The Amazing Helen Levitt. 1913 - 2009.

Helen Levitt´s photos are very "Now". Often grotesque and funny, sometimes sad. They are perfect for "re-blogging" and you could also print bold words over them. Of course, they are also displayed in museums.

Last year I read a short interview with the famous New Yorker street photographer that made me love her and her pictures even more. When she was asked how she so quickly learned to use colour-photography in 1959 she just answers: "Why? You take a colour film, you put it in your camera, you start to shoot!"

The quiet woman who refused to be photographed also claimed that she never showed any personal interest in her objects. "No, I never talked to anyone. I always walked on immediately", was her answer she gave to German magazine "Der Spiegel".

In the 1940s Levitt could not live from her work, so she became a cutter, worked with Luis Bunuel and later started to make her own influential and acclaimed short-films. She died yesterday, aged 95.


Directed by StellaVista

I have become a director yesterday! Thanks to this funky Text-To-Movie Program that lets you easily direct a scene with up to two characters. I was amazed at how easy and intuitive the process is. You can chose different settings, characters and languages (which in return allow you to let your characters speak with strong accents). Camera angles, expressions, movements and sounds can be easily selected and you can drag and drop them everywhere into your script.
In a relatively short while I came up with three short "music"-clips.

My first attempt has a Kevin Spacey look-a-like performing an excerpt of The Talking Heads´ "Once in a lifetime".

Next I went to Düsseldorf where tourists ask you the way to the "Kling Klang Studio" instead of the central station. Here I had lots of fun to teach the computer to speak with a German and French accent. "Ja tvoi sluga! Ja tvoi Rabotnik!"

I then managed to sneak into the Pet Shop Boy Mansion, where some fundamental questions were being discussed. "Love, etc?" is my most ambitious project today. But will the audience love me?

If you sign in for a free account you can also "remix" every film as you wish. George Lucas must have had his hands in this.

It´s great fun to play around with. You can call me Alan Smithee now.


Mathématiques Modernes

Mathématiques Modernes was a French synth-pop duo that was only active between 1980 and 1981. Edwige Braun-Belmore and Claude Arto hit the new-wave dancefloors with the amazing "Disco Rough", a nervous, angular synth-stomper that was just right for the time. Slightly chaotic and full of atonal bleeps, Edwige has full control over her detached and half-spoken lyrics. It sounds like The Normal with a super snotty attitude and/or French charm.

Their only full lengths album "Les Visiteurs du Soir", which shows them gazing over a post-apocalyptic Paris like they auditioned for a French re-make of "Village of the Damned" after they killed their Au-Pair, is full of short, hectic pop songs with titles like "Boy be my toy", "A+B+C" or "Athletical Mystery". I picked this up for small money many years ago and it seems to be a collectors item now.

Alor clicques le tiny arrow and get Disco Rough!



Don´t Look At The Camera!

For quite some time I had the creeping fear that "Brave New World", "1984" and their celluloid remixes "THX 1138" and "Brazil" were not only painting a bleak and sarcastic dystopia, but that they actually were self fulfilling prophecies and a how-to-manual for governments to implement the "benevolent dictatorship" that is being created around us.

Boing Boing reported about the latest, incredibly creepy public awareness posters, which are currently popping up in London (see above). This craziness is paid for by the taxpayers who are in retrospect treated like complete idiots by the people who are behind this paranoid and pathetic attempts at mass-hypnosis. You could almost mistake if for satire.

Not only do these messages tell you that it is o.k. to sniff through other people´s trash and report them if you find anything that is beyond your way of understanding, they also expect you to unsee the millions of CCTV cameras that are suspecting you to be a potential criminal. Observing the observers is suspicious! Don´t notice the man behind the curtain!

This really screams for a "Improv Everywhere"-stunt! Thousands of identically dressed people with hats and sun-glasses need to show up in front of every open CCTV camera and stare at it for a few minutes.

The other, much easier reaction already happened in the comments section of the thread: People created instant piss-takes of the posters! I guess this shows how deeply unsettling these posters really are.

Fear makes advertisers happy!

While I was typing up this post, a follow-up article appeared on Boing Boing that reported the remixing of the posters. The comments are full of great, sarcastic takes on the governMENTAL idiocy.


Back from Barcelona

Back from the most beautiful city in the world, where even the millions of finely honed decorations on the splendid facades have fractal decorations. A city that looks like it grew out of the sea, made of fossil stones, plants and shellfish

We walked the streets, the beaches, the mountains and bars like mad and we actually feel like we need a vacation from the vacation. But as we arrived sunburnt and thinly dressed in cold, grey, snowy Berlin we just wanted to go back.

What else is to say about Barcelona? The architecture is just so ripe and overflowing without being overly decadent. People are very friendly and helpful and despite the fact that the city is full of tourists you never get that rip-off feeling that follows you around places like Paris (which doesn´t even have a beach, nor an Amanda Lear exhibition).

I am not spending much time with taking good photos, and I think that it´s impossible to catch the beauty of Barcelona on film. So it was a nice coincidence that a tram ride through Barcelona appeared in Youtube a few days ago. I didn´t recognize much of it, since the footage was taken in 1908! By the time Catalan Modernism was almost finished but the main focus of this clip is the movement and watching the people on the streets. The piano music is very nice and soothing.

The same video (with another, more silent-movie soundtrack) that compares the old with current views, can be seen here.

Blofeld Seams

Spy Vibe traces the origins of the stylish Nehru Jacket through 60s pop-culture. I always loved the collar-less shirt that Sean Connery wore in "Dr. No", but in retrospect the Bond-villains were making a much bolder statement by making these "Blofeld seams" a fashion trend for megalomaniacs.


Off to Barcelona

I am off to one of my favourite cities in the world: Barcelona!

It´s been some years since I´ve been to this amazing city for the last time and I am really looking forward to walk the streets and hang out in my favourite hi-rise hotel again: Hotel Arts on a high-up floor on the right hand side, facing the sea and the city is one of the best places to be.

Stella will be back next week.

This Used To Be "This Used To Be The Future"

"This used to be the future" is a track from the bonus CD of the upcoming, new Pet Shop Boys album "Yes". The special gimmick: vocals are not only sung by Neil Tennant, but also by Chris Low and Phil Oakey from The Human League.

This used to be "This Used to be the Future": After the song was taken down due to our beloved copyright violation bla bla (after all there is no such thing as free promotion?!) there is now the "Ken Saint X-tended Mix", which is surprisingly good and very close to the "original" version. I wonder how long this will be up...