Come On, Let's Go.
17Feb/112

Cold Dead Hands

I've always wondered how something like this could work, and thankfully the internet, or, more specifically, a video artist named Anthony Discenza, has provided. You're watching three Charlton Heston films -- Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green and Omega Man (recently remade as I Am Legend) -- alternated every tenth of a second, while the soundtracks are layered on top of one another. While I'd have to read an artist's statement to figure out the actual meaning of the piece, I enjoy it alone as a cacophonous video tech exercise.

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My longtime friend Robyn Hasty (a.k.a. street artist Imminent Disaster) currently has a Kickstarter going for her upcoming project Homeland. Listen/watch her explain it in the video below, and consider contributing a few bucks if you'd like to help make it possible:

18Mar/101

Scale Maps of the Ocean Floor

An amazing blog post was recently brought to my attention. I'll quote directly:

Chris Supranowitz [a] researcher at The Insitute of Optics at the University of Rochester...has decided to look at the relatively boring grooves of a vinyl record using the institute’s electron microscope.

If you follow the link above, there are a few more photos, including a stereoscopic one, if you just so happen to have a pair of those old-school red/blue glasses sitting around. You know, from that golden summer of '54, when you took Susie Q out to see the 3D version of Them!

The scans immediately reminded me of a now-abandoned software project I stumbled upon, almost a decade years old at this point. In 2002, a gentleman named Ofer Springer created the Digital Needle, a program which read high-resolution scans of vinyl records and played the music. The world's first Virtual Gramophone. The recordings are recognizable - especially if you know what Vivaldi's Four Seasons sounds like - but sound like a warped record played into a ham radio whose signal was then bounced off the moon:

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Now, while we're talking about vinyl, I'd like to take a second for an Editorial Piece. Hip Bands need to cease this obnoxious vinyl exclusivity fetishism. This is 2010. There is no reason outside of misplaced pretension to release your music on a solitary, grossly archaic medium; pretension belongs in your music, not containing it. Now, I don't mind the fact that new albums and re-releases are coming out on vinyl. Back in high school, I had a record player and a big ol' stack of 60s and 70s records. They were fun to play and it was a blast to have this new format to mess around with. What bugs me is the fact that certain are releasing only on vinyl. It's like straight-up permission to steal their music, and even then I have to wait. I move around. I'm not careful. I have neither the time nor the energy to collect and preserve fragile, temperature-sensitive pieces of plastic and keep a decently-functioning record player equipped a needle that doesn't give my LPs the life-span of those exploding tapes from Mission Impossible. At least put your shit out on digital. And I don't mean iTunes. I mean just a regular ole MP3. At 256 kbps, preferably, if not 320. Or how about FLAC? I don't care for FLAC as a preveservational medium, but I'll encode the shit myself to my own preference.

Thank you.

17Feb/101

We Are Who We Are

I've always kept a folder of images hanging around on my hard drive. Sometimes I'll go in there for inspiration or just to witness a little museum of my own making. Perhaps I could start a Tumblr like a pair of friends did, but god knows I have my hands full with this blog. So here is one particular favorite from my collection:


Photo co. here

This is Alan Moore and Jack Kirby at some comics convention presumably between 1986 – when Watchmen began its run – and Kirby's (born in 1917 as Jacob Kurtzberg) death eight years later. Moore was one the more prominent horsemen of comics' British Invasion during the 1980s when, for better or worse, the medium took a turn toward dark and more “adult”-oriented storytelling and art. Heroes gained human features and human weaknesses. Like any revolution, this one went way overboard; darkness begat senseless ultraviolence, clever self-reflexivity begat pointless referentialism. But whether you enjoy him or not, there is no doubt that Moore's hand was one which pushed the medium into a new era of creativity.

In the same way that Moore and his ilk transformed comics, Jack Kirby invented them. Teamed up with the much more recognizable Stan Lee, it was Kirby's brush which gave birth to the Fantastic Four, The X-Men, the Hulk and many other characters and teams for both Marvel and DC. In the 1970s he was given nearly free creative reign at DC. This resulted in not just in the creation of Darkseid – a favorite among villains in the DC universe – but also with the injection of the beat and hippie culture as a genuine aesthetic (comics, as a rule, tend to run a a bit behind the dominant counterculture). In the pages of his Fourth World books, he developed a psychedelic line, mixed media and wrote with the pounding urgency of youth. Kirby opened the door that Moore would later kick open (and Grant Morrison would, later still, take off the hinges and reattach upside-down.)

So there you have it. Two men embodying two generations which pushed an entire medium, its audience in tow, well past its comfort zone and closer still toward artistic legitimacy.

20Jan/100

In The Sunshine

Neil Krug is an amazingly ethereal photographer and video artist who just happened to have worked with two of my favorite musicians: Boards of Canada and Ladytron (along with Devendra Banhart). All links below are probably NSFW.

Pulp Art Book (Flickr, YouTube commercial) is a collaboration between himself and supermodel Joni Harbeck. The photos have his trademark retro feel - late-70s or early-80s as they were taken on expired Polaroid film. Between the expiration-based dyeing of the film and the desert setting, there's a very weary feeling about all these. Photography is an artform I am probably least erudite in, so I can't really speak about composition, but I know what I enjoy, and I certainly enjoy these. Not in the least because one of my favorite visual art subjects is an armed woman.

Krug is responsible for an unofficial video for Boards of Canada's track off the eponymous single “In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country.” The video mixes abstract video in BoC's circa-Geogaddi kaleidoscope style with old home video. It is a beautiful tribute to the group.

Officially, Krug shot the video for Ladytron's “Tomorrow” single off their latest album Velocifero. This one is more in line with his photography: models, desert scenery, sepia tinting and lens flaring. My only issue is that the mixture of CGI and his expired film-look while interesting, is a bit clashing in my opinion. The two are integrated well, but not well enough and it breaks the illusion of the film quality.

3Nov/092

Flowers That Are Looked At

I find a whole lot of weird objects, orphaned on the streets. Well, not “weird” exactly, but in some way out of context with the asphalt. There’s just a load of beauty in the consumer products we throw out. The things I find on the street are used-up, present only in form and declared, by some individual, to no longer maintain any function. And, yet, the objects still persist; we cannot wish away our trash.

When I was a kid, I found a stack of a half-dozen board games, tied up with twine, next to some garbage cans across from my grandmother’s apartment. It was like hitting the jackpot. I don’t remember most of them, but there was a Special Edition of Clue in there, with extra rooms and characters and weapons. After realizing that these were, in fact, trash (as opposed to someone’s moving-out pile,) I quickly absconded with them. They didn’t get a lot of play -- I never liked having houseguests, still do not -- but I appreciated the hell out of them as artifacts. That moment may also have been the starting point for my recurring dreams of material gain. During Waking Life, I try to avoid owning things of any sort of value. Due to my obsessive and misplaced thrift, most of my possessions are worn to near-uselessness, easily replaceable, or worthless outside of sentimental value or peculiarity (apologies in advance to any burglars who happen to end up in my room.) In my dreams, I stumble across giant, free piles of toys and candy (as a kid) and clothing and consumer electronics (as an adult.) This violently, carelessly discarded Scrabble set makes me feel terrible. I didn’t examine it to see if something was genuinely broken – perhaps some blood on the board from a particularly violent disagreement over the abomination that is the Official Scrabble Dictionary. It is, simply, the idea that some working-class-raised kid couldn’t have picked it up out of the trash and had a perfectly serviceable board game reminds me of all those times I’ve woke up and realized the stash of Awesome Things didn’t make it with me, out of the dream.

This wasn’t on the street, but inside a subway car around 9 PM on a weekday. That empty bottle was someone’s night. Maybe teenagers left it behind, maybe a faded old drunk, but either way there were hours of de-restrained emotion drained out of it and into someone. Like a spent shell or an empty dime-bag, we’re looking at neither cause, nor effect, but the remains of the midway point between the two.

I once watched a disheveled early-middle-aged woman carrying down the block a large cardboard box full of various household objects. It was obvious she was moving out of someone’s apartment in enough haste that she did not even call a cab. I asked if she needed some help and she very briefly and sternly told me she did not, as if asserting her independence not just from me, but also from wherever and whomever she was departing. The box was cumbersome; I wouldn’t have been surprised if she were leaking personal possessions on her march to, hopefully, another home. This spoon did not fall out of it (in fact, the photo was taken in an entirely different neighborhood, months later,) but who knows what she dropped behind her, fleeing from her now-past.

There’s nothing much to say about this one. It is a Poland Spring bottle full of urine (friends have mentioned the proper nomenclature is “trucker bomb”) I found walking to work. The only surprise is that I found it at 8:30 AM on 42nd Street and Lexington, around the corner from a rather posh hotel. I’m also fond of the fact that the label is telling me that the contents are Pure Quality.

If you shake a concrete-mounted metal signpost for long enough, in just the right manner, you may be able to seriously damage it via the magic of resonant frequency. I’ve always been too chicken or sober to attempt it, so the actual effects are theoretical. Considering phone stands are bolted into the ground with a lot more care, and there were no signs of a car crash nearby, I am still fascinated and confused as to how the hell this happened. Seriously, I haven’t a single logical explanation.

   

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