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Für Informationen über mich, klicke einfach auf ‘About’ in der linken, oberen Ecke.
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Das Ding - Wenig Fame

Last month there was a short episode of ‘Das Ding’ on german TV talking about american football in the south of Germany.
They also used some of my footage:

Children on tanks and the wonder of play

At first I wanted to write something about repeating patterns in photojournalism and the way inspiration is derived from existing works. But while searching for some pictures I remembered from publications and by comparing them to similar pictures on the internet which deal with the same topic, I realised one thing: Visually they had a lot in common, almost to an extent somebody could introduce the term copying. But then something struck me about the people on the photographs and not about the photographer himself who took it. The (journalistic) photographer just takes the moment in (ideally) and, inspired by his memory of rules and photos seen, takes a picture of a given scene. My allegations of fraud caused by producing pictures of the same scenes again and again and again - more or less perfect that is - probably weren't righteous. Though by looking at the pictures again I wondered: Why, if the photographer doesn't alter the scene, do the pictures resemble each other so much. As a side note I should mention: The pictures in question are pictures of kids playing on tanks: children on tanks

Thinking a while about this I came to change my mindset about the whole thing: In children's play function seems to follow form. Although the kids probably haven't seen pictures of other kids doing the same in other places, they naturally use their given environment to unfold their play around it. For example: They're naturally climbing along the turret of a tank. It may seem simple, an ape could do that, but I dare to comment that it is pure genius. If that's the case, perhaps a widespread notion in our modern (designed) environment is utterly wrong: The classic 'form follows function' ideal. It serves the purpose for purposes' sake and hence doesn't allow too much different interaction with the given objects or spaces - that is if you act according to some cultural norms. We keep on passing by buildings, foyers and spaces because we know they have some regulated purpose which we're not involved with right now. But it also could bore us out.

Now imagine the function would derive from the form in everyone’s view: The form would be something vague, something open to interpretation, to discovery, something which demands from people or the users to involve with the given environment. Something which demands them to interact, to play. Don't get me wrong, I like clean design and construction, but I don't want to see our modern lives being easier and faster, while not being more progressive. Sure from a technical point of view we're progressing constantly, but progress is not only about time and technology, even more it's about human creativity and innovation. Imagine what would have happened if the dark middle ages had continued without the rediscovery of 'new' perspectives during the renaissance. People had just forgotten about the knowledge of the past which lay buried in archives, caves and monasteries. For painters it was easier to draw in flat perspective, for architects it was easier to use rather cubic forms, things were derived from their functional purpose seemed to be good enough to everyone. But does it make people happy?
I dare to say no. Because the stated is also true for cultural politics: It's interesting to see how in today's China old values get rediscovered and people are proud of their ancient culture while a lot of it was destroyed in the maniac cultural revolution. People need something to hold on, to interact with, something to discover, to experience.

Day in, day out I see and hear people who aren't happy due to the work they're doing or the position they are in. I'm really inclined to think it's due to the lack of discovery and play. Everybody has a childish side deep within, but to release it we need the right environment to feel like it and I'm not talking about getting wasted, although it helps a lot of people.

To make a point I wish to see more public places in the future which invite people of all ages to discover, to interact and to play for the sake of happiness and quality of life.

And if someone's eager to get to know more about photojournalism and the way of seeing: There's a good book out there by Errol Morris which is called 'Believing is Seeing'.

The quest of South Park

The first seasons of South Park really sucked. I distantly remember people watched it because it was so anti establishment. More in a punk way they watched it for the sake of counting the fucks. But fast forward to the present the series seems to have been grown up. The political and societal satire is just better and more plausible packaged than in the early days (still there are good and not so good episodes). It’s something which let’s me curiously look forward for new episodes because it’s a different commentary to the usual american views we’re confronted with a lot of the time.

For example the recent NSA spy scandal finds its way into the episode: ‘Let go, let gov’. A story where ‘Cartman’, the fat attention-needy kid who’s never able to shout up, feels himself spied upon by the government (Amazon suggests him things to buy, which he actually wants to buy) and starts a quest to unveil their actions. The crux is, he didn’t conceal his communication in the first place. He speaks loud in public on his mobile and regularly updates twitter, so that all his friends are already totally bugged by it.
In his plans to unveil the NSA’s activities he implements himself a new device which is called ‘shitter’ (there you have it!), which transmits his thoughts live into the web to his followers, which is actually only one: Alec Baldwin (I won’t comment on his character here). Being inside ‘Cartman’ has to realise that the NSA actually isn’t interested in him at all, which he just can’t bear.
Meanwhile ‘Butters’, having heard about the all hearing government, starts to deify it by thanking them for looking upon him and converting Jehova’s witnesses at a local state service office and turns it to a place where people can be happy about their government without criticising it. I won’t give away the end but be sure it involves a sour site note about the use of state, law and religion. ‘Let the government into your heart. Your government doesn’t listening to punish you. Your government wants you to be honest about your mistakes.’

So commenting myself on the recent scandal(s): Clearly it’s unacceptable to accept spying in such a way on the broad public, but then again how many of us are more than willing to throw all our thoughts and experiences into a public realm in a way it really gets sickening sometimes. But despite this it never was easier to actually conceal your own identity (at least online) which is why we have so many over boarding commentaries on the internet. The solution is to just maintain different online identities, you don’t even have to forge physical documents to achieve it. And then ask yourself: Have you really read Orwell’s 1984?

And for all the naysayers the NSA has the right line at hand: ‘You wanna live in the land of the free and home of the brave, but the brave can’t be free if the land isn’t home and that land can’t be home so long as folks out there want to take the american flag and shove so far up your anus so that you crap stars and stripes for a week … you won’t care who’s checking your twitter account then.’

So if you haven’t done it yet, like me on facebook, follow me on flickr and watch me on vimeo ;)

Watch all the South Park episodes here.

Interview: H₂Ochschwarzwald Film

Der Film “H₂Ochschwarzwald”, welcher von Simon Straetker produziert wurde und die Präsenz des Wassers dort zum Thema hat, ist ein voller Erfolg. Da sich er und mein Bruder schon seit längerem kannten, standen wir ihm zeitweise mit Rat und Tat zur Seite, junges Talent muss ja gefördert werden. Einige Wochen nach Projektabschluss, fand ich kürzlich etwas Zeit, um ihm einige Fragen zu dem Projekt zu stellen.

Wie kam dir die Idee zum Hochschwarzwaldfilm?

"Was mache ich nur nach dem Abitur?" fragte ich mich noch vor einem halben Jahr als sich meine Schulzeit zu Ende neigte und ich kurz vor den Abiturprüfungen stand. Direkt an die Uni und studieren, ein GAP Year in Australien oder doch lieber ein Freiwilliges Soziales Jahr in Kenia? Die Möglichkeiten waren zahlreich aber eine Entscheidung musste dennoch getroffen werden. Letztendlich fiel sie auf etwas ganz anderes:
Mein erstes Filmprojekt sollte ein Kurzfilm über die Wasserwege in meiner Heimat werden. Da es schon Zeitraffer- und Luftaufnahmen des Schwarzwaldes gab, jedoch keine Kombination aller Aufnahmearten, habe ich mich für die jetzige Form entschieden. Das Film- und Naturschutzprojekt mit dem Titel "H₂Ochschwarzwald" soll auf der einen Seite die Schönheit der einzigartigen Natur im Hochschwarzwald aufzeigen und gleichzeitig die Bedeutung des Wassers als Lebenselixier für Tiere und Pflanzen hervorheben. Im internationalen Jahr des Wassers soll der Film vor allem junge Menschen dazu begeistern sparsamer mit der Ressource Wasser umzugehen.

Wie oft am Tag duschst du also?

Ich denke, dass ich insgesamt circa 70% des deutschen Durchschnitts dusche.

Bist du bei der Umsetzung auch mal im Wasser gelandet oder gab es andere Hindernisse?

Ne, das mit dem ins Wasser fallen überlasse ich anderen Leuten mit mehr Erfahrung und teureren Kameras wie zum Beispiel meinem Kollegen Sven (der Autor des Blogs), welcher meinte er müsste mit einer Kamera in der Rötenbachschlucht baden gehen. Was andere Hindernisse angeht: Vor allem bei den Sternzeitrafferaufnahmen (und eigentlich auch bei allen anderen Aufnahmen) war das Wetter nie so wie ich es eigentlich haben wollte. Das heißt ich musste immer ziemlich lange warten und war vier mal zu Fuß auf dem Feldberg um einen einzigen Sonnenaufgang zu filmen.

Wie viel Rohmaterial ergaben dann die gescheiterten und letztendlich erfolgreichen Versuche?

5000 Bilder und 3 neue Kunden.

Waren die Nächte auf dem Feldberg abenteuerliche Momente?

Ja, eines Morgens bin ich bei Nebel um 2:30 Uhr losgelaufen und man konnte gerade mal zwei Meter weit vor sich sehen, das war etwas angsteinflössend.

Hast du etwas entdeckt, was du in deiner Heimat noch nicht zuvor gesehen hattest?

Ich hätte nie gedacht, dass es selbst in der Nähe meines Elternhauses solche riesigen Fuchsbauten gibt, in denen ganze Familien von Füchsen und Dachse zusammen leben.

Bist du also neugierig auf mehr? Kommt dann als nächstes ein Langfilm?

Naja, neugierig auf mehr bin ich zum einen, aber die Frage nach der Produktion eines Langfilms stellt sich mir momentan nicht, da dies zeitlich einfach zu viel Aufwand wäre.

Sag niemals nie. Vielen Dank, dass du dir Zeit genommen hast ein paar Fragen zu beantworten. Hier habe ich auch noch einige Impressionen aus der Produktion zusammengetragen.