Monthly Archives: December 2009

Travels in Germany

Enjoying a festive time in Germany! I am currently in Berlin where the snow is falling fast and 2010 is drawing near. Have a Happy New Year!

Weihnachtsmarkt an der Frauenkirche in Dresden.

A view of the Elbe in Dresden.

Der Reichstag, house of the Parliament in Berlin, with flags flying.

Snowfall in Berlin, outside the Wintergarten im Literaturhaus, my favorite place to enjoy tea and a book.

The State of Curation and Criticism

Individuals from various fields including art, design, film, and academia came together Saturday at the ‘you, me and everyone we know is a curator‘ symposium, organized by the Graphic Design Museum and concepted by Sophie Krier and Mieke Gerritzen. The symposium brought into question how the ever-growing amount and influence of online content redefines what curation and criticism means today.

The starting point was the space and stage created online. Curators today bear witness to the shift of influence: From yesterday, where traditional institutions and experts filter the imagery, essays, videos, and other content, bringing the crème de la crème to life and resigning the rest to oblivion. To today, where the democratization of production and distribution has resulted in a deluge of online content and raised the question of quality control. How can one determine quality in an online environment when distribution is open to the masses? How does this influence the traditional perception of art, writing, and content in general? What new relationships are forged? How do old relationships change, adapt, and evolve? What are the results? Here, I highlight two speakers to give an impression of the discussion that took place:

Design critic Rick Poynor took a look at the blogosphere to determine the current state of design criticism in this unique environment. His focus was on the power and presence of the individual writer, who develops a coherent and consistent viewpoint over time. He began by retracing the changing yet extant influence of print media, design magazines, and journals, and their eventual migration to blogs, whether exclusively or additionally. He then looked at the emergence of new platforms for design writing: institutions with journals published online, museums creating online content, and academic programs.

When it came to the question of whether the online curator was a critic, Poynor argued against the belief that selection alone can be an act of criticism. He described the common presentation of a blog ‘astonishingly bare’ compared to where we came from. He used Space Collective as an example of how a blog can create a visual criticism, a ‘new semantics of argument based on the image’. When it comes to writers though, he found most promise in the dedication to quality writing and the interaction between print media and online content.

Julia Noordegraaf discussed ‘performing archival material online’ through the case study Celluloid Remix, a contest sponsored by the Dutch Filmmuseum. Noordegraaf spotlighted the results and effects that come about when audio-visual material is taken from its original context and reframed, which can happen ad infinitum in an online environment. Noordegraaf concluded that the role of the archivist or curator today will look more like an editor, who maintains information streams, check sources, edits input, and designs interfaces to facilitate interaction between the content and the user.

Biographies and information about all speakers can be found here.

In the Ranks of Poets

Judge: And what is your profession, in general?
I am a poet and a literary translator.
Who recognizes you as a poet? Who enrolled you in the ranks of poets?
No one. Who enrolled me in the ranks of humankind?
Did you study this?
How to become a poet. You did not even try to finish high school where they prepare, where they teach?
I didn’t think you could get this from school.
How then?
I think that it … comes from God

An exchange between a judge and Joseph Brodsky as recorded in a court transcript in 1964. Brodsky was on trial in the Soviet Union for writing what was considered apolitical poetry.

Everyone is a Curator

On Saturday at Paradiso, the symposium ‘me you and everyone we know is a curator‘ will explore the issue of quality in a time of visual abundance, in a search “for new quality criteria, new frames of references, and alternative methods for enabling connections between the virtual and the physical space of today’s culture.” I’ll be in attendance to write about some of the lectures. More to come…

L’auteurs: Recyclage de la Luxe

Seven days, seven classic French films shown for free in the online film festival Recyclage de la Luxe, sponsored by Stella Artois. Access the films via The Auteurs with a UK IP address. The festival kicked off yesterday with Lola (Jacques Demy, 1961) and continues with The 400 Blows (François Truffaut, 1959), Jules et Jim (François Truffaut, 1962), Masculin Féminin (Jean-Luc Godard, 1966), Vivre Sa Vie (Jean-Luc Godard, 1962), La Jetée (Chris Marker, 1962), and Hiroshima, Mon Amour (Alain Resnais, 1959).

The Year in Music

NPR takes a look at the best music of 2009, with more than a few representatives from the Pacific Northwest.

A Woman’s Wit

“If you said you were going off for the weekend and you were doing nothing except re-reading Emma or taking Mansfield Park to bed, that image for me would be one of pure happiness. I mean, you could bring maybe a person to bed, and that might be nicer in some way, but it wouldn’t be as fully satisfying.”
— Colm Toíbín

Authors, scholars, and philosophers discuss the writing of Jane Austen in conversation around the exhibition A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy at The Morgan Library and Museum in New York. A video to watch for those who love the work of Austen, and for those who don’t yet know they do. (via karigee)

Herding Reindeer in Sweden

One image from a series of photographs by David Bacher taken of Sami villagers herding reindeer in Kiruna, Sweden. Bacher describes the photos:

“Several times a year, reindeer are brought together in corrals for various reasons. During the winter, Sami villagers separate their reindeer families from the large herd. The work is intense, often lasting several days in sub-zero temperatures. These photos reflect the dream-like atmosphere that appears around two pm under a mixture of ambient and artificial light. I work with a wide angle lens in order to bring the viewer into the coral and close to the animals. The images are partially blurred intentionally, using a slow shutter speed, to show the frantic movements of the reindeer. The colors are natural, untouched by digital manipulation, presenting the viewer with images that may be seen as paintings.”

(via Verve Photo)

The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project is a musical creation inspired by the front-porch musings on the subject of happiness between Charles Spearin and his neighbors. The words of his neighbors become the backbone of an exploration into the sounds and melodies made while speaking, which are then interpreted by instruments. The Happiness Project on MySpace. (via The Post Family)

And a German description that I prepared for class tonight.

Das Glücklichkeitprojekt (The Happiness Project) ist ein musikalisches Projekt von Charles Spearin. Charles Spearin ist ein Musiker und er hat in viele Bänder gespielt, zum Beispiel ‘Do Make Say Think’ ‘KC Accidental’ und ‘Broken Social Scene’. Das Glücklichkeit Projekt hat auf der Veranda von Charles Spearin angefangen. Er hat mit seiner Familie und Nachbarn über das Thema ‘Glücklichkeit’ gesprochen. Sie haben ‘Was ist Glücklichkeit’ diskutiert. Sie haben geredet, Geschichte erzählt, und über Meinungen und Ansichten gesprochen. Spearin hat die Unterhaltungen aufgenommen.

Damals, haben Spearin und seinen Musiker Freunde die Wörter und Stimmen von Nachbarn gehört. Jede Stimme hat ihren eigenen Rhythmus und Klang/Ton. Wenn mann spricht ist die Stimme manchmal fast wie ein Lied. Die Wörter über ‘Glücklichkeit’ waren den Grund/die Basis für die Melodie. Die Musiker haben Musikinstrumente mit den Stimmen gespielt. Und haben die Stimmen und Ihre Melodie interpretiert. Spearin hat gesagt: ‘Die Musik ist zwischen sprechen und singen, zwischen dem Leben und der Kunst. Eine Unfallmelodie’.

Charley Harper Christmas

The work of artist Charley Harper, his animal prints and illustrated books, are one of my favorite gifts to give. His depictions of birds (with knees!) especially reflect his minimal realist style, full of color and geometric patterns. My recommendations are the illustrated book Birds and Words, An Illustrated Life, or a 2010 Calendar.

Ich Lerne Deutsch…

Last night, a substitute teacher asked her temporary (primary level, beginner, amateur, basic “Trinkst du Tee mit Milch?” skillz) students why it was they had chosen German to learn.

After almost six months of classes, this was the first time we had been asked this as a group.

The question bounced across the rows of desks and I shouldn’t have been surprised to hear that most students’ reasons were to do with love: an Austrian husband; a long-distance boyfriend in Bavaria; tangled family roots; a soon-to-be-son-in-law; newly-weds about to embark on a European adventure.

And then,

a dancer,

a musician (and her friend),

and a writer

for whom the language simply got under her skin.

(via The Literary Piano)

Beauty and the Bike

A group of people in Darlington, United Kingdom, decided to approach the problem of getting women on bikes by getting girls on bikes. The result is Beauty and the Bike, a book, a documentary, and perhaps most excitingly, a bike-share program…. It’s so wonderful to see how the girls move from skepticism about cycling to exhilaration about how “liberating” it is.

I’ve always said the moment when a woman can ride her bike comfortably around a city while wearing heels and feeling beautiful is the moment when that city has a real bike culture. Of course, another important aspect is feeling safe and the role of bike lanes in facilitating a sense of safety. The girls from Darlington visit Bremen, Germany to see how a strong infrastructure can cultivate a culture of bikes. (via SomethingChanged: WorldChanging)