Hi, I’m Rudiger Meyer and this is my monthly newsletter covering what I’ve been up to and what’s been catching my attention.
A little Vascomat story to start with.
A few months before moving to Denmark in 2004, I received a book of photographs by Lars Hansen as a present. Hansen hele året, a photograph each day over the course of a year. The kind of project close to my heart. On the 21st of May 2002 he took a photograph of a Vascomat on Vesterfælledvej, a spot that I pass by each time I cycle in to work.
The lettering holds a certain charm, hard found in Copenhagen today. I’m often envious of Berlin when looking at all the fabulous signage posted by @Berlin_Type that apparently still exists there. There are a few examples in Copenhagen, but they’re few and far between. Some history on the Vascomat chain, popular throughout Copenhagen during the sixties, can be found here.
By 2017 it was covered in graffiti and looking decidedly shabby, and I took a photograph of it to compare with my adjusted version of Hansen’s original.
A few years ago it was cleaned out and for a while it seemed that a new place using some form of the Vascomat concept was on the cards – at least from what could be gleaned from new banners set up at the location. That project was however dropped for some reason and the corner converted into a fancy apartment.
A fence and a wall. Not quite as inviting as it once was.
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Earlier this year, shortly after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, I started following the ‘War Diary’ of Yevgenia Belorusets, sent out as a newsletter and published on the Isolarii website/platform. As I mentioned in my newsletter at the time, it offered a very human take on daily life during the invasion – a perspective very different from the newspaper reports. It all ended quite abruptly though after 41 entries, as she left Kiev for Warsaw. In appreciation of her work, both wishing to provide some form of support and interested in having her diary in book form, I responded to the Isolarii invitation and subscribed to their print publications: “Orientation for a deteriorating world. Every two months.”
Our books revive the extinct genre of isolarii—the ‘island books’ that emerged at the start of the Renaissance. Bound together were poems, stories, and artworks—each a supposed island, a space that held a singular idea.
The book arrived some months later, and as beautifully as it is put together, and as funky as the font is, I wasn’t prepared for how small it is. And how impractical that would be when it came to actually reading it. Fortunately I had already read it all online – definitely still the best place for that. It is nice to have it in physical form though. A memento (it was also part of the Ukrainian exhibit at the Venice Bienale) of the opening period of the ongoing saga, and a reminder of how much our relation to the war, and the focus of our concerns, has changed during the six months that have passed.
The afterword is available online, though the PDF is perhaps best read on a smartphone since it corresponds to the size of the print publication.
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In contrast Isolarii’s current project is the:
ISOLARII SUMMER STATION, or i🔆ii / ALICUDI.
Every day until September 4, as the sun sets on the volcanic island of Alicudi, one of our members will broadcast a special end-of-summer mix. You will receive a link via text message fifteen minutes before it begins. Each will be available for twenty-four hours, until the next.
One enters one’s telephone number and they send you a text message with a link fifteen minutes before the sundown chill-out starts.
There’s something fun in the shared-time aspect of it.
New islands—of thought, literature, art—are already emerging. We find these points of orientation, mapping a scattered community that spans continents and disciplines. To represent a world of many worlds, not a globe.
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TOKIO TŌKYŌ TOKYO. Craig Mod just yesterday completed a seven day walk though Tokyo, shared via his own special brand of pop-up newsletter. A collection of anecdotes, photographs, (personal) history, musings and reflections on society, care and craftsmanship. This time round, prompted by his experiences of walking through the city, often touching on the value of society ploughing wealth back into that which can be publicly accessed – a baseline lifting the lives of all.
After twenty-two years and seven consecutive days of walking the hell out of Tokyo, I now realize that I’d go to the mat for this city. I still can’t believe I made my way here so long ago, and found a way to stay. The city taught me care, introduced me to aesthetics and design and literature and people that would inform my entire career. It taught me loneliness and solitude, too, and in doing so forced me to confront both, to transmute them into more than hopelessness. The city showed me and continues to show me what’s possible. Continues to set the bar for what should be expected — no, demanded — of life and infrastructure and social goodness. The city says people can live with grace, can be honored, just like this, just like you. Look, it says — grace abounds. It’s yours to bear to witness to, if you choose.
(While his “pop-up” newsletters are free, the archives are only available via his Special Projects membership program.)
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I’m pleased to announce that the first episode of Atomar, a ‘Poetic Podcast’ in 8 episodes based around a collection of 40 poems by Lene Henningsen, is finally out.
Lene has written (in Danish) about the background of the piece in the Poetisk Podcast newsletter:
Atomar starts from a present, a real lived present, and visions break out from that present in attempts at change, expansion, movement. The eruptions are violent, atomic. There is cultural criticism, but also the desire to remember the beautiful, the depth of what culture can bear. There is in the microcosm a sadness over the difficulty or impossibility of relationships, and in the macrocosm sadness over something similar; the impossibility of peace and care of the planet.
One of Lene’s initial images for the collection was in terms of form:
I saw pages with spread, splintered words before me, with countless variations of spaces and pauses between the statements of the words, images, “melody lines”.
When I first read the manuscript I spent a lot of time imagining how one might translate those spaces on the page into an audio version – how to capture the proximity of the words to words on an adjacent line, for example. The at times non-linear aspect of reading them. But in the event the wonderful Danish actors Marina Bouras and Jens Albinus provided some inspired readings in which they didn’t dwell on the spatial aspect as much as I’d imagined. Perhaps more as an aid to the emphasis and ‘melody’ of the words, as much their placement in time. Both Lene and were very convinced by their readings and allowed the shape that they provided to determine much of what followed. A good deal of the work that I had envisaged had already been taken care of.
Since the voice recordings provided such a strong, within itself structured, base for the piece, I was left free to add some piano music (perhaps a little more about that in the next newsletter) and field recordings without the need to fill everything out. Allowing for the space both within and between the atoms, not all of the poems have music or sound added. It simply wasn’t necessary.
A number of the poems were read by both Marina and Jens, and a little along the lines of the Flowmatic Blood Moon podcast with Shadi Angelina Bazeghi last year in which two languages were simultaneously present, I enjoyed placing the the two voices alongside each other (panned left and right), presenting them more or less simultaneously – a kind of yin and yang. Since each of the readings were recorded separately the internal pacing of the lines remained somewhat independent of the other. With a little bit of shifting here or there a double presentation of these poems was easily achieved, that in some way corresponds to the non-linear aspect, the blurring in time of reading the poems spatially laid out on a page.
For the moment it’s all in Danish, but an English translation is on the way.
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And on another track Jamie Hodge (Born Under A Rhyming Planet) has released Diagonals, a collection of old recordings that I’ve been enjoying. As he explains on his Instagram:
Towards the end of 2016, I began, with the help of friends, to recover (non-digital) Performer and Atari Cubase sequence files from high school and college. Purchasing a Yamaha TG77 from the classifieds, I then went about remastering a number of Born Under a Rhyming Planet tracks (small “studio” FTW). That November, I wrote to @seancanty and Miles Whittaker, suggesting that they release remixes of these remastered stems. Having the good sense to say no, they suggested instead that I begin transferring and sending them what other material I could find. Six years and many emails later, they are releasing something of a love letter to electronic music and the friends that surrounded it. The recordings span my first reactions to the burgeoning Chicago rave and post-rock scenes of the early ’90s, NYC of the mid ’90s, Heidelberg and London of the late ’90s, Chicago in the early naughts and even a glimpse of Copenhagen in the teens. Thank you Sean and Miles for seeing this to fruition, @kumar303 and John Hughes Ill for helping with the files and tapes and @sti3 for lending his visage for the cover. I’d be remiss not to also thank Richie Hawtin and Dan Bell for seeing something in my demos.
All the best