Sunday, September 21, 2014

Recording the Dutch megaliths

During our holiday in Drenthe I made several recordings at the Dutch megaliths (hunebedden). Rationally I didn't expect anything special. But irrationally I hoped that there would be some sound - anything - that would be strange, mysterious or unexplainable. Secretly I hoped for EVP-like sounds.
Of course the recordings didn't yield anything of that sort. But they recover and reflect the wide and slightly mysterious landscape around Borger better than any picture. We are far way from the city here. Wind, spiritus, ruach is the master here. Not the majestic wind of the seashore, but a knowing, subtle, inland wind.
Birds, cars in background, children's voices, adult voices, wind in trees.
A lively discussion about having baguettes for breakfast in France.
Birds, wind in trees, wind, traffic far away, wood creaking.
Wind in trees, wind, farm machinery drone in background.
Wind in trees, insects, farm machinery in background, road in background.
Some insect sounds simulate female voices singing in the distance.
Wind in trees, insects, cars in distance, creaking wood, blades of grass in the wind.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Night sounds - Berlin Barcelona Ypres

Night sound research
There exists a lot of research on urban sound levels and their health effects. But very little has been published about what sounds can be heard in the city at night. When in a new place I like to record the whole night from my window. Later I analyze the 7 to 9 hours of evening, night and morning sounds.

Berlin night sounds

From the hotel window you can hear: clicks and bumps, bottles, sneezing and coughing, airplane drones, cars, ventilator drones, closing doors and grates, people talking, shouting and singing. The sound volume is low with little variation throughout the night.
I edited the most interesting fragments. Each is 2 minutes in length:

Barcelona night sounds
From the hotel window you can hear: ventilator drones, police sirens, grates opening and closing, dogs barking and howling, cars, wheels on asphalt, music, electronic sounds, machinery, shouting an laughing, seagulls, motorcycles, swallows. Any possible variation in sound level is swamped by the loud ventilator in the hotel couryard.
I edited the most interesting fragments. This sample is 4 minutes in length:

Ypres night sounds
In Ypres the hotel roof ventilator was even more prominent. But still some night sounds slipped through: ventilator drones, clicks, airplanes, crows, jackdaws, pigeons. No variation is visible with this loud background drone.
I edited the most interesting fragments. This sample is 1 minute in length:

Most silent between 2-3 AM 
As is to be expected (from previous recording experiments) maximal urban silence takes place between 2 and 3 AM.

No mysterious or spooky sounds were observed, nor any EVP's (unfortunately). The most mysterious are the bumps and clicks that are probably coming from within the hotel heater or water system.

Outside and Inside Noise Exposure in Urban and Suburban Areas
Mysterious sounds around the world

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Dream Syntax by Debbie Ding

Dream Syntax
Earlier this year I swapped some books with Debbie Ding, a creative artist and researcher from Singapore who always inspires me with her projects. I sent away a book on the building history of Amsterdam and Of Grammatology by Derrida. In return I got Dream Syntax. I'm afraid I got the better deal, because Dream Syntax is fascinating reading, more captivating than Derrida.

Highly recommended. You can order it here: I read the book on my way to work, I took it with me on holiday and finally, yesterday, I took it for a photo-shoot in Rotterdam and experienced some interesting synchronicities.
Dream Syntax as an interesting book
Dream Syntax is a collection of dreams in the form of maps. There are 102 maps and stories of dreams from a period of 6 years. It is published as a limited edition of 500 (individually hand-numbered) books. In the 102 dreams I found 35 very memorable episodes, marked by the many coloured post-it notes.
Our memories of our dreams are no less tangible than the memories of the real places that we remember ourselves once inhabiting, places which, in reality, exist only in our imagination.
Dream Syntax as autobiography by proxy
The dreams give a very intimate profile of the artist. Though no "real life" details are given, the dreams indicate the end of one relationship (with Simon) and the beginning of a new relationship (with George). There are visits to malls, museums and art fairs. There are computers, software and 3-D printers. There is travel by airplane, boat, car and metro. There are office-hours, parties, hangovers, friendships and family-events. Many dreams are creative and could be used for performances. Some dreams are very funny. And there is even some sex.

Dream Syntax as guidebook
After reading the book and marking the most relevant episodes I took the book for a walk and a photo shoot through Rotterdam. I tried to find some places that were mentioned in the book. Walking inside Debbie Ding's dream-space was an interesting and multi-layered experience.
Finding a mall was easy: 
It is Christmas day, and I am inside Plaza Singapura. Nearly everything in the mall is closed because it is a public holiday, but I need to buy some flavoring for the shortbread I want to bake later that day. Only the big chain shops are open and I walk first into a Guardian hoping they will have diversified into more random products. ... None of the flavoring bottles have smells!
And the book may have inspired me to buy a cinnamon roll, but I didn't expect it to be the first shop I saw in the mall: 
I wake up in a house in London with a hangover. I am confused about why I am waking up in the house alone, so I go to the fridge to see what food there is to eat. In the fridge there are two identical cream buns, as if I bought two buns for two people, except there is only one person in the house, which is myself.
But I didn't expect to meet a Buddha there: 
... the computer has turned into a Giant Buddha head with a mouth into which I must insert my hand with the CD to deposit it. A sign on the Giant Buddha warns me that the Giant Buddha will not hesitate to eat my hand if I have inserted a faulty CD.
And I certainly didn't expect to see an old man with a walking aid in the metro, just like in the dream: 
I am leaving the tube station and have just passed the turnstiles. I am making my way up the stairs to street level, when I notice an old lady with a funky walking aid. It looks like a hundred tiny pneumatic robot legs which are ushering her along the surface with tinny clackety sounds. She scuttles past and overtakes me and exits on the left exit of the station. ...
Dream Syntax as M-theory
The book does not mention it explicitly, but maybe all the dream maps are connected in one coherent dream-space. And maybe this dream-space is not bound to any individual but is shared among all dreamers. So maybe - if everyone started making and sharing dream-maps - we could connect up all these personal fragments and build a great new map of a parallel world. Maybe there exists an undiscovered unifying M-theory of dream-space:
Witten dubbed this conjectural theory M-theory, with the explanation that 'M stands for magic, mystery or membrane, according to taste. Witten's most grandiose conjecture of 1995 was that there is a single underlying theory that reduces in six different special limiting cases to the five known superstring theories and the unknown M-theory. This largely unknown general theory is also often referred to as M-theory and yet another explanation for the M is Mother as in 'Mother of all theories'.
Dream Syntax for further research
I will certainly go for more walks with the book. To discover where a female dream-space overlaps the brutal Rotterdam cityscape. See if I can do a Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius trick and infect the Dutch city with dreams from the subconscious of Singapore.
I could compare the dreams with the drawings of Jonathan Borofsky. They are certainly different.
I could analyze the topography of my own dreams. Somewhere I still have a dream-diary from 20 years ago. I'm certain that in my dreams I often return to the same places or neighborhoods, often Prague or Italy.

Not Even Wrong
Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius
Jonathan Borofsky

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Bicycle tracks through flatness

Elements of the Dutch landscape - 12
"We have covered more than 2,000 kilometres. Spatially there is no destination, the landscape stretches continually on, melancholy is setting in. Probably everything will have to be destroyed before the fighting is over.
Another experiment in uncreative writing. I was playing around with Flickr photo comments and suddenly the sensual texts seemed to fit the open Dutch landscape. But so did the grim texts of Operation Barbarossa.
Will a stack of platitudes produce a poem? Will a train-wreck reveal a landscape? It may be kitsch. but some connections I could never invent myself. The mash-up technique seems to work.
"Waiter? - I didn't order the word salad."
Hitland - Capelle aan den IJssel
If the enemy pursues us, he is lost because the further he is from his stores of foodstuffs and arms, and the deeper he advances into a country which has no roads and no supplies . . . the sooner he will be reduced to a pitiful state.
A splendid woman. Excellent macro.
Most erotic and delicious!
You can feel her pleasure! You look like a statue. 
Beautiful lady. Beautiful pose!
Evocative light - superb as always.
After days of rain, the flat landscape began to transform into an inescapable bog, which stretched on as far as the eye could see.
Beautiful, I love the rain!
Oh, such a wonderful sharing of feelings!
My favorite way, sweet and delicious.
Must try something like this sometimes.
The grit and grain emphasize roughness.
But not everyone would share with the world.
The depth of our penetration into the Soviet Union began to take its toll, and ammunition rationing served as a first indication of the shortages that we were to encounter with disastrous results in future battles.
Lovely position and lovely angle.
Very nice. You're a beautiful woman!
Giving, receiving, feeling such pleasure. 
Nice depth of field. Love it, Lucia!
Is that really raining? Great composition!

A few links somewhat related to the subject
Uncreative Writing - my source of inspiration for this experiment
Operation Barbarossa - Kiev 1941 - David Stahel
Found poetry
Erotic landscape - found while trying to check if anyone else had this idea
Erotic and magic landscape
Erotic landscape

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?
Info Zine Camp - 4

Last Sundayvisited 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. The atmosphere was pleasantly busy, but not overcrowded. It gave me a lot to think about!
Some people were browsing and others were participating in zine-making workshops. For most people it was probably their first experience with zine making. The lady leading the workshop was thanked with a loud round of applause. I stayed the whole afternoon and still there was a lot that I didn't witness.
Several participants looked experienced and were making new zine editions, to add to their existing series. Still it was hard work making the selections and sequences. This whole networked (relatively) low-cost art culture has made me curious about the scene and it's economics. Obviously, could it really be as simple as this?
Little publications filled with rantings of high weirdness and exploding with chaotic design. [...] In zines, everyday oddballs were speaking plainly about themselves and our society with an honest sincerity, a revealing intimacy, and a healthy “fuck you” to sanctioned authority — for no money and no recognition, writing for an audience of like-minded misfits.
Interesting to speculate why all this work is invested in this relatively cheap and low-circulation art form. I refuse to interpret it so cheaply as this. But I would be interested in costs, sales and circulation statistics.
... "the vanity projects of a new generation," ... Most zines ... cost $3 to $6.
Or ironically like this. But the demographic niche might still be true. I need even more data. 
The anger of zine creators largely has its roots in economic dissatisfaction. By and large zines came from writers who were white and form middle class backgrounds.
There were automated tools. There was a plotting machine that made very technical-looking line-drawings from designs composed on top of a light-table. A very nifty set-up. An interesting link between zine, art and maker cultures. And an echo of the efficiency of commercial print-on-demand. With this machine we can make zine-on-demand, make unique artwork scalable.
There were a lot of DIY and other small-scale niche-orientated publications. Zines keep on being produced, since punk zines in 1970’s. ... In our age of Internet many zines were transformed into websites. However, there is a sense of revival in the past years. Zines have  been embraced by a new generation, often drawing inspiration from craft, graphic design and artists’ books, rather than political and subcultural reasons.
And there was a lot of classic handiwork using scissors, glue, copiers, staplers and sewing machines. I choose to believe in a bright future for this media form. Especially because I'm so enthusiastic about holding these little, precious, objects.
In times of constant technological revolution and immediate access to information through the network, paper, as a medium for the dissemination of culture and information seems destined to disappear. But the number of independent publications do not stop growing.
There were hanging gardens full of zines.
... experimental magazines ... full of visual impact, subject to different interpretations, inexhaustible source of emotions and feelings. They already have a notable presence in art fairs, specialized bookstores and museum shops.
And a few personal exhibits by people selling zines. This one by Sergej Vutuc. A skater-photographer-artist who later also did a performance.

I still have material for two more posts. One about the zines I bought and one about more zones from the  Zines of the Zone exhibit. ... You have to enjoy your own enthusiasm while it lasts!

Stephen Duncombe, Notes from the Underground 1-2, quoted here and here
A Zine-ography - An annotated list of books and articles about zines
The Rise & Fall of Zines​
de zines - exhibition/
artandwork - personal-economy

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