Saturday, September 29, 2007

Project "Good Weather"

Click here for a larger version - and here for a very large version of this picture!

"This is about difference and sameness. About variety and uniformity. About hunger and satiety. About repetition and change. About culture and tastes. About health and illness. And finally it's about the weather. Because a German proverb says: If you eat everything up properly we'll have good weather!"

That's written on the pic already - and because this blog is about pictures and the stories behind them, here some background.

The picture is designed to be a large poster - the impact is a bit different than here then, and because all the gory detail is there ;-), it can be viewed close up or - stepping back - in its entirety. You're invited to click on the two links below the picture to get a feeling how these different views could be.

It consist of 46 single pictures, taken in August 2008 during my midday work break. The challenge was not to ignore the stares of the onlookers - especially while photographing the "cleaned" plates after eating - but to recreate a look of uniformity. It's incredible how distorted the lenses even of rather capable cameras render straight lines (the pics were taken with a Fuji F810), and how minuscule differences in perspective contort an image. So without a camera mounted on a tripod and consistent studio lighting at hand all one can do is extensive post processing on each and every image to at least create some similarity among them.

But since this image is about sameness and difference, about uniformity and variety, I allowed for slight changes in white balance, lighting, and even went so far to cut off elements at the borders. In a future version of this pic those cut off elements might be eliminated.

All technicalities aside - the bottom line: For me it's a bit like minimal music. Variations, differences, repetitions, rhythms within a tight framework. In other words: Modern civilized life!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Linz and the Ars Electronica

The Hauptplatz in Linz - click here for a large version

Linz: A medium-sized town in the north center of Austria, located on both sides of the Danube. A town with a long history, reaching back to Roman and Celtic settlements. There are aspects of the history of Linz that are quite interesting and nice - e.g. that the city was for a short time in the 15th century capital of the Holy Roman Empire, that the famous mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler worked and published in the early 17th century in it (the local university bears his name) and that the composer Anton Bruckner lived and worked here in the 19th century. Very nice to know, sure - but most cities have some famous inhabitants, haven't they?

But Linz is also tied to another, rather infamous person: Adolf Hitler spend a part of his youth there, performed miserably in a local school, but in spite of that somehow grew fond of it (of Linz, not of the school ...). He had big plans for Linz, and - stemming maybe from the feeling of being a unrecognized artist - had the idea to turn it into a cultural center of the Third Reich. And as he proclaimed the annexiation of Austria into Greater Germany in 1938, he did so in Linz, at the townhall at the main square in Linz, the "Hauptplatz". Want to see where? Click on the link beneath the panoramic picture above showing the "Hauptplatz" at night, and look at the somewhat pink building with the small clock tower on the left side on the panorama, right to the large "Plague Column" (built 1717 to remember the victims of the Plague) - this is the townhall.

Curiously enough Hitler's idea to turn Linz into a cultural center somehow worked - fortunately not as he originally planned, but in a much more modern way: Linz nowadays has several fine museums, some of them dedicated to the modern arts, and since 1979 it holds the annual "Ars Electronica", a festival for art, technology and society - a very interesting event, especially nowadays in the times of quickly evolving media technologies.

The panoramic picture above showed you a glimpse of the old Linz - so now some looks at Linz as a modern centre of art & thought!

Interactive video sculpture with bubbles - seen at the Landesgalerie Linz.

"Mirror cells" - an interactive environment by Sylvia Eckermann and Peter Szely, exhibit at the Ars Electronica 2007. Everybody who wanted could get into that large mirror cell and type some SMS on those projected round screens you see at the ceiling. Altogether quite a sight! So do take your time to sort out all that reflections.

A quick look at this year's conference at the Ars Electronica - main topic was the debate on the value of privacy in the age of blogs like this one. ;-)

And now as an adequate ending - adequate to the topic of the conference that is - a private look at the author of this lines - reflecting himself in the ceiling of the Lentos art museum in Linz.