Archive for September, 2009

what the world needs now is love

September 27, 2009

by Dionne Warwick

This is great, bringing back childhood memories:  watching records spinning on the turntable and dreaming about being a hippie when I would grow up, living in a world of love and peace . :-)


secret powers & subversive activities

September 26, 2009

Keri Smith’s blog is always an inspiring place to drop by, which got me to buy some of her books. Promoting her new “This is Not a Book” book she posted these illustrations on the penguingroup blog:


She sums up very well what sadly, is many children’s experience. It certainly reflects to a large extent what my son had to go through. I might use this in some teacher training course!

Interestingly the Austrian Minsitry of Education has recently issued an edict demanding “holistic-creative learning culture in schools” outlining how  creativity should be a guiding principle for learning across the curriculum. This is great in principle, yes, but it beats me how educational authorities think creativity can be ordered on demand. As if a whole national school system developed over centuries, designed to stifle creativity will change with the issue of a five page statement. It will take some substantial backing in the form of funding, appropriate teacher training, dedicated and supportive groups of people in key positions, well planned long term strategies, the freedom to take risks and  lots of patience to see some real change. Otherwise it will just remain one more edict which teachers, in reality, are free to ignore.


Which leads to Keri Smiths second drawing in her post on “how I discovered my secret powers: Plot to infiltrate the system.” I think hers is a very good plan – I could do with some more superpowers though :-)

This reminds me of  Teaching as a Subversive Activity by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner, first published in 1971. While the book sometimes is polemical and sketchy and has to be understood within the context of its time,  it is still an interesting and thought provoking read. It was also published in German, but is now out of print.

typographic world map

September 26, 2009


typographic world map wallpaper and many other free downloads  from

If its on the interweb it must be true

September 26, 2009


Museumsquartier by loungerie on Flickr

On July 7 20o9 the “Internet Research Group” from the University of Vienna presented YouTube Cinema with a programme called “Fake!” at the Museumsquartier in Vienna. Everybody had ten minutes to show and talk about  some favourites. It was a fun evening with some lively discussions. Here is our playlist:
YouTube Kino: Fake!

the red book

September 23, 2009

Here the New York TImes have a fascinating report about Carl Jung’s private notebook with personal reflections as well as drawings, which has been kept from the public until now.  He worked on the Red Book for a period of 16 years, and ever since his death it has been locked away. Now, for the first time it is going to be published.

<click to enlarge>

Carl Jung said the Red Book stemmed from his “confrontation with the unconscious,” during which visions came in an “incessant stream.”

“I should advise you to put it all down as beautifully as you can — in some beautifully bound book,” Jung instructed. “It will seem as if you were making the visions banal — but then you need to do that — then you are freed from the power of them. . . . Then when these things are in some precious book you can go to the book & turn over the pages & for you it will be your church — your cathedral — the silent places of your spirit where you will find renewal. If anyone tells you that it is morbid or neurotic and you listen to them — then you will lose your soul — for in that book is your soul.”

Wow, this is intriguing. I might have mentioned before, that many years ago I researched the visonary writings of Jakob Boehme, a German mystic, who had visions, and who is thought of as the first German philosopher, e.g. by Hegel. > On my Christmas Wish List!

via Austin Kleon


September 22, 2009


by Christoph Nieman on

structural violence

September 20, 2009

How do you visualize a concept, which implies a complex theoretical discourse and is also embodied in our experience, something such as structural violence?

Sometimes an image search will bring up a series of useful visualisations. Sometimes it is hard to find something that works, so you have to think laterally and  that search may bring up new ideas of how to think about a phenomenon.

Here is what I have come up with for structual violence related to an educational context:




I am not sure yet, if this is what I really meant to say, but it is what I found to be expressive and telling so far. For some reason the images all include writing. Now I wonder, is this a concidence? Or does it say something about how language and literacy is used in power relationsships? Note to self: Read Bourdieu’s Language and Symbolic Power and Foucault’s Diszipline and Punish.

academic writing

September 19, 2009


Graph by Dingo from

My son is in the process of applying for universities, the whole family involved in the game. I am happy that he sucessfully completed school, and that he is clever and mature for an eighteen year old.  But I cannot help worrying about his first steps into this strange world of academia. This pie chart from makes me laugh, as there is some truth in it. It could be turned into a tool for teaching students how to write essays:

You cannot brag if you don’t know something about your subject, which you can show off, so do it. Ass Kissing means that you have to know the important players in the field, who said relevant things. You should acknowledge, what you have learned from them. You don’t have to be sycophantic, though. Sometimes clever Name Dropping is enough, to show that you know what you are doing, and that should be included in the chart. And well, the slice of Relevant Content could be bigger.

Of course there is also the other side, the bitter truth about the essays you get from students. No comment on this chart, it speaks for itself:


Graph by: cheez_masta via Graph Jam Builder

To round it all off here is a Calvin & Hobbs cartoon:



September 13, 2009


R1204717 by Where The Art Is

Last but not least I kept coming past the fourth plinth at Trafalgar square and watched a few people presenting themselves to a cheering audience. I had expected more cynical reactions. People seemed to really love and enjoy it all, although the stuff I saw that afternoon was not especially great. I could not help thinking, how small and mundane real people look on the plinth, unlike the majestic Lord Nelson on his tall column, when a guy turned around to me. “I luuve watching life just going by. I’ve been up there, and me mate ‘ere too. We are Plinthians!” he said proudly. Meanwhile, around the corner, at the National Portrait Gallery you can watch a live stream, which provides a different perspective and arguably a better view, than standing on the ground. So instantly the performance, the actual experience  is turned into a mediated ‘portrait’. As to be expected there are thousands of photos uploaded to Flickr documenting the ongoing show. I cannot think of an art project which enables more participation than this, including the Plinthians, the photographers, even the hecklers.

heaven and earth

September 12, 2009


by The Kozy Shack


by dou_ble_you


by jamespayne333

Another exibition I saw earlier summer in London, which left a lasting impression: “Heaven & Earth” by Richard Long at the Tate Britain. I did not bring a camera so here are images found on FLickr . I particularly liked some of the massive installations and large wall painings like this “Mud Wall”.  I felt they had to be experienced by walking around the exhibition space, rather that standing or sitting, as usual. This gave me a better understanding also of his other work about walking landscapes, embodied expierences of land, earth and sky. There are hundreds of photos – more of Richard Long’s work on Flickr.

garden and cosmos

September 12, 2009

Spirit and Matter From the Shiva Purana

The exhibition “Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur” was a real treat, although I came quite late and therefore did not have enough time to see it all. I bought the catalogue though. Many of the paintings are really stunning. I love the tryptichs like the one above “The Emergence of Spirit and Matter from the Shiva Purana.” The first panel – the world before creation is just a square of gold – pure abstraction, predating Western abstract art by several centuries. Another one showed the “Cosmic Oceans” – just abstract silver swirls. I like this one too: “The Equivalence of Self and Universe”.

subtle body

portraits from dürer to facebook

September 10, 2009

This summer I went to see a few great exhibitions in London. Last week I went to the National Portrait Gallery for the first time. I found it a strange experience, in particular the galleries and long corridors with paintings and busts from the Tudors to the Victorians. Long rows of  extremely ugly, joyless, nasty people people staring down on you. But I did love some like the portrats of William Blake and William Shakspeare for their graceful simplicity and the lovely expression of their eyes, and Harold Pinter’s and Neil Kinnock and his wife’s for their storytelling and gentle humour. And I heard Larry Friedlander talk about Portraits from Durer to Facebook at the Transforming Audiences 2 Conference at Westminster University. (see here)  Of course, doing all this research on Flickr I cannot help getting more and more interested in visual portraits. Last term my colleague Selma Koric and myself did a mini research project: “International exchange students using of digital photography to keep in touch with friends and family”, where we studied the use of photos for self representations on social media sites such as StudiVZ and the Russian version of Facebook. One tentative conculsion was, that a substantial level of media literacy is necessary for people to feel they are in control of their presence online, if not they are not happy and don’t know even exactly why.

NPG 212, William Blake

William Blake

NPG 1, William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

NPG 6185, Harold Pinter

Harold Pinter

NPG 6583, Neil Gordon Kinnock; Glenys Elizabeth Kinnock

Neil Gordon Kinnock; Glenys Elizabeth Kinnock

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