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running words around
design education and visual communication
authored by chris m hughes

Luftbobler @ Transmediale/CTM

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Last week I was in Berlin on our annual study trip - three tutors and 30 students - ostensibly to attend the 25th Transmediale Festival.

Berlin has so much to see in terms of design and the creative arts, and we managed to cram in visits to The Berlinische, the Bauhaus Archive, the Pergamon and Neues Museums, and Buchenstabmuseum. The Bauhaus Archive in particular was superb, and featured, much to my delight, an exhibition  called 'Werbegrafik 1928-1938' by renowned graphic designer Herbert Bayer.

A personal highlight however was an evening's entertainment at Transmediale, in partnership with Berlin’s annual contemporary and electronic art and music festival CTM, as Dinos Chapman gave a performance of 'LuftBobler' to a packed audience in the HKM auditorium.

The CTM festival theme of ‘Dis Continuity’ was aimed at exploring the connections between past and present musical movements in the context of  DIY pop culture and academic research, and featured over 150 performances, concerts and installations, split across the city’s iconic industrial arts venues including Berghain, Stattbad and Kunsthraum Bethanien.

Myself and fellow tutor Richard Bisset went along to see if Chapman could live up to his growing reputation as a musician and techno producer.  Chapman duly delivered, with a superb 90-minute live set, augmented by a series of spooky custom-directed films, featuring (one assumes) the artist himself dressed in a white rabbit suit, exploring urban and rural landscapes, via a mixture of overlays, collage and digital colour effects.

Chapman began making experimental electronic music re-creationally a decade or so ago, and his music is apparently inspired by 'insomnia, horror movies, and boredom'.  Which is a very good mix, and might explain why Chapman was recently described by The Wire as 'a sort of David Lynch of the dancefloor.'

The actual music reminded me a lot of early Aphex Twin (circa Selected Ambient Works 85-92), with a mixture of spaced out trance percussion, cacophonic noise and intermittent melody.  In that sense it didn't seem particularly ground-breaking, but it it did manage to feel energetic and, more importantly for a major visual artist moving into a new medium, relevant. Get a flavour of the work with this video: