Berlin in Second Life

by James Glazebrook

Remember Second Life? Of course you don’t! I was watching a feature-length documentary about the super-immersive virtual world and I wondered, of all the places and people and lives that have been created there, if anyone’s bothered to make a version of Berlin. Turns out they have, and it’s imaginatively named newBerlin.

Here’s a showreel, inexplicably soundtracked by the Dallas theme tune. Look out for Alex, the Fernsehturm, the Berlin Wall, and – naturally – a gross purple-breasted lady monster…

…and the “trashy trailer”!

Here’s a fashion show that marked the opening of the virtual version of Alexa, which is at least as classy as anything that’s ever happened in the real-life mall…

…the newBerlin Art Festival 2008 “fire girls”, who may just blow your mind….

…there’s even a virtual Christopher Street Day celebration!

Think that’s weird? Check out Star Trek’s version of New Berlin!

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Alberto Madrigal: A real job

by James Glazebrook

Alberto Madrigal Berlin cityscapeOne for our Spanish and Italian readers and all lovers of beautiful illustration. “Un lavoro vero” (A real job) is the tale of Javi, an unpublished comic artist who moves from Spain to Berlin to follow his dreams. Family and friends keep telling him to drop it and look for a real job, but he has no answer for them, because he hasn’t drawn anything for months. Created by Berlin-based Spaniard Alberto Madrigal, this is a very personal story, yet one that will ring true with anyone living an expat life here in Berlin. I’ve had a sneak peek at an English version, which will hopefully be out to buy in the future, but ”Un lavoro vero” is already available in Italian by Bao Publishing and will be published in Spanish in December. Follow Alberto on Tumblr to find out when “A real job” is available in your language.

Alberto Madrigal Un lavoro vero cover
Alberto Madrigal Un lavoro vero boarding plane
Alberto Madrigal Un lavoro vero TV tower
Alberto Madrigal Un lavoro vero Wohnung
Alberto Madrigal Un lavoro vero Wohnung 2
Alberto Madrigal Un lavoro vero Wohnung 3
Alberto Madrigal Un lavoro vero winter

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BERG: a soundscape for Berlin

by James Glazebrook

The video that originally inspired the new iPhone app BERG, a sound collage combining elements from classic espionage and Cold War movies laid over a series of panning shots describing the architecture of Teufelsberg listening station:

BERG is a site specific sound art project and a GPS-triggered soundscape for iPhone designed for Teufelsberg, a man-made hill and an abandoned National Security Agency listening station in Grunewald forest, in the former West Berlin. The app contains an archive of manipulated audio samples. As the user walks through Grunewald, the iPhone’s GPS activates a series of overlapping tracks, radio broadcasts, spoken word, manipulated field recordings, inspired by Cold War espionage, short wave frequencies and classic cinema. While the user moves in and out of the “sound clouds” – marked on the map by circular graphic elements – the tracks are overlaid and mixed according to his location, as detected by the GPS. The user’s perception of an architectural relic, with a mysterious history and surrounding landscape, is mediated by a semi-fictional, cinematic soundtrack mixed in real time. 

Through the localization of an audio path, the application plunges the user into an evocative and estranging experience of the urban space.

Get BERG for iPhone here.

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Epic collages of vintage Berlin photos

by James Glazebrook

Tripods at Mauerpark

Check out these stunning collages from our favourite new Tumblr, Old pictures of Berliners. Ana, a journalist originally from Madrid, started collecting old photos at Berlin flea markets when she moved to the city six months ago:

There are plenty of them, everywhere, just stacked inside buckets or lying around in albums. I’ve always liked old pictures, they are tiny windows to stories from the past, how people lived, the way they behaved and dressed, and how similar they sometimes look to us. Berlin seems like the perfect place to go picture hunting because it has gone through so many changes over the years, it’s interesting to place a family pic of a Berliner on a timeline and let the imagination flow.

Originally planning to share the photos, “to bring them to light after being lost”, Ana began creating collages that introduced sci-fi imagery and other anachronisms – placing the scenes of old Berlin in new contexts:

The inspiration comes mostly from word games, or maybe songs, or just a story or image I made up while looking at a particular photo. Sometimes I just cycle around Berlin and catch a scene that would work well with a picture I bought and I take a quick snap that I incorporate later into a collage.

We would love a giant print of Tripods at Mauerpark (above) – which of these images is your favourite?

Family meal

I went picture hunting today


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Daily Deutsch Doodle: Unkraut

by Guest Blogger

Daily Deutsch: Unkraut

by Kaytie Spellman

Daily Deutsch Doodles are a series of illustrations based on contributions to the #dailydeutsch Twitter hashtag, aimed at helping people trying to learn German.

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The Berlin Batman

by Guest Blogger

Mike T West introduces us to the original ex-bat(!), the Berlin Batman, with illustrations from the original DC comic, reprinted with the kind permission of creator Paul Pope.

Berlin Batman Paul Pope

Meet Baruch Wane. A wealthy painter and Jewish socialite who lived in Berlin during the Second World War. Forced to hide as a closeted Jew after his parents were brutally murdered by racist thugs; this quintessential 1930s Berlin hipster also happened to be Batman.

Baruch Wane by Paul Pope

Elseworlds is a publication imprint, officially started in 1989, which challenges artists to take classic DC comic book characters and reinvent their mythos to create something related and yet totally unique. What if Clark Kent was born in Soviet Russia? Or Lex Luthor was Wonder Woman’s dad? Can you imagine Batman as a vampire, a pirate or a cult leader? Sometimes genius, sometimes downright awful, it is always exciting to see what interpretations will appear (or, at least, it was – the most recent edition hit stands back in 2010).

Enter New York-based artist Paul Pope, who experienced early success as an alternative comic book creator for various large independent publishers. Combining a European aesthetic with manga-style energy, Pope went on to write and draw the ultimate Elseworlds tale, “Batman: Year 100″, published in 2006.

Paul Pope

060627 LVHRD Bi-Fold 093.jpg by D. Robert Wolcheck. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Paul Pope Komissar Garten and RobinHowever, Pope’s first work for mainstream comics appeared in 1998, in the now defunct anthology series “The Batman Chronicles”. The extremely rare eleventh issue saw our hero Herr Wane don his cape once again to retrieve the confiscated works of Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises (in reality a known anti-Nazi propagandist) from the clutches of the facist police.

Joining the Berlin Batman on this adventure are his friend, police chief Komissar Garten, and Baruch’s fraulein/assistant, Robin (see what they did there?). Garten is of course unaware of his close pal’s secret identity – one doesn’t want to spoil a bromance after all.

Paul had to say this about the project:

What if Bruce Wayne were a Jew, born into a Germany suffering under encroaching Nazism? That was the pitch. I had just read Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories and George Grosz’s autobiography, both of which paint vivid pictures of this place and time, so it seemed a natural turn of events to imagine a shadowy superhero for that world as well.

The Berlin Batman Paul Pope

The Berlin Batman cover Paul Pope

Ironically, the book’s layouts aren’t even based on German architecture!

The building depicted on the page above is actually a building in Paris, a hotel on the corner of Boulevard Montparnasse at Raspail, near the Luxembourg Gardens. Not very German…

Despite such inaccuracies, the Berlin Batman is a quick-fire, jaunty take on the Bat legend, with a concept so extraordinary it’s a shame that 15 years have passed without a new chapter.

Interestingly, the story is set one year before Batman was actually created by Bob Kane, who was in real life of Eastern European Jewish descent (connect the dots, nerds!), and is former Presidential candidate Ron Paul’s all-time favourite comic book.

I strongly suggest you support your local comic store and seek out the fantastic “Year 100″ book, in which the Berlin Batman tale is also collected. I have purchased it many times, both as an introduction to non-comic book fans and as a “Berliner” myself.

Perhaps one day the Dark Knight will return to protect the streets of Berlin, one Späti at a time…

Berlin Batman epic Paul Pope

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Olympus OM-D: Photography Playground

by James Glazebrook

The interactive exhibition Olympus OM-D: Photography Playground has been extended until Sunday June 2nd – which is great news, not least because it gave us time to share our impressions before they’re totally irrelevant! Situated in the vast former opera and theatre prop factory which hosted Pret A Diner this year, the playground is a triumph of branding, a showcase of the Olympus OM-D digital camera and a great day out for anyone, regardless of their level of photography geekdom.

Different artists’ installations across three levels of the impressive Opernwerkstätten are designed specifically to provide amazing subjects, and occasionally feature the OM-D itself – as with my favourite, which hooks up a Korg synth to a dish of water atop a loudspeaker, and uses the camera to project the resulting patterns. Entrance is free, including rental of an Olympus OM-D (with valid ID*), so visitors can capture the lights, lazers, blacklit thread and weird Alice in Wonderland-inspired scenes. Check out the Olympus OM-D: Photography Playground website for details of how you can visit while you still can!

*You need an official ID card or passport to borrow a camera; a driving licence won’t do. Because of this, these photos were taken with Zoë’s own camera, not an Olympus OM-D.

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Daily Deutsch Doodle: Schornstein

by Guest Blogger

Daily Deutsch: Schornstein

by Kaytie Spellman

Daily Deutsch Doodles are a series of illustrations based on contributions to the #dailydeutsch Twitter hashtag, aimed at helping people trying to learn German.

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Daily Deutsch Doodle: Hasenbrot

by Guest Blogger


by Mariana, a miserável

Daily Deutsch Doodles are a series of illustrations based on contributions to the #dailydeutsch Twitter hashtag, aimed at helping people trying to learn German.

Hasenbrot by Mariana, a miserável, a Portuguese artist whose solo showroom exhibition opens today at idrawalot gallery in Neukölln (event details).

Hasenbrot translates into “bunny bread” or “hare bread”, describing the leftover sandwich that was not eaten at work and brought back home by the worker. Apparently, lumberjacks used to claim that the food in question was nibbled by rabbits!

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Peaches at Lost Lectures Berlin

by James Glazebrook

Peaches at Lost Lectures Berlin

You must know by now that we LOVE Peaches. Well, we were lucky enough to catch her, and a bunch of other inspirational speakers, at the inaugural Lost Lectures in Berlin. Pretty soon, the Lost Blog will post videos from the event in Stadtbad Wedding, including talks about 3D printing, community gardening platforms, open government, the theory that free will is an evolutionary construct and some pretty radical art, as well as the personal and affirming speech that led up to Ms. Nisker’s trip across the audience’s outstretched arms. Until then, enjoy watching the queen of electro-shock walking across hands and singing opera at the same time :)

Like this? Then you might like our review of Peaches Does Herself or our amazing photos from Peaches’ Free Pussy Riot protest.

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