Saturday, December 25, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bridgetown


Everything has radically changed in the past few weeks. I am now living in Portland, Oregon. Mandie is still in Berlin, and is obtaining her masters degree in anthropology at the Freie Universität Berlin. I will be back in Berlin in about a half year or so, and then plan on obtaining my own masters degree at De Montfort University in England. For now, I'm staying with some friends and am searching for a job so I can save up a bit for school.

I flew stand-by and the trip started out great. I caught a flight in Berlin, sat in first class and made friends with the woman sitting next to me. Things took a turn however in NYC where the flight was overbooked and I did not get a seat on the flight to Portland. I ended up with a morning flight, and spent the night in the airport. Not sure if any of you have experienced JFK overnight, but if not, let me assure you, it is not comfortable. The chairs are no good for sleeping, and the only flat place I found worth sleeping on was made of marble which was cold and hard. NYC is of course currently swarming with bedbugs, so there was no way that I was going to sleep on the floors. They also play smooth cool jazz which seems to be rather loud when it is not accompanied with the background noise of hundreds of people, and on top of everything was just something else that made it tricky to sleep. After a night of walking back and forth through the terminals I finally got on a flight to Salt Lake City. This was exciting because I got to see all the snow capped mountains and the Great Salt Lake as we flew in. It started snowing a bit while I was there. Ultimately, after 33 hours of being either on a plane or in a secure airport zone, I ended up in Portland.


Before my relocation, we switched up our situation in Berlin as well. We no longer have an apartment in Tegel by the lake (oh how I miss the lake!), and now have an apartment in Schöneberg. Mandie does not have to make the hour long commute to the university that she had to make from our old place any more which is extremely helpful. The move was exciting. We had mostly everything packed, and on the weekend of the move, we had lots of friends come out to help. Sarah and Rene stopped by and helped us with the truck. Our friends April, Olaf, Natalie, and Donna also came by to help carry all of our heavy boxes. We managed, despite the cold and wet conditions, and an angry lady fighting us for parking (she tried to run me over!), to get everything inside the apartment successfully.

In my last few weeks in Berlin, I was somewhat productive. I constructed a distortion unit out of the guts of an old cassette player. It can be found by following the tech link on my website. I also attended Sourcefabric's ON2: Test Signals, a two day workshop, presentation, and lecture series about digital and web-based radio. We explored all sorts of interesting real world applications, talked with people from around the world, and I participated in a workshop for Campcaster, an open-source radio station management program. Hilary, a good friend of mine, and I recorded two sessions in my studio using an instrument he created called the tromboscillator. It is a custom designed modular synth that uses the trombone to modulate the onboard oscillators. Usually he performs solo with this device, but I convinced him to bring it over so that I could have a go at the controls while he played the trombone. I had a blast playing with him and hope to do so again as soon as possible. I aim to have some tracks posted as soon as I get them ready. Between these two tromboscillator sessions, I made my way to Leicester, England to visit De Montfort University. I spent two days meeting and talking with the music technology department, other post grads, professors, directors, and so on, and got a feel for what I will be getting myself into when I go there for my master's degree, hopefully in October. I was impressed with what a strong community this program has. They are great people and I think I will get along great with them. While I was there, I attended a symposium where I got to listen to post-grads, professors, and artist, present their projects or talk about their work. Later that same evening there was a concert where many of the speakers either performed or had their audio and/or visual works played for the audience. When I went walking about the town, it didn't take long to get my bearings. I found an old cathedral where I was lucky to to have the chance to hear the pipe organ being played, Roman ruins in the city, and a great market in city center. I ate Indian food and went to a few pubs with members of the department. Neal, a doctorate candidate in the department, was even generous enough to let me crash at his place while I was there. After my visit, I decided that I really like the people, the program, and the town enough to be sure that I want to pursue a degree there.

Before leaving Berlin, I had plans to meet up with Ayaka, a good friend of mine at a whiskey lounge. She came up with the idea of making it a goodbye party, which naturally I thought was a great idea, so I invited some people unsure of who would actually come. It turned out that many of my Berlin friends came out to have a drink and spend some time with me before I left! I was very happy about this. I miss them all and look forward to seeing them at the end of summer next year.

And now, I'm in Portland. As far as the job hunt goes, if anyone has any ideas or Portland based contacts, please let me know. I've been to well over 100 places so far, and I have to say that the job market is rather bleak. Portland is nice though. The people seem to be fairly progressive, and are very into natural foods and healthy living. There is lots of nature around. Susan has shown me the Colombia Gorge and several waterfalls including Multanoma Falls. There are really big trees here, and all the trees in the forest tend to be covered in green fuzzy moss. It is very wet here, and more often than not, it is raining. We went to the Pacific coast to a place called Cannon Beach which has a huge rock called Haystack Rock. There are lots of tide pools around this rock full of green and pink sea anemones, hermit crabs, and bright starfish. Something that also struck me as interesting, was a small river flowing diagonally on the beach. Flying in, I saw three huge volcanoes jutting up over the clouds. Mt. Hood is the closest peak to Portland. At about 40 miles from the city, it is still visible from here, and is an amazing sight. I want to climb it, but have sort of realized that it is much more dangerous than I previously thought. We shall see.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Things


Mandie and I had a weekend of museums which was rather nice. We checked out the the Museum der Dinge, which means the museum of things, and it is exactly that. Various collections of stuff, everyday items, junk, and etc. on display in glass cases. The emphasis was on design and a running question; what is kitsch? There is also an archive of photos and documents related to the architect/furniture and product designer Herbert Hirche. One of my favorite things there was a suitcase which contained 45 shades of gray, each given a name by Hirche. The names are great! Check out the list below, and don't be afraid to copy and paste them into a translator if you don't understand them all.

1001 Nichts
1002 Ungewißheit
1003 Vorahnung
1004 Nebel
1005 trüber Tag
1006 bedeckt
1007 verhalten
1008 Elegie
1009 verstimmt
1010 Langeweile
1011 dinstingiert
1012 Melancholie
1013 diskret
1014 steril
1015 Verzicht
1016 monoton
1017 morbid
1018 Verklemmung
1019 muffig
1020 Nieselregen
1021 Dämmerung
1022 November
1023 Trübsinn
1024 Monogamie
1025 alles Scheiße
1026 kraftlos
1027 Erschöpfung
1028 Hemmung
1029 Leid
1030 getragen
1031 verloren
1032 nimmermehr
1033 Reue
1034 Versagung
1035 Misere
1036 große Misere
1037 Depression
1038 düster
1039 Klage
1040 hoffnungslos
1041 völlig hoffnungslos
1042 Abschied
1043 Finsternis
1044 Untergang
1045 letzter Gruß


After having some hot chocolate and playing some chess in a cafe, we stumbled upon a digital multimedia exhibition which focused solely on individuals who helped to hide or protect Jews or others who were being persecuted during the war.


The most involved museum we went to was the Märkisches Museum. It covers all sorts of things that reflect the evolution of Berlin. We learned about the early settlements of the Slavic tribes and saw models of the city during various stages of development. There is a really cool mechanical stereographic photo viewer from the 1800s that has old 3-D photos of the city and people. It was interesting to see how they were dressed, or to see things in older times that I recognized from now. In one room there is a display of mechanical musical instruments. I put a 2 cent coin into one and it played a lively tune on a barrel organ. While checking out one city model, a very enthusiastic guard came over and started to tell us about various parts of the model. He started to quiz us on various buildings in the model, including several which were designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. We were surprised to find that we knew the majority of them. I asked him about a previous model I had seen about something that just didn't sit right with me. In the model, there was a large wall built around the city of Berlin (picture). The wall was one of the impenetrable sort, and there was even a moat which was fed by the river. It was so large that I couldn't accept the fact that it simply no longer existed. I figured that there had to be some trace of it somewhere, and as it turns out, the guard said I was right, and that the S-bahn stations Jannowitzbrücke and Alexanderplatz, are both built on all that remains of the ancient barrier. The museum also had loads of art, photographs, coins, torture devices, and various other things that told a bit of the history and the story of how Berlin came to be the city it is today.


After adding to our growing knowledge of Berlin, we exited a train station and found ourselves in the middle of an enormous demonstration against nuclear energy, or Atomkraft. I read later that there were some 100,000 people protesting. lots of signs, stickers, fliers, interesting costumes and outfits, whistles, drums and other noisemakers. There were even protesters in the grocery store stocking up on drinks and snacks, which made an entertaining sight. We got some noodle boxes and sat on the steps next to the station in order to watch the procession pass by in a near endless stream of noisy color.


Not far from the Märkisches Museum, we bought a TV from a girl. We were going to carry it home but it ended up being way to heavy for us to manage it across the city, so Mandie ran off and then returned with a shopping cart. After loading it into the cart, we made our way slowly back to our apartment. We also picked up a dvd player, which in combination with the TV has made movie nights much easier and more enjoyable. We have also hooked up our free cable, and now we can watch German television.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Renset is Online

I have finally uploaded my new website, as well as my tech site. The message below is quoted from the Renset news blog. Thanks for the support!
I'm very excited to announce the new site for my sounds and projects! Everything is new so there are still bits to smooth out.

Things to note:
  • The tech link will open my tech website in a new tab/window.
  • When listening to tracks, make sure to click the drop-down menu to access more track options.
  • In the lower right-hand corner is a contact link. Feel free to send any comments! Also in the lower right-hand corner is a share link, so please help spread the word!
New features will be added as they are developed, so check in every now and then to stay updated and to see what is new!

Enjoy,
Renset

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Month on My Own


Mandie is back from her really long vacation. She was gone a little over a month. We went the other day to see the new movie, Inception. It focuses on dreams which I found to be relevant to my recent attempts on learning to lucid dream. Anyway, this entry will cover a few things that happened in the time Mandie was away.

My quest for monitor speakers that I highlighted in my previous post ended up being fruitful. I have a pair of very nice monitors and have organized my studio and integrated them into the setup. They sound excellent! I'm going to be much happier working with my sounds from now on. If you haven't heard any of my tracks, check out my soundcloud account to listen. The latest track, Ghost in a Groovebox was made solely with, and demonstrates my rekindled relationship with my drum machine. I am also on official.fm now, but the content there is only a small selection from my soundcloud tracks. I made the account two days before the switchover from fairtilizer which caused a few glitches, but everything has been smoothed out and it is working fine now.

I attended a workshop where artist Teresa Foley conducted a live recording session and presented her project, Locally Toned. It involves recording sounds that relate to specific locations and turning them into ringtones that are available to the public free of charge. I brought along my induction coil and the rewired insides of a CD player and used them to make my tones. There is a video of the workshop where I pop up between 4:18 and 4:56, though I must say that my favorite part is the short bit at 5.50. Also, I am the proud new owner of the orange Magnus Organ that Jonathan plays in the video to make his tone. After the workshop, I thought about Teresa's question, what does Berlin sound like? Some ideas came to me, and I sent them to her, and the next thing I know, we had made plans to go out and do some field recording. I took her to the Französischer Dom where we made recordings of the bells from inside the tower, as well as the squeaky door that led out onto the cupola. We also took a ride on one of the noisier U-Bahn lines to catch some of the screeching of metal wheels and train brakes on the rails that echo inside the tunnels. I was surprised and excited when Teresa handed over her recording gear to let me capture some of the sounds on my own. You can hear all the tones on the Locally Toned website, as well as read more detailed information on the Locally Toned blog. I make an appearance in the August 4th, 5th, and 17th entries.



In response to an ad on Craigslist, I ended up with about 76 movies on VHS, a VCR, the remote and a SCART adapter. They were free with the donation of some beer, and good titles too. I can't wait to go through them all. The only problem is, we don't have a TV!

My friend Carmen went back to Spain. There was a farewell party in her flat. I was sent to get some ice at the store, but the store were all out. Improvising, I went to three convenience stores before trying my luck in a bar around the corner. The bartender told me that she could only give me a little, so we loaded up a few scoops into a plastic bag I was carrying. This was more than enough to keep our Sangria cold. It was a delightful evening with lots of fun people and delicious food, including la tortilla de patatas!

I went to this month's 11 performance. 11 is a performance involving two invited artist utilizing cracked media and unstable systems, held on the 11th of every month. The two artists this month were turntablist Maria Chavez and electro-acoustic artist Ignaz Schick. There were some interesting sounds produced, but I was not completely into the overall performance. Still, I had a good time.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Surreal

Yesterday I set out to buy a set of monitor speakers. I figure it is about time in my life to treat myself to something that sounds good. For years I have worked with small guitar amps and crappy computer speakers, and I can't wait to be able to hear things the way they actually sound and not distorted or improperly equalized. So I end up at the store, and of course the guy helping me starts telling me how crappy Behringer products are and that I would be better off getting something else. I know that they are not top quality like Adam Audio or JBL. That is why I can afford them. Anyway, this is where the story segues into something unexpected and beautiful.

I left the store as I wasn't getting anywhere with the snobby audiophile and was headed off to another store to see if I would have any luck there. I get out of the train and am walking down the street, around a small playground, and as I'm rounding the corner, I start to hear what sounds like a drum circle. I didn't think much figuring a bunch of hippies were hanging out in the park, as I got closer, I see that it was in the street, there were people with a large banner and lots of white lawn umbrellas dancing and playing drums, shakers, and other purcussion instruments. I thought that perhaps it was a protest or demonstration, but was wrong again. As everyone passed a leaf covered basketball court, a man laying on his back in the leaves starts playing along with a trumpet. A melancholy yet jazzy tune juxtaposing the lively drums of the street procession. Further along, I saw some people weaving a tangled web of red string around trees and lamp post. As the crowd reached the end of the small street, I noticed a park bench and a person completely covered with green cloth as if grass had completely enveloped the bench and the person as they were sitting there. The small parade stops, and down the intersecting street came a man playing a violin inside of a large blue paper-recycling container that was being guided down the street by two coffin bearers, all three in suits. Two decorated Volkswagen beetles joined in behind them and the man played his weepy tune as they slowly made their way down the street, holding up a few confused cars along their way. We reached a small courtyard where the man was then shut inside the container. Scattered about the courtyard were several performers. A girl slowly danced while paint was poured all over her. Another girl did slow acrobatics on the bike racks swinging about a long cluster of tooth brushes. There was a line of about seven girls in duct tape bikinis brushing their teeth. They would turn and rinse their mouths out with one of many bottles of water lined up behind them. As their teeth got cleaner and cleaner, they began spitting and rubbing on each other. Somewhere in the distance a man played a flute. There were people walking around hugging people who gathered to watch. I was given a paper boat. After a while all the drummers started to play again and the whole courtyard was soon filled with people dancing.

I'm not exactly sure what it was that I came across, though I'm sure it must have been connected to the art school. I know not the why, but I do know that it was a very whimsical and surreal series of events to randomly come across. I never did make it to the store. Today started out with an angry rumbling sky, which seems not so angry now that it is raining, perhaps I'll try again today.

Follow up:

I went to another DJ shop, and it wasn't there. In its place was an installation of giant letters, the kind from old buildings and storefronts with little placards telling the fonts, manufacture dates, designers, and any interesting historical notes. It was as if I has walked into Sesame Street. Every was room filled with letters and words, or fractions of words, sparsely decorated with pigeon-proof spikes and broken neon tubes.

As for the speakers, I finally just decided to order them online.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Le Placard


Yesterday, I played a set for Le Placard Headphone Festival. Initiated in 1999 by Parisian musician, Erik Minkkinen, Le Placard is a nomadic festival that presents concerts listened to solely with headphones, a novelty that has attracted an international following and given rise to an extensive network of enthusiasts, musicians and promoters. The 2010 Berlin Blitz Placard was hosted by N.K., and consisted of 12 hours of intimate headphone performances from a variety of musicians and sound artists. Listen to the sample based on my performance below using headphones or quality speakers.

Le Placard Sample by Renset

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Quack!


Oh it is hot! I know that it really is not that bad, but the past two days have been much warmer than I am used to them being. The duck above was a mini installation that I put together for Mandie's desk simply titled, Duck in Stereo. I wired in two speakers into her quacking flashlight friend, and she was very excited upon finding it and pressing the button to hear her duck with a much stronger voice! It was all temporary, and the little quacker is safe and back together in one piece.


This past weekend, Mandie and I hopped on a train and headed out to visit Fred and Regine in their beautiful home in Solingen. It was very nice to take a break from the city and relax for a while in the country side. Anna was also there for the weekend. It was wonderful to get to see them all again! All of our meals, and tea, were enjoyed outside, either on the terrace or in the garden. It was great that it was finally warm enough to do so, and the garden was so beautiful! Regine's cooking is something I could never tire of. She makes delicious food! I noticed that my German has been steadily improving. We spoke German the entire time, and I'm finding that I can understand much better than before, though I still tend to be the quite one of the group. I even managed to discuss the technical details of televisions while I bounced ideas off Fred ragarding my electronic tinkering.


Thank you Fred and Regine for a wonderful relaxing weekend! We hope to see you again soon!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sound Attack!


I have finished a track for the demo reel for Pixelfab Studios. Check out the website and the reel will be the first thing that loads. After the reel, peruse the site a bit. There is some excellent talent within, as well as some photos of me from a few years back.


Great news, and perhaps this should go out as an unofficial leak: Daniel Robinette has written a second novel. Currently I am reviewing the manuscript. I am very excited and have a feeling that this one will be even bigger than his first!

Last week, I booked some time in a practice space, set up a recording rig and recorded some drum tracks. I hope to have these slip into a project in the near future.

Mandie and our friend April have had a stand at the Mauerpark flea market the past two Sundays. Mandie used the opportunity to sell some of her handmade jewlery, clothes, bags, cards, and other fun stuff. I hung out both time in the stand, as well as perused the market for interesting things. From the two days, I have come across 5 cassette players that I am going to use for parts for, what I am calling for now, the Tape Machine. I also purchased for very cheap, a sound toy called the Sound Attacker. It is a very obnoxious black box with buttons that produces a series of electronic sounds that are meant to resemble weapon sounds. I couldn't resist, and aside from the great sounds it already makes, I've already been able to hack in a pitch shift and line out which allows for effects and amplification. Check out the samples below:

Sound Attacker by Renset

On Wednesday, Mandie managed to fall with her bike while climbing the stairs in the U-bahn. She was on her way to work as she lost balance, and ended up with a cut on her head. I ended up meeting her in the emergency room where they checked her head and eyes. The blood and attention from people in the station really freaked her out on top of being a bit dizzy from the bump on the head. She is OK, and has a great battle scar over her left eye. She got to take the rest of the day off from work and we had sushi for lunch, went to a junk store where we found some cool old books and a stereo with a TV in it, and then laid in the grass in Tiergarten.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Catching Up

Hello. It has been almost two months since my last post. I plan on completely updating with this post, and then attempting to stay current from now on so as not to slack on posting, as well as keeping the post shorter and more interesting. A lot has happened in the past few months. This post will be an overview of some of the more significant events going in chronological order from then to now.


Starting out is an update about my show at Lichtblick Kino. It was my debut live act for Berlin, as well as a great learning experience. The show was put on by the Amsterdam Underkurrent XXX (AUXXX). I realized that my rig that I built was a bit too complex and resulted in too much time setting up and taking down, as well as difficulty troubleshooting. There were technical problems, mostly that something came ungrounded and the mains hum was present through my entire set, that and the modified tape player that I built decided not to function properly. Techwise, the night was a disaster. Even Mandie's photographs from the show turned out blurry and dim. The show was also on a holiday, so not very many people showed up. This was sort of a plus, because I was a bit nervous about performing. My set did not go anywhere near to how I had rehearsed it, but the people present did not know this and seemed to like what they heard. I was the opening act for three musicians who performed an improv set together. One of the musicians, Gustavo, I had met previously as a bandmate of a friend of mine. Their band, Sonu, performed at Appalachian a few years ago. This was completely random and did not have anything to do with my involvement of the show. Small world. I got great feedback from the other musicians about what I did and am modifying my set and hope to have more gigs in the near future.

Sarah came for a visit. She was in Berlin for a series of conferences and lectures at the Berliner Energietage. I went for one of the lectures and realized for certain that I am on a different path now, and working in the realm of renewable energy is something that just does not capture my interest anymore. As always it was wonderful to see Sarah. She stuck around till Mandie's brother Nick arrived in Berlin, then headed back to her home in the north.


Hanging out with Nick was a blast! We took him to all sorts of places that were along his interest. On his arrival day we took him around Tegel so as to stay close to home. We went to the Waldhutte, which is a very traditional German restaurant that is in the middle of the woods next to the Lake. We ordered some beers and sat outside where a man played German folk songs on an accordion and the guest sang along! We went to the Aquarium and saw all sorts of cool fish and ocean creatures. They even have a glass elevator that is surrounded by a fish tank! Legoland was also a cool place. We built Lego cars and raced them down a large track which had a ramp and the bottom, launching our cars into the air before they smashed into pieces on the floor! We got to be pirates with remote controlled Lego boats, and there was also a very cool miniature Lego version of Berlin. We took him to the art house Tacheles,

Nick, is a fan of heavy metal, and to satisfy this we took him bar hopping one night to some very cool spots. First off was the Viking Bar where we had viking beer and mead in horns! The Viking Bar played great progressive death metal. Next on the list, not so much Metal, but still in the realm of his favorites, Lebowski. This, as you can probably guess, is a bar completely based on the film, The Big Lebowski. No white russians for us though. Our reason for being there is that it just so happens to be an excellent place to get absinthe. It was Nick's first time drinking absinthe, so I got to teach him the proper method of preparation including the sugar, fire, and ice water. The last bar for our bar hopping evening was called Halford, and yes, it is a bar with an 80s metal theme, and in particular emphasis on Judas Priest. There is even a giant sculpture of Rob Halford out front by the door to greet you on your way in! Inside we watched some metal videos on the large projection screen and ordered a round of Jager shots. Rock!


I tried to make sure that he experienced things that were specific to Berlin. Among these things were, Berlin beers, döner, and curry wurst, all in the backdrop of the city itself. He got to tag his name on the Berlin Wall as we walked along the Eastside Gallery, and experienced the large market at Mauer Park where we saw a fully automated robot doing a comedy routine. He and Mandie toured some of the other city sites, museums such as the DDR museum, the Story of Berlin where they got to go into a nuclear bunker, the Natural History Museum which is full of dinosaurs, and the Jewish Museum for a special exhibit on Comics. One of the goals of the trip was to get lots of pictures of his orange octopus in front of landmarks. Check out the photo album of his visit to see these! We had a great time Nick, and hope you get to come back again!

The night following Nick's return to America, I went to see Merzbow in Berghain. Merzbow (Masami Akita) is the founder of noise as a music genre and has for the last 30+ years led the way in defining what he created with an impressive and almost ridiculous amount of releases. He performed with Balazs Pandi, who played metal rhythms and blast beats on drums, while Merzbow produced noise resembling the sound of amplified jet engines ran through distortion effects with an occasional rock tossed in to modulate the sound. It was a sonic creation that was as intense as it was captivating. I was very excited to finally get to see him perform, and to experience the overwhelming noise he creates firsthand.

I spent a good solid week sick, a cold which led to a sinus infection. It was not fun, but then when is a cold ever fun? I got sent home early from work one evening due to being sick. I went home and slept for 16 hours straight. It was nice.


To finish up this post, I'd like to mention our evening excursion into die Lange Nacht der Wissenshaften. This is a night where universities all over Berlin and Potsdam are open to the public and provide demonstrations, presentations, exhibitions, and activities till one in the morning. A night of science! The Berlin Institute of Technology (TU) is right down the street from where I work, so Mandie met me at the end of my shift with a box of noodles, and we walked to the university. I particularly wanted to go for the sound exhibits and presentations. TU has the largest sound system in the world, a wave field synthesis system with 2700 speakers with 832 channels. Wave field synthesis utilizes sound waves to create new sound waves, in effect sounds seemingly originate from locations other than the speakers themselves, thus, 3-D sound. We got to hear an organ performance from the Cologne Cathedral, a presentation on the history of sound projection technology from the phonograph to WFS, a reproduction of the Philip's Pavilion from the 1958 World's Fair with spatial audio of Varèse's Poème électronique, and various pieces of electronic music composed specifically for the system. At the end of the night, there was a sound installation, where everywhere in the room you heard bubbly wooshing water sounds except various marked points in the room. At these points you could hear various physicists speaking. Sadly, not too many people realized how the installation worked. They both sat in the seats of the lecture hall instead of roaming around, making it difficult to get to the points, and were very loud and talkative which resulted in large amounts of noise cancellation, meaning that often the physicists were not even audible. The second problem however was interesting to me, because it was an immediate and large-scale example of noise cancellation. I hope to have the chance to experience this sound system more in the future.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Explosive Easter Eggs!


Easter came up this year without me even realizing, at least not till we were on a train headed north to Rendsburg for a few days. Berlin is finally warming up and amidst projects and general leben, some cool things have happened since my last post.

Anna visited us for part of her vacation from teaching. Berlin was so nice that we even got to have a nap in Victoria park! While we weren't lounging around, we checked out some of the various galleries in Tachles and had a filling lunch in the courtyard there, explored the Turkish market, walked by Lake Tegel, and saw a very cool photography exhibition of works in the C/O Gallery (located in the old Berlin post office) from a photographer who lived in the GDR by the name of Roger Melis. The Melis collection consisted of pictures from both the GDR and various cities around the world, mostly focusing on common people. There was also a very cool exhibition in the same gallery with a photo collection by Giorgia Fiorio. It consisted of high contrast images of religious rituals from around the world and was very fascinating.


As I mentioned, we went to Rendsburg to spend Easter with Sarah and René. They have a very cute little house with a beautiful garden. I got to split firewood out in the garden which is one of my favorite things to do. René's parents came for a few days as well. They are wonderful people! Our first evening, we took a walk by the Kiel Canal. We got to see the huge railway bridge, which we rode across going there and back, which at 2500 meters is the longest railway bridge in the world. We also rode the escalators up and down the entrance of the pedestrian tunnel that goes under the canal, which is for sure the longest escalator I've ever seen. The six of us took a drive up to Flensburg the next day to walk by the Flensburg Fjord and about the town, stopping by the Cathedral. The Cathedral had an amazing wooden carving in the front, and had lots of interesting sculpture work and painting. I also came across what we believed to be a celesta, which of course I fell in love with. On our way back, we made a stop to see the shore of the Baltic Sea. Back in Rendsburg we had an evening of board games. The following day René's parents left after breakfast. We went to the Easter bonfire in the town center that evening. It looked very cool with the railway bridge in the background. We walked about a bit and made it back in time to see the fire department putting out the fire which looked much more intense than it really was in the huge cloud of smoke and steam. The following day was a relaxing day which included a walk around the center part of Rendsburg, music, painting, small-scale basement and kitchen handy-work, and naps. Our time in Rendsburg was an excellent break from Berlin, and lots of fun!


Our way home started off with a rush to the station. We stopped in Hamburg for what Mandie mistook as a one and a half hour layover. We missed our train, but got to have an excellent Thai lunch. Actually missing our train worked out for the best, because the next train we caught was completely unreserved and nonstop to Berlin. Once we got back we both had to rush out to work, but there is one interesting thing to note. There were announcements that they had found a bomb in Ostkreuz which is one of the bigger connecting stations in Berlin. Later I found out that it was a 250kg bomb from WWII that had never went off. I and countless others have walked past it many many times. It is fairly common in Berlin for bombs to be found, in fact, this past Wednesday, the Tegel airport was shutdown for two hours after they bumped across a bomb during some construction digging.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Its like I can touch you!

Last week I went to Watergate to see Ellen Allien, one of my favorite German DJs, and watching her mix was awesome. You could tell she has been doing it for a long time, just mixing and manipulating sounds and tracks with such ease! I got to dance with her which was very exciting for me! Ellen is the founder of bpitch control and I am rather impressed with her career history. Seth Troxler headlined the night since it was the record release party for Boogy Bytes Volume 5, which he mixed.


I went to a circuit bending performance on Tuesday in the Rauchhaus, an old squat in Kreuzberg with lots of artistic presence. It was very relaxing and almost trance inducing, which is very opposite to most circuit bending performances which tend to be more chaotic and sporadic. Check out Spukklang 8 bits and bending for some links to the DJs who performed.

Lately I have been taking all sorts of things apart, including radios, clocks, hair dryers, toasters, phones, electric razors, tvs, lights, and answering machines. It makes for great learning experiences and I get all sorts of cool parts to reappropriate.

I got to meet Martin Daske at the finage of his exhibition. I am still convinced that he is overcompensating for his lack of composing and art skills. He gets so defensive if you say the slightest thing that might expose his work for what it is, which is to me somewhat suspicious.

Mandie and I went to see Alice in Wonderland, in 3D! The film didn't really do that much for me. I found it overdone production-wise, and openly molested by Disney. Seriously, just listen to the Jabberwocky speak, watch the Futterwacking scene, or listen to the Avril Lavigne song in the credits. I'm not saying it was good or bad, but existing more in that middle realm of movies that only get a shrug. Just too much of a predictable epic formula for my taste. On the other hand, I was really excited about the 3D. The technology is awesome! I read up and found out that Sony is using Real D technology which utilizes circular polarization and that the film is a series of alternating left-eye/right-eye frames.

Werner at gelbe MUSIK introduced me to a composer who used bats and echolocation as a concept for one of his composition. His name is Alvin Lucier, and the piece is called Vespers. In Vespers, the performers use hand-held echolocation devices to find the center of a room. He has done lots more than just this piece, but his body of work is still new to me.

Another artist who has captured my attention lately is Christina Kubisch. She does a lot of work with magnetic induction, light, and. I have been playing around with induction myself lately, and am currently in the process of making some headphones similar to the ones she developed for her electric walks.

Yesterday, I caught the last half of the second day's worth of the UdK's Sound Studies Master's project presentations held at the Arsenal Institute for Film and Video Art. I thought it might be a good chance to learn and observe the caliber of work and the variety of topics that came from a sound program. Nothing really jumped out and impressed me, but it was sill interesting nonetheless. I did not get to go to the earlier presentations, because I was lost in the labyrinth of German bureaucracy. They love paper trails. I got the run-around for three days, but eventially managed to get some, but not all, of the forms I was after, including my tax card, and my health and sanitation certificate, which I had to watch a hilarious German video to get. These two small things alone are enough for celebration.

Oh yeah, did I mention I got a job at Hooters?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


This is my self-built Atari Punk Console with touch contacts, switchable constant and momentary modes, and line out. Check out the soundcloud clip of you want to get a taste of what it sounds like.


apc sample by Renset

Elementium

Sarah (Frazer), a good friend of mine, is looking for a quality doctorate program, and her search brought her to Germany. She crashed here for a few days and we managed to squeeze in as much fun as we could amidst tight schedules and being very sleepy. We searched for a good vantage point in the city, but everything ended up being closed due to the winter weather. We even sneaked to the top of the Berliner Dom but the door to the outside was locked. Still unwilling to give up, we climbed to the top of the flak tower in Humboldthain Park. It was incredibly windy and cold. The wind was making the rails vibrate creating high pitch screaming sounds. Or city going led us to lots of cool art as well, including Tacheles and the studio of Paul Reimert who makes cool sculptures by reappropriating ceramic kitsch. We covered lots of ground and saw as much as we could in order to get the most out of her day pass.

Monday evening, Sarah and I also decided to rename a large number of the periodic elements. Together, we devised a much more consistent list of names by ensuring that every element name ends with -ium. Notice some of the more entertaining ones such as Ironium or Nickelodium:

Actinium, Aluminium, Americium, Antimonium, Argonium, Arsenium, Astatinium, Barium, Berkelium, Beryllium, Bismuthium, Bohrium, Boronium, Brominium, Cadmium, Calcium, Californium, Carbonium, Cerium, Cesium, Chloridum, Chromium, Cobaltium, Copernicium, Copperinium, Curium, Darmstadtium, Dubnium, Dysprosium, Einsteinium, Erbium, Europium, Fermium, Fluoridium, Francium, Gadolinium, Gallium, Germanium, Goldium, Hafnium, Hassium, Helium, Holmium, Hydronium, Indium, Iodine, Iridium, Ironium, Kryptonium, Lanthanium, Lawrencium, Leadium, Lithium, Lutetium, Magnesium, Manganesium, Meitnerium, Mendelevium, Merconium, Molybdenumium, Neodymium, Neonium, Neptunium, Nickelodium, Niobium, Nitronium, Nobelium, Osmium, Oxygenium, Palladium, Phosphoronium, Platinum, Plutonium, Polonium, Potassium, Praseodymium, Promethium, Protactinium, Radium, Radonium, Rhenium, Rhodium, Roentgenium, Rubidium, Ruthenium, Rutherfordium, Samarium, Scandium, Seaborgium, Selenium, Siliconium, Silverium, Sodium, Strontium, Sulfurium, Tantalumium, Technetium, Tellurium, Terbium, Thallium, Thorium, Thulium, Tinium, Titanium, Tungstenium, Ununtrium, Ununquadium, Ununpentium, Ununhexium, Ununseptium, Ununoctium, Uranium, Vanadium, Xenonium, Ytterbium, Yttrium, Zinconium, Zirconium

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Frank Bartz at NK


Sunday night, I attended an artist presentation at NK. Frank Bartz presented and discussed a photo/audio show of his works, played a film of one of his sound performances, and demonstrated an sound device he created for a bike. Check out the NK photo gallery for more pictures of the event.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ice

So last weekend I walked across a lake! Lake Tegel, which I've mentioned before, was completely frozen over. Sarah and René were visiting, and while we were out for a midday stroll we came across the vast ice sheet. We all walked out to one of the islands. I was very nervous at first, but after a few minutes I managed to relax and just go for it. Very cool!

I went to the n.b.k gallery to listen to an exhibition for radio art. It was set up in three predominant ways. First there were speakers equipped with sensors hanging from the ceiling. When standing in circles printed on the floor, you could hear which ever sound file played in that particular spot. This was also reproduced in a headphone version. A sleek coffee table covered with audio jacks in the same layout as the gallery was surrounded by comfy white couches. You could plug into any of the jacks you wanted to listen. The last method was on computer. There were two machines set up in the back where you could dig through historical radio archives including prize winning programs and other experimental radio approaches. I spent several hours listening to radio shows, electronic music created from radio samples, and experimental recordings. Ursula Block of gelbe MUSIK was also there with an installation of various framed scores in her collection from various famous composers such as Joseph Beuys, John Cage, and Nam June Paik.

The past 4 days I participated in a Pure Data workshop directed by Derek Holzer. Pure Data is a visual programming language that allows you to analyse data and work with audio and visual media. It is very cool, the possibilities seem to be endless, and I am very excited about learning the ins and outs of the program. The workshop was also set up as a sprint, which means that we were working on documenting various things for the FLOSS manuals. PD is open source and the idea of the FLOSS manuals is free manuals for free software. I got to meet and work with lots of interesting people, and we closed out the series with a night of drinks and experimental music at Madame Claude

Berlin is starting to warm up, the snow is melting, and I have a feeling things are going in good directions.

Bienvenida Carmen de vuelta a Berlin!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Copper Contacts

I attended my third lecture this year in the UdK Sound Studies department. John Richards gave an interesting talk/performance on new modes of performance and interactive environments. John demonstrated several of his own self-made instruments and talked about ideas of new performance techniques and other possibilities. I got to participate in a short performance of a composition, titled I Love You, for Sudophones. Afterwards I was invited to go along for some drinks. I challenged an idea regarding the definition of a musical instrument that John had presented earlier. Simon and John accepted the challenge and within a cloud of high caliber discussion sparked by my comments, I felt I held my own rather well and may have even changed their minds. Jef provided good humor with his impersonations. I got some insight on the Berlin Sound Studies program from Martin Supper, a professor in Sound Studies, and Daisuke Ishida, a Japanese sound artist who is currently studying under the program. Daisuke told me enough to confirm my fears about pursuing a master's degree in a foreign language. I am now considering, more than before, several British programs.


I was invited to attend a Dirty Electronics workshop. We built an electronic instruments that John has named Skull Etchings. They are simple sound circuits on an artistically etched printed circuit board (PCB). It is touch sensitive and very noisy! There are two oscillators, a feedback loop, distortion, and a filter.

After the workshop, some us went for some tapas, drinks, and discussion. Afterwards we went to a very cool bar to continue the discussion. Here, John's friend Hilary, composer and trombone player, met up with us. We got to meet the owner, who is a famous German soap actor. Christian was very excited, because his mother watches the show everyday. We took a photo of the two of them so he could show his mom. I ended up crashing at Christian's place that night as a result of being out rather late and on the opposite side of the city from where I live. He is very much into electronic sound circuits and taught me some interesting things such as how to build pick-up coils. You can find a recording of me playing one of his home-made instruments on the Zauner Elektronik blog.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Bullet the Blue Sky


I finally finished the puzzle. It took me about three months to do the sky and three days to do the rest. The sky has no gradient, regardless of how it looks in the photograph. Vielen Dank Sarah and René für den Puzzle! Mandie freue sich sehr, dass wir den Couchtisch zurück haben.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Friday, February 5, 2010

Archaeopteryx

When we were at the museum, I saw a fossil of an Archaeopteryx. I knew immediately what it was, but in the moment did not give it much thought. It was not until later when I started thinking about it, that it dawned on me what I had seen.

When I was a kid, I remember reading a National Geographic article, all spread out on the floor, about the Archaeopteryx. It talked about transitional fossils, the idea of dinosaurs turning into birds, and there was a photo if the Berlin Specimen. What I saw was the very fossil that I was so fascinated with as a kid, the exact one!

I have. . .

I have been sick all week with the flu. I've been pumping myself full of all things healthy and resting, so I should be back to good health in no time.

I have resumed courses in a different language school. The school, Babylonia, is pretty rad, the teachers are cool and know what they are doing, but I just do not like language courses. They don't do it for me personally. I find the classes terribly boring, and feel that there have to be other ways in which I could learn in a more efficient manner. Despite this, I have improved a great deal. Some grammar details that I had forgotten since last summer are coming back to me, and I am able to talk to people much easier than I could before.

I have been to six job centers/staffing agencies with none to very minimal luck. However, I had a meeting today in which I was given a list of very useful resources which I can utilize in my search for employment. Also got some better tips on how to write my letters the German way! I have to admit that the language barrier mixed with the current economy and the fact that Berlin's unemployment rate is double that of the country has made it rather difficult for me to find anything other than odd-jobs. I have a feeling though that I am about to have better luck.

I have a new soundcard of the very tiny and cheap usb variety. This means that I have two separate sound outputs on my laptop, one to the mixer and one to my headphones. Anyone see where I'm going with this?

I now have an urge to go take a nap.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Naturkundemuseum


Mandie and I went yesterday to the Naturkundemuseum. We saw towering dinosaur skeletons, an extensive collection of fossils, rocks and minerals, and lots of preserved animal specimens. I was particularly interested in the temporary exhibition about the deep sea, however it was not as exciting as I had hoped. Too many people made it difficult to get through the exhibit efficiently, and the exhibit was mostly text with occasional samples on display behind tiny windows. Peeking in these windows was an interesting behind-the-scenes of how the museum actually operates. I could see archives, labs, and old parts of the building not open to the public. My favorite part was looking in the windows of the doors we were not allowed to enter. The museum's roof was heavily damaged by firebombs in the war and the east wing was completely destroyed. Reconstruction is still underway. The east wing should re-open this year. We brought the camera, but realized too late that it was uncharged, so no pictures this time.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Lectures on Sound

I've been to two lectures so far this year. The first was a lecture by Steve Goodman (kode9) on Sonic Warfare. It was based on his research and his recently published book about the use of acoustic force to induce a state of psychological and/or physical discomfort, pain, fear, or torture, and efforts to use sound as a weapon. The second was an essay written and presented by G. Douglas Barrett titled, "Listening to Language: Text Scores, Recording Technology, and Experimental Music". I personally thought it was weak, hyper-focused on washed out examples, and failed to efficiently address the intended topic.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Twenty-Ten

Happy twenty-ten everyone!


This year, the blog is going to go little differently. My readership is slipping so I'm going to begin a more minimal approach, or at least shorter entries over all, to the blog. Don't worry if you happen to be a regular reader! A minimal approach means that I'm likely to post more often and include more focused and interesting updates. If I sense that readership starts picking up, then I will consider more intricate entries. Don't forget that it is easy to post comments or questions, to become a follower of the blog if interested, or to subscribe with RSS feeds. Also keep in mind, that there are links, in the menu to the top right of this page, that will lead you to Mandie's picasa photo album where you will find photos of us on adventures, and Mandie's blog. I wish everyone the best in the new year. Remember, that we are living in the future. Embrace it!


Sincere thanks to the Bruckner family, our friends, and families, for a wonderful holiday season! We spent Christmas in three western German towns eating delicious food, singing songs, and spending time with warm and cheerful friends. For New Years, we attended an excellent house party with several friends. There were djs, and lots of fireworks. A friend and I hopped in the snow with no shoes, and effigies of the old year were burnt in the fire. I believe this year will be a good one.