Hack+Game Workshop

Two-day workshop on the making of interaction based game controllers/hacking at the IT University, Copenhagen. No experience needed. Arduino, sensors, multitouch displays. Bring your own laptop. Materials provided. 100 kr. 13+14/2, 10.00-20.00.

Read more here. Text only in Danish, unfortunately. Google translate is your friend!

://Cameline

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Go Ubu

Ubuweb is a non commercial resource for sound files, books, texts and videos. All material is completely free (as well as the site is available in Italian, German and Spanish), – they state: “If it’s out of print, we feel it’s fair game. Or if something is in print, yet absurdly priced or insanely hard to procure, we’ll take a chance on it. But if it’s in print and available to all, we won’t touch it. The last thing we’d want to do is to take the meager amount of money out of the pockets of those releasing generally poorly selling materials of the avant-garde. UbuWeb functions as a distribution center for hard-to-find, out-of-print and obscure materials, transferred digitally to the web.”

I’m a huge fan of their philosophy, and over the years I’ve found a lot of material on Ubuweb I otherwise couldn’t get my hands on.

For instance I had many nice hours company with these guys:

Ellen Fullmann

Ellen Fullmann

Ellen Fullman playing The Long String Instrument

Ellen Fullman
is an American composer (1957), working with performance and music played on self invented instruments.
I have copy of her recording “The Long String Instrument” from 1985 – so if anyone wants to try out the nice sound of fat vinyl, give me a poke. I have also been lucky enough to see some of her music instruments; they look like subtly crafted little (or big) sound machines, which they basically are. Among them a “water-drip-drum” that makes beats out of, well, drops of water, making use of the speed and weight of them to create rhythm and pitch. Another one is the “Amplified Metal Skirt”, which is exactly what the title says. “The Long String Instrument” is amazing. It is played by walking along the around 30 m. long strings, rubbing them with rosined hands and is tuned by capo-like clamps. Model wise her instruments are really beautiful and interesting while all little widgets have carefully designated functions that shows as is and the fact that the body in a time-space relation to the sound is crucial to playing most of the instruments, intrigues my architectural attention. Her notation system is based on the numerical relationships between the tones, also with indications of the movement and location of the performers, she often used in her performances. She have said that her interest in sound began with contact microphones, which are little devices (easily made) able of amplifying the sound of almost any object, maybe even not instantly audible sounds. I have also been playing around with CM’s, resulting in a broom stick sounding like the twitter of thousands of tiny birds, and burning coals resembling church bells when the recording was played back at half speed. It’s really a fun toy, very recommendable!

Gertrude Stein

Gertude Stein. You might know her already. She is the mother of the often quoted phrase “A rose is a rose is a rose” which Hemingway in frustration, later on,  knocked off to “A bitch is a bitch is a bitch”…(somewhat emphasized in a Momus song saying: “I’ve got a mouth like Ernest Hemingway’s ashtray”)
She lived with her partner Alice B. Toklas, who made a wonderful cook book, simply named Alice B. Toklas Cook Book. I have always wanted to make the roast injected (yes, injected!) with orange juice and cognac for long seven days. But thats another story. The cook book is full of fine anecdotes of the life in the Parisian kitchens in the mid 20th century and is worth reading just for them.
Back to Gertrude. I first read “Tender Buttons” which is probably her most famous. You can get the full text here (also available in Danish translation by Borgen). It may not be pleasure reading, but then again it depends on what pleasure means. I find my pleasure very much within the language itself and how it becomes incredibly spatial, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly. Like this:

A BOX
“A large box is handily made of what is necessary to replace any substance. Suppose an example is necessary, the plainer it is made the more reason there is for some outward recognition that there is a result.
A box is made sometimes and them to see to see to it neatly and to have the holes stopped up makes it necessary to use paper.(…)”
“(…)Lax, to have corners, to be lighter than some weight, to indicate a wedding journey, to last brown and not curious, to be wealthy, cigarettes are established by length and by doubling.(…)”

Or this one:

A PIANO.
“If the speed is open, if the color is careless, if the selection of a strong scent is not awkward, if the button holder is held by all the waving color and there is no color, not any color. If there is no dirt in a pin and there can be none scarcely, if there is not then the place is the same as up standing.

This is no dark custom and it even is not acted in any such a way that a restraint is not spread. That is spread, it shuts and it lifts and awkwardly not awkwardly the centre is in standing.”

Paris, France” I found really interesting, because it’s simultaneously fun (read: the Steinian way of being funny) and imposing an Americans view on the Parisian lifestyle – there’s a nice passage where she describes how the fierce French cats suddenly jump onto people’s backs – whereas an American cat would never do that…

Jodi

JODI is an internet based art collective consisting of Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans. One of my favourite pieces is their modification of the game Wolfenstein. It is cut down to a bare minimum of basic geometrical forms though still maintaining the gameplay. You also find references to the crude graphics of Commodore 64 and other oldies but goodies. I remember a similar graphics feel from the early 90’s, when playing a racing car game on a computer I inherited from my brother. It had a B/W screen, impressive 4Mb RAM, humongous floppy disks and you would type in the paths in DOS to start the game. It was also on this computer I had my first experience with a drawing application, called DR11, that I reckon would actually still do a decent plan drawing, all though it would have a  slightly uncanny feeling to it…

Wolfenstein mod
. Download the Sod.zip file on top of the page, Mac or Pc. When you’ve unzipped the file, run the .exe file. Enjoy! (Remember you can always return to the desktop by pressing esc)

– Cameline

Robin Hood Gardens

Christian Skovgaard Petersen

by Christian Skovgaard Petersen

I’d read about Brutalism in connection with architecture projects at school sponsored by MI5, but by the time I’d abandoned the project, the style, the ideas it built on and the issues around it had captivated me, especially the demolition of Pimlico School and debate about the fate of Robin Hood gardens. So when I was commissioned to do a comic by publisher ‘Aben Maler’ I decided to use the opportunity to do an integration of the place and document a debate around it where is was hard to delineate what is fact and fiction.

In order to succeed in these two respects I felt I had to disentangle myself from the biases of the very opinionated debate. To do this I set up my own parameters to judge the merits of the architecture, these were based my own observations on living in London.

An example of an observation that informed the comic would be the short hand I used to determine how livable the flats were and was to make a note of how people made use of there balconies. In many London estates they’re used like spare rooms: packed with old clothes, bikes, storage boxes or the washing machine.
In Robin Hood gardens you only saw the occasional line with washing. You could conclude that the flats there are spacious and not overcrowded.

This strategy plus trying to deal with both the architecture itself and the debate around it resulted in the comic becoming an interesting but slightly confusing read.

If asked to extend beyond the findings put to paper in the comic I’d say that doing well in comparison with an average council flat is hardly an argument for being great architecture worth saving.

One of the new ideas Robin Hood gardens brought with it was the ‘streets in the sky’ -a board walk way that extends the length of buildings on every floor and which were conceived to mimic the terrace house street and inspire a sense of community.
Having a front door on street level is not desirable in the today’s East-end, on two occasions friends of mine have had their door kicked in and their flats robbed. That said there is a sense of community in Robin Hood gardens, you feel it the minute your there and that can do a lot to remedy potential down sides of this design.

Most of all Robin Hood gardens leaves me with an impression of being built on visionary ideas conceived along time ago about a future that never materialised. This is nevertheless perhaps it’s most redeeming feature and the best argument for listing it so it can inspire others.

In June at the same time as the comic came out, Robin Hood gardens was the object in a exhibition at RIBA organised by the 20. century who advocates the listing of RHG. James Goggin, representative of the vanguard of London graphic designers did the exhibition design and set the catalogue in his in vogue, sans serif version of courier underlining that RHG is now very much a cause célèbre, so a listing by popular demand isn’t unrealistic.

More pictures at Christians Flickr

– Cameline

On The Smithsons

In relation to the text I came to think of a few references.

First one is a quote from Harvard professor Svetlana Boym, who gave a lecture on her practise and art at the “After The Fall”  symposium. In general I’m not sure  I deeply agree with the elements I gathered from her theory and ways of thinking, that relates to the question “what if?” instead of “what is/was”, “non-linear history”,  a “constant estrangement” and “the disruption of seamless narratives”. She talked a lot about a new era of the “Off-modern” as in off-beat, off-road and the like , that I find more a reinvention of the reinvention – which I guess is what we have always been doing – than an actual fresh or new aproach to the concept of  “era’s”. Then again I just got acquainted with her.  Do have a look at her “Off-manifesto” here.

The Smithsons are talking about “…a freely organized whole; where the general objective is an active built-place, and not the creation of individual monuments in nineteenth century style, as in the Hansaviertel district of Berlin.” Though I’m aware the reference is quite direct, I think there’s also another (many!) way(s) of conceiving “the monument” and this is where Boym’s quote becomes interesting in a way where Smithsons freely organized whole could actually be inscribed in the idea of monument. She simply says:

 

“The monument is all about what is not the monument”

 

Second I remembered a book I read years ago by Steven Johnson, called “Emergence – the connected life of ants, brains, cities and software“. In a passage he talks about ant colonies and how the individual ant is as dumb as can be and that it has no consciousness, what so ever, of the society it’s life and tasks are structured around. So – stick enough of them together and you have spontaneous intellligence, a bit cheap-ish said. He takes us from the mysterious life of slimemolds, through neurons to Slashdot. The whole book is about  “bottom-up” strategies and the self-emerging organisations that we find in many aspects of structuring life. The book is quite easily read – and fun too. This is Stevens blog.

In relation to the brutalist-post-war- intellectual-tech-architect’s ways of thinking, which might be described as a top-down strategy – a bottom-up strategy is an interesting contrast to look into: Is there a wikitecture?

 

Last, but not least, Christian Skovgaards comic “Selvtægtsmanden”, with a story situated in the Robin Hood Lane Scheme, is available here (also just for a look). I will see if I can get hold on a copy to bring to the studio.

– Cameline

KE09: Ben&Sebastian: Mountain of Depression

The piece ‘Mountain of Depression’ is a mountain that literally grows out of depression. As an adjustable height office table is lowered, contour lines spring up from its surface and various strata are revealed within it. The mountain consists of layer upon layer of modelled office spaces – from board room to telesales offices. Mountain of Depression delves into the unspoken relationships that exist within office environments, suggesting an emotional landscape underlying the façade of a neutral and anonymous workplace, the sort of landscape that evades diagrams of work flow and management structures.

 

Mountain of Depression

 

Date: Saturday, October 31, 2009

Time: 12.00pm-5.00pm

Location: Gl. Holtegaard, Attemosevej 170, Holte

Gl. Holtegaard website


Programme at the opening:

12.30 Welcoming speech by Gl Holtegaards’ director Mads Damsbo

12.40 Opening speech by KE´s chairman Frederik Lindskov

12.50 Special Guest

13.00 Artist talk, Baroque garden

14.00 Artist talk, Courtyard

15.00 Artist talk, Baroque garden

16.00 Artist talk, Courtyard

 

Bus 150S from Nørreport will take you to the museeum in only 25 min.

The exhibition is open from the 1st to the 15th of November 2009


– Cameline

Symposium: After The Fall

I am attending this symposium on Oct. 24th & 25t at the Royal Danish Theatre. It might have relevance to some of your programmes!

If anyone want to join in, you can sign up (and read more) here.

Registration deadline: Oct. 18th

“The conference AFTER THE FALL focuses on the cultural and political situation in Europe right now – 20 years after the fall of the Wall.

What Utopias – if any – have arosen due to the fall of the former Eastern and  Western block?
What new artistic forms of expression have emerged?
Has the massive boom of art biennales and theatre festivals in the 90’s and 00’s contributed to a diversity of artistic exchange or rather led to a global standardization of the artistic expression?
How does the ongoing financial crisis and recession influence our comprehension of the last 20 years of history?
Are we facing a new historical turning point, and are we now to re-interpret the events of the last decades?”

– Cameline