Präsentieren bedeutet, mit Menschen zu sprechen.

Monat: April, 2011

The DJ in you


Letzte Woche habe ich mir rund 55 studentische 3-Minuten-Präsentationen angesehen, alle zu einem freigewählten Thema aus dem Bereich Gestaltung. 

Last week I evaluated 55 talks and slide sets. The topic was design or design related. You choose means you cannot complain it’s a boring topic.

Eine davon ist hängen geblieben. Der schlichten Folien wegen. Der deutlichen Veränderung zur Vorwoche (Weg-vom-Ich-hin-zum-Thema) wegen. Der präzisen sprachlichen Ausgestaltung wegen.

One talk stuck a little more than the others. Because of the plain slides. Because of the striking change from me to topic. Because of the precise language.

Dieser Vortrag verwendet das Stilmittel der Metapher, die stärker und wirkungsvoller ist als der gängige Wie-Vergleich. Überlassen Sie den Wie-Vergleich ambitionierten 19-jährigen Jungautoren.

This talk uses metaphors, not similes. A DJ is… not: A DJ is like… Leave the simile to 19-year-old aspiring authors.

All images © Patrick Walton/HAWK Hildesheim/Holzminden/Göttingen, Fakultät Gestaltung

  • All slides ballpoint pen scribbles, scanned, postproduction in Photoshop.
  • Idea: Using a familiar concept and putting it into a new context, enhancing meaning.
  • Black background resembles vinyl.
  • White scribbles resemble scratches on records.
  • White font: Boston Traffic, 36 pt. Stamp like, as term DJ has been stamped/coined as something new.

Slides/Script (slightly edited)

The DJ as we all know him. But DJ is just a term, a phrase, an image.


A DJ is also a juggler. He creates a musical rhythm and flow to which people move.


A DJ is a mathematician. He adds up music and records and finds new solutions.


A DJ is a social worker. He communicates and creates relationships, sharing his records.


A DJ is an emotion designer. He creates a love brand, he thinks of and about his audience, he makes people happy. He creates a composition that touches peoples’ emotions.


A 3-minute presentation is like a single. It is over after one song, even if you would have liked to hear more.


Like honey in between your hands

The follwing video I stumbled upon somewhere. I probably wouldn’t have checked it but for the promotional line Like honey in between your hands.

I am not really into glass blowing. I find most shiny objects too cute and cliché. But I am very much into this video, as I am into everyone who makes a process more than a series of boring steps and passive voice.

I like the quietness of Kiva Ford’s passion.

If you need to give a brief overview of why you do what you do, this is a great example.

And no, it does not start with Adam and Eve and the history of glass blowing. It starts right at the heart of everything alive; it starts with fire and flame.

There is all sorts of different flames that you need to learn when you are working over the torch.


Handmade Portraits: Glassblowing With Kiva Ford

There is all sorts of different flames that you need to learn when you are working over the torch.

A yellow flame is a cooler heat and as you increase the oxygen, the flame turns blue. 
The temperature is probably a few thousand degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s really interesting working with glass, as my experience with glass is that it is solid. And then when I was introduced to glass blowing, all of a sudden it is not solid anymore, it’s a liquid and then it almost feels like honey in between your hands.

For liquids, there isn’t a structural order, but when a liquid freezes it does get a solid crystalline structure and what is so unique about glass is that it never has a crystalline structure, whether it is in its molten state or whether it is in its solid state.

I’m a proud member of the Scientific Glassblower Society, creating custom scientific glassware for research and discovery chemistry.

We make some pretty wild stuff.

Extractors, reactors, condensors, custom flasks.

It can’t be made by a machine or mass produced.

Scientific glassblowing has seen some decline over the years because of the way industry changes, the way that chemists run reactions and also the advancement in plastics.

A few decades ago there were a few thousand people in the Society and now there are under a thousand people. But the scientists still need that one-on-one interaction between the chemist and the glassblower to get the glassware that they need for their research.


Most days I get home from work and go to my shop and make the artistic glass. I get just as excited about scientific glass as I do about artistic glass. The whole process is beautiful to me.

The idea of blowing glass was developed I believe in Persia a few thousand years ago and we are still using the same basic principles.

We work over open flames and manipulate the glass to get the shapes that we want. You can get a very intricate detail, and I really like focussing on the tiny details. 

3:33 One of the things that I get the most enjoyment out of is trying to come up with new ideas, seeing what is possible and what isn’t possible.

For the animal series that I make there is a really interesting technique involved in getting that animal inside of the glass. I haven’t seen anyone else do anything like it before.

I grew up on a small farm and as a kid we would walk around and find arrow heads. I used to look at these arrow heads and think about the guy who was making them. Maybe there was one guy who was the best arrowhead maker and people would come from miles away and get arrowheads from this one craftsman.

I feel like I am connected to that in some way, to just focus on one skill and get good at what you do.

COIK #2: Don’t look now


At the See #6Brendan Dawes from magneticNorth also showed a number of older projects. In 2004 he ran the 1973 film Don’t Look Now through a simple slit-scan program written in Processing and saved the resultant frames. These results are as eerie and bewilderingly strange as to be expected from that film.

It scared the living daylight out of me when I first saw it at the age of 14 or so.

Before he introduced the slides, he asked the audience (some 850 Germans) if we knew the film.  Only one or two people raised a hand, and Mr. Dawes must have returned to the UK thinking us Germans a terribly uneducated lot.

But then we are a dubbed nation, relying on getting lost in translations. Feeding us the German film title would have achieved strikingly different results. A clear case of COIK-Syndrome. Clear only if known.

  • If we had seen some original stills, we would have recognized the film.
  • If we had been giving a moment or two, we also would have got it.

But being put on the spot, sitting in the dark and in a large audience, means some adrenaline is at work, and a certain fear of failing; and when under pressure we fall back easily only on things we are very familiar with.

Even though I have read Daphne du Maurier’s book several times in English, I watched the film the first (and last) time in German, and so that is the corner where I have it stored, and that was what my brain needed at that moment. A red trigger. Something to help me recognize. Something to help me choose the right drawer. Because I knew I knew. I just could not grasp it.

When Dawes began to talk about the opening sequence, when he began telling the story of a grieving Donald Sutherland, my friend and I nudged each other and whispered: Oh, he means Wenn die Gondeln Trauer tragen.

The story achieved what the processed images could not. And once we were on safe grounds, we even realized which of the frame sections must be the dream sequence. 



If a book or film title is very important, you might want to make sure everyone in the audience gets it. Do not rely on global pop culture alone. Everyone who has ever watched that film would have remembered one of the original stills or the film poster. It is not a film you forget easily.

Fear is a master player at memory.


SEE #6 First impressions


Back from the See #6. I am happy, dead tired, and filled to the brim with all kinds of first impressions of sustainability, data, visualization. Stories.

The video stream is online now.

[Update] All videos are availabe on Vimeo now.

Talks were great, slides were very good. Cream of the crop visualization on all levels. Not one single slide crammed with text, not one speaker hanging on to his script or presenter notes.

Different speaking styles, and I have my clear favs, but all speakers were confident and at ease, passionate about their topics. All of them had something to say or show.

Visualization is story telling in the dark.

Welzer wriggled his way out of a question I asked. Bit of a shame. Joshua Prince-Ramus rocked, as I knew he would, but hearing his talk on the Wyly theater project for a second time in a slightly different version helped to make better sense of some of the more philosophical passages in his TED talk I am currently translating. Nice showcase for COIK: clear only if known. He uses agency and agenda as synonyms. Ok, now I know.

The crowd was friendly and interested. With no wlan, the back-channel noise was reduced to 3G devices, paper note books, cameras. My old EOS’s battery life was shorter than mine, which does not happen too often.

Right before me sat Miss Facebook and must have missed most of what was being said. I on the other hand know most of her FB contacts’ names now and her favorite instagram filter. This perceived privacy, like when you are picking your nose in a car or making faces in a photo booth. Someone is *always* looking over your shoulder. 

Loved the location. A church with no crosses but almost moorish painted patterns and one hell of a bright projector is a combo I can easily live with.

As last year, the discussion the next day in a small group of twenty or so, was the extra icing on the cake.

Thanks everyone!


Favorite lines:

We need to change the story. (Welzer)

Don’t be that guy. (Justin Manor)

Data needs poetry. (Brendan Dawes)

You mustn’t believe that data is truth. (Jeremy Stucki)

We need people who can think and argue, not people who make pretty pictures. (J. Prince-Ramus)

The sustainable elephant in the room, respectively church:

All of us.


In other links:

Talking business: Janna Levin

I find Professor of Physics and Astronomy Janna Levin a great role model for speaker women, which is why I translated her latest TED talk into German and have been showing it in all my classes this week.

First still impressions may differ: She looks like Amy Winehouse, one student said. Others said: She scares me. Some said: Wow. Just look at those shoulders.

I am all in the wow-corner: Just look at those shoulders. Just look at that stance. Just look at that posture.

Why is that good? Why is posture important for women?

Because we still have not enough good role models. Because we still try and hide, when out front. Because we still feel we got nothing to say and show it. Because we all know how to be cute, but not how to be convincing.

Levin talks about space, and she takes her space. She is not making herself small, invisible, light grey.

She has something to say. And it shows.

Her gestures seem natural, precise, dynamic, not studied and learned. They go hand in hand with her words.

Her voice carries, and yes, she could work a little on her intonation, and yes, if you talk about the sound of black holes banging on space like a drum, please do not make your audience wait for more than ten minutes… (11:10)

But she does not raise her voice at the end of every sentence, like we all do, you know, when we are, like, nervous, when we do not know how to go on, like, you know, because we do not know where we are going.

Levin makes statements. She knows, where she wants to go, and she is taking us with her. Full stop.

And I find it charming, really, to see she is nervous like the rest of us, and at one point even giggles. It’s the human touch. Machines may be perfect. The rest of us. Not.

The point is simply: Small things do not matter, if there are enough big things in a talk.

If you look at the script, you will notice many small repetitions. Wobble like a drum. It made translating her pretty hard work.

If you listen to the talk, you will find the repetitions helpful. Talk is different from text. 


I love her posture, voice, energy, power and determination. I love the way she spreads energy. I love her dense, visual language. And hell, do I love those shoulders :)

The talk is a great example for how to condense complicated matter, such as gravitational waves into visual and verbal images an educated lay audience will easily understand.

Favorite moment:

11:15 The sound of the universe. Tock-tock-tock-tock-tock-tock-tock…. and then it’s gone.

That is how you build up tension. And the silence after is part of it. 

Ideas for improvement:

A slight change of choreography. Do not delve into Einstein and the Great Theory of Relativity before your audience has heard the sound of a first black hole for the very first time.

I played the talk for 3 minutes and then everybody said: We want to hear the black holes. Now

Do not wait for another ten minutes. Give your audience a taste, an idea, a first, brief big bang. Make them hungry.

Then feed them Einstein. They’ll be eating out of your hands by then.

And whatever you do: Do not talk over the sound everybody has been waiting to hear.

Do not talk over movie clips, do not talk over music. And never, ever, talk over the sound of two stars colliding.

That could seriously backfire.

Even more so than the question if maybe we are not the only intelligent life form around, ours not the only thinking, talking, presenting unviverse, and our species not created by some fairy tale God, but flickering, golden star dust.