What comes to mind when you think of the word clean? Is it pure whiteness? What about nothing at all? The people over at Leif, makers of fine body washes and lotions, have chosen to let their products speak for themselves. Their packaging comes in an elegantly shaped bottle that’s reminiscent of scotch, perfume or cleaning products. I have pretty positive association with all of those things, though seriously, the top bottle looks like it be used to clean your hardwood floors. Something about that though is pretty enticing to me, like if it’s good enough to clean my floors it can certainly get my body clean.
Honestly though, these look great, and the flavors they come in look even better. There’s Desert Lime, Vanilla & Orange, Rose & Alpine Pepper and Lemon Myrtle, Sandalwood & Eucalyptus. Pretty interesting, right? Lastly, I should mention that their logo is really done as well, feels very chic but comfortable as well, especially with it’s use of lower case. Now I just need to convince them to send me some free samples!
iPhone games are a dime a dozen. But, good, attractive, smart, challenging, and fun iPhone games? A little hard to come by. Thus, we at The Fox Is Black have taken the time to sift through many, many games to give you what you want: the best three games you could ever pleasure yourself with on a phone.
Colorbind is a beautiful, fun, and simple game. The gameplay involves placing a ribbon or ribbons over dots, kind of like a dainty, pretty, adult version of connect-the-dots. As the game progresses, the patterns get more and more complicated: overlapping ribbons nullify dots, symmetry demands your attention, and one small turn may screw all your connections. The game can be very, very hard and frustrating, but do not fear: when you unlock one level, you unlock three other levels. In terms of functionality, the game is extremely minimalistic and simple: the design is simple, the look is simple, the game is simple. If you don’t want any bells and whistles, want a good game, and even want to listen to your own music as you play, do yourself a favor and drop $1.99 on Nonverbal’s Colorbind!
Edge is one frustrating game. It’s very hip and it is very hard and highly lauded by even Apple itself. Gameplay is easy: you have to push around a neon cube around a Q-Bert inspired landscape toward the finish, but must collect tiny neon cubes in the process. As original French house music plays, you must push your cube up stairs, balance your cube along moving planes, and even turn into a tiny cube to climb up walls and push buttons. The game is a hoot and so visually tasty. I’ve played this game on and off for almost a year now, where I have learned–although I love it–it can simply be too hard and too frustrating to burden yourself with: when you are mad at getting only D scores (ahem, the lowest score), take a break from the game!
Note: I also highly, highly, highly recommend you checking out Mobigame‘s other three games, all of which are spectacular as well! You can also get this game for iPad and–likely–have a better user experience.
Osmos has to be the prettiest, most delicate looking game with the most exciting and unique gameplay experiences I have ever witnessed. Like the aforementioned games, this too involves moving an item around to capture smaller items. However, what Osmos does with gameplay is something neither Colorbind nor Edge achieve: it truly challenges and rethinks playing a game with your fingers on a touchscreen. The other two games–and 99% of iPhone games–could be played on a computer or X-Box or Playstation or Wii, but Osmos is uniquely iPhone or, better yet, the iPad. With many worlds and challenges to face, Osmos provides a wonderful time for you to try to “become the biggest” orb with plenty of ambient music to keep you going. Run–don’t walk–your fingers to download this $2.99 treat!
In closing, of course these three games are a few of 984209837023981209390247502394203 other iPhone games out there and, yes, those could have very well made the list. Thus, I would throw in Awesome Solitaire, Muddled, Push Panic, Trainyard, Pathpix, and Plants Versus Zombies as honorable mentions. Have a game you love and don’t see it here? Please leave it in the comments as I’m looking for new games!
Laura Carlson researches spatial cognition: how we understand space. In this video, she talks about three factors that could help or hinder someone trying to navigate a building for the first time: 1) the features/spatial complexity of the building 2) a cognative map you make as you wander around and 3) if you tend to get lost or not. Recently, she co-authored an article in Current Directions in Psychological Science about how architecture can bias cognitive maps though asymmetrical circulation patterns or floor plans that vary at each different floor. Which sounds like a lot of contemporary buildings. The article uses the Seattle Central Library designed by OMA as an example. OMA used simplified diagrams to explain the relationship between the building’s spaces and functions:
It doesn’t look too crazy, but compare the diagram with a more detialed sectional drawing taken at roughly the same place:
It’s not quite as clear. Carlson believes that architects and cognitive scientists can learn from each other: “Architects could explain how they use building features to encourage certain patterns of movement within the building, informing research on how people move through space; scientists could contribute data on how we build cognitive maps and what strategies different people use to find their way around.”
Hou Hsiao Hsien is often referred to as the Taiwanese counterpart to Wong Kar-wai. Both filmmakers work within the marginalised outskirts of the Chinese disapora and utilise time as a trope to explore memory and personal history, desire and place. However, Hou’s filmic meditations on temporality are arguably slower and less flamboyant than Wong’s; intoxicating, languidly paced and obsessively focused on seemingly banal details that are exquisitely framed in each shot. Hou’s most recent feature-length film set in Taiwan, Three Times (2005), entwines the slow burn of desire and the fragility of romantic connection with the passage of time.
I feel that every era has its own distinctive sense. These eras will never come again. Time keeps moving forward. One’s environment and one’s thoughts keep changing as well. They’ll never come again. It’s not that they’re good times, it’s because we’re recalling them that we call them good times.
Split into three narrative strands, Three Times captures the dynamics of a romantic relationship between Shu Qi and Chang Chen in three different periods. Individually titled, “A Time for Love”, “A Time for Freedom” and “A Time for Youth”, the vignettes are set in 1966, 1911 and 2005 respectively. Shu and Chang have different roles that reflect each period: a pool hall hostess and a soldier in 1966, a courtesan and a nobleman in 1911 and a singer and a photographer in 2005. Loosely tying together the individual narratives is the theme of yearning, which saturates every frame with unspoken desire. The chemistry between Shu and Chang is palpable, but the problematics of communication are repeated in each story and the timing of romance is always out of sync.
Although the details of each era are perfectly re-created, Three Times is less concerned with history in a larger sense than the personal impact of history on connection. The cinematography of frequent collaborator Mark Lee Ping-bin lingers on tiny fragments hidden within the mise en scène, gesturing towards the private details that set the backdrop to the characters’ interactions. Through Lee’s lens every shot is perfectly framed and composed. It could be suggested that Hou favours style over substance, but this mode of filmmaking, which meticulously records every object, complements the dreamy rhythm of the film’s central relationships.
Three Times may be considered an arduously slow cinematic experience and the long takes, close-ups of props and décor and silences may be too dull for some viewers. There are no narrative conclusions or grand statements, but a microcosm of longing that explores the shift in expressions of intimacy with the years.
So along with watching people work I love to see inside people’s workspaces, seeing where they work and make amazing things. Cambio Goes Home did a feature on artist/photographer/skateboarder Ed Templeton and his home in Huntington Beach. It’s funny to me how he’s both kind of horrified by the suburbs but enthralled with them. It fuels his work and helps him to create.
As for Ed’s home it’s a suburban house in a suburban neighborhood, something I’m very familiar with since I grew up in something identical. He uses his garage as his primary painting area and he also has a pretty large looking dark room for developing his photos. Once he goes inside it’s crazy to see all the art he has on his walls, a lot of the biggest artists of the last 20 years. I wonder if he’d let me come over and hang out?
I’m a huge fan of process videos like the one above, featuring printmaker Bill Fick creating a linocut. For those not familiar, a linocut is “a design is cut into the linoleum surface with a sharp knife, V-shaped chisel or gouge, with the raised (uncarved) areas representing a reversal (mirror image) of the parts to show printed.” This sounds easier than it really is. I tried to make one of these when I was in high school and nearly sliced off my fingers with that little knife tool. Bill makes it look so easy in this video, it’s kind of absurd.
I don’t know what it is about these videos that I like so much. It’s the little things like listening to his pencil or his brush on the paper, or the sounds of the tiny pieces of linoleum being carved away. It’s also inspiring to watch someone so talented do something so technical with seemingly little effort. I promise that the seven and half minutes you spend watching this are worth every second.
Modernity can be a bitch. You have so much knowledge of the past, so much going on in the present, and so much hope for the future: it’s hard to really balance your thoughts and project something that is “you.” It’s a double consciousness that plagues us all in 2011, irony ruining (or bettering?) us.
For LGBT men and women, it is a constant battle to reconcile masculinity, femininity, culture, aesthetics, camp, kitsch, and intellect–while balancing modernity. In that, a conversation is being had in the art world through music, visual arts, writing, and even blogs to explore the intersect of modernity, homosexuality, and camp. We’ve seen musical acts like Xiu Xiu, YACHT, MEN, Beth Ditto, and Hercules & Love Affair talk about this, Blake Wright‘s drawings are talking about this, the Gayletter guys are highlighting art happenings for this, Raja on Ru Paul’s Drag Race is talking about it, and even young Tumblrs like “XXX1990” and “MoppingIsStealing,” which–of course–are both not safe for work, are in the talk as well. This conversation is a direct result of the 2000 era hipster and the uprising of what Robert Lanham called “Maxwells” and “Carpets” in his 2003 tongue-in-cheek observational novella, The Hipster Handbook. This talk is ongoing and, with gaiety being en vogue, it is not going anywhere.
Enter, Sam McKinnis, a Connecticut based artist whose paintings and other artwork are speaking loudly in this conversation. McKinnis’ work infuses the lifestyle of modern twentysomethings with a knowledge of pop culture and the gay male gaze, all portrayed through his oil paintings, graphite drawings, and mixed-media pieces. A lot of his pieces represent a lust for the subject (for example, the last image: “True love (Josh)”), while others are a fantasy created in a disco wonderland (for example, the first image: “ABBA picnic”). These paintings enter the aforementioned conversation with tall, gaunt figures in fashionable clothes. They all are being watched, beloved and exaggerated. They all have a sense of play to them, be it an ear bouquet on a self-portrait (second image) or a desire for Jil Sander (third image). McKinnis is a rising star in the art world, but also is a voice to listen to in the unique dialogue being had in the LGBT community.
If you too are falling for this work, you can also check out McKinniss’ fun blog, where he talks about art, what he’s into, and even the parties he has been attending lately. You can also check out an interview with McKinnis conducted by East Village Boys.
I’m really excited for today’s desktop wallpaper by the multi-talented Nate Utesch, an illustrator and designer living in Indiana. I mentioned multi-talented because he’s not only an awesome artist, but he’s also the publisher of Ferocious Quarterly, a small book of illustrators and short fiction which is beautifully designed. He’s also starting a new project called Made Handsome, an illustration and short fiction journal—jam packed with artists and writers from all over the world and curated by Ferocious Quarterly. But he needs your help funding this new endeavor so he’s started a Kickstarter project to get it off the ground. I’ve already contributed and you should too.
As for his wallpaper it’s kind of an insane explosion of bike wheels and street sparks (I don’t know what that means but it sounds cool). I love the colors and energy of this piece, though if you put this as your background at work it may make your co-workers have seizures, which Nate and I are not responsible for. A big thanks to Nate for the awesome art and be sure to help him out!
Interboro Partnership is the 12th winner of the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program. What this means is that Interboro has won the competition to add some shade, water and seating to the PS1 courtyard this summer with their project Holding Pattern. As winners, Interboro joins folks who have previously won the title, including MOS, Ball-Nogues Studio, and SO-IL. Oddly enough, a 93-year-old Philip Johnson was selected for the title in 1999, which was almost 70 years after Philip Johnson founded MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design in 1932, but that’s beside the point.
Initially, it’s hard to tell what’s going on with Holding Pattern. I’m a big fan of the “Schoolhouse Rock!” rendering, but along with the other representations of the project, there’s not immediate clarity about how visitors will interact with whatever it is that will be installed in the courtyard this summer. So what else will be installed there besides some big, swoopy shade structure? Answer: a whole host of things; for instance “benches, mirrors, ping-pong tables, and flood lights ” chosen by Interboro after interviewing PS1’s neighbors. According to Interboro’s website: “In addition to cab drivers, we met with senior and day care centers, high schools, settlement houses, and the local YMCA, library, and greenmarket (to name just a few). We simply asked each one: is there something you need that we could design, use in the courtyard during the [summer], then donate in the fall?” Connecting with and giving back to the local community is a great idea, who could argue with that?
It turns out that some folks feel left out; namely, persnickety architects. In the comments on architecture blogs announcing the winning design, there’s a range of responses from “Way to go, Interboro” to “Where’s the architecture?” or “How about vegetables donated to the community, or games, or innovative spaces?” In fact, vegetables and games have generated innovative spaces in designs by recent winners of YAP, and I suspect that nay-sayers are underestimating the ability of Interboro to do the same with community-centric odds and ends. You may want this space to look different, or may want the project to represent concerns larger and more abstract, but everyone’s wants don’t necessarily all fit into a small courtyard. And under Interboro’s canopy there is just enough room for what a community needs.
Unicorns, bakus, kirin, fawns and ninyo are just some of the mythical creatures that Japanese sculptor Yoshimasa Tsuchiya fashions out of wood. Largely inspired by traditional Japanese folklore, his chimeric sculptures come from the same imaginary universe as the strange characters in the films of Hayao Miyazaki. Elegant in their majesty, yet seemingly melancholy, Tsuchiya’s sculptures reach intimidatingly life-size proportions. I can only imagine what it would be like to view one of these in a gallery; although they appear quite delicate and fragile, they’re also slightly menacing. Perhaps this is because I only recently discovered – via a crash course in Japanese myths – that a baku feeds on dreams and nightmares and that ningyo bring storms and misfortune.
Anthropomorphism, dream-devouring spirits and bad omens: it all makes for a beautifully mysterious and unnerving art experience.