Sunday, April 30, 2017

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 18

Planetarium Hamburg,
Day to geek out with my daughter at the Planetarium Hamburg.
Happy Labor Day / Tag der Arbeit!

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 17

Slide: 7 / of 9 from January 2017 Wired article: The panels were slotted into place like pieces of a puzzle. Photo Ben Koren.
The talk of the town here in Hamburg is the Elbphilharmonie. All of its shows sold out immediately. The New York Times explained how Director of the Elphilharmonie Mr. Lieben-Seutter then "resorted to offering tickets for 'blind dates,' events of an unspecified genre featuring yet to be determined performers. Those, too, have sold out."

A friend of ours went this last Saturday determined to get a ticket. For an 8 pm performance, she arrived at 6:30 to stand in line at the ticket shop for the few tickets (apparently about 30 for 60 people) made available just before the show. When the last ticket sold, she held a card saying that she was searching for tickets. And a subscription holder sold her one. So there is hope.

What's particularly exciting for me, as this Wired article from January 2017 describes, is the way that the building was designed. Having taught the history of computational architecture as part of my Art and Electronic Media class at Florida State University and now at Davidson College, visiting the Elbphilharmonie, is an ideal way to update that research. More from the Wired article about its design:

The auditorium—the largest of three concert halls in the Elbphilharmonie—is a product of parametric design, a process by which designers use algorithms to develop an object’s form...“That’s the power of parametric design,” he [acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota] says. “Once all of that is in place, I hit play and it creates a million cells, all different and all based on these parameters. I have 100 percent control over setting up the algorithm, and then I have no more control.”

Strategies for parametric design in the Elbphilharmonie by Korean acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota with Herzog and De Meuron
And the final results...

Herzog and De Meuron, Elbphilharmonie, 2007–2016, Hamburg, Germany

Friday, April 28, 2017

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 15

Vito Acconci inside one of his modules for “Project for Klapper Hall,” from 1993-95.Credit Fred R. Conrad for The New York Times

Sad to hear of Vito Acconci's passing. Much of his work resonates with me, including his unexpected turn to public art that plays with our expectations for architecture. Two quotes from the New York Times review about his life:

1) In reference to his "Following Piece" from 1969:
“It was sort of a way to get myself off the writer’s desk and into the city,” he once told the musician Thurston Moore. “It was like I was praying for people to take me somewhere I didn’t know how to go myself.”
How I feel about my class at HFBK. It structures my research and forces me out of the studio to meet locals and see the city.

2) His career turn:
That ambition took hold fully in the mid-1970s, when, in a radical career turn, he abandoned the gallery world and remade himself as a highly unorthodox architect and designer, creating works like public parks, airport rest areas and even an artificial island on a river in Austria. 
The move confused his peers and caused his profile in the art world to recede, to the point where many younger artists who were indirectly influenced by his work had little idea who had created it. In his later years, Mr. Acconci sometimes agonized over this situation, but he said he had no choice but to follow his interests where they took him — which was no less than an ambition to change the way people lived.
3) His approach to architecture:
“I wish we could make buildings that could constantly explode and come back in different ways,” he said in one interview. “The idea of a changing environment suggests that if your environment changes all the time, then maybe your ideas will change all the time. I think architecture should have loose ends. This might be another problem with Modernism — it’s too complete within itself.”
Why I'm studying the Chilehaus, but more about that in another post.

“Murinsel,” a floating platform in Austria designed by Mr. Acconci. DeAgostini/Getty Images
CrediDeAgostini/Getty Images

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 14

Off to the University of Hamburg main library to get an overview of their collection.

The main entrance is at Von-Melle-Park 3 (the blue marker on this map).

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 12

Jesko Fezer, 

Reading about Jesko Fezer—head of HFBK Design focus, a popular professor here, pictured above in purple. Like many, he commutes from Berlin where he lives. Degrees at HFBK are interdisciplinary, but students chose a focus (listed here), and in the German tradition, study under one professor. All of the classes here are pass / fail. The students only have to pass a few classes, but many collect more credits than they need and are self-directed. Based on the quality of work at the graduation exhibition last summer 2016, this laid-back systems seems to be working surprisingly well.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 11

The Sustainability Pavilion, Osakaallee 9, 20457 Hamburg, Meeting place for our tour with Urban Planner Thorsten Gödtel
Inside Osakaallee 9, reviewing Hafen City plan
Underground to other side of Hafen City 
Playground design influenced by kids in a day-long workshop
Testing trampoline!

Monday, April 24, 2017

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 10

Hafen City Tours, Grüner Landgang / “Green” shore tour,  

Tomorrow my HFBK class will go on the following tours about Hafen City and FRISE.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 9

New gallery in Hamburg, Germany, 4'O Clock Light, More at 
Last Monday, I met Diana Perry Schnelle and Wolfram Schnelle, who just started a gallery in their living room here in Hamburg. The name: 4 O’Clock Light was inspired by a Frank O’Hara poem. The show: David X Levine, an artist known for making bright drawings with hundreds of layers of colored pencil. More at

Saturday, April 22, 2017

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 8

Post-Internet Cities Conference, MAAT - Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology | Lisbon, 26 May 2017

Just booked a flight to Portugal the week before this conference, but I need to teach a class in Hamburg on the day this is happening.

Sharing the link in case somebody else out there wants to go. Looks great.

Friday, April 21, 2017

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 7

Gästehaus der Universität Hamburg, March 2017, just before we arrived and they had a warm spell.
Busy Friday so a short post. Our housing in Hamburg. Highly recommended in such an expensive city. You just need an affiliation with the university. schöne Wochenende!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 6

Husband Owen and six-year old daughter Sophia on Easter Sunday at the Kunsthalle Hamburg during my Fulbright here.

There were years, especially during job searches, where I hid the fact that I am a mother. In the States, questions about your family are illegal. Family takes you away from your professional commitments, true. But what people without kids do not realize is that it expands your world view, and your research, so profoundly, at a visceral level. I fought it for years, anticipating that motherhood would be the end of my career. And it wasn't. It caused me to be more focused, to prioritize. Ah but now the Fulbright. This long time dream. When I research "Fulbright with children," I found little advice or documentation. So as I struggle to focus on my Fulbright project and not worry about my daughter who currently hates her German school, I offer the reading the following link with excerpt about a mother who moved her children to Paris. This is hard on all of us, but worth it, I think.

We considered this question head-on in Paris, where the American School of Paris was one of our options for Kaitlin’s education in this city. Kaitlin and I visited together, and we both had the same reaction.

The American School of Paris could be the American School of Any American Town. Every student is from the States, as is every member of the faculty. English is the only language spoken. The curriculum, the calendar, the sporting events, the special events, the locker rooms... everything about the school is as it would be Stateside. Nothing wrong with this, per se, but it seemed a shame to us for Kaitlin to miss out on the chance to learn French, to make friends from all over the world… 
here’s what I can tell you: Your children will be fine. The truth is, their move will be harder on you than it will be on them. They will learn the new language quicker than you will, they will make new friends more easily, and they will assimilate more readily. 
If you let them. 
Our first six months in Paris, Kaitlin would sit at the dining room table after dinner doing her homework—all in French. Before our arrival in this country, she’d never studied the language. Then, overnight, she was studying in the language, doing high school math in French. The work would take her hours, after which she’d retire, exhausted and nearly in tears. 
Then she’d have to get up the next morning to return to school, where, again, all lectures, presentations, and course materials were in French. This shouldn’t be so hard on her, the mother in me couldn’t help but observe. I made an appointment to meet with her advisor at school, who said this: 
“Kaitlin is struggling, yes. But you must let her struggle. It is good for her.” 
This is the last thing a child wants to hear and the hardest thing for a parent to accept. But I tell you now, it is the right thing, the true thing. After six months of exhausting effort, Kaitlin was bilingual. She retains this asset, which, already, has opened doors for her. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 5

Hamburg Sud ship in the Port of Hamburg, sunny Sunday, April 9, 2017, photo by Joelle Dietrick
Photo from our port tour two Sundays ago with Barkassen Meyer. They drive the boat through the terminals, right next to the largest boats with shipping container. The tour is in German, but the company developed an app in English that you can download and put on your phone. Free with the ticket. More info here:

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 4

HFBK symposium this week on the Aesthetics of the Virtual. More info at: 
Symposium this Thursday through Saturday at Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg, the main art school here in Hamburg, where I am teaching one class during this Fulbright.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 3

In last Thursday's NYTimes, how one tax plan would tax imported goods but but exports. Having trouble finding online version of New York Times article. Trying to understand the impact on the shipping industry. Related reporting:

Saturday, April 15, 2017

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 2

Naeem Mohaiemen’s “Tripoli Cancelled” installation. Credit Mathias Völzke.
From the New York Times review of 2017 Documenta in Athens.
Reading today: A thorough review by the New York Times of Documenta 14 with brief summary of Greece and Germany's complicated history. For example I did not know that a Bavarian was Greece's first king after the country won independence from the Ottomans.

Friday, April 14, 2017

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 1

Screen Shot 2017-04-15 at 8.14.18 AM
HFBK Archive of Recent Design Classes

  • 100 days, Documenta as a Museum of 100 days
  • 100 Days of a Presidency
  • 100 Days Campaign, a publicity stunt by Amnesty International
  • 100 Days' Offensive, Allied offensive on the Western Front WWI
  • 100 Days' Reform, social reform in late imperial China
107 days left in my Fulbright and I will try to blog 100 posts.
Blogging felt relevant 10 years ago. As this Atlantic article explains, “Blogging — I mean, honey, don’t even say the word. No one actually blogs anymore, except maybe undergrads on their first week of study abroad.”
But for me, right now, it’s an easy lifeline to keep me productive during this challenging Fulbright. I have been working hard to get a Fulbright since 1995, when I took an independent study with Micaela Amato at Penn State with the sole purpose of getting one, and here I am 22 years later, 3-country Fulbright in hand. It has moved my whole family from sunny North Carolina (after we just transitioned there after my husband’s Fulbright to Austria) to a cold, rainy Hamburg where we live on top of each other, all sick with the flu. Surely it will get better, but in the meantime, this is my small goal: publish 100 posts.
This week in summary:
  1. First class at HFBK. I had no voice because of the flu. Only 6 students showed. The projected-movie-as-back-up plan could not be seen because of broken curtains. The students explained that they are not graded and will have to miss weeks here and there for travel. I am in culture shock but curious. It is a well-known art school. Wim Wenders, Thomas Demand, Marina Abramovic and many other well-known artists teach or have taught here. The art on view here last June 2016 was impressively high quality. Clearly they accomplish much without energy given to compulsory attendance or grades.
  2. Although our sick family-of-3 feels on top of each other in this city apartment, the Gästehaus der Universität Hamburg has been a good fit for our family. Last Wednesday evening, the Gästehaus team hosted a social hour where I met an economist from Poland, an American librarian studying Medieval block prints stored in amulets, and my favorite, Anna Stavrakopoulou, Associate Professor of Theatre Studies in Thessaloniki and Associate Director at Center for Hellenic Studies Harvard University. When I asked about her thoughts on Documenta, she lucidly described Germany and Greece’s complicated history. This morning, I read more in the New York Times review of the exhibition. I hope that she might participate in my HFBK seminar and we collaborate in the future. The Fulbright was formed in hopes that such connections would be established and flourish.