It was a very active and study-focused week.
I’m quite excited about phenomenology, which was the theme of this week’s unit in Qualitative Methods. In the always perfectly curated window display of The Berlin Book Nook I found Robert Anton Wilson’s Reality Is What You Can Get Away With from 1993/1996. I didn’t know that book of his, but have read many of his other works. Since the theme of phenomenology is that reality is always subjective, it was a nobrainer to grab it (God has a plan for you!) despite its relatively hefty price of 36 euro, apparently it’s a rarity.
Digital Anthropology Unit 8 had an art focus and included a discussion on works by Hito Steyerl. Incidentally she would have a talk at HKW this very week, so I went there to see her. Berlin delivers. The whole event was like a mini-Re:publica full of interesting talks and an interested audience – the auditorium was full.
For Digital Anthropology Unit 9 next week we got an assignment which I loved, it played right into where I was in my research right now and the lecturer’s attitude made me very inspired. I therefore started working on it immediately and was finished the next day, but I will post it in next week’s study diary since it belongs to Unit 9. I was also quite taken by Brian Larkin’s text, which was dense and hard to get through, but at the same time gave me a totally new perspective on the concept of infrastructure.
Ethnographic Film Unit 8 was about observational cinema and Frederick Wiseman’s first film Titicut Follies from 1967. By accident I checked the calendar of Arsenal Cinema and saw that they screened his latest film Monrovia, Indiana from 2018 this week, as part of an American independent film festival. I didn’t know the guy was still alive. He’s 89 now. The film was brilliant in many ways, mainly in its idea: Here is finally a guy who treats Americans in the same way that American anthropologists have treated people from various places in Africa. Again, Berlin delivers. I was excited to have found two amazing complements to this week’s studies.
I finished the first season of Dogs of Berlin. The series feels groundbreaking in a way, although I don’t watch many TV series. It feels like a turn driven by new technology. I can’t speficy exactly what it is, but the series feels so fresh, the feeling is like “so this is how it can be done”. The Netflix era. I had a similar feeling when I first watched 24: Not the idea of making each episode an actual hour (minus commercials) – that I considered mainly a gimmick – but the dramaturgy of having important characters suddenly turn on you, be revealed to be traitors. And then turn again. That trope was used extensively over the next decade or so until we viewers couldn’t care less. So something new had to be done. Dogs of Berlin is one of those things. It’s local, brutal and as exaggerated as a comic. Perfect entertainment. The letterbox on my 16:9 TV made me read up on the 2:1 (or 18:9) aspect ratio that Dogs of Berlin and several other high profile TV series are apparently filmed in.
I’m also rewatching season 2 of Mr Robot, which also felt groundbreaking now that I think of it. Maybe it’s just that I’m not used to watching TV series and they’re always this good nowadays! But Mr Robot also makes use of spectacular camera work which breaks the traditional cinematic rules in order to convey the feelings of Elliot. I’m watching on Amazon Prime on my old PS3 since I got Prime for free for a year as a student.
I finally reviewed WordPress’ new Gutenberg editor, which I must admit I hate. If anything looks strange, especially in terms of extra space where there should be no extra space – stuff like that – Gutenberg is to blame:
- Gutenberg review: Slows down my writing severely
Digital Anthropology Unit 8
Artistic Practice in the Virtual Age // Post-internet Art
- Olson, Marisa (2008): Lost Not Found: The Circulation of Images in Digital Visual Culture. In Mass Effect: Art and the Internet in the Twenty-First Century, pp. 159-166.
- Henrot, Camille (2013): “Grosse Fatigue”
- Tortum, Deniz (2016): September 1955
- Mecca Kaaba Masjid 360° 3D VR Video 4K HD BEST QUALITY (Makkah/UMRA/HAJ/TAWAF Walk) SaudiArabia 2018
Digital Anthropology Unit 9
Aesthetics of Infrastructure : Practise-led-(Re)Search between the Virtual and Material Worlds
- Larkin, Brian (2013): The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure. In Annual Review of Anthropology 42, pp. 327-349.
- Mirzoeff, Nicholas (2014): Visualising the Anthropocene. In Public Culture, pp. 213-232.
HKW: Stop Making Sense
- The Language of Broken Glass. Hito Steyerl (filmmaker), Bernd Scherer
- Language is a Slippery Thing. Luc Steels (AI scientist and opera composer)
- Language Agents. Luc Steels in conversation with Giulia Bruno (artist) and Armin Linke (artist)
- If Everything is True—Knowledge and Manipulation. Felix Stalder (media and cultural theorist)
- Datafication of Science. Kate Crawford (Distinguished AI Scholar) and Trevor Paglen (artist)
- BBC: Kevin Fret: Gay rapper shot dead in Puerto Rico aged 24
- Vashivisuals: The Aspect Ratio of 2.00 : 1 is Everywhere
- Lithub/Kim Liao: WHY YOU SHOULD AIM FOR 100 REJECTIONS A YEAR
Film & video
- Frederick Wiseman: Monrovia, Indiana (2018, 143 min)
- Kevin Fret – Soy Asi
- Netflix: Dogs of Berlin
- Amazon Prime: Mr Robot