Date Archives April 2011

Hyper-Cultural Memory And Why ‘Scream 4’ Is Important

Scream 4, SCRE4M

We are all very connected, no? We all have our Facebooks and our Twitters and our FourSquares and our MySpaces and our StumbledUpons and our Reddits and our, etc., etc., etc.coms. If you just ate a hamburger and enjoyed it, I know exactly where and when you liked it and I actually liked it myself. If you just went to a store and purchased a cool sweater, I saw what it looked like, where I could get one, and I liked it. If you liked something, I could like it. If you hated something, I could like it. If you wanted something, I could like it. If you didn’t even think of something, I probably liked it. Technology has made common, passive commentary on life and style and society amplified, making my culture your culture and yours mine. You may live in London, you may live in Paris, you may live in Seoul, or you may live in New York City–but, if I liked Scream 4, you will know it. Why? Because I Tweeted about it, Facebooked it, and wrote article upon article professing my love to it on the interweb.

This all goes to say that we are interconnected. Yes, yes we are. And, as Trevor Baum–a Gemini Brooklinite commentator on my last editorial–mentioned, “this has been discussed ad nauseam already.” Yes, yes it has. But, you know what all of this gets at? Our interconnectivity has led to a heightened cultural memory. You could call it a Hyper-Cultural Memory, perhaps.

“Cultural memory” is a complex subject. Its a very modern concept that gets at us all experiencing something, yet not experiencing it together. The experience is the memory, which is something that can be related. For instance, if I drank a Trenta cup of coffee from Starbucks in Los Angeles and you drank a Trenta cup of coffee in Sydney, Australia, both of us not having known each other, we could both agree that, yes, Trentas are too much liquid and it made us both have to urinate. Even though we did not experience these things together, it was an experience, a “memory,” we both had. Yet, we both have a reaction and can easily recall how we felt about it: culture begets memory.

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Electrolux Pop-Up Restaurant

Electrolux Pop-Up Restaurant

Electrolux Pop-Up Restaurant

I tend not to be the biggest fan of blatantly branded architecture projects, but there are times when I’m willing to pretend the logo on the wall is just a portrait of someone’s favorite shapes. Besides, architecture is almost inherently a branding tool used by cities, museums, universities, corporations, et cetera. Why not a company that makes vacuum cleaners? Such is the preface for telling you about this Electrolux pop-up restaurant. One thing I particular like about the project is the project’s contrast to the older structures it will perch ontop of as it migrates around Europe like an aluminum pterodactyl. Initially in Brussels, the project will land somewhere in Italy, Switzerland, Sweeden and Russia before it goes extinct.

Alex

Sunday Reading

Sunday Reading - April, 14, 2011

Click image to enlarge

I’ve had a few people ask me for recommendations on magazines I like or asking what I’m reading lately. So I felt motivated this morning and decided to share what I’m reading, the entire messy pile that I’m not sure that I’ll ever get through. But it’s a nice glimpse of what’s filling my head currently. From top to bottom, here’s the list:


The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber by Ernest Hemingway
I randomly bought some vintage copies of Ernest Hemingway’s books, about 6 or 7 in total, while I was visiting home last X-mas. This is the first I’ve decided to take a crack at. So far, so good. I bought this 95% for it’s cover.


The New Typography by Jan Tschichold
My buddy Ryan Snelson let me borrow this and I’ve been slowly, really slowly, making my way through it. Jan Tschichold published it back in 1928 as a way of creating a practical set of guidelines for designers regarding typography and printed materials. Or at least that’s what I’ve gotten from it so far. It’s a pretty heavy reading experience and I’m probably not doing it justice with my description.


Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design by Khoi Vinh
As most of my design work centers around web design, it’s always great to read about the basics from someone who really nows what they’re talking about. Khoi Vinh’s book goes into the details of creating web pages based on a strong grid structure. Instead of feeling constrained Vinh gives you a ton of ideas how to make the grid work for you. This is great for anyone looking to get into web design.


Graphics Alive 2 by viction:ary
It’s always good to stay up-to-date with burgeoning artists, and the folks at viction:ary often know who’s up-and-coming before anyone else. So I’m sure to snag their books quite often. Graphics Alive 2 gives a great overview of graphics applied to every surface and object imaginable.


Carson Magazine
I got a preview copy of the new Carson Magazine, visuals by famed designer David Carson and backed up by an amazing group of writers and creatives making the words. David Carson is still designing in his own, distinct style with little regard to content, but the content itself is actually really good, like Mike Doughty from Soul Coughing talking about doing drugs or Mary Roach talking about the proper type of people for space travel. Really looking forward to the next issue.


Juxtapoz
I honestly haven’t bought a copy of Juxtapoz for years now, but my old friend Garrett used to buy them all the time when we were 19 or so. It’s a solid magazine but I sometimes feel they retread the a lot of the same stuff over and over. That said it’s also got a lot of new content and artists that I’ve never heard of, so it helps me find more interesting people to write about.


Monocle
This is one of my favorite magazines, and if you read this blog regularly should know how big a fan I am. It’s not perfect, and oftentimes the editorial staff can be contradictory or downright snobs, but they 95% of the time they’re creating content like no one else. I’ll admit it though, I only usually start reading at the Culture section and make my way from there.


Nylon Guys
No one really makes a magazine like Nylon Guys, they sort of fill a niche that no one else provides. Lots of clothing coverage by brands you’ve never heard of, discovery of a lot of bands I’ve never heard of and their interviews are usually pretty interesting. The May issue has a nice interview with Benedikt Taschen, founder of Taschen books and the guy who lives in the Chemosphere.


GQ
Just about the only men’s magazine I read, I’m sure a good chunk of you already read it. It can be a bit on the “bro” side every now and then, but that’s really my only complaint. At least they aren’t awkwardly gay feeling like Details can be. They’ve got some great style coverage, I love when they write about food and they’re long articles can be absolutely enthralling. The newest issue has a pretty hysterical Lady Gaga paper doll on the last page, paper meat dress and all.


It’s Nice That #5
The guys over at It’s Nice That are totally killing it with their bi-monthly magazine. They’re on issue 5 now which is an achievement all on it’s own. Instead of simply rehashing the content of their site, they’re using the magazine to expand and explore topics they have have previously explored. The current issue has a great feature and interview with Erwin Wurm which I really enjoyed.


Dwell
If you read this site and have never read Dwell magazine… then I don’t know, you must live in Antarctica or something. I’ve been reading Dwell basically since it started and it’s never failed to entertain me. It’s really got something for everyone, whether you like architecture or product design or inspiring articles about people finding their true home. Their newest issue is a special photo issue, I especially enjoyed the food/serving ware section toward the end, it all looked delicious.


Metropolis
This is another magazine I haven’t picked up in a while, but since it was it’s 30 year anniversary (holy shit) I figured I should. They do a great job of summing up where they were right and wrong over the last 30 years as well as going over some of the biggest ideas of the last 30 years. It was also exciting to see a few familiar faces in the magazine as well, both Friends of Type and Gavin Potenza.


IdN
Ok, so I felt like I needed to stop buying just architecture magazines, so I decided to get a lot more art/illustration/design based magazines, just like IdN. Like some of the others, I haven’t picked up an IdN in years, but I really like the idea for the newest issue, which is Graphics With Dimension. Lots of great content like the feature on the This Is It collective. I still think it’s weird that issue comes with a DVD… isn’t it 2011? Where’s my digital download or iPad edition?


Paul Rand by Steven Heller
I’ll be honest, I knew little to nothing about Paul Rand. I had a vague idea of who he was, sure, but that’s about it. So I decided to change that and grabbed a copy of Steven Heller’s detailed look at Paul Rand’s life and work. Haven’t had a chance to fully invest myself in it but the picture’s are pretty. Looking forward to giving it the proper attention that it deserves.


Bobby

Kirra Jamison

Kirra Jamison

Kirra Jamison

Kirra Jamison

I was introduced to Kirra Jamison after seeing a peak into her and her husband’s home over on Design*Sponge, and curious, I decided to see what her work looked like. I was happily surprised to see how colorful and fun her work is. Her work seems like it’s especially inspired by nature, each of the pieces above are giving me a circle of life kinda vibe. These pieces were created with acrylic, pen, gouache which give each of them such vibrancy and there’s so much character in all of her brush strokes. Definitely check out the rest of her work, it’s a treat.

Space Suit of the Week

Shan Jiang Astronaut Skateboard

Shan Jiang Astronaut Skateboard

Shan Jiang Astronaut Skateboard

Even though I lack the coordination to actually skateboard, I feel that these skateboard decks were made for me. The splendid illustration on them is by Shan Jiang. There’s a lot going on in his illustration– all on a level of detail that rewards stumbling through the details and closer scrutiny. One particularly foxy detail is the foxes drawn into the space suits. The foxes are orange (not black) and it is this level of imagination that I need to convince myself I’m not going to necessarily break my arm careening down a sidewalk atop such an alluring skateboard.  Bone damage aside, I probably would be too afraid to hurt the skateboard. Whether flying down the sidewalk or flying above the atmosphere, traveling through space is dangerous.

Alex

Ana Laura Perez: Whispered Images

ana laura perez 1

ana laura perez 2

ana laura perez 3

After the brief role swap on Wednesday that saw Bobby posting on the ink drawings of Erika Altosaar and me posting on Hong Kong street art, I have returned to form with the work of Argentinian illustrator Ana Laura Perez. Creating pieces that are distinctly feminine in style with soft and delicate overtones, Perez is inspired by “color palettes and scales, shadows and light, crystals, old nature, encyclopedias, white and gold, sea creatures, textures and shine, moss, draping, darkness and femininity, hidden treasures.”

These motifs shine through in her illustrations that move from fantasy realism to strange abstraction, playfully creating their own mythological narratives and perspectives on a female viewpoint.

Danica

Video Profile on Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama

If there’s one artist I’ve learned to love over the past couple years, it has to be Yayoi Kusama. I first head of Yayoi from the Marc Jacobs Louis Vuoitton documentary, where he meets up with her while he’s in Japan. Seeing her dottiness was odd to me, but after some research into who she is, her long journey into the field of art, and all that she’s done, I’m just as in love with her as Marc was. If you’re not familiar with her work then you should definitely watch the video above, which was taken from the BBC special, Japanorama. It’s a great look at her life and career in 5 minutes, which should be enough to get you interested in who she is. If you already know who she is then you’re sure to enjoy this brief glimpse into her amazing life.

It’s pretty phenomenal that’s she moved to the United States way back in the 50’s and has been making art since then. She hung out with Andy Warhol, created lots of nude Happenings and also has the record for the highest selling work of art by a living female artist. Totally an inspiration.

Bobby

Shoal by Troika, An Installation That Resembles A School of Fish

Shoal by Troika, An Installation That Resembles A School of Fish

Shoal by Troika, An Installation That Resembles A School of Fish

Shoal by Troika, An Installation That Resembles A School of Fish

I’ve had this video bookmarked forever so I’m excited to finally be writing it up. Last year Troika – the experimental art collective made of Eva Rucki, Conny Freyer and Sebastien Noel – created this giant school of fish, made up of 467 iridescent, shimmering bodies that spin and move in a seemingly chaotic yet orchestrated manner. The space they reside in is nearly 165 feet long so walking underneath this immense shoal would be absolutely beautiful. If you’re in Toronto be sure to stop by the Corus building located at Toronto’s Waterfront, Queens Quay East.

Bobby

Spirited Away

spirited away

My first experience of Hayao Miyazaki did not leave the best of impressions. Clicking through the English-language television channels as a kid in Hong Kong, I happened to switch onto My Neighbour Totoro (1988) at the exact moment when Totoro lets out a massive howl that echoes through the surrounding forest. I was baffled to say the least. And then I was confronted with something even more horrifying: the dubbed dialogue. Deciding that I had seen more than enough, it was not until around twenty years later that I voraciously consumed as many Miyazaki films as I could get my hands on. Choosing just one to write on is difficult (I would recommend almost his entire body of work); however, there is something about Spirited Away (2001) that I find consistently appealing.

Logic is using the front part of the brain, that’s all. But you can’t make a film with logic. Or if you look at it differently, everybody can make a film with logic. But my way is to not use logic. I try to dig deep into the well of my subconscious. At a certain moment in that process, the lid is opened and very different ideas and visions are liberated. With those I can start making a film.

– Hayao Miyazaki

Following the adventures of a young girl, Chihiro, who is unwittingly drawn into a parallel spirit world, Spirited Away is exemplary of the themes and motifs that run through all of Miyazaki’s films, especially the filtering of perception through a childlike perspective. However, this perspective is not only aimed at drawing in young audiences, but also adult viewers. Unlike the Disney animation films that I grew up watching, Miyazaki truly taps into the child’s psyche without relying on clichés or masking harsher aspects of life. Indeed, there are moments in Spirited Away – such as when Chihiro’s parents are transformed into pigs and the presence of a “stink spirit” in the palatial bathhouse – that would be unnerving for some younger viewers.

The beauty within Spirited Away – as in all of Miyazaki’s films – is not only found within the narrative, but the very structure and aesthetics of the animation. In contrast to conventional animation, Miyazaki’s work adopts a flowing, painterly style that appears like a moving watercolour and particularly provides the representation of the spirit world in Spirited Away with a gorgeously vaporous quality. On another level, it also visually signals the fantasy space that Miyazaki creates in the film that serves as a counterpoint to the seemingly banal realities of the everyday life that Chihiro takes for granted.

The serious coming-of-age narrative that stems from Chihiro’s encounters in the film’s fantasy space intriguingly runs alongside environmental and moral concerns that are manifest in the sub-themes of pollution, power and greed. Thankfully, these ideas do not overwhelm the viewer or result in didactic overtones, but enhance the nostalgic thread that is woven into the film. If you haven’t seen Spirited Away, I definitely suggest that you do. Just be wary of any hideous dubbing.

Danica

Postcards from Google Earth, Bridges

Clement Valla melted bridge

Clement Valla melted bridge

Clement Valla melted bridge

Clement Valla took screenshots of these sagging spans in Google Earth. They is no photoshop trickery, just what happens when satellite images are projected onto topographic terrain. Instead of arching over a valley or a roadway, the bridges in his series conform to the surfaces that they span over in the real world. But in these virtual constructions, the shadows in the satellite imagery further warp and obscure the reality of these bridges. According to Valla’s artist’s statement: “inherent contradictions and absurd situations result from the very structure of the system itself, producing unfamiliar artifacts and juxtapositions.”

And they look like spaghetti.

Valla worked in Architecture and design before returning to school to study art. Specifically, he studied what he calls “the intersection of art and computer programming.” He now teaches at RISD and lives/works in Brooklyn. You may have seen his video where 500 individuals traced a line or circle after each other.

Alex