BLOG (March 2006 - March 2009)


October 23, 2008

> Melbourne

Arrived back from Europe/Malaysia on Tuesday morning, the jet lag has been nasty. No matter though, I'm beating the body clock and heading to Melbs for a couple of days to check this sound art exhibition.

October 18, 2008

Day 34: Through Grounded Clouds

It's the middle of the day and we're on our train to Frankfurt from Munich. Munich was a nice place to relax and not do that much, same as Dresden I guess. The weather's been quite good, save for a freezing shower a couple of days ago. This train journey's about three hours and so far (halfway in) we've seen barely anything outside the window aside from some wind turbines slicing through the the thick clouds that cover everything beyond 20 metres of this high speed train. When we arrive we're checking into our hotel then going to the huge Murikami exhibition at the Frankfurt Museum of Contemporary Art. Then it's a good nights sleep before we make our passage home tomorrow.

By the way, our hotel is like a lounge bar from 1999 crossed with the decor of the Twin Peaks white lodge. Awesome?

October 17, 2008

Day 32 & 33: Run out groove

Nothing to report of great note from the past couple of days, relaxation and casualness have taken the main priority for the final days of our time in Germany. Markets, museums and buying belated gifts for family members, etc. Tomorrow we train it up to Frankfurt for our last day proper before flying back to Australia on Sunday afternoon.

October 15, 2008

Day 31: Fatigue

Lauren and I are taking it easy this evening watching some Family Guy dubbed in German which makes it twice as amusing. The German version of Judge Judy isn't so much...when they start to shout I get chills. We went for a walk by the river and parklands early today, taunted some friendly ducks, threw stones into the water and made videos of me walking across pebbles. It doesn't sound like HOT FUN but it's good tepid fun. Munich itself is a nice town - we found a new media art gallery in a disused subway station (see image) exhibiting work by artists from Tiblisi, which always makes for interesting viewing.

Aside from televisual procrastination, Max patching has been the order of the afternoon and I've also made some field recordings outside our hotel window which actually sound like a sound installation.

October 14, 2008

Day 30: The Long Now - Dresden > Munich

An exhausting day. Up at 5am to catch a train from Dresden hbf to Munich for check-in by 2pm. The streets of north Dresden looked haunted and moody as we wheeled our luggage through the streets to the Neustadt station. We were half awake, but the combination of mist, weird sounds, tall apartments and an eerie light emanating from a cemetery made us walk a little bit faster. The journey from Dresden to Munich was about 6 hours with a couple of stopovers and changes in the backwoods of the old East. Numerous towns and stations we passed early on were in states of dramatic disrepair - the blackened concrete, broken windows and metre high weeds pushing out of buildings pointed to a past (or current) decline of sorts. By the time we reached Hof (20km west of the Czech border) things were cleaner and maintained, from Nuremberg to Munich the vistas got more impossibly sleek and refined. We haven't had much time to take in Munich yet, aside from a doner after we'd settled in our room. It's a busy town though, I think it's going to be a fun couple of days. The wonderful balmy weather we got in Dresden seems to have carried down south too.

Oh, I've been making some music/art too. More so in the past couple of weeks.

October 13, 2008

Day 29: Day of the glare

The sun at this time of year in Dresden is pretty intense. Both yesterday and today we left the hostel at about 11am to find the streets in long shadows with lazy light like it was six o'clock in the morning. The sun barely rises out of the sky before it drops again in the late afternoon. Turn into the light (due south-ish) and pre-suspicions about its apparent weakness are dispelled by the blinding glare bouncing off the cobblestones and shiny buildings. One pair of sunglasses between two do not bode well for headache prevention. The river, bridges and surrounding buildings (patchwork, blackened and scarred) look beautiful in the afternoon light. That is when you're not directly facing it.

The area of Dresden that we're staying in (Neustadt) is probably the most entertaining of the two main sections. Oldstadt Dresden is by far the more historic section of this city, but the presence of awful aggressive Italian/Polish tourists was getting my ire yesterday which at times put me off the beauty of the Zwinger and other famous landmarks. Neustadt in a nutshell is a sprawling matrix of four story old skool apartments (1900 stylie & bomb-free), funky cafes, jazz clubs and proper punks/bohemians everywhere. The graffiti (excluding the territorial piss-stains) is quite good too - especially the colourful stencil art that adorns the underside of the bridges and backsides of buildings.

The record stores here (which I'd heard favourable things about) are a bit of a letdown - overpriced and lacking esotericism. The adjacent erotic bookstore looked far more interesting.

October 12, 2008

Day 28 Adendum - a report on research

Whilst this vacation has been an excuse to eschew more real-world responsibilities for a short while, I though I'd take some time to cover some ground that night have been left out in previous posts. In some cases intentionally for the sake of 'thought purity'. Namely....


Since Robin became sick a couple of weeks ago, I've had to persevere on the art practice/research front. Whilst I was in Weimar I made some attempts to organise a meeting with the sound artist Rolf Julius, as anybody familiar with my line of work will know is an important influence. Unfortunately he was one his way to a routine visit to Finland for the week so I lost out there, Robin also informed me he was just diagnosed with terminal cancer which is pretty awful news. On a better note, I caught some inspiring sound art in Berlin and gathered enough initiative to start thinking about the research again. Since we've arrived in Dresden, my notebook has become a repository for coherent thoughts and ideas whilst the finishing touches to the creative works are becoming more concrete and foreseeable once I return.

Day 28: Dresden - restored city

After bashing my right kneecap on our bedframe last night I wasn't sure if I was going to get down the stairs let alone walk about and explore the city today. Thankfully the old joint loosened up from its agonising stiffness and I was able to get around reasonably alright for most the day. Dresden was once one of the most beautiful and cultural cities in Europe until it was firebombed to fuck-all towards the end of WW2. Hardly a 'strategic' target for the allied forces its destruction was intended as a moral blow to the German Empire. Barely anything remained of the city centre in the aftermath, an estimated 95% had been reduced to rubble and over 10,000 people had perished being blown apart, burnt alive or choking to death in the firestorm. Dresden today is a patchwork city, the remaining buildings have been amazingly restored to part of their former glory. Fresh stones and bricks sit alongside blackened originals, whilst entire sections of buildings and duplicates of statues complete once ruined buildings. I've never ever seen anything on this scale before, aside from the appreciation of the dedication and work that has gone into restoring the city, I couldn't escape a profound sense of sadness about what this place was once like and what its generation went through. For an interesting account of the Dresden bombing read Kurt Vonnegut's seminal Slaughter House 5 (if you haven't already.) The Zwinger (a gallery cum palace) also has to be seen to be believed.

October 11, 2008

Day 27: onto Dresden

Today we left Berlin in the morning due South-ish for Dresden. We arrived in the unseasonable warmth which was perfect for the short walk from the north station to our hostel. After settling in we embarked through the surrounding district (north of the city centre) which is full of nice restaurants, record stores and bars. Later the masters research which I've avoided until now found its way into my notebook as I made couple of recording by our secondfloor window. Strange how that works.

October 10, 2008

Day 26: Visiting the East Side and the Kreuzberg tiles

The East Side gallery near the Ostbahnhof is one of the last remaining segments of the Berlin Wall. In 1990, on the first anniversary of re-unification twenty artists from around the world were commissioned to create artworks on an Eastern side of the wall which extends for over a kilometer. Recently the gallery has been the subject of debate because it's falling into disrepair and funding can't be sought to keep it restored and protected from graffiti and vandalism. Also the area it occupies (along Berlin's main river) has been earmarked for major development which would result into the removal of the wall.

Later in the evening we went out with Asadeh and Adam (who we've been staying with in Nuekolln) for a night out in nearby Kreuzburg. The evening included a delicious soup, obtaining illicit substances near a very dark park and drinks in a few local establishments, including a devastatingly camp place called Roses (see picture.)

October 09, 2008

Day 25: Hamburger Bahnhof and Calexica

After a late rise we went to check out the Hamburger Bahnhof's exhibition of works by Andy Warhol, Joseph Beuys and other 'contemporary' artists. It was all very impressive, especially the work of Beuys which I've never really come into contact with before (aside from maybe the odd brief Fluxus reference.) The enormous outer wing (like a kilometer long shipping container) contained the sprawling exhibition Cult of the Artist: I Just Can't Slice Off An Ear Everyday which featured of a wide variety of works which fit the decontructivist mould. Starting with some works by Duchamp (unfortunately no urinal) and ending with a purpose built space housing Ugo Rondinone's profoundly unsettling Where do we go from here (1996). Put short, large scale projections of clowns combined with sounds of heavy breathing and standing waves make for a disturbing experience.

Then it was off to Calexico! Complete with a performance in the crowd!

October 08, 2008

Day 24: Walls and light

Today we headed out slightly east to check out a couple of the wall monuments, taking in some of the wild architecture on the way. On our way to the Jewish Museum we located Hansa Ton Studios (where Bowie/Eno) recorded Heroes, etc. Sounds a little lame, but standing on the steps to the door felt very special in a geeky fanboy sort of way. Onto the Jewish Museum, and despite the slightly patronising tone of their interactive museum, there were some impressive elements including the use of light in the building and the permenant installation by Menasche Kadishman Shalehet/Fallen Leaves:

October 07, 2008

Day 23: Zooropa

Caught a train out the Zoo Station, took in a few of the sights and went to a couple of independant galleries we'd shortlisted for visits. A bittersweet suprise was the first gallery which was meant to have a new exhibition but was still bumping out an exhibition by one of my favourite sound artists, Rolf Julius. Since we couldn't get into the gallery, it was painful to see all of Julius' sound pieces (loudspeakers, bowls, pigments, etc.) cluttered together in he front room with us on the street seperated by a pane of glass. Like having your heart broken, really.

After we'd been offered a lamp and a bicycle by a strange man on the street we were spontaneously invited to an exhibition by a street artist going by the alias of El Bocho. The exhibition that night was very good, three artists taking urban style painting and transposing them to a more fine art context. El Bocho's work was really impressive - large scale canvases of girls faces with strong lines and a few intense colours. This was also a high profile gallery with stiff suits and flashy quite a spectacle to see psuedo-street art sell for upwards of 30K Euros.

Following a couple of wines we headed back into Mitte and found some bars. It's the first time I've had the pleasure of a Red Russian, it may be the last. Later on we observed the phenomena which is legalised prostitution/hustling from the comfort of a boho cocktail bar. Imagine doppelganging Russian Dolls, white leather, peroxide with bumbags and you get to picture.

October 06, 2008

Day 22: Navigation

Writing about my movements is becoming increasingly difficult as this city is constantly distracting me with its beauty. In brief, today we wound our way around the Mitte arts district, had some great soup and I bought a couple of exciting sound art books.

October 05, 2008

Day 21: Berlin Rain

The Sunday bells rang out across Nuekolln this morning with uneven clangs and dissonance. I fell out of bed in the hope that I could get a recording down only for them to fade out as I got the microphone connected. The rain which had started to spray Berlin yesterday afternoon was still falling. Lauren and I rugged up with several layers including gloves (gloves!? when was the last time I ever wore gloves!?) and ventured outside.

We headed into a contemporary arts district along Linden Strasse finding many enticing galleries which were not open being a Sunday, but found a couple that covered a variety of sculpture, photo media and a bit of sound art. After stopping by a Jewish deli for caffeinated refreshment, we fought the drizzle on foot towards Hansa for an exhibition of notation at the Institut Des Kunst.

The exhibition was startling in its scale. By the time we'd reached the entrance I'd already poured over original scores and hand-written notes by Legeti, Stockhausen and Cage, then as one room led into another equally sized one I realized this wasn't just another rote exhibit. Highlights included graphic scores by Kagel and Jun Paik and a 3-D realisation of Xenakis/Le Courbusier's Phillip's Pavillion. However, pinnicle had to Cage's Variations (I-IV) scores complete with notes and transparencies.

After all of that I didn't mind we couldn't find a train in the rainy evening, electing to trudge it on foot through the Brandenburg gate back into the Mitte for a quick dinner, picking up some Californian wine in the U-Bahn station and heading home to dry our feet.

October 04, 2008

Day 20: Cosy jackets and art

I spent the morning the with the unenviable task of finding a jacket that A) would be warm enough to tackle Berlin's chilly climate and B) ensure I would like it/it would not be bulky/made to look like a nihilistic hoody. Thank goodness I found a tasteful tweed/plaid zip-up thing that keeps my chest from aching and looks nice.

Today we began exploring Berlin's many galleries and museums in the city centre. After the many anti-climaxes of Weimar the variety and sheer scale of what's on offer, the programmes themselves are already satisfying us. The plan was to fit in two or three art haunts though we only managed to check out the Berlin Guggenheim which had an interesting selection of photo-media and concept art picked from the 1960's to the present. It was very well curated with central themes of slipped identity and contradiction which was at times very humourous and confrontational.

Then it rained.

October 03, 2008

Day 19: Re-unification Day

Our first day in Berlin proper coincided with celebrations for the re-unification of West and East. Being a public holiday most of the shops were closed, though restaurants and some department stores remained busy amid thousands of Berlin natives and tourists taking in the atmosphere. The main festivities were taking place by the Brandenburg Gate and spilling a kilometre up the Strasse Des 17 Juni to the Victory Tower. Earlier in the day we attempted to navigate ourselves in this vast and beautiful city. In one of the markets along the riverbank I picked through a huge collection of quality vinyl, sticking with a UK pressing of Bowie's Low and 801 Live, the latter being the closest I'm getting to the elusive Eno purchase.

October 02, 2008

Day 18: Leaving Weimar > Leipzig > Berlin

Packed up and shifted out of our TARDIS room at Hababusch and made some boiled eggs for breakfast. Visited Robin in Hospital, a 2km walk south of Weimar which was good for circulation and my ongoing bleak mood. Robin's doing much better after several tests and procedures. Since he hasn't been able to eat for the past few days he's looking very thin, though he hasn't lost any of his good humour. Before leaving Weimar we managed to prolong our stay by an extra hour when we took the wrong bus which dragged us a few kilometres from the train station. Deciding to walk to the station was useful for us to vent our frustrations at this town and its indecipherable bus routes.

Since we hadn't reserved seats for the trip from Leipzig to Berlin we had to stand for the two hour journey amongst some friendly backpackers and a couple of huskies.

Upon arriving in Berlin, we navigated ourselves to Neukolln - one of the main multi-cultural districts of Berlin. Asadeh (who we're staying with) said that this place has been getting a bad reputation in the media - practically forever - and is informally known as 'the ghetto' or the 'Gaza Strip'. Asadeh agreed when I suggested to her such tags are mostly the result of a media beat up based on class/race/cultural prejudice combined with unemployment statistics and drug problems. The community here is predominantly Arabic with lots of smoking lounges, doner kebabs and people playing backgammon on the sidewalk. There are also contingents of east Europeans (Polish, Serbs, Hungarians, Russians), African refugees and a smattering of native art students. The more appropriate tag for such a place would be alternative, since this is one of the major areas for outsider art, public art, and interesting art in general.

On our first evening in Neukolln we were invited to a dinner party hosted by one of Asadeh's friends. I always enjoying dinner do's where you eat sitting on the floor amongst others and get to spend the evening discussing all kinds of philosophical things (chief topic: do animals have a 'langauge'?)

Day 17: Strange weather

Weimar turned on a show of ecological hostility today with strong winds, spitting rain, leaden clouds and general nastiness.  I'm looking forward to Berlin tomorrow and putting behind what have been a couple of dissapointing days.  It's apt, this strange weather almost seems to be ushering us out of this place - beating the window, ravaging the trees and soaking our shoes.

intrepid visitors since 25/1/08