Tangibility: A Reflection on the Journey to Israel

September 12, 2017

A reflection about the journey to Tel Aviv and the origin of the project.

Some seven years ago

It was in 2010 when I was travelling with my uncle Otto Reitspegrer in Morocco. Back then Otto was working on his project Im Schatten der Erde im Licht der Sonne, a photo series of long exposure photography. Equipped with a Hasselblad 501, a Mamiya 7 and a Roland device for sound capturing we were hunting for places of loneliness but found more than that: our friendship.

Throughout my childhood, I experienced the relationship between my uncle and me as difficult. I, always energetic, an extrovert, Otto, let’s say rather thoughtful, an introvert. It took us 26 years to enjoy each others company. But finally, on this journey, we shared a great time. We talked a lot. Of course also about art. And it was in one of those conversations I told him about the idea of combining photography and field recording and that I take some photos because the sound at this place was great. To create a design or artistic proposal combining auditive and visual. Funny enough, I recorded this. You can listen to it here (it’s in German):



Since then I have been carrying the idea of the website you are visiting right now with me. During that time many obstacles hindered me to bring the project forward. I often thought that my technical capacity was the issue of not pursuing the idea. And yes that was somehow true. Back then I was not able, nor did I have the financial capacity, to design or create a website like this. Today, however, I know that even if would have been able to create the website, I hadn’t been up to task content wise. To get to the places and stories I aim to find a certain lifestyle is crucial. Of course, there are pros and cons. But that should be part of another story. The important point here is that some implementations need to be done fully hearted. And often things seem very easy but it takes a lot of guts to get there.

Before I am up to visiting Barcelona and Dublin in the next couple of weeks I wanna use this week’s post to reflect on the things I’ve learned in Israel. Doing something the first time is great – these situations are singular. And Israel certainly was. But these situations are also challenging. On the second day in Tel Aviv I captured in my field diary:

5th of July 2017
Timing various techniques at the same moment seems to be one of the biggest problems in all my encounters. Although I really try to stick to my agenda and combine my skills it is tough to put photography, sound recording, writing and observation in one concept. Especially the writing part proves to be difficult. During an investigation, it is nearly impossible to do it. Having that said, of course, I have not sighted any photos or listened to any recordings yet. Perhaps they are all shit. When I get home in the evening I am too tired to write down my thoughts and observations. This is only the second day of my journey. I am already knackered.  I will need to create a pattern.

Although the upcoming days allowed me to get better managing the situation it proved to be a problem not having established a presentation format before the journey. You can see this today in the inconsistency of the photo reportages and field recordings on the web page. Some have more photos, some less, some have sound, some don’t. In the future, all reportages will provide sound and a set of pictures to portrait the place.

During the field research, I also felt rather ambiguous about the quality of work I produced. Another field diary entry says:

6th of July 2017
Soon, I will have to decide who is going to benefit from this project. I do not know my audience yet. I am not even sure if there is one. It is probably an easy thing to create some travel journal out of what I do here. But that is not what I am interested in […] continuing […] I want to create a viewpoint between culture, semiotics and people that exist in the moment. My observations yet feel pretty shallow. It is one thing to collect material for the sake of collecting something yet a different one to create something valuable out of that data. In the future, I will have to find a systematic approach to distil some value out of that stuff.

Not knowing what I was producing I kept to my Ten Rules of a First Exploration Journey and to a strict schedule. During my five days journey, I walked for 100 kilometres, visited two cities, slept at four different places, drank about 17 beers, wrote 3.862 words, took 484 pictures, talked to 4 people, took 12 soundscapes, and drank 20 litres of water. The time was pretty lonely. But of course, I have to thank a couple of people that helped me to find my way.

Marcela Carlio. I got to know Marcela through couch surfing. Although I didn’t stay at her place we met and she gave me a personal tour to Tel Aviv. During the night we encountered the Holocaust Monument Rabin Square and the northern area of the city.

Ido Biran. I was introduced to the Ido, a photographer, through Creative Mornings Israel. Ido helped me to identify various areas in Tel Aviv before my journey via Skype. (you will find an interview with him next week on this web page). Also, I want to thank Natalie Shell, the Creative Mornings Tel Aviv host, who helped to find residents to talk to during my stay.

Ada Rothenberg. Ada is graphic design and teacher at The David and Yolanda Katz Faculty of the Arts. She helped me to identify places in Tel Aviv and invited me to a grassroots presentation of design and branding concepts. I am thankful for this intimate and close experience. And also for the trust, it is not that common that people take in a complete stranger and share their ideas.

Furthermore,  there was Tania Yesilbahar Azaryad. I contacted Tania also via Creative Mornings. She helped me to identify places in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. And finally Salomon Moshe, an architect from Jerusalem who created the most interesting map of places of Jerusalem (shown on the image you can see at the top of this article). We shared an interesting discussion about placemaking and its connection to architecture and design.

It was quite a journey – thank you, guys. I am happy that after having carried this idea with me for seven years there is finally something tangible. I am looking forward to seeing what the project is going to become. Up next is Barcelona. In three weeks time from now, I will be leading a masterclass, ‘Driving value in communication: research and design strategy in context’, at the Service Design Days Barcelona 2017. I am sure I will find something interesting there.