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Few times a year I am collaborating with Kunterbunt, a travel agency for mentally and/or physically disabled people.
Situated in southern Germany it offers around 60 trips a year of various kind and destinations while strongly focusing on a respectful and easy approach towards the individual. Based on this philosophy the disabled people are allowed to find themselves in the very rare occasion where usual structures, borders and roles defining their everyday life no longer exist. Whether they are able do it consciously or not, for a while they can experience a freedom and room for self-expression that every person is deeply longing for.
Being on the road and documenting their time is a unique opportunity to gain insight into a world unknown to most of us. It is easy to fill a book with the countless experiences of every trip but what remains so special for me is the real honesty I had been confronted with. So refreshingly different from ‘our’ life the disabled don’t or better mostly don’t wear masks, they simply are themselves. Their inner child can be very inspiring and reminding us of our own one.

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FvF Mixtape #51 by Malte Müller

For our new mixtape, we invited longtime friend and trusted advisor Malte Müller aka. Electric Gecko, from Hamburg to share his favorite tunes.

Besides running his own creative studio We are Fellows where he creates brand identities, websites and manages creative direction with his partner Andreas Lexa, Malte is a true music enthusiast. Read more about him on our website here.

Tracklist:

01. Ohrwert – Realm
02. Paul Eg – The Sorrow
03. Julius Steinhoff – Speak No Evil
04. Toby Dreher – Imagination (Marko Fürstenberg Remix)
05. Ribn – CTRL
06. WAX – 50005
07. Scuba – Cognitive Dissonance
08. Yør – Rushed
09. Hannes Fischer – Deep Field
10. Dauwd – What’s There (Fort Romeau Remix) 

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FatLittleMonkey writes "My mind to your mind... my thoughts to your thoughts... Researchers at the University of Essex have shown that combining the output from two non-invasive "brain-computer interfaces", computer-interpreted EEG signals, led to a much clearer signal of the subjects' intention than the output from a single subject. To test this idea, they had two subjects try to steer a simulated space-ship at a target planet, by thinking of one of eight possible directions. While a single user could achieve 67% accuracy, this jumped to 90% when two minds were combined. Researchers believe the technique also compensates for individual lapses in attention, and thus may have applications in real-world space missions."

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female gamer

Irina Galtsova has to concentrate on what she’s doing. If she makes a mistake, the inhabitants of Bonga Island won’t be able to plant any more palm trees, go fishing, or make pottery. Plus she could ruin the fun for hundreds of thousands of women who love the computer game she designs.

The 29 year-old is a developer for the Hamburg-based computer gaming company Intenium. On average, the company puts a new game on the market every two days. The firm, which employs 90 people – of which 18 are women – is one of the largest games providers for female players. In its studios in Hamburg and Kaliningrad, Russia, games are specially developed for women who constitute a rapidly growing target group. Of the 25 million Germans who regularly play computer games, 11 million are women, according to the German Trade Association of Interactive Entertainment Software (BIU).

In games that are targeted for women – like AlamandiLady PopularFarmerama or Bonga Online – fighting and shooting have been replaced by flirting and craft-making, and players play with and not against each other. The goal is to find solutions to puzzles and crimes -- and things are created instead of destroyed. The main priority is for the games to offer relaxation and distraction.

From Bigpoint and Wooga to Zynga, nearly all gaming companies employ men to create digital worlds. Women are the exception on development teams. At least right now – because gaming companies are actively looking to recruit women. "We need a female influence on development teams," says Christina Barleben, a freelance game designer in Berlin. She intends to open her own studio.

[This article by Jürgen Hoffmann at Süddeutsche Zeitung was translated by WorldCrunch and partially syndicated here.]

Read the rest at WorldCrunch >

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Imagine for a moment hurtling down a roadway as fast as your legs could carry you—all the while blindfolded. Sound scary? Henry Wanyoike does it every day, along the dirt roads around his Kenyan village and on the speedy tracks of Olympic stadiums. Wanyoike, 38, has won three gold medals in three Paralympics—his first in the 5000m at Sydney in 2000—setting two world records for a blind runner in the process. This year in London, he is aiming to medal in his first Paralympic marathon.

The fact that Wanyoike runs at such intense speeds while totally blind is truly remarkable, a testament to both his raw athletic talent and iron guts. I know that from personal experience. I, too, am losing my sight, due to a genetic condition called retinitis pigmentosa. There is no treatment or cure, no way of slowing the descent into blindness. Today, I still see much better than Wanyoike, but I can barely find my way at night or down a crowded street. As I visited Wanyoike in his village outside of the town of Kikuyu, I joined him for a stretch of a morning run. The weather was terrible. A cold rain fell on the unpaved roads, turning them into cauldrons of mud. My sight doesn’t allow me to spot potholes or other potential ankle-twisters, and the raindrops splattering my eyeglasses made that task even more difficult. I struggled to keep my footing. Yet Wanyoike ran beside me, unfazed and sure-footed. He can’t run alone, of course. He is joined by a guide, Joseph Kibunja, who acts as his eyes.

Wanyoike didn’t always have such confidence. As a young man, he seemed headed for a promising career as part of Kenya’s famed running teams, until disaster struck in May 1995. At only 20 years old, Wanyoike went suddenly blind, due to a stroke. Unable to care for himself, let alone run, he became despondent, even suicidal. “I was thinking that was the end of me,” he says. “My dream would never come true.”

Yet it did. After several years, with the help of encouraging teachers and doctors, Wanyoike learned to run again with the aid of a guide. Now he participates in races from Hong Kong to Hamburg, an inspiration not only to disabled people in Kenya, but also to the poor children of his home region of Kikuyu as well. Wanyoike still lives near to where he was born, humbly in little more than an upgraded shack. Though he wishes he could see his wife and children at least once, Wanyoike doesn’t look backwards, to the life he had when he was sighted. “For 17 years, since I lost my sight, I think I have done so many (more) things than what I did for 21 years before,” Wanyoike says. “The most important thing is to accept yourself.”

I’d like to say I found Wanyoike and his life story inspiring, especially since I am facing a similar fate. He is an inspiration, of course, to anyone dealing with disability or adversity. But what struck me most is how differently Wanyoike and I have approached our condition. Wanyoike has come to accept what has happened to him, and has gained strength from that acceptance. I, however, strive to overcome my failing sight by stubbornly refusing to accept the problem exists. My visit with Wanyoike made me wonder if his way is better.

Read more about Henry Wanyoike at TIME.com.

Dominic Nahr, a TIME contract photographer, is represented by Magnum.

Michael Schuman writes about Asia and global economic issues as a correspondent for TIME in Beijing.

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Eastern Europe has become a popular destination for photographers looking for interesting stories in an exotic and new landscape. The antecedents to this trend range from Jonas Bendiksen’s documentation of spaceship junkyards and scrap-metal dealers to Robert Polidori’s large scale images of desolation and despair. Today, these areas serve as a main destination for young photographers—but, among the hundreds of projects produced in the area, only a couple come from a personal and individual point of view.

Irina Ruppert’s intimate knowledge of Kazakhstan and Eastern Europe comes from an experience of emigration and a complex family history. She moved at the age of 7 with her parents and three siblings from Kazakhstan to Germany in 1976, leaving four other siblings behind, carrying intense and vivid memories of her hometown and everyday life in the villages. After the collapse of the USSR in 1993, Ruppert started traveling back home, where she encountered a place full of political change but the same spirit and feelings she remembered from her childhood.

From 2006 to 2010 she photographed different locations in Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Poland and Kazakhstan. She was most impressed with her hometown and the changes it had gone through since the end of socialism. “It seemed that everything that had to do with the Russian past had been wiped out from one day to the other,” she says. “The Cyrillic alphabet and Russian language were gone. Old Russian statues of Lenin and Stalin were given long beards and their names were changed to those of Kazakh personalities.”

When Ruppert describes her travels in Eastern Europe, she notes feeling immersed in the experience and always feeling at home. “I can smell the food and see that the colors and landscapes are very different from Germany. People’s behaviors are very familiar to me,” she explains. “When I get on a bus and there’s only one person sitting inside, I always sit next. I never take the last seat alone in the back. People in the East are extreme in their feelings and actions; it’s always about being together. I usually travel alone but in the East, you are never alone.”

The work she produced was compiled into a book called Rodina, published in 2011 by Peperoni Books in Germany. Each individual picture in the book displays a different mood and atmosphere; it is the travel diary of a child in self-recognition, immersed in a sea of images. “I want to show my view of the East: a small world of a detached observer who is not judgmental or tendentious.”

Irina Ruppert

Research for upcoming project about Roma people

Nowadays Ruppert travels looking for wolf tracks coming from Eastern Europe into East Germany as part of a new photographic project. She has also recently received a grant from the VG Bild-Kunst to photograph the Roma people in Romania, a series that she will work on this coming summer. A research photograph from that project, which has not yet begun in earnest, is included at right.

Irina Ruppert is a Hamburg-based photographer. More of her work can be seen here. Her book Rodina, is available in the Kominek Gallery in Berlin.

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About two weeks ago we published Berlin based fashion photographer Lukasz Wolejko-Wolejszo's first story for Ben Trovato. Today we're unveiling Lukasz' second story for us, and this time the story is put to Hamburg and its famous red light district Reeperbahn. "We just want to do some colorful funny story of a girl around this hood. She is the girl to watch," Lukasz tells us, adding "She's a new eye-catcher with more importance than the lights, sex shops and dollhouses around her."

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It's time once more for a look into the animal kingdom and our interactions with the countless other species that share our planet. Today's photos include researchers dressed in panda costumes, a massage given by an African snail, a 39-pound cat named Meow, a Japanese macaque with hay fever, and orangutans having a playdate using FaceTime on an iPad. These images and many others are part of this roundup of animals in the news from recent weeks, seen from the perspectives of their human observers, companions, captors, and caretakers, part of an ongoing series on animals in the news. [41 photos]

Polar bear cub Anori explores the outdoor enclosure at the zoo in Wuppertal, Germany, on Monday, April 23, 2012. Anori was born on January 4 and is becoming a visitor's highlight. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

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Danish photographer Kim Thue is the type of person who would commonly be referred to as a badass. He has spent the past few years shooting in Big Wharf, one of the the biggest and most dangerous slums ofFreetown, Sierra Leone, where the locals affectionately call him “The Notorious K.I.M.” The gritty black and white photos he took during his travels in west Africa have now been collected in the ominously dubbed Dead Traffic, a new photo book that is being published by Dienacht

Here’s what Kim had to say about his new book in a recent interview:

“Despite Sierra Leone being renowned for its brutal civil war, I didn’t have a hidden political agenda, a specific humanitarian issue, or even a clear story in mind whilst making the book. I went to Freetown, not as a photojournalist, but as a stranger with a camera and an open heart. What I hope to have created is something the viewer can tune in to emotionally. Something that hits a nerve without being coercive in nature, and without staking a monopoly on a specific kind of truth. A collection of images simply suggesting that the inextricable coexistence of beauty and dread is an ever present theme within this vigorous and inclement city.”

Kim Thue will celebrate Dead Traffic with an opening at the Freelens Gallery in Hamburg this Thursday, which will be followed by a six-week exhibition in the gallery. You can pre-order the book here, watch a video here,read an interview here, and follow Kim’s work at Prospekt Agency.

 More Pictures

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