Tampere Media Museum

Here are my photos from the Media Museum. I found this small-size, but rich museum fascinating, partly because of the imaginative display; also, the fact that the display did not proceed chronologically, rather by presenting the development of one media after the other – printing and journalism; television; the telephone; photography; radio; computers and the internet, and so forth; and the fact that throughout the exhibition reflected on the dynamic and two-way relationship between technological innovation and society, as well as the continuities of our engagement with new technology – regarding both innovative uses and anxiety and social debates. The many local references – to Linux and Nokia, for instance – were also informative. Regarding continuity, the following was probably my favourite example:

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Harry Whittier Frees: ‘What’s delaying my dinner?’, 1905, USA. “The American Harry Whittier Frees photographed cats and dogs in funny situations in the early 20th century and sold them, for example, as printed postcards. Cat photos quite similar to those taken by Frees are very popular on the Internet even today”

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Realising that objects so familiar from my childhood – the Commodore 64 – and teenage years – the Sony walkman I used daily for so many years, tamagotchis, floppy disks, video cassettes – are now media history, museum items, was a particularly revealing experience. It reminded me not only of the speed of technological development, but also of how quickly and perhaps irrevocably our everyday objects, laden with rich personal and social meanings, become obsolete and therefore forgotten – or at least hidden, to borrow a metaphor from Sarah Baker and Alison Huber, ‘under the bed’ – ‘in places between remembering and forgetting.’

Baker, S. and Huber A. (forthcoming) ‘Saving “rubbish”: preserving popular music’s material culture in amateur archives and museums’, in S. Cohen, R. Knifton, M. Leonard and L. Roberts (eds.) Sites of Popular Music Heritage: Memories, Histories, Places. Routledge

Berlin visit 3-5 May 2013 Part I

Since my first visit to Berlin in September 2012 consisted only of one evening and one full day, and I used most of that time to observe All2gethernow’s music conference at Noisy Musicworld, I decided to return to do some further exploration of the city and its music heritage, as well as to become more familiar with Newthinking and All2gethernow. My host Andrea Goetzke made sure that I was able to do both.

In particular, upon Jez Collins’ recommendation, I was interested in visiting the Ramones Museum (truly amazing experience, especially for a Ramones fan like myself!) and participating in Fritz Music Tours. The latter on this occasion included a two-hour tour of Hansa Studios, led by Thilo (previously interviewed by Jez), which was then followed by a bus tour primarily centred around places related to David Bowie, as well as Iggy Pop, Nick Cave and others. Since Jez already reported on both the museum and the tour, I just want to mention how fascinating I found the sense of place the tour managed to convey – a sense of Berlin as a city for music making and creative inspiration sought out by people coming from various other parts of the world, both in the past, i.e. the Wall era, and in the present. Thilo’s amazing collection of photographs, which he showed us one by one as we moved from one room of Hansa Studios to another, or his demonstration of the Studio 1 mixing desk through playing music that was recorded at Hansa (Bowie’s Baal, U2’s One) made these locations feel less like the locus of heritage, and more a continuous, living source of exciting cultural activity.

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This sense was reaffirmed by a Bowie-themed exhibition (A Tribute to David Bowie HAUPTSTRASSE. The Berlin Years 1978-1978) at the small Egbert Bacqué Contemporary Art Gallery, where the bus tour ended. We were treated to an exciting introduction by Bacqué, the exhibition’s curator. As we learnt, upon hearing about Bowie’s new album, announced on the 8th January 2013 along with the release of a video for the new song “Where Are We Now” – a retrospective of Bowie’s Berlin years, which was in fact frequently referred to during the bus tour –, Bacqué immediately decided to alter the previously planned spring programme for the gallery and organise instead a homage to the artist. Photographer Joachim Seinfeld was commissioned to take photos of various sites significant in the Bowie story; besides these photos and the accompanying explanations, the exhibition also featured the work of various local artists inspired by David Bowie.ImageImage

Later I also spent some time walking around the Kreuzberg area, observing the variety of subcultural venues, and visiting places like the refugee tents in Oranienplatz – see the attached photos.

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Image(To be continued with a report on the 4th May WSLab workshop organised by Newthinking)