I’ve just returned to the USA from a few days in Berlin for the Create Art and Technology 2011 conference. What an amazing city! Berlin is extremely vibrant; people are young and international and the city is packed with co-op hackerspaces and design studios. I flew overnight, arrived at 7am and promptly took myself on a ten-hour walking tour.
When the wall was torn down, a 1500 meter long section was left standing and turned into a gallery. Street artists have co-opted little sections of the wall and turned them into recollections of life in the GDR. But there is amazing street art everywhere! I kept going, stopped periodically in an interesting cafe for a cappuccino or four, and wandered past the Brandenburg Gate, squatter villages, the TV tower, and the Reichstag. The photo below is just of a regular old street with the U-Bahn train passing above — it’s pretty easy to get around Berlin at all hours.
The conference was a blast. It was the first of its kind and was put on by Anton Mezhiborskiy from Tinker Soup and Stefan Canditt from Formulor mostly as an excuse to bring a bunch of interesting people and projects together for a big ideation session. Grace Kim showed off some cool wearable electronics and Will Light showed off his library for the Monome by way of a quick DJ set. Onyx Ashanti played some BeatJazz and fun was had by all. I gave a talk on the evolution of Cubelets from idea to project to prototype to project and also led a couple of two-hour workshops on reprogramming with a Bluetooth Cubelet.
The conference was held at Planet Modulor, a city block-sized building that houses a variety of design studios, laser cutter shops, art galleries, an architectural model supply store, and even a kindergarten. When we encountered a problem with wi-fi at the conference venue, though, Jay invited us to hold the workshops a few blocks away at Open Design City, a co-working space with shop tools, a CNC machine in progress, and a variety of people hacking around on all sorts of projects. Berlin blew me away; it seemed that behind every door there was a group of makers diligently trying to change the world.