Date Archives January 2011

Part & Parcel Forever and Ever

Part & Parcel Animation

Part & Parcel Animation

The ever creative Part & Parcel, made up of Damien Correll and Garrett Morin, have updated their site with a new video on the front page. I’m honestly amazed by these two, I don’t know how they think up these ideas (drugs), but they always do such a great job and make it look so easy. I mean, they took a bunch of blocks and some string and some colorful backgrounds and made this amazing video which I can’t stop watching. I would love to have this playing non-stop in my apartment like a tiny installation piece. Great work, fellas!


‘Fairlight’ by Com Truise

Cyanide Sisters EP by Com Truise

Fairlight by Com Truise

I’m excited for my friends at Ghostly with the release of their newest artist, Com Truise. Com Truise is the alter ego of Seth Haley, an upstate New York producer who makes, as the Ghostly site writes, “softer, window-fogging synth-wave.” Whatever it is I like it, as evidenced by the video for his Fairlight. The video was created by 10lb Pictures, run by Will Joines & Sowjanya Kudva, who created this retro-futuristic video from what look like found clips. The video is quite fitting though, don’t you think?

You can grab Com’s new Cyanide Sisters EP from the Ghostly store, 11 tracks for $6.97.


The Cremaster Cycle

the cremaster cycle

The first time I saw Matthew Barney (or rather one of the many grotesquely strange manifestations of the artist) he stared me down from the front cover of David Hopkins’ book, After Modern Art 1945-2000. Adorned in prosthetic make-up with orange kiss curls and a dandy-esque white suit I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of him or the stills I saw of his epic art/film/sculpture work, The Cremaster Cycle. Unlike the majority of the films I have written on for this series, Barney’s series is not merely cinema, but art. Accordingly, you cannot just nip down to your local video store and rent out a copy and instead have to wait for special screenings. A number of years after I first caught a glance of Barney I made the overly enthusiastic but ultimately foolish decision to attend a screening that showed all five films in the order that they were made.

The forms don’t really take on life for me until they’ve been ‘eaten’, passed through the narrative construction.
– Matthew Barney

Composed of five films (Cremaster 4 [1994], Cremaster 1 [1995], Cremaster 5 [1997], Cremaster 2 [1999] and Cremaster 3 [2002]), the title of Barney’s opus is taken “from the cremaster muscle in the male genitals from which the testicles are suspended, and which is retracted in a reflex movement produced by cold or fear inside the body.” Each film involves a loosely formed, and yet highly symbolic, narrative that is concerned with myth, masonic rituals, the boundaries of the body and gender identity, movement and physicality, violence and sexual reproduction. All of these motifs are shrouded in hypnotically and intense visual imagery that increases in complexity and skill with each film.

The reason why I referred to my choice to watch the entire cycle in the space of a day as “foolish” is because the combined running time of the five films falls just under 400 minutes. If Luis Buñuel believed that going to the cinema is sometimes like being raped, then The Cremaster Cycle is a bit like being kidnapped and whisked off to a bizarre and chaotic world inhabited by satyrs and quasi-human creatures who proceed to torture you. I felt mentally exhausted, physically weak, had a splitting headache and didn’t know where to begin deciphering the hours of imagery that had forcibly entered my head.

That isn’t to say that The Cremaster Cycle isn’t worth viewing: Barney has produced an intricately constructed parallel universe that is as visually stunning as it is mystifying. Cremaster 5, in particular, stands out for its melancholic opulence that manages to cut through the bizarre symbols and incidences. For me, this part of the cycle was so beautifully stylised that I was too entranced by what I was seeing to worry about working out the subtext of the metaphors within every frame. Although Barney capably utilises intertexuality to broaden the scope of each film, he ultimately creates a space that is uniquely his own. My one tip for people who are keen to immerse themselves in Barney’s world is to do it one film at a time. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

Learn more and find further information on screenings through the official The Cremaster Cycle site.

27, A Journey Through Architecture in Europe

Tietgen Dormitory

Darrell O'Donoghue

You may not be able to understand all the words that happen in this video (and props if you do) but the pace and tone, along with the few words I can understand, convey that this video previews an exciting survey of contemporary architecture across the 27 countries in Europe. The architects featured in the trailer are emerging voices in the profession, and lead firms that are doing exciting work. It’s exciting to see my old boss, Julien De Smedt in the mix.

Speaking of mix– it’s wonderful, and kind of shocking, as an American to visit Europe and see the contrast between new and old. Cities in the States are so much younger than cities in Europe and the European Public has a different attitude toward historic buildings. Pair these two together and you get a seasoned urban fabric that’s polka-dotted with bold and contemporary buildings like the one featured in the short preview, created by LAN Architecture and Fat Cat films.

The notion that buildings can communicate without actually speaking is called Architecture Parlante. Which is nice, but I hope that when this project is finished it has english subtitles.


100,000 Starlings Fill The Skies

100,000 Starlings Fill The Skies

100,000 Starlings Fill The Skies

Take a moment to think, can you imagine what a hundred thousand birds would look like flying through the sky? Personally, I wouldn’t know what to think. Maybe a ton of birds ramming into each other and crashing to the ground? Amazingly though, the answer is the patterns you see in the video above. I’m sure that I’ve seen photos of such a phenomenon but it’s exciting to see all of these starlings moving together in such chaotic unity. It’s almost surreal, like what you’re seeing shouldn’t be possible. Even so it’s a beautiful sight which I’m glad was captured. Do you think you can hear the roar of their wings as they pass by?


Sights & Sounds Presents Wilco: ‘Wilco (The Album)’ by Stephanie Brown

Stephanie Brown

Last year, I started Sights & Sounds to expand upon what the Desktop Wallpaper Project could be. I loved the idea of an artist summing up the sound of an album with a single image, their interpretation of what a collection of songs looked like. And now here we are with our final Wilco wallpaper by Stephanie Brown for Wilco (The Album).

Stephanie is an incredibly talented painter and, when Joe suggested her name for the series, I thought, “Wow, that would be amazing if we could get her.” To me, her art is beyond good: it’s stunning. She also seems like a really rad person, as evidenced by the fact that she recently tattooed herself, a 3 hour process in which she almost passed out. A painter and a bad ass.

Wilco (The Album) is the band’s most recent album, which came out in 2009. I thought this was a great album, but it falls behind some of their albums for me. That said, some of the songs on the album are some of the best they’ve ever written, specifically You and I with Feist. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to that song. I also really enjoy Deep Down, which reminds me of The Beatles in the best way, and I’ll Fight, with it’s country twang.

Here’s how Stephanie describes her wallpaper:

Wilco (The Album)‘s themes seem to revolve around struggle. A couple in You and I who are grasping to keep a relationship together, the bleak aftermath of a man who killed his girlfriend in Bull Black Nova, a physical altercation in Deeper Down. Throughout these vignettes it seems that the greatest struggle is to find meaning in sometimes meaningless strife, and ends in choosing to accept both the dark and the light for what they are worth. At first glance this album comes off as cheeky, because of its album art and oddly self aware title track, but the more time I spent with it, the more I grew to love it. So I used the language that I know best: two snakes, both the good and the bad, entangled with one another in an endless deadlock.”

A huge thanks to Stephanie for her beautiful contribution and fitting ending to a beautiful series of wallpapers. Be sure to stay tuned for the announcement of the next series of Sights & Sounds, which should start some time next month. The musical artist has already been chosen and all of the wallpapers are ready–but I want to give a little breathing room between projects.


Kafka, Redesigned and Reconsidered by Peter Mendelsund

Kafka Redesigned by Peter Mendelsund

Kafka Redesigned by Peter Mendelsund

Kafka Redesigned by Peter Mendelsund

I figure with The Great Gatsby Re-Covered Project coming to an end on Friday it makes sense to feature another redesign for a major author, Franz Kafka. Peter Menelsund is art director at the book publishing company Knopf, who also own the rights to all of Kafka’s novels. Technically these are being released by Pantheon, a subsidiary of Knopf Double Day, which Menelsund is also taking over art directing duties on. Anyhow, he’s had the chance to redesign all of Kafka’s novels and I think they look stunning. Eye-catching, if you don’t mind the horrible pun. Here’s what he has to say about the designs:

So, as you can see, I’ve gone with eyes here (not the first or last time I will use an eye as a device on a jacket-book covers are, after all, faces, both literally and figuratively, of the books they wrap). I find eyes, taken in the singular, create intimacy, and in the plural instill paranoia. This seemed a good combo for Kafka- who is so very adept at the portrayal of the individual, as well as the portrayal of the persecution of the individual.

I also opted for color. It needs saying that Kafka’s books are, among other things, funny, sentimental, and in their own way, yea-saying. I am so weary of the serious Kafka, the pessimist Kafka. Kafkaesque has become synonymous with the machinations of anonymous bureaucracy- but, of course, Kafka was a satirist (ironist, exaggerator) of the bureaucratic, and not an organ of it. Because of this mischaracterization, Kafka’s books have a tendency to be jacketed in either black, or in some combination of colors I associate with socialist realism, constructivism, or fascism- i.e. black, beige and red. Part of the purpose of this project for me, was to let some of the sunlight back in. In any case, hopefully these colors, though bright, are not without tension.

The typography. The script is an amalgam of Kafka’s own hand, and a wonderfully versatile typeface called “Mister K” (based on Kafka’s own hand) by Julia Sysmäläine who works at Edenspiekermann in Berlin.

These editions should be available, in June or July, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled (sorry, I couldn’t resist.)


Illustrating Watersounds

abbott 1

abbott 2

abbott 3

If it were possible to visually capture the gorgeously lilting sound of flowing water, British illustrator Sarah Abbott, who rather aptly produces work under the moniker Watersounds, would be able to do it. Using a subtle and almost monochrome palette, her art and commissioned design work exudes calm and a keen eye for natural settings, eccentric animal characters, a sense of cute fun and aesthetic simplicity. Really, you have to love that the fox in the second illustration is wearing a Black Flag t-shirt.

Uncover more delightful imagery via Abbott’s personal blog, flickr and her awesome collection blog no mountain, which features postcards and photographs of mountains, hills and lakes.


Kind of Like An Inverted but Sophisticated Lite-Brite

stained glass perpendicular to the window

layered translucent color panels

While we’re on the topic of color (see yesterday’s post) there’s this lovely research center up in Canada that uses translucent layers of colors as part of the project’s exterior. The colors make the building look happy rather than institutional. Designed by MCM Partnership, the Child and Family Research Institute carries out translational research about a whole host of disorder and diseases that are no fun at all: obesity, diabetes, and childhood infectious/inflammatory diseases.  No thanks.

While most of the project’s materiality is naturally or neutrally-colored concrete, stone, wood or metal, there are repeated moments where brighter colors literally shine into the project. In the top photo, you can see the stained-glass fins that sit perpendicular to the windows. I’m not sure if you would still call them shadows, but the resulting colored parallelograms of light move across the building’s surface throughout the day; when the shadows are long, they overlap and make other colors. In the lower picture, there’s a slightly more complex wall construction where clear glass windows are set into a translucent polycarbonate wall with a random distribution of colored polycarbonate panels. It’s an effect precedented at the Laban Dance Centre by Herzog and de Meuron. For the CFRI, the use of color is pretty smart if you ask me: it invigorates an otherwise fairly neutral project and continually changes throughout the day, briefly making a spectacle of the southern face before sunset.

And while diseases are not fun, this building is seeking an antidote inside and out.


The Ghost Project; An Interview Series by Kartell

The Ghost Project by Kartell

The Ghost Project by Kartell

I was recently asked to be a part of series of shorts produced by Kartell called The Ghost Project, featuring Philippe Starck’s classic Louis Ghost Chair in the homes of creative people living in Los Angeles. I had the chair for less than a week, but it was beautiful to have around, albeit kind of weird. It’s an amazingly sturdy piece of furniture but, because it’s clear, it’s sort weird at the same time. The idea of a piece of furniture being invisible, yet highly supportive at the same time, seems like an oxymoron–but it’s true in the case of the Ghost Chair.

The video also gives you a tiny sneak peak into the new apartment I moved into with my boyfriend Kyle. It’s been about a month now, so we’re pretty moved in. But, of course, there’s always more to do. And, to answer your question, yes, that is a giant walnut on the dining room table.

You can see a couple more videos on The Ghost Project website, one with Alissa Walker & Keith Scharwath and another with Nathan Ryan of Proxart, with more on the way.