An Evening at the Net.Culture.Lab

May 11, 2007 at 9:23 am | Posted in Alps, Culture, Internet | Leave a comment
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A place called Net.Culture.Lab opened its gates in both Vienna and Dornburn this month – Eric Poscher, one of its local facilitator, told me about it and so we checked it out yesterday.

It’s mainly going to be a meeting and work place for anyone in Vienna and Vorradelberg interested in or pursueing a project in the vast area of ‘net culture’ (another buzz term I am not deeply fond of, but it works to impress investors; Telekom Austria is funding the project). And what a nice space it is! Located in a 5th floor penthouse in Dornburn, it well allows the visitor to imagine herself as an elevated being, disconnected from the hustle and bustle of Vorarlberg. Amazing what mere 20 metres can do!

sonnenuntergang im net.culture.lab


I’ll try to hang out as much as possible in this place – open to non-members every Thursday evening. I am almost beginning to regret to leave now – but that’s just a fleeting thought of course;-)

More Svankmajer, more Snow 28/40

March 20, 2007 at 7:21 am | Posted in Alps, Film | 2 Comments
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I took out another Svankmajer movie, this time real, um, Fetish stuff. Spiklenciu slasti (1996), or: Conspirators of Pleasure. Although not the types of fetishes that you’d expect in fetish movie. No S/M, no bodily fluids, no intercourse. No dialog either, which is probably the most remarkable part of it. There is not point in me giving you a plot synopsis, but I’d like to mention some plot landmarks: The killing of a chicken, the reconstruction of a chicken mask from porn magazines and feathers, the theft of fox fur, physical treatment with a rolling pin, television, carp fish, bread crumbs and breathing techniques. Some scenes are very Cronenbergian, in particular the television plot line which is often reminiscent of Videodrome (1983).

And as is typical for Svankmajer, it also has some really cool animation stuff in it, for instance stop and go motion with live characters who seem to be sliding across the floor. I like that a lot. The only thing that began to irritate me a wee bit was the excessive use of designed sound. For instance, the modeling of a chicken head from clay is made to sound like a jurassic monster rising from the swamp. Not everybody’s cup of tea. But it’s still refreshing to see a bit of formerly Eastern European cinema (can one say that the Czech Republic has meanwhile arrived in the West?), which has a a refreshingly un-exhausted imagery to offer to the Western eye. Some screenshots:

Conspirators of Pleasure

Conspirators of Pleasure

Conspirators of Pleasure

Turning to the weather department: Two weeks ago I had proclaimed the arrival of spring in the far West of Austria. How wrong I was! The snow we’ve been missing for most of the winter has now come down on us. The windows of my attic flat are completely snowed in, and snow keeps falling. And that two days before the official 1st day of spring! Astronomically, spring begins on the 19th to 22nd of March, with the spring equinox (Tagundnachtgleiche in German): that’s when the sun aligns with the equator and day and night are of the same length (the day during equinox is actually 14 minutes longer, Wikipedia tells me). This year, 2007, spring will begin on the 21st of March, 7 minutes past midnight (Coordinated Universal Time, 1:07 Central European Time). If the weather stays like this until and into the weekend, I’ll finally get on the train to see the Arlberg, considering that I live ‘vor’m Arlberg’ (in front of the Arlberg). And I doubt that I’ll ever live this close to the Arlberg again.

Here’s a shot taken from my French Balcony. Freshest finest snow! What I liked to do in the past was to fetch some snow, directly and fresh from the roof, put it in a bowl and top it with some fruit syrup – and there goes your fruit sorbet. But I won’t break Lent just for a bit of sweetened snow! Although last night, in my dream, I did it again: I secretly ate chocolate, deciding that one didn’t count:-x


First Day of Spring 12/40

March 4, 2007 at 6:02 pm | Posted in Alps, Austria, Nature, Posts in German | 1 Comment

Today we had the first proper day of spring in a very early spring this year (Of course it wasn’t the REAL first day of spring – that comes on the 21st of March this year with the spring equinox). The weather was lovely and so I went for a run. The third time this year, and while I normally get outrun by at least two thirds of the runners on my usual running course (and lapped once to twice by my boyfriend on the 2km sprint route that’s part of it), I was the undisputed queen of the road today. For most of the road. It seemed as if all those people who normally wouldn’t lift a leg or finger had all of a sudden decided to change their lives and do some sports. Most of them were not even running anymore when I passed them, but the trainers and shell suit gave them away. My boyfriend was ill and therefore couldn’t come running (which probably contributed to boosting my selfesteem;-) but followed a little later on the bike to catch a bit of sunlight, too.


The running course follows a river, in which we found the base of a vacuum cleaner that had gotten stuck between the rocks. I managed to free “Topfi” (literally ‘Potty’, as we decided to call the vehicle) and followed it a good stretch down the river until it eventually got stuck again, at a spot where we couldn’t reach it. Up to that point, Topfi had been the perfect vehicle and quick as silver in the current. We forgot to take another picture, but hope that the river is going to take him to pastures new one day. FREE TOPFI!




And now we move on to a very special picture. It is on the on hand an illustration of unattainable love, and on the other hand the story of two star-crossed lovers: Lady Black from the Golden Palace and Mr. Cool, the internationally renowned miniature golfer, both trapped in their respective snow globes.

But at least they have got each other to look at now, which is much better than being the only person trapped in a snow globe.

Thanks to Florian and the Korea crowd for helping to introduce the two to each other!

Unfortunately, Lady Black is a bit of a drinker, which is why she will soon be in it (perfume, not water) just up to her neck, but I am sure we will find a solution for that.

Und jetzt zu einem ganz besonderen Bild. Es ist einerseits die bildliche Darstellung von unerreichbarer Liebe und andererseits die Geschichte von zwei Liebenden, deren Liebe unter keinem guten Stern stand: Lady Black aus dem goldenen Palast und Mr. Cool, der international anerkannte Mini-Golfer, beide in ihren jeweiligen Schneekugeln gefangen.

Aber immerhin haben sie sich jetzt gegenseitig zum Anschauen, und das ist schon viel besser als die einzige Person zu sein, die in einer Schneekugel gefangen ist.

Vielen Dank an Florian und die Korea-Truppe für die Hilfe dabei, die beiden miteinander bekannt zu machen! Leider säuft Lady Black ein wenig und darum steht ihr das Wasser (bzw. Parfum) bald nur noch bis zum Hals, aber dafür werden wir auch eine Lösung finden.


In the meantime, we have put Uncle Herbert back to bed to make sure that he is going to recover soon.


Lent Daily Lent (Day 12): Lent, right. Lent sucks. Fasten macht keinen Spaß, but I am keeping the flag flying, ich bleibe weiter bei der Stange.

The Golden Hour 9/40

March 1, 2007 at 1:04 am | Posted in Alps, Austria, Consumerism, Food, Lent | 3 Comments

There are a couple of moments in the evenings, probably no more than half a minute, when the Rhine valley appears to be set aflame by a golden light. I have so often wanted to photograph it, but never had a camera at hand. I’m mostly at my office when it starts, but it is even more impressive from my flat, with the summits of the local mountains reflecting the sunlight, dramatically set against a backdrop of suddenly dark blueish clouds.

When it began today, I quickly launched the webcam that’s mounted on the Karren, the local mountain, and began capturing pictures. I gathered 50 and put them together into a tiny film. The film begin with the golden moment – which is not immediately apparent, as its effect derives from the contrast to the previous light. But you can see how the scenery falls back into grey after a few seconds. Lovely. The lake in the background is Lake Constance.

I imagine this magic moment is caused by the light finding a gap somewhere in the Swiss mountain ranges which it can only pass through at a certain angle and at a certain hour, for just these precious moments. That might not be the accurate explanation, it’s probably nothing more but the clouds giving way to the sub for a moment, but I like to think about it that way:-)

LentMy daily Lent message (Day 9): Whoo, nearly a quarter of Lent is over! Not only do I eat less, but my interest in food is generally declining. I went to the supermarket after work tonight, which is normally the worst time to shop as I am sooo hungry. Under such circumstances, I often drool at the sight of the original Austrian Schaumrollen vom Guschlbauer, dem Schaumrollenkönig. A Schaumrolle could be translated to cream role and is something close to a croissant with marshmallow filling, covered with sugar or chocolate icing, and it’s definitely the heroin of carbohydrate addicts like me. I think there was only one time that I actually dared to buy one and it was absolutely divine. ‘One’ is actually a lie, as they don’t come in single packs;-) No wonder America has a problem with obesity – I won’t forget the sight of the double dozen doughnut packs in the Walmart in Maryville, Missouri when I visited my boyfriend there. Scary!
With my Lent mindset, however, I went into the supermarket and just bought 1 kilo of Basmati rice, a litre of milk and half a litre of sour milk. It seemed as if the shop had nothing else to offer. I win, consumerism loses, Cool:-)

Snow at last!

January 25, 2007 at 3:09 pm | Posted in Alps, Austria, Global Warming | 3 Comments

The snow that we’ve been waiting for so long now has finally decided to fall, gracing the roofs and fields with its soft blankets… and the streets and gutters with slush. No, this winter is never ever going to come into full swing, the winter sales have already started, I’ll never learn skiing (thank God 😛 but hopefully we are having a mild spring coming up as well. Even the clouds of global warming have a silver stripe!





This looks pretty neat – but is a few kilometres away from where I live already (sorry, just a webcam pic!)


No Snow in the Alps

January 3, 2007 at 12:16 pm | Posted in Alps, Global Warming | 4 Comments
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EDIT (Jan 14): Skiing is now possible in the higher regions, but what you won’t get is a snowy winter wonderland wherever you go. Here is a link to a current snow report for Vorarlberg (West of Austria, on the border to Switzerland and Germany).

Vorarlberg in Austria

Although living in the alleged winter wonderland of Austria, there is hardly any snow around this year. Looking out of the window of my office, I can see some on the highest mountain tops, but those are already in Switzerland. Admittedly, you’d have to go a bit further up the province to find the ski resorts Vorarlberg is famous for.

I cannot ski, never have been able to, nor do I want to really, so I cannot be bothered. Snowmaking machines are an incredible waste of energy, but the only way to satisfy those nasty tourists excessive expectations at the moment. Only 30 centimeters of snow even in the higher skiable regions at the moment! Imagine global warming becoming worse over the next years (which it undoubtedly will). Let’s just hope people are sensible enought to stop the nonsense of creating artificial snowscapes in time. Of course they won’t be. The link people have established between the terms ‘snowscape’ and ‘Austria’ is just all too pervasive.

Here are a few pics my brother has sent me. He lives in the Northern most part of Hesse (Hessen in Germany) which is sometimes dubbed Hessian Siberia. Siberia or not: no snow this year.

N.B.: These pictures show a part of Germany, not of Austria




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