Friday, November 20, 2015

From a strange planet - 9

Road webcam fascination

The silent pictures of Scandinavian traffic-webcams have a strange fascination for me. My previous outpourings of webcam obsession are here: part 1part 2part 3part 4part 5part 6 part 7part 8I've  used video, fiction, literary criticism, art, forensic science and surveillance technologies to think through this window on far-away places.

Long term changes - longitudinal analysis
Because I've followed the webcams since 2013 I'm able to compare before- and after images and I'm able to notice both sudden and gradual changes. This time-wasting activity is strangely relaxing and satisfying. Maybe other people feel this when solving Sudoku puzzles.

Privacy enhancements
Some camera views have been obscured. I cannot look into some gardens anymore and cannot watch people stepping into the bus. Instead I see a nice Malewich-like abstract landscape intervention. This has its own charm.
And just for fun I searched the camera on StreetView, to get another view of the scene. Would I recognize the scene if I saw it from the non-camera viewpoint?
Who did it - not me!
I wonder if this privacy enhancement was a spontaneous action of the Norwegian road authority (Vegvesen) or if someone complained about invasion of privacy. Maybe they saw my weblog? (Wish I was so popular!)
And again a view of the camera for this scene, with the camera and a much more primitive shelter. And a Google camera that photographed it's own shadow while photographing a camera:
Tree cutting
And sometimes trees are cleared, revealing a deeper and wider view of the (non-) landscape. It was this tree that first drew my attention to this place. Now it's gone. And tire-tracks disappear spontaneously without human intervention.
And again I found the camera. Looking on Streetview I saw that this road runs along a fjord, I've been loking at this scene a whole year long and I never suspected it. And the box on the right is not for selling stuff, it's just a garbage bin.
Three minor changes. Otherwise nothing much changes in these far-away places.

Hello world!
Is there anyone reading this blog who lives near these places? Then we could do a live performance. (But I fear no one from Norway reads this blog. If  you do ... contact me at urbanadventure at xs4all dot nl.)

Sources: + StreetView + StreetView + StreetView

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Leif Elggren - interesting even without sound

EXTENDED HONEYMOON - A work by Leif Elggren a day

Sven Schlijper-Karssenberg is compiling a fascinating list of artworks by Leif Elggren.

I (uair01) only have one CD of this artist (45 minutes from underneath the beds) so I have no idea how his other works sound. But the descriptions are exciting to read, even without the sounds. They stimulate the imagination. It would be a pity to let them evaporate on Facebook. That's why I saved a private list of the descriptions on this weblog (with permission of the author). My favorite is nr.41, the most recent one, because there are so many complex layers in this artwork: performance, urban exploration, etching, recording, object-making etc.

EXTENDED HONEYMOON - A work by Leif Elggren a day - Sven Schlijper-Karssenberg

For the past few weeks I've written a piece a day on a work by King Leif. So far 25 works... have been detailed. And there's much more on the way. You ain't seen nothing yet as the Museum Elggren Collection is massive.

01 - We Are All Born to Become Angels CD -
02 - The Kings Curve Cassette -
03 - Namibia Cassette -
04 - Zzz CD -
05 - The Rocking Chair 7" -
06 - Sleepwalking Cassette -
07 - Dead Soldiers Book -
08 - Sacramental Meals book -
09 - Lampo Folio 3 Leaflet-
10 - The New Immortality 7" -
11 - Three Aural Representations 7" -
12 - The Worried Ones CD box -
13 - Untitled Drawing -
14 - 2x1 Minute Cassette -
>> - For Sven and Gerliene Suite of drawings -
15 - Elggren/Nordwall live CD -
16 - Y&B Pin + Invitation Card -
17 - A Cat with a Duodenum CD -
18 - Sleep Disorders #6 Book + CD -
19 - Gottesdienst CD -
20 - Is There A Smell on the Other Side? CD -
21 - That Little Idiot (Telling Truths) Book -
22 - Something Like Seeing in the Dark Book -
23 - Lampo #95 Leaflet -
24 - Arranging for an Opening of a Teleport to Shangri-La Invitation card -
25 - Double Sleep on Stream of Unconsciousness Volume 9 Cassette -

26 - Part Twenty-Six: The New Immortality #2

27 - Part Twenty-Seven: In Sleep the Knives are Sharpened

28 - Part Twenty-Eight: If Other People Exist (they are totally sealed secrets

29 - Part Twenty-Nine: The Internationale

30 - Part Thirty: Jean-Philippe Antoine / Marcel Broodthaers & King Leif's 'Objet Métal Esprit'

31 - Part Thirty-One: Physiological Frequencies, Drawings from 2004 – 2009 at Gallery Niklas Belenius, 03.12.2009 - 07.01.2010

32 - Part Thirty-Two: Experiment with Dreams by King Leif and Thomas Liljenberg

33 - Part Thirty-Three: The Answers by King Leif and Thomas Liljenberg

34 - Part Thirty-Four: The Codfish Suit by King Leif and Thomas Liljenberg

35 - Part Thirty-Five: 9.11 by King Leif and Thomas Liljenberg

36 - Part Thirty-Six: Ebola & Swedish Dreamers by King Leif and Thomas Liljenberg

37 - Part Thirty-Seven: Two Thin Eating One Fat by King Leif and Thomas Liljenberg

38 - Part Thirty-Eight: UGN / MAT by King Leif, Per Jonsson & Kent Tankred

39 - Part Thirty-Nine: The Sudarium of St Veronica by King Leif & Claude Mellan

40 - Part Forty: Tre Verksamma på 27 Plan [Three at Work on 27 Areas]

41 - Part Forty-One: Cu (Framförande XIX) – The light room / The dark room; can you hear it?

Zine - by Jes (growing distro)

This summer I visited the Zine Camp at Worm in Rotterdam. I met many interesting people and bought several nice zines. I will review some of them as a preparation for (possibly) making my own zine.

Jes (growing distro)
Three very personal zines from Berlin.

Two zines from the "growth" series. Small (A6) format in color. Professionally hand made, with different paper qualities. They combine personal and intimate details with notes about travel, nature and the care of plants. Authentic texts about overcoming personal crises and finding confidence.
... Last year I fell in love and it felt like the world became brighter and more exciting than before. It seemed like every leaf that fell before me must have been a symbol of this awakening inside me ... I decided while away that I needed to stay in touch with earth and nature and began researching the types of seeds I could plant on my shady windowsill ...
And the zines contain  the random, noisy photographs of nature that I like very much. And it's combined with a text reminiscent of Beethoven's Pastoral symphony:
... I've left the city and am enjoying a short visit to Brandenburg in order to leave my routine and find something new ... how great it feels to be outside of the city ... I am so appreciative of the space I have found to return to myself. I am thankful of the barking dogs outside my room ... I'm thankful for the trees and garden my room looks onto. I'm thankful for the large wooden desk that is clear of my own clutter, to-do lists, empty glasses, and notes reminding me that i'm not doing what I want to be doing in this life ...
And finally there's this guide to using sex toys. In the classic cut, paste and copy style. Still intimate and personal, but in a different key. I admire the courage to connect your own identity with such explicit content. The concept arouses curiosity (pun intended) and the punk look-and-feel gives it a nice underground touch.
... cleaning toys: keep them fresh and handy for the next time you play with them ... non-battery operated toys, silicone and glass, can be boiled in water or put in a dishwasher ...
Lessons learned
Personally I prefer the neat binding and graphic design of the "growth" zines over the "fuck" zine. Also their small format is more sympathetic. The photographs and background patterns add a lot of value. I could never write so openly about my feelings and still feel authentic. In these zines it is totally natural and appropriate. But I could write about places and seasons and their effect on me.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

The horror of autumn - Thomas Ligotti

The autumn colours are amazing this year. Many people have noticed and mentioned this. My barber speculated that the leaves stay on the trees longer, because there has been no wind nor rain. Whatever the reason, the colours of the October leaf of our calendars are echoed in nature outside. And are echoed in the wonderful stories of Thomas Ligotti:
Before there occurred anything of a truly prodigious nature, the season had manifestly erupted with some feverish intent. This, at least, was how it appeared to us, whether we happened to live in town or somewhere outside its limits.
On the calendars which hung in so many of our homes, the monthly photograph illustrated the spirit of the numbered days below it: sheaves of cornstalks standing brownish and brittle in a newly harvested field, a narrow house and wide barn in the background, a sky of empty light above, and fiery leafage frolicking about the edges of the scene.
But something dark, something abysmal always finds its way into the bland beauty of such pictures, something that usually holds itself in abeyance, some entwining presence that we always know is there.
The Shadow at the Bottom of the World (Thomas Ligotti) - Someone put this story on-line. But please: buy the books and support this wonderful writer. I bought his books too!
All calendar pictures from our own calendars:
October 2014 - one of our calendars, unknown publisher
October 2015 -
November - Verjaardagskalender Drenthe -

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Urban mushroom diary - autumn update 5

The previous chapters of this diary are: part-1part-2, part-3 and part-4. This might go on while the urban mushrooms season lasts. I don't know when that will be.

10 October 2015 - Revisited the park at the outskirts of Hoek van Holland. This park lies between the suburbs of the village and the dunes. It feels old and wild. Does that still count as "urban"?
A beautiful autumn day with parents and children searching for fallen chestnuts. People walking their dogs. No one looking for mushrooms. The Dutch are myco-phobic.
The park was full of these mushroom clusters. A very common species, but what a head-ache it gave me to find it. Finally I think it's Armillaria mellea. For such a common mushroom this should not have been so hard, but none of the pictures in books nor on the Internet really fit the shape and the markings. Finally this guide gave me certainty. The mushroom is bioluminescent but I did not check in the dark:
Bioluminescent fungi emit a greenish light. The light emission is continuous. It has been suggested that beneath closed tropical forest canopies, bioluminescent fruit bodies may be at an advantage by attracting grazing animals that could help disperse their spores. Conversely, where mycelium are the bioluminescent tissues the light emission could deter grazing.
The situation is made even harder because young mushrooms look totally different from old mushrooms. You don't have these problems with "normal" plants. This species is often mistaken for Hypholoma fasciculare or Pholiota aurivella but neither of those gives a good match. Dutch Wikipedia says it's inedible, Czech Wikipedia says that after cooking it's edible and tasty. A big difference between myco-phobic and myco-philic cultures!

Finally I became so desperate that I did an image search in Google, expecting no answer. And I was pleasantly surprised when Google found one very good match of Armillaria mellea.
In the same park I also found a few possible Armillaria lutea. This genus has some surprising members. Strange how such a primitive life-form can feel so ancient and majestic. Like communing with living fossils or aliens:
A mushroom of this type in the Malheur National Forest in the Strawberry Mountains of eastern Oregon, U.S. was found to be the largest fungal colony in the world, spanning 8.9 square kilometres (2,200 acres) of area. This organism is estimated to be 2,400 years old.
I also plucked one of the hypothetical Marasmius oreades to get a better look at the gills. The mushrooms were old, spent and dry, but they seemed to confirm my initial identification. The ecology also matches: "frequently growing among coastal grasses in dunes." These should be edible and very good.
A cluster of tiny mushrooms on a rotten log could be Mycena arcangeliana. It is probably no Psathyrella because these are dark-spored mushrooms and I see no dark colours on the gills. This is an older cluster and the caps have started to dry out. And the angelic name reminds me of the strange theories about mushrooms and Christianity.

I've become aware of the big changes that mushrooms undergo during their life-cycle and it makes identification even harder. And it increases my wonder at these elusive creatures. I don't believe the strange theories of Terence McKenna but could they be "intelligent" in some non-human manner? Distributed, self-organizing, aware of their surroundings and goal oriented?
Finally a mysterious white blob that could be Oligoporus stipticus. There's a great French video of this species on YouTube. A very thorough description that's almost Zen-like in its attention to details. It should be inedible and extremely bitter: I should start tasting my specimens, but I'm afraid.
And let's finish with a summary from H.P. Lovecraft:
Those fungi, grotesquely like the vegetation in the yard outside, were truly horrible in their outlines; detestable parodies of toadstools and Indian pipes, whose like we had never seen in any other situation. They rotted quickly, and at one stage became slightly phosphorescent; so that nocturnal passers-by sometimes spoke of witch-fires glowing behind the broken panes of the foetor-spreading windows.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Urban mushroom diary - autumn update 4

The previous chapters of this diary are herehere and here. This might go on for a long time. I have no idea when the urban mushrooms season ends. I never paid so much attention to fungi.

4 October 2015 - I'm looking so hard that I have mushroom hallucinations. Urban lawns present me with mushroom mirages: fallen leaves and crumpled wads of paper show their hidden mushroom faces. I really thought I saw mushrooms here, until I took a close look.
A beautiful mushroom presents me with a Rumpelstiltskin puzzle: "What's my name?" And I really have no idea! Maybe it is some Russula and I know that you could taste a little piece on your tongue, but I don't dare to do that yet. And the stem looks too thin for a Russula. Could it be Entoloma incanum?
This is again in the no-mans-land between the bicycle path and the road. Are these semi-forgotten places ideal for mushrooms? Or is it just selection bias: that I see most fungi where I drive my bicycle?
This place is full of beautiful mushrooms. The most striking ones are the big, dark-spored mushrooms. I suspect they're Agaricus silvaticus. I've learned to smell the mushrooms now and they have a "pleasant spicy" smell. That means that they're probably not Agaricus praeclaresquamosus that have a "strong unpleasant" smell.
And the Leccinum Duriusculum has sprouted again in the grass under the poplar trees. The last time I saw a big group of them was on 13 september. Beautiful boletes that smell good and look very edible.
I'm now starting to apply the tricks I learned from the YouTube videos: picking up one mushroom, smelling it, looking at spore colours, looking at the attachment of gills to the cap and the stem. I know better what to look for and so I see more.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Urban mushroom diary - autumn update 3

The previous chapters of this diary are here and here. This might go on for a long time. I have no idea when the urban mushrooms season ends. I never paid so much attention to fungi.

28 September 2015 - Clusters of fresh new mushrooms are appearing in the place between the bicycle path and the road. Too young to guess what they are. They look like puffballs but most probably they're not. I'll call this place "spot A" for conciseness.
30 September 2015 - Spot A is bare again. All the mushrooms are gone or are broken into fragments. The mycologists on my videos say that this not bad, that it helps to spread the spores more widely. I don't think a mower did the damage, there is no grass to speak of here. It could be a garbage sweeper truck or a dog-shit sucker.

2 October 2015 - And although my favorite mushroom spot has been razed, I see a flood of mushrooms in the most unexpected places. Culture is taking over from nature and during a visit to Gouda I see fungi spreading to restaurant menus. Wild mushroom soup with chestnut puree and Pernod.
And mushrooms are invading restaurant terrace decorations. The Amanita muscaria (harshly hallucinogenic and nausea inducing, but edible when prepared correctly) is the prototypical mushroom. Most likely the cause is the Dutch children's song: "on a big mushroom, red with white spots". These fly agarics are often combined with grape leaves. But you don't want one in your restaurant dish.
They appear in cosmetics shops and suddenly contain doors for gnomes or elves. But mushrooms don't belong here. You wouldn't want a fungal infection on your skin sprouting nice red fruiting bodies. Something like this good, but too horrible book that I couldn't finish.
Fungi in cheese shops are in their natural habitat. But this is the wrong species of fungus. Also notice the grape leaves. The ultimate autumn combination.
In chocolate shops mushrooms are combined with edible (chocolate) chestnuts and fallen (chocolate) leaves for the "autumn assortment". They look like the well known button (Agaricus) mushrooms.
But the hipster Amanita is used on the packaging of the chocolates.
3 October 2015 - Once again the Amanita is used as food decoration in Rotterdam. A nice chocolate cake with mushrooms, acorns and fallen leaves. Guarded by a squirrel. Interesting that a myco-phobic culture like the Dutch still loves its mushrooms when tame.