Yes, many things to blog …

Since returning from Zürich, I’ve mostly been embedded in Final Cut Pro X, turning four very different performances of Mars Attacks! into something approximating a single version. It’s not the kind of work that can be said to have one authoritative performance, but the video as document will become that de facto. Much forgetting of old versions of Final Cut also, as the X release is so different it’s just a hinderance to dredge up memories of how it works.

And, buying of cycling gear, so now I look the part when I go careening through the forest at speeds best not thinking about the consequences of a rapid stop with. I found a very nice pair of cycling glasses that dim when exposed to UV light – photochromic lenses! Also amazing how little I squint when the glare is cut out, and how delightful the absence of insects in my eyes is. I am enjoying cyclocross very, very much lately.

Also climbing, with the discovery earlier this year (I think) of a bouldering hall of massive size a mere 10 minute lazy bike ride away. My climbing ability has plummeted – it was never especially good on indoor holds which tend to the overhung; far from my preference of thin, balance-y edges on large amounts of vertical granite. Still, it’s incredibly inexpensive, and it’s delightful to be regularly hauling myself up stuff.

And reading! Which I was most lazy with this year, being distracted by the internet and other things, and my late-evening focus too scatty and distracted to apply itself to even medium stretches of reading. I have many good books though I’ve been enjoying lately, which shall appear here soon-ish.

And! Once more working with Das Helmi, this time for the Dahlem Museum (ha! all my museum-ing turns out to be for a purpose!): a project on Adrian Jacobsen, who went to Northern Canada and Alaska in the 1880’s and acquired a vast number of artefacts from the Eskimos, Aleut, Yupik, and Inuit. It seems to have percolated memories of things I learned in Canada … it’s an unexpected direction for me, reading beyond a cursory level on the First Nations in the North, and a fascinating one also, not the least because mountains, snow, and glaciers everywhere.

And! Rehearsing with Dasniya for a performance in Heppenheim in July!

Which is not all that’s going on, but I think that’s enough for the moment. And I shall endeavour to blog with consistency in the coming weeks also.


Mars Attacks! The Fourth Performance

Friday night’s performance of Mars Attacks! had a new ending. It’s a bit of a hidden track and may or may not appear in subsequent performances (or at least that’s how I understood it). Also the last night I was taking photos. I’d extended my time in Zürich – flying back to Berlin Sunday instead of Friday – so I could film a couple more nights and make sure I got everything. Funny that even with around 180 gigabytes of images and video, I’ll be sure to have missed something. For the moment, back in Berlin, certainly missing the Horas and the Helmis.


Mars Attacks! The Third Performance

Some photos from last night’s third performance of Mars Attacks! in Rote Fabrik. The Helmis and Horas are all in the theatre now, and it’s almost time for rehearsals. “Wir versammeln uns in den Innenkreis…”


Mars Attacks! The First Performance (after the Premiere)

Last night Cora, Solène, Burkhard, Florian, Dasniya, and I sat down at 1am for a dinner of fresh white asparagus, potatoes, ham, and general post-show lateness. Now it’s Friday early-afternoon, and here’s some photos from the second night of Das Helmi and Theater Hora’s Mars Attacks!.


Das Helmi & Theater Hora: Mars Attacks!

Mars Attacks! opens tonight at Rote Fabrik in Zürich. Here are some photos of Berlin’s Das Helmi puppet theatre and Zürich’s Theater Hora from Friday and Saturday’s dress rehearsals. It’s a very good work and you should come to Zürich to see it (or Bern next week).


Uetliberg above Zürich

A day off. Not a day off. My morning wander up the steep Uetliberg hill behind the house didn’t begin until dinner-time. The sun was lighting the gold coast of Lake Zürich by the time I’d reached the radio antenna, the silver coast side already in shadow. Above, paragliders rode the updrafts; to the south, mountains hung like billowing clouds, throwing shadows eastwards, slanting upwards into the sky from the sun already below them. I walked down and home in darkness.


The Helmis live and work together. We work now in Rote Fabrik, beside the lake, and live in a house up the hill, a 15 minute walk or so. Behind us is the Uetliberg and forest. A shard of the lake is just visible off to one side of an apartment tower from my attic room. It has rained every day, wreathing the hills in scraggy mist and cloud. Late last night we ate fondue in the turquoise kitchen.


Das Helmi & Theater Hora’s Mars Attacks! rehearsals

Morning taxi to Tegel, Swiss Air croissants & chocolate to Zürich, rainy pickup in the Hora tractor, through the Zentrum and to Rote Fabrik. The walk to the Helmi house is the same route I used to go to where I once stayed. Oh yes, back in all the old places. Doppel-Bürli and Alpikoner Käse, Lindt chocolate. Some photos from today’s rehearsals.


Theater Hora & Das Helmi: Mars Attacks! rehearsal showing

A month ago now I found myself in Zürich, that city I spent much of a year, my first time properly living in Europe in 2005. This time, I was there to photograph, film, generally document Das Helmi’s rehearsals with Theater Hora for Mars Attacks! — and will be there again late-April for the performances. I’ve been thinking about blogging these since then, and so today, here they are. This was from the open showing on the Monday the day after I arrived, and also my first time seeing any of this.

My photography is almost entirely for my own pleasure, and I have something of an arbitrary set of slowly changing rules I impose on myself, that come partly from when my only camera was my old mobile phone and I was strictly limited in what I could do. More recently as I seem to be photographing in theatres more, these rules are a response to what makes me uncomfortable as audience or performer in photographers who come in: loud, large cameras dominating quiet staging, insensitive moving around and hauling of equipment mainly. So with my very unobtrusive Panasonic LX7 I try and hide up the back, not really wander about (though I did more here and certainly felt the seduction of racing to “get the shot”), take fewer shots (very difficult with a card that holds around well over a thousand), generally try and make not being noticed part of the act.

Also I try and get the image I’m seeing as it is, which means no cropping, and mostly very minimal processing, just a bit of colour balancing, contrast, sharpening. These were a little trickier, with a combination of natural and halogen light, and the dominant green foam throwing a cast on everything. It’s a strictness I like: if the image has motion blur, I’m unlikely to keep it; if the image doesn’t frame what captures my eye, it gets passed over. It’s always possible to crop an image into acceptability; to make the moment of photographing the defining instant, this is what interests me.

So, some rehearsal showing photos of Theater Hora and Das Helmi’s Mars Attacks!