Date Archives September 2010

Takashi Murakami Exhibit at the Palace of Versailles

A couple weeks ago the Palace of Versailles had 15 of it’s rooms filled with new and exising pieces from Japan’s most famous current artist, Takashi Murakami. I’m a huge fan of Murakami’s work so I think it’s amazing that the Palace agreed to house his work, though some of the more traditional folks aren’t very happy. I personally think they’re being extremely close minded and need to let a little culture into their lives… anyhow, since I live in Los Angeles it’s not very easy to pop over to Frankce, so thankfully the folks over at OFIVE.TV have made a video of the exhibit and posted it for the world to see. I think it looks like a great show and it makes me happy that I saw his show at the LACMA here in Los Angeles while I had the chance.

If you want to see more be sure to check out the Guardian’s photo gallery which has some great photos of the exhibit.


‘The Science of Sleep’

Before I even knew the name Michel Gondry I had already been exposed to his unique aesthetic sensibility through his music videos for artists such as Björk, Daft Punk, Massive Attack and Cibo Matto. I can remember sitting particularly transfixed in front of the television watching his music video for Björk’s “Army of Me”, completely in awe of the manic and surreal landscape of exploding museums and diamond-eating tanks. I was truly converted to Gondry’s fan club after I watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) and was further won over after he both penned and directed The Science of Sleep (2006). The absence of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s imprint on the script turned off some viewers; however, I am happy to go on any ride that Monsieur Gondry wants to take me.

I get excited by little things I don’t know, I get excited to know more about what’s inside people’s hearts and by the magic in the world.

– Michel Gondry

During the fantastic opening sequence of The Science of Sleep, the film’s protagonist (Stéphane, played by Gael García Bernal) introduces viewers to the activity of dreaming: “People think it’s a very simple and easy process, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. As you can see, a very delicate combination of complex ingredients is the key. First, we put in some random thoughts and then we add a little bit reminiscences of the day, mixed with some memories of the past…Love, friendships, relationships and all those ships, together with songs you heard during the day, things you saw…” Placing all these seemingly intangible ideas into a pot, they are visually represented through various objects, such as spaghetti, perfume, vinyl singles and an unidentified brown fluid. For the premise of the film is not merely dreams, but also games of make believe where television sets are constructed from cardboard, telephones are made from felt and buttons, cotton wool clouds float on apartment ceilings and the distinction between reality and dream is conflated.

For me, the romantic narrative between Stéphane and Stéphanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is secondary to the cinematic exploration of dreaming, whereby Gondry weaves a hallucinatory aesthetic into the fabric of the film. Indeed, as The Science of Sleep progresses it becomes more difficult to navigate the film’s stream of consciousness representations of waking and reverie, but what is particularly exciting is that Gondry achieves this through handmade wizardry rather than conventional special effects. Adopting a do-it-yourself aesthetic, which is also employed to full effect in Be Kind Rewind (2008), the central idea behind the narrative suggests that you can fabricate your own reality, but to be wary of the power of the dreamworld that you create.

In true Gondry style, it is a joyous ode to imagination and fantasy and never letting go of childlike impulses. The innocent sense of wonderment that infiltrates the entire film places the viewer directly within the strange interior spaces of Stéphane’s consciousness. It’s a pretty amazing place to be.


The Future of the Book

On a lot of blogs and in popular culture lately people are looking to the past for their inspiration. We have Mad Men on TV or blogs dedicated to Penguin covers, hell, I’m just as guilty of doing this. So it’s really refreshing to see the folks at IDEO taking a look at the future of books, coming up with some exciting, though possibly confusing ideas. They’ve created three different book interfaces that would work with a tablet computer, Nelson, Coupland and Alice, each having their own strengths and unique primary task.

I think my favorite of the bunch is Alice, which takes reading books to the next level but allowing you to interact with the story, taking photos, visiting areas in your town to unlock special chapters and communicating with your mobile phone. My only real beef with these is that there doesn’t seem to be any sort of thought around navigation, which is essential to making a users experience a good one. I don’t want to poo poo this project in any way, I think it’s a great idea and I’d love to see more forward thinking like this.


Nokia ‘Dot’ by Sumo Science

When was the last time you watched a stop-motion animation that mimics a video game, was shot using a cell phone, and holds a world record?  Was it just now?  You’re welcome.  The video is the work of Sumo Science, a UK animation and direction studio lead by Ed Patterson & Will Studd. Here’s how Ed and Will made Dot. In a press release from the Sumo Science’s parent company, the film is described as: “a tiny 9mm girl who wakes up in a magical, magnified world to discover her surroundings are caving in around her. She escapes the encroaching wave of destruction as her world unravels via a path made up of tiny, familiar objects such as coins, pins, pencil shavings, nuts and bolts, until she finds peace by knitting herself a blanket from the very matter that pursues her.”

This video is amusing and well-executed, but so are other Sumo Science videos. The tension between Dot as stand-alone amusement and Dot as a cleverly-diguised Nokia commercial is virtually nil, so I don’t have to waver between thinking “this is great” and “stop trying to sell me stuff!” You think it would have been better with an iPhone?


Squid Capsule by Layer

Yesterday, the sun set on the last official day of summer. Now it’s time to ignore the lingering heat, dress in layers, and make way to Materials and Applications to see Squid Capsule before the exhibition closes at the end of the month. Squid Capsule is an installation by Layer– a design partnership between sci-arc graduates Lisa Little and Emily White. The installation amplifies ambient weather conditions within tapered plastic compartments that manifests as condensation. Meanwhile, in Pasadena, another installation (titled Fat Fringe) by Layer has been installed at the Pasadena Museum of California Art as part of the California Design Biennial. Fat Fringe began as a collaborative workshop hosted by Layer and Materials and Applications investigating how to cut and fold paper on a large scale. Fat Fringe closes at the end of October.

When Abitare asked Emily White why installations were attractive to the pair, she responded “Installations are fun! Compared to larger scale construction, they allow much more immediate experimentation with materials, program, processes, form. Because of their experimental nature, they also inspire critique and conversation.”


London Fieldworks

London Fieldworks is the joint venture of artists Bruce Gilchrist and Jo Joelson, which rigorously explores the creative intersections between art, science and technology. In so doing their work is concerned with collapsing the perceived distinctions between art and science. Their latest project, Spontaneous City in the Tree of Heaven (2010), saw the construction of two sculptural installations in London; one in Duncan Terrace Gardens and the other in Cremorne Gardens. Drawing on the architectural facades of the surrounding buildings – Georgian town houses and 1960s social housing – this work reflects their interest in ecology, public space and form.

It’s exciting to see architectural sculptures literally embedded in nature to produce a work that is not merely visually appealing, but also engaging with the environment in a clever way. Spontaneous City was one facet of The Secret Garden Project, so London folk should keep their eyes peeled for more pop-up installations in green spaces and urban corners in the future.


Neil Kellerhouse

Someone on Twitter yesterday mentioned the work of Neil Kellerhouse, a Los Angeles based designer who’s work you’ve probably seen before. He’s done posters for The Social Network, I’m Still Here and Antichrist, as well as a ton of covers for Criterion Collection movies such as The Man Who Fell To Earth and Seven Samurai.

There’s a lot of similarity in his work but that’s an aspect I really like. There’s a lot of vignetting, dark saturated colors, low contrast images, so on and so forth. But somehow he’s able to make each project feel like it has it’s own identity. The poster for The Eclipse (middle, left) uses smudged pencil for the title and cast which gives it a wonderful haze and I love the random cutout of the man’s face. It’s similar in tone to the other two posters in the same row but it’s doubtful that you would ever mix them up. His work also feels quite contemporary and fresh, like he’s not borrowing from any particular aesthetic, past or present, which is amazing to me. I’m honestly quite excited to see more of Neil’s work in the future.


Baby Monkey (Going Backwards On A Pig)

This is absolutely ridiculous. YouTube user Parry Gripp has taken a video of a monkey riding a baby pig and written a song to it which really fits. I don’t usually just randomly post shit like this, but I couldn’t resist. Also, I need a baby monkey that rides around on a baby pig. That is all.