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Entfremdung [ger.: alienation]

Dicht wie Löcher eines Siebes stehn
Fenster beieinander, drängend fassen
Häuser sich so dicht an, daß die Straßen
Grau geschwollen wie Gewürgte stehn.

Ineinander dicht hineingehakt
Sitzen in den Trams die zwei Fassaden
Leute, wo die Blicke eng ausladen
Und Begierde ineinander ragt.

Unsre Wände sind so dünn wie Haut,
Daß ein jeder teilnimmt, wenn ich weine.
Flüstern dringt hinüber wie Gegröhle:

Und wie stumm in abgeschlossner Höhle
Unberührt und ungeschaut
Steht doch jeder fern und fühlt: alleine.

(1914)

In his expressionist poem “Städter”, Alfred Wolfenstein talks about the estrangement of people in the rapidly growing cities of the early 20th century. Exponential urbanization especially did not leave the artists and writers of that time untouched and, like Alfred Wolfenstein, they expressed the drastic change of scenery that effected every aspect of the daily routine. Similar to the time of romantic one century earlier, nature now again is romanticized and longed for, as it depicts the contrast of the hostile, lethal city young people are unwillingly drawn to to find a job. Being not used to the fast, hectic tact of the city, artists express their repulsion in poems like the one above, where the streets very vividly stand ‘swollen grey like choked ones’.

Much has happened since the time of expressionism, two world wars have been fought, regimes rose and fell, and we look back at the era as if it were distant history, long forgotten. But has it ever ended? Would Wolfenstein’s poem not be as accurate if published today? The contemporary photographer/artist Ang Choon Leng, better known as “CLANG“, published the photo series “Time” that seems to embody exactly the words Wolfenstein expressed one hundred years ago. The people displayed in the composition don’t hold eye contact or show any sign of awareness of others or the situation around them. Surely, this is because they are each literally taken out of their own world or scene. As CLANG puts them together, however, the individual cosmos (cosmi) create a coherent scene, just like one you would find on the street. Only lines ‘as thin as skin’, as Wolfenstein puts it, indicate the separation of the different pieces. The spatial proximity of both the pieces in the picture, as well as people in our real world, seems absurd considering that they are mentally worlds apart. Cynical photographs of people waiting for the bus and all staring at their smartphone make fun of an adolescent society whose addiction to technology dislodges arbitrary interpersonal connection and awareness of the surrounding. People start living only in their own, limited cosmos which enables a paradoxical, bipolar situation– comical and sad–in which Wolfenstein’s lyrical I is lonely in a place that is crammed with people. And finally, it leaves the viewer wonder: have we ever progressed from the state Western society found itself in one hundred years ago?

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Credits to Ang Choon Leng

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Underneath Your Skin

“When they’d been married for thirty-one years, and unhappy in each other for most of them, my grand’maman and my grand’papa stopped speaking. They wrote each other letters because it was easier to stroke the contours of a B than the contours of a face, they broke pencil nibs with the brittle becoming of their love, they signed their names with anger and pain and careful crossings of the Ts. They wrote letters like hello please take the girls to the store thank you and letters like would you please take the chicken out of the freezer and defrost for dinner thank you until the only way my grand’papa could explain that he was dying was through a letter dear Colette I believe that I am very sick and I think that I am dying I am afraid thank you.

 

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I have tried over and over again to answer the question of what these letters mean, these unlove letters written by a pair of people who also wrote their bodies into mine. In the hitch of my shoulders and the arch of my nose and the bend of my waist I can read them and their inherited bodily text. And I’ve been told I clip my Hs like one of them did, so that the word human sounds more like singing when I say it.

 

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But I’ve looked in the mirror and wondered if the unloving is in me too. I’ve wondered, in quiet moments of all kinds, if I love to write because my grand’maman and my grand’papa passed the why of why they wrote down deep and low into my blood, a kind of septicemia.”

-Gabrielle Hick, published in the INDY

Take a look at the literary piece above. Read it slowly. Let the words melt on your tongue, taste their sounds word by word. The story “The language of unloving” published in the recent edition of The College Hill Independent, needs to be read like this, slowly, word by word, and is paradoxically beautiful. It talks about the unadorned ugliness of routine in old age; the tragedy of two lovers, two souls becoming alienated from each other and no longer living with, but solely existing next to each other.

The ingenuity of the text lies in the way the language used is as unexcited and everyday as the topic itself. The writing imitates the light hearted, weightless style of a love story which subtly destroys the unlove story’s gravity leaving nothing but a narrative that I could almost hear whispered through the walls of the apartments of the unlovers next door. And as the story lost its sensational character that could have come easily with it, it truly gives us a glimpse of the downside, the sadness of humanness, of falling for comfort and monotony, without superimposing a morale. It is this paradox of the light, flowing writing style that creates beauty in a lyrical context that generally allows for no beauty that creates tension in the text.

Without asking for it, the text demands to be felt. Even though the author reflects the unlove letters on her specific journalistic career, at the end of the piece I leave the story’s world troubled, wondering whether I myself, or we all, are doomed to suffer under the septicemia of unloving.

Robots of Brixton

2047/the future—a young male walks through an open market, past car manufacturing and china food. The surface of his body has no sense for the gleaming sun too close to earth, singeing her rays into the cement streets. We follow the narrating robot around his live, unable to stop watching once we started not knowing why. His polished metallic posture dripping with self confidence and suppressed fierceness and the electric beat imitating a heart beat casts a spell upon us—the more we watch, the more do we become this male robot we don’t even know the name of.

April 1981—300 casualties, a city in ruins. It is Saturday night when the police arrest a young black male, which ignites the the anger of the community of color in Brixton that has been so long lingering under their skins. Even though on the surface people of color seem to be fully integrated in the social and community life of Brixton, upon a closer look the high unemployment and unfair SUS policy, nowadays known as the stop-and-frisk policy cause tensions seething between blacks and the police. The three days’ riots ended in the early hours of Sunday morning, labelled ‘bloody Sunday’ by the Times magazine: three hundred people were killed in Brixton that night.

In his afro-futurist short movie Kibwe Tavares replaces the black rioters with robots and recreates the events of 1981. The realism of the scenery and the characters is just as stunning as the care for detail. From the first second the main character’s posture is full of fierce and subliminal, growing anger, his movements are firm and deliberate. As we watch the robots’ movements we can almost feel their muscles burning, their bodies working, living and all of this even though they are visibly built out of metal trash. Against common expectations the conscious inhumane, typically robotic design of the character promotes their living, human character. The clear, honest blue eyes and the tension building of the heart-beat-music causes the viewer empathize with the robots. Looking through their eyes, we find ourselves sympathizing with the ‘aggressors’, the community of color who started the riot as victims of a racist executive system. The character of the robot is thereby to the viewer alien enough to serve as a natural barrier creating space and enabling it to asses the happenings shown in the movie without any prejudice.

“History repeats itself, first as history, second as a farce” suggests the short film at the end, drawing the attention away from a pure recovering of history towards a futuristic vision. But what might seem like a prophesying depiction of a new class system discriminating against robots is implicitly a praise of the machine. The robots take on a position in which they are not only human in that they are capable of feeling but they are above that conscious of themselves and their position and rights in society which they are willing to fight for.

Aside from its social message, the films technique is so elaborate that it is in itself as an art piece a pleasure to watch!

Robots of Brixton from Kibwe Tavares on Vimeo.

PAPER: ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF AN EXCELLENT ART WORK

Hey guys, I wrote this paper and hope you enjoy it!

There are two main elements which are essential for a good art work. On one hand it has to be unique and innovative, something new the world hasn’t seen.  On the other hand  there needs to be a meaning behind it. A story, which breathes life into the art piece and widens the onlooker’s sensation to a dimension beyond its material existence.

Starting with the basis of any art work, the process of creation, I would like to point out one important basic: Every good art piece is not just made- it is composed!
The artist needs to have a clear concept and a concrete scheme of his project. This is because people will later on notice if the art work is a well-thought composition or just any art components put together with no deeper connection.

The first element, uniqueness, concerns solely the art work’s outward appearance. It is very important because with this surface impression the viewer decides if whether  the art work is worthy of a second view and if he is therefore interested in it.

To catch this attention, the art piece needs to be innovative. It can for example consist of a material which is not typically used in connection with art, or show a familiar situation which is presented in a new way. has been alienated . It has to be outstanding and eye-catching!

This all together already makes a quite good piece of art.
But for perfection one more component is required. The story behind the picture is the most essential element. When he tells explain the meaning of single elements of the picture or why it was composed that way, the viewer can imagine the artists’ ideas and motives.

Therefore a close connection between onlooker and art work is created.
Moreover it is no longer just any piece of art work. The onlooker starts looking for details, for hints which fit the authors given interpretation. He thinks about the art work, its title and how it was made. A relationship between the art piece and its viewer is created: a relationship which makes this one art piece special for him and assures that it will stick in his memory.

In summary, there are two essentials which the artist must consider while creating the art work. First, his work needs to be unique and special so that it catches the viewer’s attention. As many people as possible should be effected by this. Therefore the artist needs to be aware of his target group. It is then important to strengthen the viewer’s positive first impression. It is essential to give him back ground background information in terms of the artist’s intention. That could imply giving him the meaning of the composition or any additional information. Because of that this additional information the viewer notices details which give the art work its flair and understands why the artist composed his work in that this particular way. This creates a bonding between the art piece and the viewer!

just a fun post…

WHAT IS WRONG IN THESE PICTURES?

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No matter how b…

No matter how beautiful it looks in reality, the sky can never take it’s full effect on photographs. I wonder why that is so…

Love Hunimals

Hi guys!

These photographs where the photographer plays with the tension between which in real world cannot live equally together. One example is the wonderful and beautiful art of Nils Udo. The today’s post is about animals and humans [not] living together. The artist is Agan Harahap and I love this unique and special idea! I am pretty sure that they are real animals and I lovelovelove it when photographers work with wild animals, it always catches my eye!

Look at them! by Agan Harahap

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Wait, Stop. There’s more more more! ∞