Last week (or maybe it was the week before) i was in Hamburg for the Reeperbahm festival. As soon as the symposium i participated to ended, i walked to the other end of the city to see the Santiago Sierra show. Only that i went to Deichtorhallen -one of my favourite centers for contemporary art and photography- to discover that Sierra was actually in another exhibition space a few metro stops away and that i had to book in advance to see the show. Well, i was Deichtorhallen, they have a nice bar, an über friendly staff (i should add that i found everyone i spoke to in Hamburg to be extraordinarily helpful and welcoming) and a photography show. I love a good photo show. And so i stayed.

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Max Vadukul, Back To Berlin, for Zeit Magazin

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Gabriel Bouys, Entblösst (Stern 1)

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Albrecht von Alvensleben, Pretty Awful Terribly Nice, Horst und Edeltraut Nr. 04

VisualLeader 2013, The Best of Magazines And Internet displays the works of the nominees and winners of last year's LeadAwards, Germany's most prestigious print and online media award. Photo reports, fashion shoots, advertisement, blogs, etc. The lot! That made for a great afternoon so without further ado and in no particular order...

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Benny Lam, Life in 6,42 square metres, Stern Nr. 11

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Benny Lam, Life in 6,42 square metres, Stern Nr. 11

Photos taken by Benny Lam for the Hong Kong-based social welfare group Society for Community Organization highlight the housing crisis in one of Asia's richest cities. The apartments photographed are just four feet by seven feet. According to the South China Morning Post, an estimated 280,000 families are currently living in those shoebox apartments, which are essentially regular-sized (for Hong Kong) flats that have been divided into usually four smaller units (source).

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Paolo Pellegrin, Guantanamo

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Paolo Pellegrin, Guantanamo

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Paolo Pellegrin, Guantanamo

Paolo Pellegrin photographed life in the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo. Together with journalist Tim Golden, he traveled to the place that Obama promised to abolish. Yet, terror suspects are still being held without charge in the military detention camp. Pellegrin's photos were submitted to the scrutiny (or rather censorship) of the military press office. He had to delete approximately a third of his photos.

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Hans-Christian Schink, Industrial building, near the port town of Minamisanriku

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Tanogashira, Utatsu, Miyagi Prefecture

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Hans-Christian Schink, Houses piled up the tidal wave in the destroyed village Ogatsucho Mizuhama has piled up the tidal wave

One year after the tsunami, Hans-Christian Schink spent several weeks traveling through the Tohoku region in northeastern Japan.
More images in Zeit.

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Linda Forsell, Another Day in Paradise, (Vice 5). From the series Life's a Blast

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Linda Forsell, Gaza. A man is bathing his sheep in the ocean. They are reluctant at first but when they have entered the water the become completely calm. From the series Life's a Blast

Life's a Blast is a series of photos that Linda Forsell took in Israel and Palestine from 2008 to 2010.

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The Standard: Erwin Wurm, Pee on Someone's Rug

A print ad campaign for The Standard hotel featuring an image from Erwin Wurm's series of Instructions on How to Be Politically Incorrect.

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Paweł Jaszczuk, High Fashion

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Paweł Jaszczuk, High Fashion

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Pawel Jaszczuk, Street Photography from Japan

Everyone's favourite: 'salarymen' who fell asleep in the gutter in their suit and polished shoes.

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Heidi and Hans-Jürgen Koch, Magical Beginning, Fetus of a brown-breasted hedgehog , Erinaceus europaeus, about 6 cm long, shortly before birth, gestation period about 35 days, about 100 spines are white and change color after birth, Hubrecht collection, Berlin Museum of Natural History

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Alexander Zemlianichenko. In the dock: The members of Pussy Riot on 8 August 2012 in Moscow

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Esther Friedman, Iggy Pop in James-Bond-Pose in a Berlin U-Bahn Station, 1979. © Esther Friedman für ZEITmagazin

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Corey Arnold, Ein großer Fang, in "Mare" Nr. 90 and "Dummy" Nr. 37

I got a surprising (to me at least) request from the guard while i was taking photos in the gallery. He told me that i would have to either stop taking pictures or go back to the ticket office and buy a 'photo license' that cost 2 euros. That was new to me. No more laughable excuse, just "go and get the right to take photos."

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Photo Henning Rogge for Deichtorhallen

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Photo Henning Rogge for Deichtorhallen

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Photo Henning Rogge for Deichtorhallen

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Matthias Vriens McGrath, Facilitated Mess, Zoo-Magazine

VisualLeader 2013, The Best of Magazines And Internet runs until 13 October at Deichtorhallen The House of Photography in Hamburg. Deichtorhallen has a photo set on flickr.

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To many of their fellow Israelis, they are traitors. They are attacked, arrested and demonised. Yet Israelis like Yehuda Shaul, leader of Breaking the Silence and Jonathan Pollack from Anarchists Against the Wall continue to struggle for a more peaceful Middle East. They believe that they can save their state by putting an end to the military occupation. But the Israeli peace movement has lost momentum in recent years. There is widespread apathy in Israel against ending the Occupation, especially after the withdrawal from Gaza. 'Israel vs Israel' takes a fresh look at one of the leading tensions in Israeli society.

Trailer of the documentary:

Israel vs Israel follows 4 Israeli peace activists: a grand mother, a veteran soldier, a rabbi and a young anarchist. The one hour long documentary was directed by Terje Carlsson. I had liked his previous documentary, Welcome to Hebron, so much that Carlsson was kind enough to send me a copy of the dvd.

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Queue

Palestinians living in in the West Bank and wishing to go to work, attend classes at school, deliver milk or simply get to the hospital on time have to go through checkpoints, roadblocks and other obstacles. There are hundreds of them in the West Bank. Even going from one Palestinian area to another involves barriers and documents. Queuing for two hours is nothing exceptional. My heart bled when the documentary showed old ladies standing under the sun holding a permit that would allow them to visit a relative or pray. Could i imagine my grand-mother going through that?

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Ronny Perlman

Ronny Perlman, the Jerusalem coordinator of Checkpoint Watch, goes regularly to a checkpoint and documents violations of human rights of the Palestinians. She tries and intervenes in favour of a father trying to get his young child to the doctor, she discusses with the soldiers, chitchats with the women waiting for their turn to cross the checkpoint. She is one of the many Israeli women based in Israel who take a peaceful stand against the occupation of the territories and the repression of the Palestinian nation.

A moving scene in the documentary shows Perlman talking to her son who is serving as a soldier. They have a conversation about the occupation and the army. The theme is taboo in many families. She hopes her grandson will never have to carry a gun, her son differs and says that, once he is 18, his will probably have to kill 'Arabs' to defend his country.

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Arik Ascherman discussing with a soldier

Rabbi Arik Ascherman, the executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights, tries to protect the non-combatant Palestinian population against harassment from settlers and soldiers.

The consensus view of the international community is that the building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is illegal under international law, although Israel disagrees. B'Tselem reckons that more than fifty percent of the land of the West Bank has been expropriated from Palestinian owners "mainly to establish settlements and create reserves of land for the future expansion of the settlements". Palestinian farmers are prevented from tending to their crops, their olive trees are cut, their houses demolished.

Rabi Arik Ascherman stands between the soldiers and the farmers, sometimes he even stands between the bulldozer and a Palestinian house that has to be destroyed.

Ascherman insists that RHR works for the human rights of Jews, Palestinians and foreign workers alike. It has indeed condemned both Israelis and Palestinians, while recognizing that it is Israel who holds most of the power.

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Yehuda Shaul

The third activist portrayed by the documentary is Yehuda Shaul, founder of Breaking the Silence, an organization of veteran Israeli soldiers that collects testimonies of soldiers who served in the Occupied Territories during the Second Intifadah. Soldiers who serve in the Territories are witness to, and participate in military actions which change them immensely. Cases of abuse towards Palestinians, looting, and destruction of property have been the norm for years, but are still excused as military necessities, or explained as extreme and unique cases.


Yehuda Shaul talks about Breaking the Silence to togetherTV

Shaul served in Hebron and as he half-joked "In Israel, people shouldn't be allowed to vote before they visit Hebron." Israel vs Israel includes images from Terje Carlsson's previous documentary Welcome to Hebron (i can only recommend you to watch it on youtube: part 1, 2 and 3.) Although it is the second time i saw those images, they shocked me deeply: children of settlers throwing stones and spitting at Palestinian school girls, kids shouting "Slaughter the Arabs!" and other scenes i wish i had never seen:

Shaul appears as incredibly honest and brave. Not only has he to live with what he has done to Palestinian civilians while he was part of the army, but now he also has to face abuse from settlers who call him a traitor and a terrorist. Like all the activists portrayed in the documentary, Shaul cares deeply for Israel. He explains that one has to chose between the land of Israel or the State of Israel with the democracy and equality that it entails.

Videos reports and testimonies uploaded by Breaking the Silence.

The fourth peace activist is Jonathan Pollack, one of the founders of the Israeli group Anarchists Against the Wall.

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Jonathan Pollack

Pollack and AAW have embarked on a grassroot, nonviolent crusade against the seizure of Palestinian land for Israel's construction of its -illegal- wall and settlements in the territories. He has been injured, arrested and imprisoned several times for his solidarity actions with Palestinian villagers.

Israel vs Israel is as painful and uncomfortable as it is necessary and gripping. It made me sad and angry. As a European who cares for human rights, i'm often exposed to the works of US or European ONG and activists. I've heard the voice of Palestinians, of foreign observers, of concerned reporters. For the first time, i get to see a video that portrays Israelis (some of them Zionists) who care for their country as much as they care for the respect of basic human rights.

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Palestinian Loss of Land map

I hope Israel vs Israel comes to your town soon. Doc Lounge Göteborg will kick off their autumn programme with "Israel vs Israel" on September 21, 2010. Screenings are scheduled in Stockholm, Göteborg, Karlstad and Malmö in late September. Screenings outside Sweden are planned for later this year. Join the facebook group for updates.

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Filmmaker Terje Carlsson is a freelance journalist based for many years in Jerusalem, working mostly for Swedish National Radio and Television. During the last decade, he has produced shorter documentaries and features from ex-Yugoslavia, South Africa and different parts of the Middle East. His first feature documentary, Welcome to Hebron, was released in 2008. The film won several awards at festivals all over the world. TV broadcasters from more than 10 countries around the world bought the rights for broadcast.

Vice magazine has an interview with Terje Carlsson.
Previously: Tip of the day - Welcome to Hebron.

Another Israeli organization worth mentioning: B'TSELEM - The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. Please add a comment if you know of others.

See also Friday Film Pick: Unrecognized, Architects out of Ariel, Facing jail, the unarmed activist who dared to take on Israel, Walking Through Walls, an essay by Eyal Weizman.

The continuous withdrawal of mental health funding has turned jails and prisons across the U.S. into the default mental health facilities.

Jenn Ackerman's documentary takes us inside the Correctional Psychiatric Treatment Unit of the Kentucky State Reformatory to see how a state is meeting the needs of the mentally ill.


This is a student's work btw. Jenn answered a few questions about the process of the project in his blog.

Via Inicios.

The documentary i was dying to see at the Homo Ludens Ludens exhibition at LABoral in Gijon was Gold Farmers, by Ge Jin.

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Image courtesy of Ge Jin

Gold Farmers are young people who earn their living by playing MMORPG games. They acquire ("farm") items of value within a game, usually by carrying out in-game actions repeatedly to maximize gains, sometimes by using a program such as a bot or automatic clicker.

They sell the artificial gold coins and other virtual goods they've harvested to players and/or farming organizations and get "real" money in return. Players from around the world will then use the golden coins to buy better armor, magic spells and other equipments to climb to higher levels or create more powerful characters.

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World of Warcraft, image gameslander

Many companies have attempted to block the use of gold-farming services by specifically stating in their End User License Agreements and Terms of Service that any and all game assets (from the player's characters themselves, to any items that they may be carrying) remain the sole property of the company itself, and taking aggressive action to close the accounts of any that are found to be using gold-farming (or similar) services.

Although there are gold farmers or gold farms in countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, and Mexico, Chinese are by far the most dynamic. There, young players typically work twelve hour shifts, with just a lunch break somewhere in the middle.

There are gold farmers or gold farms in other countries as well, such as the Philippines, Indonesia, and Mexico. However, they do not approach the scope and scale of the Chinese farm industry.

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Image courtesy of Ge Jin

Ge Jin, a 30-year-old Shanghai native and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, San Diego, has shot a Gold Farmers, a documentary that delve into the background and lives of Chinese gold farmers.

Gold farming puts down the mechanisms that govern a universe in which everyone starts at the same level, no matter how rich their parents are, no matter how many degrees they've collected at the university. Players trying to work their way up according to the rules and in all fairness are the ones who get hit hardest by the practice of gold farming.

Watching the documentary, you can't help but feel some compassion for the gold farmers: they have very little free time, they are paid quite poorly to feed the whims of the Western consumer, they have to deal with the ire of a family who doesn't approve of what they do for a living, they must face the hostility of other players as soon as these realize that gold farmers are on their turf, their english is not good enough to enable them to communicate with other players, and they work hard. Don't be fooled, they don't sit there for hours just for the fun, most of their activity is extremely repetitive. In fact they would sometimes end their day at the "factory" by playing a real game in WoW. Just for the fun.

Chinese Gold Farmers Preview video (Ge Jin has uploaded more video previews):

I asked Ge Jin to discuss his documentary for the blog:

First of all, is the video on show at laboral only part of the documentary you are making or is it the full version of it?

I have another 40 min. long version, but this one is complete in itself as a short version.

Gold farmers have the challenging task of constantly navigating between clandestinity and the need to advertise their service. i suspect that finding and getting the "gold farmers" to talk must have been difficult. how did you locate the players and how did you gain their trust?

It is indeed difficult to get into the exclusive "gold farming" circle. But I was lucky to have an old friend in Shanghai who was running gold farms from 2003 to 2005. This friend introduced me to some gold farm owners. But the reason that the gaming workers/gold farmers trusted me was mainly because I treated them with respect. They face discriminations from non-gamers who see them as game addicts who are losers in real life as well as discriminations from gamers who think they care about more about money than gaming itself. I tried to be a good listener for them and they can see I didn't approach them with many assumptions.

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Image courtesy of Ge Jin

How much has the phenomenon evolved since you started working on this documentary in 2005 (it think)?

Yes I started following this phenomenon since 2005. I think the market become much more competitive and the profit margin for gold farmers are much smaller now. Meanwhile, more sophisticated services like power-leveling have become the mainstream of real money trade. Also, the domestic demand for in-game goods in China has risen so much that Chinese gold farmers no longer just work in foreign games.

In your documentary, you are neither pointing the fingers to gold farmers and saying "look this is evil!", neither are you saying that this is kind of labor embodied in play is the best thing that happened to the gaming scene. I had the feeling that you are not taking a stand. Am i right?

You are right that I'm not taking a stand. And I try to let the people involved in real money trade to tell their own stories in my documentary. But I think some of my "biases" do make their way into the documentary. For example, I don't really care if real money trade changes the regular gaming experience, I'm more concerned with how people's virtual life and real life affect each other, so you don't hardly hear the game industry's point of view in my documentary.

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Image courtesy of Ge Jin

Is gold farming regarded differently in China than it is in the USA, Europe or Japan for example? Is the practice seen as more acceptable by the public and the government? How much does China try to tax and regulate the business?

Culturally, real money trade is indeed more accepted in China than in other countries. For example, the successful game Legend from Giant. Ltc thrives on incorporating real money trade in game design. Western game companies dare not do so blatantly because many gamers may think the game is not a level playing ground that way. But the Chinese gamers seem to accept this inherent unfairness, as if they see so much injustice in real life that they don't expect the virtual world to be better. The government doesn't seem to have any problem with the gold farming business. It has not figure out a good way to tax virtual trade yet, in some rare cases, some gold farms pay a fixed amount of tax based on very rough estimation of trade volume. There is currently no policy directly regulating this industry. Though there are regulations generally aiming to purify content of games and limit how long people can play online games.

Did your research on gold farming sparkle the interest of Western commercial gaming companies? Asking your help to crack down on farmers? Or asking for your opinion on how to make the most of this new form of economy?

To my surprise, I was contacted by gold selling websites who want to use my website to advertise themselves, by gold buyers who are looking for a steady supplier, and by market researchers who want to measure the supply and demand of gold trade. I wish I could seize such opportunities to make some money for myself. But unfortunately I was occupied by exploring the social implications of this economy.

Thanks Ge Jin!

Another documentary part of Homo Ludens Ludens is the fantastic 8 bit movie.

More WoW stories: The Avatar Machine, Joichi Ito on WoW, Life at the gamers' farm.

China has published the world's first gold newspaper, Xinhua news agency reported.

The most expensive edition uses 500 grams of gold while another uses 200 grams. They both cost thousands of dollars.

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The paper has been published by the China Economic Daily to celebrate the achievements of the last 10 sessions of China's top legislative body.

The paper, a one-off, is called 'China's Flourishing Period'.

It was issued in the city of Shenzhen, a booming economic centre in the southern province of Guangdong.

reBlogged from the BBC.

To cover the voices of people on the street during the Republican National Convention, and let you directly plug in, the NYC Grassroots Media Coalition and the Indymedia Network have build their own newsroom: everyday, they produce a newspaper, a television show, a radio webstream and a website with up-to-the-minute reports, videos and photographs about the RNC.

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To help showcase this work, the Gigantic Art Space has offered these independent journalists their gallery. From August 19 through RNC, the Independent Media Infoshop at GAS/gigantic artspace will serve as an Independent Media Infoshop for a public hungry for truth.

Another organization, the August Sound Coalition, lets you record your "straight up grassroots communication" during the RNC. They want to be a welcoming and supportive structure that sound artists, radio groups, and activists of all skill levels can plug into during the RNC.

If you have photos or text, become a moporter with MOPORT, a free service to make and share mobile phone reports.

For more news and links to other local initiatives, see Newsgrist's imvoting blog.

Via Glowlab.
Related entry: Mobile reporters and other activists at the RNC.

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