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"bird" Tag

Is it a bird? Is it a lamp?

Friday, March 8, 2013

‘Bibibibi’, one of the later works by Ingo Maurer, was a cheeky reaction on the modernist movement of the early eighties. Surrounded by the slick minimalism of artists like Donald Judd, Dan Flavin and Frank Stella, Maurer wanted to create a lamp that was exactly the opposite. Bibibibi is not only absurd in its image, but also in the material it is build of. The plate consists of porcelain, the legs are plastic, the bird’s body is metal and the top is fully made out of soft feathers. Especially the porcelain is a unconventional material to use with lamp-making and it makes the lamp almost afunctional, even though the light of the lamp, the bulb itself, is one of the most standard. The anti-functionality – the case that it can hardly be moved – makes the strongest comment on the minimalistic design of the beginning of the eighties, which was very much focused on the ability to use the object in every way desirable. Of course also the suggestion of some kind of narrative makes this lamp stand out compared to its contemporaries. It makes us wonder: what kind of bird does it represent? Is ‘bibibibi’ the sound it would make? What has the bird been through? Was there a certain background for Maurer to make it? Is there even a story behind it?

In my case it particularly reminds me of a character from one of the most famous Dutch children books, called ‘Pluk van de Petteflet’ by Annie M.G. Schmidt. This character is also a bird, but a rare species, which the people call ‘the Krullevaar’. Because this bird is so exceptional, the director of the city’s museum wants to make sure it will be in his collection, but then stuffed. The protagonist, Pluk, naturally saves the Krullevaar from this sad ending. However, this is exactly what happened to ‘Bibibibi’, he or she eventually ended up in a museum. Maurer initially succeeded in creating a lamp that was absurd enough to differ from the rest, but exactly because of this it landed in the Stedelijk, which only increases the lamp’s anti-functionality. This finishes Maurer’s wish to create something unique: the bird is caged and so is the design.


An Ornithological Recitation of Kurt Schwitters’ Ursonate

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

An Ornithological Recitation of Kurt Schwitters’Ursonate excerpt:

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There has never been a full agreement as to what were the key influences on Kurt Schwitters when he was preparing the Ursonate. An interest in bird songs and calls is known to have provided a lasting inspiration for Schwitters. A later poem, called Super-Bird-Song, written in 1946, at least claims by its title a direct contact between the lyric and the sounds of birds. I gladly trust in this.

Whether or not I am merely continuing the myth myself, I would like to give the Ursonate back to the birds.

During my research I got in contact with Prof. Dr. Gerhard
Spitzer, an ornithologist based in Vienna. We met in his office, listened to parts of the Ursonate recited by Kurt Schwitters himself, read the text out loud and tried to find the resemblance of bird songs within the piece. Having Dr. Spitzers advice as the fundament of my research,
I now work with ornithological field guides and encyclopaedias. And try to recreate in this way the entire Ursonate sung by birds.

This work is not finished yet —
it may grow and expand.

Astrid Seme [x] graduated from the "Werkplaats Typography" (WT) master program of ArtEZ Institute of the Arts.[x]

for more information about a preliminary excerpt [2'55"] on CD

go to:

The book that tantalizes me

Wednesday, September 8, 2010
The Braille book is lying behind a glass showcase. There is no information or description next to it. It is opened in the middle, so I can see two silver staples. The book is completely white. The size of it is like a magazine. I can see that the cover isn’t thicker than the rest of the pages. I can’t see the back and front of the cover, so I don’t know what it looks like. I choose the book because, at first, it doesn’t give me any information. I also choose it because it doesn’t have any letters or words on it, so can’t read what it is about. Even if I knew how to read Braille, I wouldn’t know cause I’m not allowed to touch the book. WANT TO TOUCH IT BUT CAN’T!

The Braille also attracts me in another way. When I look at it as if it is some sort of art, I see a beautiful pattern in the little bumps on the white paper. I can only imagine what it will feel like… The way the book is presented behind the showcase, makes me look at it from different angles. When I sit down on the floor, it is as if the book is coming towards me like a big white bird with spread wings. The book also looks empty to me, in a way, but there’s actually a whole story in it. It gives me room to image what the book is about. This book is part of the private collection of Irma Boom, so besides all the books with letters and photos, she also kept this one. I guess, in some way, it interested her. I don’t know if it attracted her in the same way as it attracted me. I guess I’ll never know why the book is lying there.

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