Monday, January 30, 2012

A Sculpture

Last week, I went wandering, like I often do here in Vienna, and ran into this random sculpture in the middle of a huge square. I searched around trying to find an explanation and who created it but could not find anything. All I found was a sign that said not to climb on it. So, it now can mean whatever you want it to mean. I'm not sure what it means. All I know is that it looked cool and it sucked me in. I guess, in some sense, that is the purpose of art. It engages their audience in some way. For me, I saw it from a distance and something inside of me needed, not wanted, needed to see it up close to see what this really was. 

I love sculpture that allows you to walk around and through it. I have a hard time when it is all fenced off and you can only see it from a certain distance. Believe me, if there weren't any no climbing signs, I would have been all over this.

The craftsmanship of this piece was really cool and quite detailed. Because of the surface, I couldn't tell where any specific welding was. That made each shape seem like it was created from one piece of metal or whatever it was. It felt like metal of some sort. The smaller sections had a great deal of fine detail while the larger sections had less detail.

It even had mirrors, so I took the opportunity to do a little self-portrait. Not a bad picture of me, if I do say so myself. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Uniqa Tower

I had heard about this awesome building in Vienna that is covered in LED lights and have seen some pictures of it on the internet. Well, tonight was the night when I went and witnessed this wonder firsthand. I am a big fan of LEDs. I love them. They are beautiful and they can do amazing things. They use a fraction of the electricity of normal bulbs and they are brighter as well. I think I may have a new obsession to go along with my old, new obsession. Anyway, I made it to the building, which is called the Uniqa Tower. I spent about 20 minutes just taking pictures and looking at is as this building changed right before my eyes. Check out the pics!

The building had these snake things running around the building at this time. Pretty cool.

Some random lines and cool shapes flying across the building.

There were a lot of colors. Another amazing thing about LEDs is that they don't have to stay one color. They can change other colors. Don't know exactly how it works, but it does. I love it.

Sometimes, it looked like the building was bending and changing shape. 

I'm pretty sure the building knew I was coming so it threw up the best letter in the world for all of Vienna to see.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

How to Make a Violin

The other day, we went to visit Henriette Lersch, a violin maker in Vienna. She is pretty awesome. She is actually a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For all my friends who are LDS, you may have seen her video profile on If you haven't seen it, check it out here. It's pretty cool. Anyway, she basically taught us everything we need to know about violin, viola and cello making, so I'll give you the run down and you can make your own.

Here is a of picture that has four steps all in one shot.

Step 1 :: Get a piece of wood (slab of wood on far left).

Step 2 :: Shape the wood so it's kind of a rooftop (second from left).

Step 3 :: Cut out violin shape and shave away excess wood (far right piece).

Step 4 :: Glue a very thin strip of wood around the outside of perfectly shaped piece (second from right).

Step 5 :: Carve a neck and scroll out of some piece of wood (there is a small example on the far, far left).

Step 6 :: Make a top piece just like the bottom piece, except cut some f-holes in it. One or two or three. Whatever you feel like. Most have two, so I suggest two.

Step 7 :: Glue together, slap a finger board and bridge on and you should end up with something like this.

If yours doesn't look like this, you did something wrong. It's rather easy, you know.

Step 8 :: Hang it upside down with the others you have completed.

Finally, you can lacquer it or something so it looks pretty. Then after you are satisfied with that, slap some strings on there and give it a try.

How does it sound? Amazing? Probably not. It sounds horrendous. While my step by step guide was pretty amazing, it doesn't even scratch the surface of everything that she does to make a violin. She says that it takes anywhere from 160-200 hours to finish a violin. Sometimes even longer, depending on how the musician likes it and what adjustments need to be made.

The wood that she uses has to be at least 7 years old. If you take it from the forest or your backyard or neighbor's yard, the wood will still be living and will change over time as it dries. She does something cool to get her wood. Sometimes, buildings in Vienna will need renovation and she hits these sites up to see if she can get some cheap, or sometimes free wood. Many of the support columns are huge wooden pillars that are perfect for making violins. Who knew?

The instruments are made entirely by hand and she only uses mechanical tools for two parts of the building process, to cut the shape of the body and to drill the holes for the tuning pegs. She doesn't even use sandpaper to make the surface smooth. She uses a series of planers that get smaller and smaller. She prefers to have the wood with a little bit of texture than baby smooth. I agree with her on this.

There are tons of fine tuning things she has to do in order for the body of the violin to properly vibrate and project sound: position of the bridge, tension of the strings, thickness of the wood, etc. People will ask for a certain sound and it is her job to make an instrument that can do that. Crazy!

Henriette also does a lot of instrument repairs. She'll fix anything. She has a lot of horse hair just in case you were looking to have a bow restrung.

(Catching a paparazzi shot with the star)

Pretty neat experience to see a stringed instrument in the process of being built. Watch out Strativari. Henriette Lersch is taking your place!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Danube Canal

The Danube River (Donau in German. I don't know how Danube came from that), is the main river that passes through Vienna. Today, we were supposed to meet at our professor's apartment at noon to go over a lot of things. My roommate and I decided that we wanted to do some exploring, so we left early to check out where our professor's place is and just check things out until it was time for the meeting. We came upon some interesting artwork. Not the kind of artwork you think of that would be found in the classic city of Vienna. All along the walls of the canal are some pretty amazing taggings and graffitis. I'm guessing that things started to get so out of hand that the city just lets it happen because the expense of keeping of with cleaning just isn't worth it. So, here are some of the pieces that I ran across.

 This is one of the support sections of one of the many bridges that span the canal. It's cool that almost every inch is covered in some kind of graffiti. This is how it was all the way down the canal (at least as far as we went, which was2 or 3 miles). There was hardly any room for more graffiti. 

Some of the tags were quite impressive by their size. People seriously had to plan things out to be able to finish these bad boys. They must have had ladders or scaffolding or something tall like a big box.

Some of the best ones were just random English words like in this one. INFO! FUNK! They are just so informative and funky. They make perfect sense but don't mean anything at all. It makes you stop and think about their meaning, or think about what they were drinking or smoking when it was done.

 This one is just all sorts of interesting. This was obviously conceived on some wicked trip and I'm sure that the artist has no idea they actually did this. Seriously. You just don't think of witches in sunglasses or blue men with 5 protruding eyes (who has an amazing hat that says "cops can't dance") while you're sketching up ideas whilst being sober. Maybe it is possible. I really need to expand my creativity if others can come up with stuff like this. 

 My second favorite on the day was this simple beauty. "LEGENDARY HAPPENS" It's a motto that should govern everyone's lives because it is true.

 Apparently there are monsters in the canal and they will eat you if you get in. So, if you come to Vienna, don't get in the canal.

This was my favorite on the day. It took me a while to figure out what it says. But what it says is not why I like it so much. I just love how bright and vivid the colors are. When I look at it, I feel like I'm in a cartoon. And cartoons are awesome because anything can happen. Also, the guy on the left in the shades and the peace sign just does it for me. That's one cool cat.

Sorry to disappoint anyone that was looking for amazing Vienna architecture or concert halls. Those will be coming. Don't you worry! I've only been here a couple of days and have so many more to explore. Stay tuned as I will try to document as often as I can so you can have a taste of Vienna as well.