Thursday, December 27, 2012

Parallel Universe

Parallel Universe #2
The section to the left in yellow got exposed to light when I put the cartridge into the camera, indicating that this was the 'warm up picture' I took when starting the portrait session with Avida on a Sunday in November 2012.  What strikes me is that the image of the 'parallel' universes (in fact the search results I got when using Google Images to look for the term 'universe') made it onto the film in its entirety.  I cannot explain how this is possible.

Blue Planets
Gottfried is at eye level with our planetary system as he stares directly into the 'sun'.  Which brings me back to Nicolaus Copernicus (see my blog post 'warszawawarsaw'), the first man to present a fully predictive mathematical model of a heliocentric system.

The Dice Of Destiny
Seeing the poker dice in my hand ending up in the same picture as Avida's little boy made me wonder about the extent to which and by what forces our lives are predetermined and whether there is something like a 'free will'.

The Man-Machine (Or: A Clockwork Orange)
Speaking of free will: In the 1960s Benjamin Libet conducted experiments on consciousness which seemed to demonstrate that supposedly conscious decisions are already settled before we become aware of them (to find out more about this experiment click here).

Parallel Universe #5
Gottfried looks at the light in his kitchen which again is reflected in the window.  All that blends with a famous fractal also known as the ‘Mandelbrot-Set’. Fractals are visual representations of the mathematics that defines the physical universe.

 Parallel Universe #4
A double exposure of Avida and an explosion-like image I found on the web make for a psychedelic and almost symmetrical result - thanks to Avida's ability to keep her smile for two consecutive photos.

The Red Thread Of Destiny
Shoppers in the mall at Vienna's 'Westbahnhof' superimpose yet another "Mandelbrot set".  The mathematician Benoît B. Mandelbrot was born in Warsaw and studied in Paris, which makes for a great link between my blogs, because the former city was the setting of my blog post 'warszawawarsaw' while the latter will play a crucial role in one of my next posts :-)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

First IOTS Exhibition!

In general I would say that I am an impatient person, but this time things happened faster than I expected.  I hadn't even started contemplating the possibility of publicly showing my "Images Of The Subconscious" when in November I was asked by artist-friend Petronilla Hohenwarter and her partner Nigel Stonham whether I was interested in having some of my pictures displayed as part of an exhibition called "PLAYGROUND 7" at "artspace 191" in Vienna.  

I immediately agreed.

One day before the start of the exhibition Wolfgang, an old friend of mine who writes for Austrian newspaper "Die Presse" asked me per SMS to "see page 31" of their Saturday edition.  When he sends me such a message my initial guess is that he wants to draw my attention to an article he wrote or an interview he gave, e.g. about the 1982 Falkland war, or about the hopelessly tasteless "Fete Blanche" in the South of Austria where everyone is supposed to be dressed entirely in white and where one could only imagine what the reaction of a guest would be like if his or her clothes were stained e.g. with drops of Styrian pumpkin seed oil (admittedly I share Wolfgang's doubts about this ultra-posh event).  "D'accord" I replied and went to buy the newspaper.


When I finally got the "Presse" and opened it on page 31, I had to rub my eyes in disbelief, for what Wolfgang had written about was the exhibition at "artspace 191" - as always in his own unique style and featuring "Triple Word Score", one of my "images of the subconcious" which blends a portrait of his son Max with an old Scrabble board.

The exhibition of my work alongside those of six other artists went very well, people seemed to like the exhibits, asked about my technique and gave me very interesting and highly creative interpretations of what they were seeing in those images. 

At artspace 191, Nina managed to take an almost surrealistic picture of a man looking at the exhibits while his head appears to get sucked in by the wall.

Here Nina is having a chat with poet Hannes Kirschbaum, a good friend of ours.

Nina took this picture of me just before we were leaving the exhibition.  I guess the satisfaction I felt was written in my face  :-)  

I would like to take this opportunity to express my thanks to everyone - especially my friends - who took their time to pay a visit to artspace 191 between December 16 and 18, to Petronilla and Nigel for giving me this extraordinary opportunity, and last but not least to Nina, for being such a wonderful wife and, well... "manager"! 

Sending out season's greetings to everyone!

Monday, December 3, 2012


A few weeks back I felt like my life had become a monotonous routine.  I needed new impressions.  So when Nina informed me that she had to go to Warsaw for a workshop my brain started working.  Warsaw - could that be a place worth visiting?  What did I know about the capital of Poland?  Very little.  The first things that came to mind were the "Warsaw Ghetto Boy" and the iconic photograph taken in 1970 of German Chancellor Willi Brandt kneeling down in front of a monument to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

And then the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship...

Anything else?  Not really.  "Shame on me", I thought.  So I spent an hour "virtually exploring" the Polish capital using Google Earth. The next day I bought a travel guide.  Four days later Nina and I were on a train to Warsaw. It was Friday night, the trip would last 8 hours. Nina's workshop was due to start on Monday, my train back to Vienna was scheduled to leave on sunday evening already.  That left us with roughly 36 hours to explore the city.

Modern buildings right next to the Warsaw Central railway station ("Warszawa Centralna") blend with a green vertical line, in fact the divide between two other, for some obscure reason totally invisible pictures.

As far as I can tell the only inedible thing in this picture is my train ticket from Vienna to Warsaw :-)

Here & There
Buildings and a stone-surfaced path with people walking blend into something almost esoteric.

 His Father Was A Merchant From Kraków
The Nicolaus Copernicus Monument in front of the "Staszic Palace" (the seat of the Polish Academy of Sciences) superimposes two pictures of buildings in the center of Warsaw.  

Two images - both taken in the Old Town ("Stare Miasto") - together create a surreal street.

Poland Loves One Direction
Polish fans of English-Irish boy band "One Direction" almost seem to be standing on the stairs in the Zachęta National Gallery of Art.

The Fate Of Man Lies In Woman's Hands
An upside down picture of soldiers marching on the Polish National Independence Day ("Narodowe Święto Niepodległości") blends with an image of a female statue holding a football in front of the Palace of Culture and Science ("Pałac Kultury i Nauki").

Time Is Marching Out
An old station clock at the Railway Museum ("Muzeum Kolejnictwa w Warszawie") shares the space with yet more soldiers that marched the streets of Warsaw on November 11, the Polish National Independence Day.

 Blurred Visions Of Our Past
An old TV exhibited in the Museum of Technology ("Muzeum Techniki") merges with a slanted Palace of Culture and Science, the building which in fact hosts that museum.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Least Creative Pictures Ever?

What happened to me?  Have I become a total hypocrite?  

When I was still writing my own music I often complained about "those uncreative so-called artists" who have big international chart hits with songs whose only really interesting component is a melody that was stolen from a well-known song or, even worse, from some ancient composer's piece.  What comes to mind are tunes like:

- "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" by Sweetbox
Based on the "Air On The G-String" by Johann Sebastian Bach.  To do something like this could never "be alright".  At least so I said in 1997  :-)

- "Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio
As he walks through the valley of the shadow of death, Coolio stole from a song called "Pastime Paradise" by Stevie Wonder.

- "Happy People" by Marky Mark
Sounds just a bit too much like "Eleanor Rigby", the (back then) highly progressive song by the four guys from Liverpool.  (Yes I said progressive! Or can you think of any song recorded until 1966 by a rock band where none of the band members play any instruments but instead hire a classical string octet?)

- "Millenium" by Robbie Williams
As Wikipedia rightfully states, the song heavily borrows the musical arrangement from  John Barry's "You Only Live Twice".  I still remember how angry I was when that song came out, not only because of the 007 quote but also because at the release of "Millenium" too many people (and apparently also R.W.) seemed unable to count to ten and believed that the millenium ended on December 31, 1999.

So why on earth am I now committing that very same "crime" of creative theft, with the images below, the only difference being that I am doing it in photography rather than music?   

Picasso once said that good artists copy and great artists steal.  Not that I am so full of myself to believe that I can compare myself to people like Picasso or Magritte or, more realistically, my hero photographers Philippe Halsman and Man Ray.

Of course I do not believe I can compare myself to these geniuses, just like I do not expect the guys from "Sweetbox" to compare themselves to Bach.  Frankly, I was simply having fun with my camera while enjoying the works of some of my favourite painters on "Wikipaintings" (  The self-critic in me would fully understand if you considered the pictures featured in this blog post utterly uncreative, reason being that the only interesting thing about each photo is the "thing" that I stole from that famous painter!

If that indeed is what you're thinking then please let me know!  Not because I love to be bashed but because I want to improve.  And I can only do so if I learn where I am going wrong and what I am doing right.  

So here we go: 

 Being Seduced By Magritte
Nina's got her head in the clouds (of Magritte's "The Seducer").

 Falling In Love With A Past Master
In this one, a portrait of Christina superimposes a section of Dali's "The Ecumenical Council".  

 Ignoring The Passage Of Time #2
"Liebe" ("Love") by Gustav Klimt blends with an hourglass that totally hides the male person in the painting.

 Shop Till You Drop
Two works by Victor Vasarely blend with an advertisement for a shopping mall.

Why Your Heart Should Be Not Only Partially Green
The monochrome version of a design by Sonia Delaunay partially (un-)covers the calm and beauty of Schönbrunn Gardens of Vienna on an afternoon in fall.

Constellation: The Morning Beanz
Two cans of "Heinz Beanz" find their way into Joan Miro's "Constellation: The Morning Star"

 House In A Can
Here, those quite famous aluminum cans superimpose the also quite famous cubist painting "House In A Garden" by Pablo Picasso.

Trying To Can Happiness For Later Consumption #1
Leonardo da Vinci's "La Gioconda" ("the jocund one" aka "Mona Lisa") merges with yet another legacy of mankind (?) and does so twice.

Friday, October 26, 2012

My Inside Turned Out

An Illusion That I've Lived For Almost Thirty Years
In 1983 at the age of 12 I wrote my first little piece of music on my elder brother's piano. After that I knew what I wanted to be: a songwriter!  At 16 I came across the progressive music of "The Alan Parsons Project", and it knocked me off my feet.  What I especially like about it is that that "APP" was the first studio-only musical formation and that Alan Parsons was co-writer of the songs as well the team's sound engineer.  I wanted to create the "APP of the 21st century".  At 40 it finally dawned on me that it was not going to happen.  When you bury the dream of your life at that age you have to make sure not to bury your happiness and your soul with it.  For true happiness, in my opinion is what this life is all about. 

 Head In The Clouds

The question that I should probably be asking myself is this: "How could I not see - over all these decades how I was steering my life further and further away from what I considered my true vocation - after graduating from law school, after doing a master of law and yet another master?"  I don' t ask myself this question, thank god.  Why?  Because I honestly believe that everything happens for a reason... 

 A Truly Revelatory Experience II

...that is why the fact that I've spent almost 30 years on that dream (and probably still am a dreamer actually) will never eat me up or even cause me tears.  My life has moved on, I found a wonderful partner for life who's made me more open to new things, be it food, music or, generally speaking, the planet.  Now I even like to listen to the controversial and boundary-testing "Phase 4" LP recordings of the 1960s and 1970s, where "interventionist" engineering techniques were applied to recordings of classical music in order to create a stereo sound that I would like to describe as "hyper-real"Best listened to with headphones.    


Even though I tried my best to make creative music (at a later point together with my wife) with original and yet listenable melodies, unexpected harmony changes, interesting lyrics, and all in all that certain right mix between repetition, familiarity, variation and previously unheard of combinations - elements that set a good song apart from a mediocre one -, I now come to the conclusion that my/our music would never have been what people are willing to pay for.  I have gambled with years of my lifetime and I will not repeat that mistake again.

 Karajan Squares The Circle

I quit making music in early 2011.  One thing I observed since then is that my collection of CDs with "classical" music, especially from the 20th century, has doubled.  Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Bartók, Heiller and Glass are my new Alan Parsons Project, Beatles, Jamiroquai and Steely DanI am still wondering how this is to be interpreted but maybe I am just thinking too much anyway :-)

Q R You, Q Am I ?

So if I am a dreamer who has buried the dream of his life, what does that make me?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Surrealistic Vienna

The other day, after a private meeting right in the city center got cancelled on extremely short notice, I decided to head off on a little adventure.  Since I had my camera with me, I decided to make the best of the time "gained" and walked around, looking for interesting photo motifs.  After approximately four hours I had a 24 exposure cartridge full with photos twice.  240 (minutes) divided by 48 (pics) makes 5.

In other words: I took one photo every five minutes.  

There must be hundreds of people walking up or down these stairs at the Belvedere Palace every hour.  However I waited at least ten minutes until someone came along wearing clothes in strong colours :-)  The leaf of a tree, photographed in the morning of the same day, adds its strong green to the final result.  

The same stairs as above, another "long awaited woman in red" (this time with male company) and the subway station "Karlsplatz" juxtapose the hectic energy of a working day and the care-freeness of being on vacation.

 A fountain at the Lower Belvedere and again the subway station "Karlsplatz".

A tourist enjoys the October sun on one of the seats at the Belvedere, and two friends do just the same while sitting on the lawn in Stadtpark. 

Some modern sculpture which currently faces the Soviet War Memorial partly hides and reveals a photo of people sitting at the edge of the pond in the middle of Stadtpark. 


Saturday, October 13, 2012

"She" (Women Part 1)

Listening Through The Lens

The other day I did something I never expected ever doing: asking a person I barely know whether she would be willing to sit through a photo session for me.  Luckily after explaining my experimental project, Daniela, a colleague at work agreed and when all other attendants had left the meeting room I rather quickly did three portraits of her close to the window against the sunlight.  I assume Daniela would have hoped for these pictures to get blended with something more interesting than just an analogue camera but I certainly did not (consciously) know this myself - for I try as much as I can not to "cheat" (as in not memorize the sequence of photos I took on that film) when it comes to Organic Random Photography.  And I must admit I like this picture, also because of the title my wife Nina came up with.

The Three-Dimensional Photograph #1

Believe it or not but the power utility I work for hosts exhibitions in what it calls the "Vertical Gallery".  Until a few days, it hosted some early works of Cindy Sherman.  Some of this famous artist's self-portraits got superimposed on the silhouettes of the shoes that Nina wore on the day of our civil wedding.  Because the eyes meander between the shoes in the foreground and the gallery in the background the photograph creates the illusion of 3D.

Like A Flower In Her Hair

These days I have my analogue camera with me almost all the time.  That came in quite handy when Christina and I were waiting for the fashionably late Claudia to join us for one of our regular breakfasts at a rather posh Viennese café close to work.  The psychedelic element was created by the "Visualizer" of i-Tunes on my MAC when playing the music of Rabih Abou Khalil. 

Beauty Is Kind And Gentle

A portrait of Elisabeth (taken on a sunny day in the canteen at work) got blended with the section about 'beauty' in Khalil Gibran' s book 'The Prophet'.

 Release Your Mind

Nina' s profile merges with a long exposure picture of the view we have from our apartment's "work room".    

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Triple Word Score

When Keys Gallop
As pointed out in a previous blog post I felt like a "tourist in my own town" the other week when my brother, Nina and I were walking around in Vienna, stopping every now and then to take pictures of popular sights, e.g. the Imperial Spanish Riding School.  A pic from an information board there merged with a section of my laptop's illuminated keyboard, which looks quite cool in complete darkness.

Sta Y Foolish
One evening I decided to play Scrabble against myself and document it with my camera.  A few months ago, my parents gave me the game they themselves had bought in the Sixties, with letters still made of wood instead of plastic. After I had both lost and won against myself, I formed those words on the table which constituted the 1972 farewell message of "The Whole Earth Catalog".  That American counterculture catalog and this sentence in particular had had a big impact on Steve Jobs.  When I was on with my scrabble game, the "blank letter" was quicker at hand than the "Y", and the word "FOOLISH" is completely hidden by the leaves of a sunflower I photographed some other day.

Two "Theromcapsulary Dehousing Assisters" From The Scrabble Wars
When Nina and I met with a friend for some Irish breakfast, I took photos of his one year old son Max (below) as well as of available objects like salt and pepper shakers (above). In the subsequent superimposition with the Scrabble board, the shakers reminded me of R2D2, the famous robot droid from "Star Wars", whose terminus technicus makes for a somewhat cumbersome photo title.

Triple Word Score
Max, pictured outside an Irish pub, my parent's old Scrabble board and a game against myself during which - for some obscure reason - I formed the word "ENVY".