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Original author: 
Ian Willms

At the heart of the Mennonite religion, you’ll find an unwavering commitment to nonresistance that has endured five centuries of oppression and violent atrocities. This work is a photographic ode to an endless journey that my Mennonite ancestors undertook in the name of peace.

Right from their origins in the 16th and 17th centuries, Mennonites in the Netherlands were hunted down by the Catholic Church and publicly tortured to death because of their Christian beliefs. This prompted the Mennonites to migrate to Poland, where they remained for a century until the state began to force them into military service. In the late 18th century, the Mennonites chose to migrate again — this time to Ukraine and Russia.

On a bitterly cold winter night, in the midst of the Russian Revolution, Bolshevik soldiers arrived at my family’s doorstep. They forced 48 Mennonite men to walk from house to house at gunpoint using them as human shields as they stormed the non-Mennonite homes; my great grandfather was one of three survivors from that group. During the revolution, entire Mennonite villages were wiped off the map in nighttime massacres that saw men, women and children struck down by Bolshevik soldiers on horseback. Those who were able to escape with their lives would return to their villages the following day to bury their neighbours and families in unmarked mass graves before beginning new lives as refugees. Throughout their history, the Mennonites have been repeatedly faced with the same decision: Take up arms and abandon your faith, leave your home behind and give up everything you have worked for in your life, or die where you stand.

In 2012, I decided to re-trace the refugee migrations of the Mennonites to witness the places where they lived and died. I followed their historical journey through The Netherlands, Germany, Poland and Ukraine, photographing the communities, farmland, execution sites and mass graves that had been left behind. The path on which I traveled emulated the nomadic history of the Mennonites, while I searched for a feeling of familiarity and a connection to the former homes of my distant relatives. In most places along the migration route, the lingering presence of the Mennonites was little more than a collection of memories; a pockmarked gravestone; the mossy foundations of a farmhouse; a group of blurry faces, locked away in a history textbook. I found myself sifting through peaceful cow pastures and rural villages, seeking the ghosts of unimaginable heartbreak and tragedy.

The process of carrying out this work took an emotional toll, but the experience taught me to admire the Mennonites for their immense personal sacrifices. The Mennonites gave up community, prosperity and even faced death because they believed in the statement of nonresistance. I feel that if the places in these photographs could speak, they would tell us that hostilities brought against pacifist peoples are more than an injustice; they are an attack upon the hope for peace within our world.

Ian Willms is a photographer based in Toronto. He is currently represented by Getty Images Emerging Talent.

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Lucas Gutierrez (AR), Silo Sessions.

Lucas Gutierrez (AR), Silo Sessions.

Electronic music, once the exclusive domain of secluded art laboratories, has now made the connection to clubs inseparable. The rhythms of dance music draw a line from popular to research; the software and gear marketed for dance musicians cross-pollinating with more experimental tools, as music styles, textures, and timbres mix, as well. But now, finding a way out of that club context and its restrictions may be as vital as the emergence from the lab years ago.

Making connections between Argentina and Germany, across an international collective of audiovisual artists, FxLD’s latest project invades a disused grain silo in Berlin. Literally in the shadow of Kreuzberg’s famed techno haven Watergate, the base of the silo is a narrow, concrete cave, broad-shouldered beams criss-crossing the space.

We get to listen to the fruits of the Silo Series performances, realized live and retaining their rough edges and improvised forms. And you can see some of the flickers, too, via filmmaker (and now CDM collaborator) Kevin Klein.

Danish artist Vectral, aka Søren Lyngsø, paints cinematic portraits in sound, rhythms throbbing underneath digital textures, all interwoven into a narrative of grooves and shadowy noises. Argentinian Lucas Gutierrez is an industrial designer and visual artist, but his music is a kind of dance of tribal glitches.

SILO SESSIONS from Mindpirates e.V. on Vimeo.

We have full-length music mixes here:

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Resembling nothing if not Plato’s famous allegory, audiovisual shows in the silo echo on those cold post-industrial surfaces and dance on the walls. Listening to the results, you’ll hear traces of dance grooves as they’re fragmented into glitchy textures, the computers sounding a little bit as though they’re about to scream under the strain. (Having been floating around academia for about twenty years now, I remember how frequent complaints used to be about “beat-driven” music. For a time, academics were as afraid of recognizable rhythm as they were of tonality in the post-war era. I think more enlightened openness has prevailed – a good thing, too, as I wouldn’t want to have to drop Beethoven for his four-on-the-floor time signatures.)

I’m honored to get to play as part of this series tomorrow, Friday, using software I’ve built in Pd and Processing. (I hope to share those patches, once they’re cleaned up.) But I’m equally pleased to share the work that’s come before, as I’m thoroughly enjoying listening to it. And while we can’t entirely replicate the experience, I loved the feeling of being close with other listeners, in a space that wasn’t a concert but wasn’t a club, either – shoulder to shoulder with music lovers, sounds and light slightly different from each vantage point.

More of Lucas – LUCAS GUTIERREZ . Ascendente LiveAct – PANORAMICA 2012 (Buenos Aires, Argentina – actually, 2013′s installment is next weekend if you’re in that neighborhood!)

If you are in Berlin, come say hi. More on the series, and the ideas behind it:

SILO SESSIONS

Mindpirates open the doors of their silo, in collaboration with FxLD, to make way for experimentation with a series of concerts exploring the relationship between audio and visual concepts. This event takes its name from the location where the event will be executed, an old grain silo in the heart of Kreuzberg. The unique space is characterized by its geometric architecture ideal to create an introspective atmosphere.
Seeking to promote a state of connection that goes beyond the limits of reason, guest artists will work image and sound simultaneously using non-conventional structures to compose and execute in real time.

MINDPIRATES
Mindpirates is an artist group that works on aspects and issues of contemporary culture, sociology and ecology. The group has the approach to work independently and interdisciplinary. They combine challenging aesthetics, substantial examination and experiment with new forms of distribution, exposition and cooperation.

Mindpirates e.V. is a member based network. The e.V. is building and developing a community that supports ideas and projects with the Mindpirates.

Mindpirates Vereinsheim is organized by the Mindpirates e.V. based in Berlin. The space follows the tradition of an artist run center and is used by its members as a platform for mutual exchange and public presentation.

The Mindpirates Projektraum is an independent art space and a curatorial platform for the collaborative production and presentation of artistic projects, exhibitions and critical research work. It is a meeting place for the exchange of thoughts and impulses through which to forge relationships with the guest artists and the public.

http://www.mindpirates.org

FxLD

Is an artistic collective based between Berlin and Buenos Aires. Has the aim of serve as a platform for research, experimentation and promotion of Digital Art and Generative Art and to give them a place in the consolidated circle of art. FxLD believes that they are forms of Fine Arts that can respond to the most deep inquires of the spirit. And defends that the computers and informatic languages expand the barriers of creation to make way to a new aesthetical and conceptual paradigm in art.

http://www.foldcode.com.ar/

VECTRAL (DK) ( Silo Sessions I )

Behind the pseudonym Vectral, Søren Lyngsø, producer/composer/computer-programmer and visual-artist with a master degree in electronic music-composition from the Royal Academy of Music, explores the interplay between electronic compositions and audio-reactive visuals with concerts leading the audience through his sensory labyrinth step by step. His stubborn sounds-capes and crackling sound structures consist of electronically arranged material from everyday life heard through homemade software. The visual part consists of live generated 3D graphics using 3D control points to create dynamic colors and shapes.

http://sorenlyngso.dk
http://vectral.bandcamp.com

LUCAS GUTIERREZ (ARG) ( Silo Sessions II )

Digital Artist and Industrial Designer and native of Belen City in the province of Catamarca, Argentina. He specializes in video-art and real time video session projects pushing limits and blending influences from Motion Graphics and Graphic Design. He strives to achieve simplicity in its work while playing with blurred visuals and blending together the variations of two styles. The design studio coalesces its influences to create a variety of audio/visual projects for creative professionals in the art and media world.

Lucas has exhibited his works in well-known national and international festivals such as: Offf-Post-Digital Creation Culture, Panoramica / Tiempo Visual Panorama Real 2010 & 2012 (Bs As, Argentina), Getset Festival 2012 (Porto, Portugal), Cccartaxo 2010/12 (Portugal), Fuga Jurasica & Sincroba 2009 (Bs As – Argentina), Videofest 2008/9 (Cordoba, Argentina) among others. Lucas Gutierrez became a well-known Visual Artist and participates as resident VJ in a number of shows and events, fusing primarily electronic music with art.
He is currently a member of: fungo_project collective (Lisbo, Portugal) and undertones (Argentina). “A chaotic style that permeates his works with motion graphics. Seeks simplicity while running with the limits of the blurred image”.

http://www.lucasgutierrez.com/

Finally, from Vorspiel (which runs prior to the Transmediale and CTM festivals), here’s a murky jam of artists in the silo space — good stuff, good times (again, including recent CDM collaborators Easton West and Kevin Klein):

Mindpirates & P2P Vorspiel: Plutonic Frequencies from Mindpirates e.V. on Vimeo.

Details of what’s going on there:

On the occasion of CTM Vorspiel, Mindpirates will channel the ancient knowledge of the lost tribes of Pluto through vibrational frequencies. This cosmic learning experience will take place in the secret Silo space located at Mindpirates.
This very special event was part of P2P Vorspiel, a pre-festival weekend preceding the opening of transmediale 2013 BWPWAP – Back When Pluto Was a Planet and CTM.13 – THE GOLDEN AGE through a dissemination of projects including exhibition openings, workshops, talks, performances and parties outside the main venues of either festival.
Participating Artists:
Pauline Doutreluingne
Cy Iurinic
Kevin Klein
Emmanuel Pidré
Owen Roberts
Dylan Warn
Easton West

Camera:
Philipp Wenning
Edit:
Kevin Klein

More images:

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Gregorio Borgia / AP

This combined picture shows Italian sculptor Oliviero Rainaldi's statue of Pope John Paul II before its restoration, left, on Sept. 23, 2011, and at its inauguration after the restoration, in Rome on Nov. 19, 2012.

The Associated Press reports — The city of Rome has inaugurated a revamped statue of Pope John Paul II after the first one was pilloried by the public and the Vatican.

Pope or Mussolini? Statue sparks uproar

Artist Oliviero Rainaldi says he's pleased with the final product, saying it matches his original vision. He blamed foundry workers for a botched assemblage the first time around.

The statue was restored after Rainaldi was pilloried by the Vatican for creating a sculpture of Pope John Paul II that some mockingly said looked more like Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini than the beloved late pontiff. Even the Vatican's own art critic wrote that it looked like a "bomb" had landed. 

Gregorio Borgia / AP

A woman stops to look at the newly unveiled Pope John Paul II statue in Rome on Nov. 19, 2012.

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Damaso Reyes has been following the changes wrought by immigration and the economy in Europe since 2005 for his project "The Europeans." He is going past the daily headlines - and stereotypes - in hopes of achieving a more subtle portrayal. "If everything was about reconfirming what I thought I'd find, why get on a plane?"

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GoGlobal is Morten Lund’s new venture. Earlier this month, Lund pitched GoGlobal live on stage at The London Web Summit. Despite a few people thinking it was a ruse, GoGlobal aims to be a platform to grow globally for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies. Lund says he wants to take three to four companies in to 40+ countries every quarter. Here is the problem I think he is looking to solve.

As soon as an Internet startup shows signs of success, somewhere in the universe its business model is replicated with razor-sharp execution tactics. If the startup is under the radar still, selling its products and services internationally is difficult without prior knowledge and business network.

Take online music streaming industry for example, its pioneer Spotify launched in Germany this month. Eagerly awaited by the German public, whose current suppliers of streaming music services include Deezer, Rhapsody, Rdio and Simfy, Spotify is now present in only 13 countries. Its French competitor Deezer has gone to as many as 45 countries and expects to conquer the world outside of the US by the end of 2012, according to its CEO Axel Dauchez. Will Spotify ever catch up?

First movers have good reasons to worry about competition. Deezer may not be a copycat, it was founded only 16 months after Spotify, but its plans to grow are much more aggressive.

So I spoke to a number of industry players to understand what it takes to grow an Internet business internationally.

Product Localization

Dauchez says that customizing the service was key to entering new markets. For Deezer it meant adding local artists, negotiating licenses with the labels for each individual country, and segmenting music into relevant genres (adding French Chanson for the Russian audience and Schlager for the German).

For some companies product localization may not need to be so extensive: for example Instagr.am did not do anything beyond translating its app into eight languages. For-website translation tools from EasyLing or SmartLing could work well.

In mobile apps industry, app store optimization, including localization of the screenshots in the appstore promotional materials, can increase download rates of a mobile app by 30 percent according to the mobile expert Stefan Bielau.

Marketing

Distributing mobile apps internationally goes beyond Google Play and iTunes. Distimo lists 60 app stores, but some local ones would not be included. Publishing apps in those stores is still largely a manual task, according to Bielau.

For an online business operating in the B2C space a desirable marketing channel would be a global partnership with Facebook. Having accomplished that, Deezer enjoys a Facebook-driven user base growth of 20 percent per week.

Using other social networks such as Nasza klasa in Poland, Orkut, owned by Google and popular in Brazil and India, or Russian Facebook equivalent Vkontakte for marketing purposes also makes sense, as they are admittedly cheaper for user acquisition, although Facebook’s audience is larger.

Earning money from some of the social networks may be tricky. According to Danil Kozyatnikov of Questli from Novosibirsk, Russia, his social games company partnered with Russian social networks, but in some cases the company did not get paid.

Thankfully, for those with a sizable budget, B2C user acquisition can be done through advertisement. According to Siegfried Müller, the co-founder of a hugely successful Munich-based Travian Games (120 million registered users), advertisement networks are well established globally, and buying ads in different countries is an easy task. Travian is present in more than 50 countries.

Payment

All the “likes”, clicks and registrations are useless without adequate payment methods. PayPal and credit cards may not always be a payment method of choice outside of the developed countries. Even in Germany bank account transfers are still preferred over other payment tools, and the country has one of the lowest numbers of credit cards in the EU.

XS Software, a Bulgarian online games company that sells its games in 80 countries, uses over 100 payment providers. According to the company’s project manager Dimitar Yanchev, SMS payments are the third most popular payment method after PayPal and credit cards. This is especially true for those customers who have not yet reached the legal age to have a bank account or a credit card. Such payment methods can be quite expensive, as telcos take a significant cut as a commission. InSyria, for example, it can be as much as 80 percent of the total revenue.

Many countries have so-called e-wallets for those who are unwilling to use their bank account or credit cards for online payment. In Russia and some Eastern European countries it is QIWI, in the Middle East and North Africa there is CashU, BoaCompra in Brazil, DotPay in Poland and ePay in Bulgaria. The way most of these e-wallets work is by allowing the customers to deposit money into the online account through a payment terminal or a kiosk. But even in Russia, e-commerce leaders such as Ozon still receive over 80 percent of payments as cash on delivery, as its CEO Maelle Gavet shared at TechCrunch Moscow.

In Serbia, Internet businesses cannot implement payment methods because it is necessary to register a legal entity there. In Eastern Europe the same requirement applies in Bulgaria and Croatia. A group of Serbia’s leading e-commerce sites, which includes Limundo (Serbian eBay) and Kupindo (Serbian Amazon) is currently developing their own escrow-based payment system called Platindo which will eventually become an e-wallet.

There are of course payment aggregators such as Moneybookers, recently rebranded as Skrill, which offer integration of 100 payment methods in 200 countries, but they do not come cheap and according to Müller of Travian Games have a small market share in many countries.

Deezer’s international roll-out did not go beyond credit card and PayPal payments for now, but the company intends to improve on this and other localization efforts gradually by establishing offices in 15 key countries, and participating in local scenes: marketing at festivals, and engaging local artists. Currently its international team is 20-strong, but the company expects to grow its total staff from 120 to 300 by the end of this year. As for payments, bundling its music streaming service with telcos’ annual mobile phone contract is likely to boost their user retention and allow them to collect revenue from their telecom partners.

Online Piracy

Deezer’s product is a digital good, and online piracy is its main competitor. Russian Vkontakte, for example, is blacklisted in the USbecause its users are enabled to freely upload music files and listen to them through Vkontakte free of charge. There is even a tool called Meridian that offers the creation of playlists using music on Vkontakte, all perfectly illegal and completely free. Dauchez believes that offering its users a premium music streaming experience. The rest is down to finding the right price point to get them to pay for it.

Logistics

For online retailers of physical goods, further challenges abound. I spoke to Jonathan Teklu, the managing partner of Berlin-based incubator SpringStar, which backed KupiVIP, the Russian version of Ventee Privee. He told me that when its founder, Oskar Hartmann, launched KupiVIP in Russia, he had to buy a fleet of trucks to deliver goods to its customers.

Indeed, logistics is another significant operational challenge in many of the world’s markets, where consumers are likely to cancel a purchase if no suitable delivery method exists. To address the challenge, Russian iTech Capital has set up QIWI Post, a joint venture with Polish Integer (owner of InPost), which leverages the brand of QIWI e-wallet and its network of terminals. QIWI Post is a terminal where a courier deposits a shipment, and buyers pay for the goods at the terminal and open the box using a provided code. Similar solutions exist elsewhere: for example in Germany, Estonia, and recently – thanks to InPost – also in Ireland under the name of Parcel Motel.

Other Issues

Companies looking to establish presence in the large developing markets such as Brazil or India will need a local partner to set up a legal entity, according to Teklu.

Educating online users is also essential. The online room and sublet reservation company AirBnB partnered with SpringStar in October 2011 to boost its international expansion. In Israel and the Middle East it is currently facing a problem of a cash economy, where the apartment owners prefer to be paid in cash, rather through an online transaction, an essential element of the Airbnb user experience. Changing such an attitude requires time.

Another example of having to educate consumers is India, where Internet users still have trust issues with buying online from unknown brands. A ticket-selling website MakeMyTrip engaged local travel agencies to let them use its website to book trips, and by so doing, educate their customers that it is safe to do so, according to Teklu.

These are few examples of challenges that come with need to grow internationally. Going back to Lund, he plans to target SaaS companies supporting them with legal, accounting, affiliate marketing and payment services amongst others, all offered as one platform.

Interested in what others thought of the idea, I asked Tom Cupr, from the Czech Republic, who has grown his daily deals business, Slevomat Group, into a 60 million Euro company with a presence in 7 Eastern European countries in just over a year. He said what’s really important is execution, but then again, he thinks that GoGlobal could make international expansion a lot easier.

This post is written by our regular contributor Natasha Starkell, the CEO of GoalEurope, the outsourcing advisory firm and a publication about outsourcing, innovation and startups in Central and Eastern Europe. Twitter @NatashaStarkell. Gplus.to/natashastarkell.

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Post-Soviet countries on the Caspian Sea face “the painful period of societal adolescence,” says Berlin-based photographer Mila Teshaieva. Twenty years after the fall of the U.S.S.R., countries in this oil-lush region continue to search for new national identities. Teshaieva’s project Promising Waters explores economic realities in three Caspian Sea states: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. “From almost the very beginning,” she says, “this story was about the dreams and changes both originated in and stimulated by the Caspian resources.”

Teshaieva’s lens responds to the sense of uncertainty in the region, and her subjects are striking, from migrant Uzbek workers building mausoleums for the new rich in Kazakhstan to refugees living in plywood settlements in Azerbaijan. The desolation and empty landscapes in her photos point to a fragile future. “Fishermen don’t know if they will find fish. Refugees are waiting to learn if they can return to Karabakh. The luxury resort remains empty,” Teshaieva says.

The photographer recalls one moment in her travels that captured the essence of Promising Waters. While she was working in Turkmenistan, her driver could not read the road signs or directions—the alphabet was changed from Cyrillic to Latin 20 years ago, and he has yet to learn the new symbols. Instead, he has resorted to intuition to find his routes. Teshaieva’s narrative in Promising Waters is the same idea: “I want to tell about societies that have lost direction but try to find the way, despite not being able to read signs,” she says.

Mila Teshaieva will be revisiting the region on March 29, 2012 to continue her project. She is a Berlin-based photographer represented by Laif photo agency, Cologne. See more of her work here.

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TEDxEutropolis - Thomas Lommee - Open Structures

How can open Modular construction can impact design practice? After his studies at the Design Academy Eindhoven, Les Ateliers Paris and the Institute without Boundaries Toronto, Thomas Lommée (*1979) has participated in a series of multidisciplinary design research groups in Europe and overseas. In 2007 he established "Intrastructures", a pragmatic, utopian design-studio, that emphasizes on the physical, digital and social context of product-design. He is the initiator of the OpenStructures project, a hands-on design experiment that explores the possibility of a modular construction model where everyone designs for everyone on the basis of one shared geometrical grid. According the UK Wired his Open Structures model is one of the 25 big ideas of 2012. Currently Thomas Lommée teaches at the research programme Social Design at Design Academy Eindhoven's Master course and at the Ecole nationale supérieure de création industrielle in Paris. He lives and works in Brussels. In thespirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and <b>...</b>
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