Moon, Fog, Stag

Paula is back, challenging us to pick a word on Lost in Translation – so I picked “lunar” for a start. And there is also a daily Halloween challenge by Jennifer aka Tourmaline . where I am tad late with the fog and almost on time with the moon. which, all things considered, coincides very nicely with this day of the week: Montag / Monday / Lunedi / Lundi / Lunes.

The Long Escape. A Six Times Six Image Narrative

On The News

In August 2016, Austrian police discovered 71 corpses of refugees in the refrigerated container of a truck abandoned in a lay-by of a highway. This gruesome news story came to mind when I wrote a post about art and politics and tried to imagine what a ‘political’ yet ‘open’ toy photograph might look like. I am convinced humans should not be transported in containers, so there I went.

Experimenting with this setup, one thing lead to another: What if the police were there, canvassing the container terminal? What if they even apprehended a suspect? And what if questioning the suspect ended with a lawyer showing up, a lawyer who might himself be part of a trafficking ring?

Six Image Narratives

A six image narrative evolved. The idea of this format (or narrative structure) goes back to the Toy Photographers blog which invites toy photographers from around the world to contribute posts and join the discussion. In this case, Shelly Corbett had opened a six image narrative challenge:

“The idea behind this new series is to create a six image narrative that somehow tells a greater, more complete story than one image can. Your story can be a linear story, it can be a thematic story, it can be a story held together by technique. Whatever method you use, by combining six images, you’re able to tell a new story.  The hope is that you create a story that has a greater impact than only one single photo can have.”

More, more!

Once I had set my mind on the conspiracy, I knew the story would not end after six pictures. So I decided on doing a six times six image narrative: The larger sequence was first called crime series, and the idea  was that each picture could be the equivalent of a single episode (on a very small scale) while each six image narrative might be seen as something like a season – and the total of pictures reminding us of the capacity of a traditional roll of 36 mm film. So much for the math.

Now I am squeezing this post in after I have come half way and realize many of you might wonder what it is they are looking at. Now you know the project … and I hope you’ll join me for the next round which will start in two weeks. It might be interspersed with other pictures, depending on the time the production of the last two ‘episodes’ will consume.

Should you be interested in seeing the whole story in one piece, please follow this link to my homepage.

Surpassing Himself


This week, Krista at The Daily Post presents us with a “New Horizon” challenge: “Think ahead and show your work in a representative photo. If you set New Year’s resolutions, give them some thought a few weeks early. If resolutions aren’t your style, show us something that you want to achieve — it could be setting a new goal, making plans, or even tackling that pile of laundry waiting by the washer. The goal is to get out of the busy ‘now,’ and imagine your new horizon. Go!”

Dot City


Paleica at gives photographers a month to come up with responses to her challenges, which is nice to begin with. In January and February I used the time to photograph and select, and came up with a retrospective by the end of the month. Today I see it differently. I photographed Formen & Figuren (shapes and figures), trying things out. I intend to share them over the month so we can see what develops (if anything develops at all).

“Organized Noise” – an Afterthought




Paula at Lost in Translation kindly asked me to host a guest challenge which I gladly did because those challenges often entail great discussions. That’s what’s happening… Jo wondered if organizing noise was something like finding beauty in ugliness. I remarked that the phrase might also be understood as “ordering chaos” and then realized that this answer might make sense in more ways than I would have thought.

1. I was reminded of Michel Foucault’s L’ordre du discours, “The Order of Discourse.” Order/ordre seems to signify  system here, or disposal, also connoting terms like regulation or even directive.

According to Foucault, there is no knowledge to be had outside of Discourse. Discourse decides what can be said within reason and what cannot, and what form a proposition must have. By exerting this power, Discourse forces knowledge into existing: The ways in which we can think or speak about anything determine what we can know about these things.

2. I was also reminded of Alfred Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz, one of the masterworks of Modernity. Writing this novel, Döblin saw himself confronted with the problem of representing all the things happening simultaneously in a metropolis. As a solution, it seems, he chose the form of collage. And in one of the many essays that may be read as commentaries of his work, Döblin asks: “Was steigt in das Becken des Jetzt?” – “What will climb into the Pool of Now?”

Climbing into the Pool of Now: I love this metaphor! Today I get the impression that it is also a photographer’s (and an artist’s) question: What will be allowed to ‘climb’ into the picture – now?

Answering this question by releasing the shutter, we force pictures into being, pictures of a world that often presents itself to us as an incomprehensible chaos. Pictures then can help us sort it out, no matter if we choose the counter-discourse of art or the discourse of reportage.

Pictures from Litfaß session no. 11

Thursday’s Special at Paula’s: Organized Noise



The notion of son organisé seems to be central to composer Edgar Varèse’s understandung of music. “Son” can be translated into both ‘sound’ and ‘noise,’ and it is the ‘noise’ part that fascinates me. For music, it means broadening the material that can be used for a composition: Varèse apparently claimed that ‘noise’ is only another word for any sound one subjectively does not like .

In my eyes the concept of organized noise begs the question of its applicability to pictures. Photography is known to record ‘noise’ in capturing the old, the broken, the decrepit – the sights someone might not like subjectively. The medium appears to lend itself to this aesthetic choice, and it has been keenly criticized for it.

But there is also the aspect of organizing noise into music – or visual ‘noise’ into pictures. Some sights overwhelm us with their complexity, some with their ugliness or apparent meaninglessness. Nonetheless, I claim that photography can be a means of reducing this complexity, or making sense of the ‘noise.’


So, how to approach this? Here is a couple of thoughts:

  • Take your pick: Not all available ‘sounds’ have to be heard at the same time – not all the available elements have to go into the composition of the picture. Get closer, eliminate some of the ‘noise.’
  • Look for a main voice: Find a visual anchor that dominates all the other elements. Or look for a visible hierarchy of 1st, 2nd, 3rd (etc.) voices. What’s dominant? What’s just background noise?
  • Find a rhythm: Straight horizontal or vertical frame-to-frame lines can convey such a sense.

For this challenge abstract pictures may work better than those showing recognizable objects. The abstract pictures in this post were made ‘using’ the battered trash container below.

DSC02481-kComments are closed for this post because I would like to invite you to visit Paula’s Lost in Translation and participate in the challenge. Thank you – and have fun!

Schilder und Schriften







Winter is almost over (as far as the dark time of the year is concerned) and yet I did not play around with city lights as much as I had intended, so Paleica’s Magic Motto Schilder und Schriften (signs and fonts) presented a welcome opportunity to do just that. I am not sure the Muses will be good to me again, so I think this is the final post for this challenge.

Be sure to enjoy the other participants’ entries!


Project 03 | Understanding Art. KIT – TAU (2)


As I moved around the art, the art moved me..

Kunst im Tunnel (KIT) is one of Düsseldorf’s most original museum spaces. It is literally part of a tunnel, a little odd-shaped piece of concrete left over above the actual tube and beyond a beautiful riverside walk along the Rhine river. It is very low at one end and very narrow at the other, and between the two ends, it is shaped like banana, or rather a banana box. The place is worth a visit in itself.

Tau, on he other hand, is the German word for both dew and a rope. It was chosen as a title for the collective exhibition of a class of Düsseldorf’s academy of the fine arts. The leaflet explains that no single work is ascribed to a single artist, thus drawing a parallel to both dew and a rope which are both constituted by smaller elements (the droplets, the single threads).

As a way of exhibiting art, this seems to be halfway between the art school exhibition I showed before and the museum I plan to take you to in some upcoming posts.

Let me just add that being there with a permit to photograph, I felt like a kid in a candy store.

Project 03 | Understanding Art. Interjection


Sometimes even the most dubious characters in a mystery novel have a lot to say. In Ben Aaronovitch’s Whispers Underground, an artist speaks his mind: “There’s no point asking what a piece of work means, you know? If we could express it in words, do you think we would have spent all that time bisecting a cow or pickling a shark? Do you think bisecting a cow is somebody’s idea of a fun fucking afternoon? And then to have stupid people come up to you and say, ‘It’s very interesting, but is it art?’ – yes, it’s fucking art. Do you think I’m planning to eat the fecking thing?” (p. 285)

I kind of like the reasoning here: Art can be defined by the use we make of it. And it is hard to talk about. So why not try to understand it non-verbally? That’s what my March/April project is about. You can participate! Details can be found here and on the ‘2015 Projects’ pages.

Project 03 | Understanding Art


Making pictures helps me understand history and memory as well as architecture or nature or the aesthetics of a movie. In contrast to scientific understanding, I would like to call the insight I find using photographs aesthetic understanding. The goal may well be beyond language.

Now this idea seems to be supported by a rather new book about visiting museums. Among other things, the author suggests we make photos of the works we see: “Taking pictures is also a way of connecting to and participating in the art, as it unleashes our excitement and involvement. Taking a clever picture can lead to more meaningful interaction with art. […] Challenge yourself, not by attempting to capture the artwork itself, but your experience of it.” (Johan Idema, How To Visit a Museum. Tips for a Truly Awarding Visit. Amsterdam: BIS, 2014)

For this month’s project, the challenge is to make clever photos of a work of art, capturing your experience of it. If the museums you visit are too restrictive about photographing the exhibits, try to find an artwork that is displayed in public – I am sure there will be plenty of them once you start looking.
Since the projects I have in mind for this year are not simple, I decided to switch to a bi-monthly rhythm, giving us all more time to come up with ideas (or time to post more pictures).

The pictures in this post were taken at an art school where I happened to visit a students’ exhibition a couple of weeks ago. The works were on display in the studios, giving the exhibition an atmosphere of authenticity and immediacy, making the visitors part of it all.

February Project | The Elements. Glass

Glass-3Despite appearance, these are straight photographs. They show a distorting mirror reflecting an interior. The blue part in the first picture for example is my photo backpack. These mirror images are my own contribution to this month’s photo challenge: I chose glass as the ‘element’ I want to tackle. (In case you’d like to participate, you can also leave your comment here.)