The urban photography of Apo Genç

While I was watching Blade Runner 2049, I quickly browsed through Abduzeedo’s blog and found a piece on Apo Genc. The cinematic resemblance was striking.

Apo Genç was born in Turkey and became a professional videographer back in 2013. The above shots were taken last November in Hamburg as part of a series called Hamburg Noir.

You can find more of Apo’s work on his website, his Instagram, and his Behance portfolio.

Shape Grammars by Jannis Maroscheck is a book of shapes and systems

Cover for Shape Grammars

Imagine studying at the University of Arts in Tokyo, living in a small village, and finding out there’s a state of emergency due to COVID-19. What would you do? For Jannis Maroscheck, he decided to write a book.

Maybe “write” is the wrong word to describe how Shape Grammars was created. The 836-page study analyses automation in design, depicting “around 150,000 shapes” produced by 12 systems.

“What becomes visible is that the computer is quick at drawing. It can design 100,000 shapes in a couple of minutes. It is limited; it can never escape a system’s given logic.”

Jannis Maroscheck talking to It’s Nice That

I like the look of this book. I don’t know if I’d buy it or have any use for it but I enjoy the idea of all the shapes and the uniformity of it all. It’s brutal and concrete, which is similar to what Ayla Angelos to conclude their article:

Primitive, concrete and built to be transformed, the shapes found within this book’s hefty pages are indeed born out of a digital world. So is this perhaps a small glimpse into the future and what is yet to come? Is this the end of originality and conscious thought? Either way, the result of Jannis’ study is here to be used and appreciated for their forms.

Shape Grammars is currently being reprinted but is available via Slanted for €42.00.

Black polyglot speaks Japanese, Mandarin, and Arabic

Black polyglot speaks Japanese, Mandarin, and Arabic

Konnichiwa! That’s both a morning greeting in Japanese and one of the few Japanese words I know (the rest are swear words). But for Moses “Mouse” McCormick, that word is a drop in the ocean.

Moses “Mouse” McCormick is a self-taught polyglot and foreign language teacher from the US. His YouTube channel features candid videos where he surprises people who don’t speak English as a first language. The shock is amplified by the fact that Mouse is Black and, thanks to white supremacy, Black people aren’t expected to speak anything but English or “African” (because there are thousands of African languages but people are ignorant. Rant over, back to the show).

In this particular video, How to Speak/Practice a language #98, Mouse speaks a number of languages and seemingly makes some people happy.

Some of the languages he speaks include:

  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Mandarin
  • Cantonese
  • Spanish
  • German
  • Portuguese
  • Vietnamese
  • Twi
  • Somali
  • Arabic
  • Hindi

It does get a little uncomfortable at times. After 5 minutes, he speaks to a man from Egypt who is initially reluctant to reveal where he’s from. But after Mouse explains why he’s asking, he busts out the Arabic and impresses the man.

Most people think that I have a special gift to learn languages. What I’d say that I have most is an open mind, motivation, and patience to learn a language. Using my FLR language learning method, you too can have conversations in different languages as well. If you’d like to really learn a new language, try my FLR language learning course out!

Stream the video below and check out his channel.

How to Speak/Practice a language#98

Codex Argenteus: the mysterious Gothic Silver Bible

Codex Argenteus from Uppsala University Library

The codex set the standard for future book formats that live in on modern times. Some are peculiar, like Codex Seraphinianus, but Codex Argenteus is the bible of Gothic Germany.

What is Codex Argenteus?

Codex Argenteus is a 6th-century book containing a Gothic translation of the Bible from the 4th century. To be clear, I’m not talking about the modern gothic subculture. The Goths were an East Germanic people who helped bring down the Western Roman Empire.

But back to the book. Codex Argenteus preserved the Gothic language in the best way possible – via a translation of the most famous text in human history. Its creation started in Ravenna, Italy. The city was the capital of the Western Roman Empire at the time and King Theoderic the Great wanted to make it a metropolis. Ravenna became the capital of the Ostrogothic Kingdom after the Empire’s demise; a Bible translated into the kingdom’s language seemed fitting.

Who wrote it?

A bishop called Ulfilas (or Wulfila as he was known in Gothic) was originally attributed as the sole translator. But we now know Codex Argenteus was translated by multiple scholars supervised by the bishop. Ulfilas was a Goth and developed the Gothic alphabet, loosely based on an amalgamated Greco-Runic alphabet.

The empire fell in 476 and Theoderic died in 526. The Codex disappeared with him and stayed that way for centuries. It was then found in the 16th century on a library shelf in Werden, Germany. Occult-obsessed Rudolf II began collecting books for his court in Prague and select “Argenteus” as one of them.

The Silver Bible travels to Sweden

A page from Codex Argenteus
A page from Codex Argenteus

It stayed there for about 70 years before Sweden invaded Prague and took the Silver Bible with it. Codex Argenteus then became a part of Queen Christina’s library. But a few years later, Queen Christina converted to Catholicism and left for Rome after abdicating her throne. Her librarian went with her and she paid him in books as she didn’t have any money. The Gothic Bible changed hands once more.

Sweden’s new king, Charles X Gustav got his brother-in-law, Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie, to speak to Christina’s librarian (a Dutch scholar called Isaac Vossius), and he bought the Silver Bible for 400 marks (about £12,300 in today’s money).

Codex Argenteus, stolen and returned

But did it stay in the possession of the Swedish royal family for good? Of course not. In 1995, it was stolen by two men in gas masks. Authorities recovered Codex Argenteus a month later but the thieves were never caught. It now resides in an annexe to Carolina Rediviva, Uppsala University’s main library. And a bulletproof glass box protects it this time.

Unfortunately, today only 56% of its original 336 pages remain. They were also dyed purple – talk about regal. It was expensive to do this in the 6th century, exclusively for emperors. Codex Argenteus is a well-travelled book and an enduring bastion of a lost language.

The Silver bible online?

Wulfila didn’t want the Gothic language to stay within the confines of Codex Argenteus. He wanted to spread the text and keep the language alive that way. And now anyone can read the book.

David Landau helped put the 1927 edition of the Codex online and you can read it via alvin-portal.org.

(Main image from Uppsala University Library)

What's The "Jamaica Coalition"?

Jamaica and Germany flag pins

Until recently, the biggest link between Jamaica and Germany was tennis player Dustin Brown but now there’s a new connection. But it has nothing to do with the Jamaican people.

What is the Jamaica coalition?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened talks on Friday to form a coalition with the other two political parties. This coalition would comprise of Merkel’s CDU (Christian Democratic Union of Germany), the FDP (Free Democrats Party), and the Green Party. Each party’s colours are black (CDU), yellow (FDP), and green (Green Party): the colours of the Jamaican flag. The coalition was first mentioned back in 2005. The FDP decided opposition was a preferred option after the elections that year. While Merkel talks it out, a Jamaica coalition is already underway in the state of Schleswig-Holstein. CDU leader Daniel Günther became Minister President alongside Free Democrats’ Wolfgang Kubicki and the Greens’ Monika Heinold.

What does this all mean for the future of Germany?

Merkel has voiced her optimism but “less fiscal room than expected” will be a stumbling block. Each party will want as much money as possible for their own policies, much like the nonsense between the Conservatives and the DUP in the UK. If a three-way coalition doesn’t work out, Merkel could negotiate a minority government or call another election. Either option could lose her credibility or perceived power and the former comes with a caveat. The SDP (Social Democrats) said they would reject the proposal but would reconsider if Merkel stepped down.

There’s a hint of irony in the Jamaican phrase “no problem” with difficult talks ahead for the future of Germany.

10 Classic German Expressionist Films

NOSFERATU - German Expressionist classic

Open Culture has selected 10 iconic films to watch for free, from Nosferatu to the prophetic classic Metropolis.

German Expressionism ended in 1933 when the Nazis came to power. They weren’t interested in asking uncomfortable questions and viewed such dark tales of cinematic angst as unpatriotic. Instead, they preferred bright, cheerful tales of Aryan youths climbing mountains. By that time, the movement’s most talented directors — Fritz Lang and F.W. Murnau — had fled to America. And it was in America where German Expressionism found its biggest impact. Its stark lighting, grotesque shadows and bleak worldview would go on on to profoundly influence film noir in the late 1940s after another horrific, disillusioning war.

10 Classic German Expressionist Films: From Nosferatu to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari via Open Culture

Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion (Documentary)

The Barcelona Pavilion was originally designed for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona by German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe but was demolished after the exposition ended.

Mies had a series of photographs taken of the building beforehand and thanks to these images, a group of Catalan architects were able to reconstruct it between 1983 and 1986.

This documentary details every innovate aspect of the pavilion, with quotes from Mies himself. Every element of the building had a purpose without the coldness of others of the era.

Innovation was the underlying theme, with opulence from the materials used (red onyx, marble and travertine.) As a lover of both Mies and the construct, I found it fascinating and learnt a lot from it.

Anyone with even a passing interest in architecture, design, or the modernist period will enjoy this documentary.

SeMies related: Another Mies documentary and Paul R. Williams: the Black architect of public buildings and celebrity homes

[36] German Pavilion | Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Happy 30th, Barcelona Pavilion

The gorgeous modernist structure with its refined glass and marble stoa was merely created for the exhibition as a temporary building and was taken down within a year.

Its architect, the revered Mies van der Rohe left no blueprint. Work began on rebuilding the Pavilion in 1983 with the photographs and drawings that remained. It took three years complete and now it celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Barcelona Pavilion
Image courtesy of https://miesbcn.com/the-pavilion/
Image courtesy of https://miesbcn.com/the-pavilion/
Image courtesy of https://miesbcn.com/the-pavilion/
Image courtesy of https://miesbcn.com/the-pavilion/
Image courtesy of https://miesbcn.com/the-pavilion/
barcelona-pavilion-2
Image courtesy of https://www.archdaily.com/109135/ad-classics-barcelona-pavilion-mies-van-der-rohe