We’ve been in Berlin for a week attending the Transmediale and CTM festival. It has been a mad week; we hardly saw the inside of our hotel room. We can’t write about every experience we had during the week (that would take more than a blog post) , but here’s a short roundup about places, pieces and experiences we had.
is a homebuilt mechanical instrument made mostly from vintage Meccano parts. The instrument is driven by a steam engine that provides the whole instrument with energy. The sound material is generated from various strings, dynamos and music boxes but the most important sound generating part is the sound of the machine itself, the rhythmic patterns and pulsating drones of the steam engine, the squeaking of the gear trains.
Steam Machine Music questions the whole practice and conceptualising of machine music in a historical perspective that points to the fact that machines always have been malfunctioning
There seems to be a trend in the video art community to do collages of YouTube videos, there where at least 10 YouTube cut’n’paste pieces at the festival of varying quality but this piece stand out from the rest. The film consists of a selection of posts from different American video bloggers (in this case mostly women) that has been downloaded before users and YouTube staff has removed them for being inappropriate, it creates a relevant chronicle of our current time from a twisted mind perspective. A must see.
On saturday evening we went to the passion church in kreutzberg to listen to an organ concert by Tim Hecker and there was an ridiculous amount of people wanting to pay 18euro for the concert. It was freezing cold but thought it could be worth it since we expected it to be live, due to the high entrance fee and also because they offered no discount if you had transmediale pass or not.
Unfortunately they let too many people in which led to a bad concert experience, at least if you’re a sound nerd as both of us in Noisebud are. There’s no excuse to ruin a four channel piece by placing people outside the speakers, the experience you want is nowhere to be found. Also it would’ve been much cooler to hear it live. The piece in itself is a well crafted kinda tonal fluctuant drone music. Not our cup of tea but still there’s a lot of people that’s really into the ambient scene and if you’re on of them you should check this guy out. The Record ‘Harmony In Ultraviolet’ from 2006 seems to have been sort of a hit record.
Pe Lang’s poetic and elegant hand built sculptures combine mechanized systems with new materials to mandate and manifest a different approach to kinetic movement.
When it comes to Ikeda there’s no compromises. Either you love it or you don’t. He’s more or less the minimalistic godfather in the electronic music scene since the mid-90s. The musical and visual material is reduced to a minimum: sine waves, sound pulses, pixels of light and numerical data. He investigates sound, time and space on the basis of mathematical methods and transforms them in his concerts and installations into an intense experience for the audience.
In the White Room a single sound source (which we believe is two interfering sine waves) is projected into the room by a parabolic reflector, and as you move about the gallery the pitch and volume varies in a complex way based only on interference and doppler shifts. It’s a very weird and fun experience! http://www.hamburgerbahnhof.de/exhibition
In his video Realigning My Thoughts On Jasper Johns, JK Keller creates a glitch version of the Simpsons episode Mom and Pop Art (Season 10, Episode 19), which included a guest appearance by the artist Jasper Johns.
Keller aestheticises errors in the audio and video material by deliberately distorting them through digital manipulation by standardised software. At first sight it’s so many colours and lines changing it’s hard to focus but once I sat down I stayed all the 20min something totally absorbed or hypnotised by theese images.
The building next to our hotel was a bunker from WWII that held the infamous techno club named ‘Bunker’ during the early 90’s. Today it’s owned by Christian Boros who use the building as an exhibition hall for his private collection of contemporary art. That’s probably all good but we’d be more than happy to see it turn back into a place for mayhem once again.
It is a great venue, no doubt, it doesn’t reach up to the overwhelming critic we heard about the place but still it’s worth both one and two visits. There should be more venues like this, it’s rough, big and they never close during the weekend.
Don’t expect too much of the music though, not that it’s necessarily bad or low quality but it seems like people playing there tend to adapt their DJ or live set to the “Berghain sound” and that creates a regimentation which becomes boring. On the other hand, if you’re not as picky as we are you probably appreciate the fact that you get what you’re paying for, no surprises here.
After listening to the festivals selection of ‘neat and nice’ music we felt the need for a injection of some electronic punk so we went to the club Tresor and saw Fatima Hajji and Frank Kvitta tear the place apart. DJ Rush was playing upstairs but it’s really time for him to retire as with most of the names from the former harder school that has turned to the more commercial minimal scene to get more and better paid gigs. He sucked.
Once again the score between Berlin vs Stockholm is 1-0. There’s still a long way for Stockholm to become the ‘new Berlin’ , mostly because of the people and the clubscene in Stockholm is too fashionable, too selfabsorbed and too busy being cool. Let’s hope we can change it!