"Midnight Ballet"/ 24"x 24"/ oil on wood by Kisung Koh.

Deep Work

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

January 20th, 2019
this isn't happiness

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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Photograph by Octavi Serra.

Photograph by Octavi Serra.

52 things I learned in 2018

by
Januray 11th, 2019

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)

[...]

The fake smile—the kind you do for a posed photograph—didn’t exist until the eighteenth century, when the upper classes could afford the services of dentists. (Lisa Feldman Barrett, How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain)

[...]

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)

[...]

The surface area of human lungs is as big as a tennis court. (James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science)

[...]

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

Books While preparing my Transformats seminar for our Klang and Realität master program I came across the essay Must we burn Sade? by Simone de Beauvoir, and started to rediscover her. In this context Sarah Bakewell's At the Existentialist Cafe was another great discovery this year.
I believe that Simone de Beauvoir is the most important philosopher of the 20th century, and The second sex the most important book of that century – because something started to change.

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."

Listening session It was a pleasure and honor to work with two geniuses, Prof. Dr. Swantje Lichtenstein and Brigitta Muntendorf, on our listening session called Making the 3rd Ear (a quote by Maryanne Amacher), which we performed at NRW Forum Düsseldorf in December. We played music by ten of the best female composers of the last 50 or so years. Here is the PDF with all tracks we played.

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!

Translation One of my oldest friends, Sandra Münchenbach, invited me to co-translate twelve of the beautiful Daily Reminders for Living a New Paradigm by Anne Wilson Schaef. I am very grateful for this experience, and all I have learned so far. Thank you!

Tribute Ralph Christoph asked me to give a speech at the c/o pop opening event in honour of Christa Päffgen aka Nico, who was born in my hometown Cologne 80 years ago. I convinced him to do a performance instead, and asked fabulous artist and friend Swantje Lichtenstein to write a piece for 11 voices and 2 narrators, which she called on c’s terms. heroine and sister. To top it, I invited ten powerful women to perform the piece with with me at the MAKK. We had a blast.

So, here we are... And what is next?

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"im here to learn so :))))))" is a four-channel video installation by Zach Blas that resurrects Tay, an artificial intelligence chatbot created by Microsoft in 2016.

It’s the End of the World and They Know It

How Dystopian Fiction Shapes Political Attitudes
December 23rd, 2018

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."

Copyright: © American Political Science Association 2018

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by Giuseppe Palmisano Trim.

2018 round up of 52 Immersive Things

by Lance Weiler
December 18th, 2018

Check out this fabulous list of 52 immersive things:

Via Medium: "The following is a round up of 52 immersive things from 2018 that mix storytelling, play, design and code."

Thanks to Sylke René Meyer!

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"Dusty Boots Line, The Sahara" by Richard Long (1988).

Do smart people have better intuitions?

We hypothesized that intuitive processes may differentiate high- and low-capacity reasoners
July 29th, 201

Via  National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine: "There is much evidence that high-capacity reasoners perform better on a variety of reasoning tasks (Stanovich, 1999), a phenomenon that is normally attributed to differences in either the efficacy or the probability of deliberate (Type II) engagement (Evans, 2007). In contrast, we hypothesized that intuitive (Type I) processes may differentiate high- and low-capacity reasoners. To test this hypothesis, reasoners were given a reasoning task modeled on the logic of the Stroop Task, in which they had to ignore one dimension of a problem when instructed to give an answer based on the other dimension (Handley, Newstead, & Trippas, 2011). Specifically, in Experiment 1, 112 reasoners were asked to give judgments consistent with beliefs or validity for 2 different types of deductive reasoning problems. In Experiment 2, 224 reasoners gave judgments consistent with beliefs (i.e., stereotypes) or statistics (i.e., base-rates) on a base rate task; half responded under a strict deadline. For all 3 problem types and regardless of the deadline, high-capacity reasoners performed better for logic/statistics than did belief judgments when the 2 conflicted, whereas the reverse was true for low-capacity reasoners. In other words, for high-capacity reasoners, statistical information interfered with their ability to make belief-based judgments, suggesting that, for them, probabilities may be more intuitive than stereotypes. Thus, at least part of the accuracy-capacity relationship observed in reasoning may be because of intuitive (Type I) processes. (PsycINFO Database Record."

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Image from the pilot episode from the 1960's TV show "Mission Impossible!" (1966)

Sawubona

"Today, too, I experienced something I hope to understand in a few days." –Jørgen Leth: The Perfect Human and The Five Obstructions
June 16th, 2018

Via Africa Knows: "The Zulu greeting, Sawubona means I see you and the response Ngikhona means I am here. Inherent in the Zulu greeting and in the grateful response, is the sense that until you saw me, I didn’t exist. By recognizing me, you brought me into existence. A Zulu folk saying clarifies this, Umuntu ngumuntu nagabantu, meaning A person is a person because of other people."

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“The Inflammatory Essays” (detail) by Jenny Holzer, (1979-1982), offset posters on colored paper, 17 x 17 inches.

Brand New

The Decade that Changed the Art World
May 13th, 2018

Via Hyperallergic: "If there’s one work emblematic of the entire show, it is surely Gretchen Bender’s (1951–2004) extraordinary 1984 installation Dumping Core, an 'electronic theater' of rapidly cut and cascading film footage, corporate logos, computer animations, and crashing noise presented across 14 television screens. The work debuted at The Kitchen in 1984, where the artist described it as a response to the 'corporatization of culture.' Bender operated beyond the sphere of fine art, editing music videos for New Order, R.E.M. and Megadeth. She also produced the frenzied and nightmarish title sequence for Fox television’s America’s Most Wanted. 'Today legal questions concerning movies are generally related to pornography' a female voice declares during Dumping Core, '… but the violent cry over movie content continues.' The voices sampled in Dumping Core are frequently interrupted by audio glitches and violent sounds including crashing glass, broken synth music, and gun shots. The work is as engrossing as it is unnerving.

The primary takeaway of Brand New is how high the stakes of representation became during a decade of proliferating imagery and technology. Much of the work on display sought to disrupt the mass media’s ability to perpetuate and normalize discrimination. Julia Wachtel’s 1983 painting, Love Thing isolates cartoon characters from two separate greeting cards: a young Native American woman with an arrow shot into her buttocks, and a well-coiffed white woman brandishing a pair of scissors. Each are bent over suggestively, with their buttocks prominently raised. The decontextualization of each character emphasizes their respective stereotypes while also amplifying the underlying violence of each image. [...]

It is extraordinary how current Brand New feels, whether it’s the ongoing relevance of Holzer’s The Inflammatory Texts or the remarkable prescience of Bender’s Dumping Core. The ’80s were a political decade and Brand New is a political show. The art world as we recognize it today was largely manufactured by the decade’s commercial prowess, and we’re still grappling with its fallout. Jetzer’s exhibition is by no means perfect. It stumbles with its coverage of collectives and often foregrounds blue-chip work whose thematic relevance is obvious. It remains however, an engrossing exploration of art and commerce that deserves far more critical attention. The exhibition indelibly contributes to ’80s scholarship by foregrounding the talents of the decade’s less-appreciated artists."

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Peter Saville on Richard Hamilton's "Toaster" (1967).

The game

Also known as the White Bear Principle
April 28th, 2018

Via my favorite blog the new sheldon wet/dry: "‘The trouble with comparing yourself to others is that there are too many others.’ –Sarah Manguso"

Via Wikipedia: "The Game is a mental game where the objective is to avoid thinking about The Game itself. Thinking about The Game constitutes a loss, which must be announced each time it occurs. It is impossible to win most versions of The Game. Depending on the variation of The Game, the whole world, or all those aware of the game, are playing it all the time. Tactics have been developed to increase the number of people aware of The Game and thereby increase the number of losses. [...]

The origins of The Game are uncertain. In a 2008 news article, Justine Wettschreck says The Game has probably been around since the early 1990s, and may have originated in Australia or England. One theory is that it was invented in London in 1996 when two British engineers, Dennis Begley and Gavin McDowall, missed their last train and had to spend the night on the platform; they attempted to avoid thinking about their situation and whoever thought about it first lost. Another theory also traces The Game to London in 1996, when it was created by Jamie Miller 'to annoy people'. Journalist Mic Wright of The Next Web recalled playing The Game at school in the late 1990s.

However, The Game may have been created in 1977 by members of the Cambridge University Science Fiction Society when attempting to create a game that did not fit in with game theory."

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