Yesterday Lauren and I went for a walk through Weimar's northern districts of Tiefurt, Kromsdorf and Denstedt. We followed the river from the much vaunted echo viaduct through open parks and fields for about 5km until we reached the eeireely silent Kromsdorf and Denstedt - hardly any cars and people around, it was a little unsettling. We could have continued walking onto the more populated Ossmanstedt but our legs were getting tired and the absence of WC's lead to a decision to head back. Stinging nettles and bare bums do not bode well for a relaxed evening.
Today has been a bit bleak . Last night I got a call from my mentor Robin saying that he had been ill for most of the weekend. I received another call from him this afternoon with the unfortunate news that he has Pancreatitus and will be in hospital for the next two weeks. I'm pretty despondent about this since I'd only been able to spend about 20 minutes consulting him here in Weimar, the mentorship was the initial reason for travelling to Germany in the first place. I need a couple of drinks tonight. I'm wishing Robin a comfortable and speedy recovery. Lauren and I are cutting short our stay in Weimar by a couple of days and moving onto Berlin on Thursday. We may swing back by Weimar later in our trip but I don't know at this stage.
September 30, 2008
September 28, 2008
The past few days have been characterised by a familiar routine of casual sightseeing, coffee consumption, drawing pictures by the river and composing by night. A bit boring I guess, but kind of necessary after ten or so days of constant busyness. Today was the same, but we did spend a couple of hours exploring the Weimar Palace Museum which houses a vast variety of artwork from the 14th to the end of the 19th Centuries.
The first floor (13th-16th Century) had some facinating sculptural and minaeture works on display, constructed from ivory/glass/other that were so intricate and complex in their detail. Observing the Christian material, from an atheist point of view some of it was very beautiful, whilst some of the other stuff was downright offputting and self indulgent cack. I don't know what was really going down for some of the artists at the time, but some of this stuff is downright nutty/sadistic/surreal. It's not really my cup of blood.
Moving onto the second floor (17th-18th Century) our moods were lifted infinitely by the charming Rococo and Baroque works on display which were mirrored in the incredibly lavish decoration of the palace. Putting aside the artworks for a moment, this palace is quite exquisite - layered with complex timber arrangements on the floor (which incidentally creak with really old sound), festooned in lots of gold paint and oodled in fine masonry and general pimping. The use of natural light was interesting too.
The third floor (19th Century) is where the New Romatics and Impressionists kicked in with their colourful daubs of paint, speckly pastoral vistas and nubile nymphs picking fruit. I even saw a decent Monet for the first time!
For the rest of the day we resumed to our rich tapestry of normality walking through a beautiful cemetary with anonymous graves and went graffiti spotting in the dimming afternoon.
It was also the brightest, sunniest, warmest day we've had in Weimar so far. I can't believe I got away with only one layer of clothing for a change.
September 27, 2008
Since today was a bit of a nothing day - slept in late, walked around, drank coffee, drew pictures - I thought I would post something more attention grabbing than travelogue material.
One of the things I've been reminded of since arriving in Germany is how much more tolerant European society is about about sex in general. I've noticed in Frankfurt and more recently in Weimar that you can walk into a bookstore and flick through an unshrinkwrapped hardcover on hardcore antics and where a book on the Dalai Lama sits comfortably next to mini-tomes on erotica and lingerie. Whilst in Frankfurt we almost walked into an enormous sex shop masquerading as a supermarket. It just wasn't the supermarket we were looking for at time, the dildos in the 2 Euro bargain bin were a bit of a giveaway.
Interesting stuff. This blog will now resume to normality.
September 26, 2008
Today was casual. Slept in through a very sunny (slightly warm) morning then went roaming about in search quick sustenance before heading down to the viaduct to make some recordings on my mini disc. I'm very pleased that I've found a location on my travels that I want to spend time working with - exploring the environment, finding its focal points, exciting its resonances. When you look all the way to the top of the viaduct arch (about 100m), there is this drain hole where rainwater drips down to the ground. The slightest breeze causes the drips to swirl in the air on their way down, striking leaves and the concrete steps on one side of the arch. The slapping sound of drops hitting the leaves and steps is immediately perceivable, but listening closer you can hear the reverberations of the sound inside the viaduct - a very subtle colouration, a residual quality. I made some recordings specific to this sonic event. I spent the afternoon listening to them closely, where the reverberations (due to the close proximity of the microphone) are more instantly perceivable.
In the evening Lauren and I searched out a restaurant and a place for a drink. In the Theatre platz there was a fashion event taking place showcasing Weimar's department stores. Complete with fairground rides, bratwurst/beer/hot wine stalls and a power permed MC straight out of 1988 it was a distinctly Euro-trashy spectacle. It was a great deal of fun though! About half of the fashion was terrible, the song content was Eurovision meshed with American Idol and the sight of the 50-ish female MC singing Tina Turner's "Simply The Best" with leg kicks (in leather pants!) was something that will stick in my memory for a while. We watched a finale of very colourful and loud fireworks from our hostel window.
What an interesting day it was.
September 25, 2008
Flicked through Rolf Julius' Small Music (Grau) over tea and cornflakes this morning at the Hababusch dinner table. It was the quietest morning since we arrived here on Sunday afternoon, I guessed we were the only people there aside from the reception staff. Outside it was a leaden misty morning with a chilly air, good thing I brought my Solar Shop vest with me though the thought of buying a jacket whilst I'm over here has crossed my mind on more than one occasion. Lauren and I had coffee at a nice friendly cafe on the Theatre platz then waited for a bus to take us up to the Buchenwald Memorial and concentration camp (15km north of Weimar.)
In the light of atrocities during the 20th Century and Second World War, Buchenwald has a profound historical significance. As we approached the camp through the surrounding forests and heavy mist I got a feeling I've rarely felt - a light gut wrenching that made me both tense and melancholie. Of the many unsettling things that struck me was the serene quietness of the place - the hush amongst fellow visitors, the dead ambience of rooms, the whispers and breath of tall trees bunched together in green and yellow.
In the evening we returned to Weimar, had some dinner and attended a student film night at the Neu Museum. There was a visual art exhibition by students from the Bauhaus University in the foyer, a variety of small works placed together on hexagonal columns. Most of them consisted of found objects and some were very good using an interesting combination of materials. As for the films, since they were all in German I had a good time watching the films instead of listening to them. It's interesting how you focus on other details of a film when you remove the dialog, or more appropriately displace it due to the langauge barrier.
This morning I attended a student (Olaf Hochherz) examination for the electro-acoustics and sound design. The project consisted of sound design for a film studies student - a film documenting a cat colony in a Rome cemetery. The interesting thing about Olaf's sound design was the fact that he had nothing to really work with - just ambient soundscapes, discreet diabetic sound and the occasional interview. Despite this, it sounded excellent, with a suitable spatialisation and very nice distribution of sound. The mix was designed for a 6.1 speaker set-up, with three up front (left, centre, right), two in the back and two in the extreme back angled at 60 degrees towards the ceiling.
In the afternoon Lauren and I headed down to the echo viaduct Robin and Susan had shown us a couple of days ago. I've thrown together some video documentation, I'll do some decent recordings over the next couple of days.
It's also really nice to see a little blue sky and sun after three days of gloom and rain.
September 24, 2008
So much rain! It's been practically non-stop for the past couple of days...
This morning I caught up with Robin at his apartment to show some of my recent work including the ink sketches and an idea for a new installation work. Following this, we headed over to check out the new facilities of the Liszt music school's new electro-acoustic studio. With some excellent acoustic conditioning and a matrix configuration of 32 loudspeakers, it was an inspiring spectacle. Some interesting student work was played on this system - mostly granular/algorithmic compositions which had been written specifically for 32 channels. Tomorrow I'll be attending a couple of students practical examinations which I'm looking forward to.
September 23, 2008
Incidentally, hoorah for Wiemar WLAN!
Woke up to the sounds of heavy traffic and violent bursts of rain on the window. Our room at the Hababusch Hostel is the stuff of Louth-Robins-esque Euro fantasies: 2x2 metres in dimension, an impossibly elevated bed, curious places to store things and a nice view from our window. Most of the day was spent walking around the inner city, stumbling upon disheveled examples of the former East Germany and making some recordings of the streets, quiet parks and bells ringing out. In the afternoon we met up with Robin and Susan by the river where they took us down to an incredibly high bridge with an equally remarkable reverberation time and ping pong delay. I can assure you that recordings with be made of this. After some late afternoon tea at Robin's apartment, Lauren and I checked out the creperie near the hostel for dinner and such.
September 21, 2008
Caught the ICE high speed train to Weimar in the morning. Over 300 km the landscape changed occasionally from forests to small villages, open plains to fields of enormous wind turbines. As we passed through Gotha it became apparent that we had arrived in former East Germany with occasional glimpses of rundown infrastructure, abandoned factories and concrete housing estates. Though it has nearly been 20 years since German re-unification, sections of the East are reminders of pre-1989 Germany - depressed, curious and (at times) strangely beautiful. Around 3pm we arrived in Weimar and on the way to Hababusch Hostel the contrast between West and East is occasionally evident in the juxtaposition of a restored/gentrified 18th Century hall and a grayscale building with bomb scars and ancient graffiti. After a belated lunch, we wandered the town centre and the surrounding parks as the light was dimming then caught up with mentor Robin Minard in his tastefully minimalist apartment for coffee, discussed our recent travels and planned ahead for the next two weeks.
Today myself, Lauren, Rudolph, Jans and Jessica floated from Rudesheim to Loreley on the Rhein river taking in the spectacular riverside towns, vineyards and castles. The first highlight was in the evening as we were roaming in Loreley and were invited by a couple to share the first wine of the season and some tasty onion pie (see above image.) The second (and most profound) highlight was when a cacophany of bells rang out in the streets for a quarter of an hour and the place was saturated in incredible resonances*. Unfortunately I didn't have my minidisc with me and the only document I have is a lo-fi camera recording. Oh well, great day
September 19, 2008
Bought some audio cable, nice scarf and two (!) sound art books - a lovely hardcover on Rolf Julius (Grau schweigt) and Brandon LaBelle's Site Specific Sound. Books that would be otherwise a bugger to find in Australia, let alone on Amazon. The evening was spent with Phillipp visiting Kronberg's few nighttime locales, including a cavernous bunker bar dating back to the 1400's.
Today was spent wandering around Kronberg - exploring the castle, making some fine field recordings of creeks and running away from wasp/hornet nests. This afternoon/evening was spent making some cute real-time Max/MSP compositions with Lauren and I playing musicboxes and chopping up some Bahnhof Rail audio. I'll probably post some mp3s in the next couple of days. I also seem to be listening to be listening to an awful lot of Kraftwerk at the moment, which strikes me as a bit of a cliche.
September 18, 2008
Went hiking through the shallow Taunus mountains that overlook Kronberg. Lauren, Phillipp and I now have sore feet, though I've got some interesting field recordings and we've got a dinner of meaty goodness to look forward to courtesy of Mr.Jacks (Phillipp.)
Tomorrow: scarf shopping, some more recording, a bit of music making and general relaxing.
September 17, 2008
Monday was wrapped up with a long walk through Viktoria Park, The Burg and inner Kronberg. Lauren and I arrived back at the 'gelben haus', collapsed and slept for twelve hours or so. We woke up today to watch the sun rise over the city (cue long exposure photos), then took the train into Frankfurt for traversing over bridges, pretzels and taking in some inspiring art at the Stadel Museum and a couple of independant galleries.
September 15, 2008
Been in Germany for about 6 or so hours after arriving just after sunrise this morning. Old housemate Phillipp picked us up and took us to his house in the foothills of Kronberg (20km north of Frankfurt.) Lauren and I will be staying here for the next week. Still pretty jet lagged, slept off a little but today will be restricted to short walks around the village checking out some of the surrounding castles and landmarks. Weather? It's been a chilly morning, below 10 C ... now a light drizzle is coming down. I can't get over how bright the sky is here.
September 13, 2008
After 9 and a half months of stopping and starting, my official page is finished. Well, that said there are still a few things to be added and debugged but it's perfectly usable. I'm using the Tyndall domain at the moment as I seem to be having problems with my monikered one. An automatic redirect will be included once the problem's fixed.
September 10, 2008
tique is a new mini-release of sketches and experiments using various technologies including: earthed cable, tape, mobile phone, teapot, synthesiser and mystery objects.
I decided it would be a nice idea to off-load some ideas that have been sitting around for a couple of months, clearing the decks (so to speak) for the Germany experience.
1. Panoramic Heights: Tap [1:15]
2. Panoramic Heights: Roll [2:51]
3. Panoramic Heights: Sand [7:21]
4. Seven Areas To One [1:49]
5. Container [1:40]
6. Lemon Tree [4:02]
7. Small Insects [1:25]
8. Scented Weather [4:02]
9. Rainshower With Typewriter [2:02]
tique is a selection of sketches, experiments and happy accidents from the past eight weeks or so. Since finishing the mimi release and performing it live, I've spent some time exploring a few ideas I've had lying around for awhile.
The first three tracks, working under the banner "Panoramic Heights" are excerpts from an extended improvisation using an earthed cable and my trusty Tascam 424 tape deck. The signal from these objects/devices was manipulated using the same Max/MSP software I used for mimi and the subsequent live performances, wherein a delay/filter patch manipulates the incoming signal to create textures and loops. "Seven Areas To One" and "Container" are short collage works with material derived from deliberately lo-fi field recordings, using my mobile phone as the recording device. Upon rendering the captured audio signal, the resultant sound - when juxtaposed with other sounds - creates some interesting sonicoutcomes. “Lemon Tree”, “Small Insects” and “Scented Weather” are all multi- layered synthesiser improvisations with Max/MSP real-time processing.
The final track "Rainshower With Typewriter" is my personal favourite, the source material is being kept a secret for the time being.
I've always admired the potential of technologies when you approach them from an unconventional perspective. Whether the motivation be the result of a curious imagination or deprivation of sleep.
Panoramic Heights: earthed cable, Tascam 424 Portastudio, laptop
Seven Areas To One: mobile phone, laptop
Container: teapot, mobile phone, laptop
Lemon Tree: puckered synth, laptop
Small Insects: jitter synth, laptop
Scented Weather: musk synth, laptop
Rainshower with Typewriter: ???, laptop
September 09, 2008
The last week has been a collective rush of organising oneself before departing for Germany on Sunday. High priorities have included a troublesome thesis chapter, completing a website and packing/general planning. Lesser priorities have included a prepping new mini-release of recent material (to be uploaded and posted in the next couple of days) and enjoying the splendid spring weather.