Tech Open Air 2014

by James Glazebrook

TOA Berlin 2013 Day 1 - Dan Taylor - Heisenberg Media, used with permission

TOA Berlin 2013 Day 1 – Dan Taylor – Heisenberg Media, used with permission

Tech Open Air Berlin is back! We’ve partnered with the TOA team to bring you this year’s edition of the most quintessentially Berlin “unconference”, as official community partners. Why? Because we share Tech Open Air’s mission, “to connect, grow, and inspire the human spirit through knowledge exchange and collaboration”, especially since we’ve opened up our own collaborative coworking space.

Also, TOA 2014 is going to be cool as hell. Staged at the quirky location of Alte Teppichfabrik, just down the road from Zur wilden Renate, Tech Open Air presents two days of inspirational story telling, interactive panels, knowshops, pillowtalks, art installations, live music and much more, with guests from SXSW, IndieGoGo, AKQA and TechCrunch.

Sounds too good to miss? Then don’t! Pick up your tickets for Tech Open Air 2014 here, and we’ll see you at this awesome event!

Tech Open Air Berlin 2013 - Day 1 (Ronni Shendar), used with permission

Tech Open Air Berlin 2013 – Day 1 (Ronni Shendar), used with permission

Tech Open Air Berlin 2013 - Day 1 (Ronni Shendar), used with permission

Tech Open Air Berlin 2013 – Day 1 (Ronni Shendar), used with permission

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Berlin on Film

by Zoë Noble

There is something so special about shooting on film. I used to tell people that was bullshit before I got my first analogue camera at Christmas, but now I take it all back!

The look is so unique and although there are loads of filters out there that can take your digital photos in the direction of a film photo, they just don’t cut it. But more than the look, I love the whole process of shooting on film. You have to really slow down and consider the shot before you take it. With digital you can just shoot and shoot and delete later, but this can mean you’re not as invested in each shot. With film you have to nail the exposure and compose the picture correctly, because every shot costs you money!

I wish I’d picked up an analogue camera sooner and I urge anyone who’s serious about photography to get one. It’s a steep learning curve but it’s absolutely worth it!

berlin water shimmer bokeh

berlin building man at window in film fuji

bokeh closeup lights fuji400 film

berlin flats skyline

fuji400 film colour blocks

berlin fernsehturm skyline warschauer

berlin reflection on ground

tempelhof in winter

tempelhof fire hydrant

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Berlin’s most iconic photo? Vote now!

by Zoë Noble

We need your help! For our new coworking space, we want to get some of my Berlin photos printed up really huge for the walls. Below are the options we’ve whittled it down to and we reckon we need to choose three finalists. So let us know in the comments – which is your favourite Berlin photo?

1. Reflection
berlin flats reflection in puddle

2. Tempelhof
uberlin tempelhof sunset

3. Fernsehturm
uberlin tv tower fernsehturm

4. Sachsenhausen
uberlin Sachsenhausen Barbed Wire

5. Spreepark Cat
berlin spreepark cloeup

6. Spreepark Plane
berlin spreepark and flying plane

PS can you recommend a place where we can get good, reasonably-priced prints? Let us know!

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Olympus OM-D: Photography Playground 2014

by James Glazebrook

Olympus Photography Playground Visitor

The Olympus OM-D: Photography Playground is back! Compared to last year’s edition (see our review here), the new Playground is less edgy and more family-friendly, which is either good or bad news, depending on whether you have or hate kids. The exceptions are three exhibitions in stark monochrome that use light, sound and material to fantastic effect – whether by creating an HR Giger-esque organic/industrial sculpture, or a sonic strobe-scape with as much impact as Amon Tobin’s 3D live show.

My personal highlight was local artist Clemens Behr’s fragile, fractured installation, pieced together with the materials of the Opernwerkstätten site – a thoughtful work of impressive scale. We totally recommend a (free!) visit, at a time when the place is less likely to be crowded, when you can spend all the time you like immersed in disorientating, photogenic installations. Click here to get all the details.

[Edit: if you want to borrow a free Olympus camera, don't forget to take your passport and Anmeldebestätigung!]

Olympus Photography Playground Hanging Webs

Olympus Photography Playground Webs

Olympus Photography Playground Visitor Taking Photo

Olympus Photography Playground Lens Flare Exhibition

Olympus Photography Playground Light Beams and People

Olympus Photography Playground Light Beams

Olympus Photography Playground Exhibition

Olympus Photography Playground Zoë Noble Portrait Selfie

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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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