Innovative Art

Posted: 2010-04-30 14:36   |  More posts about architecture art berlin design german language

Torstrasse 166 is an artists' space in Berlin. One artist's work which really stood out to me was that of Chiharu Shiota, displayed above and below. Here is a rushed translation of some text from her part of the website:
Chiharu Shiota (b. 1972, Osaka) studied with Marina Abramovic and Rebecca Horn and has lived in Berlin since 1999. Her work has been shown in important exhibitions, museums and film festivals across the world, including the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin, National Museum of Modern Art Tokio [sic?], P.S.1/MoMA New York and the biannual film festivals in Kwangyu, Yokohama, Lyon and Fukuoka. In 2008 she was awarded with the most prestigious Prize of the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan. ... The power and energy of Chiharu Shiota's installations fascinate and unsettle simultaneously. Fears and nightmares are packed into her works. Indeed it is the poetry, the aesthetic allure of her work which captivates the observer. In earlier installations, Shiota encased herself in black wool, like a cocoon. She slept in exhibitions, trapped in her webs of wool which form an impenetrable bush between a bed and the walls.

Brandon Shigeta, on the other hand, had a new exhibition in February entitled Skate & Destroy, which showcased objects made from old skateboard decks. Here you can view a full flickr album of photos of the event:

And Scott Burnham has some interesting ideas on the role of urban art and the need for it:

If we were to consider the dialogue of design in the same way we do the linguistic development of a culture’s language, then just as informal street-level vernacular has innovated and filled in the gaps of a culture’s formal language, the street has as well developed its own vernacular to fill the gaps in the city’s formal design. This new street-level language of design – non-commissioned, non-invited interventions in the urban landscape – transforms the fixed landscape of the city into a platform for a design dialogue.

Ideas supported by photos of works of urban art which, as Burnham puts it, "are more than simply creative play in the streets – they signal a new aesthetic correspondence between the individual and the physical city":

In descending order: work by Roadsworth (Montreal), Gualicho (San Jose), TR853-1 (Singapore).


Die Stimme des Klaviers

Posted: 2009-10-07 18:20   |  More posts about art berlin computers experimental german language germany linguistics news oddities

Peter Ablinger, an Austrian composer currently residing in Berlin, has done something rather interesting: he made a recording of a child reading the Proclamation of the European Environmental Criminal Court, then invented a mechanical piano player capable of reading notes in a very high time resolution from a computer.

The computer performs a frequency analysis of the sound spectrum, aided by Ablinger himself, which is then fed into the piano player and out comes the child's voice.

<object width="490" height="344"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowScriptAccess="always" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

(Video in German with English subtitles)

While I wouldn't have much hope for people trying to work out what the piano is "saying" without the aid of seeing the words as they're heard, I think it's a pretty interesting experiment. The auto-player in itself is something to be marvelled at. Neat!


Jan Vormann's Legowelt

Posted: 2009-05-21 12:22   |  More posts about architecture art berlin germany oddities

Jan Vormann goes around Berlin, patching up war-time holes with Lego.


Head over to the Jarmuschek exhibition space for more info, and this Jorymon blogpost for more pictures.


Berlin as an outsider

Posted: 2009-05-16 15:16   |  More posts about berlin germany ireland politics words

6 months ago, there was a great article written in the Irish Times' magazine by Louise East, who, in her own words:

...with another London winter looming and my lease running out, I decided I needed a change. Within days, I had arranged a sublet on a cheap apartment in Berlin and found a friend gracious enough to give my boxes basement space.

After this article, which is definitely worth the read if you haven't come across it before, there wasn't a peep out of her, and I'd become suspicious that she'd perhaps fallen prey to Berlin's wilder side and been checked into a mental institution. Thankfully, that was just my imagination running riot, and she's back today with another article:

Six months on, I’m in the throes of a full-blown crush and like all newly besotted people, I’m kind of insufferable. On a bad day, I’ll argue that Berlin is woven from a blend of cashmere and unicorn milk known to solve nine out of 10 Middle Eastern crises and eliminate e-mail spam.

Apparently, the shower in her profoundly beautiful apartment was going on the blink. She writes of the German work ethic:

... Ten minutes later, a plumber phoned and told me he was terribly sorry, but it would not be possible for him to attend to my situation until perhaps 3pm. At that point, it was noon.

And of the unique reaction to the world-wide downturn that Berlin has taken:

A recent article in Der Spiegel online confirmed what I guessed already; the recession is not hitting Berlin in the same way it is affecting the rest of the world. With jobs not there to be lost, and consumerism already scaled back, Berlin appears to be practically immune to the black panic gripping the rest of the world. Or, as one gallery owner quoted in the Der Spiegel piece puts it: “Berlin is now the only place in the world you can go where everyone isn’t depressed. In this evolutionary cycle, they’re perfectly adapted for survival.” Clearly, much credit must go to the quality of Berlin’s social services (high) and its price of living (low) but increasingly, I wonder whether some tiny, seemingly trivial differences may, in fact, be the opposable thumbs of city evolution.

Thanks to John for bringing this new article to my attention!


berlin.unlike any other

Posted: 2009-03-30 15:34   |  More posts about architecture art berlin germany

As probably anyone who knows me can attest to, I'm something of a Berlin-fanatic. It's most likely insufferable in real life, hearing someone go on and on about the virtues of this great city, but at least I can harp on about it here in little conversations with myself to my heart's content, in the knowledge that it shall at worst cause nobody annoyance and at best perhaps prove useful to one or two of the internet's many lost souls.

First up in what is likely to be a long string of love-letters to Germany's capital city is a descovery I made the other day: the website berlin.unlike. With a tag-line stating its aim to be the "definitive city guide for the mobile generation" (whatever the fuck that means), it provides articles on all the usual stuff: where to eat, where to club and where to stay, but also some interesting guides on "wellness" and "thrills."

What first brought me to the site was an article about Haus Biesenthal, a stunning manor-house on the outskirts of Berlin. Seemingly bought and renovated by a group of artists and architects, it is "supposed to be the center point of an ecological special zone", the artists having preserved the facade of the house while completely revamping everything else:


Inside, there's impressive minimalist architecture complemented with rather busy interior design: it seems the only decorations adorning the walls are the artists' own works:


Incredible stuff. Apparently the house serves as a kind of art gallery, and the third exhibition, featuring the art of 20 different artists, will begin on the 5th July. My exams finish at the end of July - I find myself hoping the exhibition will go on for a few months...

Another feature of the website which I particularly liked were the guides to Berlin written by local celebrities such as Lars Eidinger and DJ Shir Khan, who list bars, restaurants and attractions of Berlin which are notable and which the average person may not know about. They also explain what they find special about these places in a paragraph or two (most interestingly in Eidinger's guide, as a slightly unusual case in that he was born and grew up in Berlin).

This blog post is simply an unfairly shallow scratch at the surface of this wonderful website which demands far more than simply a cursory glance. Indeed, it turns out it's more of a network than a single website: there are .unlike websites for Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, London, Miami, Paris, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Vienna.

Konrad Fischer
GalerieKonrad Fischer Galerie