Yesterday, together with a horde of other visitors (note to self: never ever again visit the usually peaceful C/O on a Sunday) i checked out Assorted Cocktail, Martin Parr's retrospective which features Bored Couples, Last resort, The Phone Book, Small World, Common Sense, Think of England, Think of Germany, Knokke-le-Zoute, Glasgow and Mexico.

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The photographic series, taken between 1985 and 2003, guide us from what could be regarded as the essence of "english-ness" to the garish effects of globalization.

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New Brighton, Merseyside, from "The Last Resort"

Apart from Knokke which so so much reminded me of my childhood holidays in nearby Ostende, the work i found most endearing was Last Resort, one of Parr's first successful series, the one that brought him fame and a reputation for being a sarcastic chronicler of our times. Taken between 1983 and 1986, these photographies formed a snapshot of a typical Summer day in the life of holidaymakers in the seaside resort of New Brighton. There´s more to it than a few teenagers queuing for ice cream though as the series reflects the social decline and distress of the working class during the era of Margaret Thatcher.

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New Brighton, Merseyside, from "The Last Resort"

Bored Couple gets the Award for hilariousness. Yet, it is also a very bitter award as i guess very few among us have escaped those moments when love appears to give way to indifference and dullness.

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FINLAND--On a ferry between Helsinki and Stockholm, 1991

Slate has a slideshow.

Small World dates back to the early '90s but the insanity and inanity of mass tourism it portrays have only become more widespread and acute with the passing of time.

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Kleine Scheidegg, Small World, 1994

From 2000 onwards, Martin Parr travelled around the world to document the high and low (but most notably the low and very low sides) of daily life in Russia (Stalin World), Germany (Think of Germany), England (Think of England), and Belgium (Knokke-le-Zoute).

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Think of Germany, Berlin, 2002

Parr also went to Mexico and flew back with a photo series that made me think that he was so charmed by the country that he left his sarcastic lens in good old Europe.

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Untitled from the series Mexico, 2002-04

Both BBC and The Morning News have slideshows on the Mexico series.

More images in Magnum, Der Spiegel, artnet, Stern,

At C/O Berlin, The Cultural Forum for Visual Dialogues, until February 24.

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Sedlescombe, from the series Think of England, 2000-2003

Previous shows seen at C/O: The Bread Man, Weegee's Story.

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Because Berlin is hosting several institutions like bootlab, Chaos Computer Club, c-base e.V., etc. which all "are doing strange things with electricity" on a daily basis, dorkbot.bln takes place only once a year, during Transmediale, when like-minded people from all over the world are in town.

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Image by Fabienne Serriere

The 5th annual Berlin dorkbot is organised by c-base e.V. and will feature the following projects:

- mikro.FM: "Your friendly neighborhood micro transmitter network and how to join in."

- Fabienne "fbz" Serriere: "Future Fabrics: construction techniques for wearables with flexible and washable circuitry."

- The Moving Forest team presents its electronic gadgets -introducing Ricardo from New York with his Radio Gun Revolt, Martin from Berlin with his Scrying Boards, and Pit from Backyard Radio with their micro FM node.

- 02L - Outside Standing Level: "Unità Zero", 32 possible combinations of videos and vibrating mixed audio sequences, triggered by stepping feet.

dorkbot.bln will be hosted by discordian evangelist Tim Pritlove.

The evening is part of C-ECRETS - the c-base partner event of transmediale.08 CONSPIRE.

Monday, January 28, 2008
8 pm | 5,- EUR (Free admission for transmediale.08 festival pass owners)

c-base e.V.
culture communication carbonite
Raumstation unterhalb Berlin
Rungestr. 20, 2. HH
D-10179 Berlin-Mitte
Germany
(U + S Jannowitzbrücke)
MAP!

From Spark to Pixel (Part 1)
Second part of the visit of the exhibition From Spark to Pixel. Art + New Media, which is running at Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin until 14 January 2008.

Christian Partos had some impressive installations.

M.O.M. - Multi Oriented Mirror pixelises the artist's mother’s portrait with 5000 micro-mirrors whose infinitesimal slant makes the intensity of the reflected light vary. If you stand close to the installation all you see is just lots of tiny bits of mirror. Take a few steps back and the the portrait of Partos' deceased mother appears. The effect is really amazing. No picture of it in the press kit, sorry. I made this blurry image which might give you a very vague idea of what it was like.

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Christian Partos: Visp, 2000. photo: Lepkowski Studios

The Swedish artist had another work on show, Visp, a continuously changing shape made of 5 light-wires, 30 feet long, spinning like skipping-ropes, two revolutions per second. A computer, which also revolves, switches the LEDs on and off to create animated patterns on the revolving surface. Bitmap pictures, text etc. can be sent to the sculpture via radio link. Made for the Swedish Pavilion Expo 2000, Hanover.

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Thomas McIntosh with Emmanuel Madan and Mikko Hyninnen, Ondulation, 2002. Photo: Lepkowski Studios

Ondulation, by Thomas McIntosh in collaboration with Mikko Hynninen and Emmanuel Madan is a truly hypnotizing composition for water, sound and light. A two-ton pool of water is set in motion by powerful loudspeakers. Waves travel across the basin, rising or falling in response to the sounds. Lights, bouncing off the moving surface, send reflected ripples over the walls of the gallery. The surface of this “liquid mirror? is slowly shaped by the sound into a kind of 3D expressions of the music which in turn become reflections on the wall. The simultaneity is such between the sound and light waves that we are left with a sense of seeing the sound and hearing the image.

Shiro Takatani (whom you might remember for a work Vicente recently reviewed: LIFE: fluid, invisible,inaudible... ) had some lovely installations and that's is too bad for you if you can't go and see the exhibition in Berlin because, once again, the press kit snubbed him. Chrono, a fiberglass cone recreates the exactitude of each pixel of an almost infinite number of fish-eyed images of skies shot in one day in Australian desert. Camera Lucida was commissioned for the retrospective of the nuclear physicist Ukichiro Nakaya (1900-1962) by the Museum of Natural History at Riga. Nakaya was the first to perform a systematic study of snow crystals and their different shapes. Camera Lucida is an intimate piece using fibre optics to explore the micro building blocks of nature.

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Dumb Type, Voyages, 2002. Photo: Jirka Jansch

Takatani is one of the founders of Dumb Type. The Kyoto-based collective is showing Voyages, a work which brings to light the feelings of uncertainty and dislocation that accompany today's shifting realities. Images of nature and other scenes are projected upon a narrow panel on the floor, circles showing a network of flight routes are superimposed. Visitors are invited to remove their shoes, step on the panel and embark on a journey through these multilayered realities. By adjusting their upheld palm to "catch" a projected circle, they can bring a "handheld" image into focus.

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Joachim Sauter, Dirk Lüsebrink, ART+COM, The Invisible Shapes of Things Past, 1995–2007. Photo: Jirka Jansch

Joachim Sauter and Dirk Lüsebrink (Art + Com) had a room filled with architectural objects and sculptures generated from existing film stills, using a method they developed in the '90s and which they call The Invisible Shapes of Things Past. The project enables users to transform film sequences into interactive, virtual objects.

In The Invisible Shapes of Things Past stills of a film sequence are arranged in a row in accordance with the camera movement with which they were shot. Thus, a straight camera movement produces a cube-shaped object and a pan a cylindrical object.

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Gregory Barsamian, The Scream, 1998. Photo: Jirka Jansch

Gregory Barsamian uses relatively simple technoloty (strobe lights and motors) to transform his dreams into 3D animations. Using the idea of the zoetrope, the 19th century automated flipbook, Barsamian utilizes strobe lights synchronized to objects mounted on rotating armatures to create series of rapidly changing images. For each flash of the stroboscope, one sculpture representing a stage of the metamorphosis follows after the other, giving the impression of a constant transformation of its shape. Through the "persistence of vision," the human mind transforms the images into the illusion of motion. An animation without the film.

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Video of one of his pieces.

The Scream is a self portrait which concerns the issue of mind clutter: bits of unwanted information, songs and sound loops, images and nonsense syllables. In this piece a head emits a scream. The mouth widens and widens not stopping until the head turns inside out revealing some of the detritus within.

Image on the right: Greg Barsamian, No Never Alone, 1997. Photo: Jirka Jansch

The name of another of Barsamian's installation, No, Never Alone, is taken from a Christian spiritual. A central figure is shrouded and thus blinded. The figures surrounding it are constantly taunting it for its intentional blindness. Hands dangle a carrot in front of it as well as show it an eye chart that it obviously cannot see. Another pair of hands holds an open book on whose pages dances a blind dervish while hands clap in time.

Here's a slideshow of the exhibition. Please do not forget the credits for each image if you use any.

0aafilmspiele.jpgI finally got to visit From Spark to Pixel. Art + New Media, which presents developments in contemporary art involving the large-scale use of digital and interactive media. The exhibition is running at Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin until 14 January 2008.

Image on the left: Erwin Redl, Berlin Flow, 2007. Photo: Lepkowski Studios, Berlin

What a great show! I want more of these. I want more traditional museums taking up the challenge to exhibit new media art works and demonstrating that although it certainly isn't a piece of cake, setting up a new media art show doesn't have to be such a challenge after all. I want more media art where families have a good time, where even the art snob will admit that this is indeed art and not just some geekery, where the security people smile at you and say that you can touch (though not everything and being allowed to touch doesn´t imply that hell won´t break loose if you take your photo camera out of your bag which wouldn't drive me wild if at least their press office could provide us with a decent collection of images showing details, works seen from several sides, etc.). Their book shop had even stacked up an amazing collection of essays about media art (i bought half of them, and left what i couldn´t carry). But big thumb down to you guys for publishing a catalog in german only.

Spark to Pixel is pure heavy machinery with dark rooms, experiments straight from the physics class, references to the pre-history of cinema, illusion tricks and glowing bulbs.

One of the most striking pieces is the artificial blue sky that Erwin Redl has created specifically for the Martin-Gropius-Bau. But then i might be a bit biased when it comes to Redl because i have a soft spot for his work. Never met the guy but his installation was the first installation of "new media art" i remember having seen. It was Matrix IV which was part of a show called Massless Medium: Explorations in Sensory Immersion, back in 2001 in Brooklyn.

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Anyway, Flow Berlin is a virtual ceiling made up of 30,000 blue LEDs mounted on cables. The individual strings of LEDs are switched on and off in sequence and form an enormous wave pattern.

You can experience the work from the atrium below, and from there it looks like an electro sky but if you go upstairs and see it from the balcony it appears as a living light wave.

Image on the right: Ulf Langheinrich: Hemisphere, 2006–2007. Photo: Jirka Jansch

When you're on the ground floor, you can also have a good look at the way Flow Berlin dialogs with Ulf Langheinrich's Hemisphere, 2006-2007. Hemisphere is an artificial space created by 5 high definition beamers projecting onto a suspended cupola. The installation plunges the visitor into an immersive environment that, despite the seductive apparatus of presentation, comes close to a charged nothingness. What is perceivable is a fine murmuring and shimmering that essentially rests on calculations of fractal structures and particle systems. It is an aesthetic plasma that is constantly restructured and changing.

Hemisphere seemed to have on visitors an effect similar to the one created by Ólafur Elíasson's Weather Project at Tate Modern a couple of years ago. People sitting underneath the cupola, their head up or they lying, under the spell of the constantly changing granular virtual world, they are very quiet, as if they were under the effect of some luminous drug.

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Ulf Langheinrich: Hemisphere, 2006–2007. Photo: Jirka Jansch

Curator Richard Castelli has articulated the exhibition around four key concepts -fire, electricity, light and pixel- which each draw attention to the way contemporary artists engage with energy. Starting with fire, the first form of energy to be mastered by man, the exhibition follows human evolution through the stages of electricity, light and the pixel. I'll just follow my own whim and will to do my best not to whinge profusely because the information and the pictures offered in the press kit are so scarce that i won't be able to talk (let alone show) much about some of the pieces...

Aaaanyway, let's stoically keep on blogging and mention another startling piece: Brad Hwang's latest installation Time May Change Me / I Can’t Change Time. It looks like a super long sledge with an electrostatic generator and two huge revolving discs. You can hop on, sit down and start rowing, your movements will be turned into electricity.

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Brad Hwang, Time May Change Me / I Can’t Change Time, 2007. Photo: Jirka Jansch

You can't see it from the picture provided in the crap press kit (there goes my stoicism) but the effect is enchanting: the room is dark and the sparkles and little noises created while rowing reminded me that something that we usually take for granted, electricity, is actually quite magical and fascinating.

0aaawilhurstmanc.jpgThe work is based on the Wimshurst Influence machine (image on the right), an electrostatic machine for generating high voltages. Developed between 1880 and 1883 by James Wimshurst, the electrical generator features two large contra-rotating discs mounted in a vertical plane, two crossed bars across them, and a spark gap formed by two metal spheres.

With this installation Hwang is trying to change the parameters of physical space and to combine visible and invisible phenomena with his homemade constructions and to expand the metaphorical aspects of the Wimshurst machine to become “a time machine?.

Images courtesy of Martin Gropius Bau.

0aaafflyentiology.jpgBig crowd at the Babylon-Mitte film theatre and cheerful mood last weekend. I had spent the past few months looking forward to getting the full Pictoplasma Animation Festival experience but only managed to spend one afternoon there.

Pictoplasma is all about the art of contemporary character design. Whether they come from advertising, fine, urban art, music video, animation, or comics, Pictoplasma discovers, archives and showcases the best of them.

Because my previous post on the festival might have given you the impression that the screen was invaded by aquatic birds on Prozac, i thought i´d demonstrate in 3 moves that it wasn't the case. At all:

Daniel Garcia and Nathan Love directed El-P Flyentology, the story of a guy who refuses to become a Church of Flyentology convert.

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Then there´s the PSST project which has different teams of designers, directors, and animators collaborate to produce short films. The technique is derived from the Surrealist game of Exquisite Corpse and the children’s game Telephone and applied to the arts of motion graphics, animation and film-making. I particularly liked the Unreciprocated Surgery Zombie.

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(image snatched at animawatch)

Eric Lerner´s series of 5 Mr cityMen which combines 3D animation with live video shots. We were introduced to Mr Fortune whose phlegm reminded me of Huggy Bear, Starsky & Hutch´s street contact and to Mr Sunken who moves through life in constant slow-motion. But there's also Mr DejaVu who experiences the same day over and over again. Mr Scared and Mr Dreamer, who both to their best to deserve their name.

I didn't embed any video this time, the plan is to have you explore the artists and designers' websites and find more about their work. The videos mentioned are out there and pretty easy to spot.

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I was back in Berlin on Saturday just in time to get some provision for the retina at Pictoplasma Animation Festival. The highlight of the event for me was David O´Reilly´s talk.

This guy must be what you´d call a genius. After having seen a long string of animation from talented artists during the Pictoplasma screenings, i was starting to get a bit dizzy because of all that cuteness overload. Enters David O´Reilly, not exactly as cheerful as the little penguins and singing bunnies we had just seen, but humble and honest enough to make you like his dark side much more than any peppy character.

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Ident (watch it)

Here are some notes from his talk:

The Irish Berlin-based artist has worked for 7 years in the animation world but it´s only for two years that he calls himself a filmmaker. It all started in a rather classical way: he went to school to learn about animation and drawing. He was actually more interested in drawing but realized quite quickly that not many people give a damn about drawing so he had to turn to Plan B: animation.

His first break in animation came very very fast. He was not too stimulated by the school´s animation course, felt out of synch with the rest of his class, etc. So he did something that many students are probably doing: he sent an email to his heroes, the guys from Shynola who are famous for never hiring anyone from the outside. He simply asked them to have a look at his work. He never really thought they would even write him back. They did. In their message they told him that his shorts were the best things they had ever been sent. What he sent were three animations (here´s a link to one of them) which he showed us while apologizing: they look a bit old for him now (not for us, thanks!) Besides, a promo campaign used a very similar character a few years ago and David's comment on this was "I guess that´s what happens when you make super simple characters."

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He left school and started to work for both Shynola and Studio AKA. While at Studio AKA he was doing some 2D and 3D designs (they didn´t know he was able to do some animation), he would only create animation at Shynola (who in turn were unaware that he was a good designer).

In 2005, he decided to learn everything again and start from scratch. That´s when he realized RGBXYZ which he calls "an angry work". The animation is made of five sequences totaling 15 minutes.

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WOFL

In 2006, he went to work at Fabrica, the Benetton communication research center situated in Treviso (Italy). They asked him to do a test to prove that he could do some animation. He came up with the eerie and gorgeous WOFL. Fabrica didn´t like it too much but many other people did and the work soon appeared in mags and DVDs.


Uploaded by makecurves
Video of Wofl

Next Fabrica asked him to create a small ambient animation for the Benetton stores and as a provocation he made a short animation in which animals are shot in the head one after the other.

One of his best moments at Fabrica was when he found a space used mainly to screen corporate cinema movies, he befriended the security guy and would lock himself with stacks of movies which have influenced his later works. The movies were more the Ingmar Bergman, Andrzej Żuławski or Gus Van Sant kind than Pixar.

After that he collaborated with Garth Jennings, one of the directors of sci-fi movie The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

O´Reilly created some scenes in a toilet cubicle and some illustrations for the pages of the Holy Bible seen in Jennings' movie Son of Rambow.

The animation director ended his talk by showing us his latest film which he had just finished working on a few hours before. Serial Entoptics started with a mood, a feeling that David wanted to convey. he didn´t do any storyboard, he just followed what he calls a "punk method" even if the result doesn't look punk at all.
If you´re in London, you'll get a chance to see the movie and hear David O´Reilly at 3Rooms on November 27.

I'll leave you with the video he made for Venetian Snares:


Video for Venetian Snares' Szamar Madar title

More of his videos in ColonelBlimp.
Related: Meet the characters.

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