Showing posts with label psychogeography. Show all posts
Showing posts with label psychogeography. Show all posts

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The aporia of windmills

Elements of the Dutch landscape - 11
I don't think it's proving anything, Doc. As a matter of fact, I don't even know what it means. It's just one of those things that gets in my head and keeps rolling around in there like a marble.
I find it impossible to write anything about windmills and about pictures of windmills. When I meet them in the wild I like them. They're friendly giants, remnants of capital, power and technology now enjoying retirement and heritage status. Many of them are still functional and they're lovingly maintained and operated by a modern guild of millers. But it's impossible to add anything original to the already existing context.
Alblasserdam - Kinderdijk
The only thing I could do is to give up and to compose a powerless poem. I used the uncreative writing technique. The poem consists of photo comments found on Flickr and Wired.

The aporia of windmills

Thanks for sharing your memories.
Nicely controlled!
Where is it? It's rubbish.
How about photos more striking than these?
Did you use a filter?
I think I got an orgasm.
This was supposed to be art.
I hope we have some clouds tomorrow.
Schoonhoven - Polsbroek
The gates of Heaven, silky and powerful.
 Boring as watching paint dry.
My kind of scene, a beauty indeed.
Stunning my friend.
A fantastic feeling of freedom inside, a hopeful, magical day.
This is fantastic, I love the title, too much to learn.
Golden moments. La differenza.
Magistral saludos. Great work Wally.
Terrible concept. Bad execution.
I think I prefer the first one this time.
Outstanding work, magical scene.
You've done it again!
These hipster photos, how is this news?
Over the top, I miss the ocean.

Thursday, May 29, 2014 Zine Camp - 5

coincidence / could be / or just / on way / to undiscover / path
word about / seeing words / anything

Most pages are black. Vague shadow shapes force us to look better, to see that now, we really are someplace else. Dead-end brick walls. Skaters frozen in hand-developed film. Light shining through burnt-out windows.
Daguerreotype landscapes, lit by a foreign darkened sun, waiting, staring, leaning on cars. How to read a book like this? Biography, travel diary, topography, art? The grasping and reaching hand in many of the pictures. Or is it caressing the objects that emerge from the darkness: cars, manholes, distant horizons?

Extremely prosaic, almost boring pictures from the archive of a Lille metro engineer. But not boring at all! The zine becomes a quest for difference and similarity. A search puzzle. How does this city differ from mine? How were these times different? And even in the newest areas there was silence.

Entities trying to survive in an apocalyptic landscape, running from some horrific event. Even the dead are running away, towards some far horizon. Or is it just a vision that the flying dwarves laugh about?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 Zine Camp - 3

Last Sunday I visited the Zine Camp at WORM in Rotterdam. I looked through all the zines in the museum exhibit provided by Zines of the Zone and I bought four zines from the artists that had zines to sell.

Below a short selection from the zines I liked most. That probably says more about my taste than about the zines. I have added links wherever I could. There is still more to come. I'm still absorbing the warming rays of all the creativity.
A zine belonging to an exhibition.

This is a very interesting book publisher. There are a lot of urban themes in the zines. A pity that it's all in Danish because I would like to read them.

Mixed themes, collage, typography photography.

Atmospheric and mysterious photography. Suggestions of a story.

Old postcards. Suggestions of biography from erased time.


Not present here but seen in Prague at DOX: - the garden zine

Monday, May 26, 2014 Zine Camp - 2

Last Sunday I visited the Zine Camp at WORM in Rotterdam. I looked through all the zines in the museum exhibit and I bought four zines from the artists that had zines to sell.

Below a short selection from the zines I liked most. That probably says more about my taste than about the zines. I have added links wherever I could. There is still more to come.

The volume and quality of the zines is amazing. I feel rich to buy one zine for 6 euro. For an original artwork from a limited series this is enormous value for money. You can build a huge and original art-library with a relatively small investment. This is a really democratic art form. And browsing the available mass, searching for treasures is very satisfying. I'm thankful for this stimulating massage by creativity.

Jana Gombikova - apart (?)


Sunday, May 25, 2014 Zine Camp

Today I visited the Zine Camp at WORM in Rotterdam. I looked through all the zines in the museum exhibit and I bought four zines from the artists that had zines to sell.
Below a short selection from the zines I liked most. That probably says more about my taste than about the zines. And the colors are terrible, the LED-lighting was changing from blue to red and green all the time. I'm sorry about that. But I'm very happy about the warm bath of creativity that I could wallow in! I have added links wherever I could.



Urban archeo-astronomy

I have favorite coffee-drinking and reading spots in Rotterdam. One of them is the LaPlace cafeteria above the V&D department store. I still remember reading Gravity's Rainbow here, with apple-pie, one Saturday afternoon. But I didn't expect to witness an urban variation of the Martinsloch phenomenon.
28 december 2013 - 13:49:38
sun position         Elevation Azimuth latitude longitude
28/12/2013 13:48 | GMT1 13.52° 195.16° 51.9° N 4.4° E

I knew about the Martinsloch phenomenon from books about archeo-astronomy:
The St. Martin's hole is a rock window above the Swiss village of Elm. On two days in spring and summer the sun shines through the St. Martin's Hole directly onto the Church of Elm.
On good weather days the church is illuminated for about 2.5 minutes, then the bright spot has moves away from the church. In fog or haze a clearly visible ray of sunlight, five kilometers long, can be seen, before and after the ray hits the church. 
Both occultists and astronomers are fond of making a pilgrimage to Elm on March 12 and 13, and on September 30 and October 1. The moon is also visible through the Martin's Hole at less regular times.
28 december 2013 - 13:50:34
A common source of data for archaeoastronomy is the study of alignments. This is based on the assumption that the axis of alignment of an archaeological site is meaningfully oriented towards an astronomical target.
In Rotterdam the sun shines between the towers of the Schielandtoren and the Robeco-bank. This produces a well defined and short-lasting sunbeam that quickly passes through the LaPlace cafeteria. The path can be traced on the nice website of Sun-Earth tools.
No one seemed to notice the spectacular phenomenon they were witnessing. Everyone kept talking, eating and drinking. No one seemed to grasp what I was photographing so excitedly. It was just the sun shining as always.
28 december 2013 - 13:58:29
Martinsloch phenomenon - video
Martinsloch phenomenon - description
Martinsloch phenomenon - description and video
Martinsloch phenomenon - description and video
Martinsloch - geology

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Smoke Ghost in Rotterdam

I admire the urban horror of Fritz Leiber. Recently I've listened to Our Lady of Darkness and it's a wonderfully bleak urban novel. Fortunately some places in Rotterdam mimic Fritz Leiber stories. One of them is my favorite place in the city and with each visit I'm reminded of Smoke Ghost.

It had all begun on the elevated. There was a particular little sea of roofs he had grown into the habit of glancing at just as the packed car carrying him homeward lurched around a turn. A dingy, melancholy little world of tar-paper, tarred gravel, and smoky brick.
Rusty tin chimneys with odd conical hats suggested abandoned listening posts.
There was a washed-out advertisement of some ancient patent medicine on the nearest wall. Superficially it was like ten thousand other drab city roofs.
It seemed unusually bleak and suggestive, almost beautifully ugly, though in no sense picturesque; dreary, but meaningful.
One evening toward winter he noticed what seemed to be a shapeless black sack lying on the third roof from the tracks. He did not think about it. It merely registered as an addition to the well-known scene and his memory stored away the impression for further reference.
Its colour and texture, and the grimy stains around it, suggested that it was filled with coal dust, which was hardly reasonable. Then, too, the following evening it seemed to have been blown against a rusty ventilator by the wind--which could hardly have happened if it were at all heavy. Perhaps it was filled with leaves. Catesby was surprised to find himself anticipating his next daily glance with a minor note of apprehension. 
What difference did it make if his imagination had played tricks on him, and he'd fancied that the object was crawling and hitching itself slowly closer across the roofs? That was the way any normal imagination worked
PDF version of the story - 1941 - with striking illustration
Text of the story - Google books
The text of the story
Review of the story - how strikingly modern it still is

Sunday, May 4, 2014

From a strange planet - 4

I'm still researching the fascination of Scandinavian webcams. Previous posts are here: part 3, part 2, part 1.
In the previous post I listened to writers and literary critics for explanations. Now I look at artists and their descriptions of their artistic practice.
The pictures in this part of the post are from live road-webcams, I've only quoted texts of the artists, not their pictures, to prevent misunderstandings. But I've included many links to their artworks and these are certainly worth detailed attention.
Webcam scraping script
The pictures were collected using this Windows Powershell script. Then the best ones were selected by hand. Using computers to watch the watchers, to sample the surveillance. To wake while I sleep.

$source_path = ""
$ids = "412927","100105","180849","113101","100104","208374","100102"
$destination_path = "C:\Users\uair\Pictures\Webcam"
for($i=1; $i -le 100; $i++)
 $d = (get-date).toshortdatestring()
 $h = (get-date).hour.tostring()
 $m = (get-date).minute.tostring()
 foreach ($id in $ids)
 $source = ($source_path + $id)
 $destination = ($destination_path + "\" + $id + "-" + $i + "-" + $d + "-" + $h + "-" + $m + ".jpg")
 write-host $source
 write-host $destination
 $wc = New-Object System.Net.WebClient
 $wc.DownloadFile($source, $destination)
 Start-Sleep -s 17
 Start-Sleep -s 923

Art and surveillance
Webcams imply state surveillance. But I cannot read the road-webcams as "evil". I even cannot read them as utilitarian. I'm compelled to read them as "artistic" and "mysterious".
These surveillance cameras are everywhere, a daily reality invisible or visible, always monitoring everyday life in anticipation of the crime to happen. It seems as if webcams are based on the surveillance model - sinister and empty without narrative - but a record of what is there and, like the panopticon, you're seen but can't see who's seeing you (...) These banal smeared images are images of our time and in this age of high resolution they have the feeling of a vague memory. (Cristine Wang)
But nowadays it's almost impossible to escape the metaphors of surveillance and the panopticon. But in this case it might be more benign, an example of a shrinking world, of a real global village.
There is a long tradition of artists exploring or intervening in control mechanisms such as surveillance, and at a time when pervasive surveillance is widely accepted, and the popularity of webcams and reality TV suggest that fear and suspicion of surveillance is giving way to a desire to observe and be observed, the Broken Channel projects seek to offer new visions of how surveillance shapes perception, and new strategies for how to intervene. (Drew Hemment)
Authenticity of boredom
The road-webcams are a pleasant contrast with the narcissistic, "selfie" culture of the Internet. There is no person, no being, active here. Just the raw existence of a medium. Real and extremely authentic.
There is no guarantee that anything we see or are shown is authentic, but the site accumulates enough supporting detail to give it the weight of a 'real life'. (...) The abundant narcissism on the Web, with its 'all-about-me' homepages, is only matched by the hype surrounding Webcams as an extension of video's potential for everyone to become their own mini-broadcaster. (Daniel Palmer)
Watching webcams in real time is less interesting (for me) than comparing downloaded images. Comparing images, noticing the subtle changes in light and being surprised by any rare "event". Minimalistic details are enlarged. This sensibility translates into normal life, awareness is enhanced permanently.
(... In) most live Internet camera sites precisely nothing happens most of the time. Pointing your browser to a Webcam will more often than not result in the peeling back of an image of an empty (and often dark) bedroom, street, or cityscape. (...) We wait for evidence that isn't forthcoming, we watch the light gradually shift on a mountain or street, we watch the hands on Big Ben slowly tick over. Webcams can do this, for time is not the scarce commodity on the Web that it is on TV (...) the scenography of Webcams is usually empty of action but endlessly open to signification. (Daniel Palmer)
But even when nothing happens, the absence of events is a remarkable event. When you live in a busy city it is liberating to realize that in some places nothing ever happens. Emptiness and loneliness as soothing meditation.
Unlike the generally extended present of the Internet clicking experience, Webcams exist in an intensive present characteristic of the ennui of early video art. As Douglas Davis once wrote of video:
when we are watching 'live' phenomena on the screen we participate in a subtle existentialism. Often it is so subtle that it nears boredom. Yet we stay, participating. [...] waiting, aware that something unpredictably 'live' might occur next ...
Micro awareness
I'm not the only one who's fascinated by subtle changes in a view. It's not widespread but on the Internet you can always find others with the same fascination.
From here I could see the backs of the rundown shops and the Annandale Hotel, the Parramatta Rd and Bridge Rd intersection, and the billboard on top of Strathfield Car Radios that I imagined held special messages for me. Stare at something long enough and it will become fascinating, and it was so with the building across the alleyway. It’s not the kind of building that has ever had a name and was noticeable only due to its position on Parramatta Road and its dereliction. (Vanessa Berry)
Artistic use of webcams
Scraping and comparing webcam images is just the beginning. It's a passive use of the technology. The technology can also be used more actively, by appropriating steerable webcams and their images.
I started to create monumental composite images, drawing upon my ongoing collections of webcam stills. (...) Many miles away from the actual location yet connected via the Internet, I direct these robotic cameras to scan the field of view bit by bit. Over the course of several months or even years, I capture thousands of images, and meticulously stitch them together into a panorama of great complexity and detail. (...) It reveals the passage of time and develops its own narrative logic, offering a fictive yet hyper-realistic portrait of a place. Changing seasons, light and shadows, diurnal rhythms, all are compressed into one composite scene. (Isabelle Jenniches)
While watching the webcams I often wondered if I could visit and capture myself in these remote places. And of course one artist has already done that.
German photographer Jens Sundheim tracked down more than 400 webcams with online feeds around the world and posed in front of them (he says New York City cops once questioned him for suspicious behavior by a traffic camera).
And many artists recognize the beauty of webcam pictures. And some are able to put their interpretations into words, better than I can. The difference between images, the space between images.
By continuously receiving this section of the landscape view via the web camera, it is possible to follow the changes of the landscape and weather in Antarctica. The endless stream of images on the internet and their equally rapid disappearance, fascinate me in the same way that the eternity of day and night and the earth’s rotations do. The rapid changes are enhanced by the smaller shifts between each picture. This is where the image really emerges, in the space between the pictures. It is the stream of pictures, each different from the last, that carries with it the changes I follow. It is no longer a landscape, but a stream. (Patrik Entian)
And the artist recognizes the beauty of the distant picture. A beauty that is intense enough to paint. A beauty that remains, even when content is replaced by glitch, when the medium becomes the content. Painting the medium, painting the failure of technical infrastructure.
The web camera overlooks a wide landscape. Every ten minutes it takes a picture which is loaded onto the internet. (...) Sometimes when painting from the web camera, the picture stream is there all day. (...) I soon discovered that the web camera often demonstrates its technical imperfection for all the world to see, one second showing a sublime view of ice, sky and glowing horizon, and then, when the sun has gone down and taken away the light, showing a helpless black square with technical problems. The landscape is replaced by black and white noise that emerges from the camera. After a while I started exploring these technical incidents. While the grey images make me doubt what I actually see, there is no doubt here. I see technique, not weather or landscape. (Patrik Entian)
And the artist recognizes the strangeness of the medium. Webcams may be old-fashioned and quaint in these times of Facebook and NSA surveillance. Remnants from when the Internet was young and innocent, when anything was surprising. But they still sound their quiet siren-song and are available when you listen.
To regard a distant landscape from a webcam on your computer screen, evokes in you a vague sense of being where you are not. There is something riveting about the possibility – to immerse oneself in the landscape being beamed from such an inhospitable location as Antarctica (...) A succinct sensation of simultaneity in a world where everything is in constant flux. In spite of all the available possibilities to navigate across the world, I have for some reason become entrapped by the webcam placed at the Neumayer Station and can not stop watching it. The distance to the South Pole with its opposite seasons, in regards to my studio, the vast uneventful nature of this virgin wilderness, the limited information supplied by the little framed image, and a strange sensation of belonging, or proximity to the deserted landscape fascinates me, and keeps me returning to this image daily. (Patrik Entian)
Webcam quotes - surveillance:
Webcam quotes:
Webcam artists:
Isabelle Jenniches:
Jens Sundheim:
Jane D. Marsching:
Patrik Entian: