ZKM Karlsruhe: All your art is belong to tech

Why you should visit the ZKM Karlsruhe

You don’t often see museums like this. The Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (Center for Art and Media Technology), or ZKM Karlsruhe, is a place where art meets technology. The single building is home to one media center, two museums and three research institutes. That’s what I call an efficient use of space!


What’s special about the ZKM Karlsruhe?

These museums are groundbreaking and fascinating. The Media Museum is the first and only museum in the world for interactive art. You can find a game of SMS Pong in the Gameplay permanent exhibition. That’s where four cell phones, attached to a podium, play Pong by communicating through text message. The exhibition takes up an entire floor. It is devoted to the use of art through electronic games. Or you can check out global aCtIVISm from now until the end of March. That exhibit is focusing on demonstrations and performances which bring attention to bad situations.

ZKM Karlsruhe 33 Questions Exhibit

33 Questions Per Minute: A machine uses grammar rules and a dictionary to make grammatically correct questions. It would take 3,000 years to ask every possible question. Photo by Marc Wathieu

ZKM Karlsruhe Car Culture exhibit

Car Culture exhibit. The Germans love cars in all forms. Photo by Alberto Martinez


ZKM Karlsruhe – a great location

The ZKM Karlsruhe is located in Karlsruhe! All jokes aside, the building has its own special history, as so many German buildings do. The ZKM Karlsruhe building used to be an arms factory and has been used by ZKM and others since 1997. The modern ZKM_Cube events space is definitely a Karlsruhe landmark.

ZKM Karlsruhe Cube

The ZKM Cube. Photo by: JOEXX

The ZKM Karlsruhe is even home to a movie theater, the Filmpalast. Karlsruhe is about an hour’s drive from Stuttgart. I hope with this article you can see the ZKM Karlsruhe is worth the trip!

Dschinghis Khan and Eurovision

That’s another spelling of the ancient Mongol warrior’s name. But I’m talking about another Dschinghis Khan – the band!

Dschinghis Khan Photo

Photo by: Makakaaaa

Who was Dschinghis Khan?

Well, this Dschinghis Khan was a band formed, like Abba, to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest. Abba had a bigger success, but Dschinghis Khan stuck around to produce more songs too. One later song, “Moscow,” topped the charts in Australia for 6 weeks. Their songs popped up in TV shows and movies for years afterwards and in the 2000’s they went back on tour briefly.


Why are we talking about Dschinghis Khan, anyhow?

Eurovision is just around the corner. OK, it’s not until May, but the first round of tickets for Eurovision 2014 finals in Copenhagen are sold out, and more are going on sale at the end of January. I really want to go! As an expat transplant, I am more excited about Eurovision than any of the Europeans I know. Eurovision is an annual ode to Euro-dance music. It’s fun to see what kind of  music each country produces every year. Sometimes they mix pop beats with traditional melodies or instruments. Sometimes they sing in their own languages, sometimes in English. My favorites fuse European style with something of their own. Stuff like that makes me jealous of Europe’s huge diversity.


Can you listen to Dschinghis Khan without laughing… or cringing?

The song is pretty dated. The disco beat is the first giveaway. The lyrics are not very PC any more. “Dschinghis Khan” is about storming the steppes, stirring up fear, drinking, and don’t forget they praise the guy’s prowess in bed, too. Also, try watching the video from Eurovision. Are their costumes accurate? Is it OK for these guys to imitate another so-called “exotic” culture like that? Why sing about Dschinghis Khan, anyway?

Dschinghis Khan 3

Photo by: Foxtongue

My advice? Try to overlook all that stuff. I admit it’s not sensitive. But the beat! I wasn’t around when disco was new, so this stuff is awesome and funny to me. Crank up the volume on a Dschinghis Khan video and shout. “Hah! Hoo! Hah!”

Dschinghis Khan Albums

Photo by: Rochus Wolff


What is your all-time favorite Eurovision song?

Bremen Town Musicians

Bremen Town Musicians
Photo by: Roger Wollstadt

Think of German literature and names like Schiller, Goethe, and Lessing will come to mind. But for those aren’t into serious literature,  a certain last name will still be recognizable. The Brothers Grimm have published some of the world’s most popular stories, but a work may have slipped the cracks that is still worth the (quick) read:  Bremen Town Musicians.

The Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, were German academics, most popular for their German folk-tales that have become German literature’s most important exports. Among their most famous characters to have emerged in popular culture are Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White and Hansel and Gretel, to name a few. The list is long – the result of almost half a century’s work – and encompasses more than 200 tales, among which is the Bremen Town Musicians. The Bremen Town Musicians is a story of a donkey, dog, cat and a rooster wanting a better life, which is the catalyst for their trip to Bremen. That’s all I’m going to say – if you have ten minutes, find out what happens here.

Of course, the namesake city of Bremen has commemorated the literary work. Directly outside of its town hall, one can find a bronze statue of the tale’s four characters, arranged like they originally were in the Brothers Grimm’s manuscripts. It was erected in 1953, and captured above in a photo from 1960. Now Bremen’s signature attraction and one of the most popular things to do in Bremen, pay the “fantastic four” a visit – and don’t forget to rub the donkey’s front legs for good luck.


Kunstsammlung NRW // Wolfgang Tillmans

Wolfgang Tillmans Kunstsammlung NRW
Photo by: Steve Rogers Photography, Austin, TX

Art enthusiasts who are in (or will be visiting) Dusseldorf can indulge at Kunstsammlung NRW (short for Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen), the museum that houses the art collection of  North Rhine-Westphalia. Founded in 1961 by its government, Kunstsammlung NRW has since gained an international reputation with its impressive modern art collection. Kunstsammlung NRW is especially known for its extensive Paul Klee collection, which has grown to include 100 of the artist’s works and is considered one of the world’s most comprehensive collections. But it certainly isn’t just all about Paul Klee: with works from art’s greatest like Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Andy Warhol,  spanning movements from Pop Art to American Art to Abstract Expressionism just to name a few, Kunstsammlung NRW is a must-visit for any modern art enthusiast traveling in Germany.

Kunstsammlung NRW is also a spacious and lively center for exhibits, attracting prominent and upcoming artists alike.  Wolfgang Tillmans, one of Germany’s most important contemporary artists, is currently on exhibit for the first time in Western Germany at the Kunstsammlung NRW.  From March to July this year, visitors can check out Wolfgang Tillmans’ various works – photographs, abstact paintings, videos – and discover the versatile and multifaceted talent of the photographer.

His evolution over the years shows how masterful Wolfgang Tillmans is in his craft. Starting out as a chronicler of the nightlife scene in European cities like Berlin and London, Tillmans soon experimented with other themes like homosexuality and gender issues, and also other photographic subjects like portraits, still lifes, sky photographs, astronomical observations and landscape images. In the early 200s, he became increasingly interested in the chemical principles and spatial possibilities of the photographic material, resulting in the creation of his more “abstract” work.  He only started dabbling with digital photography in the late 2000s.

Now in Kunstsammlung NRW, Wolfgang Tillmans’ works are no newcomer to major solo museum exhibitions: his works have been shown in renowned museums including the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Hirschhorn Museum in Washington DC (pictured above), and most recently at the National Gallery in the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin.  And his diverse, extensive skills have been aptly recognized: he is the only non-UK native photographer to be awarded the prestigious Turner Prize, which he received in 2000. He also received the Cultural Award in Mannheim of the German Society of Photography in 2009-

Only one of the many things to do in Dusseldorf, the exhibition Wolfgang Tillmans is on display at the Kunstsammlung NRW from March 2nd to July 7th in the K21 section. More information can be found here.

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