Monday, November 13, 2006 

the end

Well, it is my last evening here in Berlin and I’m sitting in a sketchy Internet cafe a couple blocks from our apartments. I absolutely cannot believe that this program is over. Yet I still have a whole month before I go back home, and I think it’s actually going to be weird being in cities and not having to worry about classes and projects and all that stuff. Overall, I’m very happy with how this program went. I had never made new media before, and I actually didn’t really know what new media was, but here I am, nine weeks later, with a term full of experiences abroad. The only physical evidence I have to show for it is a folder of photos, this blog, and a pretty awesome Google Earth map showing my perceptions of some of my favorite places. If somebody had told me at the beginning of September that I will have not only spent hundreds of hours on a project, but enjoyed making it and felt proud of my piece, I think I would have been a bit surprised. I don’t consider myself to be much of an artist or a programmer, but it turns out you don’t really have to be either to make art. You just need an idea and the motivation to carry it out to the best of your ability. And that’s what I did.

This weekend, I got to do a bit of the more tourist-y Berlin stuff because Joe and I wanted to go collect some footage to work into our project later. We went back to the Holocaust Memorial, and then we waited in long lines to go to the top of the Reichstag and the big tower at Alexanderplatz that must have a name, but I don’t know what it is. Both of them had amazing views of the city, and of course, I took a ton of pictures. At right, looking east from the Reichstag. There’s little droplets of water on it because it started to rain, and it was so windy up there that it made me feel like I was snowboarding. Yes, that’s an odd association, but that’s what came to mind at the time. Below is a shot I took from the dome on top of the Reichstag, and I like it because the sun is peeking through the clouds in a really interesting way, and then up in the clouds you can see reflections of the mirrors in the dome behind me.

The tower in Alexanderplatz was slightly less impressive because it felt so dark and enclosed. However, I could see so much of the city from there, and it really made me feel small seeing how much I was surrounded by. I only traversed a tiny part of that during my two weeks here. Up in the tower, they have those big binocular-like machines, so we picked our favorite area of the city and forked out 1 euro to see it in a bit more detail. I think I managed to find our apartment building with it, which was pretty neat. Below is a photo I took through it of wind turbines way out on the horizon. The city seemed to just end out there and blend in with the fog, but there were these turbines cranking away.

This might be my last post for a while because I’m not really sure what my Internet situation will be like for the next month. Tomorrow morning, it’s off to Prague, and then on Friday down to Vienna. Then we’re going to Copenhagen to visit some Carleton friends and apparently I’ve been assigned to cook the Thanksgiving turkey. That should be interesting.

Sunday, November 12, 2006 


Okay, so I am really excited about this.

It might not actually be brilliant, because it was late last night when we came up with it, but I think it's a pretty interesting way of setting up our website and presenting the project. We were trying to write a short overview of the project to put on the very front page of the website, as kind of a way to capture the attention of people, and provide information for those who don't want to read all of our more detailed stuff. I was having a hard time explaining to Joe what I envisioned for this text, and halfway through writing it, it hit me: it was an ABSTRACT!!! And with all of my science/social science background, that idea is way exciting, because that implies that it's introducing some sort of research. That got us to thinking, hey, maybe our project is research, and we really think that it is. It's research into the idea of using traditional mapping platforms (ie Google Earth) as an artistic platform, and our writing thus far about the project has even been pretty close to fitting into the frame I would use for a typical psych research paper. So, I think we're going to set up the website under that framework, presenting our project as an artistic form of research. It still needs some tweaking, but it's seeming like it will fit fairly well into that format. The evolution of mapping essay I posted is the "background" of the project. The project itself is the "results" section. The thing we were working on last night is definitely the "abstract," although it is not quite polished yet, and we are going to be writing a "discussion" that brings together our feelings on the project itself and its place in the larger scope of things. The last part of a research paper, and probably my favorite to write because of how simple it is, is the "methods" section. And voila, our art is a form of research! So, here is the most recent section we have completed. For the rest of them (and the polished product), you will just have to wait for the website. I'm not entirely sure when that will be up, because we want it to look good, but a link will definitely end up here when it is ready.

During the nine weeks we spent studying in New York, London, Amsterdam, and Berlin, we selected places that stood out as being notable in our experience of each city as a whole. For each of these places, we built a 3-D model in Google SketchUp that portrays the place, either in an architecturally accurate manner, or a more artistic one. We then created a project in the place, using various digital mediums and software. These media projects were intended to capture the place as we experienced it, creating a snapshot as a record for others to view and understand the elements of place that most stood out to us. The models were imported into Google Earth, and we placed links on them that led to the media projects hosted online. By combining these individual places into one single map, our entire journey is chronicled and archived, and our experience of place can be followed by anybody who is interested.