Archive for 2008

Starting a new season.

Friday, December 12th, 2008

snow-covered treesI think clean white sheets on everything are nice way to start into a new environment. My work here in Oslo has not yet begun, but I feel welcome by all the people I have met so far and I am very much looking forward to the time I will spend here.
We’ll see how long it will be…

Opera voice & post-industrial Berlin.

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

After some nagging by friends here in Berlin, I got my act together, wrapped myself into my at least 20 year old yellow tarpaulin cape and rode my bike through the wet streets of Berlin, entering the Berghain. This location, a former industrial building which shows huge amounts of concrete when you are inside, hosted the yellowlounge event: Patricia Petibon, who presented her debut album Amoureuses.
Everybody looked like we do: hovering around age 3X, not too stylish, not too mundane. A whole factory full of this kind of people. And in the middle of this peculiar crowd: a small stage with a Steinway & Sons piano. After more than an hour of recorded classical music tracks and light installations, the actual show began, split into two parts of about twenty to thirty minutes. I was quite enchanted by the way the soprano Patricia Petitbon presented her work (classical songs, some taken from operas, but mostly short songs written by composers dead and alive – most in French, many in English, and one or two in Italian). Good voice, of course, but also a charming performance that broke with some of the expectations that you might have about classical singing. I can definitely recommend the live performance – even if you have your doubts about people who can sing so loud that you (a) are vexed by the incongruence of bodily size and voice volume and (b) don’t understand what words they are supposed to sing.

Last train to Darmstadt.

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Strange. This is the last time I am driving the ICE route to Darmstadt. After almost six years of commuting back and forth between Berlin and southern Hessia, it feels strange to look out at the landscape passing by. The interior of the trains, even with their changes over the course of the last years, may not be home, but it is a well known place to be. Bye Darmstadt, bye ICE, bye bahn.comfort status.

Faster, bigger, better.

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Last week, I finally took the financial and technical plunge and exchanged my MacBook Pro’s internal 160 GB drive with a new 320 GB drive taken from a LaCie rugged hard disk case. The exchange was not as easy as it was with my trusty old Pismo Powerbook, but it also was much less of a hassle than exchanging the hard disk of my first generation Blueberry iBook. Using the excellent tutorials offered on iFixIt, replacing the drive is about a 15-30 minute procedure.
My main worry was if it would be possible to extract the hard disk from the LaCie rugged disk shell or if the nice rubber frame would be glued to the case, thus making it necessary to damage the case. However, you can just pull the very flexible rubber bumpers and then extract the metal shell. You don’t even need any special tools for exchanging the drive in the rugged disk frame. (You need a # 7 torx and a # 00 phillips for the MacBook Pro, though.)
Everything went fine except for the fact that I accidentally unplugged a tiny plug on the logic board when I took off the keyboard. Because of this, the MacBook Pro would not start at all after I exchanged the hard disk and screwed things back. It did not even make the famous gong sound anymore. What got me really worried was that the Magsafe power plug that goes into the laptop did not show the regular red or green light dot. Instead it blinked – very rapidly and very faintly! Uh oh. That did not look good at all. I disassembled the case once more, did not find anything wrong and reassembled it again. Still no startup, still only the worrying LED blinking. Well, I took the thing apart once more, now doing what all technicians do when machines fail for unknown reasons: unplug and replug every single plug that you can reach. In this case, I only reached the fourth plug when I noticed that is wasn’t firmly plugged in. Pushing it back into its socket. Screwing screws back into their sockets. Sacrifice a chicken. Turn around clockwise three times and counterclockwise seven times. Push the power button. Yay! Everything is working as it should be. Yours truly truly happy.
The hard disk that was in the 320 GB rugged disk enclosure is a 5400 rpm Hitachi HTS543232L9A300 – exactly the same model as was in there before, only with 320 instead of 160 GB. Since that means that more (i.e. the double amount) data is put on the same surface, the disk is quite a bit faster than the old one. This is especially noticeable during startups. Very nice!

Putting the data from the old drive on to the new drive was a bit more complicated than I thought, because I used the LaCie tool to format the new disk. The LaCie drive tool formats the disk with the old Apple Partition Table instead of the new GUID Partition Table. Since intel Macs can only boot from GUID partitioned drives, I had to reformat the disk and check the appropriate option in Apple’s Disk Utility before I could use the new drive to boot my MacBook Pro. After choosing the correct partitioning technique, I first wanted to use Carbon Copy Cloner to clone the contents of my old drive to the new one. But the clone was not bootable because of some strange permission issues. Again, going back to the tools provided by Apple made things work: I used Apple’s Disk Utility once more and told it to restore the contents of my old internal drive to the new external drive. This went perfectly well. (I bought one of the triple interface rugged disk models and used the faster FireWire 800 to transfer the data. USB is well-known to suck with regards to data transfer rates…)

I also used this opportunity to expand my Boot Camp partition for Windows XP to double the former size. Thanks to the excellent tool Winclone this was quite easy. I first booted up Window XP and converted the disk from FAT32 to NTFS using the standard windows command. Then I booted back into Mac OS X and cloned the Boot Camp partition to a disk image using Winclone. Then I put in the new disk and used Apple’s Boot Camp Assistant to make a Windows partition twice the size of the old one. In the next step, I used Winclone to clone the contents of the disk image onto the new, larger Boot Camp partition. Finally I used the Expand Windows (NTFS) Filesystem… command offered by Winclone to expand the partition to use the new, bigger size it offers. This worked perfectly well and this gives me enough room on my windows partition to install the new expansion pack for LOTRO when it arrives this week. Ha!

James Bond 007: Quantum of Solace – Fastfastfastfast.

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

The New Bond continues. But it is not the same. After being robbed of his love, beat and broken, Jamens Bond, played by Daniel Craig, rushes onward. He aims for vengeance. Not in a bloody rage way, but in highly controlled, incredibly fast-paced way. The first twenty minutes or so were dazzling to say the least. I sat a bit too close to the screen in one of Europe’s largest cinemas (the Colosseum in Oslo), and I was almost overwhelmed. Although there will be a few pauses now and then and the whole movie gets a bit slower afterwards, the second New Bond is still different – and much faster – when compared to the first New Bond. I found this to be good, because it shows that the director has not closed the file on this successful movie series. In the first New Bond, which you really should see before watching this one, the character is introduced and his more or less complex personality is developed. In this, second New Bond, the character that has been established is let loose, or, put differently, he sets himself free.
The cast is good enough, Daniel Craig ultra-icy, the two women that he deals with more than attractive, the villain evil in a very french way. The design is excellent, firstly, because it is omnipresent but subdued, and secondly, because it is all about grit. Or sand, to be more precise, because this Bond is desert-themed in many ways. As always, you should really take care to be there on time to see the full opening credits – watching them made me happy.
Be prepared to deal with a very fast-cut, high-action movie. I really liked this Bond. It was maybe a bit less good than the first New Bond, but then I had little to no expectations when I went to see that one and pretty high expectations for this one…
IMDb entry | Trailer

Some blog functions currently broken.

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Dear readers, please bear with me! The university that hosts this blog, Freie Universität Berlin, is currently shifting web services to a new server system. One of the neat side effets of this change is that now we can use PHP and MySQL goodies for the websites hosted by zedat, the university’s IT department. One of the bad side effects is that some things may be broken temporally. In the case of this blog, the archive, permanent links, and everything that does not appear on this front page is broken. My guess is that the new cgi script service does things differently when scripts want to generate dynamic web pages… I am confident that this problem will be resolved soon: the zedat team offers the best university IT service that I have had the pleasure to deal with. Stay tuned.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army – More silly than sound.

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Since I knew it would be difficult to recruit co-watchers for this movie (intellectuals and their problems with action movies bla bla bla), I entered the cinema on my own, replacing company with too much popcorn. This flick is not as purely fantastic as the intriguing Pan’s Labyrinth, for which Guillermo del Toro won an Oscar. We are confronted with some strange and beautiful pictures here too. But there is much less of a story and there is also less time to develop the main characters. I was somewhat bored by silly jokes and superhero-fist-fights when there finally was at least a bit of deceleration and the main characters had a few moments of their own, hanging out, being frustrated, in love, and confused.
I surely do hope that this will change when Guillermo del Toro works on The Hobbit. More time for magic moments and strange stories than for brawls, please!
IMDb entry | Trailer

Eagle Eye – Patchwork movie.

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

A movie about automated surveillance run wild. Cast, camera, and the editing are good enough to make a decent, entertaining thriller. The plot, however, seems to be pieced together from various well-known sources – citing classics like Odyssee 2001 might be nice, but it would be even nicer, to come up with some new ideas. This is not to say that the plot itself if completely obvious. There are some nice twists that keep your attention focused on the movie. However, the nerd part of me prefers those thrillers that are presented as being sci-fi, to cling to at least some major aspects of how things actually work. Because of that, I was sometimes frustrated a bit at how much control the nemesis of this thriller has over practically everything. Instead of just buying into the complete surveillance theme, it would have been nice to work at the fringes of surveilllance and to present a few other tricks than shredding your mobile phone. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for some DVD entertainment this certainly will do. A visit to the cinema won’t be necessary though.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Review for Encountering Urban Places in Environment and Planning D : Society and Space.

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Yay! Today, my favorite academic journal has published a review of the book Lars Meier and I have edited one year ago. The review was written by Sara Westin. If your university has subscribed to Environment and Planning D, then you can download the review here: DOI 10.1068/d2605rvw. For those who are not in such a lucky position I will to post two snippets from the review – the first about the book as a whole, the second about the chapter written by yours truly:

The different texts can be read as freestanding articles, but what bind them together—except for the focus on the urban encounter and the use of the visual—are the explicit or implicit references to the works of Lefebvre. This is a clever editorial arrangement that results in something more than the sum of all parts. Last but not least, it is uplifting to take part in urban research that to such a high degree is produced outside the Anglo-Saxon context: only three of the ten contributors are working in universities in the United States (not a single one in the UK or in Canada). The non-Anglo-Saxon focus, which is not something that is made explicit by the editors, is to a certain extent reflected in the choice of examples as well as in the bibliographies […] Conclusively, although slightly overpriced, Encountering Urban Places is an interesting book that provides not only a rematerialization but also a diversification of the urban research tradition.

I find Encountering Urban Places incredibly inspiring since it offers a range of interesting ways to explore the multidimensionality of everyday encounters and how these encounters may play a part in the production of places. Here I especially want to mention Frers’s concept of ‘envelopment’—an analytic tool which can be used to understand the constant interaction between things and people that characterizes everyday urban encounters and to evoke a sense of what we experience and help understand why we do certain things (page 44). The concept refers to the process that unfolds when we are moving around in the city. As we enter different social – material – spatial constallations we are constantly enveloped by impressions—all of which configure our behaviour. However, Frers stresses, this is not a passive process—we are not just being enveloped by our surroundings, we are also enveloping ourselves. By drawing on Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Frers challenges the Cartesian mind – body dichotomy as well as the division between agency and perception: our intentions, our mood, our corporal condition all play crucial parts in the envelopment process since they filter our perception, which in turn guides our actions. Frers analysis focuses on the in-between space—the envelope—that extends into both actor and surrounding. The concept does not refer to an object in the real world (page 34), but rather to a constantly changing process which although subtle, is extremely powerful since it restrains and enables action.

We’re of course really, really glad about getting such a positive review! Hopefully it will attract some new readers for our book. :) In any case it provides a lot of motivation to see that people enjoy the fruits of the work that has been invested into this volume by all of its contributors.

Mannen som elsket Yngve – The aches of adolescence.

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

A Norwegian movie set in the time right after the Berlin Wall came down, telling a story that is both universal und very much located in a particular setting. The medium sized town of Stavanger and it’s suburban surroundings feature as much into the movie as the particular Lebensgefühl of the time: Music (heavily featured are The Cure, Joy Division, Jesus and Mary Chain, etc.), a strange mix of feeling exhilaration about the future and being deeply disappointed with the world, and a strange, unknown feeling that one is getting closer to the end of one’s adolescence. Being in love and being insecure, posing and crying, doing sports and hanging out in your bed, meeting your buddies and sitting on your parent’s sofa watching TV. I really liked this movie because I could relate to it on so many different levels and because the actors are doing good jobs in difficult roles. However, I was not absorbed by the drama, and I could not really connect to many of the characters. Maybe the script was a bit too explicit about some things and maybe the camera did not find the right angles to provide us with sequences that offered us a glimpse into why the characters do what they do. With the exception of the main character, Jarle Klepp, the others remain mostly real depth. We don’t know why the beautiful and utterly cool Cathrine (played by Ida Elise Broch) feels the same ennui as Jarle and his buddies. We have dialogue telling us that the parents of one of Jarle’s friends are highly educated, but we don’t know much about his motivations beyond that. Maybe the film should have been a little longer, maybe the camera should have rested on the characters a little bit more, but as it is now, many characters remained too flat for my taste. Nonetheless, the film was really nice – it could only have been even better. It could have been as good as Fucking Åmål. I would recommend to watch The Man Who Loved Yngve in a nice theater with friends who like to discuss a movie afterwards – something like the Ryder in Bloomington.
IMDb entry | Trailer

The frustrations and delights of peer-review.

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

About a week ago, the editor of the journal Discourse Studies told me that a paper which I submitted has been favorably reviewed and that it will be published after I re-work my paper according to what the anonymous reviewer has suggested. In itself, that already is great news! It was even more wonderful for two reasons:

  1. I had submitted a paper that was practically identical to this one to another journal quite a while ago. The paper was based on a study that I did for a class on conversation analysis offered by Douglas Maynard during my graduate year in Bloomington. I mentioned this in my letter to the editor of the journal, and I also mentioned that because of this and because of privacy issues, I did not have easy access to the videos that are analyzed in the paper. I wanted to tell this, because I think that this kind stuff should be said and that honesty in science would be rewarded. However, the opposite was the case and the first point of criticism was that the paper is closer in form to a term paper instead of a journal article. It was not even forwarded to an anonymous reviewer. When I got this reply, I was so frustrated that I tried to push this paper into the lowest recesses of my existence. Which did not work, unsurprisingly. In the course of time, frustration turned into resolve and I decided to resubmit the paper (adding a few good references that I found in the meantime) without mentioning that it is based on a student paper and that I do not have direct access to the videos anymore. (The latter being the second and a more important reason for rejecting the paper. But if a reviewer would have stated that something is missing and that I should re-examine the video data, then I would done so, of course.) I guess this is a lesson about gate-keeping in peer-review and about how even well-meaning people might not approach something neutrally if they have negative preconceptions about its origins…
  2. Because of the frustration that was generated after this rejection, I had very little trust in the whole peer-reviewed journal business. Therefore it was a pleasant surprise for me to read the review for my paper: it took my propositions seriously and then found parts of the paper that did not live up to the analysis that I develop in the rest of the paper. Thus it encouraged me to strengthen my argument – instead of watering it down by requesting to add another perspective or authors X and Y. This has definitely contributed in re-building my trust in the scientific review process. Thanks a lot for that to the editor and to my anonymous reviewer.

Since the post-peer-review paper overhaul is done and has been accepted, the paper will be available early next year under the title Space, Materiality, and the Contingency of Action in Discourse Studies 11(2). Since SAGE’s copyright agreement allows for an online publication one year after the print version has seen the light of day, I will be able to put the full paper online at this site in 2010.

Finally, I want to thank Charles Antaki, who read the old student paper that I put online several years ago and who encouraged me to re-work and publish it. Without this support, I would probably not have been courageous enough to try to get this paper published at all. In addition, I want to thank Elizabeth Nelson, a class-mate from Bloomington, who corrected and polished my English before I submitted the paper for the first time.

Erste Besprechung zu Einhüllende Materialitäten.

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Hocherfreut bin ich heute in meiner Linkstatistik auf einen mir bislang nicht bekannten Verweis gestoßen und habe auf der betreffenden Seite dann eine Besprechung meines Buchs entdeckt. Das lässt natürlich erst einmal den Puls in die Höhe schnellen. Glücklicherweise konnte die Aufregung in Freude umschlagen, denn unkultur schreibt unter anderem: Das Buch “Einhüllende Materialitäten. Eine Phänomenologie des Wahrnehmens und Handelns an Bahnhöfen und Fährterminals” stellt für mich eines der innovativsten Projekte dar, dass mir in der letzten Zeit untergekommen ist. Besonders gefreut habe ich mich aber über diesen Abschnitt:

Nicht nur die Art der Darstellung – die Arbeit ist durchweg flüssig geschrieben – gerade die Methodologie ist gut. Der Autor beschreibt nicht nur sehr ansprechend seine Forschungsergebnisse; nebenbei legt er den Arbeits- und Entstehungsprozess der eigenen Studie offen. Notizen aus dem Feldtagebuch etwa, die die Forschung transparent machen. Außerdem sind die Videos, die im Buch ausgewertet werden, auf der Homepage des Autors dokumentiert. Im Gegensatz zu manch zweifelhaften Methoden der Feldforschung ist diese Methode nicht nur innovativ, sondern aussagekräftig hinsichtlich der Interaktion Mensch-Maschine.

Danke, unkultur! Das motiviert mich sehr und bestärkt mich in der Hoffnung, methodologisch auf dem richtigen Weg zu sein. :)

Landscape, aesthetics and life on the route.

Friday, September 12th, 2008

Two weeks ago, I attended the Fehn Symposium (named after the Norwegian architect Sverre Fehn). Besides talking about Landscape Urbanism Today, the symposium was the inauguration event for the research project in which I will participate for six fully funded months next year. The name of the project is Routes, Roads and Landscapes. Aesthetic Practices en route, 1750 – 2015 and it is funded by the Norwegian Research Council (Norges Forskingsråd). All went well, luckily including my presentation Encountering Places: Aesthetics of the Lived Moment and the Aesthetics of Long Durations which, to my utter delight, tied in nicely with Tim Edensor’s presentation on The pleasures of Everyday Mobility: Ghosts, Familiarities and Surprises in Motorscapes. Now I am really looking forward to start working on my part of the research project (more about that when the project’s website is up).

Say hello to my 100000th visitor.

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

screenshot of SiteMeter report for 100000th visitorWoot! After being online for more than six years, my website got the onehundredthousandth visitor. It’s been a while and quite a few things have happened during this time. A blog was added, the layout changed a bit here and there (mostly on the main home page) and quite a bit of video and text content was uploaded. Some of the changes to the website can be tracked in the Internet Archive’s WayBackMachine.

The smell of sulphur.

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

early morning at the harbor in Reykjavik, IcelandMany people know that Iceland is a volcanic island: the rocks and the beaches are grey-black, there are many geysirs and hot water pools. However, that is only part of the story. Think about other places where you would find black stone and perhaps a small stream of lava here and there. Pretty hot place, said to be somewhat on the uncomfortable side. Dude with horns is bossing people around. Got me? So, what would you expect of the smell in this place? Kinda sulphurous, right? Correct. But what does that mean: kinda sulphurous? Well, a bit like rotten eggs. The funny thing is that here, you inevitably encounter this smell in the place where the smellscape is supposed to be on the opposite side of rotten: the bathroom and the shower. Ugh? Yup. I guess this is because the hot water here is not ground water that is being heated in the house, but instead comes out of the ground being pretty hot already. Heated by your energy-providing friend, the vulcano. Thus the sulphurous smell. Enjoy the island!

The Dark Knight – The dead star.

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Although I enjoy superhero movies, I do not have particularly high expectations of this genre. Christopher Nolan definitely did an above average job with his Batman Begins, the prequel to this movie. Therefore I was looking forward to seeing more. It was more of the same though – well done, but not overwhelming, breathtaking or inspiring. The plot is ok and the cast is fine, too (although I found the Batman too smooth, he had no real depth, no physical doubts). With his first rendition of the Batman I was happy about the grittyness of the movie. With this one however, I had the impression that the movie tries to be gritty because that is what people are now expecting to see, because a certain kind of grittyness sells. But it was not gritty because it cared for the pain, for the irregularities and the damage that life involves. Therefore, it did not get me involved and did not touch me.
With one exception. Heath Ledger, whom I really, really liked since I first saw A Knight’s Tale, surpassed himself in this movie – tragically. One can too easily see that playing this role, becoming this utterly mad nemesis did not contribute to his well-being. It was a great performance that had almost all of the elements that the rest of the movie lacked and that I wrote abouth in the above paragraph. However, even this character lacked depth. He was the mask of cruelty and evil madness. But he was only barely human, only because of Ledger’s great performance. The short references to his (obviously imagined) childhood did not help. To the contrary, they were the most shallow of stereotypes and would not explain why he is who he seems to be. If you like this genre, I can definitely recommend this movie. If you liked Heath Ledger, it may be worthwhile to see his excellent acting – if you can stand the cruelty that it involves, a cruelty that Heath Ledger did not shun.
IMDb entry | Trailer

WALL·E – Fat & trash. Grit & emotion.

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

Whew. This movie was quite an experience. The Pixar studio movies of the last decade were usually much better than the average Disney diet that we had to swallow since at least the nineties – for some reason, Disney does not make movies that have enough heart and enough guts for critique, such as the 1973 Robin Hood had. Pixar fills this important void, offering children’s movies that are much more than entertaining. WALL·E, the main protagonist of the movie, is a heart breakingly amiable character. He demonstrates what animations and cartoons can be, if they are done right: instead of trying to be realistic or cartoonish, the animation in this movie focusses on the expression of emotions, on the expression of atmospheres, and the ways settings are felt. Of course, this is a children’s movie. But it is also much more than that. Like the novel which I am reading right now (Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer), WALL·E tells us a story which reflects the not only positive norms and easily forgotten destructive aspects of our societal existence – at the beginning of the 21st century these problems are, in a way, very much different than in the middle 19th century. But at the same time, our longing for sharing our life with people we adore and love remains the same, as does the joy in the physical experience and closeness to things, animals and others. Maybe the story of WALL·E will evoke perceptions and emotions that will help kids and adults alike to avoid producing a future in which the world has become a garbage heap and in which human society consists of people who do not touch each other any more. This is probably the best animated movie from the US of A that I have seen.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Automatische Irritationen – Die Sprache der Dinge.

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Ich bin ziemlich im Hintertreffen mit den Ankündigungen der guten Nachrichten aus der Welt der Wissenschaft… Dem will ich mich heute jedenfalls ein wenig entgegenstemmen, denn ich sitze zwar erschöpft aber trotzdem beschwingt in dem Zug, der mich von der von unserem Kolleg veranstalteten Summer School Nach dem Spatial Turn: Raum im Brennpunkt disziplinärer Perspektiven wieder zurück nach Hause bringt. Die Organisation der Summer School war anstrengend, aber ich glaube, dass alle TeilnehmerInnen Gutes mitgenommen und gemeinsam an einem offenen akademischen Arbeiten mitgewirkt haben. Mir hat es auch reichlich Freude gemacht!
Zurück zur Nachricht: Vor einiger Zeit habe ich mich mit einem Abstract für die Tagung Die Sprache der Dinge – kulturwissenschaftliche Perspektiven auf die materielle Kultur der Gesellschaft für Ethnographie beworben. Die Bewerbung für diese spannende Tagung war zu meiner großen Freunde erfolgreich, so dass ich im November in Berlin einige Überlegungen, Videos und Absichten zur Thematisierung der Dinge in der sozialwissenschaftlichen Forschung präsentieren kann.
Wie üblich hier auch noch das Abstract:

Automatische Irritationen – Überlegungen in Video zur Initiativentfaltung der Dinge.
Beim Lösen eines Fahrscheins an einem der Fahrkartenautomaten der Deutschen Bahn wird innerhalb von ein paar Minuten eine Vielzahl von Interaktionsregistern gezogen. Die Begegnung mit dem Automaten ist eine Herausforderung für alle Beteiligten, für die Jungen oder Alten, mit Muße oder in Hast, für die Neulinge oder die Erfahrenen, für die die gerade einen Fahrschein lösen oder für die Wartenden – in der kurzen Handlungssequenz passiert sehr viel mehr als ein reines Bedienen eines passiven, technischen Apparats.
Beim Eintreten in den Bahnhof werden Türen durchquert. Die Tür als sicht- und manipulierbare Grenze zwischen Innen und Außen ist einer der zentralsten Aspekte architektonischer Konfigurationen des Sozialen. Dieses Ding markiert eine wichtige symbolische Grenze, in seiner Materialität ist es aber gleichzeitig Bestandteil von ausgesprochen alltäglichen Handlungsroutinen.
Die zwei Dinge, welche im Mittelpunkt dieser Präsentation stehen, scheinen sehr unterschiedlich zu sein: der Fahrkartenautomat ist für seine Komplexität geradezu berüchtigt, während die Tür gleichsam von selbst in den Routinen des Alltagslebens unterzugehen droht.
In dieser Präsentation sollen diese zwei Dinge jedoch nicht als etwas behandelt werden: nicht als Symbol, nicht als Mensch-Maschine-Interface, nicht als Grenze und auch nicht als Ding-an-sich. Durch den Einsatz von digitalen Videoaufzeichnungen sollen die hier untersuchten Dinge in ihrem Wechselspiel mit dem Wahrnehmen und Handeln der Menschen hervortreten. In der detaillierten Analyse von Videosequenzen wird deutlich, welche Aspekte der Dinge in der Interaktion relevant werden. In Anbetracht des konkreten Materials soll die Frage verhandelt werden, von wo die Initiative ausgeht: handeln die Dinge oder doch nur die Menschen? In der Präsentation soll nicht nur die Performativität des Geschehens betont werden, auch die Performativität der Präsentation soll reflektiert werden: welche Herausforderungen stellen die Dinge an Methode und Methodologie der Analyse? Wie gehen wir sinnvoll mit dem um, was gelegentlich als das nicht-Repräsentationale bezeichnet wird?
In der immer auch kontingenten Interaktion mit dem Ding verflechten sich Wahrnehmen und Handeln zu einem genauso dichten Geflecht wie die Menschen und die Dinge. Auf theoretischer Ebene sollen Merleau-Ponty und die Entwicklungen in den neueren Science and Technology Studies der Analyse Instrumente an die Hand geben, mit denen ein Teil der Ordnung des Geflechts nachvollzogen werden kann.

Ich bin gespannt, wie die Diskussionen zu den Dingen in der Ethnographie/Ethnologie/Museumskunde geführt werden!

Persepolis – Graphic storytelling.

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Simple drawings instead of real life actors, a very well-known script (the movie is based on the comic series), the life of a migrant girl. These are the ingredients of the precisely told and yet very touching animated movie Persepolis. Even if you have not read any of the graphic novels of Marjane Satrapi, even if you are highly sceptic of comics and animated movies in general, even if you do not care much about headscarves and the Middle-East in general – even in spite of all that, you should go and watch this movie. Because it is a great story, told with pictures that make the best of the freedom of animated movies: it does not care about reality as such, instead it focuses on showing how situations feel, how they would look if they were drawn in black and white, like a paper cut. The scences are beautiful, sometimes funny, often tragic.
The only thing which I have missed a bit had to do with my personal reading of the story as such – I missed a bit of reflection about the role of the female protagonist as someone who is very much upper-class in her upbringing and social status. It was not something that was shyly denied or pompously set in scene. However, it was in a way too straight, too un-broken for me. But maybe, perhaps, this is the case because being upper-class comes as a matter of course, not as something special to those who are…
IMDb entry | Trailer

In Bruges – Surprise script.

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Undecided about what movie we should watch and feeling a certain tendency to see something entertaining, we decided to try In Bruges even though we were neither convinced by the strange title (the German title translates as Seeing Bruges and Dying) nor by the taglines. The actors seemed nice enough, so we took the risk. I guess we weren’t particularly happy with our decision during the first quarter of the movie. Collin Farrell is good looking, of course, but he also made the impression of totally overacting his role. Slowly however, the story became clearer, and the contrast between Colin Farrell’s hyper-active character and the calm beauty of Bruges gained weight and texture. At that point in time, the movie became good. In the last quarter of the movie, another change in pace happened. The real villain appears, new turns and events shoot out from every corner and the movie becomes great: entertaining, fast paced and very funny (in a dark, British humor kind of way). To be recommended – the pictures of Bruges are quite beautiful, making a visit to the cinema a good choice.
IMDb entry | Trailer