Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Schubert in Warm Mitte

Gazing at the partially blind mirrors in the Mirror Hall of Clärchens Ballhaus. Luisa Splett is playing Schubert for the Sunday morning concert.

This prolific composer was one of fourteen children and of humble background. His Wandern (walking/searching journey) ended at age 31. He wrote his last compositions while being consumed by syphilis in a freezing room...

It is Christmas now and the roses and cherry blossom are in full bloom in Berlin. Birds announce spring. White xmas can be viewed on screen.
The ubiquitous under floor heating of Mitte is keeping all 150m² penthouses at a controlled heatwave temperature. Cosy open fire places in these dwellings recreate the smog of yesteryear. Tropical orchids linger behind windows. The sound ecology is building sites, roaring cars and screaming children.

Humanity's journey or more appropriately race to the bottom is no longer at a wandern/ walking tempo, but is fossil fuel powered.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Three Tales, video opera, Beryl Korot, Steve Reich and Ensemble Modern

Go forth multiply, fill the Earth, subdue it, vandalize the Garden of Eden, then abolish man

runs the narrative of advanced human civilization

Three Tales is a video-opera in three acts (titled Hindenburg, Bikini and Dolly) in creative collaboration between  Beryl Korot (Video) and Steve Reich (Music) and  Ensemble Modern in the Konzerthaus Berlin

The mental screen of the video performance collages documentary materials depicting some of the integral accidents of our accelerated modernity. Techne not poiesis is the driving force of our progress. A hasty and aimless Can Do culture with no time or will to reflect on the desirability of their actions. Drifting from catastrophe to catastrophe. Man running amok in the anthropocene.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Berlin Boulevard 'Under the Stumps'

Berlin's centre strip Unter den Linden ("under the linden trees/ Under the Limes) is a boulevard (images) in the heart of the city. The middle strip was once lined with 2000 Linden. Flâneurs enjoyed to wander along the scent of the lime blossom.

Today 54 of the healthy, 60 year old trees are being given the chop. Between Komischer Oper (Glinkastraße) and Staatsbibliothek/ Berlin State Library (Charlottenstraße) fossil fuel machinery is moving in. Per tree it takes them 25 minutes to fell the ancient giants.

Why? The new underground railway U-Bahnlinie 5 is being built there, 20 metres deep The new Berlin building site will go on until 2019

After construction finishes in 2019, the 54 trees will be replaced with 8 to 10 year old trees (Tilia pallida), each costing 108,000 Euro.

There was apparently no protest.

Images, Berliner Zeitung
Erste Bäume am Lindenboulevard gefällt, rbb news
Unter den Linden fallen die Linden, Focus online

Berlin's iconic boulevard Unter den Linden ("Under the Limes") have suffered under increasing temperatures recently. Spiegel
Unter den Linden boulevard trees are being killed by traffic fumes, The Telegraph 2001
European lime trees, Kew
Ja, Freund, hier unter den Linden kannst du dein Herz erbaun,.. Briefe aus Berlin. 1822, Heinrich Heine,

Der Lindenbaum by Franz Schubert, Winterreise , Prof. Scot Weir, tenor, Folkwang Gitarren Duo, video

Corinth, Lovis Berlin, Unter den Linden 1922 via Zeno

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Berlin Wall and Kristallnacht

Berlin is staging the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Mauer (wall) demolition today.(Berlintwitterwall) Theme park-like (re) constructions steer tourists through the cold war topography. The “Festival of freedom” and daily fireworks are under way privatising various public spaces. Cavalcades of black idling limousines lined Bernauer street today. Mauer mobs recreate the wall on social media. A spectacle of remembrance.

Amnesia seems to have befallen the public consciousness about another historical anniversary: The Kristallnacht. Today is the date that commemorates the Crystal night pogrom. On the 9 to 10 November 1938 "eliminationism" became sanctioned by the German state. Mob law ruled in the Night of Broken Glass, wrecking 1,400 synagogues (video), homes, shops and human lives. Hordes indulged in an orgy of destruction, destroying sacred places, demolishing shops and homes leading to the final 'assault on humanity': the holocaust.

Today the 'death strip' is walled in acoustic assault from mega building projects, the new conflict scape. Howling chainsaws eradicate the trees as obstacles to lucrative real estate. Broken party glass litter the streets and powerful fireworks detonations pollute and fill the dark sky with disoriented birds.

Meanwhile walls are being constructed around the world.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Zeitkunst - Chamber Music and Contemporary Literature

The Festival Zeitkunst für Kammermusik und Gegenwartsliteratur (Contemporary art, chamber music and contemporary literature) is on. An ensemble of chamber musicians actors and authors perform music and texts for two days in Villa Elisabeth, Mitte.

The delightful Ardeo Quartet's performance of György Ligeti: String Quartet Nº 1 Métamorphoses Nocturnes was stunning. (Video)
Bela Bartók was performed by Christoph Ehrenfellner, Sergey Malov

The multilingual texts seem to concern themselves with mental states, family and existential orientations ("Dasein", "Befindlichkeit"). Ubiquitous offspring and prams lingered through the texts . Zeitgeist Mitte?

Update: 7 pm session:
Arnold Schoenberg and unintentional sounds of a toddler sounded incompatible.
Christoph Ehrenfellner, Gustav Mahler and and Anton Webern were performed passionately well.

The collaborate team effort of all and the place provided a good ambiance.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Transmediale.08 - a customer interface experience

Hand over the data
The Berlin "House of World Cultures" featured this year's interdisciplinary digital art and culture 'festival'. Having travelled from the other side of the globe we joined the queue to get tickets for the whole event. The condition of purchase of this (5 day) ticket was to divulge our personal data. Oh well, we thought this was maybe a 'German thing', part of 'a normal customer transaction'. Other participants also entered into tacit agreements to en-trust their data in exchange for entering the event space. Despite suspending disbelief and trusting in good data practice, the disproportionality was disturbing. On various occasions participants challenged the collection of their data in discussion times.

Once disenfranchised, we received plastic barcodes to be worn around the neck to identify us when accessing the different spaces. Additionally a stack of dead tree materials was handed over as the 'tickets' for the day.

It appears an irony that one of the main sponsors of the event, The Federal Agency for Civic Education (Die Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung), has as its mission to 'facilitate democratic consciousness and facilitate active political participation'. Being in the business of media literacies, the incongruity of the practice of enabling and containing seems striking.

Customers navigating management-centred logistics
For the opening session in the auditorium, a massive crowd piled up. When the floodgate opened there were 4-5 staff standing at the door and o n e person with o n e handheld scanner (with reading problems). As with most sessions, this one was late too.

On enquiry we were told that “we are trialling a new ticketing system”. This guinea pig factor did not aid the flow of the digitally-branded customers. The environments of "questionable hierarchies” seemed to take very little consideration of the customers' requirements but seemed to be designed for the convenience of management.

Each human gatekeeper interpreted the code of logistics in their own idiosyncratic mode. This in turn dis-oriented the guest into an erratic array of Kafkaesque way-finding. The inconsistencies in the conditions of entry ranged from no identification at all, to most of the time 'the bar code is ok on its own', to rarely barcode plus pulp-version of a ticket.

The human factor - access denied
On the last day, in the final hours, the electronically readable identification was all of a sudden insufficient after 5 days and the human door-management decided to prevent visitors from accessing an exhibition space. Appealing to the humanoid's reason was ineffective as he continuously parroted “I have my orders!”. He insisted we obtain additional paper proof (ticket) and that our barcode alone was invalid. An abundance of additional human door-personnel rushed to do the face-work. All colluded to not recognize their own identity tag which we had purchased and had brought us into all sessions. In the end, access was denied to paying guests.

Not only was customer relationship management an alien concept, but also to
  • evict people from their chosen seats, as “we forgot to reserve them”,
  • be forced to hand over additional photo identification to obtain a translation gadget,
  • assault the senses with a humming, vibrating sound-system (during the Maturana session)
The architecture of conferencing was frontal and hardly facilitated discourse. Missing presenters was another aspects to conspire to irritate the 'audience'. At least this time, unlike TM 07 one didn't have to bring their own chair.

Interface design of an event must allow for heteroglossia, contestation and it must offer more than an irritated central nervous system. Providing access to the services purchased and refraining from 'information-sharing' without consent would constitute a sustainable practice.

> More on the usability-bungle in "Getting A ticket For Transmediale Takes Longer Than Opening A Bank Account" by Joaoflux