grand finale

I get up at 7:30 to prepare the Haiku-installation. At 8:40 I am already at CQT. Yesterday, Esther brought me her paper, that failed after nearly one year of work (April 2011 –  February 2012). I got the idea to ‘bury’ it though some layers of tape – to keep, but ‘fix’ the content that one can not read or us it any more. Also, I was asked, to take the names off. Around 9:15 Eng Swee and Chorng Wang came to install the presentation panels on entrance of 3rd level.

I have to leave them at 11 am, since I give a telephone-interview for Stacy – but she only asks me about the involvement of students – which was ONE part but not THE part of the whole project! Nothing about the objects, nothing about CQT … strange.

The hours pass with chasing to get things installed. Jenny is bravely organising and standing my stress. Until 11:30 no-one is there – among the others. Eng Swee brought me food, that I can have lunch! So nice. Madhura and Momo arrived. Later on – Julian. He has to finish his presentation, that is not a video, but small boxes containing pieces of paper. Debashis has always have a place for his box. Even more, is was planned for him. He is around, too. We store the paper-stack together.

Maybe I assumed too much as known convention, that everyone shows up at the exhibition at the morning of last day, at least. To be there, install the artwork together with the others, discussing and helping and trying out – installing pieces in autonomy, with awareness of dynamic changes. Since I am trained in self-organised shows, I wasn’t aware, that people could have some troubles to arrange with this open structure. Afterwards, I had the feeling, some were maybe lost and waiting for me and a plan? But I was still busy to set-up the basic conditions – I could not coordinate every single artwork and I thought, that this is obvious, that everyone has to find his/her own way – at best together. I never planned to have the master-plan, because I saw myself as just one part. When I realised this, I asked all to install things on their own. I was in a rush the whole day – exactly what I didn’t wanted to happen. I said to leave at 3 pm, that I can make sure, to be gone by 4 pm. Isabelle arrives at 4:15 pm – I leave, I really need a break as rip-coard in this case. The catalogue is struggling, too – except for Isabelle we don’t have any data of the artworks. So Jenny improvised a draft-catalogue. Luckily!

I announced to come back by 6 pm – for the talk. The strongest sign for starting signal of self-organisation. Maybe it would have been better, to communicate this before. Of course, it was really too short time for the set-up. I knew it before – since two weeks, but couldn’t see the point to change it. Even not in advance. One problem was to find my working-space. This caused a delay. But still – as I said – it would have been to much anyway. I remember my friend Oliver, who recently described, that one can imagine for a project of: energy, time and money on a diagram. The outcome or quality has mainly to do with these factors. It is very unlikely, that with effort of few time a good quality will arose – if you are an expert is maybe a bit more likely, because you invested ‘time’ before. With money you can sometimes pay more people to invest time. The amount you’ll pay them, will influence their amount of time and energy. But still – my time was too short, even if people involved in the project donated all their time and energy – and some of the a lot! Only to form a group it would need more, than four meetings in three weeks. Not speaking about that most of them had to orientate themselves in a completely new field – the artistic practise. For my amount of work, it would have been enough to just build the cabinet – without all talks, meetings, discussions! But then the whole residency would be senseless. Skipping the ‘physical’ cabinet wouldn’t be a good idea either. Since the last days, working at the 2nd floor were really communicative. We got as many drawings as never before! I made the experience several times, that if there is something to see – people are more willing to participate. The cabinet was THE occasion and maybe part of the reason to become involved. Third – the space we had to deal with, was hard for an artistic installation. It is an arm-space – more like a tube, with glass walls. My aim was to create a big sculpture, that provides space for smaller objects. Since it wasn’t clear how many it will be in the end – neither how they will look like, I had to invent a they flexible structure, that is strong enough to create presence in the space. So, I guess regarding all three parts – we should look rather at the full part of the glass!

After I showered and changed my dress (made it for this event back in Dresden) – had a small walk –  felt much better! I needed to leave all the stress behind. Otherwise it would influence the whole presentation. Which would not be right – since it wasn’t like this all the time, but only the last few days.

I can’t remember much of my talk. The images which Jenny just finished selecting for me – were of course not connected to my thread (how could they?) – which I realised on the spot. So, I ended up doing a complete improvisation for the talk after the images. But still, I guess it was okay. In the end I asked all the present board-members to make themselves visible on the ‘stage’. Applause – and the invitation for food and drinks upstairs!

Many people came to see the objects (some waited upstairs and missed the talk). Now, what do we show? We have the Quantum Rorschach test by Julian, which results are presented in small plastic boxes. The atom trap made of colourful cloth, threats and LEDs: a collaboration of Momo and Madhura. A collection of nine small books portraying surprising materials in labs such as duck tape, blue tack and tin foil by Isabelle. Momo and Luo Yan created a small Q-ciTy of spoiled pieces donated from the work-shop. They even produced a video, projected on the wall next to the qubit-drawings: about twenty DinA5 sheets stored on a wooden shelf. We had six models of clay, that people are working with: entanglement – two ringlet pieces sinuous. Two 1-0 qubits (Christian) – showing a ‘1’ looking from one perspective and a ‘0’ looking from an other. A polytope – a ball cut in four, showing his three-coloured melting interior (Valerio). The two-coloured entropy on a plate (Esther). Two balls of different sizes – one sitting on the other (John). And a very nice Moebius-strip covered with ones and zeros (?)! The schroedinger-cat-box from Debashis – pretending a simple DIY quantum-measure between red and blue, by looking through a pin-hole. Artur’s tie – folded to a crown. All papers published by CQT on a horizontal stack – hold-up through the buried paper of failed work in pink and white (Grit). And finally – the laser-installation by Isabelle and Johannes – showing laser-applications in three parts – one red laser projecting the broken filament of a light bulb, a green one – bending light through a marble and a blue one illumination a glass-object with a strange gloom around it. Have a look at the category exhibits to learn more about the details – coming soon!

I chat with Christian, Dzimitry, Alexander, Sallie, Linda – some people from the workshops, most of the board-members are present. Later one I met Jill Scott – she runs a famous art/science program in Zurich, called artists in labs. I have book with me, edited by her! Didn’ t expect to meet her at my project – what an honour and nice coincidence!

Johannes and Debashis got negative feedback from their colleagues. I really hope, they can handle the disappointment. That’s part of artistic work, too. Of course, not everyone is pleased – one can even get strong opposition. Over the time you learn to deal with it.

With Isabelle and Madhura we discuss together with Jenny (?) and Johannes, that if you call something ‘interesting’ that’s a negative statement. It means there is nothing to say about it. Our scientists do not have this convention. That’s good, because it is silly to say the opposite of what you actually mean. Madhura and Isabelle are very positive about the whole project!

Later in the evening Kuldip came along – he says he likes the cabinet. Shortly before we leave for beer, I grab some pizza, that is left over. Haven’t eaten yet. It is always wise to eat before drinking.

After the opening at around 8 pm, together with Evon, Björn, Jenny, Christian, Paul and Markus we go the a strange beer bar, were they brew their own beer. The beer is good, but the music of the cover-band is beyond all taste. Markus asked me – as opener: ‘So what do you take home?’ I couldn’t stand to say: ‘My suitcase’. I wouldn’t give such an answer to all people. Only those who argue with me on philosophy a night long. It is a bit hard to speak, since the music is really loud. Also I can not answer conceptual and reflective questions right now – I am really exhausted, absent-minded and just happy to be alive. I don’t mind to have a small rest, just being there is enough.

At around 10:30 pm the others slowly leave – only Markus and Christian are not yet tired. Me neither – I am still in higher spirits. Also it is early for my conditions. We go to another bar. Really nice there. With tables outside looking in the jungle. Only candles at the table.

Markus starts cross-fire in German. At least I am in full language skills to defend myself. His position is, that he likes the installation, but is saying, that he quotes other people, that he likes, that think the whole thing is senseless for CQT. (Now, that I write it – I remember in geh8 Tina initiated a rule: Only say what you have to say –  what others say, they should say themselves). The claim is that the whole installation and project isn’t representative for CQT. I never wanted it to be – and never promised that. But he doesn’t like my point. ‘Then, you can just meet with friends and don’t need to work with an institution.’, he says. How can you work with an institution – you always work with people! Besides there were around twenty drawings – which is an active participation! If CQT has 200 employees – that isn’t bad at all – that’s 10% engagement! Christian agrees. Most time he is silent – sometimes defending me.

Many physicists are not interested in non-physicist-stuff, Markus says. They don’t go to theatre or anything like that, but I should find a way to talk to them as well. I deny, I think it is better, to care about those, who are somehow interested and on the edge. In opposite trying to convince those that are not interested for their whole lives! It is tiring and without prospects to convince them about art in one month – also it not my approach. (Claudia invented the term ‘Bummi-Niveau’ recently. ‘Bummi’ was a yellow teddy-bear in the GDR. It was a magazine for the little people in nursery school very simple, that they will be able to understand. I just found out, that it is still existing! Could be funny to produce something like this – only art isn’t so much the field of explanation.)

Another critique is, that it doesn’t look proper and serious enough. The objects are collected stories – more like anecdotes. I can see nothing bad in that point. After some more points I have enough – starts to be too much and excessive demands to me. With every art-work – now, I can only say this in German: Mit einer künstlerischen Arbeit gibt man auch immer ein Stück von sich selbst preis. The consequence is, that you are open for attack. Actually it was a bit too much for me today.

The pub closes and we go home by taxi.

Posted in Diary of the artist | 2 Comments

a share of sculpture and physics

We start at 10:0 am at the ‘construction side’. Chorng Wang is there, also Debashis, too. I feel a pain in my muscles from yesterday –  this does always happen to me at the first day of physical work. Same happened to Debashis. The plan for today is, to assemble all pieces – bring them to 3rd and 6th floor and install most of the things – but I know, that last part will hardly happen. But I don’t want to be in a rush all day tomorrow. Still it will be enough work to install all pieces and do the catalogue and for me –  to prepare the talk. At 6 pm ‘the hammer will fall’ as I translated literally from German.

We built all day long. Debashis created the cat-box in between. He wanted to have styrofoam for his piece. A material that I hate. One reason shows up, when he cut it. It makes these silly small balls, that are electro-static charged – sticking to things you don’t want them to and spread over a place within minutes – creating a nasty mess. We run after them in intervals of 30 min. Momo has the same material. Momo is creating the LED-peaks and the ground for the atom-lattice. She already assembled a dozen of LEDs with sticks.

I left a note in Alexander’s office. We emailed about the chance to exhibit one of his nice lab-books! Since I got the idea to put it under ‘glass’ – he seems to be willing to lend it for a while. I show him the pedestal – he agrees to present it in that way. Which is just great!!!

The huge stack of papers published at CQT is still growing at the office. Jenny got someone to print it out.

Julian just started his survey this afternoon. He walks around asking people questions like: What colour has a qubit? Were do Alice and Bob live? … I guess even I haven’t been so brave in starting last minute. But I trust him – he seems to work with that.

At 6:30 pm all pieces are assembled, but none installed.. All pieces are assembled, but none installed. Debashis and I deliver them to the sixth floor. We meet Momo in between. She helps us. Also doing a time-lapse-video – called the birth of the cabinet:

Momo wrote next to the camera – please do not touch – “work in progress” – some answered by text: “camera steeling in progress”. Haha … .

When most of the pieces are upstairs – we look at them together – Luo Yan arrived in between. Momo is disappointed, that the cabinet is not painted. Debashis is too. We discuss about painting some of the edges or horizontal surfaces. I say that I can’t do it anymore today – since it is almost 8 pm now and I have other things on the agenda. Also need some rest and food too. If no-one else does it – we have to leave it as it is. Also, it can be, that we have to paint it twice, if the paint doesn’t cover for the first time – which is very likely. The risk is high, that it will look not proper in the end, because we might run out of time. Isabelle and Daniel arrives. They say, they like to raw look of the cabinet. Debashis leaves. The others want to send me to catch some food, now. But I want to finish and then go for food – t o finish things at CQT for today. Momo donates me some cookies with cereals and nuts and a bag of Brazil Kernels. Very sweet of her, she says, ‘Poor girl needs some energy’. It is very helpful in deed – feeling much better after some minutes. Meeting Christian in between. We make an appointment for dinner and he borrows me his card to access 6th floor. Mine was still not working, although we tried to solve it.

I fix shelves for Isabelle’s small books on surprising materials on the back of the laser-box. When I leave CQT it is almost 9:30 pm – much later than I promised to Christian. I meet Dzimitry on the floor – ask him, if he wants to join – but same as Johannes and Isabelle – he has eaten already. Isabelle wants to finish her installation, so it will be only me and Christian, today.

We meet on Lower Kentridge Road. Discussing about snakes in town, right after. Surprisingly meet John and his wife on our way. We walk cross-country through their residential area. Christian and I continue to West Coast Plaza. It is already late when we arrive. We are one of the last guests at this hawker center today. Having food and beer. I interview Christian about his research and teaching opinion. He points out, that what he does is experimental physics. Meaning to test and proof ‘things’ in physical reality. I realise now,  that I write about it, what we had the whole time in common. Christian and I maybe share the fun and desire to invent, create and test ‘physical’ objects that does something in the actual ‘physical world’. In German the connotation of physics – as related to physical: meaning observing some-‘thing existing in space’ was not obvious for me. Because German-language distinguish between: ‘physisch’ as körperlich (bodily) compared to physics we would say ‘physikalisch’ and ‘Physis’ would mean a natural concept of being – addressing a constitution of something – all that seems to be ‘physical’ in English!

Therefore I quote Wikipedia: ‘Physics (from Greek: φύσις physis “nature”) is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force.

It is much harder to find a good definition for sculpture or installations in contemporary art! Even the first sentence in wikipedia is close to wrong: ‘Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions.’ The following assumptions deal with art-history, only. And of course sculpture is not only about three dimensions for about 40 years now:
Social sculpture is a specific example of the extended concept of art, that was advocated by the conceptual artist and politician Joseph Beuys. Beuys created the term Social Sculpture to illustrate his idea of art’s potential to transform society. As an artwork it includes human activity, that strives to structure and shape society or the environment. The central idea of a social sculptor is an artist, who creates structures in society using language, thought, action, and object.’

After the ‘extended concept of art’ by Beuys – which was of course influenced by FLUXUS and the Situationist in 1960ies, sculpture (extended to ‘social sculpture’) can not reduced to its spacial extensions any more. Besides painting died since 1910ies – as various people (Malevich, Duchamp, Benjamin) said. Sorry, about that – but to speak with Sophocles: Don’t kill the messenger! Anyway, if one can not really define what sculpture is, it doesn’t make much sense to distinguish it from installation, intervention, street art, public art, media art – even painting, drawing and performance anyway.  Each is hard to separate from the other and therefore from ‘sculpture’, too. I regard it as a rather unnecessary and  helpless try to define and capture what will escape anyway.

BUT what can be said, is that the working base – the stage where sculpture is happening, is ‘physical space’ with all ‘extension’, ‘reason’ and ‘consequence’ or their absence – of course! And there it gets interesting. If one compares it with the definition of  ‘The common conception of physical objects includes that they have extension in the physical world, although there do exist theories of quantum physics and cosmology which may challenge this.’ It may describe my interest in that field. I was curious, what this means to me as someone working with ‘matter’, ‘space’ and ‘objects’ and other related terms. I was interested to learn more concepts different from ‘every-day-life’-assumptions. Since I consider myself as part of the third group in Sehgals description.

I like definition, that I heard in 2007 from the artist Tino Sehgal – I am paraphrasing: “There are three types of art: Two of them are not really art – or at least they are not really interesting: The first type uses fancy artistic techniques and skills, but has nothing to say  – it looks like art. Second type – taps resources of public awareness to deliver certain messages in the name of art. It values between form and content, while form is just a bucket. Andreas Siekmann is on the edge of that. Third type deals with artistic methods and strategies – questioning these and other assumptions, limits and preconditions of art itself. Every conceptual art needs some aesthetic expression”

I wanted to question and research ‘representations of invisible entities’ or ‘scientific images’ or ‘aesthetic concepts of equations’ through my subjective artistic methods during the residency at CQT. And I have to say, I could just make the first step among many other possible ones! And it may explain, why it could be, that in the end – the whole cabinet will not look like a typical art/science project. Not cool, not slick, not white, not computer-animated or supported by other technical gadgets!

Also, I work with circuits, sometimes. Christian and I speak about it. He offers that I can ask him, if I have any questions. We discuss, that it is necessary to realise stuff and apply to reality, because a lot of things are happening, that you may have not considered and expected before! Own practise creates a new knowledge and rather different ‘view’. E.g. to my surprise a lot of physicists think that a battery has 1,5 V. I was disappointed when I discovered that, because it destroyed my belief in them! If they don’t know these simple things – how can they understand our complex reality? Even I learned at the starting point of my electronic practise: when you buy a battery – it mostly has between 1,7 to 1,8 V. This voltage degreases though time and use. So most of the time a battery hasn’t 1,5 V. Same with power supply units – unless they are stabilised – they will have a 10-30% higher voltage than written on the label – also good to know. I simply learned it though trial and error or crashing built-up circuits. My wish is to combine these knowledges – especially for further circuit-ideas I look for a collaboration with a physicist (had bad experiences with electrical engineers – they are too pragmatic, can’t stand that). I am to lazy, stupid and talkative to understand though reading myself. I can only learn though discussion, imitation and modification.

It turns out, that Christian is somehow interested in contemporary art – he knows the Singapore Arts Museum and some others as well. His explanation would be fitting for me too: “I don’t understand this old stuff and it isn’t really interesting to me. The stuff happening now, can at least be ‘funny’” (‘lustig’ (funny) – has a connotation of interesting and surprising, if one use it in this context). He also went to my talk at the ArtScience Museum on Sunday, but since there was this big queue he would have been much too late – so he went away.

We leave around midnight. The moon is visible, again in the wrong rotation, as already discussed with John. Also, we speak about the different colour of sunset – it is much more pink here than in Germany. More like a Russian Borscht with kefir. In Germany it looks more like a carrot soup – much more orange. Christian says, he’ll think about, why there is this difference. And that he got an idea for a question for the exams!

I am at home by 0:30 am. Don’t feel like starting to work again. I worry, that I will not get to sleep at all afterwards – and will feel terrible tomorrow. In the night I dream about setting up a prohibtion sign, saying: NO REPRESANTATION!

Posted in Diary of the artist | Leave a comment

How to build a quantum-cabinet?

At 8:20 am, right after showering the wood-shop owner called me, that everything works out with transport. At 10 am wood arrived. Got Eng Swee and Chrong Wang to help me bringing it up to the bridge at level 2. Debashis arrives too. We sort the pieces – some are wrong. One is failed, because instead on 1000 mm, it was only 100 mm. Finally we have our own spoiled materials!

I go to level 6, since I wanted to measure Berges chessboard – I want to provide an extension to the cabinet, having the exact same size as the board. When I enter the office I find Berge and Miklos in a rather relaxed atmosphere. I asked them if I may introduce a question. They agree. So I do my qubit- and model research-demand. The temperature sinks close to zero. Berge says, that this is exactly what he don’t want to happen, since he tries to get out ‘wrong’ images of students heads. So, I say – give me a ‘right’ image, anything you want – make it correct from your point of view. He just shakes his head – saying that he doesn’t understand what this whole project is about. Even why we want to include his chessboard, doesn’t make sense to him. I say, that if he doesn’t want it to be there – it doesn’t have to happen at all! It was just an idea.

B:     Whose idea?
G:     Björns

Miklos escapes.

G:     It was the idea of physicists and people at the board to ask for these drawings.
B:    Why don’t these people draw for you?
G:     They do already other stuff. And some already did!
B:     So,why do you not draw the qubits yourself – you are the artist!
G:    Because we want to collect mental images among CQT of this abstract concept.
B:     I wonder what this whole show will be about. I’ll observe what will happen there.

I leave tired-up. This was more rather an examination than a discussion. It’s good that I can do something practical right now. Chorng Wang, Desbashis and I start to assemble pieces. It goes well. Chorng Wang is really good in constructing and cutting! Debashis’ plan is very helpful – to communicate between us constructors. I wasn’t dare to hope about such a help, of the too!

I found out, that one motivation for Debashis’ participation in construction is to learn to deal with wood. This is a great reason to me. At least, I can offer some of my knowledge as well. Constructing and treating wood is one of the skills, that I have a proper knowledge about. Before I learned to write in school –  I learned cutting and assembling wood – my father taught me. For me it was so normal and easy, that I do not need to think much about it. Also I considered this skill as ‘nothing’ (special) for a long time. Only when I started teaching students, I realised, that most people don’t have this knowledge – especially female students! Assembling a plinth of of MDF turned out to be a helpful course for students – I didn’t consider this before our daily discussions. But maybe it is just one of the things, that arose in my 13 years of artistic practical practise. (I started counting from the trainee-ship in stone-statuary, when I was 18 years old). Since I have this slide background in crafts –  I compared my knowledge to joiners, carpenters and wood carvers before – the professionals in this field – therefore my knowledge was just good enough – not really good – and of course nothing special at all!

Jenny visits us in between – making photos and delivering cake and juice. Really nice! Christian helps us with cutting some pieces at the circle saw in physics-lab. Isabelle and Johannes show up to discuss their laser-box-installation. People are passing the floor – being curious what is happening. We sent out a last call for astonishing pieces, images and findings via e-mail. Jenny also created a nice ‘qubit-drawing-station’ at that goes to the Quantum Café. The delivery of a new correct piece from the wood-shop arrives.

At 6:00 pm we have to leave the bridge and store our tools in the workshop. The first pieces (the laser box) are assembled. I am tired, but relieved and satisfied. Jenny, who is there again, to make photos says: ‘That’s good to hear. We want a happy artist!’. I guess I never forget this sentence. I have been exhibiting in very nice,  friendly and caring environments before – but no-one was that explicit, in taking care!

Debashis and I continue glueing the presentation frames, that they can dry until tomorrow. Debashis explains his concept of the perfect artwork.

Posted in Diary of the artist | Leave a comment

Michelanglo – THE hero

Got up at 8:20 am. Went to CQT by 10 am, measuring the transport-box from Kai’s Lab. Found a nice sculpture from Valerio on my desk, including some computer-drawings and a note, to explain. Also a remark saying: Feel free to throw it away. Jenny explained, that it is also an interesting mathematical concept, that he referred to. Working with Debashis to redesign the box with the measures, that I agreed with Björn and Jessie about it. What a luxury to have someone that takes care of not making mistakes in numbers! Extracting the actual measures of the box – because I need to buy wood today – that it will be delivered tomorrow.

At 1 pm I have a lunch-appointment with Madhura at LaSalle. We reflect on the talk at the Art Science Museum, yesterday. Speaking on many other various topics. Went to artfriend afterwards to buy art-supplies for Madhuras and Momos Installation.

Finally taking the main task for to today: ordering wood in correct measures! The shop-owner is as friendly as always, but for him, it is a huge amount of data. I am a bit concerned, if all things will be correct in the end – which I doubt. He can’t read some of my numbers – especially with ‘7’ he seem to have troubles to recognise it. I have the same with some of his handwritten numbers. He has a   Chinese background.

Went back to CQT – I will hold the second part of the workshop today. Meet Stephanie and two of her students in our office. One of them built a nice model that shows a quantum information process. I offer to ask the board to include it in the cabinet – Stephanie doesn’t seem to know what it means, neither be interested to find it out. So, I leave the situation as it is and go the see John. Wanted to give him the art-supplies – because he promised to draw me a qubit. After all, it was his suggestion. I feel sorry, that I hurry people today. When I enter Johns office, I am already about to leave. Again, I briefly explain the two tasks like a formula: ‘Could you draw me a qubit?’ and ‘Would you model a model that you are working with?’. And I ask him, if he could give me a 10 min lecture on nothing this week. He agrees! Thats great. We make an appointment for Friday afternoon. All other questions, remarks, discussions can to wait, since I have only 15 min more until the workshops starts. I am a bit stressed, since I don’t know how many people will come – can be 3 can be 30. Also I don’t know if it would be the same people like last time or different ones. Will they be prepared or not? Will they have suggestions, objects or mind-maps with them? I know nothing. I discuss this with John. He says something simple, but really astonishing and pioneering for me. He says: ‘Well if you don’t know it, then you don’t have to worry about it.’ I never thought of this possibility, but he was merely true! It is so simple, that it doesn’t sound like a relevant information at all. But it was. Especially for my job as Assistant Professor at the University of Wuppertal, I  had the impression, that I (was?) forced (myself?) to solve and control uncontrollable situations all the time. The state of emergency was status quo – it was the permanent situation of fire-fighters-brigade-organisation. I felt responsible, although, I wasn’t authorized to change it – this would lead directly into conflict. This was the reason, why I quit after two years. When I left Wuppertal I considered, never to teach at a University again. Despite that, I forced myself to take offered the job at the University of Dresden – as test. Although, I was afraid it could end in the same troubles with authority, bickering over responsibilities, disorganisation, excessive demands and exhaustion again – but it didn’t! Luckily not these troubles at all. But I am still in a ongoing relearning process.

So, I tried to rely on what I prepared and my experience and the ability to react and improvise – for the workshop. It was really nice, then. Seven people were present. Sallie was there, too. My idea was, to discuss a few artworks in detail. Last time I was showing a lot of images – this time we would take the time to explore some in detail. I used a technique/concept, that I originally invented for a Radio-show was called ‘Bildbande’. A group of people described images on air – interpreting them afterwards. The audience could decide, whether they want to have a look on the image online or just listen and imagine them. The idea was to trust the visual approach of the image and to translate it playfully into language. In this attentive manner, we discussed Roman Opalka ‘1965/ 1 –∞’ for 45 minutes and Carey Young for another similar amount of time with her ‘Body techniques (After Valie Export – Encirclement)’. Then I suggested to speak about Momos and Luo Yans Q-CiTy, that they created of spoiled work. This would be a typical practise it in my former art-school – so called ‘Klassengespräch’ (discussion in the class). Mainly positive reactions. The discussion extended on Art and Science. Similarities, differences – artistic approaches. Momo spoke about sceptic comments that she got, while producing their piece. We discuss Michelangelo that seems to be THE hero for some physicists in combining craft, physics and art. It was also interesting for me – learned a lot this evening. Also this group was very good at observation!

Together with Momo and Madhura we went to U-Town-Campus afterwards, to get some food. I know that there is an Italian Restaurant. We have Pasta and speak about structures in science institutions. And the joy and challenges in an artist-life. Also personal issues. Around midnight we leave. I have to be fit for tomorrow,  since I will have to work physically – in this heat!

Posted in Diary of the artist | Leave a comment

confessions about culture

Leaving the house at 13: 30 pm – too late, but wanted to finish my email invitation for all friends from abroad! Took a taxi to go to Marina Bay Sands. The door to my apartment is still open. I took all important stuff with me.

A huge amount of people waiting in a queue at the entrance of the Art Science Museum. I feel privileged that I can just go though. The talk will  happen at 3 pm on 4th floor. There are four projection surfaces installed. A bit overdone for the size of the room. Jenny is already there. I get to know Lise, one of the curators. We fix all technical stuff. Lonce arrives too. We chat in between and meanwhile a technician arrange the set-up of the talk.

Lonce starts by introducing the whole program. I continue speaking about the micro-sculpture in collaboration with Max-Planck-Institute CBG Dresden. Than the postcard-project together with IDEE 01239 in Dresden-Prohlis and the Folgelandschaft – my artistic research on the ex.uranium mining area in Thueringia – my aim was to outline fields, media and issues, that I work with. Mainly I should speak about my residency at CQT. Which I find hard – I am in the middle of the process – therefore it is hard to visualisea nd organise. I am just about to explore, what this whole project is about. Not a good time to defend myself. And I had to. There were some sceptic questions concerning the project. One was concerning the democratic process, that I mentioned. Frank, the director of the Museum wondered, if it is a good idea to create an artwork via majority decision – intending, that he doesn’t think so – that it rather will become an unintelligent, average selection of stereo-types. Momo, Luo Yan, Debashis, Isabelle, Johannes, Julian, Madhura, Linda and friends were present. Phyo took photos. Debashis stepped into the breach for me –  he had some fancy explanation, why it is a good idea to entrust a group with collective decisions. Than there is a question from a guy, originally from Swiss – he wants to know how to evaluate the artworks at the program. Lonce answers first. I can not really listen, because I am so angry about this question, that I have to sort myself. I supplement Lonce’s comment by saying, that if one takes the art-part serious in this program: forget about looking an objective value of art – it would be like catching your own shadow! It becomes a bit silent in the space. Next question is: what my work is worth for CQT. I feel destroyed! My firewall is not activated enough – somehow I didn’t consider it to be necessary to switch it on before. Now these questions hit me, without much protection. And all go beyond a reasonable argumentation from my point of view – because they questions preconditions: such as relevance of art without implementation, simple need of conceptual stringency and the subjectivity of interpretation. Also they still regard it maybe as representation – of what? That’s not meant to be like this. Luckily Isabelle defends me. Also Johannes makes a remarkable point: he says, that before he took part in that project he went to galleries and wondered, who would pay these artists for the crap that they do. Now, that he joined the project – he has the feeling, that he understands much more about it and can approach. Also Julian said something positive, about that he got the occasion to socially interact with people.

So board-members set-up a firewall for me! They saved me from more damage and balanced the situation to the positive side. Only, that I was already hurt. I didn’t wanted to talk to one of the ‘critics’ afterwards – I was fed-up. I wonder why. Probably it was the wrong time – in the middle of a process – I felt vulnerable like a snake right after skinning. But also I get sick of the same critique again and again – that art has to be useful. What means use? For whom? By what? How can artist solve, were everyone else struggles? I am not a magician, even if art and magic arose from the same origins. How can you invite someone for one month to, expecting him/her to outline a whole new approach resembling a whole scientific institution? I didn’t say that. Also I think it wasn’t Lonce intention! My suspicion is, that my projects do not fit in any drawer – you can not label it without being mistaken. That irritates some people. And it is on purpose, from my side! I think it is easy to do something, that looks like art – which doesn’t mean, that is interesting at all. If you than promote yourself as a brand, it is a much better selling strategy than mine (but I am into art, research and life – not to sales). I tell this the others afterwards, when we are having coffee at courtyard. I meet Sallie – what a relief to speak to her! I can see, that she is open to new approaches – since she is rather asking questions, than deliver a judgement. She is responsible for a program at the University of Arizona, researching Art Science collaborations. She knows a lot of projects! I start to de-stress  … the others want to speak with me about details of the installation. We spent another hour there, together. When we left – some people in strange costumes dance sort of a square dance. It is 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic – the museum hosts a show about it. Also one about Andy Warhol. Maybe I ask a critical question: What is scientific about Andy Warhol or Titanic, at all?

I sit a bit on the quay outside the museum. Writing some post-cards. Recovering, relaxing.

Lonce offered me to join a barbecue of his friends at the lake-side. We meet and also pick-up Allison – an Artist, which is travelling on Cargo-ships, collecting stories. Some confusion to find her at Raffles hotel – since there are two entrances. In the car we chat – Allison tells what she is doing – Lonce and me too. Now, I put myself on tricky ground by trying to explain the situation for you; Like in many cases, I realise that there is a way of talking, that seems to me like a theatre play, that everyone knows and plays a certain role in there. It has to do with breaks between words, the speed spoken, the issues brought up – with the emotions expressed –  all a detailed, specialized composition. Nothing to catch easily. And it has to do with communication culture. Today seems the day, where this is on the agenda. Especially if people behave ‘professional’ – these ‘cultures’ occur. I guess they are mainly unconscious and only those, that are not part of the play realised it. Accordingly, when Allison found out, that I am Eastern German, she asks me if there is something like a cultural border or transition to Polish culture. I say, that Czech is much closer – not only in spatial dimensions (one can go by bike to there – around 35 km on a nice cycle path at the river Elbe, that is called Labe in Czech). To her it doesn’t make much difference, I guess. We arrive at the barbecue-site and I didn’t finish my explanations. But they will become a topic at the party again.

When we arrived, I immediately get to know Mirjana and someone else (whose name I can’t remember). Mirjana is a chemical engineer, originally from Slovenia – the other one has to do with PR and organisation, originally from Serbia. (So, both of them originally original from Yugoslavia) We get into a conversion about Singapore, education strategies, university-experiences, mercury-mining, freedom, future of society, beer and many more. We chat quite some time. Also Mirjana explains the reasons to give up her job at the NUS, where she worked before. When someone left the talk by this issue, she was wondering, if she said something wrong – or if it wasn’t ‘smart’ to speak about this topic (unsuccessful job experience) at all. From my point of view it is absolutely fine – I would have done the same like her.

I take this occasion to explain why I think, it was not only a personal issue (although I am not sure, whether the escaper run away, because of her topic). Why do I do this? Because, I spent evenings with people, that I actually like, but felt sad afterwards – since I thought it would have been less lonely, if I would have been just on my own. That has maybe to do with different concepts of privacy and the perception of personal contact. A book by Olaf Georg Klein ‘Ihr könnt uns einfach nicht verstehen’ (You just won’t understand us) about misunderstanding between East- and West-Germans brought me on this interpretation: He points out, that East-Germans (and the other states from the Warsaw-pact) lived under the the primacy of Russian-Slavic culture for 40 years, while West-Germans happen to be mainly influenced by the leading US-American culture. Since East and West-Germans share the same language (mostly) it is interesting to research these differences more purely. In every-day-life it makes communication more tricky, since it is less obvious, that one may have different conventions and approaches. That is more obvious if you have people from different countries. But of course the difference between individuals is more relevant than any other.

Exaggerated spoken it is harder to get to know people from an eastern culture – they are less open to public approaches. But once you are introduced to each other – a personal relationship would belong to a healthy communication, even within a professional relation. The interest of the group is rather important than the individual – people take action to stabilise the it. You show trust in a group if you report mistakes and failures. If you don’t show ‘weak sides’ and offer some personal details – people will get suspicious, that you have something to hide, are show-off and dishonest or just look after your career (which would be negative). Understatement is also part of the convention. Bragging leads to loss of face. If someone makes mistakes, it is the responsibility of the group to sort it out. The border between self and society is permeable. Relationships are rather stable and do not depend so much on ‘content’ or ‘use’.

In western culture – people are much more accessible. It is easy to chat and connect with others – until a certain level. People offer their best sides always – they show their potential, skills and knowledge. Personal issues do not belong to professional relations. You are asked to keep your personality, doubts and struggles in your circle of friends and family and do not bother colleagues with it. Overstatement is part of the convention. If you report mistakes and failures you may look weak and incompetent – because people could assume, that this is only be the tip of the iceberg. You are responsible for yourself, while the group is not. The border between self and society is impermeable. Society is not allowed to touch the self of the individuals. Relationships are rather fluid and are stabilised by ‘use’ and ‘content’.

Of course as I said, this is overdone and rather a stencil than to describe actual people. But from time to time some of these differences matters. The better you know someone, the more, they may fade out. But still, next time they can occur from nothing. I got to know about this book through a movement started in the last years. It is called ‘3te Generation Ost’ (3rd Generation East) – it is a platform for people born between 1985 and 1975 in the Socialist East Germany. ‘We’ have been innocent children by the age of 5-15 years, when the German Democratic Republic fade out in October 1990. Born in December 1979, I was 10 years old when my whole life changed – and not only mine, but all lives of all people around me. What was true before, was wrong by now – moreover it had never been existing before. The German author, Jana Hensel, wrote a novel about this topic called ‘Zonenkinder’ (After the Wall). I do not share the all same opinion with her, but it is a good introduction on the topic. I agree, when she writes that memories of that whole time feel like fairy-tales – and  a childhood that is stored in a ‘nameless museum’ with no address to find it anymore. Jana Hensel describes a situation, what happened when friends in Marseilles start to chat about childhood stories at  a party and she tried to join this collective-memory – quote from ‘After the Wall‘:

‘The others looked at me with vague interest, but the euphoria was gone. Suddenly I felt sick and tired of being different than everyone else. I just wanted to tell childhood stories – like the Italien, French and Austrians did – without having to explain, without having to translate my memories into words that had not been part of my experience and scattered my recollections even more so with each attempt at clarification. I didn’t want to spoil the party and their warm, fuzzy feeling of togehterness, so I just kept my mouth shut.’

I have three groups of people in Singapore, that I feel related to: the Germans, because we share the language, I speak best – the Easterns (people grew-up in socialist countries), because we share a similar history, experience and cultural concept – and  third: all those who are interested in exchange, co-working and personal relations. I guess my whole explanations should emphasize, that I feel homely with all these Eastern Europeans. The good thing about Singapore is that is is such a mix of cultures, that it would be ridiculous to announce a leading culture – although it looks rather western to me. I like that one has to negotiate with all these different backgrounds –  it tells one something about the own cultural identity.

Later on this evening I get to know Brian, Marco, Lam Fung and Viks. Viks is based at the Philippines and is here just for a visit. She is a poet and has experience with art-science projects since she wrote PR-texts for one back home. She looks a bit sceptic about it, but actually the project sounds interesting. It was an installation with a computer (program?) – running a game by energy-production of algae. The artistic impact was too low for Viks point of view. We speak about my talk at the Art-Science Museum today and my irritation. Viks said a very nice point about it in the end: If there came up all these questions – this could also mean, that all is well – my work works out – since it provokes, questions and explore relevant topics.

With Lam Fung I have a funny German-Austrian conversation. He is wearing a strange straw hat.

One of the last persons that I get know for today is Vladimir. He was part of the committee selecting the Artists for the Residency. He remembers my application and says that he voted for my work. He does film and some time ago installations. He is Assistant Professor at NTU another Singaporean University.

Lonce wants to leave around midnight – he gives me a ride to U-town. That’s good – I join! In the car, we discuss about evaluation of art, again. My point is, that I don not believe in any ‘objective’ criteria on judging art at all. I think we as persons affected should take our responsibility to defend, that art is worth to happen – not only to enhance creativity or neither for nation-building or any other application – but just because it is human and provides an aesthetic cognition – should be worth enough. No one will do this for us – and we are responsible for it.

Posted in Diary of the artist | Leave a comment

many words

Got up at 1 pm. Have to finish my art-in-architecture proposal for the ‘Saxon Office of Land Survey’ – GeoSn. Got a call from Isabelle and Johannes – they discuss the laser-installation, but I have to stay here and work a bit more: Writing diary afterwards. Until 3 am. Felt drunk from all my words!

Today there was no food at the canteen. Also I leave my door open, because I am afraid to not be able to open it again.

Like nearly every day, I eat aDragon fruit.

Posted in Diary of the artist | Leave a comment

Friday, 13th – qubit drawing session!

Got up at 8:30 am. Went to CQT right afterwards. Björn enters my office – he wants me to explain the dimensions of the cabinet. Jessie joins us – she is responsible for all safety-stuff at CQT. We go upstairs. Björn seems to get excited about the whole story. He makes plans what could happen with it afterwards. Suggesting, that Berges chessboard could possibly go into the show as well. He hasn’t got a place for it yet. I like the idea a lot!

Also, Björn is the first one that I ask to ‘model a model that you are working with’. He has some ideas and seem to have fun, to think about it. He makes word-jokes between Austrian and German. Words that need translations can only remember ‘Eierschwammerl’ (AT) vs. ‘Pfifferlinge’ (DE). Funny – I never thought about, that he might speak German at all. As far as I know, he is originally from Sweden.

Now, I start to my small qubit-drawing-session in the Quantum-Café. The first one, that I see – I ask. His name is Cord – he is German too. He takes a sheet of paper, promising to bring it back by Monday – with a drawing. I go to the bridge in between the two buildings. Again, I ask two persons at the water-supply, if they would draw me a qubit – some moment of confusion than the girl starts to draw. A cherub with an arrow. I do not comment it – knowing, that apart from physicists, few people would know, what is it about. I liked the story, that it is enough, to move 5 m from one door to the next, that the whole concept changes! Interpretation is related to space and sites. The two people, probably molecular biologists (that’s the department next to CQT) draw me a ‘cubit’ – as it turned out. They had never heard of a ‘qubit’ before – neither know what it could be about.

I went through some offices at 6th floor. Got some rejections and some drawings. Decided to go for lunch. Met Debashis at the canteen – we speak about various topics beginning from that Indians would never put the rice in the soup – as I did – to Nazi-Germany and psychology.

Went back to 6th floor – next qubit-drawing action. Met a group around Libby and Giovanni – they seem to be interested – at least five people took a sheet of paper. They suggest to have lunch with me – but too late, pity.

I continue at 3rd floor. Meeting Valerio at the Quantum Cafe – asking if he would draw me a qubit or model a model he is working with. He starts first thinking about it – and than doubting. I show him the sculpey-offer. He complains, that he can not effort to have time for all ideas of all visitors. I say, that he isn’t force to do it- if he doesn’t want to – it is fine with me. I was just asking! He says, he’ll bring back to me, what he can do in 15 minutes. I agree. Paul and Agata escaped. Troy has to go to a meeting and hasn’t time today. Uff, I need a break. It becomes hard now. I make myself a decaf coffee and sneak back into office to do some orga-stuff and recover.

Went to Johannes lab in the evening. He shows me his latest findings concerning the laser-installation. He explains, how a crystal can turn the light from red into green! I have to say, I never thought so much about the direction and colour of light before! We also came into speaking about earning money, nothing, John Cage and what one can learn from art-works. Since some days Johannes got advice from Kai to get the laser working, before doing art!

Since Christian announced an expedition to ‘Newton Circus’, will have a look in which state of development it is. Going to 2nd floor. Meeting Christian and Dzimitry in Alexander’s office. One of Alexander lab-books is opened, since the three of them are discussing something about it. I am amazed by the graphic-design of Alex’ book. He uses a metallic-purple pen to write some his numbers. The three laugh, when I say, that is nicely done. It seems to be hard for them, to take my praise serious. I know, I want to do something with one of these ‘drawings’. What they are actually interested in, is a metallic device that shall go inside a small satellite. I tell them, that some friends of mine do a satellite project, called mur.sat in Graz, too.

By the way, since today is qubit-drawing- and model-modelling-day, I take all the stuff to the hawker center-expedition. We leave CQT with Dzimitry, Christian and Stan – a new PhD of Christian. While we wait for the taxi – we introduce each other. Dzimitry is originally from Belarus, studied also in the US. Stan is from Russia. Both of them know about Cabinets of Curiosties, since there is a big one in Piter (St. Petersburg) – ‘Кунсткамера’ (Kunstkamera – one of these funny Russian words, token from German). I tell them from my experience some years ago, when I went by bus from Tallinn to Piter. I couldn’t speak Russian that time, since I was the first generation, that learned English instead of Russian. Dzimity and Stan laugh, when I explained, that I thought it would be enough that half of the Cyrillic alphabet looks the same as in Latin and how discovered, that it isn’ttrue. I guess at that time, I couldn’t imagine, that I would laugh about it – six years later.

We arrive at Newton Circus – the owners of the food-stands are happy to see Christian. Evon, Esther, Jed and Esther’s boyfriend slowly occurs. We have nice food and – as promised frozen beer. Esther brought a thermometer with her – it turns out, that if the beer has -1,7 °C, it starts to freeze in the glass. I guess this is an entertainment for all beer-drinking nations; I am glad, that Singapore finally has beer too. When I was in France, it was incredibly expensive and not really good, I have to say.

Evon always takes photos from the food she consumes and post it immediately on facebook. I start to ask people to draw qubits. Dzimitry, Esther, Evon and Christian join. Again, I wonder why everyone starts drawing in the upper corner at the left side. Christian is the first one, that does perspective and places his figure in the middle of the paper. Also some ‘models are created. Esther tells a story, that back in Swiss, there came an artist and wanted her (and her boss) to draw a ‘Klein bottle’. In the end, when Esther went to the opening, the artist didn’t use any of the drawings. Which was disappointing for her. Klein bottle seems to be an extension to Möbius strip, what Dzimitry shows me on his smartphone. The speciality is, that you can not define inside and outside. I dsiagree, if you would fill water inside, it would stay in the belly. Become green and muddy after a while. It reminds me more on fly-traps especially the glass-versions. I am not really impressed. I like the ‘pure’ Möbiusband better.

Christian wrote me a list of expressions in my exercise-recording-book. I guess his first motivation was to look for other relevant abstract expressions apart from qubit. Later on, he just seemed to assembling words, that are somehow tied to CQT:

Jaynes-Cummings Model
Bose-Hubbard Model
Can you give me a Hamilton Ion?
Quantum Channel
Information Causality
Almighty Power
Alice & Bob
Frequency Comb
Quantum Key
Bell inequality
optical lattice
Atom chip
Dead Laser
Hello Kitty
Mr. I-Pad
Coffee Grounds … spent chemicals container
Black body
one day I’ll clean up this office
metric screws
other screws
SERIOUSLY Good Laksa (just go for the Best!)

Discussions becomes more dynamic after some beers. Jed wants to convince all of us to go to Clarke Quay Bridge. I am not sure- rather want to work. Esther tell a story, that she spent nearly one year on working on a paper, when it turned out, that one assumption was wrong. So all work done within that time – by more than two people was completely useless. Wow – that never happened to me. Must be a though situation.

Jed convinced us to go to Clarke Quay Bridge – except for Christian and Evon. Evon has another appointment. And Christian just wants to go home. We go by taxi. Pass through this crazy sheltered entertainment district. Esther points out, that the lamps resemble large penises. True! But, I am not sure, how to interpret that: I can’t believe, that they are so cool, that they did it on purpose (the rest looks like a upright shopping-mall) – on the other hand, I can’t imagine, that they NOT did it on purpose, no one could be so blind to not see it. We reach the bridge and buy more beer at a small shop. Jed met friends of him on the bridge. This scenery is the most home-feeling situation since weeks. Young people sitting in Public Space – drinking, chatting and smoking. After a while only Stan, Dzimitry and myself are there (I am often times one of the last people at a party – only, recently it starts to become insanely late in Dresden – people would usually show up for a concert around 2 am – party until 8 am – while I like to be back home before sunrise, otherwise I feel like a vampire creeping in the coffin). Again, we discuss the difference between Artists and Physicists. I am wondering about my impression, that a lot of these Principal investigators are unseizable. As soon as you see them, they are already gone. More like phantoms. Dzimitry is a PIs too, that’s why I asked. He explains what has to be done: All applications for seeking money – all bureaucratic paperwork and reports – running the lab, means to organize people working there – supervising students and reviewing the work of PhD-Students. Many PIs are not able to spend much time being in the lab and work there physically anymore – especially if they commute and teach at another place as well. But still, it seems to be not a tempting job to me, if there is no space for spontaneous actions and interesting occasions. Also I wonder, that Christian – who is PI and professor as well – seems to be the only one organising low-threshold offers for people to socialise – meaning something simple as to go out for dinner or beer together, that I enjoy a lot! Dzimitry assumes, that if people have family, they also what to spend their free time not only with colleagues. Sure, but for Artists, even if they have family it sort of belongs to ‘life’ to take some time off and socialise with colleagues – even if they have family. Of course not always, but from time to time and for occasions such as meetings, talks, openings and concerts. Sometimes this socializing happens on conferences, but also it could be, that it simply doesn’t belong so much to the requirement as physicist, Dzimitry says. This is actually the first point that I find really irritating.

At around 3 am we share a taxi back home. At 3:15 am I arrive at my apartment – try to open the door. It shows the green light – but the closing device doesn’t move. Oh no, please not now, not today, not at this time! But yes, today, now at 3:30 am the lock is done. It was not operating some time before, but now – it doesn’t move at all. I call the number written at the door. A man speaking very Chinese English wouldn’t understand me. I called two times, he gave up. After some minutes I got a call – from another person. Finally, I describe the place – U-Town-Campus, Cinemon College. He doesn’t know it. University town? No chance, he wants a proper address. I go downstairs: College Avenue East 22, says the sign. He can’t find it on GPS or map. I try to not despair. I leave the house to the next big road – him on the phone; Dover Road – corner Folkstone Road. I said that I will wait there for him – he promise to come in 10 minutes. I wait, since I have nothing better to do, now with hope to get into bed ‘soon’. He comes in time and I show him the way to the U-Town. Our telephone-conversation had been chirpy before, but now it is more nice.

After he tries to open the lock with my card – which didn’t work (so it was not the beers) – he drilled into it and after some movements the doors opens. He says, thatit is a copy of a German product. It will be alright if I lock from inside – from outside it has to be reviewed. I am just happy to be inside – the rest is not relevant to me by now. It turns out, that I have to pay him 150 S$, since he isn’t part of NUS. Strange, but I pay him, in the hope to get my money back. By 4:40 am I can finally go to bed. There I think, door-experience may have to do with it, that today it is still Friday 13th – at least in Germany!

Posted in Diary of the artist | Leave a comment