Thursday, December 25, 2008


Not really using canned vegetables often, I now have a reason to not use them at all. I needed some beans for cooking and ended up with a stone in the food. Holy crap. I cannot image the bad production criteria that let a stone get into the can.

Talking of food:
Awesome bentos. I love such a creative and aesthetic use of food. That's the kind of attention to detail and dedication that creates a great food culture

And another video on an important topic: Act Now


In Linz gibt es gerade die Ausstellung "Kulturhauptstadt des Führers" im Schlossmuseum. Die Aussstellung ist in verschiedene Schwerpunkte aufgeteilt (Architektur, Kunst, Literatur, Theater) und beleuchtet die Pläne, die Hitler für Linz hatte, und inwieweit diese umgesetzt wurden. Der Kunst-Bereich ist äußerst umfangreich und beinhaltet zahlreiche Bilder aus der Zeit der 30er und 40er. Man wird förmlich von der Kunst erschlagen. Die Ausstellung ist sehr empfehlenswert, da informativ (in erdrückendem Ausmaß), und brachte mir als Linzer einiges näher, wovon ich vorher nur wenig Ahnung hatte, auch wenn mir persönlich der Architektur-Teil ist leider etwas zu kurz gekommen (obwohl er auch umfangreich ist; da er für mich aber der interessanteste Bereich war, hätte ich mir gerne noch mehr gewünscht).
Die Ausstellung liefert auch kleine Einblicke in die Kindheits- und Jugendhintergründe und ich dachte mir öfters, dass deutlich wird, welche innerliche Verhärtung jemand erlebt, der immer wieder enttäuscht wird (Wiederholungsprüfungen in der Schule, mehrfaches Versagen in der Realschule, zweifache Ablehnung der Kunstuni, etc.). Mit 15 hatte er schon deutliche Umbaupläne für Linz. Derart gerichtete frühe "Ambitionen" indizieren doch, dass die Person schon jung sehr unzufrieden gewesen sein muss.


Am dritten Adventwochenende gab's auch einen mittelalterlichen Weihnachtsmarkt am Froschberg in Linz, auf den ich kurz zur Ablenkung vom Lernmarathon geschaut habe. Er war sehr klein mit wenigen Händlern, aber ich hatte eh nicht vor lange zu bleiben. Hängen geblieben bin ich dann doch, und zwar bei den lieben Menschen vom Mjöllnir Clan, die mich etwas über die Wikinger aufgeklärt haben und mir gleichzeitig ein bisschen linguistisches Fachwissen vermittelten, das mir bei meiner Prüfung in der darauf folgenden Woche geholfen hat. Ich bedanke mich herzlich und verneige mein Haupt ob der Liebe und Arbeit, die die niederösterreichischen Wikinger ins Handwerk stecken. Hat mich tief beeindruckt. Für mich ist jetzt auch nachvollziehbarer, was die Wikinger-Darstellung so reizvoll macht. Mal sehen, was das neue Mittelalter-Jahr bringen wird.


To finish off:
Here is an awesome song and video (ending song of the game Portal). It was, of course, written by the awesome Jonathan Coulton.


This year's Christmas card. Had planned to make real cards and send them off, but ran out of time. Thus, the cheap version.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What I learned from my thesis

Some concepts I came across while writing....

Religious transcendence.
In Christianity: transcending life and death.
In Buddhism: transcendence between the enlightened and unenlightened being.
Jean-Paul Satre: transcending the ego; meaning: allowing others to influence you.

engl. emancipation
* Befreiung
* Emanzipation
* Gleichberechtigung
(Nope, I was not aware of all these meanings.)

And some absolutely fantastic quotes from May Kendall's and Andrew Lang's That Very Mab (while I love Fiona Macleod's "The Annir-Coille" deeply, and of all texts for my thesis it is still my favourite one, when it comes to socio-political satire nothing can beat That Very Mab):

"[...] we are being educated up to a very high point. It saves people the trouble of thinking for themselves, certainly; they can always get all their thoughts now, ready made, on every kind of subject, and at extremely low prices. They only have to make up their minds what to take, and generally they take the cheapest. There is a great demand for cheap thought just now, especially when it is advertised as being of superior quality."

"[...] education is compulsory. Eating is
not compulsory; you may starve, you must learn."

"[...] it is part of their religion to walk as fast as they can, not only through Cheapside but through life. The one who can walk fastest, and knock down the greatest number of other people, gets a prize."

"Even the dynamiters themselves don't appear to have gone into the whole logic of it. I suppose that they are tired of only blowing things up on paper, and they are people who have a great objection to things in general. They complain that they can't get justice from the universe in its present state of preservation, and therefore they are going to blow as much of it as possible into what they call
smithereens, and try to get justice from the smithereens. It is a new scheme they have hit upon, a kind of scientific experiment. The theory appears to be, that justice is the product of Nihilism plus public buildings blown up by dynamite, and that the more public buildings they blow up the more justice they will obtain."


But the most important thing I learned from my thesis - stress, and that it's not really worth it. To continue with the quotes:

All the e-mails I get these days start with sorry but I've been busy, and I don't understand how we can be so busy and then have nothing to say to each other.
- Jon McGregor, "if nobody speaks of remarkable things"

We're taught that being busy and occupied means being industrious and hardworking. To me, however, it feels like a loss of the quality of life. The last few weeks, I've been so glad I'm doing Kendo, because it gave me the opportunity to get out and away from work and hit people. And, sometimes, that's just what you gotta do.

Ahem. But to stick to the truth, it's not the hitting-people thing that I needed. It's the part about getting away and emptying my mind. 'tis good that Kendo exists in my life.


It "only" took nine sessions of live-drawing and repeated urges from the supervisor for me to try out a different medium. Charcoal. It's actually quite cool and fun. I think I end up with better results for the 10-minute poses than with graphite. The longer poses still yield in nicer pictures with graphite.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Winter is coming

It appears there is nothing that puts me more off a film than having it begin with Keira Knightley, looking even more anorexic than usually, trying to sing erotically, followed by a close-up of Scarlett Johannson's mouth trying to exhale cigarette smoke erotically.
British films are really at their best when they do not try to imitate Hollywood and instead use their typical wit and charm, with actors that look like real people (with wrinkles and all).
(see Plots with a View for a great example of such films)


Some more stuff from the recent live-drawing sessions. We finally had a male model, and I quickly realised that drawing him isn't any different from drawing her. In the end, they're all objects consisting of light and shadow and are mostly, sadly, objecitfied by me.

We also did some movement studies, which I hate, hate, hate with a passion. How are you supposed to find an accurate line if the line changes all the time? (And the light and shadow changes, too.)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Evolution is Science Fiction

I read Serenity by Keith DeCandido, after the film of the same name, based on the best SciFi-series ever. The novel follows the series and the film very, very closely. This is a shame, because I liked the style of the author and he seems like someone who could bring neat additions to novels that follow films. Content-wise, the book doesn't add anything if you've seen the series/film, and it even seems awkward if you've read the unauthorized essays, because some of the character's thoughts don't add up (others, rarely, explain certain events better, which is what such a novel should do, in my book).
Novels that are fashioned after films usually disappoint me. It's rare that they bring originality into the plot, often because the writers are simply not allowed to think for themselves and expand the verse - the creator's fear of having someone else kill their darlings.
(A fear that may be understandable if you know certain types of fanfiction.)


There's this theory that was apparently very prominent in the 19th century. It describes the existence of "a racial or animal memory throughout the evolutionary process - a subliminal knowledge of generic past experience in each individual creature at her particular level of developed consciousness."
Today you call it basic instinct, I guess. Still, something in me refuses to accredit this theory. It seems weird to believe that, if you speak in theological terms, some memory or, rather, being of Lilith and Eva should be in me (given they existed, but we're talking theoretically here, so that's not the point). That all the past that there is in one's bloodline could be summoned up if you reach a certain level of consciousness, from the oppression in patriarchy back to the times when there were matriarchates.
We're more than the sum of our parts, true, but are we that much more?


I love this song by Tori Amos.

It reminds me of the time when I went to a ball and couldn't really relate to any of the people there, so I just went around trying to smile happily, while I was utterly bored inside. At some point a guy told me "You smile nicely, but you don't talk at all", which kinda ruined my attempt to fit it.
And this is what the song is to me.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Political Propaganda

Some interesting stuff I came across yesterday:

- Apparently Napoleons first words when meeting Goethe were "You're a man". This seems peculiarly surreal.
- Napoleon was not actually short, but rather of average height. His alleged shortness seems to have resulted from firstly political propaganda and secondly a mixing up of French and British inches.

And from my thesis:

- In former times, especially in Scandinavia, Elves and Dwarves were of the same origin (same race). Dwarves were a "tribe" of Elves that moved to the mountains and set up their habitations there (if I understood it correctly).
Elves, brownies, pixies, etc. are also often associated with the Lapps and some assume that the mythology of Elves and Fairies have their origin in reality, the Lapps. Asiatic people were also often called Dwarves.
Making me wonder how the contemporary distinction between Elves and Dwarves actually came into existence (my older sources describe Dwarves as beautiful, musical, etc. - so there is quite a conceptual jump in there). I'm guessing as globalisation took place in the last centuries, people became more nationalistic and ethnocentric, at the same time putting down other races, e.g. the Lapps and asiatic people (the Dwarves), resulting in an increasingly unattractive image of Dwarves.
I have, however, no confirmation whatsoever for that theory.


I'm deluding myself into thinking that I've actually improved a bit during the last three live-drawing sessions. My approach to drawing seems to have changed a bit (moving more towards volume rather than stick figures) and I seem more patient when rendering out sketches. Aaah, pretty delusions.
When I took classes five years ago this week's model was there, too. I think I even drew her in exactly the same pose in one case. Now I regret having thrown out all my sketches when I moved. Would have been nice to compare them.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Another bunch


I know now where I'll go looking if I'm lacking inspiration for my characters' clothes.


Amazon is granting a 10% discount for all books ordered in October by Austrian customers. Ohmigod. I did not want to buy even more new books in the near future, but I am SO gonna buy LOADS of books that are on my wishlist. (Hello consumer society. This is me. I fear I cannot refuse you if you offer me the printed word on paper between cardboard boxes.)
So in November, instead of writing a book, I will have to rent a thatched hut in Ireland, shut myself and read.

Ahem. Excuse me. My not-so-secret addition might have briefly taken over my brains. But I'm fine now. I think.


We did some 10min-poses today (usually it's twenty minutes). I also started a new sketchpad with darker paper, making it a pain to scan and and interesting experiment with highlights (failed experiment nonetheless).
Three hours isn't enough.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Linkage and Nekkid People

I've decided to keep this blog bilingually from now on, meaning I'll partly write entries in German if the content isn't really relevant for the non-German speaking world. I'm guessing that most will stay in English, though.


An artifical waterfall in Canal City, Fukuoka (Japan). Some really nice stuff going on there, especially towards the end.

And the new season of Heroes has started. Very nice start - I got a bit bored by in the middle of Season 2, but the first two episodes of number three are very promising.


I started live-drawing again, after not having done it for five years due to my studies. It's good to be drawing live models again. Hopefully it will improve my anatomy and drafting skills. Right now I probably have to focus on the anatomy and the lineweight; I'm still pronouncing parts of the body that lie further back too much.


Zwei interessante Artikel aus dem Standard: Am 23. September wurden die weltweiten Ressourcen verbraucht (in Österreich sogar schon im April, was uns wirklich zu denken geben sollte).

und ein Interview mit der 11-jährigen Tochter einer Ukrainerin über das Leben in Österreich und die gefühlte Ausländerfeindlichkeit.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


And here's the finished picture of the whole band:

Monday, September 01, 2008

Golling 2008

Went to the medieval fair in Golling yesterday. No photos, since my camera is broken. Instead, I used it for some life drawing and post-market sketching.
I enjoy life drawing so much at the moment. After some sketches, I tend to do more dynamic and interesting poses even without a model. And I tend to notice many more details about people's appearances and body-language when I draw them.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Quick sketch before going to bed.

(The Lord of War audio commentary is kickass. With a quality like that, you watch the film once, and every subsequent time you watch the commentary because it has more interesting information to offer.)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Byzantine WIP 3 - Mission Failed

The board is done and must be done anew. I messed up, so it has too few playing fields. Ahem. Sixteen are missing. Better luck next time.
So, when I said "if I ever do something like that again, I'll do everything differently" in my last posting, I didn't expect the "again" to happen so soon.

There're still so many things you can do with it and use it for. You only can't play chess.

And some by-products from my woodworking spree. Yes, they all look more or less the same, but it was fun, and that's all that counts :D

One of the necklaces gracefully shown off by Tigris:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Byzantine WIP 2

Next step. I did lots of rasping and sanding and sawing. Learned lots about different wood types, too. So, if I ever do something like that again, I'll do everything differently ;)

Next stage is the coloring.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Byzantine WIP 1

I started working on the Byzantine Chess. Bought the raw materials last weekend, before going to Vienna for the medieval fair at the Heeresgeschichtliche Museum and a friend's birthday party. There's too much chipboard and not enough solid wood in DIY superstores.
Today I played a bit with the wood to see how it behaves and to find a design for the mini-pillar.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Finding Serenity

As an avid fan of Joss Wheedon's Firefly (I'm sure I've mentioned that brilliant series often enough) I'm constantly on the lookout for more information about the characters, the world, etc., since a cancelled show alone isn't satisfying enough.
My most recent informant is the essay collection Finding Serenity, edited by Jane Espenson. The works in there have been eye-openers several times.
When watching the series I've mostly been a fan of Inara, as her grace and geisha-like status seemed very appealing. Now, after reading some of the essays, my focus shifted a bit to Zoe. I'm seeing how Inara is trapped by her own character weaknesses, while Zoe seems so much stronger. From Mercedes Lackey's essay:

"She seems to have come to a Zen-like state of acceptance of whatever enters her world; it is not good, it is not bad, it merely is, and she will deal with it. She plays whatever hand she is dealt, and waits and watches for the single opportunity to make her move."

At that point I felt strongly reminded of Kendo (looking at the microcosm). And it goes on, with the macrocosm:

"I think she sees the really big picture; she lived through the defeat of the Independents, but she knows that this current situation can't last. She might not live to see the Alliance fall, but she knows it will, eventually, and she's hoping that a little push here, and another one there, on her part, might bring that day a little closer. This may be why she maintains an outwardly unruffled composure; she knows what will happen in the end, whether or not she is there to see it. For her, freedom or lack of it is just another situation to deal with. Or not. There are only two constants in her life - her loyalty to Mal and her love for Wash - and as long as she has those, she can work with what's thrown at her. Everything else is subject to change, and change is what she handles best. I believe she knows exactly what the situation is with regard to the Alliance, and she is doing her best to help Mal maintain his illusion of freedom, while she herself is perfectly well aware of how much of an illusion it is."

There are so many interesting and intriguing ideas in that paragraph, you don't know where it is best to begin pondering. Everything seems so applicable to our real world.

1. The concept of religion:
The Firefly-verse is multi-cultural, being set in a time when the East and the West collaborate, or have once collaborated as equals, thus sharing Western and Asian cultural traits. Superficially, Inara seemed to be the one to depict the Asian side (one reason why I was drawn to her): Her status as a Companion goes back to the Japanese geisha and she is described several times as a Buddhist.
Yet it is Zoe who, according to Lackey, incorporates the Zen-ideas most. (I don't remember Zoe's religion, but I'd guess she's an atheist.) Here we have an example of the difference between the faith one claims to have and our behaviour, the actions we take - how we live, or do not live, that faith.
At one point in the series Inara also says she does not want to die at all, a quote that drew speculations about Inaras big, big (still unreveavled) secret. Contrastingly, Zoe repeatedly throws herself into battle, accepting possible death as a consequence and not fearing it.
So by action, Zoe is the Buddhist, living by Zen-principles.

2. The concept of our impact on the future:
As someone who's big on the ecology-movement, organic stuff, saving the planet and preserving nature, etc. etc. etc., the question that constantly rises for me is if my action, small as they are, do really have any positive consequences. So I could identify with Zoe's "little push here, and another one there". It's a nice idea, to not needfully have to see and experience what we live for, but simply to believe that what we do will be a little push in the right direction.
(A shoutout to Be Humble. To not expect too much and that even if our single actions are not visible in the big picture, they contribute to it.)

3. The concept of only two constants in the middle of lifelong change:
Most of us need constants in our life. Some more, others less. I usually suspected these constants need to be material, because for me, they usually are. In the last years I realized I need a place that I can "come home to" every day. Splitting my belongings, my feelings for a "home" between two places (Linz and Salzburg) was not satisfying and gave me a home neither here nor there. So, for me, a place to come home to is a constant that I need (the one I'm most aware of).
For Zoe, these constants are mental, based on feelings for people (granted, the people are material, but the people alone don't make the constants). Having the constants grounded in people and feelings, rather than material belongings, sounds very appealing to me (and invovles again an immaterial thinking that seems based on Zen-philosophy).
In addition, Zoe's two constants are two of the most profound human ideals, going back centuries and centuries. They are two of the three principles of the Claddagh ring (friendship, loyalty, love) - which may just be the three elements people really need in life, and are thus good constants to build your life around.

4. The concept of keeping up others' illusions
Zoe helps Mal in keeping up his illusion of freedom. Me, being someone who doesn't speak much, but when I do it's often uncomfortably direct and sometimes radical for people who are not used to it (especially when I'm in a situation of stress and pressure), I generally follow the train of thought that people need to be pulled out of their holes of illusions and redirected when they are walking down a path that's not real but imagined. Hard, crushing, painful truth (at least when I can be bothered, which is seldom enough).
I still have to come to grips with the fact that this is not necessarily the best for the people in question and that they might dislike me for confronting them with the direct, hard, crushing truth.
(My diplomacy skills are probably at something around -12.)
Now, in Firefly we have a strong, independent woman, who helps a strong, independent man, captain of his crew, who is more than anyone else leader, father and guardian of these people, keep up his illusion; someone, who you wouldn't think needs an illusion.
How sensitive to other people's needs do you need to be to realize not only what is fact, but also which facts other people do and do not need and what illusions to encourage and which do dispell?

Does this show to some extent why Zoe is not only a strong character, but also deeply admirable in her beliefs, personality and actions?
And why I simply adore Firefly. There's no series or film that has come even close to the ideas and ponderings this one gave me. It's like Kendo kata. It seems simple enough when you watch and do them for the first time, once you get the movements and reactions into your mind, but when you leave the surface behind and delve deeper into it, the more complex and intriguing it gets - and the more you get out of it.


A stencil design inspired by one of Jayne's t-shirts. Initial sketch on the left side, altered design on the right.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Handmaid's Tale and Rechberg

Book recommendation: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

With The Handmaid’s Tale Margarte Atwood follows the tradition of George Orwell’s 1984 by drawing up the picture of an alternative, dystopian present. The novel’s reality is based on a well-controlled patriarchate in which women are put into a position that is reminiscent of the nineteenth century. “Families” consist, if they are lucky, of a husband and a wife, between who there is often no love lost, and a Handmaid, whose job it is to get pregnant, give birth to a child and then to be referred to the next family.
The protagonist of the novel is one of these Handmaids and tells her version of the time before society changed and how she now lives after the change. While rather little actually happens in the novel, the reader’s interest is kept throughout the 280 pages by the glimpses that Atwood gives us about “her” society. We learn about its rules, people’s resistance and find enjoyment in discovering similarities to religious dogmas and society as it was a century ago.

What I find fascinating about the dystopian stories that I have come across recently is their obsession with childhood and childbirth. I was strongly reminded of the film Children of Men when I read The Handmaid’s Tale. Both stories pick out childbirth, or rather the lack of it, as a central theme. It’s probably reasonable enough – after all, Science Fiction criticizes the present by showing how the future may look like if we continue as we do; and children are one of the strongest symbols for the future. No children – no future.


This weekend was another medieval fair, this time in Rechberg. The promotion already started a week before the event, on Monday, when the band Rhiannon began a trip on foot from Linz to Rechberg (60km) in four days, accompanied by a baker with his donkey, the Tuchfärberey. Which is an endeavour that, in my eyes, absolutely rocks.

The market itself was wonderful. Situated in the middle of Mother Nature, very large and friendly. The music seemed to be more of the quiet kind, which is rare on markets, as the bands usually need to gather attention. I enjoyed the more peaceful music a lot.
Unfortunately the market only takes place once every two years, and it isn’t sure if it will be the same next time, which is a shame. I could have spent days there (Sunday alone went by too fast and simply wasn’t enough).

The beginning of the trip on Monday in Linz.

Some of the musicians played additionally apart from the announced program. Here's the new band member of Rhiannon with her harp.

We squeezed in a little photo session on one of the sidetracks that led from one area to another. (Her smile is actually nervous. "Wellll. I'm sitting on a slippery, moss-covered stone and at some point I need to get off again.")

"Now I'll freeze like that, become a statue, then I won't have to get off at all."
(Medieval leather-shoes are actually very tough for walking and climbing around like that. Christine rescued me several times from fallling very hard.)

20.000 shades of green.

A highlight of the fair. This German Spitz was the most hyperactive dog I've ever seen. In a cute "Give me attention! I wanna play! I'm here! Look at me!" sort of way. And whenever he got the attention of his owner he happily freaked out :D

After the end of the fair Christine and I went to the near observation tower in the forest.
I'm biased, but I think the Mühlviertel has some of the most beautiful landscapes in Austria. Forest, hills, all very soft and round and green.

And became queens of the world for some odd minutes (Well, she did. I was much too concerned by the suspicious noises the wood of the tower made whenever we moved).

Not quite an adventurous pirate lass, but maybe at some point in the future...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Medieval Fair on Burg Clam

Some pictures from the medieval fair on Burg Clam from June 1st. It was a nice fair, beautiful setting and relaxed atmosphere.

A car-view of the castle

Absolute highlight of the fair was the Fangdorn-show, with an immensely moveable dragon (10m long, 3m tall), breathing smoke and fire (not as much fire as he'd have liked to, due to Austrian security regulations, but still quite impressive). The actors were incredibly funny. They were prevented from doing some of the special-effects, so they compensated a bit with hilarious side-comments. Spontaneity rocks.

Afterwards the kids could go and touch Fangdorn. You wouldn't believe how quickly a giant dragon can get drowned in kids.


Apparently our fast-paced society already began in the fifteenth century, when the chess rules were altered in order to allow for a quicker game.

Inspired by one of the craftsmen in Clam, I designed a Byzantine Chess:

The ornaments are based on clothes patterns from ancient Byzanthium, as is the clothing of the figure in the middle (symbolizing luck/destiny). The craftsman who was working on a Merels game board in Clam also told us that, in medieval art, women whose face was painted in two colours symbolized unstaete (falsehood or inconsistency), which I shamelessly took over for my design.