Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Dorkbot Vienna #9: Martin Kaltenbrunner (reacTIVision, TUIO, reactable)

I’m hosting Dorkbot Vienna #9… and our guest will be Martin Kaltenbrunner. (Thanks to the Metalab!)

Martin Kaltenbrunner is a Human Computer Interaction Designer, currently finalizing his Ph.D. at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain. Recently he has been mainly working on the interaction design of the reacTable – a tangible modular synthesizer based on a multi-touch surface. He is author of the open source tangible interaction framework reacTIVision and the related TUIO protocol, which has been widely adopted for open source multi-touch applications. He is co-founder of reactable systems SL, dedicated to the development of novel HCI concepts and products, while he is teaching classes and workshops on tangible interaction at the Kunstuniversität Linz and at the UCP Porto.

reacTIVision is an open source, cross-platform computer vision tool for the fast and robust tracking of fiducial markers attached onto physical objects, as well as for multi-touch finger tracking.

TUIO is an open framework that defines a common protocol and API for tangible multi-touch surfaces. The TUIO protocol allows the transmission of an abstract description of interactive surfaces, including touch events and tangible object states. There exists a growing number of TUIO enabled tracker applications and TUIO client libraries for various programming environments, as well as applications that support the protocol. This combination of TUIO trackers, protocol and client implementations allows the rapid development of table based tangible multitouch interfaces.

The reactable is a collaborative electronic music instrument with a tabletop tangible multi-touch interface. Several simultaneous performers share complete control over the instrument by moving and rotating physical objects on a luminous round table surface. By moving and relating these objects, representing components of a classic modular synthesizer, users can create complex and dynamic sonic topologies, with generators, filters and modulators, in a kind of tangible modular synthesizer or graspable flow-controlled programming language.

The instrument has been developed by a team of digital luthiers, the two Austrian researchers Martin Kaltenbrunner and Günter Geiger and their Spanish colleagues Marcos Alonso and Sergi Jord, working at the Music Technology Group within the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. This multidisciplinary team of researchers, musicians and designers  has been awarded with various international prizes such as the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica, two D&AD Yellow Pencils and the prize if the city of Barcelona.

After its overwhelming success on Youtube and since the Icelandic singer Björk has incorporated the instrument during her last Volta world tour, the reacTable has become widely known to the general public.

Sunday, June 28, 2009.
7 PM @ Metalab Vienna (Rathausstrasse 6, 1010 Vienna)


Bier und das MQ

Wir wollen eine Bring-Your-Own-Beer Trinkaktion im Hof des Museumsquartiers
veranstalten. Dazu müssen wir Leute und die Presse mobilisieren.

­ ORT/ZEIT: Samstag, 20. Juni 2009, 18.00-18.05 Uhr. Innenhof des
Museumsquartiers (Museumsplatz 1/5, 1070 Wien).

­ VORGEHENSWEISE: Ab 18 Uhr wird 5 Minuten lang während des Trinkens
regelmäßig laut zugeprostet!

­ ZIELGRUPPE: Alle, die ein Interesse daran haben, ihre mitgebrachten
Getränke weiterhin im MQ trinken zu dürfen.

­ GRUND: Das MQ ist ein öffentlicher Platz und wird mit unseren
Steuergeldern finanziert, im Jahr 2005 mit ca. 11 Mio. Euro. Wir sehen
nicht ein, wieso wir dazu gezwungen werden sollten, das Bier vor Ort zu

Es haben sich schon mindestens 2 facebook-gruppen gegründet und es gibt ein
geplantes protestereignis:

Trevor Paglen: state secrets, covert military bases, disappeared people

Trevor Paglen will give a lecture performance on Monday (8 PM) at Metalab (Rathausstraße 6). It’s part of the Paraflows festival.

Trevor Paglen is geographer and artist and he takes us on a road trip through the world of hidden budgets, state secrets, covert military bases, and disappeared people: through a landscape that military and intelligence insiders call the “black world.” Over the course of his talk, Paglen leads us from “non-existent” Air Force and CIA installations in the Nevada desert to secret prisons in Afghanistan and to a collection of even more obscure “black sites” startlingly close to home. Using hundreds of images he has produced and collected over the course of his work, Paglen shows how the black world’s internal contradictions give rise to a peculiar visual, aesthetic, and epistemological grammar with which to think about the contemporary moment.

More info:
Trevor Paglen’s homepage

The Weinviertel, The Gemütlichkeit and The Dirt

In 1999 25 year old Nigerian, Marcus Omofuma, was killed during a forced deportation in Austria. He was handcuffed, chained and his mouth closed with adhesive tape by the three escorting policemen who claimed that the other passengers of the deporting Balkans Air flight should not be disturbed. Marcus Omofuma suffocated.

The Marcus Omofuma memorial, which was created and paid for by the sculptor Ulrike Truger, reminds of the violence against Omofuma. The stone was put up next to the opera building in Vienna without official approval and was therefore supposed to be taken down. However, in collaboration with the Green Party, a place for it was found between Mariahilferstra§e and Museumsquartier.

Currently the Weinviertel (a part of Lower Austria) is presenting its products and touristic services between Mariahilferstra§e and Museumsquartier — around the Omofuma memorial. A kinda surreal situation. The Gemütlichkeit and Fortress Austria. It’s like Weinseligkeit.


They also have a representation of Lower Austrian “Amethystwelt Maissau” (“the largest opencast amethyst vein in the world”).
Children can stir in dirt to find amethysts.
What a sad setting.


Austrian tourist industry. You rule.


I am sure that it is not without some degree of Schadenfreude that Austrians read stories about the recent scandal regarding Chinese toothpaste and its antifreeze content when Austria itself was embroiled in a terrible scandal during which it was discovered that diethylene glycol was being added to Austrian wine.

The Austrian wine industry is finally truly recovered, and the recent opening of the New York Times “paywall” has made finding out about it that much easier for the English-reading community.

The plus side of all of this is that Austrian wine is making serious gains in reputation and quality. And while tiny Austria will never be on a footing with France or Italy in terms of wine production capability, there could be a huge boon for vintners focussing on quality products while the EU money flows into the development of Austria’s wine industry.

The Apple/BMW mantra applies: one does not need a huge market share, only a reputation for quality products to earn a healthy profit and a loyal consumer base.

The good, the bad and the ugly the articles written by Washington Post and The New York Times raise a few questions concerning their coverage of Dr. Kurt Waldheim. And if you aren’t a careful reader, you would end up believing what you read.

Like any soldier of war, if you desert your troop, you are ordered to be sentenced. And if you disagree to the ruling government or ideology, you better hide or else you are dead. This is more or less the scenario during this era.

Despite the negative mood that the US mainstream media create about him, this memorial tablet goes to show that if you were a non-Jew/non-gypsy/non-gay Austrian and not a pro-Nazi but a communist/socialist that time you would be dead.

Just like the Viennese Viktor Christ, an ordinary citizen who was murdered in 1941 by the Nazis.

Collective memory

Every time I see a digital clock displaying this very special time I have a small memory flash, a micro-version of Proust’s Madeleine.

Why? Well… if you were a kid and lived in Austria between 1975 and 1990 you should definitely know…


The top 25 Vienna Legends, Myths and Rumours: #4 / The State Opera and Edward van der Nuell

The State Opera and Van der Nüll

More than two years ago when I used to attend the German language class, my teacher told us the sensitive Viennese architect who masterminded the construction of the State Opera.

“Never criticise a talented Viennese…” She told us.

This was the time I learned of Eduard van der Nuell and his master August Sicard von Sicardsburg and the fate of State Opera, which was known then as Hofoper.

Van der Nuell was famous for his “exceptional ornamental and decorative talent.” Together with Sicardsburg, “They advocated an internationally open-minded and independent concept of the total work of art (Gesamtkunstwerk) without restrictions of style or norms, a very twentieth-century approach to architecture.” (Source)

Because of different styles associated in constructing the State Opera building, instead of praises what they heaped was a strong opposition from the public. They accused the team of Van der Nuell and Sicardsburg of having no style insinuating that they didn’t really invent anything new.

Although the building of State Opera also brought them critical acclaim from abroad, the last straw was Franz Josef’s dislike towards the building. It was rumoured that the emperor never favoured the architecture and even complained that it was an eyesore. Van der Nuell, who couldn’t handle the amount of flak he received especially from the Austrian emperor, committed suicide by hanging himself.

The emperor was so shocked after he heard the news of the ill-fated architect. From then on every time he wasn’t pleased with the new trends in art he was caught saying the cliched yet diplomatic phrase “Es war sehr schoen, es hat mich sehr gefreut ” to assure/please the artists.

A few months after Van der Nuell’s death, Sicardsburg died of a heart attack.

The top 25 Vienna Legends: #1 / Blutgasse

#1 The myth of the bloody street: Blutgasse

One of the first legends I was told upon arriving in Vienna was a pleasantly terrifying tale of Templars.

As a teenager fascinated by chaos magick, obsucre history, and anything vaguely reminiscent of something Robert Anton Wilson might like, it was the most perfect possible introduction to the city.

In the first district, just behind Stephansplatz there is a short street running between Singerstrasse and the Domgasse. Mozart once lived around the corner. The houses here are some of the oldest in Vienna, with some of the fundaments dating back to the 12th century. History isn’t some abstract concept, it’s a physical part of daily life.

The legend of Blutgasse goes back to the beginning of the 14th century. The Knights Templar, whose influence, wealth, and tax free status had become a thorn in the side of Royals indebted to them, were under attack. King Philip IV of France had been pressuring the church to take action against the Templars. On Friday the thirteenth of October, 1307, he finally made a move against the group, arresting and torturing Templars in France until they confessed to various blasphemies.

According to the Legend, the Knights had founded a secret Refugium in the Fähnrichshof in Vienna. When the Refugium was stormed in 1312, the street now known as Blutgasse was turned red with the blood of the Knights.

History Trivia: Sachertorte


The Sachertorte (a really famous Viennese chocolate cake) was invented by Franz Sacher in 1832 for… well… that’s the question.
For what Austrian politician and statesman?

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