Reading & Workshop with Ulrich Blumenbach on „Translating (as) Infinite Jest“

Seminal novel, ingenious translation.

The novel Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (1962 – 2008) was published in 1996 and is regarded as a masterpiece of US-American literature. Like no other writer of his generation David Foster Wallace knew the Oxford English Dictionary by heart, was highly educated and could mimic various linguistic styles perfectly. Thus his book became not only an encyclopedic novel with 388 endnotes, some of which stretching themselves even over pages. The novel also displays a huge arsenal of figures, each of them speaking more or less in a unique way.

Ulrich Blumenbach receives the Basler Kulturpreis 2016.

Despite these challenges the Basel based translator Ulrich Blumenbach was not intimidated by this seminal novel and took up the task of translating it over the course of six years, as precise as creative and affectionate. Since the German translation has been published in 2009, Ulrich Blumenbach received numerous prizes for his excellent translation, e.g. the Hieronymusring für besondere Leistungen in der literarischen Übersetzung (2009), the Prize of the Leipzig Book Fair in the category Translation (2010) and the Basler Kulturpreis (2016).

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A Recommendation: „Literature in the Digital Age“ Online Course starts March 13

Did you ever have to dump books at an airport due to excess luggage after a long trip with many souvenirs? I just had. Awful expirience. Almost like dismissing friends. But despite having gone more and more digital after I participated as a student in last year’s first run of the terrific Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Literature in the Digital Age, I still brought three paperbacks with me on my 10-weeks-research trip to Australia.

I did it because I still and always will love the feeling of having „book-books“ around me. They look, feel and smell nice, they never run out of batterie and they are just a lovely companion on any kind of lonesome trip. And yet they can become quite bothersome or even an obstacle if you have to travel or move a lot, especially in globally connected, flexible and racy times like ours.

For situations like these an ebook reader is certainly a great alternative, although no substitute, if you ask me. But „literature in the digital age“ is so much more than only reading or writing a text on an electronical device. As the lead educator Philipp Schweighauser explains in this interview very nicely, the reading strategies of „social reading“ and „distant reading“ are just two of various examples how digital technology challenges literature and books nowadays.

In this MOOC  Philipp Schweighauser, Professor of American and General Literatures at the University of Basel (Switzerland), will take you on a six week journey through the world of literature in evolution. Together with my colleagues I will be one of the four mentors of this course and it would be my pleasure to attend you on this trip. You can join anytime but it is most fun to start in Week 1 with most of the other participants from all over the world. Just have a look!

„Desert Bloom“ received renowned Karl-Sczuka-Preis for Radio Art

Yesterday the German sound artist Christina Kubisch, the producer and composer Peter Kutin and the musician and sound engineer Florian Kindlinger, both Austrian, received the renowned Karl-Sczuka Preis für Hörspiel als Radiokunst at the Donaueschingen Festival. Their radioplay Desert Bloom, which was produced only in English, is an intriguing portrait of the city Las Vegas, of its shiny, gloomy and fake promises of quick wealth – and of  its dark, disturbing sides as well.

This city portrait is mainly told by the means of electric static, by noises that the human ear normally cant’t perceive. Christina Kubisch is well-known for developing her very special head phones which make it possible to discover the un-hearable side of modern cities and environments in the context of her performances and so-called Electrical Walks.

img_2057Being a great fan of Christina Kubisch’s work I of course went to the arward ceremony. Asked how she came up with the idea if portraiing Las Vegas this way, Christina Kubuch just replied: „Oh, I married there once.“ Listening to Desert Bloom I venture to say: It was definitely worth it…. Congratulations to all the artists!

Interviews on Art, Technology & Feminism

From this week on my radio interview series „Art, Technology, Feminism“ will be broadcast again within hör!spiel!art.mix at Bayern2. It was a great pleasure and experience to speak to four such inspring female artists and scientists. Afterwards the interview with VALIE EXPORT, the interview with Ute Holl, the interview with Cornelia Sollfrank and the interview with Silke Wenk will be available as podcasts in German.

Photo credits in order of slide show:

VALIE EXPORT CC BY-SA 3.0 Manfred Werner, Ute Holl © Andreas Zimmermann, Cornelia Sollfrank CC BY-SA 3.0 Cornelia Sollfrank, Silke Wenk © Eva-Maria Evers.

Okwui Enwezor on „Aesthetics & Postcolonialism“

Before I left the drama department of Bayern2 Radio for working at the University of Basel and starting my PhD, I had the great pleasure to interview Okwui Enwezor, who had just become the director of Haus der Kunst in Munich. Tonight the interview from 2011 with interesting insights on growing up in Nigeria, being a young black man in the New York art scene in the 1980s and many more will be broadcast again. You can listen to the pocast here. (All dubbed in German)

Okwui Enwezor, director of Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany. Foto: Andreas Gebert

Okwui Enwezor, director of Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany. Foto: Andreas Gebert

Todtnauberg: Researching Paul Celan’s encounter with Martin Heidegger

The philosophical radio magazine „Sein und Streit“ asked me to visit for them the hut of Martin Heidegger in Todtnauberg, a climatic spa approximately 60 minutes by car from Basel in the Black Forest. Of course I knew about this famous hut, which Heidegger acquired in the early 1920s and where he concentrated on developing his fundamental ontology.

Heidegger’s hut above Todtnauberg and the famous well with the star-die on top. (August 2016)

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80 Years Living Legend: Happy Birthday, Bazon Brock!

Birthday boy takes a nap.

Birthday boy takes a nap.

Today Bazon Brock turns 80. Being an unique mixture of an artist and an polymath, Bazon Brock studied with Theordor W. Adorno, helped to bring Fluxus to Germany in the 1960th and was a close collaborator of Joseph Beuys and Wolf Vostell. Brock is emeritus Professor of Aesthetics and Cultural Education at the Bergische Universität in Wuppertal, Germany.  He developed the method of “Action Teaching”, in which the seminar hall becomes a place for staging oneself and others. From 1968 until 1992 he launched the documenta-schools for visitors. As „Bazon“ is the Greek word for a talkative person, Bazon Brock developed talking and the mediation of art to an art form, always driven by on the one hand his fury against Hitlerism, which he suffered severely of as a child, being a refugee at the end of the Second World War from the east, and on the other hand by his euphoria to be alive.

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Lecture „Catastrophes and the Noises of Radio Art in the Digital Age“

On Tuesday, the 17th of May I will present the current state of my dissertation project at the Research Colloquium of the English Seminar at University of Basel. I am very much looking forward to this event.

Crashing of the airship LZ 129 Hindenburg on the 6th of May 1937 in Lakehurst, New Jersey (USA). Foto credit: Sam Shere

Crashing of the airship LZ 129 Hindenburg on the 6th of May 1937 in Lakehurst, New Jersey (USA). Herbert Morrison’s radio report about the catastrophe is one of the oldest documents of radio history. Foto credit: Sam Shere

This is what my talk will be about:

„The antagonism between the technological development towards perfectly clean digital radio sound and the common idea of radio as a noisy analogue medium is crucial for contemporary radio research. From a literary and media studies perspective this antagonism can be scrutinized very well in the extensive corpus of over 40 radio plays by the German radio artist Andreas Ammer. Especially three of his works, which he created together with the German noise musician FM Einheit, are examined thoroughly within my PhD project. These plays are “Apocalypse Live” (1994), “Deutsche Krieger I – III” (1995/1997) and “Crashing Aeroplanes” (2001). All three of them broach the issue of “the noises of radio art in the digital age” by the means of catastrophic plots.

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A Revelation: Alan Macfarlane On Writing

I have written all my life: articles, features, essays, diaries, letters, columns, seminar papers, speeches, lectures. I have experienced writing as burden and as bliss. Writing never stopped to fascinate me. Still I felt unsatisfied with my way of writing. Most of the time I have written for money as I used to work as a journalist since my teenage years. This is certainly not the worst reason. But I always had this other longing. I wanted to experience a different kind of wirting and yet not a  poetic, fictional one. I was looking and longing for way of writing about the world, about so-called „reality“ as well as about art I neither learned at school for journalism nor at university, especially not at German university. Eventually today a friend of mine drew my attention to this interview on writing with the British anthropologist Alan Macfarlane.

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Radio portrait of Miranda July

On Sunday night, the 3rd of April at 10.05 pm my one-hour long radio feature „Wir und sie und alle die wir kennen. Die kalifornische Konzeptkünstlerin Miranda July im Portrait“ will be boradcast in German at Zündfunk Generator on Bayern2 (afterwards available as podcast). Based on my November 2015 interview with Miranda July and my interview with the scholar Antje Czudaj, who wrote a book on July’s intermedial art, I am analyzing her work in a wider context. In this portrait I am looking at Miranda July’s background in 1990s Riot Grrlism in Portland, Oregon and at her own art work alike: I will talk about her short stories and her debut novel, her films and her media art pieces. Especially I will focus on the interactive and webbased project „Learning to Love You More“ (together with Harrell Fletscher, 2002 – 2009) and her latest intermedial art work „Somebody“, a combination of an app and a wonderful short film, which the fashion label Miu Miu of Prada helped her to realize.Thus I strive to unravel her artistic concept and claim that Miranda July should be regarded as one of the most interesting artistic voices of the current generation.