Tuesday, 14 June 2022

7x7

exascale: the world’s super computer might be surpassing benchmarks in secret  

hub and spoke: a suite of interactive maps that lets one scour the globe with creeping data spiders  


viral nightmares: more trials of an AI text to image generator  

witkar: a ride-sharing demonstration projection that ran from 1974 to 1986 in Amsterdam  

the firth of forth: some of the world’s best bridges for driving  

whiskey war: the fifty yearlong territorial dispute between Canada and Denmark over Hans Island has been settled  

zeroth law: an AI ethicist believes Google’s LaMDA has attained sentience

Monday, 6 June 2022

sort sol

Revisiting an arresting and formative moment from his childhood in western coast Denmark, as the Guardian reports, photographer Søren Solkær is exhibiting a portfolio of mesmerizing murmurations of starlings on the wing from the Wadden Sea to northern Spain. These flocks of hundreds of thousands of birds can blot out the sun (the dark sun of the title, referring to the accompanying coffee table edition), and it remains a mystery how autonomous individuals achieve this degree of mass-coordination for these majestic manoeuvre.

Saturday, 12 February 2022

der totentanz

Premiering on this day in 1912 at the newly constructed “Glashaus” studio in the Neubabelsberg district of Potsdamm—what would become the production company—the silent picture in three acts, The Dance of Death, directed by Danish filmmaker Urban Gad with camera work by Guido Seeber, only is known to exist in fragments. The movie relates the tragedy of Bella Burk (Asta Nielsen) whose engineering husband (Oskar Fuchs) is badly injured during a factory mishap and is no longer able to support the family. Bella finds employment as in a vaudeville act as a singer and dancer, scandalising audiences and critics with her exotic belly dance which would have otherwise proved merely scintillating if it wasn’t ultimately a fatal mental breaking point for the new object of her affection and infidelity, the troupe’s composer, Czerneck, portrayed by Fritz Weidemann.

Friday, 1 October 2021

highly irregular

Via the always engrossing 99% Invisible, we are introduced to the poem “The Chaos” penned by Dutch teacher and travel writer Gerard Nolst Trenité under the the pseudonym Charivarius (see also) in 1920 as a part of a broader commiseration and discussion on the mongrel nature of the English language and the challenges that poses for new learners. An excerpt of the rather epic length work begins:

Dearest creature in Creation,
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.

Ending thus with the emblematic, problematic words italicised:

Finally: which rhymes with “enough,”
Though, through, plough, cough, hough, or tough?
Hiccough has the sound of “cup”…
My advice is—give it up!

Sunday, 26 September 2021

fristaden christiania

Occupied over the course of weeks prior to the declaration, amid protests of the Danish government of the lack of affordable housing in Copenhagen, squatters claimed their takeover of the abandoned military barracks and historic depot of the borough of Christianshavn on this day in 1971 to establish an independent commune. The unique, semi-autonomous site focused on self-sustainability and collectivism is home to around one thousand residents. The flag is a modified version of the labarum, the military standard of Emperor Constantine and pairs with the city flag of Amsterdam, triple x.

Monday, 6 September 2021

festival der liebe

Appearing on stage for the final day of the Love-and-Peace-Festival on the Baltic island of Fehmarn this day in 1970, artist Jimi Hendrix gave his last concert performance on the seashore outside of the village of Flügge, the West German event one of the first attempts to recreate the atmosphere of Woodstock and the Isle of Wight and was sponsored in large part by Beate Uhse. Hendrix’ performance began around noon on a blustery day with organisers, fans and volunteers weary and irritable from three days of chaos but felt it was worth the wait. From 1995 to 2010, a local tribute band held a revival concert on the first Saturday in September. Other acts included Ten Years After, Canned Heat, Procol Harum, Mungo Jerry, Sly & the Family Stone and Danish progressive rock band the Burnin Red Ivanhoes.

Sunday, 29 August 2021

ultima thule

Though settled by the Paleo-Inuit Saqqaq peoples over thirty-five hundred years earlier and interacting with visiting Vikings until the fiftieth century, the traditional founding date of the Greenlandic capital is given as this day in 1728 when the Danish-Norwegian governor called Claus Paarss established Fort Godthåb (Good Hope) to relocatea group of colonists (primarily ex-convicts, mutinous sailors and soldiers and prostitutes) on the mainland from their former island dwelling. Five years later, a Moravian mission received clearance to establish Neu-Herrnhut to convert residents to the Lutheran Church of Denmark. The indigenous population endured generations of suffering and slights, but they persevered and eventually regaining cultural territory as well as an autonomous form of devolved government in 1979, officially changing the name to the Greenlandic (Kalaallisut) Nuuk, meaning cape.

Thursday, 29 July 2021

olaf ii haraldsson

Posthumously proclaimed eternal king and rapidly acclaimed as patron for Føroyar (the Faroe Islands) and a popular saint for greater Scandinavia, Norwegian realms extending over most of the region, the Vestfold ruler is venerated on this day, the anniversary of his death on the battlefield of Stiklestad in 1030, elevating his younger, half-brother Harald Hardrada to the throne. Olaf’s sainthood, saga and symbolism (attributed with qualities of Thor and Freyr) encouraged the widespread adoption of Christianity in the territory—though in his lifetime, after his own baptism in Rouen, wintering there with Duke Richard II of Normandy (see previously), was given the epithet “the Lawbreaker” for the forceful and exploitative means he used to win converts amongst the population.

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

slottruin

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1h0EpLzLt6OS2mR1UU9EuKWhR_xW5P_iIhttps://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1WU9h60oHFoFcwiRARZ6IMfvRASH3fDVO
After departing from our natural campground in the woods at the border of the farmstead on the shores of Helgasjön, we first visited the nearby ruins of the fortress Kronoberg, built originally as a summer retreat for the bishop of Växjö, destroyed during the Dano-Swedish War in 1470, rebuilt and fortified and eventually appropriated by Gustav I with the country’s conversion to protestantism. 
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1-t-zfepsLmTcnpqFqWcL6Bf20jTYNtQghttps://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=17lc_HnqnknhEPoMJVh2klRUS0nftiaic

 Our rebel leader Nils Dacke captured the castle in 1542, nearly repudiating the king’s authority by depriving the army, albeit temporarily, of this strategic stronghold. 
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1feCpDWDNRd8st_pZHMNXGCtywy0sg1ig
The eventual retreat of the border from Småland to Öresund meant Kronoberg lost military significance and fell into disrepair.  Continuing north towards the Vättern region, the lesser of the great lakes—we stopped to inspect the old church of a village called Hjälmseyrd 

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

vissefjärda

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1oG-tIKIpWzGS-E5_zsnwqaodp5DIP6FgOur first stop in the forested finger lakes district of Småland known as Sweden‘s Crystal Empire (Glasriket, more to follow and of course both important fuel for the industry and enterprise) was the village of Visselfjärda spread across an archipelago of tiny islands and dominated by the 1773 church (kyrka) with detached bell tower—a common feature of sacred architecture of this region. https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1dlaSpYLLLfw7dODWPuYpw4CkwGyqmWu2Directly opposite the churchyard is a boulder monument to native son Nils Dacke who as a yeomen in 1523 rose up to lead a revolutionary peasant army and nearly succeeded in deposing the king, thereby securing more rights for farmers including a lower tax burden and continued cross-border trade with their area’s recent concession from Denmark.

Friday, 9 July 2021

just passing through or something forgotten in the state of denmark

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1Bm1ecbk0fjg85HLzoMbxX49338ZIbfWyHaving the chance to finally realise in some form a trip we'd planned two years ago but had had to defer until now—gingerly, cautiously—due to work and other prior engagements to southern Sweden and we both have given some rather serious consideration for those transit zones that are of course destinations in their own rights and ought to be spared a thought in these trying times.  https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1csbiXO1GFtpC8h0lSw-AwyzwArle1sZCPassing the Elba Canal outside of Hamburg and through Schleswig-Holstein and crossed onto the island of Fehmarn via the modernist brige over the sound from the mainland, finished in 1963 and affectionately known as the Clothes Hanger (Kleiderbügel) because of its distinctive girders and trusses.  https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1i5V5BPZ5BMtoKAqxjsryfjJT4kbviilWFor an easy morning get away to the ferry to Denmark from Puttgarden, we chose a campsite at the village of Strukkamp, populated by fearless bunnies abd gulls but unable yet to achieve escape velocity just yet from the dreary and driven rain, we were mostly confined to our tent. https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1hF8A_GicsqIi7HToyI9gWPnuvDbuGGU0We crossed the island, storied itself and one beach music festival in September 1970 that was the venue for Jimi Hendrix‘ last concert performance and stopped in the eponymous insular capital, called locally Burg. Arriving at the seaport, we realised it was our second time only seeing Denmark from the expressway and pledge to make a proper visit to all of these places one day soon.  Crossing on the monumental Øresundsbroen /  Öresundbrücke (previously) bypassing Copenhagen and likewise skirting Malmö upon arrival in Sweden.

Saturday, 24 April 2021

situationist international

Though better-known by the later stages of the collective’s existence for developing the principles of dérive and psycho-geography, the burgeoning group of avant-garde artists and social revolutionaries formed in the late 1950s garnered public attention and some herostratic fame on this day in 1964 by decapitating the landmark bronze located on a waterside promenade in Copenhagen, the Little Mermaid, the first act in a long line of vandalism towards this poort statue motivated by various reasons. Radically left-leaning and convinced that the capitalism that Karl Marx had sought to redress, the Situationists—especially during this formative political period, was becoming more pervasive and all-encompassing and that the estranging forces of commodity fetishism were fast encroaching on every aspect of life and culture, helping limn and inform the summer of unrest and insurrection of Paris in May of 1968.

Monday, 22 March 2021

7x7

møbler, belysning, rumdesign: another dip into the iconic designs of Verner Panton—see previously  

fortuitous numbers: a few sums with the rare property where a number equals its letter count multiplied together 

avondklok: a photo-essay on the curfew in Amsterdam during the heights of the pandemic  

digital only trainers: Gucci is selling a virtual sneaker for augmented reality photographs  

yoshizawa-randlett system: rocket scientists and engineers are turning to origami for inspiration 

screen-time: a comic panel from 1997 about high school in 2021 A.D., see also

in memoriam: a pair of obituaries celebrating the life and work of designer Zeev Aram from Things Magazine

Thursday, 28 January 2021

the wise wife of keith

Garrotted and burned at the stake for witchcraft on this day in 1591 on the order of James VI and said to haunt the halls of Holyrood as a naked ghost, Agnes Sampson was a healer and midwife and one of the more notable defendants of the well documented North Berwick witch trails.

The Scottish king inspired by his experience in the court of Denmark-Norway, visiting his in-laws on the occasion of marrying Anne of Denmark, and accounts of witch-hunting and practicing the dark arts—convinced during a fraught return voyage that a curse was responsible for the stormy passage. Subsequent arrests and interrogations conducted by the king himself in a specially convened tribunal was covered by a contemporary pamphleteer in the Newes from Scotland, which contained proceedings and quoted Sampson’s litany of confessions, implicating others and admitting with a seemingly taunting air that she had tried to drown the newly-weds and another had fashioned a charm out of a toad to make the king impotent. Reportedly James had been willing to declare Sampson innocent until her final confession which detailed the nuptial night of the James and Anne in Oslo with accuracy only one in communion with the devil could know. The writer with the by-line, James Carmichael, of the reportage later advised James on his other famous book (besides his patronage for the Bible), Dæmonologie.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

6x6

for ages eighteen plus: adult content next door 

cph-ø1: Copenhagen harbour floating parkipelago gets its first module  

dapper duds: older dogs dressed as senior human citizens to encourage adoption 

holes and slices: the Swiss cheese model risk management and loss prevention  

coandă effect: a drone stays aloft by taking advantage of the fluid dynamic tendency to stay attached to a convex surface—a principle used in hovercraft, the Avrocar, NOTARs, windshield cleaners, mitral regurgitators and ventilators  

for ages six and up: small bricks present a choking hazard

Monday, 16 November 2020

dagur íslenskrar tungu

Celebrated annually since 1996 with accolades presented to the individual or group that has significantly contributed to the language, the Day of the Icelandic Language was picked for this date in honour of the poet, naturalist and independence activist Jónas Hallgrímsson (*1807 – †1845). Clerk to the sherrif of Reykjavík and studying for the bar, Jónas later went to metropolitan Copenhagen to complete his law degree but instead found himself far more enamoured with literature and natural sciences and so switched his focus of study, writing poems and founding a patrotic newsletter, Fjölnir, that argued for autonomy and promoted the native language of the island, based on Old Norse with little outside influence. Dividing his time between Denmark and Iceland, Jónas died of blood poisoning, aged thirty-seven, having slipped on a flight of stairs going up to his apartment. Let’s lighten the mood and build your vocabulary with the way the language forms new terms at the link here, cutely illustrated by Eunsan Huh.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

quodlibet

From the Latin term for whatever one wishes (“what” + “pleases”), as a subgenre of the trompe-l’œil technique of hyper-realistic rendering refers to desk notions painted and arranged as to appear just left lying around and in artistic disarray, we find the aesthetic in its highest form of expression in the works of Antwerp and Copenhagen court painter Cornelis Norbertus Gijsbrechts (*1625 – †1675). Though the “deceive the eye” style didn’t receive that particularly categorisation until around 1800 when French artist Louis-Léopold Boilly titled one of his pieces as such—the reverse of a canvas with a cat, a log and a dried fish peering through, an homage possibly to Gijsbrechts’ own strikingly modern and meta creation—artists have been developing a flair for the realistic and forced perspective since Antiquity. Much more to explore with Public Domain Review at the link above.

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

mindfulness adjacent

Open Culture presents us with a thorough-going reflection on niksen—that is the Dutch art of doing nothing. Between hygge, lagom (in moderation, in balance) and other concepts, we can all take a cue from our Nordic neighbours in terms of de-stressing and letting go. Whilst not the panacea that attracts us to read and write articles like this, there are admittedly many routes to relaxation and calm but cultivating the art of disconnecting, niksing seems like an important skill to hone.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

vitalienbrüder

Executed by means of a beheading that as capitial punishment goes was extraordinarily dramatic on this day in 1401 (*1360), Klaus Störtebeker (see previously for more of the lore) was the leader of a band of privateers—the Victual Brothers—engaged to supply Stockholm with provisions during a siege with Denmark.

Once their services were no longer needed after peace was achieved, they continued their piracy, adopting the new name for their group “Likedeelers”—the equal-sharers, maintaining a stronghold in East Frisia. Threatened with disruption to trade, a fleet of ships from Hanseatic Hamburg finally took on Störtebeker, double-crossed by a disgruntled mate who sabotaged his escape vessel, and brought the fugitive back to city to stand trial. Despite offers to exchange a gold band long enough to encircle Hamburg for the freedom of him and his crew, Störtebeker and seventy-three of his companions were sentenced to death for their crimes. The Lord Mayor did agree to acquises to one last request: that Störtebeker be beheaded first and that all men he could pass after decapitation would be spared. Störtebeker’s body rose (minus the head) and managed to walk past eleven crewmates before being tripped up. The Lord Mayor, however, did not honour those wishes.

Monday, 14 September 2020

trykkefrihed or fourth estate

Though de facto liberation of newspapers occurred in Britain a few decades earlier with the abolishment of the mandate for publications to be licensed by Parliament in 1695, the first explicit guarantor of unfettered and inquisitive journalism came on this in 1770 for the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway under the regency of Prussian philosopher and reformer Johann Friedrich, Count Struensee (*1737 – †1772), who made dispatching with censorship of the press his second order of business after the abolition of torture.
Maître des requêtes and personal physician for the mentally-ill King Christian VII, Stuensee pushed forward a raft of legislation for the monarch to sign-off on including getting rid of noble privilege and state-sponsored revenues, subsidies for underperforming businesses, a ban on trade of enslaved persons in the colonies, criminalisation of bribery, reducing the size of the standing army, reallocating farm land for the peasant class and a tax on gambling. The public generally received Stuensee’s radical amendments well but halting censorship also opened up a tumult of pamphlets (mostly anonymous) critical of his regime and his dismissal of many government officials earned him many political enemies—leading to his execution after a palace coup two years later on the charge of lèse-majesté and presuming to rule in the king’s stead.