antlers optional

[I just realized I did not cross-post this over here, so this is my blog about the Apparatjik NNG concerts in March :-)]

I've written a little about the art/visuals from the Apparatjik installation at Neue Nationalgalerie, but as most of you know it is the music that I am more interested in from this project. Forgive me if this post is long-winded!

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Berlin NNG Setlist

Here is the setlist for the Apparatjik gigs on March 26 & 27. You can also find playlists for both nights on my YouTube channel: March 26 | March 27. I am surprised there are not more videos from the 27th on YouTube, especially considering the uniqueness of the orchestra performance.

* Apparatjik entrance / flashlights

1. New Song #1

2. New Song #2

* Turning cube heads

3. Arrow and Bow

4. Snow Crystals

* Granul no 8

5. Quiz Show

6. Supersonic Sound

7. Look Kids

8. Datascroller

* Six part choir about particles

9. Combat Disco Music

10. Josie

11. Deadbeat

* Exit from the cube

On March 27 only:

* Mies van der Rohe

* Deutsches Kammerorchester

A lengthy blog about the live experience coming along soon...

(cross-posted on magne_f)

apparatjik tv & little a & pixel city

Every day at 6:00pm, the interactive cube would make a conclusive sound, the 'end of transmission' image would show up, and then the 'Apparatjik TV' program would begin. There was a four-hour window for apparatjik tv, and we had no idea what to expect on that first day.

We took a seat on the floor near the sound desk to watch the video clips. After watching for about an hour, the clips started over again. The segments included all the Q&As, some of the chapters that we received back in fall 2009 before the 'Electric Eye' single came out, the Pixel City clips, and the 'start at the top' image submissions (among many others).

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Anyway, back to the apparatjik tv. Here are some pictures of the 'start at the top' entries:

After we had seen the full set of video clips, we headed out to dinner. I have to say that as the daylight faded, the cube light reflected on the glass walls of the gallery and it looked amazing from both the inside and outside of the gallery. After over a year of the cube imagery, seeing the many now iconic (for tjiks anyway) images and video clips flickering along with the regular city lights was very cool. I couldn't imagine a better venue for this installation and was so glad to have been there to experience it.

We went back to the gallery just before the 'pixel city' program was to start. I thought from the Apparatjik bulletin that the gallery would be open during pixel city, but G1 and G2 told us the the gallery was closed and the lights were all shut off - except the cube of course. The disco Smart Car / Pixel City video started up and we thought it was likely to just play on a loop until 2am, which was kind of disappointing, but really we'd already seen quite a lot of visuals by then so I was more than happy to go to my hotel and get some sleep finally :-)

(cross-posted on magne_f)

everyone is a utensil

I was so right that last weekend in Berlin would be Apparatjik overload. Usually I blog from trips in chronological order but the exhibition and performances are better told in chunks together rather than split up by day. So here goes...

everyone is a utensil

I went to NNG with some friends on the day I arrived to check out the cube. The gallery was mostly empty, there were perhaps 2-3 people walking around, plus two security guards (we'll call them G1 and G2). The cube walls had some muted lights and you could hear soft sounds (wouldn't call it music per se, but there were bits of voices [mostly Jonas I think] and instruments making disjointed sounds). There is a reflective floor surface around the base of the cube that is perhaps 4-6 feet in depth, and you're not supposed to walk on that. Anyway, you could walk around the cube, wave your arms, whatever, and the cube would 'respond' with sound. I was of course aware that our movements around the cube were being recorded, so at first I was a little reserved testing it out.

That reserve lasted approximately 23.4 seconds.

The thing is that you couldn't just walk around it and expect to have a very interesting/varied response. You had to walk towards and away from it, you had to move fast then slow, you had to be a participant and not just a witness. Put something out there, and see what comes back. We kind of knew that the more outrageous we were, the more interesting the response would be, so we jogged a bit, changed directions mid-stride, jumped up and landed on the balls of our feet, danced, etc.

One thing that disappointed me was that the cube was not as sensitive as I thought it would be. The idea of recording 'footsteps' for the orchestra composition was stuck in my head, so I had planned to do different steps that might make certain sounds. But the cube was not picking up fine motor movements, it was mostly gross motor movements.

We played for perhaps 15 minutes, when G1 came over to me with a mischievious smile and said confidentially, "You know you are being filmed?" [looks up by the sound board and points] "Camera." [looks up at the top of the cube] "Camera." [looks to the other side of the cube] "Camera." She seemed to get a kick out of watching people make goofballs of themselves around the cube - not in a bad way, mind - and I told her it was no problem and we knew there would be some kind of filming going on. Meanwhile someone had accidentally stepped on the reflective surface around the edge of the cube, and G2 went to collect a dry mop from a closet and aggressively cleaned the smudges away - much to the amusement of the cube ;-) It sounded like it was being tickled.

The cube itself was only part of the experience. Just like G1, I enjoyed watching people interact with it, there was very much an us/it feeling among the different constellations of people there during the interactive program throughout the weekend. Some people didn't know what to make of it and just walked around it and left, often looking over a shoulder on the way out; some people discovered by themselves or by watching others what the cube could do but were too reserved to attempt any interaction themselves; others merely wanted an excuse to join in with gusto. On Friday we went back to the gallery along with some other friends who had just arrived and there were people sitting on the floor and leaning against a nearby wall. One guy saw us rushing back and forth to try to get the cube to make a frenzied musical sound, and he came over and played too. He had some good moves - did some side stepping and then even did a cartwheel or two. I was quite impressed!

Occasionally someone on the other side of the cube would do something that would cause a cool sound and light reaction, and I'd rush to the end and accost them with, "Hey, what did you do to make it do that?" Most of the people had no clue what they had done to make the particular sound!

At times I did wonder if we were being a little too active around the cube, that maybe some people felt we were being disrespectful or so. But I knew my own intentions were good and that there was a purpose behind all the movement - the composition the guys would write for the Deutsches Kammerorchester - and this was probably not clear to the average person just stopping into the gallery. There were no signs to say people were being filmed, and the one page flyer that was on the counter top just said 'Everyone is a utensil. Responsive installation.' Nowhere did it say that the movement would be turned into music, so I wonder if people would have behaved differently if they had known. I know that I threw myself into it because I wanted to make sure that the resulting music was not all built on people strolling past and doing nothing exciting for two weeks ;-) Of course I may regret that if the footage ever gets published anywhere LOL.

Anyway, I enjoyed this part of the installation very much and I hope the people who visited the gallery did too.

(cross-posted on magne_f)

get smart

Joining the likes of USA Today, Motor Trend, New York Times, Auto Evolution, Motor Ward, Benz Insider, Zer Customs, Kilometer Magazine and Wired Autopia, I just have to post about how interesting this disco Smart car is!

EDIT: Found it! "The actual car will be on display at Berlin’s Soho House Hotel, along with a live stream of the band’s exhibit until March 27th of this year."

It took several people three days to cover this awesome little car in tiny mirrors, and now it is part of the Apparatjik installation in Berlin. Check out this great short film to see it in action on the streets of the city:

There seems to be some confusion as to where the disco Smart car currently holds court - some folks who were in Berlin for the Apparatjik performance last weekend looked for it near the NNG but couldn't find it; someone later said it was in another location. I hope to get a chance to see it next week, must do some research to find out where.

Loved these quotes about the car in Wired:

"In addition to dangerously reflecting sunlight into the windshields of oncoming motorists, pedestrians can use the mirrored surfaces to make sure their mustaches and medallions don’t clash with their wide lapels and abundant chest hair."

"Curiously, the Smart has nothing to do with disco. It wasn’t commissioned by the Bee Gees or Tavares, and we know Disco Stu doesn’t advertise."

disco victoriously

On February 25, Apparatjik performed in the 3 x 3 meter cube at the opening of the Deutsche Bank Towers in Frankfurt. Here are some video clips: Arrow and Bow | Snow Crystals | Look Kids

Apparatjik Mini Summit at Globe, Deutsche Bank Towers, Frankfurt | March 2-4, 2010 | Agenda | Facebook

March 2 - 'Sustaining Creativity, Creating Sustainability' Talk: Clip 1 (1:05) | Clip 2 (0:57)

March 2 - 'Ipad Disco Combat' Performance: Clip (7:00) | Photos from the dress rehearsal (source: Globe/DB Facebook): Photo 1 | Photo 2 | Photo 3 | Live Performance Photos

March 4 - Talk: Clip 1 | Clip 2 | Photos (Deutsche Bank) | Photos (Flickr user daniela_flach)

March 4 - 'Ipad Disco Combat' Performance: Clip 1 (1:52) | Clip 2 (3:12) | Clip 3 (2:49)

The film and talk topics for the summit all sound interesting, I am hoping more video clips show up on YouTube. In the meantime, if you click any link in this post, it absolutely must be this one. I love the way the music builds, and each of the guys' body language and gestures as they play. The audience reaction is interesting too. The hum of conversation adds another layer that's actually kind of cool and doesn't take away from the music at all. This is a seven minute clip from what was apparently an hour long 'disco combat' - what a tease!

More please kthx.

EDIT: added new links from March 4.

(cross-posted on magne_f)

'Everybody is a pixel'

The Apparatjik Light Space Modulator cube is going to be eight times the size of its predecessors. On the walls of the cube, during the length of the installation, there will be projections of pixel creations submitted by the public, and also maybe some created by Apparatjik (?).

I have 6-7 image concepts I would like to submit, but I am having a really tough time creating them. I spent several hours working with Photoshop yesterday, trying to create a specific light effect using several of my old vacation photos; the thing had 34 layers and I had hand-corrected colors and lines, etc. And after all that I began second-guessing it and was unhappy with the result. Really need to tell my inner critic to shut up ;-) Anyway, there is a more simple video image composite effect I want to do, that I probably should have started with, and if I get close to what I want with that I am sure it will get me motivated to go back to my first idea. Considering how difficult it is for me to do this kind of thing, and how amazing it would be to see my own pixels on the cube alongside everyone else's great creations, I would be thrilled if just one of my submissions is chosen. But first I have to actually finish them! Not much time left.

"Over a two-week interim period, the audience movements [in relation to the cube] is recorded as graphic patterns under the banner ‘Everybody is a pixel’, transformed to musical notes and then performed during a grand finale by Apparatjik – together with a classical orchestra, which will effectively be performing the footsteps of the audience."

According to a recent article in Aftenposten, if I am understanding it correctly, this composition of footsteps will be conducted by Magne on March 27, the final night of the installation. I'm guessing this will take place outside the cube - can't imagine an orchestra fitting inside it even if it is eight times bigger than before - and given the cube's size and the presence of an orchestra and audience, the installation space in NNG must be quite large indeed. Should be a major contrast to the previous performance spaces.

As for the movement of visitors around the cube being recorded, I was thinking it could be an interesting experiment for someone to try to influence the resulting music somehow, using a specific pattern of movement around the cube, or by visiting at regular intervals and repeating a certain sequence of footsteps. But that could only work if a machine were converting the movement into sound - I guess the point is the random nature of movement by individuals over time, and since the footsteps used would be selected specifically by the guys for the composition, I doubt it would be possible to influence a certain result as an individual. Still: fascinating concept, and I can't wait to hear the result!

How and when will two weeks' worth of movement be encapsulated into one arrangement? How much time will the orchestra have to practice the composition, given the very short window between filming -> composing -> performance? Will the colors people are wearing, the speed of people's movement, and the changing density of people also influence the sound? Somehow I imagine a kind of 'Peter and the Wolf' effect, where each person in a timeframe has a theme of their own, or maybe specific individual sequences of movement during the two-week span are woven together as recurring elements, as opposed to a purely linear musical representation of footsteps.

Eh, I really should focus on my pixels and leave the music composition to the professionals, yes? ;-)

/Berlin geek out (for now)

(cross-posted on magne_f)