April 12, 2012
Blind with unrest, he grew aware: The city was in full bloom and the heavy scent of flowers wafted through the open window of the loft in Grand Street. V2 Schneider sat at the kitchen table checking his emails. He was pleased to learn that the Electronic Beats Magazine had won three Astrid Design Awards. Immediately he called LMB and made plans to meet her at the Old Town Bar in East 18th Street for a late lunch.
But before that, he took a cab to Times Square to meet film critic at The New Yorker Richard Brody on the 20th floor of the Condé Nast Building for a coffee and some conversation. The view from Brody’s office was terrific. Schneider felt the intense density of the city and noticed a chapel adorning the top of a nearby skyscraper.
Brody and Schneider discussed Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah and how it changed the world—and more importantly, how it will do so even more drastically when rereleased in America on DVD.
Schneider: “This means the American people will be able to buy Lanzmann’s recently published memoirs, The Patagonian Hare, but could not see Shoa?”
Brody: “Of course they could always see Shoah on YouTube, but it’s a different experience.”
Schneider: “The poetic quality of the film, the dissonance created by the beauty of the Polish forests near the death camps—you probably wouldn’t notice it when you watch it on a screen the size of a laptop.”
Brody: “I think you would, but the poetic quality certainly wouldnt be as present because of interruptions. Still, I consider YouTube to be the cinematographic library of the future.”
Later that afternoon Schneider and a fellow traveller, very easy on the eyes, made their way back downtown to the Old Town Bar, wolfing down two cheeseburgers with fries and a bottle of Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin. They spoke at length about statistical probability and Sudoku and then took a cab to the MoMA to attend Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express performance. The driver asked Schneider what kind of taxis they had in Germany. Schneider told him mostly E Class and C Class Mercedes. Arriving at the MoMA he was flattered to once again find a beautiful woman greeting him at the main entrance: “Mr. Schneider! Nice to see you again! You are on the list – enjoy the show.”
Back in the atrium, he took in the performance space’s Bauhaus design, eventually realizing that the proportions seemed slightly out of alignment. He went to the information desk of the museum to inquire and was soon presented with a floor plan of the building. Bingo! The atrium had been rebuilt for Kraftwerk shows. Schneider had assumed that this was part of the stage design and thus defined the whole concert series; not as just a sophisticated musical event but as a hyper complex conceptual art installation that unified sound, space, performance, moving images and time into a larger, more dynamic Gesamtkunstwerk. Browsing his iPhone he stumbled upon a Huffington Post post by MoMA curator Klaus Biesenbach in which he describes the stage set-up as an attempt to copy and paste Kraftwerk’s Düsseldorf Kling Klang studio into the museum.
Schneider smiled the whole time as Kraftwerk’s asymmetrical hymns were piped through hidden speakers. This time though, the show longer than expected. Probably because the band had changed the set list.
Metal on Metal
The Hall of Mirrors
Tour de France
Planet of Vision
Boing Boom Tschak
Musique Non Stop
For the first time, the New York audience—including Afrika Bambaata, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Matthias Mühling and Michael Stipe—seemed to unabashedly celebrate Kraftwerk’s music. After every song, applause rumbled through the white cube like thunder. Standing directly in front of Ralf Hütter’s console, Schneider could clearly see every expression on the bandleader’s face. For a split-second, the 66-year old smiled following the performance of “The Hall of Mirrors”.
Even the greatest stars find their face in the looking glass / He made up the person he wanted to be / And changed into a new personality.
It’s all about the details, Schneider wrote into his sketchbook.
Published April 12, 2012.