Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

My daily picture

Mittwoch, Januar 13th, 2010

As my blog is a little bit boring right now (isn’t it?), I got a new idea. I’m gonna post one good picture per day on Flickr. You can find them here: . I hope you’ll like them. Have fun!

Linz 09

Sonntag, September 13th, 2009

As you might know, every year one or two smaller cities in Europe get the label „Cultural Capital of Europe“. After my experiences in my home town Graz in 2003, my anticipation for Linz 2009 was pretty high (and the Pflasterspektakel last year). In Graz this was a festival for the whole population, because there were many temporary installations, e.g. all street lights in the inner city were coloured alternating green and blue, or the running gag that every triple repetition of an object got a big letter „3“ to it (you could find it in many shop windows, on posters and in the city landscape).

Unfortunately I was really disappointed about Linz this time.  If you just walk the city you don’t get, that you are walking through a cultural capital, just some advertisements points you to it. For sure there are many exhibitions, and there’s the newly built Ars Electronica Centre with it’s big stairs – a new hang-out for the youths. In my opinion it’s important that culture doesn’t reside behind walls, in rooms were you might even have to pay for the entrance. Culture has to be everywhere, so that the inhabitants get influenced by it too, and that they become a part of it. You should be surprised every now and then.

The most annoying thing was the traffic in the inner city. For sure it’s not much traffic, but every now and then I had to avoid a car. You can’t concentrate on the exploration of the city, and they don’t fit on pictures. Worst on the main square, it was really noisy. It was also hard to find a place to sit and relax, most squares are just empty, no benches, chairs or other amenities.

One notable exception was the exploration of the Nazi-past of Linz. During Hitler Linz became a big industrial city, many settlements were built in that time. On many places you could read about what happend there during this dark chapter of Linz. There’s a webpage to it, in case you are interested: In Situ Linz 09. One of the representative buildings which was built in that time are the bridge head buildings (Brückenkopfbauten) between Nibelungen-bridge and main square. This year parts of the façade were removed, to visualize the construction and the conditions how it was built, accompanied by information in the windows.

My last weekend in България/Bulgaria

Montag, Juli 13th, 2009

In the beginning it seems it will never come to an end … but finally time is racing to the last days. I would have had time to travel around – but actually I was tired of traveling – especially traveling alone. But for the last weekend I got invited by friends – Samantha and Mladen – to Karadere, a beautiful wild beach on the Black Sea coast between Varna and Burgas. I didn’t take me a lot of thought to decide to join – you shouldn’t miss such opportunities.

We went there with a fully stuffed car – us, our equipment and half a band equipment (amplifieres, speakers and wires) – which took us twelve hours (double the estimated time), because we stopped in several places to pick up stuff or meet people.

The beach was just great – no hotels, not even houses, no electricity, no water, no mobile phone; just a bunch of people camping and having a good time. The water of the Black Sea is very nice – clear, warm and not very salty. We enjoyed the days hanging on the beach, reading, playing, swimming and talking, the evening doing barbecue, eating salad and drinking rakia – the nights doing a jam session – live music, powered by the battery of our car.

If you want to experience this too … my friends will organize a little festival on that beach  for beginning of August (and later to a street festival in Istanbul). I want to go there again next year.

How the Power of the Crowd could change Urbanism

Dienstag, Juni 23rd, 2009

My studies in Sofia, Bulgaria, where I did my year of studying abroad with the Erasmus program, are finally over. Most of the things I did this semester were not so interesting, at least not for presenting them on my Blog. But one of my subjects, where I didn’t participate in the classes, but had weekly private seminar meetings, was really interesting. The subject of the class was „Environmental Policy and Sustainability“, and I was asked to write some essay about this topic. My first idea was to take some example about ecology in Austria and write about this, but then I decided, that this is lame and boring.

Prof. Elena Dimitrova, the teacher of the class, gave me some books as readings about Sustainability, the most interesting being „Earth at a Crossroads: Paths to a Sustainable Future“ (read it online on Google Books) by Harmut Bossel (published in 1998). The theory behind the book: If you want to have a sustainable development, it’s not enough to just live ecological, you also need sustainability in the social system, in transportation, in your political system and in the economy. When I read the book I had to think about Linux, Wikipedia, OpenStreetMap, CouchSurfing and other initiatives all the time.

So I decided to write about sustainability in digital culture and gave it a spin to politics and urban planning to get back to the topic of my studies. It took me a long time to research for this essay and to write it (even if my English is pretty good now, it’s still not my native tongue), there’s already a lot of information on the internet, but urbanism is still an unexplored  field. In the process I learned a lot, and I found many ideas which I would be interested to implement. If you are interested in this topic you should definitely check out the literature references in the end of the essay. I hope you will like it, I think it got pretty good in the end.

title page As you might see, the essay is available under a Creative Commons license, so please take it and do something interesting with it.
presentation title page This is the presentation to the subject, that I gave in a class (in front of a handful of people). There are two black pages, which should hold videos. The first is a great music video of a guy called Kutiman who remixed Youtube-videos. The second is a beautiful animation of the edits in the OpenStreetMap in the year 2008.

The Golden Nuggets

Freitag, April 17th, 2009

Last weekend Daniela, a friend of me (architect, half-Bulgarian/half-German, I lived at her place in Sofia in autumn), organised an event called „The Golden Nuggets“ here in Sofia. It was an experiment to explore how people react to unknown objects in public space. The objects – golden bottles with flowers; golden bags filled with balloons or goodies; black balloons with golden masks – were arranged at places where many people pass. Then we – the organisers and observers – hid and watched what happens. The results? Hard to tell and not statistically significant. In my opinion: Many people just didn’t care (maybe they are to much occupied with themselves?), the bags with the balloons were totally ignored (but they were not that visible maybe), people were afraid of taking them, and parents usually didn’t allow children to see what’s there. The best events were the first, on a central place on a traffic island … many people stopped and looked, and in a park on a sunny Sunday afternoon, where the balloons with the masks attracted many people, especially children.

Here are some pictures:

It will be interesting to see a comparison between different cities and cultures. Daniela is planning to do it also in other countries, like Spain and Germany. A first test-run in Hamburg already took place.

It was fun to take part in this event! Thanks a lot for the nice idea and the commitment.

Unhappy Birthday „Die Krone“!

Samstag, April 11th, 2009

Living abroad really helps to heal your mind, because you just have a selective perception about things going on in your home country. Which for the case of Austria, is a good thing. But still today I had to read about the 50th birthday of „Die Krone“ (The Crown), Austrias most popular newspaper. Unfortunately this newspaper is well known for it’s influence on politicians and people living in Austria. Not a good thing and not very democratic, but symptomatic for Austrias ’small mind‘ (Kleingeist).

I already enjoyed the movie Kronen Zeitung – Tag für Tag ein Boulevardstück (Kronen Zeitung – Day by day a boulevard play) (see on Youtube) of the critical (German-French, in Austria this wouldn’t be possible) TV station arte some years ago, but the following articles in the Austrian magazin Profil also help to heal the mind (I just hope more Austrians would read them):

So … unhappy 50th birthday „Die Krone“. Hopefully next time you can’t celebrate that much ;)

Good bye, Niki List

Freitag, April 3rd, 2009

On Wednesday one of the greatest Austrian film directors surprisingly died, Niki List. Thanks for „Müllers Büro“ and „Helden in Tirol“, I will never forget them.

Niki List

Велико Търново (Veliko Tarnovo) and the Dragon Dance

Samstag, November 15th, 2008

Last weekend we spent in Veliko Tarnovo, one of the former capitals of Bulgaria, before the occupation of Ottoman Empire (in 1393). It’s a very historical place. For sure of this old time not a lot has been remained, only the foundations of a fortress, called Царевец (Zarevets). During communist era the government tried to rebuild the castle, or at least part of it. Now you have the original ruins and ruins of construction.
Anyway, it’s a special place. On top of the hill where Zarevets resides you find the Patriarch’s church with very modern paintings (unfortunately taking pictures would have cost 5 Лв = 2,50 €). Every now and then there is an audio-visual show at this castle, it will be illuminated by different colors and you can hear music – the problem: you never know, when is the next time. So we didn’t see this.
It’s a huge area with lots of walls, ways and … an awesome view of the city. Veliko Tarnovo is lying in a meander of the river Yantra, which cut it’s bed deep into the earth. Most of the city consists of small houses which are build on the river slopes. So the city structure is something very special and from every viewpoint you are astonished again. In the old town centre you have a lot of houses with the typical architecture of Bulgarian Renaissance.
In total we haven’t seen a lot of Veliko Tarnovo, because we were a large group of eleven people (everybody from our Language Course in Burgas) and we met there to celebrate Adrian’s Birthday.

I can really recommend the hostel were we were staying, the Hostel Mostel. It’s in renovated old building, a very comfy place and they even left some holes in the painting of the walls, so you can see the structure of the wall. The staff was also very amiable and there were interesting, international guests (always a good sign for a place).

One of those guests was a Japanese guy, Oikado Ichiro, who is travelling (walking!) through Europe for quite some time now and he is an artist. He has a show, which he calls the ‚Dragon Dance‘. On the second day he already announced that he wants to do this dance for us and when we got home from Saturday evening Birthday party we found a note on the floor with his costume next to it, which announced his Dance for 11am or 12am. I was up a bit earlier, so I already could see him preparing. Finally when nearly everyone was awake he started his show (the rest awoke because of the noise). It was really impressive, what he showed us with just some simple costumes and some masks. The show lasted for about half an hour and afterwards we spent quite some time talking to him, he wrote us our names in Japanese and we exchanged e-mail-addresses.

So much for this trip, it was really a nice experience again.

This week the hard disk of my notebook died, so I had to buy a new one and reinstall everything. Fortunately I’m often doing backups, so I didn’t lose a lot of data, but some pictures of the last trips are damaged :( The good thing: I have now a hard disk with the double size from the old one (250 GB). I’m now using Xubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibix, I’m curious how it will work for me in the long run. For now I have to say, it feels really fast.

Ost-Festival last Friday

Montag, August 25th, 2008

Last friday there was the Ost-Festival in Galopprennbahn Freudenau in the Viennese Prater organized by the Ost-Klub, a Club in Vienna specialized for Balkan Music.

Unfortunately Ost-Klub is not famous for being cheap, the entrance for the festival was 23€, a beer cost 4 Ost-Rubel (the exchange-course was 1€=1 Ost-Rubel).

At this Festival they had quite a line-up, headlining were Balkan Beat Box (myspace) which did really rock and Russkaja (myspace). The other bands were also quite cool (in sum there were five bands playing), especially Grooveheadz (myspace), where I was able to catch one of the CDs they distributed to the audience. You should give this music a try, it’s cosy balkanesque music.

It was a long evening, Russkaja ended around 4 am, and then there was the long way home …

Wieder mal Sziget Festival

Montag, August 18th, 2008

Im sechsten Jahr in Folge konnte ich es mir nicht nehmen lassen auf das <a href=““>Sziget-Festival</a> in Budapest zu fahren. Aufgrund meiner Bulgarien-Vorbereitungen diesmal allerdings in verkürzter Version, nämlich nur von Freitag bis Montag.

Leute die mich besser kennen wissen vermutlich, dass ich jedes Jahr ein „bestes“ Konzert küre – diesmal gab es aber einen Überraschungssieger. Eigentlich hatte ich nach dem Konzert von <a href=““>Goran Bregovic</a> am Samstag diesen als vorläufigen Sieger erkoren, um am Sonntag dann von der ungarischen Gruppe <a href=““>Besh o droM</a> getoppt zu werden. Damit hatte ich eigentlich erwartet, dass die Entscheidung gefallen sei.

Zu späterer Stunde hat uns dann die ungarische Jazzband <a href=““>“European Mantra“</a> auf der Jazzbühne überrascht bei der wir eigentlich nur durch Zufall vorbeigekommen sind. Die Musikrichtung würde ich als Jazzbanause als fetzigen, abwechslungsreichen und komplexen Jazz bezeichnen. Ich bin so richtig schön in die Musik reingekippt, dass sie es verdient haben, als bestes Konzert des Szigets bezeichnet zu werden – zumindest in meiner persönlichen Wertung. Ich hab mir dann sogar noch eine CD gekauft, was ich nach dem ersten Reinhören nicht als Fehler bezeichnen würde.

Was gibts noch zu berichten?
Die Vielfältigkeit des Festivals ist noch immer ein Grund hinzufahren. Es gibt neben den vielen guten Konzerten so viele Sachen zum anschauen und ausprobieren, z.B. Straßenkunst (Jonglieren, Akrobatik und Clowns) auf der „Travelling Fun Fair“, diverse Theater (unter anderem einem vietnamesischen Wassertheater, einer Art von unterwassergesteuerter Marionetten). Daneben haben auch einige Museen Exponate ausgestellt.

Neben den kulturellen Angeboten haben sich wie immer auch viele Organisationen präsentiert, unter anderem gab es auch einen Ability-Park in dem man ausprobieren konnte wie es ist, körperlich eingeschränkt zu sein.

Leider gibt es nicht nur positives zu berichten. Höherer Standgebühren und Klagen der anderen StandlerInnen über die Gratisausgabe sind die Hare Krishnas zum Opfer gefallen, die nur noch einen kleinen versteckten Stand hatten, den ich nicht mal gefunden hab. Wer nicht weiß, warum ich das betrüblich finde soll doch mal auf Youtube nach „Gouranga sziget“ suchen.

Die Situation der Zeltplätze war heuer um einiges entspannter als die letzten Jahre, was zum Teil zusätzlichen Campingflächen zu verdanken war, die allerdings zu Opfer vieler Sträucher und Büsche in den Wäldern der Insel geschaffen wurden. Außerdem dürfte das heurige Szigetfestival um einiges weniger ZuschauerInnen angelockt haben, die Schieberei auf den Straßen hielt sich angenehmerweise in Grenzen.

Auch wenn dieses Festival für mich mit nur drei Tagen sehr schnell vorüberging hab ich es sehr genossen und ich bin mir sicher, dass es mich wieder dorthin ziehen wird – vermutlich aber nicht nächstes Jahr, da ich hoffe zu dieser Zeit noch den Osten Europas unsicher zu machen (da gibts sicher auch tolle Festivals).

Wenn ich die Photos des heurigen Szigets gesichtet hab, werd ich vielleicht hier auch noch ein paar posten. Übrigens: Kommentare (über die ich mich natürlich freue – *hint hint*) sind auf meinem Blog jetzt auch ohne Twoday-Account möglich.