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.