Lightpainters United – Berlin 2017 (part 1)
SO IT BEGAN
It was beginning of last August when I got a message from Dan Chick on FB. There was a meetup happening in Berlin in September, limited places were available, but because someone had cancelled, I could join.
The list of light painters attending was :
The Aurora Movement, who was organising the whole thing:
Mafu Fuma, Gunnar Heilmann and Seb Buschikowskie
Sven Gerald and Marla Singer (Lichtkunstfoto) and their son Erik
Dan Chick and Nancy from the USA
Palateth from Belgium
Frodo Alvarez DKL, Sfhir , Sasa and Nacho Cosio from Spain
Mass and Stabeu from France
Phill Fisher, Mart Barras, Kim von Coels and maybe Tim Gamble from UK
Also, there were gonna be some models there, Mia Bell , Patricia Diez Gonzalez and Almudena Quiroga
That was the original list as far as I know. A group of people sharing a common passion getting together with the “All you can shoot” recipe… Nothing more nothing less. Mafu told me that the whole thing started when Frodo told him he would like to visit Berlin and then he got the idea and began proposing/inviting a couple of more people. Some of them suggested some others, and soon the thing started to grow. They had to limit the amount of the people just because of the location access.
Some of the people didn’t make it for different reasons (MASS, Sasa, Tim ). After all attending such a meeting in a foreign country is not just a simple thing, both money wise and time wise. But it was definitely worth it!
The plan was to have access to 2 fantastic locations, Teufelsberg and Malzfabrik. I googled both places and I didn’t need to hear much more.. After arranging to get that weekend in September free from other work, I said yes!
Getting to meet all these people, some of them I was already friends online but never meet in person, plus gain access to light paint in such locations? It was a no brainer…. even if the money situation was a bit tight at the time, I decided to do this
PLANNING THE TRIP
After confirming, Mafu added me to a private group on FB and Wasup for more info and coordination. He has worked a lot for this, and you could see that. From info for accommodation to maps with info about locations and points of interests of Berlin in general. It’s not a joke when they talk about German efficiency. 😛
After checking some of the options, I decided to book a place in a cheap hostel-like hotel, near the studio place of Aurora Movement. Mart Barras was also staying there, and Dan and Nancy were staying at Gunnars place also not far from there.
The locations that we were gonna shoot looked promising.. especially Teufelsberg because of its history, an ex NSA establishment in the middle of a forest in the center of Berlin, used to spy on the soviet part … ( Later on I liked Matzfabrik way more but that was still to discover…)
So after waiting impatiently and being excited for a couple of weeks, the time had come. On Thursday 14th of September, I caught an early flight and arrived in Berlin around 13:00. Found my way to the hotel with a train and after check-in, I met with Mart for a quick beer before we roll to the studio by walking.
I have to say about the weird, but fantastic feeling of meeting people you have been chatting before but never met in person. Very hard to explain but it feels great. Mart is a great guy, and after having a beer, we started to move towards the studio. On the way there we stopped a bit to wait for Dan and Nancy who joined us walking. Again same feeling … so great to meet the guy who I have been talking for months since we started this blog… He and Nancy came all the way from the USA for this meetup and have been already a day or two before in Berlin
After a short walk, we reached the studio place of Aurora Movement, KPAX.
Mafu Fuma used to run this place as a club and a creative hub space for artists, band studios etc. Since the club stopped working, he is using the space as their studio… Huge place, all black with some big props hanging from the ceiling and in different corners of the area. You could easily have four people shooting at the same time there, and everyone would have a lot of space to move…a real light painters dream playground!
Mafu was there when we arrived together with Monica Sandels, welcoming us and gave us a tour of his place.
Just as we started checking the place and talking with everyone, Gunnar and Buschi arrived with some supplies. Snacks and drinks for the whole weekend. Hospitality of Mafu and the Aurora guys in all its grace.
Shortly after Kim and Phill arrived too. Frodo and the Spanish team also came by a bit later. Sfhir, Nacho, Patricia and Almudena and Ignacio. Stabeu arrive couple of hours later too.Meeting these guys for the first time so everyone started talking and greeting. Didn’t take long when it turned up to a light painting tools showcase… “Oh look at this… wow… yes but look at mine…” 😛
Talking with Kim, I realised how misleading sometimes internet can be… Following her on her social media, I always thought that she was the owner of some sort of creative agency with a proper studio place etc… I was so impressed when she told me that her “studio place” is a wall not bigger than 2 meters wide with the roof limiting even that… It is true what they say: it’s not about what tools or space you have… It is what you do with what you have… and Kim is a perfect example of that!
Later came the guys from Movin Apes, Mario and Jochem, who was the video team. They would be following us at each location and shoot material and interviews throughout the whole weekend to prepare a report of the event. Little that we know that this would end up to be something more…
Thursday was a get-together day, some of the people wouldn’t arrive until the next day, so it was more like a party. Of course, we started talking about the schedule of the whole weekend. We also played around in the studio and everyone was showing some stuff what he does to others. Here are some of the shots that was done on Thursday.
We also tried some 360 shots with Mafu’s camera…
The program was like this:
Friday we would meet for lunch around 14 and then go from there to Malzfabrik which we had access until the early morning. Palateth, and Sven and his family would join us there.
In the daytime, before the lunch, we agreed to visit a photography event/ installation/ exhibition which was going on at the time, Olympus Playground
For Saturday we had a couple of options. Teufelsberg informed us some weeks before that they had some video shoot there and probably we wouldn’t have full access to all the place. So we decided to go there during daytime and check what the situation would be at the time. We could choose there if we wanted to stay there and shoot or go back to Malzfabrik where supposedly the location would be big and exciting enough to shoot for the second day. Mafu had already talked with the people in Malzfabrik, and this was ok for them.
For Sunday the idea was to stay at Auroras studio again and have some grill party. Plenty of space and options to shoot there too.
I also had the idea to interview Pala for the artist of the Month section of the Blog.
DAY 1 – Perspective Playground
I woke up around ten something and talked with Mart to grab some breakfast at a bakery cafe across the street from the hotel. Berlin is a great city for delicacies and bakeries in Germany, in general, are really good, so we decided to take advantage of the situation. Phill and Kim joined us and shortly after we headed to the location of the Perspective Playground event.
Huge event, organised by Olympus held for a whole month in a great looking old industrial building KRAFTWERK which used to be a famous club in the old days ( TRESOR )
You came inside, and you were offered a model of Olympus camera from the smallest series to the full pro ones according to your level of knowledge… ( or your claimed level 😛 ) On the way out they let you keep the SD card and the photos you took… We all asked if we could keep the cameras.. but for some reason, they denied us.
Inside there were many big installations that you could shoot. Some interesting, some not so, but all in all it was an excellent event.
There was even some light painting involved. There was a dark room that some artists were doing light painting portraits for the people some of the days. Zolaq was there the weekend before, and Bernard Rauscher was supposed to be there that day when we came. We planned to go visit him and say hi since some of the guys knew him, but the line was so long and stayed full the whole time, so we gave up on the idea.
After spending some time there, we started to move towards the lunch place. We meet with most of the rest of the team who were there already ( apart from the Spanish team who were out the night before and were sleeping a bit late) . After lunch, we had to go fast to the hotel to grab some stuff and returned to the restaurant to find the whole team waiting for taxis. Malzfabrik here we come!
We arrive at a stunning, massive red brick building area which used to be a malt factory ( or something like that.. )
As we come out of the taxis, we see this…
Some people, dress up in protection uniform and glasses, breaking up a bunch of weird looking supercars with all sorts of ways… hammers, baseball bats etc.?!! We were all looking at each other trying to believe what our eyes were seeing! It didn’t take long till some of us joined them and started banging the cars too, only to be stopped soon by some lady who seemed to be in charge saying they need to finish this and take them away… Some of the guys found some exciting bits and parts which they took as souvenirs though.. 😛
Sven, Marla and their son were waiting there too, and after we brought inside the gear from everyone, we opened a welcome beer!
When we finally came inside, after an introductory info session with Sally Grabosch the person in charge of the place, we got a tour of all the rooms we could use… The location was amazing! Way better than it looked in the photos Mafu sent in the group before. We could easily stay in there for the whole weekend and not run out of different places and ideas!
We split into three groups and started shooting. Each group chose a room, shoot there for an hour or two, and then we regrouped at the base room in ground floor where we had most of our gear too.
There was so much happening that if I could write for days.. so I ‘ll let the images do the talking. I will just add how great it felt to see all these people and the different ways they work and collaborate with others. A creative jam where you could learn so much just by being there and helping.
But wait… where is Pala??
We had lost track of Pala, who was arriving by car from Liege, Belgium but was stuck in traffic, driving directly after work. Finally, It took him 12 hours in the car, but he made it! We saw him arriving loaded with his bags and stuff and everyone went cheering! Our team was finally complete!
After many hours of shooting and moving around, we left the place around 5 in the morning.
…stay tuned for the second part of Lightpainters United tomorrow
including the official release of: The Path of Light – A documentary series