Friday, May 18, 2007

Brightblack Morning Light at Cargo

Last Monday I got the chance to see one of my favourite new bands from 2006, Brightblack Morning Light. I usually describe them to people who don't know their music as: "Think of it as an acoustical version of early Black Sabbath half the speed but double the echo." As you might imagine, this is proper laid-back irie sound but with enough irony that there's no unintended campness in their performance.
Some pictures below:

Creative Commons License
Pictures in this post are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK: Scotland License.

Labels: ,

Old School, John Maeda

Last Saturday I went to town again to see some more art. Hauser & Wirth Gallery on Old Bond St. is currently showing an exhibition called "Old School". The idea is to show classical as well as contemporary paintings in one show and to examine the correlations between them. I have to say that although I was a bit hesitant in the beginning as to whether this might work or not, I can now say that I really enjoyed the show as I was pleased to find that some works of my all-time favourites Gerhard Richter and Jeff Wall as well as other contemporaries of the likes of Luc Tuymans are doing rather well in the company of old masters like Lucas Cranach the Elder and Carlo Dolci. Find some pictures below:

After that, I got myself immersed into a completely different aesthetic context by visiting John Maeda's exhibition "My Space" at Riflemaker Gallery. Maeda being one of MIT's finest in terms of new media art for years and it came both as a shock and a shame to me that I discovered him so late. I particularly liked the pieces he did with the iPods, be it to reprogram them as a display for a Mac II or as a form of collage. But the one piece that left me rather stunned was the sugarcube-print.
In the case of the Cibachrome photograph representing sugar granules, Maeda wanted to find some way to use every little crystal of sugar in one image. Influenced by the idea of nanotechnology — essentially the ability to paint with atoms — and by his conviction that computer graphics has become overused and overdeveloped, John Maeda thought it would be interesting to individually place together each crystal of sugar to obtain an image. The reality of all of the sugar in a sugar packet and the synthetic nature of three-dimensional computer graphics have come together in a series of highly saturated, visually captivating photographs.

The content of a single sugar packet was placed onto a scanner bed, and scanned in several passes. Maeda then created a computer program that was able to extract single images of the sugar crystals from the scan. To his surprise, Maeda found that in a single crystal packet there are more than 70,000 individual crystals. A computer graphic scene was then specially rendered by another piece of software he wrote. Finally another computer program he wrote processed the data such that each ‘pixel’ could be replaced with a corresponding sugar crystal cluster. This general process of using a conventional image scanner as a kind of camera, and the computer programs written by Maeda as a kind of chemistry for developing the film,repurposes digital photography to illuminate the relationships between image, artificial image, and reality. (link)

Highly recommended:

Creative Commons License
Pictures in this post are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK: Scotland License.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, April 16, 2007

EEG Game Controller

Initially treated by NASA as a mere spin-off of their pilot monitoring technology, this method has been tested in recent years for a variety of purposes. One approach was to reduce the use of Ritalin by kids diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), but now it found its way into the games sector as a brainwave interface controller. That basically means that players will be able to control in-game actions with their thoughts alone.
I first came in contact with this technology at Synworld in Vienna in 1999, but at that time, it was far from advanced in terms of actually controlling actions in a virtual environment. But it was nevertheless impressive to see what a mere readout of brain activity could trigger on different computers. To my knowledge, the application towards treating ADD began around 2002 and seems to have reached its commercial implementation as well. It is exciting however to see that the interface is not only getting more comfortable to wear but also cheaper. It will be interesting to see how this technology will be picked up by gamers and media artists alike.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, April 05, 2007

DJ night at Live Bar in Deptford, Sunday 8th

Coming Sunday, a few fellow electronic music afficionados and me will host yet another one of our weekly nights at the Live Bar in Deptford, South London. This one is special in terms that we not only will have a long weekend to begin with, Monday is also still a bank holiday so I am looking forward to play some nice tunes and get a good party running on Sunday. I would be happy if everybody who's interested could make their way to Deptford that night in order to celebrate with us! See you there!

Weekly at The Live Bar in Deptford; 41-42 Deptford Broadway, SE8, London

Starts Sunday 8th April

Nearest Tube: Deptford Bridge, T:020 8469 2121,

Electronica/ Techno/ Electro

With Lipsis, DJ Choccybiccy, Атомск, Crewdson, and guests


Free Image Hosting at

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Andreas Gursky at White Cube

Those among you who know Andreas Gursky know what to expect from him but it's comforting to see that he can still surprise you even if you have grown accustomed to his style.

The new exhibition at White Cube Gallery Mason's Yard features new works from North Korea, Japan and a location seemingly unknown (for the F1 Boxenstopp series).

What's really stunning about his pictures is his masterful combination of both grandeur and detail, overlapped and intertwined by notions of seriality, repetition and uniformity. He's interested in the bigger picture (in a very literal way) of things yet manages to depict bigger relations which we would describe as artificial or uniform with a respect to detail that always hints towards some form of transgression of these serial structures. A civil parade in North Korea with thousands of participants might aesthetically appear almost as a military parade of the good old Cold War days (which North Korea is not really willing to get out of anyway right now) but it also reveals the transgression of this very grid-like and mostly symmetrical form. People not waving their banners at the right time, individuals sleeping or simply not paying attention. These are the details that differentiate a civil from a military parade as it allows for these things to happen.

F1 Boxenstopp is slightly different as it depicts racing cars getting checked up by the team of engineers during a race. Although they -in principle- all perform the same actions and have to act as a greater whole on the car and the pilot, given their tight time restrictions, you are still able to see the differences in movement from team to team, even if it is a similar engineer performing a similar task. This leaves us with the impression that although complying to standards and protocol is of the utmost importance here, the individual capacity to handle the form of self-organisation by the particular team as a whole is equally important. It only becomes clear by the leaflet that these pictures are in fact digitally constructed and so Gursky manages to challenge our whole perception of what his work is about once more.

White Cube Mason’s Yard is pleased to present the work of Andreas Gursky in his first major solo exhibition with the gallery. Renowned for his large-format colour photographs charting themes of globalised society at work and play, Gursky’s new production employs the latest digital technology to capture and refine an astounding compilation of detail on an epic scale.

The perspective in many of Gursky’s photographs is drawn from an elevated vantage point. This position enables the viewer to encounter scenes, encompassing both centre and periphery, which are ordinarily beyond reach. For the Pyongyang series (2007), Gursky travelled to the Arirang Festival, held annually in North Korea in honour of the late Communist leader Kim Il Sung. The festival’s mass games include more than 50,000 participants performing tightly choreographed acrobatics, against a backdrop of 30,000 schoolchildren holding coloured flip-cards that produce an ever-changing mosaic of patterns and images. Gursky’s photographs describe, in panoramic dimensions, the incongruity of the brilliant colours and smiling faces of the performers within the controlled, totalitarian nature of the event.
F1 Boxenstopp (2007) focuses on the frenetic activity around Formula One cars stationed in their pits during a race. Dozens of mechanics and technicians in bright team colours surround two vehicles, hurriedly refuelling and repairing, all but obscuring the cars and drivers from view. Above this scene, members of the audience look down from the darkened interior of the hospitality suite. Shot at various Grand Prix races around the world – Shanghai, Monte Carlo, Istanbul, São Paulo – the figures appear captured in a moment of authenticity, yet in reality, such simultaneous action would not be possible; these images are in fact a carefully composed digital construct.
Andreas Gursky was born in Leipzig and lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany. Since the 1980s he has exhibited extensively, including major solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, MCA Chicago and SF MOMA, San Francisco. His most recent museum exhibition opened in February 2007 at the Haus der Kunst in Munich and will tour to Istanbul and Sharjah.

Andreas Gursky at White Cube Mason’s Yard coincides with a presentation of new work at Monika Sprüth Philomene Magers London, 7a Grafton Street, London W1S 4EJ from 22 March to 12 May 2007.

Creative Commons License
Pictures in this post are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK: Scotland License.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, March 26, 2007

Christoph Büchel, Häuser & Wirth Coppermill

A little more than a week ago, I attended the last chance to see Christoph Büchel's installation "Simply Botiful" at Häuser & Wirth Coppermill. Not at all clearly recognizable as an art space, the building located in Bethnal Green looks like a dingy hotel from the outside. The only hint I had that I was at the right place was the rather large cue of (mostly) fashionably dressed people in their 20s and 30s outside the venue. I can now say in retrospect that the wait was sure worth it because what I was about to witness inside surpassed my wildest imaginations. It actually took me a while to realize that the whole place served as an installation as opposed to the common spatial convention that you have a.) an artspace and b.) the piece hosted inside. But the inversion of these notions and conventions didn't really stop there. The whole place looked as if it had been occupied and abandoned shortly before the audience's arrival. Everything looked as if it was occupied literally hours ago and therefore creating a kind of haunting presence.

I overheard a conversation between a couple right behind me in the queue that they would have liked it better if there were also actors impersonating the occupants of the place we were about to witness. But I personally think that would have worked against the whole concept. A space crowded with used artifacts but void of individuals who might use them bears a better and more approachable possibility of reflection for the audience. Another comment I could overhear in the queue was that all these places looked strangely familiar and I can totally agree with that. It had this eerie attraction of the junkyard you're not allowed to trespass as a kid because it's dangerous but as one knows, kids of a certain age will go there anyway. The installation contained all these sensations of trespassing, looming danger and voyeurism.
The latter probably being the most powerful and emblematic of the whole piece because not only did the visitor seemingly trespass into a completely different set of lifestyles and locations, the references to sex, pornography and exhibitionism of the most intimate moments of private life were following you everywhere you went.
The most intense experience for me was to go down the dug hole and crawling through a tiny hand-dug tunnel on all fours. If one ever wonders what coming into a country without a valid passport or visa might feel like, I'd recommend the above experience. It was all very dark, narrow, dirty and cheap but once you come out of the whole installation and you feel the streets of London underneath your feet again, it changes the way you look and think about things.

From the press release:

A major exhibition by Swiss artist Christoph Büchel will be the second exhibition at Hauser & Wirth Coppermill in London's East End. Büchel works in a variety of media, including film, printed materials, sculpture and textiles, though he is perhaps best known for his conceptual projects and large-scale installation pieces. Büchel often appropriates mass media sources such as the Internet, printed political pamphlets and everyday household objects. His work is informed by an explicit political awareness, often telling of new forms of propaganda in an era of mediated war.

Büchel's complex installations force his audience to participate in scenarios that are physically demanding and psychologically unsettling. Cramped tunnels, claustrophobic chambers and frequent dead-ends induce feelings of panic and paranoia. He explores the unstable relationship between security and internment, placing visitors in the brutally contradictory roles of victim and voyeur. Gallery visitors to Büchel's 2005 installation 'Hole' at the Kunsthalle Basel were forced through small rooms connected by constricted passageways and steep ladders. Inside these fraught spaces, the chilling sight of a suicide caught on surveillance camera was juxtaposed with a psychotherapist's consulting room and the remnants of a bombed out Swiss bus. The frozen rooms that form the basis of such works as 'The House of Friction (Pumpwork Heimat)' (2002) offer spaces of oppressive cold, where preservation borders on the brink of obsolescence. Experiencing such charged spaces is usually a solitary task, though this private experience becomes the means by which collective tensions and traumas might be unearthed.

From kultureflash:

The gargantuan warehouse space has been transformed into a sweatshop seemingly housing and exploiting desperate asylum seekers. The operation room (filled with hundred of fridges, piles of computer innards, and mountains of junk-yard tat ripe for "revitalisation") lurks behind a scuzzy city hotel (the exhibition entrance) and a grimy cut-price shop selling row upon row of fixed-up fridges and VCRs. In the hotel, endless put-up beds are squashed into every conceivable spare inch of space -- corridors, bathrooms, the lorry out the back. There's a post-raid feel -- everywhere are half-eaten plates of food, work stations hastily abandoned, and ashtrays filled with cigarette stubs. But it's the secret room accessed by crawling through a hole in a wardrobe, the concrete bunker located beneath the freight lorry, and the subterranean tunnels with a disused deep freeze entrance portal that generate the most acute claustrophobia and bewildering paranoia. It's an unnerving meditation on the hidden hellholes lurking behind non-descript urban facades.

Creative Commons License
Pictures in this post are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK: Scotland License.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Vitascope, Ultre, Reactable, Rechenzentrum at Optronica

Since I have never been to the NFT or the BFI before, avid cineaste that I am, I thought I might prove to be a good idea to catch two birds with one stone and check out the Optronica festival at the NFT.

The overall programme seemed to be targeted at a wide (as in: mainstream) audience but there was a small pocket in the little cinema on Friday night called Optronica Lab at which the organizers were trying out the more experimental stuff in audiovisual performance.

First up was Vitascope, unknown to me prior to the event but interesting nevertheless. I only found out later that he is actually a VJ by trade and that he was editing sound as "added value" of his performance. Oddly enough, I personally liked the sound more than the images, which shouldn't mean that any of it was bad, but sometimes, the images were flickering a tad too much and were tiring to the eye...

Vitascope's new Optronica performance will be "expanded" VJing, where he improvises both sound and vision simultaneously; mixing four audio/visual sources in real-time with an AV mixer, using each source as a building block for an immersive sound-space. Dynamically welding the ambient sounds of Hannas Barber with the heightened abstract movements of film and audiovisual Flash loops, Vitascope builds an hypnotic, ambient and unique audiovisual performance.

Next up were Ultre and Flat-E. Having only known Ultre from recommendations via, I was intrigued whether the style of his I had previously listened to would be reflected in his live performance and I can say that I wasn't disappointed. I also really enjoyed Flat-E's visuals since they were solely based on "analogue" or organic material but had a rather cinematic quality to it at the same time.

Ultre (Finn) plays a stringed instrument that he's custom built himself to trigger not only sound, but also video loops (he describes it as "a little like a one-stringed electric cello") whilst Flat-e (Robin) overlays visuals specially prepared in High-Definition.

The third act for the night was the "interactive sonic systems team" hailing from Barcelona with their interactive sound-piece called "reactable". This was by far the coolest new media project I have seen in a while. Simple in its basic interface components, yet able to be set up to complex structures and at the same time very slick and pretty and also rather intuitive to use. I could probably go on and on of how great it was but I let you judge for yourselves. You can also find videos of various performances on their website as well as my personal video I took.

The reactable is a multi-user electro-acoustic music instrument with a tabletop tangible user interface. Several simultaneous performers share complete control over the instrument by moving physical artefacts on the table surface and constructing different audio topologies in a kind of tangible modular synthesizer or graspable flow-controlled programming language.


The reactable hardware is based on a translucent round table. A video camera situated beneath, continuously analyzes the table surface, tracking the nature, position and orientation of the objects that are distributed on its surface, representing the components of a classic modular synthesizer. These objects are passive without any sensors or actuators, users interact by moving them, changing their position, their orientation or their faces (in the case of volumetric objects). These actions directly control the topological structure and parameters of the sound synthesizer. A projector, also from underneath the table, draws dynamic animations on its surface, providing a visual feedback of the state, the activity and the main characteristics of the sounds produced by the audio synthesizer.

Headliners for the night were Rechenzentrum. Since I have never seen them live I was anticipating their show and although they had sort of a rough stand to perform right after so much audiovisual and tangible bliss by the reactable group, the nevertheless managed to do it very well. Some impressions below.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Love of Diagrams, Holy Hail

As it so happens, good things come when you least expect them. Aimlessly wandering around the internet on a Sunday night, I discovered that one of my recent favourite bands were about to play in London in less than 24 hours. Since they are from Australia, I thought that this might be well worth a visit.

The venue was the Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, a place I usually don't visit too often, but I always enjoy being there. The spacious, slick concrete basement also has a concert venue and that's where it was supposed to go down.

Holy Hail were opening up and although I didn't know them prior to that day, I kinda liked them. They were quite original (as original as you can get in the midst of a 80s revival) and I recognized some musical references from bands I really like: Talking Heads, Suicide, The Slits, etc. Clever vocal lines and a drummer who, although he mainly played a four-on-four staccato beat that you hear ever so often these days, somehow struck me as having a strong punk-drumming background. I might be completely wrong, but amidst the rather mechanic beat patterns he played I noticed kind of a strong willingness to break out of it and turn it into something more tense and aggressive.

Love of Diagrams unfortunately had some technical difficulties and their set was only 40 minutes long. I nevertheless enjoyed it and appreciated that somebody actually still cares about the more top-heavy and divergent sides of indie-rock rather than trying to be upfront and straight in songwriting which only really works when you're truly good at it. Most of the time it's really boring but in most cases nevertheless makes great chart material.

Creative Commons License
Pictures in this post are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK: Scotland License.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Victoria Miro, Parasol Unit, White Cube

Last weekend I took the time again to check on some of my favourite galleries.
Since Parasol Unit and Victoria Miro gallery are so close together, it always makes sense to visit them both in one go.

Parasol had a group show consisting of different kinds of video art. From animated short films with an actual narrative, some of them funny, some serious, to pieces without a narrative but focus on visual impact instead.

MOMENTARY MOMENTUM: an exhibition devoted to animated drawings, comprising a dozen installations and a film loop with the participation of Francis Alÿs, Robert Breer, Paul Bush / Lisa Milroy, Michael Dudok de Wit, Brent Green, Takashi Ishida, Susanne Jirkuff, William Kentridge, Avish Khebrehzadeh, Jochen Kuhn, Zilla Leutenegger, Arthur de Pins, Qubo Gas, Christine Rebet, Robin Rhode, Georges Schwizgebel, David Shrigley, Tabaimo, Naoyuki Tsuji & Kara Walker

Some impressions:

At Victoria Miro, there was another group show, this time, the focus was more on painting, installations and sculptures.

Absent Without Leave examines the ways in which contemporary artists might use elements of performance as a material in the production (or reception) of their work. The diverse practices on display here re-imagine performance and filter it into something 'performative' - expanding gestures, actions, characters, and roles into works which incorporate performance as process.

Conceptual and performance artist Vito Acconci has discussed how, at a certain point in his career in the early seventies, he decided to appear less in his work, so that his presence was more of an absence. Absent Without Leave borrows the spirit of Acconci's decision and uses it to platform an investigation of the idea of the 'absentee performer' - an idea in which the 'performer' (the artist ) is relocated from a visible presence, to a presence which is recorded in the conceptual fabric of the art works themselves.

The exhibition features works in which: there is potential within an art object for action to happen, which may or may not necessarily occur; there is a live event without a performer; there is a physical trace of an event which in fact never occurred; or there is a possibility to read the environment as something staged, or as a set awaiting a narrative.

My last stop for the day was White Cube gallery at Mason's Yard. I have to say that even after all this time in the city, some places are really hard to find. I spend some time circling around the area with increasing precision and with the help from local police, Transport for London staff and different versions of these handy area maps they distribute on the tube stations. Trouble was that the new editions of these maps don't contain the narrow streets and small open places anymore. Budgeting? Maybe, but surely not for the better. Anselm Kiefer currently has a few works on display at the West End outlet of White Cube. I was only able to take one picture before I was kindly asked not to take any more. In case you like what you see, I'd suggest that you check out the huge paintings of Kiefer in the basement for yourselves.

The title of the exhibition, Aperiatur terra, is a quotation from the Book of Isaiah, which translates as ‘let the earth be opened’ and continues ‘and bud forth a saviour and let justice spring up at the same time’. These contrasting themes of destruction and re-creation, violent upheaval and spiritual renewal underpin much of Kiefer’s work.

The focal point of the exhibition is Palmsonntag, an installation in the ground floor gallery comprised of eighteen paintings, hung as a single entity on one wall, with a thirteen-metre palm tree laid on the gallery floor. As its title suggests, the work evokes the beginning of Christ’s journey into Jerusalem prior to his arrest, Passion, death and resurrection. The paintings read almost as the pages of a book opened to reveal multiple layers and narratives. As is common in Kiefer’s practice, organic materials form the palette through which landscapes are created. These are then overlaid with texts which do not point to one single interpretation but rather suggest a rich, philosophically charged and resonant multiplicity of meaning and experience.

Creative Commons License
Pictures in this post are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK: Scotland License.
All text in block quote is property of Parasol Unit, Victoria Miro Gallery and White Cube Gallery respectively.

Labels: , , , , , ,