Pandora’s box. An image of a handgun frame being poured from molten metal allows for a caption concerning handgun statistics in the USA, while the caption beside an image of four apprehended Mexicans at the US/Mexican border provides data about the number of times each of the four men had attempted to cross illegally. But Simon skirts a definitive position or agenda. The texts maintain a consistently objective voice, like that of an instruction manual, offering details almost ad absurdum. Her command of arcane statistics and terminology such as Exotic Newcastle Disease or Cryostasis adds to the intrigue of an image rather than explaining it away. She hasn’t just photographed these sites, she has become an expert on each one, and we trust her expertise implicitly: what we see and what we read make for a complete, authoritative package. Without the captions, we wouldn’t know the difference between a controlled avalanche blast and the blast of nuclear weapons testing."
Via Wikipedia: "Taryn Simon (born 1975) is an American fine art photographer. She is a graduate of Brown University and a Guggenheim Fellow. She was born in New York. (…)
Her series The Innocents documents cases of wrongful conviction in the United States and investigates the role of photography in that process. Her series An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar documents a diverse range of subjects within the United States that are largely unknown to its citizens. Her most recent body of work Contraband includes 1075 photographs of items detained or seized from passengers and express mail entering the U.S. from abroad. Simon is also known for her photographs documenting international regions in turmoil."
Taryn Simon's TED talk.
March 23rd, 2011
Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977)
March 19th, 2011
From Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited (1966): "I witness with pleasure the supreme achievement of memory, which is the masterly use it makes of innate harmonies when gathering to its fold the suspended and wandering tonalities of the past. I like to imagine, in consummation and resolution of those jangling chords, something as enduring, in retrospect, as the long table that on summer birthdays and namedays used to be laid for afternoon chocolate out of doors, in an alley of birches, limes and maples at its debouchment on the smooth sanded space of the garden proper that separated the park and the house. I see the tablecloth and the faces of seated people sharing in the animation of light and shade beneath a moving, a fabulous foliage, exaggerated, no doubt, by the same faculty of impassioned commemoration, of ceaseless return, that makes me always approach that banquet table from the outside, from the depth of the park — as if the mind, in order to go back thither, had to do so with the silent steps of a prodigal, faint with excitement.
Through a tremulous prism, I distinguish the features of relatives and familiars, mute lips serenely moving in forgotten speech. I see the steam of the chocolate and the plates of blueberry tarts. I note the small helicopter of a revolving samara that gently descends upon the tablecloth, and, lying across the table, an adolescent girl's bare arm indolently extended as far as it will go, with its turquoise-veined underside turned up to the flaky sunlight, the palm open in lazy expectancy of something —perhaps the nutcracker. In the place where my current tutor sits, there is a changeful image, a succession of fade-ins and fade-outs; the pulsation of my thought mingles with that of the leaf shadows and turns Ordo into Max and Max into Lenski and Lenski into the schoolmaster, and the whole array of trembling, transformations is repeated.
And then, suddenly, just when the colors and outlines settle at last to their various duties — smiling, frivolous duties — some knob is touched and a torrent of sounds comes to life: voices speaking all together, a walnut cracked, the click of a nutcracker carelessly passed, thirty human hearts drowning mine with their regular beats; the sough and sigh of a thousand trees, the local concord of loud summer birds, and, beyond the river, behind the rhythmic trees, the confused and enthusiastic hullabaloo of bathing young villagers, like a background of wild applause."
Timothy Leary (1920–1996) – a Leprechaun
January 22nd, 2011
Via Dangerous Minds: "Two of the planet's most dangerous minds, Timothy Leary and Paul Krassner, meet in a video shot by Nancy Cain, Paul's wife, a few months before Leary's death.
There is an aura of sadness (perhaps mine) laced with much humor and hope in this intimate video. Understandably wistful and distracted at times (he's dying), Leary becomes most alive when talking about death. He seems to be genuinely excited about exploring the psychedelic possibilities of the final frontier (or is it?), the ultimate out-of-body experience, THE death trip. In these moments you see the fearless shaman who always embraced expanding his realities, regardless of public outcry or legal persecution. And it is both moving and inspiring. (…)
We're pleased to share Nancy Cain's video of Paul Krassner interviewing Timothy Leary on September 5, 1995 in its entirety.
For insight on the cultural impact of video read Nancy's fascinatingly informative Video Days.
Paul Krassner's homepage is a motherlode of wit, insight, provocation and counterculture history. Indispensable."
Needs radical thinking
January 16th, 2011
Via VPROinternational: "Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek aka The Elvis of cultural theory, is given the floor to show of his polemic style and whirlwind-like performance. The Giant of Ljubljana is bombarded with clips of popular media images and quotes by modern-day thinkers revolving around four major issues: the economical crisis, environment, Afghanistan and the end of democracy. Žižek grabs the opportunity to ruthlessly criticize modern capitalism and to give his view on our common future.
We communists are back! is the closing remark of Slavoj Žižek's provocative performance. Our current capitalist system, that everyone believed would be smoothly spread around the globe, is untenable. We find ourselves on the brink of big problems that call for big solutions. Whatever is left of the left, has been hedged in by western liberal democracy and seems to lack the energy to come up with radical solutions. Not Žižek."
Also, you might want to consider Slavoj Žižek's talk at LSE (London School of Economics) about his latest book, Living in the End Times.
Plus, his lecture What does it mean to be a revolutionary today? at Marxism 2009.
"There is great disorder under heaven, the situation is excellent." –Mao Zedong
Walks of Life
December 18th, 2010
From Wikipedia: "Cyriak Harris is a British freelance animator better known by his first name Cyriak, and his B3ta username Mutated Monty. He is known for his surreal short web animations.
A regular contributor to the British website B3ta since 2004, Cyriak displays a surreal and often disturbing animation style with a distinct British theme. Many of his animations are based on Z-List celebrities, television shows and his hometown of Brighton. (...)
Cyriak's YouTube account features a compilation of his animations, which have been popular throughout the blogosphere and noted by Wired's Eliot Van Buskirk, and he was featured on the front page with his animation Moo.
As a freelance animator he has been commissioned by Coke for a Coke Zero advert, the video sharing website sumo.tv, and a music video for Grand Popo Football Club, among others. Some of his work is set to his own electronic music compositions of which he creates in Image-line's FL Studio."
Waiting by Roland Barthes
September 23rd, 2010
I am waiting for an arrival, a return, a promised sign. This can be futile, or immensely pathetic; in Erwartung (Waiting), a woman waits for her lover, at night, in the forest; I am waiting for no more than a telephone call, but the anxiety is the same. Everything is solemn; I have no sense of proportions.
There is a scenography of waiting: I organize it, manipulate it, cut out a portion of time in which I shall mime the loss of the loved object and provoke all the effects of a minor mourning. This is then acted out as a play.
The setting represents the interior of a cafe'; we have a rendezvous, I am waiting. In the Prologue, the sole actor of the play (and with reason), I discern and indicate the other's delay; this delay is as yet only a mathematical, computable entity (I look at my watch several times); the Prologue ends with a brainstorm: I decide to "take it badly," I release the anxiety of waiting. Act I now begins; it is occupied by suppositions: was there a misunderstanding as to the time, the place? I try to recall the moment when the rendezvous was made, the details which were supplied. What is to be done (anxiety of behavior)? Try another cafe'? Telephone? But if the other comes during these absences? Not seeing me, the other might leave, etc. Act II is the act of anger; I address violent reproaches to the absent one: "All the same, he (she) could have . . . " "He (she) knows perfectly well . . . " Oh, if she (he) could be here, so that I could reproach her (him) for not being here! In Act III, I attain to (I obtain?) anxiety in the pure state: the anxiety of abandonment; I have just shifted in a second from absence to death; the other is as if dead: explosion of grief: I am internally livid. That is the play; it can be shortened by the other's arrival; if the other arrives in Act I, the greeting is calm; if the other arrives in Act II, there is a "scene"; if in Act II, there is recognition, the action of grace: I breathe deeply, like Pelleas emerging from the underground chambers and rediscovering life, the odor of roses.
(The anxiety of waiting is not continuously violent; it has its matte moments; I am waiting, and everything around my waiting is stricken with unreality: in this cafe', I look at the others who come in, chat, joke, read calmly: they are not waiting.)
Waiting is enchantment: I have received orders not to move. Waiting for a telephone call is thereby woven out of tiny unavowable interdictions to infinity: I forbid myself to leave the room, to go to the toilet, even to telephone (to keep the line from being busy); I suffer torments if someone else telephones me (for the same reason); I madden myself by the thought that at a certain (imminent) hour I shall have to leave, thereby running the risk of missing the healing call, the return of the Mother. All these diversions which solicit me are so many wasted moments for waiting, so many impurities of anxiety. For the anxiety of waiting, in its pure state, requires that I be sitting in a chair within reach of the telephone, without doing anything.
The being I am waiting for is not real. Like the mother's breast for the infant, "I create and re-create it over and over, starting from my capacity to love, starting from my need for it": the other comes here where I am waiting, here where I have already created him/her. And if the other does not come, I hallucinate the other: waiting is a delirium.
The telephone again: each time it rings, I snatch up the receiver, I think it will be the loved being who is calling me (since that being should call me); a little more effort and I "recognize" the other's voice, I engage in the dialogue, to the point where I lash out furiously against the importunate outsider who wakens me from my delirium. In the cafe', anyone who comes in, bearing the faintest resemblance, is thereupon, in a first impulse, recognized.
And, long after the amorous relation is allayed, I keep the habit of hallucinating the being I have loved: sometimes I am still in anxiety over a telephone call that is late, and no matter who is on the line, I imagine I recognize the voice I once loved: I am an amputee who still feels pain in his missing leg.
"Am I in love? -- Yes, since I'm waiting." The other never waits. Sometimes I want to play the part of the one who doesn't wait; I try to busy myself elsewhere, to arrive late; but I always lose at this game: whatever I do, I find myself there, with nothing to do, punctual, even ahead of time. The lover's fatal identity is precisely: I am the one who waits.
(In transference, one always waits--at the doctor's, the professor's, the analyst's. Further, if I am waiting at a bank window, an airport ticket counter, I immediately establish an aggressive link with the teller, the stewardess, whose indifference unmasks and irritates my subjection; so that one might say that wherever there is waiting there is transference: I depend on a presence which is shared and requires time to be bestowed--as if it were a question of lowering my desire, lessening my need. To make some wait: the constant prerogative of all power, "age-old pastime of humanity.")
A mandarin fell in love with a courtesan. "I shall be yours," she told him, "when you have spend a hundred nights waiting for me, sitting on a stool, in my garden, beneath my windows." But on the ninety-ninth night, the mandarin stood up, put his stool under his arm, and went away.
Thomas Metzinger and his Self-model theory of subjectivity
August 26th, 2010
Been watching the three Leibniz lectures "Niemand sein. Ethik, Menschenbild und die Auflösung des Selbst im Zeitalter der Neurowissenschaften" by Thomas Metzinger. There is a shorter English version – his talk Being No One at the UC Berkeley 2005. Totally recommend to expose yourself to these mind-expanding ideas.
From MIT Press: "According to Thomas Metzinger, no such things as selves exist in the world: nobody ever had or was a self. All that exists are phenomenal selves, as they appear in conscious experience. The phenomenal self, however, is not a thing but an ongoing process; it is the content of a transparent self-model. In Being No One, Metzinger, a German philosopher, draws strongly on neuroscientific research to present a representationalist and functional analysis of what a consciously experienced first-person perspective actually is. Building a bridge between the humanities and the empirical sciences of the mind, he develops new conceptual toolkits and metaphors; uses case studies of unusual states of mind such as agnosia, neglect, blindsight, and hallucinations; and offers new sets of multilevel constraints for the concept of consciousness. Metzinger's central question is: How exactly does strong, consciously experienced subjectivity emerge out of objective events in the natural world? His epistemic goal is to determine whether conscious experience, in particular the experience of being someone that results from the emergence of a phenomenal self, can be analysed on subpersonal levels of description. He also asks if and how our Cartesian intuitions that subjective experiences as such can never be reductively explained are themselves ultimately rooted in the deeper representational structure of our conscious minds."
Thanks to Tobias Gallé!
RIP Christoph Schlingesief (1960-2010)
August 21st, 2010
This post has to be in German. If you do not know the exceptional estate of Christoph Schlingensief familiarize yourself! Now! No excuses accepted.
UPDATE, August 25th: The New York Times obituary.
Heute morgen habe ich den Text Radikale Demokratie von Reinhard Heil und Andreas Hetzel gelesen. Und heute nachmittag erreicht uns die Nachricht des Todes von Christoph Schlingensief. Etwas viel für einen sonnigen Samstag. Jetzt werde ich tun, was Schlingensief nicht mehr wollte, Rotwein trinken. Ich werde auf seinen Mut anstossen und hoffen, dass sich sehr bald eine adäquate Nachfolgerin zeigt.
Verdammt, was für ein riesiges Loch.
Aus Hotel Ruhe: "Mut zum Gegenwind, Mut zum Verkannt-werden, Mut zum Alleiniger-Rufer-in-der-Wüste-Sein. Christoph Schlingensief hat dem deutschen Film und der Filmförderung den Zerrspiegel vorgehalten, und er hat das Theater und die Oper revolutioniert. Die Geschwindigkeit seiner Gedanken ist legendär, um seinen Assoziationsprüngen folgen zu können, bedurfte es Intuition."
Der letzte Eintrag aus seinem Blog: "07-08-2010- DIE BILDER VERSCHWINDEN AUTOMATISCH UND ÜBERMALEN SICH SO ODER SO ! - 'ERINNERN HEISST : VERGESSEN !' (Da können wir ruhig unbedingt auch mal schlafen!) Wie lange war es still... lange stiill. stoße jetzt nach ca. 3 wochen auf das letzte video hier. habe ich gleich gelöscht. wen soll das das interessieren? vielleicht sind solche vidoeblogs oder einträgen nur dann von intererrägen, wenn die angst zu gross wird. die angst, weil diese kleine illussion von --- aber nun nach den knapp 4 wochen scheint es anderes zu sein. die bilder (ixen) sich aus... da ist ja kein sentimentaler schmerz. die bausupsanz ist erstaunlich gut... und nun? wieder ein neues bild? wieder infos zu neuen dingen, die ,...... ja eigentlich was ?..... alles sehr oberflächlich und rechtschreibefehler häufen sich die dinge .... das baut läufz seit tmc auf. der appetetit läßt rasant nach. - ARD- TATORTREKA7 ...(warum werde ich icht nicht denn nicht wenigstes einer meiner halbwegs siution normalererenen situatuin aufgeklärt. so macht es mich nur traurig, piasch und"
Aus Radikale Demokratie: "Im radikaldemokratischen Diskurs, dem etwa die Schriften von Claude Lefort, Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, Etienne Balibar, Jacques Rancière und Jacques Derrida zugerechnet werden können, wird Demokratisierung als unendliche Aufgabe begriffen. Im Mittelpunkt der Ausführungen dieser Autorinnen und Autoren steht mit unterschiedlichen Akzentuierungen und Konsequenzen der Gedanke, dass Demokratien agonal verfasst sind. Demokratische Auseinandersetzungen über die angemessene Einrichtung des Gemeinwesens lassen sich aus dieser Perspektive nicht in transzendentalen Rechts- oder Vernunftprinzipien verankern. Daraus ergibt sich die Forderung, dass die Mitte der Macht leer bleiben muss (Lefort), dass Demokratie im Kommen bleibt (Derrida), dass sie sich also niemals eine endgültige, durch einen Rekurs auf universelle Prinzipien verbindlich abgesicherte Gestalt geben kann und sollte. Es ist aus dieser Perspektive gerade eine Leerstelle im Zentrum der Gesellschaft, die diese zusammenhält. Die demokratische Auseinandersetzung – auch über die Möglichkeitsbedingungen der Demokratie – kann und sollte nie zu einem Ende kommen. Als wesentliches Anliegen des Diskurses der radikalen Demokratie könnte man eine Verteidigung des Politischen, verstanden als Kraft der kollektiven Selbstinstituierung einer Gesellschaft, gegenüber der Politik, verstanden als Verwaltung des Gemeinwesens innerhalb etablierter Parameter, begreifen, die sich praktisch etwa in einer Forderung nach der Demokratisierung von Bürokratien, Wirtschaft, Bildung und Wissenschaft ausdrückt."
Bill Bernbach (1911-1982)
August 20st, 2010
From The Enduring Legacy Of Bill Bernbach: "Most readers come away from their reading not with a clear, precise, detailed registration of its contents on their minds, but, rather, with a vague, misty idea which is formed as much by the pace, the proportions, the music of the writings, as by the literal words themselves."
by Paul Auster
August 18th, 2010
“To think of motion not merely as a function of the body but as an extension of the mind. In the same way, to think of speech not as an extension of the mind but as a function of the body. Sounds emerge from the voice to enter the air and surround and bounce off and enter the body that occupies that air, and though they cannot be seen, these sounds are no less a gesture than a hand is when outstretched in the air towards another hand, and in this gesture can be read the entire alphabet of desire, the body's need to be taken beyond itself, even as it dwells in the sphere of its own motion.
On the surface, this motion seems to be random. But such randomness does not, in itself, preclude a meaning. Or if meaning is not quite the word for it, then say the drift, or a consistent sense of what is happening, even as it changes, moment by moment. (...)
In the realm of the naked eye nothing happens that does not have its beginning and its end. And yet nowhere can we find the place or the moment at which we can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this is where it begins, or this is where it ends. For some of us, it has begun before the beginning, and for others of us it will go on happening after the end. Where to find it? Don't look. Either it is here or it is not here. And whoever tries to find refuge in any one place, in any one moment, will never be where he thinks he is. In other words, say your good-byes. It is never too late. It is always too late.
To say the simplest thing possible. To go no farther than whatever it is I happen to find before me. To begin with this landscape, for example. Or even to note the things that are most near, as if in the tiny world before my eyes I might find an image of the life that exists beyond me, as if in a way I do not fully understand each thing in my life were connected to every other thing, which in turn connected me to the world at large, the endless world that looms up in the mind, as lethal and unknowable as desire itself. (...)
Consider the word "it." "It" is raining, we say, or how is "it" going? We feel we know what we are saying, and what we mean to say is that it, the word "it," stands for something that need not be said, or something that cannot be said. But if the thing we say is something that eludes us, something we do not understand, how can we persist in saying that we understand what we are saying? And yet it goes without saying that we do. The "it," for example, in the preceding sentence, "it goes without saying," is in fact nothing less than whatever it is that propels us into the act of speech itself. And if it, the word "it," is what continually recurs in any effort to define it, then it must be accepted as the given, the precondition of the saying of it. (...)
It happens, and as it continues to happen, we forget where we were when it began. Later, when we have traveled from this moment as far as we have travelled from the beginning, we will forget where we are now. Eventually, we will all go home, and if there are those among us who do not have a home, it is certain, nevertheless, that they will leave this place to go wherever it is they must. If nothing else, life has taught us all this one thing: whoever is here now will not be here later.
I dedicate these words to the things in life I do not understand, to each thing passing away before my eyes. I dedicate these words to the impossibility of finding a word equal to the silence inside me. (...)
I realize in the end that I am probably powerless to affect the outcome of even the least thing that happens, but nevertheless, and in spite of myself, as if in an act of blind faith, I want to assume full responsibility. (...)”
From Disappearances – Selected Poems (1988) by Paul Auster
Thanks to Nicola Richter!
by Pawel Althamer and Artur Żmijewski
August 10th, 2010
Saw this piece on the weekend at Maastricht's Bonnefantenmuseum and was glued to the screen by its humour, courage and emotional impact.
From culture.pl: "Resembling Althamer's student-era work is also the film series, recorded with Artur Żmijewski, called The So Called Waves and Other Phenomena of the Mind (2003-2004). The films document Althamer exploring various ways of non-rational cognition, which he deems to be means of broadening human perception, using consciousness-altering substances (LSD, peyote, hashish, the truth serum) or hypnosis. (...)
One of the films of the So Called Waves... series is Weronika (2004), showing the artist 'discover the world anew' during a walk with his daughter. In many of his works and actions, Althamer tries to persuade the viewers to perceive the world around them more creatively."
Paintings by Chris Wool
August 6th, 2010
From the New York Times: "Here is a fine time capsule. In the 1980's, Christopher Wool was doing a Neo-Pop sort of painting using commercial rollers to apply decorative patterns to white panels. One day he saw a new white truck violated by the spray-painted words sex and luv. Mr. Wool made his own painting using those words and went on to make paintings with big, black stenciled letters saying things like Run Dog Run or Sell the House, Sell the Car, Sell the Kids. The paintings captured the scary, euphoric mood of a high-flying period not unlike our own.
In 1989 Mr. Wool created a series of word paintings on paper for a tome called Black Book. The 22 pieces are exhibited for the first time here, in an elegant wrap-around installation. Each page bears a nine-letter word broken up into a stack of three-letter groups. Blocky nine-inch letters spell the names of disturbing character types: terrorist, anarchist, mercenary, paranoiac, and so on.
The percussive typography joins the verbal content to aggressive and somehow morally imperative effect. With minimal means, Mr. Wool conjured a world of political anxiety that the novelist Robert Stone might have envisioned."
You can not afford to miss this!
July 19th, 2010
Stanley Kubrick's Boxes was made for Channel 4 in the UK by Guardian journalist Jon Ronson. His 2004 article, Citizen Kubrick, is the basis for the documentary.
From the Guardian: "Stanley Kubrick's films were landmark events - majestic, memorable and richly researched. But, as the years went by, the time between films grew longer and longer, and less and less was seen of the director. What on earth was he doing? Two years after his death, Jon Ronson was invited to the Kubrick estate and let loose among the fabled archive. He was looking for a solution to the mystery - this is what he found."
(Thanks to Stephan Telaar!)
Thus: 53, 55, 56, 57, 60, 62, 64, 68, 71, 75, 80, 87, 99.
1953 – Fear and Desire
1955 – Killer's Kiss
1956 – The Killing
1957 – Paths of Glory
1960 – Spartacus
1962 – Lolita
1964 – Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
1968 – 2001: A Space Odyssey
1971 – A Clockwork Orange
1975 – Barry Lyndon
1980 – The Shining
1987 – Full Metal Jacket
1999 – Eyes Wide Shut
The Dream Before by Laurie Anderson
July 15th, 2010
From Dangerous Minds: "I'll cop out and leave it to our able Dangerous Minds readers to discern the meaning of the shared birth date of Benjamin the leading German Marxist philosopher (who would have been 108 years old), Derrida the French founder of deconstruction (80), and Curtis the lead singer of the century's most existential pop band (54). If you went to a liberal arts college from 1980 onwards, you probably have your opinions about it.
And so, please enjoy some fragments of the lives of these auspicious birthday boys. Party hats & thinking caps ON!"
Fragments for Walter Benjamin
Wesendonck-Lieder by Richard Wagner
July 5th, 2010
Sag, welch wunderbare Träume
Halten meinen Sinn umfangen,
Daß sie nicht wie leere Schäume
Sind in ödes Nichts vergangen?
Träume, die in jeder Stunde,
Jedem Tage schöner blühn,
Und mit ihrer Himmelskunde
Selig durchs Gemüte ziehn!
Träume, die wie hehre Strahlen
In die Seele sich versenken,
Dort ein ewig Bild zu malen:
Träume, wie wenn Frühlingssonne
Aus dem Schnee die Blüten küßt,
Daß zu nie geahnter Wonne
Sie der neue Tag begrüßt,
Daß sie wachsen, daß sie blühen,
Träumend spenden ihren Duft,
Sanft an deiner Brust verglühen,
Und dann sinken in die Gruft.
(From: The Lied and Art Song Texts Page)
"In a world which really is topsy-turvy, the true is a moment of the false." Guy Debord
June 20th, 2010
Via the New Shelton wet/dry: "The Preface to the Phenomenology, all by itself, is considered one of Hegel's major works and a major text in the history of philosophy, because in it he sets out the core of his philosophical method and what distinguishes it from that of any previous philosophy, especially that of his German Idealist predecessors (Kant, Fichte, and Schelling).
Hegel's approach, referred to as the Hegelian method, consists of actually examining consciousness' experience of both itself and of its objects and eliciting the contradictions and dynamic movement that come to light in looking at this experience. Hegel uses the phrase pure looking at (reines Zusehen) to describe this method. If consciousness just pays attention to what is actually present in itself and its relation to its objects, it will see that what looks like stable and fixed forms dissolve into a dialectical movement. Thus philosophy, according to Hegel, cannot just set out arguments based on a flow of deductive reasoning. Rather, it must look at actual consciousness, as it really exists." (From Wikipedia)
by Laurie Anderson
June 12th, 2010
Yes, it's been a while but since I have been reminded this week it is now time to reveal that I still am a fan of hers. So, reconsider Home of the Brave (1986).
Watch them fly.
There they go."
"Well I was talking to a friend
And I was saying:
I wanted you.
And I was looking for you.
But I couldn't find you. I couldn't find you.
And he said: Hey!
Are you talking to me?
Or are you just practicing
For one of those performances of yours?
Language! It's a virus!"
"O Superman. (...)
And I've got a message to give to you.
Here come the planes.
So you better get ready. Ready to go. You can come
as you are, but pay as you go. Pay as you go."
"Anyway, we got into their boat and left the island.
But they never stayed anywhere very long.
Because the woman was restless. She was a hothead.
She was a woman in love.
And this is not a story people tell.
It is something I know myself.
And when I do my job, I am thinking about these things.
Because when I do my job, that is what I think about.
Oooo la la la.
Yeah La La La.
Here. And there.
Ooo la la la.
Voici le Langue D'Amour.
This is the language of love."
Jiddu Krishnamurti (1995-1986)
March 26th, 2010
From Wikipedia: "Jiddu Krishnamurti was a renowned writer and speaker on philosophical and spiritual subjects. His subject matter included: psychological revolution, the nature of the mind, meditation, human relationships, and bringing about positive change in society. He constantly stressed the need for a revolution in the psyche of every human being and emphasized that such revolution cannot be brought about by any external entity, be it religious, political, or social."
Am currently working my way through seven talks and five Q&A meetings, which took place in Saanen, Switzerland in 1980. Reconsider!
by Paula Scheer
March 6th, 2010
From Identity Forum: "I never knew a designer that got hundreds of thousands of dollars to design a logo. Mostly, designers get paid to negotiate the difficult terrain of individual egos, expectations, tastes, and aspirations of various individuals in an organization or corporation, against business needs, and constraints of the marketplace. This is a process that can take a year or more. Getting a large, diverse group of people to agree on a single new methodology for all of their corporate communications means the designer has to be a strategist, psychiatrist, diplomat, showman, and even a Svengali*. The complicated process is worth money. That's what clients pay for. The process, usually a series of endless presentations and refinements, persuasions and proofs, results, hopefully, in an accepted identity design."
* From Wikipedia: "Svengali is the name of a fictional character in George du Maurier's 1894 novel Trilby. A sensation in its day, the novel created a stereotype of the evil hypnotist that persists to this day. (...)
The word svengali has entered the language meaning a person who with evil intent manipulates another into doing what is desired."
Gagosian Gallery's homage to J.G. Ballard
February 17th, 2010
From Dangerous Minds: "As a tie-in to the Gagosian show, Iain Sinclair, writing in today's Guardian, offers up a wonderful account of his trip to Shepperton, where Ballard spoke of the art and artists that most inspired him. When it came to such things, Ballard was clearly a lucid, passionate speaker. You can get a rare glimpse of this yourself in the '93 interview from British television."
From Guardian: "The incantatory manifesto, What I Believe, deploys Ballard's favourite device, the list, as he curates a museum of affinities: 'I believe in Max Ernst, Delvaux, Dalí, Titian, / Goya, Leonardo, Vermeer, Chirico, Magritte, / Redon, Dürer, Tanguy, the Facteur Cheval, / the Watts Towers, Böcklin, Francis Bacon, and all the invisible artists / within the psychiatric institutions of the planet.'"
(Painting by Ed Ruscha)
Dr. Jane McGonigal
February 3rd, 2010
Tomorrow we have another round of final-year project's presentations at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg. One of the students, Roland Sigmond, will present a concept for an alternate reality game.
From Wikipedia: "The form is defined by intense player involvement with a story that takes place in real-time and evolves according to participants' responses, and characters that are actively controlled by the game's designers, as opposed to being controlled by artificial intelligence as in a computer or console video game. Players interact directly with characters in the game, solve plot-based challenges and puzzles, and often work together with a community to analyze the story and coordinate real-life and online activities. ARGs generally use multimedia, such as telephones, email and mail but rely on the Internet as the central binding medium."
That might be the reason why I was thinking about Jane McGonigal today. She just launched a new ARG called Evoke.
In 2006, Dr. McGonigal was named one of the world's top innovators under the age of 35 by MIT's Technology Review.
In 2008, Dr. McGonigal was named one of the Top 20 Most Important Women in videogaming, and World Without Oil received the South by Southwest Interactive Award for Activism.
Check her out, she is really something.
is drawing dance.
January 26th, 2010
William Forsythe: "So I began to imagine lines in space that could be bent, or tossed, or otherwise distorted. By moving from a point to a line to a plane to a volume, I was able to visualize a geometric space composed of points that were vastly interconnected. As these points were all contained within the dancer's body, there was really no transition necessary, only a series of foldings and unfoldings that produced an infinite number of movements and positions. From these, we started making catalogues of what the body could do. And for every new piece that we choreographed, we would develop a new series of procedures."
(Thanks to Phillip Schulze!)
by DJ Sprinkles aka Terre Thaemlitz
January 9th, 2010
Always had this thing going for Terre Thaemlitz. Listen to some excerpts of his Midtown 120 Blues album.
From SFBG: "DJ Sprinkles is one alias in a vast arsenal overseen by Terre Thaemlitz, who also makes records under the monikers G.R.R.L., Terre's Neu Wuss Fusion, and Kami-Sakunobe House Explosion, among others. Thaemlitz's approach to electronic music is playful and dead up serious about its capacity for political content. His (or her, depending on your preference; Thaemlitz's gender identity is fractured and fluid) current release as DJ Sprinkles, Midtown 120 Blues (2009, Mule Musiq) opens with a thesis statement: House isn't so much a sound as a situation."
A permutation poem by Brion Gyson
January 6th, 2009
"He's the only man I've ever respected in my life. I've admired people, I've liked them, but Brion Gysin was the only man I've ever respected." William S.Burroughs
From UbuWeb: "The Englishman Brion Gysin, one of the founders of the beatnik movement and inventor of such new formulas as the collage-novel, has composed his phonic texts on this principle. I am is a classic of the genre. Composed exclusively of permutations of the biblical words 'I am that I am', with ever more marked accelerations, he succeeds in rendering, from the initial nucleus, a crowd of 'I am's, the creation of the world in geometrical progression until it fades away in the sidereal silence."
Also check out Brion Gysin in UbuWeb Film.
TED talk The power of time off by Stefan Sagmeister
December 29th, 2009
From Motionographer: "One of those most intriguing parts of his talk is the idea that we spend around the first 25 years of our life focused on learning, the next 40 years are dedicated to work (and lots of it in our industry) and around 15 years towards the end of our lives are reserved for retirement. Sagmeister not only suggests, but has put into practice the idea to cut off 5 of those retirement years and intersperse them between the working years with creative sabbaticals."
Mark Pellington and Jon Klein
December 16th, 2009
Today, for no reason, I thought about Mark Pellington and Jon Klein's 13-part international series Buzz, which they created in the late 80s. This format had a huge impact on my work back then. From boing boing: "Buzz was a fantastic experiment in non-linearity and cut-up that drew heavily from - and presented - avant-garde art, underground cinema, early cyberpunk, industrial culture, appropriation/sampling, and postmodern literature. Experientially, it feels like what Mondo 2000 would have looked like as a television show, and in fact Mondo founder RU Sirius was interviewed on the first episode. Other notable contributors/subjects included William S. Burroughs, Jenny Holzer, Genesis P-Orridge, Syd Mead, and many other happy mutants. This was the future of television, circa 1988. Too bad it didn't quite pan out this way."
Amongst others Mark Pellington also directed the video clip for U2's One, which I still like a lot.
Maryanne Amacher (1938-2009)
October 31st, 2009
In June I saw her installation Brückenfindings at Cologne's Brückenmusik. She used the bowels of a bridge as her instrument. It was a mind-blowing experience to walk through this long and dark tunnel.
From NYT: "Maryanne Amacher, an influential composer whose experimental sound installations and multimedia works sometimes required full buildings to present their powerful melding of electronic timbres and live, natural ambience, died" on October 22nd.
"Ms. Amacher was drawn to extremes: some of her scores — for example, the music she composed for the choreographer Merce Cunningham's Torse (1976) — could be so soft as to be nearly inaudible at times. But more typically, she reveled in powerful, high-volume sensory assaults, combining high-pitched electronic chirping and solid bass drones to produce a visceral effect. (...)
Ms. Amacher, who left no surviving relatives, taught electronic music at Bard College, beginning in 2000. She was also an important influence for a generation of composers who combined rock instrumentation and avant-garde sensibilities, among them Rhys Chatham and Thurston Moore. The documentary film Day Trip Maryanne, by Andrew Kesin, captures discussions and performance collaborations between Ms. Amacher and Mr. Moore."
Check out the Maryanne Amacher Archive.
by Nick Tosches
October 9th, 2009
From If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger...: "And, of course, that is what all of this is - all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs - that song, endlesly reincarnated - born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 - same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
Sculpture by Mauro Perucchetti
September 19th, 2009
"Sycamore got to grow down to grow up
Young girl told the soul like baby's first cup
And when they bend you in two
And say too green for the fire
When all you want to do is be a part of the fire
All you want to do is be the fire part of fire
Bill Callahan: Sycamore
by Cyndi Lauper
September 15th, 2009
Lying in my bed I hear the clock tick,
And think of you
Caught up in circles confusion
Is nothing new
Flashback warm nights
Almost left behind
Suitcases of memories,
Sometimes you picture me
I'm walking too far ahead
You're calling to me, I can not hear
What you have said
Then you say go slow
I fall behind
The second hand unwinds
If you're lost you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall I will catch you
I'll be waiting
Time after time
After my picture fades and darkness has
Turned to gray
Watching through windows you're wondering
If I'm OK
Secrets stolen from deep inside
The drum beats out of time
Townes Van Zandt
September 6th, 2009
From idiolect: "I don't think, as a matter of fact, that I'm going to benefit from anything on this earth. It's more like that, I mean, if you have love on the earth, that seems to be number one. There's food, water, air and love, right? And love is just basically heartbreak. Human's can't live in the present as animals do; they just live in the present. But human's are always thinking about the future or the past. So, it's a veil of tears, man. And I don't know anything that's going to benefit me except more love. I just need an overwhelming amount of love. And a nap. Mostly a nap."
Zabriskie Point by Michelangelo Antonioni
July 29th, 2009
Am not sure how many times I've seen this film. But I remember very vivid the first time: I was about 12, alone at home and not supposed to watch TV. Switched to Zabriskie Point by accident - well, back then we had only three TV channels anyway. Three decades later I can easily see how the shock that masterpiece initially provoked when I was still a girl entered as a underlying theme into my life. The style, the music, the two main characters. Saw it again last night and in that sense it really was revelation.
From Wikipedia: "It tells the story of a young couple — an idealistic, free spirited young woman, and an aspiring radical turned fugitive. They meet in the desert under bizarre circumstances, instantly connect with a fearless spirit, and then part with tragic consequences. When the fugitive dies in an attempt to reconcile his minor transgressions with the police his new-found lover's connection to the corporate and government establishment is psychologically and permanently severed when she visualizes the home of her corporate lover/boss exploding in slow motion."
July 18th, 2009
Had the great pleasure of being at the Salon des Amateurs in Düsseldorf last night to hear William Bennett play a live set. He chose to show Les Maîtres Fous to his music. Haven't seen the film in a while and it is still disturbing.
Jean Rouch always pushed the limit of his scientific research and is still a huge source of inspiration. From Wikipedia: "Rouch's practice as a filmmaker for over sixty years in Africa, was characterized by the idea of shared anthropology. Influenced by his discovery of surealism in his early twenties, many of his films blur the line between fiction and documentary, creating a new style of ethnofiction."
July 11th, 2009
Exams are finally over. Seen some incredible projects which make me really proud of the students. Will upload some of them soon. Been totally exhausted from the week and went for a few drinks to hear my favorite DJ and funny friend last night. Check out some of his tracks.
gives the 2009 commencement address at RISD
June 10th, 2009
Watch his inspiring, witty and humorous speech. From the RISD Site: "One of the world's leading thinkers on creativity, Sir Ken Robinson was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003 for outstanding achievements as a writer and tireless advocate for creativity, education and the arts. His latest book The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything became an instant New York Times bestseller and has been widely embraced by leaders in business, education, government and the arts. In the late 1990s, Robinson was appointed by the British government to lead a national commission on creativity, education and the economy, which resulted in the widely acclaimed 1999 'Robinson Report,' All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education. His subsequent book Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative (2001) firmly established his reputation as one of the world's leading authorities on the value of creativity. Known for his ready wit and deep humanity, Robinson speaks throughout the world on the creative challenges facing business and education in the ever-shifting global economy. He has advised governments in Europe, Asia and the US; worked with international agencies and Fortune 500 companies; and guided some of the world's leading cultural organizations."
And RISD's president John Maeda introduced him. It might really be the best school for design nowadays...
May 30th, 2009
Renown designer Paula Scher "believes failure is the secret to artistic success. 'You have to fail in order to make the next discovery,' says Scher. 'It's through mistakes that you actually can grow.' (...) The thing about your mistakes is, when everybody praises something, you don't learn anything. But when you do something terrible, you know what not to do. And that's fantastic. You also learn what you could do if you manipulated it a different way. You have to try these things. You have to see where the failure takes you. That's very scary and risky and also hard to do while you're trying to do something professional." (from an interview in Psychology Today). Also check out her TED talk Paula Scher gets serious on the difference between serious and solemn.
Joseph Campbell 1904-1987
May 21st, 2009
Joseph Campbell in The Hero's Journey: "When you follow your bliss and by bliss I mean the deep sense of being in it and doing what the push is out of your own existence. You follow that and doors will open where you would not have thought that there were gonna be doors and where there wouldn't be a door for anybody else and there is something about the integrity of a live and the world moves in and helps."
Essential reading: The Hero with a Thousand Faces
by The Knife
May 9th, 2009
"One night to be confused
One night to speed up truth
We had a promise made
Four hands and then away
Both under influence
We had divine sense
To know what to say
Mind is a razorblade
To call for hands of above to lean on
Wouldn't be good enough for me, no
One night of magic rush
The start - a simple touch
One night to push and scream
And then relief
Ten days of perfect tunes
The colors red and blue
We had a promise made
We were in love
To call for hands of above to lean on
Wouldn't be good enough for me, no
And you, you knew the hand of a devil
And you kept us awake with wolves teeth
Sharing different heartbeats in one night
To call for hands of above to lean on
Wouldn't be good enough for me, no"
I wanna hold you hand
May 5th, 2009
From a site about the Sparks: "Even though 'Big Beat' was going to be a more stripped down album with more guitars and fewer of Ron's keyboards Russell Mael was going to do a lush, orchestral duet version of Lennon & McCartney's 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' with Marianne Faithfull. Producer Rupert Holmes did syrupy score for the song, yet Marianne Faithfull dropped out of the project at the last minute leaving Rupert Holmes, Jeffrey Lesser and The Maels with a score and no one to sing it. Russell Mael ended up singing the song, yet it seemed so incongruous even for Sparks, that this execrable orchestral assault produced by Jeffrey Lesser never appeared on an album." (via boingboing.net)
Crystal clear: Send in the clowns
May 1st, 2009
Coral, crochet, hyperbolic geometry and Susan Boyle.
April 29th, 2009
First, watch Margaret Wertheim presenting the Crochet Reef Project at TED. Margaret Wertheim writes about the interaction between science and mathematics and the wider cultural landscape. In 2003 she and her twin sister Christine (a professor at Calarts) founded the Institute For Figuring, an organization devoted to the poetic and aesthetic dimensions of math, science and the technical arts.
An then, read her article "Margaret Wertheim: Susan Boyle and The Beauty of Crochet" on Design Observer. From that: "Like everyone else on planet earth I have been moved to tears by Susan Boyle's amazing performance on Britain's 'Got Talent'. Any of you who haven't yet watched her on YouTube, do yourself a favor. I want to reflect here on Boyle's massive appeal from a very personal point of view, for I have spent much of the last three years managing a project that harnesses the creative energies of hundreds of middle-aged female 'nobodies.'"
As I write this, the video of Susan Boyle singing has been watched 47.427.374 times on YouTube, so far! And, maths at school could have taken such a very different path for me...
For example: Eric Satie
April 26th, 2009
From Daily Routines - How writers, artists, and other interesting people organize their days: "On most mornings after he moved to Arcueil, Satie would return to Paris on foot, a distance of about ten kilometres, stopping frequently at his favourite cafés on route. According to Templier, 'he walked slowly, taking small steps, his umbrella held tight under his arm. When talking he would stop, bend one knee a little, adjust his pince-nez and place his fist on his lap. The we would take off once more with small deliberate steps.'
When he eventually reached Paris he visited friends, or arranged to meet them in other cafés by sending pneumatiques. Often the walking from place to place continued, focussing on Montmarte before the war, and subsequently on Montparnasse. From here, Satie would catch the last train back to Arcueil at about 1.00am, or, if he was still engaged in serious drinking, he would miss the train and begin the long walk home during the early hours of the morning. Then the daily round would begin again.
Roger Shattuck, in conversations with John Cage in 1982, put forward the interesting theory that 'the source of Satie's sense of musical beat - the possibility of variation within repetition, the effect of boredom on the organism - may be this endless walking back and forth across the same landscape day after day... the total observation of a very limited and narrow environment.' During his walks, Satie was also observed stopping to jot down ideas by the light of the street lamps he passed.
(Thanks to Kira Bunse!)
April 23rd, 2009
With an attitude
April 20th, 2009
Been thinking about these two grand ladies the last couple of days. They manage to look even better the older they get. Brilliant designer Andrée Putman (not only for the interior design of my favourite plane of all times) and top artist Cindy Sherman (not only for evoking all that egoism for altruism). Absolutely admirable - in every aspect.
by Kent Rogowski
April 3rd, 2009
Spring is finally here! From the 20x200 website: "Love=Love is a series of surreal and spectacular landscape photographs that were created using pieces from over 60 store-bought jigsaw puzzles. Kent Rogowski deconstructed the original idyllic images first by removing flowers and skies from each puzzle and then by re-combining them to form disorienting and fractured montages."
April 25th, 2009, Kent Rogowski's first European solo show will open at the In Focus Gallery in Cologne, Germany.
by Tomas Schats
April 1st, 2009
March 27th, 2009
Am in the process of researching online archives and the most impressive, inspiring and likeable is UbuWeb. Its founder, publisher and patron saint is Kenneth Goldsmith. He has done an incredible job collecting 1000 avant-garde films among other outsider arts and made them available online. If you'd like to get to know him better, watch "Sucking on words: Kenneth Goldsmith" (2007), a film by Simon Morris. Kenneth Goldsmith in the documentary: "I believe that information management is the way we are writing now and will continue to write in the future. (...) There is enough language in the world, that we need not create any new language. (...) The interest is in the remix, the accumulation and the filtering. We become intelligent agents."
Sculpture by Kevin Francis Gray
March 26th, 2009
Watch Johnny "Guitar" Watson perform Superman Lover. Listen to Marathon Man by the French house group The Supermen Lovers. And, as a consequence, spring might show up. Turquoise it is. Can't wait no more.
"Look, look up in the sky,
Come on look, look, look
And you'll see me flying by"
The Peter Saville principle.
Amazing short film
March 14th, 2009
It has been a long time that any design struck me. "Please Say Something" by David O'Reilly did. The animation is about a troubled relationship between a cat and mouse set in the distant future. It won the Golden Bear for best short film at the 2009 Berlinale. From Motionographer: "Doing what other people don't is how O'Reilly rolls. Narrative risk-taking, boldness in aesthetic simplification, and self-imposed creative rules lead to epic creation. PSS is strange, insanely original, and some of the most authentic storytelling you'll ever see." I couldn't agree more.
by Dmitry Orlov
February 15th, 2009
From boingboing.net: "In this lecture hosted yesterday by the Long Now Foundation, Dmitri Orlov describes the Russian economic collapse of the 1990s, and explains how he thinks an American decline/collapse would differ."
Quote: "If you still have a job, or if you still have some savings, what do you do with all the money? The obvious answer is, build up inventory. The money will be worthless, but a box of bronze nails will still be a box of bronze nails. Buy and stockpile useful stuff, especially stuff that can be used to create various kinds of alternative systems for growing food, providing shelter, and providing transportation. If you don't own a patch of dirt free and clear where you can stockpile stuff, then you can rent a storage container, pay it a few years forward, and just sit on it until reality kicks in again and there is something useful for you to do with it. Some of you may be frightened by the future I just described, and rightly so. There is nothing any of us can do to change the path we are on: it is a huge system with tremendous inertia, and trying to change its path is like trying to change the path of a hurricane. What we can do is prepare ourselves, and each other, mostly by changing our expectations, our preferences, and scaling down our needs. It may mean that you will miss out on some last, uncertain bit of enjoyment. On the other hand, by refashioning yourself into someone who might stand a better chance of adapting to the new circumstances, you will be able to give to yourself, and to others, a great deal of hope that would otherwise not exist." A must read!
by Paul Virilio
February 9th, 2009
During my years at university we spent a few days at the stormy coast of the North Sea studying and drawing bunkers. Today a post at the, always inspiring, Design Observer evoked some of those long forgotten memories. From The Morning News: "Approximately 1.500 bunkers were built during World War II along the French shores to forestall an Allied landing - 'the Atlantic Wall'. Decommissioned after the Allied invasion of Normandy, this elaborate defense system now lies abandoned. At the age of 25, Paul Virilio stumbled upon these relics with his camera and began a study that would continue for 30 years. His 1975 book, Bunker Archeology, has recently been translated into English and reprinted by Princeton Architectural Press: an inquiry of war and its structures and a personal memoir of exploration, merging technical analysis with philosophical questioning." Also, go and check out the images.
February 4th, 2009
From The Quantified Self blog by Kevin Kelly: "The central question of the coming century is Who Are We? What is a human? What does it mean to be a person? Is human nature fixed? Sacred? Infinitely expandable? And in the meantime, how do I get through all my email? Or live to be 100. We believe that the answers to these cosmic questions will be found in the personal. Real change will happen in individuals as they work through self-knowledge. Self-knowledge of one's body, mind and spirit. Many seek this self-knowledge and we embrace all paths to it."
January 29th, 2009
"Bubbles' sleeves are graphic constructions, offering multiple points of interest, dispersing the viewer's attention. He showed that the visual language of design - type, symbol, pattern, shape, often reassembled in unfamiliar configurations - could be a powerful, exciting and subtle medium for involving a popular audience. Although conditions often conspire against such freedoms now, he is a leading figure within the evolution of intelligently reflexive design. Known but unknown. It's about time the slower moving design history books caught up with him." (Rick Poynor on designobserver.com)
To do some research on Barney Bubbles read Julia Thrift's feature, go to this new blog about Bubbles and check out John Coulthart's post. Or consider Paul Gorman's book Reasons to be Cheerful: The Life and Work of Barney Bubbles - but read Rick Poynor's review first.
In any case, when talking about the design for covers there is no getting around Barney Bubbles.
Hawkwind 10 Seconds To Forever
In the tenth second of forever I thought of the sea and a white yacht drifting.
In the ninth second of forever I remembered a warm room where voices played.
In the eighth second of forever I thought of the life I would not lead.
In the seventh second of forever I thought of a leaf a stone, a plastic fragment of a child's toy.
In the sixth second of forever I saw your mouth whispering something I could not hear.
In the fifth second of forever I thought of the vermillion deserts of Mars, the jewelled forests of Venus.
In the fourth second of forever I could remember nothing that I did not love.
In the third second of forever I thought of rain against a window, I thought of the wind.
In the second second of forever I though of a pair of broken shades lying on the tarmac.
In the first and final second of forever I thought of the long past that led to now and never... never...
Five rules for directing
January 26th, 2009
Jim Jarmusch: "Rule #5: Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don't bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: It’s not where you take things from - it's where you take them to." (from MovieMaker magazine)
Thank you, Eric Baker!
Unique Bird Photography
January 25th, 2009
From Rick Lieder's website: "An ordinary bird feeder, an ordinary day: and the ordinary, beautiful, eternal ballet of survival, flight, and falling, the aerial acrobats forever in motion, a rush of speed and feathers past the wondering human eye."
Merlin Bauer and Manu Burghart
January 24th, 2009
My dear friend Manu Burghart is a brilliant designer with interest in various areas. Her current project involves giving shape to a book about Merlin Bauer's Liebe deine Stadt project. This initiative, on the often unloved architecture of Cologne, has kept my interest over the years. I have great respect for Merlin's unremitting energy. Now I had the chance to see the first layouts of the documentation and it looks stunning. A must have!
Die Hamletmaschine / The Hamletmachine (1977)
January 10th, 2009
WILDHARREND / IN DER FURCHTBAREN RÜSTUNG / JAHRTAUSENDE
Tiefsee. Ophelia im Rollstuhl. Fische Trümmer Leichen und Leichenteile treiben vorbei.
Während zwei Männer in Arztkitteln sie und den Rollstuhl von unten nach oben in Mullbinden schnüren.
Hier spricht Elektra. Im Herzen der Finsternis. Unter der Sonne der Folter. An die Metropolen der Welt. Im Namen der Opfer. Ich stoße allen Samen aus, den ich empfangen habe. Ich verwandle die Milch meiner Brüste in tödliches Gift. Ich nehme die Welt zurück, die ich geboren habe. Ich ersticke die Welt, die ich geboren habe, zwischen meinen Schenkeln. Ich begrabe sie in meiner Scham. Nieder mit dem Glück der Unterwerfung. Es lebe der Haß, die Verachtung, der Aufstand, der Tod. Wenn sie mit Fleischermessern durch eure Schlafzimmer geht, werdet ihr die Wahrheit wissen.
Männer ab. Ophelia bleibt auf der Bühne, reglos in der weißen Verpackung.
WILDSTRAINING / IN THE FEARSOME ARMAMENTS / MILLENIA
Deep sea. Ophelia in wheelchair. Fish wreckage corpses and body-parts stream past.
While two men in doctor’s smocks wrap her from top to bottom in white bandages.
Here speaks Electra. In the Heart of Darkness. Under the Sun of Torture. To the Metropolises of the World. In the Names of the Victims. I expel all the semen which I have received. I transform the milk of my breasts into deadly poison. I suffocate the world which I gave birth to, between my thighs. I bury it in my crotch. Down with the joy of oppression. Long live hate, loathing, rebellion, death. When she walks through your bedroom with butcher’s knives, you’ll know the truth.
Exit men. Ophelia remains on the stage, motionless in the white packaging.
by Harmony Korine
December 28th, 2008
Harmony Korine's debut film Gummo had a huge influence on design back in 1997. Still love the title sequence. I saw his second movie Julien Donkey Boy at the Berlinale in 1999 and was struck by Werner Herzog's performance and deeply disturbed by the experience Korine provided. Today I watched his latest work Mister Lonely (2007) and a rather weird chain of associations let my back to another mind-blowing cinematic discovery: anthropologist and filmmaker Jean Rouch - more precisely his film Moi, un Noir (Me, a Black). He is considered as one of the pioneers of Nouvelle Vague, of visual anthropology and the father of ethnofiction. And obviously he remains a huge influence on contemporary filmmakers. Rouch is a giant and Korine still worth checking out.
Andreas Gryphius (1616-1664)
Eric Baker's "Today!"
December 16th, 2008
Received another unexpected and inspiring mail - this time from Eric Baker. "Eric Baker Design Associates is a Manhattan-based design firm established in 1986. Eric teaches the history of graphic design and corporate identity at the School of Visual Arts, and has twice received National Endowment for the Arts Grants for independent design history projects. He is inveterate collector of books and ephemera." (from designobserver.com)
Each morning, before starting work, Eric spends 30 minutes looking for images that are beautiful, funny, absurd and inspiring. And he then sends them to interested people in an email. Thank you, Eric, for your outstanding research and for putting me on to that mailing list!
December 14th, 2008
From Wikipedia: "Since 1964, Ruscha has been experimenting with painting and drawing words and phrases, often oddly comic and satirical sayings. When asked where he got his inspiration for his paintings, Ruscha responded, 'Well, they just occur to me; sometimes people say them and I write down and then I paint them. Sometimes I use a dictionary.'"
from The Perfect Human
December 10th, 2008
Lars von Trier's favourite film is Jørgen Leth's The Perfect Human (1967), it ends with the words "Today, too, I experienced something I hope to understand in a few days". Von Trier gave Leth the task of remaking this short film five times, each time with a different obstruction given by Von Trier. By now I don't remember how many times I have seen the superior documentary The Five Obstructions which resulted from this provocation. It is an all time favourite of mine because every time I watch it new insights emerge - on fandom, failure, freedom, depression, competition, role models, rules, expectation, challenge, subjectivity, vodka before noon, and so much more.
First few lines of the poem by Roy Campbell
November 25th, 2008
"With breath indrawn and every nerve alert,
As at the brink of some profound abyss,
I love on my bare arm, capricious flirt,
To feel the chilly and incisive kiss
Of your lithe tongue that forks its swift caress
Between the folded slumber of your fangs,
And half reveals the nacreous recess
Where death upon those dainty hinges hangs."
by Barnaby Barford (photo above)
November 24th, 2008
Via boingboing.net: "Here's Tom Waits in a YouTube video singing the Depression-era "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?", lyrics by Yip Harburg, music by Jay Gorney (1931)":
"I was building a dream
With peace and glory ahead.
Why should I be standing in line
Just waiting for bread?
Once I built a railroad,
I made it run
I made it run against time
Once i built a railroad,
and now it's done
Brother, can you spare a dime? ...
Once in khaki suits,
Ah, gee we looked swell
Full of that yankee-doodle dee-dum!
Brother, can you spare a dime?"
November 18th, 2008
"It's not bad to own fine things that you like. What you need are things that you GENUINELY like. Things that you cherish, that enhance your existence in the world. The rest is dross.
Do not "economize." Please. That is not the point. The economy is clearly insane. Even its champions are terrified by it now. It's melting the North Pole. So "economization" is not your friend. Cheapness can be value-less. Voluntary simplicity is, furthermore, boring. Less can become too much work.
The items that you use incessantly, the items you employ every day, the normal, boring goods that don't seem luxurious or romantic: these are the critical ones.
They are truly central. The everyday object is the monarch of all objects. It's in your time most, it's in your space most. It is "where it is at," and it is "what is going on."
It takes a while to get this through your head, because it's the opposite of the legendry of shopping. However: the things that you use every day should be the best-designed things you can get." (Excerpt from The Last Viridian Note by Bruce Sterling)
John Lobb, shoemaker
November 17th, 2008
Handcraft rules. Visited the beautiful John Lobb shop on St. James's Street in London this weekend. Can't afford even a single shoe - yet. But desperately want at least one pair in my life time.
Francis Bacon @ Tate Britain
November 16th, 2008
"His images are indelible, irrational and beyond summary, and his modest ambition for them - that they should be as vividly realised as possible - has surely turned out to be true." (Laura Cumming) Exihibition runs until January 4th. Do not go on a weekend.
November 10th, 2008
A subversive, wonderful and challenging quote from William Bennett's blog: "What is the nature of the stories that you tell about yourself? The purpose they serve those who listen to them is not at all obvious, while themselves serving as the building blocks of who we think we are. Thus, the belief is the being, as is the reiteration. An old man once told me about the time he was shocked to be told by a doctor that he was dying and that there was no cure, and at that point he began to profoundly wonder what it meant to be a person who was dying as opposed to one that was living. And the further he entered the domain of that inquiry, not to seek answers but to just look around, the more he lived. As indeed would you and I."
The Songs of Scott Walker
November 5th, 2008
Bought the ticket for this concert, November 14th in London, months ago and always wondered how Scott Walker will manage to stage his last two albums without himself singing. Since yesterday the final line-up is online: Featuring Damon Albarn, Dot Allison, Jarvis Cocker, Gavin Friday, Michael Henry and Nigel Richards. Am so excited!
"To those of us who knew the pain"
November 2nd, 2008
I was twelve when my friend Vicky Tiegelkamp played a record of her older sister to me. It blew me away. And it was more than twenty years later when Justus Köhnke played Janis Ian on a party and reminded me of my teen emotions. Still love her records. Still listen to them. Saw an early live performance of her today. Simple, moving, beautiful, and timeless.
October 26th, 2008
Initially I went to see Gerhard Richter's abstract paintings at Museum Ludwig today, and it was a most welcome surprise to see that they were also showing about 60 or so of Thomas Bayrle's works. Thomas Bayrle creates graphic pieces from other images, multiplying and distorting motifs obtained from books, films, video art, graphic art. The basis for all his work is generally the same - the transformation of a repeated motif by anamorphosis, shifting into another image, creating a truly mind-boggling result. A must - the exhibition runs until January 25th, 2009.
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered - no more
October 15th, 2008
"For well you know that its a fool who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder."
Gina X Performance
October 15th, 2008
A1. Nice Mover (4:30)
A2. No G.D.M. (Dedicated To Quentin Crisp) (5:55)
A3. Plastic Surprise Box (3:05)
A4. Casablanca (5:35)
B1. Be A Boy (4:00)
B2. Exhibitionism (5:00)
B3. Black Sheep (3:45)
B4. Tropical Comic Strip (5:05)
Unfortunately I can't find the lyrics of "Be a boy". We listened to Gina X Performance back in the early 80s and I've been reminded of this joyful experience last night. Thank you, Lena!
"O Superman" by Laurie Anderson
October 14th, 2008
"O Superman. O judge. O Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad. O Superman. O judge. O Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad. Hi. I'm not home right now. But if you want to leave a message, just start talking at the sound of the tone. Hello? This is your Mother. Are you there? Are you coming home? Hello? Is anybody home? Well, you don't know me, but I know you. And I've got a message to give to you. Here come the planes. So you better get ready. Ready to go. You can come as you are, but pay as you go. Pay as you go. And I said: OK. Who is this really? And the voice said: This is the hand, the hand that takes. This is the hand, the hand that takes. This is the hand, the hand that takes. Here come the planes. They're American planes. Made in America. Smoking or non-smoking? And the voice said: Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. 'Cause when love is gone, there's always justice. And when justice is gone, there's always force. And when force is gone, there's
always Mom. Hi Mom! So hold me, Mom, in your long arms. So hold me, Mom, in your long arms. In your automatic arms. Your electronic arms. In your arms. So hold me, Mom, in your long arms. Your petrochemical arms. Your military arms. In your electronic arms."
October 13th, 2008
"The German word 'unheimlich'is obviously the opposite of 'heimlich' ['homely'], 'heimisch' ['native'] the opposite of what is familiar; and we are tempted to conclude that what is 'uncanny' is frightening precisely because it is not known and familiar. Naturally not everything that is new and unfamiliar is frightening, however; the relation is not capable of inversion." Sigmund Freud, The Uncanny
Sydney, Australia-based photographer Keith Loutit creates lovely tilt-shifted time-lapse short films. His aim, he says, "is to present Sydney as the Model City, and help people take a second look at places that are very familiar to them." You can see more of his films here. (via boingboing.net)
Bruce Cockburn, Strange Waters
October 8th, 2008
"The Wit of the Staircase: From the French phrase 'esprit d'escalier', literally, it means 'the wit of the staircase', and usually refers to the perfect witty response you think up after the conversation or argument is ended. "Esprit d'escalier", she replied. "Esprit d'escalier. The answer you cannot make, the pattern you cannot complete till afterwards it suddenly comes to you when it is too late."
The blog by extraordinary Theresa Duncan († 2007) is still a huge inspiration.
October 2nd, 2008
Finally there is a second reason to come back to London: the Scott Walker concert on November 14th. Also, I really look forward to having another inspiring, witty and far-reaching conversation with Peter Saville. The students know that I keep talking about this singular design hero of mine. I had the great pleasure to work with him on two projects and he always managed to challenge my perception and perspective. If you'd like to get the idea, read this article by Alice Twemlow. - By the way, my dear friend and wonderful designer Manu Burghart took that hilarious photo the last time we met him in London - his car, my shawl.
"That was it."
September 30th, 2008
I've always been interested in Stefan Sagmeister's work. His recent piece Obsessions make my life worse and my work better and its fate really got me. Just back from Amsterdam myself, feeling and researching obsession and in the midst of a misunderstanding I just love this artwork. What a wonderful coincidence.
Filed under: People
The musicology department at the University of Cologne performed three of the movements from tektra (1979-80) by Roland Kayn to celebrate his 75th birthday. This rare treat took place on May 30th. Wholeness and nothingness - a wonderful evening. Roland Kayn (b. 1933) is a theoretical electronic Dutch/German composer, who draws more inspiration from linguists and information theorists than from other music or musicians. Here is a nice long stream of other compositions by Roland Kayn. Thanks Elmar!
Neil Turok's 2008 TED Prize wish
Saw this mindbowing talk on ted.com. Neil Turok is working on a model of the universe that explains the big bang - while, closer to home, he's founded a school to promote math and science studies in Africa. Accepting his 2008 TED Prize, physicist Neil Turok speaks out for talented young Africans starved of opportunity: by unlocking and nurturing the continent's creative potential, we can create a change in Africa's future. In his talk Neil Turok recommends the Worldmapper for a different view on our planet.
Cologne DJ and Art Director Christian S.
Went to an exceptional party last night in Cologne. We danced until the next morning - thanks to the DJ team Christian S. and Korkut Elbay (lost). Christian also does beautiful flyer art work. Invited him to do a seminar with the students at the Institute For Music And Media on June 5th.