The fabulous poster was designed by the best graphic artist in Germany, Chris Rehberger of Double Standards.
Visual Music Studies 2019
Annual show of student's Visual Music projects February 1st, 2019
Every year composer Marcus Schmickler and I host the show Visual Music Studies at Dusseldorf's Filmwerkstatt. This year Sebastian Fecke, Johhannes Leppkes, Suhyun Park, Laura Rizzo, Magdalena Treutwein, Laurenz Ulrich, Lambert Windges, and Valentin Zuckmantel will show their pieces on February 13th.
Creating a work for this show is part of the assignment in my Visual Music class at the Institute for Music and Media at Dusseldorf Robert Schumann conservatory. Many of the students decide to show a transmedia installation, but some of them are also interested in video clips, experimental film and animations, as well as audiovisual performances. Have a look at the best projects of the past ten years.
"Midnight Ballet"/ 24"x 24"/ oil on wood by Kisung Koh.
How to Actually, Truly Focus on What You’re Doing January 27th, 2019
Via The New York Times: "The first rule is to 'work deeply.' The idea here is that if you want to successfully integrate more deep work into your professional life, you cannot just wait until you find yourself with lots of free time and in the mood to concentrate. You have to actively fight to incorporate this into your schedule. It helps, for example, to include deep work blocks on my calendar like meetings or appointments and then protect them as you would a meeting or appointment. [...]
The second rule is to 'embrace boredom.' The broader point here is that the ability to concentrate is a skill that you have to train if you expect to do it well. A simple way to get started training this ability is to frequently expose yourself to boredom. If you instead always whip out your phone and bathe yourself in novel stimuli at the slightest hint of boredom, your brain will build a Pavlovian connection between boredom and stimuli, which means that when it comes time to think deeply about something (a boring task, at least in the sense that it lacks moment-to-moment novelty), your brain won’t tolerate it. [...]
The third rule is to ‘quit social media.‘ The basic idea is that people need to be way more intentional and selective about what apps and services they allow into their digital lives. If you only focus on possible advantages, you’ll end up, like so many of us today, with a digital life that’s so cluttered with thrumming, shiny knots of distraction pulling at our attention and manipulating our moods that we end up a shell of our potential. In Deep Work, I introduced this idea mainly to help professionals protect their ability to focus, but it hit a nerve, and eventually evolved into the popular digital minimalism movement that I’ve been writing about more recently. For example, I’ve never had a social media account, and though I may have missed out on various small advantages here and there, I’m convinced that it has had large positive impacts on my professional output and personal satisfaction. [...]
'Shallow work' is my term for anything that doesn’t require uninterrupted concentration. This includes, for example, most administrative tasks like answering email or scheduling meetings. If you allow your schedule to become dominated by shallow work, you’ll never find time to do the deep efforts that really move the needle. It’s really important, therefore, that you work to aggressively minimize optional shallow work and then be very organized and productive about how you execute what remains. It’s not that shallow work is bad, but that its opposite, deep work, is so valuable that you have to do everything you can to make room for it."
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Hundred Largest Islands of the World by David Garcia.
Advertising as a Major Source of Human Dissatisfaction
Via University of Warwick: "Advertising is ubiquitous in modern life. Yet might it be harmful to the happiness of nations? This paper blends longitudinal data on advertising with large-scale surveys on citizens’ well-being. The analysis uses information on approximately 1 million randomly sampled European citizens across 27 nations over 3 decades. We show that increases in national advertising expenditure are followed by significant declines in levels of life satisfaction. [...]
Further research remains desirable. Nevertheless, our empirical results are some of the first to be consistent with the hypothesis that, perhaps by fostering unending desires, high levels of advertising may depress societal well-being."
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Experiment Inside a Portable Glass Laboratory, 2018, colored pencil and graphite on paper, 25 x 31 cm (9.8 x 12.2 in) by Davor Gromilovic.
Death Inside the Laboratory, 2017, colored pencil and graphite on paper, 17.5 x 23 cm (6.8 x 9 in) by Davor Gromilovic.
Superior Beast, 2017, colored pencil and graphite on paper, 25 x 31 cm (9.8 x 12.2 in) by Davor Gromilovic.
Enter the Surreal, Monster-Populated Realm of Davor Gromilovic
Stay away from the brown acid January 12th, 2019
Via Juxtapoz Magazine: "Davor Gromilovic's surreal, strange almost psychotic drawings place us in a world where there are no rules and all that is the unnatural rules.
Although contemporary drawing represents the primary field of his creative exploration and development, Davor Gromilovic also shows creative abilities and genuine commitment to other artistic forms such as painting, illustration, graphics, murals, art fanzines, etc. His work is narrative and often inspired by fantastic motives of fairy tales, folk-art, pop surrealism, sci-fi, and even by north renaissance masters of painting, as well as by his personal experiences and inner world. In his work one notices a dominant use of symbols, his inner world and complex reflections from which he develops ideas and specific intimate aesthetics. Complex, but at the same time purified, strongly imaginative but well-thought-out works adorn this artist’s rich oeuvre. He currently resides in Sombor, Serbia (born in Yugoslavia, 1985)."
Via Kent Hendricks: "Contrary to popular belief, violent movies actually lead to a slight decline in violence, because, even though people who are likely to commit violent crimes enjoy watching violent movies, they don’t commit violent crimes while sitting in a movie theater. Over a decade, the violent movies led to the direct decline of roughly 1,000 assaults every weekend. (New York Times)
There are strict rules about conversation that cross all languages and cultural boundaries. Of all yes-or-no questions, 75% receive a “yes” and 25% receive a “no.” It takes about 150 milliseconds to respond with “yes,” or “no.” At 650 milliseconds the listener responds with “I don’t know,” and at 835 milliseconds, they’ll say “huh?” or the original speaker will repeat the question. Additionally, the words “uh” and “um” occur about once every 60 words (50 for men and 70 for women), and “uh” is followed by a 250 millisecond pause, while “um” is followed by 670 millisecond pause. (N. J. Enfield, How We Talk: The Inner Workings of Conversation)
People spend roughly one hour each day traveling or commuting, regardless of city size or form of transportation. This is called Marchetti’s constant. Whenever faster forms of transportation have been invented—the domestication of horses, the invention of trains, cars, and then planes—people do not reduce the amount of time spent commuting, they simply commute farther. Walking speed is around 5 km per hour, so the maximum size of a walking city is roughly 20 square kilometers; there are no large ancient cities built prior to 1800 larger than this. As transportation has become faster, and transportation networks have expanded, the physical size of cities has expanded in direct proportion. When people spend less time commuting or work at home, they make up for in it other days, including by going on walks that last as long as the remaining time that would be allotted for commutes. Even people stuck within the confines of prison spend around an hour a day walking around. (Wikipedia)"
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Photo by Maisie Cousins, 2018
End of 2018
The ten best experiences of my year December 31st, 2018
Children I have not had the wish to reproduce, and I enjoy the company of young humans a lot. End of last year a one-year-old moved into my building, and in 2018 we spent quite some time together. She blows my mind, and to see how language and speech develop is an amazing experience – it teaches me humility. Big shout-out to her parents for trusting me!
Concert This summer I went to see one of my all-time favorite pieces, I am sitting in a room, performed by Alvin Lucier himself, and afterwards my colleague Phillip Schulze introduced me to Lucier. A few days later a friend told me that Lucier said to them, it is his wish is to die while performing exactly this piece. Sawubona!
Client As a brand builder and creative catalyst it was an enormous inspiration to work with Reiner Michalke on his new music festival for Monheim am Rhein. Not often did I get the chance to work with a truly confident, intelligent, and sensitive client, who - because of this confidence - does really, really, really listen. This process might have easily been my favorite project in years.
Fandom Two of my favorite artists, Sarah Szczesny and Lena Willikens, joined forces for their Phantom Kino Ballett project. Saw them perform at Schauspielhaus Köln and was extremely impressed by the multitude of references, the energy of their choreography, and the composition altogether. Here is a quote from their 2018 tape release, which I like a lot, "Phantom Kino Ballett is sound fragment and black theatre, Holly Woodlawn's nervous breakdowns, Taro's arpeggiated anime, Mario Montez' mobilee, Maria Callas' chiffre and Anna Opperman's eyelashes."
Manifest The last 25 years I sat in meetings in which, most of the times, I was the only, or one of the few women at the table. Sara Ahmed's idea and feminist manifest of the Rolling Eyes is a life changer and massively helpful. The idea is simple, when you see people rolling their eyes at you for raising a feminist point, you now know that this gesture is not personal, instead it confirms that you touched an important structural issue.
Memory lane Cindy Keefer, director at Center for Visual Music, invited me to give a talk at their CVM Symposium 2018 Exploring & Preserving Visual Music in Sonoma County on August 14th about my Visual Music concentration at the Robert Schumann conservatory. During the 90s I lived in San Fransico for year, and I was excited to see what has changed. Well, it became one of the most expensive cities of the world – a rather sad development, actually. At least the symposium was a success, and I had inspiring conversations with brilliant people like, Ilene Susan Fort (LACMA Curator Emeritus, CVM board member), Jack Ox (artist, Intermedia Projects, Albuquerque, N.M.), and Margaret Schedel (composer, Stony Brook University, NY). Thank you, Cindy!
Via Cambridge Core: "Given that the fictional narratives found in novels, movies, and television shows enjoy wide public consumption, memorably convey information, minimize counter-arguing, and often emphasize politically-relevant themes, we argue that greater scholarly attention must be paid to theorizing and measuring how fiction affects political attitudes. We argue for a genre-based approach for studying fiction effects, and apply it to the popular dystopian genre. Results across three experiments are striking: we find consistent evidence that dystopian narratives enhance the willingness to justify radical—especially violent—forms of political action. Yet we find no evidence for the conventional wisdom that they reduce political trust and efficacy, illustrating that fiction’s effects may not be what they seem and underscoring the need for political scientists to take fiction seriously.
Our research not only reinforces past work showing that people often fail to distinguish between fact and fiction in learning about the world, but also illustrates that the lessons of fiction may not be what they seem. […] Rather than creating political cynicism in readers and viewers or showing them that girls can be powerful too—both lessons that are at this point probably amply supplied by the American news media and lived experience—dystopian fiction seems to be teaching them a more subtle and perhaps more concerning message: that violence and illegal activities may be both legitimate and necessary to pursue justice. Dystopian fiction appears to subtly expand the political imagination of viewers and readers to encompass a range of scenarios outside the normal realm of democratic politics, and what people then consider reasonable and thinkable appears to expand accordingly.
These results should also highlight the peril for political scientists in assuming that fiction is just entertainment. The stories we tell ourselves have profound implications for how we think about political ethics and political possibilities, and as scholars of politics, we can and should do more to map out the effects of politically-inflected fiction and entertainment."
Via NRW Forum Dusseldorf: "In the 20th century, so-called new or contemporary music has been influenced by composers such as John Cage, Morton Feldman, Mauricio Kagel, György Ligeti, Luigi Nono, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and others. For one of her seminars at the Robert Schumann Hochschule für Musik und Medien, communication designer Heike Sperling and artist Swantje Lichtenstein started to research the outstanding female composers of the 20th century (post–World War II). Their list exploded quickly, because an incredible number of great female composers can be found in the last century – but unlike their male colleagues they are not yet part of the 'canon'. The Listening Session invites you to give those composers a (listening) space and to talk about their music. The two Düsseldorf professors will exchange thoughts with the renowned composer Brigitta Muntendorf via Skype, about those unheard composers, their aesthetics and techniques."
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bell hooks and Beverly Guy-Sheftall in a discussion that reflects on feminism and their own legacies in popular culture today.
Via Wikipedia: "Gloria Jean Watkins (born September 25, 1952), better known by her pen name bell hooks, is an American author, feminist, and social activist. The name "bell hooks" is derived from that of her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks. The focus of hooks' writing has been the intersectionality of race, capitalism, and gender, and what she describes as their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and class domination. She has published over 30 books and numerous scholarly articles, appeared in documentary films, and participated in public lectures. She has addressed race, class, and gender in education, art, history, sexuality, mass media, and feminism. In 2014, she founded the bell hooks Institute at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky."
Watch this discussion: "Join bell hooks and Beverly Guy-Sheftall in a discussion sponsored by Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts at The New School that reflects on feminism and their own legacies in popular culture today. Beverly Guy-Sheftall is a feminist scholar, writer and editor, and the Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies and English at Spelman College. bell hooks is an author, activist, feminist and scholar-in-residence at The New School. This fall is her fifth and final week-long visit in a three-year residency."