Panopticum (Berlin IX)

The Designpanopticum is a small but densely packed museum in Berlin’s Nikolaiviertel.

Vlad Korneev has been collecting technical relics for decades and arranged them to make them even more bizarre, as if this was necessary.

If there ever was meaning, we can be certain that it is gone now.

This place is the exact opposite of a tabula rasa; it’s what I expect to find in my own brain, if I had the ability to climb into it and have a look.

Still, and non unlike the tabula rasa, this overloaded chaos gives us the opportunity to commence again, to consider this as fertile ground instead of as a mess.

Following the loop, stairs up and down, we find new ways to see, to make sense again, in an entirely new way.

Lost function becomes purposed beauty. Maybe this is not for everyone to see. It’s my brain, after all…

Missouri & Fancy Lakes Loop (Colorado II)

An excellent hike to warm up and adjust to altitude in the Holy Cross Wilderness in Colorado combines the Fancy Lakes and Missouri Lakes trails to a 8.5 mile loop.

The ascent via Fancy Lake is a steady climb without difficulties, and offers plenty of opportunities to contemplate nature, and the nature of loops.

There is the contrast to an In&Out, where you retrace your steps, an undoing — what remains is the memory of having been.

Towards Fancy Pass (at about 12,400 ft) we have climbed above tree level and the look back offers serene desolation, while the other side is an enormous open meadow.

Our non-human animal friends are surprisingly trustful here; maybe they haven’t left paradise yet.

From Missouri pass it’s a long but gentle descent to a chain of a dozen lakes with the same name. again offering time for contemplation.

Why do I like sad faces better than happy faces?

Aren’t they more beautiful, always?

Good loop trails don’t really close. They seem to leave a small gap at the end, like a broken circle, an unfinishing.

We will come back, and try again, and again.

There is beauty in that, too.

Broken Circles

Here are two circles with an eighth removed. As we can see, they can move together. What about adding more such broken circles? How densely can we slide them together?

Circle45 01

Here is an example with three circles, each one sixth missing:

Circle60 01

This is maybe a little bit remarkable: If you take two such broken circles and rotate them by 60º against each other, you can slide them along each other so that one end point of one circle moves on the other circle, and vice versa. The first question (which must have an easy answer, of course) is: why does this work for these angles?

Circle60b 01

As shown above, this allows us to pack three of these broken circles together, creating a mild form of prettiness.

Now let’s use four broken circles, with a quarter removed each, rotated by 90º, and colored appropriately:




Circle90 01

Again, one can slide these circles along each other. Can you do this with six broken circles? Does this work with other angles?

Hopefully continued.



Remains to be Seen (Berlin VIII)

Mona Hatoum’s impressive installation of this name was shown in the Diversity United exhibit in Berlin this year, and the catalogue speculates that what we see here are the ghost-like fragments of a house.

I saw these hanging concrete pieces as probes into space, an attempt to make visible what has disappeared.

In this reconstruction, I am using PoVRay to probe textured space. A texture in PoVRay is function of the three spatial coordinates whose values is used in a color map to determines the color value of an object at the point given by the three coordinates. Above the function is sqrt(x2+y2+z2), and the color map a simple grayscale gradient, so that spheres centered at the origin have the same color value. Objects placed into the scene appear to be carved out of this space.

Above is a more complete reconstruction of Haroum’s installation, using the same spatula texture with added reflection. And below are the same probes, using an entirely different texture based on the function sin(x)+sin(y)+sin(z).

Let’s Deal With It

I have written before about Two Lake Trail in southern Indiana, a 13 mile loop.

Here we are at the end of summer, colors haven’t changed yet from uniform green&brown to the fall display of everything.

The safest way to deal with this is to ignore the colors. And, while we are at it, also to ignore sharpness and depth of field, as that might reveal how all this here really looks like.

If you remove color and use blurry images, it’s not so bad anymore.

Even the very smelly drainage from one of the two artificial lakes starts to look compelling.

And see, Indiana does have mountains.

What we see here is the esthetics of stuff. With open eyes, such pictures are possible everywhere.

All that really matters are contrasts. Is that what we really want?

Black/White, Vaccinated/Not Vaccinated, is that what we have become?

I had this trail all for myself. Except for the bugs and spiders, of course. Where are my fellow humans?

Maybe it’s time to open my eyes.

Up (Colorado I)

The standard route to Mount of the Holy Cross begins at Half Moon trailhead and leisurely climbs up to Half Moon pass.

Starting early (5am) gets you to the pass at dawn with magnificent views back.

The other side of the pass reveals the mountain and the prospect of a long and steep climb. Before that, you’ll have to descend 1,000 feet, losing almost all you had gained before.

Eat breakfast at sunrise among wildflowers on the north slope.

Despite its harshness, there is vegetation all the way to the top.

Then you begin an eternal climb on a well-maintained trail.

Just before the final & rugged ascent, there is a long and eery horizontal ridge. Nothingness can be beautiful.

The summit itself is a nice plateau with breathtaking views. If you have breath left.

From here, it all looks very gentle and easy.

On the long way down don’t forget to save some energy to climb up to Half Moon Pass again.

Disappearances (Berlin VII)

One of my favorite post-wall places to photograph in Berlin is the Hauptbahnof, the main railway station, about which I have written twice already.

If you look at the previous posts, you will see that I took full advantage there of the strong lines that steal beams, rails, escalators and elevators offer.

The many transparent and reflective surfaces seem to emphasize the structural strength even more, but one can also take a different point of view.

Using a shallow depth of field, the lines disappear in secondary and tertiary layers. Out of the sudden we become insecure, and the certainty of the place is cast in doubt.

The overwhelming feeling of being here and now is replaced by questions about elsewhere and tomorrow. A mistake? I don’t think so. After all, we come here in order to leave.

Dark Matter (Berlin VI)

Dark Matter is a light-sound installation by Christopher Bauder, distributed over seven rooms. Abstract shapes move in space, change color to sound, a concept not unlike the ballets Wassily Kandinsky designed a hundred years ago.

While the aspect of motion gets lost in the static images here, I didn’t find the first few rooms compelling, the shapes are too simple, the action to little.

What really was missing, however, became clear in the Polygon Playground, where an artificial hill could be climbed and interacted with, providing the visitors with a bath in light.

From then on I became more fascinated by the reaction of the visitors to the art than by the art itself.

Or maybe I had just misunderstood before, maybe all the installations are just a canvas on which the actual art is happening.

This became even clearer in Grid, where dozens of light tubes move to an epic electronic composition by Robert Henke (Monolake), transfixing the audience.

Interaction has become art.

Borders to Canvasses (Devil’s Mountain III)

The interior of the four-story building that supports the domes of the former Cold War listening station on the Devil’s Mountain in Berlin is accessible only through two (new) exterior stairwells. Each has a long corridor (without any doors!), and open spaces separated by walls.

Most of the walls are decorated with the most wonderful graffiti in bright colors.

The entire building has become a piece of art.

Views through the ‘windows’ show more building-sized graffitis.

So in a miraculous way, one of the most secretive and locked up places from Cold War Berlin has become an organic landscape of open art.

If only we all could deal with our own borders like this.

The Unclosable Door (Sanssouci II)

By building fences and walls, we impose an artificial structure on an existing landscape. Is there a difference in our way of seeing these structures? Both allow us to see them as beautiful, but is it the same esthetics we are applying?

And, probably more importantly, is there a functional difference between natural grown and artificial structures?

And what happens when we consider a landscaped landscape? Is this wall really a wall?

Maybe I am wrong, but it seems to me that Nature doesn’t allow for closed doors.

Has René Magritte ever painted a closed door?