Tag Archives: berlin

The Transparency Grenade

The Transparency Grenade by Julian Oliver is a “weapon” for radical transparency. A case modeld after a Soviet F1 hand grenade contains a gumstick linux computer with wifi and an integrated microphone. The gumstick packet sniffs the wireless network while simultaneously streaming the ambient audio to a remote server for analysis. (Essentially, the gumstick is running DriftNet or EtherPEG.) In an interview with We-Make-Money-Not-Art, Oliver says that he wanted to make the “information war” a bit more visual and iconic.

The Transparency Grenade was made for Weise 7, an artist collective in Berlin, and their Labor 8 exhibition. The exhibition features a the nexus of technology and surveillance.

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Blind Date Swingers Club

Blind Date Swingers Club is a rotating club event in Berlin, that sounds very cool, and very reproducible. Everyone brings a mix tape (well, CD) of music, along with a note and contact information inside the jewel case. The music is left with the DJ. At the end of the night, everyone takes a CD that someone else made.

I love how this is a really simple idea that encourages the discovery of new people and new music. I’d love for a Bay Area version of this.


Berlin graffiti artist Sweza has created an interesting take on street art. Since graffiti frequently gets buffed, Sweza has started taking photos of the art before they get removed. Once they are removed, he places a QR code at that location. Using his Graffyard iPhone app, users can retrieve an image of the previous graffiti on their phones. It would be interesting if multiple images are stored for the same location, if one could use Graffyard to travel back in time and see the previous graffiti in that location. Similar to the Eric Pakurar’s Chemical Warfare Project.


Fritz Lang’s masterpiece “Metropolis” was screened at the Brandenburg Gate for the most recent Berlin Film Festival. What’s noteworthy about this screening is that it was the first public screening of the most recent, and more complete, restored version.

When “Metropolis,” was originally shown in Berlin in 1927, it had a running time 153 minutes. However, the export version was cut down to 114 minutes. Soon it was cut down further to a mere 90 minutes in order please theater owners, who wanted a higher turn over of customers each day, and because the plot was too “controversial.” (And just think, “Atlas Shrugged” was still 30 years away.)

With all the cuts and differing versions, the original was thought lost. Then in 2001, a restored version was put together using footage collected from the different versions along with intertitle cards for missing scenes. This version clocks in at 124 minutes.

In 2008 a copy of what may be the original cut, was found in Buenos Aires, and a further 25 minutes of additional footage was added to the 2001 reconstruction. Unfortunately, the Argentine copy was heavily degraded, and was a 16mm copy of a damaged 32mm copy, meaning that the additional footage will probably always be noticeable. It was this 2008 version that was shown this year in Berlin.

So what does this mean if you want to watch Metropolis yourself? My recommendation is to wait, and and be careful about what you buy.

I own the unrestored 90 minute version, and it’s completely unwatchable. The images are dark, cropped, and constrained to a flickering circle in the middle of screen. For instance, the scene shown in the above movie poster is limited to about the middle ninth of the still. Don’t pay attention to the running time. The time is stretched because the film is run back at less than 24 fpm, and so all the music is out of sync. This version is a complete waste of money.

Then there’s 2001 124 minute version. This is version that is recognized by UNESCO. It’s available today, but in light of the latest reconstruction, I’d also stay away from it.

Unfortunately, the 2008 reconstruction has yet to be released, but is expected to come out at the end of this year.

Brothers’ Kiss Destroyed

The 19 year old mural of Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev kissing East German General Secretary Honecker, known as “Brothers’ Kiss”, has been destroyed by the city of Berlin. Dmitri Vrubel painted the mural on September 28, 1990 along a stretch of the wall running along the Spree River. That segment – now known as the East Side Gallery – is one of several that remain as a memorial.

The wall is currently undergoing restoration. As part of this process, the wall is being steam cleaned, and the underlying concrete repaired. Officials say that the artists can then repaint their images. Vrubel has been given €3000 to repaint his iconic image, but instead he plains to paint a similar, but different image. After all, art can’t simply be replaced.

We’re All Going to Die

Simon H&#248gsberg‘s We’re All Going to Die is a 100 meter composite photo of 178 people walking on the same railway platform in Berlin in the summer of 2007.

I have no idea where this is installed, but it’s available online for your enjoyment. It really appeals to the voyeur in me, seeing all these people just go about their day, most of whom don’t notice the photographer. I especially like the featureless background. The composition, along with it’s provocative title, made me contemplative, and a little depressed.