The Żak Gallery in Berlin is currently running a delightful exhibition

Łukasz Skąpski, "Machines", 2005-2007, Courtesy Żak Gallery

In the '60s Poland it was almost impossible to acquire a tractor in Poland. Agricultural machines produced by the country were available mainly for state-owned enterprises. For private farmers these tractors were too expensive and they weren't even robust or efficient enough for the mountain region. Out of necessity they constructed their own machines using spare parts and bits and pieces from whatever machines they could find. Including decommissioned army vehicles and pre-WWI German machines.

Łukasz Skąpski, "Machines", 2005-2007, Courtesy Żak Gallery

Since 2005 Łukasz Skąpski has been traveling all over Poland to document the story of the tractors hand-constructed by farmers. He also made a video where farmers talk fondly about their machines, how it goes faster than it is allowed, how they can drive very steep roads with it and how robust the vehicle is. Considered that somewere built decades ago most of them look like little marvels.

Łukasz Skąpski, "Machines", 2005-2007, Courtesy Żak Gallery

Also at the Żak gallery is Skapski's latest photo series of self-made houseboats.

Łukasz Skąpski, "Machines", 2005-2007, Courtesy Żak Gallery

On view at the Żak Gallery in Berlin until March 3.

Fotopolis has a few more pics.

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One anime film and 30 new paintings by Yoshitaka Amano, each one more gorgeous than the other, are currently on view at the Galerie Michael Janssen in Berlin.
Kiki, 2007

As a creator of video games, anime characters, illustrations and graphic designs, Yoshitaka Amano is regarded as a source of inspiration for artists such as Mariko Mori, Takasha Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara.

Unitled, 2007

Untitled, 2007

The exhibition, called Deva-Loka, takes its name from a colourful 7 meters painting inhabited by psychedelic figures. Smaller aluminium panels singles out fantastic monsters and characters, and mid-sized paintings feature close-ups of imperturbable heroes, grim warriors and delicate heroines.

Detail of Deva-Loka

Plenty of images on the gallery website, my flickr page and on artnet.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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
(U + S Jannowitzbrücke)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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