In Love with a German Filmstar

The Pet Shop Boys are actually going to release a cover version of this enigmatic song
Enigmatic because I can´t figure out who the hell the singer fell in love with. Peter Lorre? Konrad Veidt? Max Schreck? Curd Jürgens?
The cover-photo of the PSB production which is sung by Sam Taylor-Wood as well as the original video suggests Marlene Dietrich. But I was never content with this.

Fear and Fashion: Cold War Modern Exhibition

Modern life after 1945 seemed to promise both utopia and catastrophe. By 1949, both of the world’s superpowers had acquired the capacity to annihilate one another with nuclear weapons. Twenty years later, man had walked on the moon and thirty years later we had almost forgotten about it.

Modernist artists and designers responded to this dual vision, searching for ways to build a new and hopeful future and deal with the anxieties of the present.

Part of the above text is taken from the exhibition website of Cold War Modern which will open on Sep. 25 at the South Kensington V&A - Victoria and Albert Museum.

Cold War Modern explores modern art, architecture, design and film in the period 1945-70, highlighting the ways in which artists and designers responded to the conditions of the Cold War.

Legends like Ken Adam will also take part in several events which will take place throughout the exhibition for its run through January 11.


Men Who Look Like Old Lesbians

Men who look like old lesbians is one of those blogs that gives you exactly what the name promises. It´s also one of those blogs you feel a bit ashamed to like. That´s why I have to "pimp" it here.
The man who disguises as an old lesbian below actually used to be Al Pacino!

And that´s only one example...



Several voluntary and involuntary reasons require moving once more to another city. During the last twelve years I seem to move every four years. I moved to Hamburg exactly 4 years and two days ago and before that it was four years in Cologne. Inbetween we spend six month per year on the road in North-America for the last three years.

So its back to Berlin tomorrow! Not my favourite city, a bit overhyped and definately located on the wrong side of the country. I used to live in Berlin in 99/00 and did some jobs there afterwards. Bad timing always leads me to Berlin in autumn and winter, when it can be very drab and gray. All in all I must say that Berlin was always a bit too German for me.

But enough of the gloom. We found a fantastic flat, even better, larger AND cheaper than the last one. Apart from being obscenely big (and it´s not even an old building), it has got the most decadent feature: An elevator that opens directly into the flat. A little something like this:

The last days have been quite hectic, since our recent home was practically destroyed by intruding water while we were away. (Imagine coming back home after several months and you find your bedroom turned into a swimming pool.)

We managed to find the flat in Berlin, kicked the ass of our landlord, sued him to hell and packed up things within the last 16 days!

Of course our internet provider can´t compete with this tempo and I am going to face a few weeks being OFF-LINE!

So, dear (few) readers, it´s going to be a bit quiet until mid-october. I might do some occasional posts from a café next door. Don´t forget Stella, and come again!

Atari Baby

The Minus World has re-thought contemporary video-games to see what they (aka the package) would look like if game technology and design would have been frozen in 1979.

Special care was taken to nail the essence of the game with the typical, short description that was given on the classic, corporate Atari design.

"Halo 3" invites you to "Teabag you enemy", and "Gods of War 3" tells you to "Look for the double nudity greek mythology!"

Click to make big! See them all here

StellaVista Ultramodels: Chimera

Internet driftwood. I´d like to see more!


When Your Dream of Perfect Beauty Comes True

Music: "When your dream of perfect beauty comes true" by Bill Nelson, 1982
I don´t know where the video comes from, but it is probably twenty years younger than the song. It also hammers its message a bit too hard...still great.

Undisputed Truth? For Norman Whitfield

During the last months the obituaries for legendary black musicians have become a sad and recurring event.
Today news were heard through the grapevine that Norman Whitfield, one of - if not THE - most important producers of all time has died.

Although the news has not yet been officially confirmed, his Wiki page already notes September 16 as the date of his death.

With "I heard it through the Grapevine", Whitfield is responsible for one of my absolute favourite pieces of music ever. If you listen to the original version which was first recorded by Gladys Knight & The Pips, you will hear a good and finely honed r&b song.
However, one year later Marvin Gaye´s expert vocalisation and Whitfields brilliant production methods turned the same song, which was co-written by Whitfield, into a magical and amazing piece of aural perfection. I can still listen to "Grapevine" over and over without ever fully grasping the vaporising effect of the genius backing vocals.

Many years ago I taped an alternative mix off the radio which has become my favourite version of the song. Here the beat is mixed into the foreground and sounds much crisper and driving. The backing vocals are also louder while slightly sounding out of tune. All this does not overpower Marvin´s voice. The song becomes even more urgent and paranoid in this mix. Sadly, I have no idea which version or mix this is and I don´t have it in digital form.

The alternative mix that is available on Youtube goes the opposite way. It almost leaves out the drums entirely only to bring them in to full effect towards the end of the song:

I decided to post another, slightly more obscure example of Whitfield´s magic. I saw you when you met her by The Undisputed Truth is a dark, epic drama condensed into a 5 minute exorcism.

The brooding and foreboding sound borrows from Isaac Hayes´ sprawling excursions and acted as a blueprint for darker hip-hop and trip-hop of the nineties.

Norman Whitfield retired from producing exactly ten years ago.


Negative Time

I love the watches from Tokyoflash. Their designs are a perfect mix of intelligence, pseudo-sci-fi and tackiness (very StellaVista). They are only available via mail, claim to come from Japan and are relatively cheap. Perfect!

Negative, their latest design is a great continuation of the complicated displays which makes Tokyoflash´s watches so appealing. On first glance you see only an abstract cluster of LEDs and immediately start to look for clues to count the hours and the minutes. But once you get the simple twist of "Negative" you will always see "it".







Pop Komplex

Paintings by Gerhard Richter
Original "Wanted"-Posters by BKA, Teaser-Posters Der Baader Meinhof Komplex

At yesterday´s premiere event they had black limousines with the title-logo cruising around. I especially love the cover for the book adaption and the "audio book" which puts the original mugshots next to their actor counterparts. A real pop complex.



Marble Station Sort Sol, 1981
"At the rail road station. One Day..."
"Wrap me in blankets, take me away, throw me in water".
Tunnel The Dining Rooms, 2003

Photos of abandoned, russian train station found at English Russia

Houses for the Subconscious

This year´s Venice Architecture Biennale is called "Out There: Architecture beyond building".
The abstract contribution by architect group Asymptote is called "Prototyping the future: Three houses for the subconscious".

Conceived and manufactured digitally it is comprised of three large fiberglass objects which are each meant to express forms of sophistication which are a result of high velocity, acceleration and speed, fluid dynamics ballistics and mathematically modeled form.

The three fiberglass "Motion-scapes" work as a half formed idea of a form that is neither house nor furniture, but something that anticipates a future potential for occupancy in one form or another.

Asymptote´s Hani Rashid explains: "what we are showing at the venice biennale is a piece conceived of and thought about as a potential architecture
and a potential place for architecture to reside. these works, caught somewhere between furniture and
large-scale buildings, exist in a kind of luminous ether, flowing down the stage as if trapped in a frozen
performance of architecture in the making."

For this and more on the exhibition check Designboom


Glimmering Through All These Years

One of my all time heroes, the amazing John Foxx is going to release "Glimmer" a "Best of" double CD in late september.

After leaving Ultravox in 1979, Foxx recorded "Metamatic" one of the most amazing and era defining albums of 1980.

Fed on an a healthy diet of J.G. Ballard and "dressed in european grey", Foxx wanted "to make a kind of music which might have happened if America had never existed. A sort of minimalist European urban electronic folk music. I had a picture of a future jukebox in some lost European motorway service station. I just listened to it play what became 'Metamatic.'"

His sparse electronic arrangements paired with his passionate but equally detached voice are a perfect backing for Foxx´ fantastic lyrical talents. He was the herald of a new romantic world view, which embraced the all surrounding brutal architecture and found new meanings and equations in human interaction with machines.

Technically "Metamatic" is certainly not a quantum-leap in electronic music. Only one year later Kraftwerk would set new standards with "Computerwelt" and The Human League`s "Dare" re-defined electronic pop. By this time the Foxx debut sounded like it came from another era.

During his next three albums, Foxx would move towards a more conventional take on romanticism. He was asked by Michelangelo Antonioni to provide the soundtrack for "Identificazion di una donna" and went into musical hiatus after his Beatle-esque "In Mysterious Ways" in 1985.

Foxx returned to music with lots of collaborations and different projects in 1990 and is currently busier than ever.

The Best-of compilation "Glimmer" tries to give a vast overview over his influential oevre. Included are some of his collaborations (i am missing the amazing "Remember" from his Nation 12 period)

No-One Driving
Quiet City
Twilight's Last Gleaming
Sunset Rising
Cities Of Light 5
Europe After The Rain
Hiroshima Mon Amour
The Garden

Through My Sleeping
My Sex
He's A Liquid
Carcrash Flashback V2
Dancing Like A Gun
Just For A Moment
Dislocated (with Jori Hulkkonen)
Burning Car
Miles Away
Stepping Sideways (with Harold Budd)
Free Robot (with Metamatics)
No-One Driving (early version)
Plaza (extended version)
Burning Car (Dub Terror/Karborn 2008 mix)

More on John Foxx on the official Metamatic and the fansite
Quiet City


Julien Chatelin is a photographer who likes to photograph the places most of us only know from the news. News which are seldom good and as long as there are no newsworthy reports we don´t hear anything at all about them.

In his recent book "Borderline" Chatelin assembled a collection of b/w photographs from the borderland between Israel and Palestine. Some of the pictures are pretty unremarkable if you take them out of context.

We see young people partying on the beach, gay parades, nightclub excess and streetlife. Then there are soldiers, orthodox jews and the wastelands beyond the borderline.
In succession we get a glimpse into life at a boiling point. The exhausted and frightened soldiers could be the same people we have seen a few pages ealier, partying the night away.

My attention to the book was clearly drawn by the great cover design with it´s fold out title.

Extensive coverage of Chatelin´s work can be seen on his Website.