Inflatable Venues and Beautiful Drawings

John Clark, Jake Gay and Taka Shinomoto: Co-Opt Sub-Pop

John Clark, Jake Gay and Taka Shinomoto: Co-Opt Sub-Pop

John Clark, Jake Gay and Taka Shinomoto: Co-Opt Sub-Pop

The Kaohsiung Maritime Pop Music Center Competition invited participants to imagine and propose a venue that could accommodate a whole range of performance/production spaces for this generation of pop music stars and the next. Architecture students John Clark, Jake Gay and Taka Shinomoto thought the competition brief was was based on a “doomed” premise, saying: “pop might be able to be created in a laboratory [today] but the next generation cannot be made this way.” Their proposal relies on a series of small, mechanical sheds that can send out inflatable volumes to make larger, and larger venues. It’s a fun idea that’s conveyed through a series of quite compelling photos, drawings, and combinations of photos and drawings.


September 23, 2011 / By

Vincent Fournier’s Space Project – Space Suit of the Week

Vincent Fournier’s Space Project constructs a new reality in the fantasy of space exploration. Over the past decade and a half, Fournier has captured a wide array of space organizations from around the world:  Gagarine Cosmonaut Training Center (Russia), Mars Desert Research Station (USA), Guyana Space Center (French Guiana) Atacama Desert observatories (Chile), International School of Space (Kazakhstan), Kennedy Space Center (USA) and other facilities.

Through the seamless compilation of photographed space, he has created an identity of the space traveler that is simply human. His artist statement reads, “The project came from the experience that we all have whilst looking at the stars during our childhood, when we suddenly realise the infinity of the universe and that we are but a tiny part of it.”

His spacesuit photograghs are striking as they take on personalities of their own. Sometimes the suits look lost in a foreign land, like the 2008 Mars Society creatures venturing across desolate terrain. Others seem completely domestic, as in the 2007 Star City space suit photographs, where hues of the space suit blend perfectly into the wallpaper as if it is a fixture to hung on the wall like a clock or a collection of well loved trinkets. Even Fournier’s machines look like sleeping giants ready to awaken, beep, gurgle and then turn their gaze to sky.


September 23, 2011 / By

Paul Thurlby’s Wonderful Character Illustrations

Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot by Paul Thurlby

Saintly Sinners for Ace Tennis Magazine by Paul Thurlby

The White Stripes by Paul Thurlby

British illustrator Paul Thurlyby has a lovely portfolio filled with a really nice collection of retro-modern illustrations all inspired by mid-century design. Originally from Nottingham but now based in London; Paul has worked on illustrations for a number of clients including the likes of The Guardian, The Times and It’s Nice That. Some of you may have seen the wonderful alphabet series which he created a while ago. It was really rather splendid and if you haven’t seen it then you really should check it out!

Today I thought I’d share some of the wonderful characters that Paul has drawn in the past. I was well aware of his alphabet set but I didn’t know he was also such a fine caricaturist. The top image of Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot really does it for me. Paul’s style sits so well upon these two icons of 60’s and I love the texture of Bardot’s hair. Also, check out his picture of The White Stripes – it’s just so much fun! More work can be seen online here.


September 23, 2011 / By

Facebook’s Timeline: Memories Are More Complex Than Algorithms

Facebook's Timeline: Memories Are More Complex Than Algorithms

Click here to enlarge

Yesterday, Facebook announced the launch of their product, Timeline, a way to “tell your life story with a new kind of profile.” Much has been written and much more will be written in the coming weeks, and I can’t stop myself from pointing out a few things myself.

The Design
First up is the design, which is both beautiful… and confusing. The designers in the details and the work done in Timeline are pretty near perfect. It’s based on a beautiful grid, the spacing is crisp, the size of the type, it’s all rather nice. The introduction of a cover image of is interesting, bringing some personality to the standard Facebook profile, but it’s aspects like that, which to me, make it feel a lot like Myspace. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s certainly ground that’s been tread before.

My problem with the design though is that it’s a bit disorienting and somewhat noisy. Before it was easy to scan your profile because it had a single column that lets you absorb all the information easily. Now that information has been split into two columns, both are equally weighted, information moving back and forth freely. In my opinion this free movement makes it really hard to scan the page, yours eye have to go back and forth on the page, absorbing random pieces of data. Imagine reading a book from left to right and the story keeps changing as you go.

The page also feels rather noisy because of a few key pieces that are smattered all over the page: your user icon, your name and a timestamp. These three things exist on every single update you have, which makes for a whole lot of visual clutter. I’m not sure what the point is of having all that information, either. When you click their profile pic or their name, you just go to their profile.

The Concept
More than the design, which I honestly think is a bold idea, I’m not a fan of what Timeline really means. Facebook is trying to become so much more than a social network, it’s your life in serialized form, from your noisy beginning to quiet end. Facebook wants you to “input” your memories, your favorite songs, the things you cook, the movies you watch. That by doing all of this stuff, you can show people who you really are. But is inputting yourself into a mainframe a true representation of yourself?

Hell no.

I’m pretty morally against what they’re trying to do for a few reasons. The first, and obvious, is that they want you to input all of this information to sell ads against. That’s the way the world works in 2011, and though it sucks, it’s not my biggest problem. What I really hate is that they want to input your memories, but memories are so much more than some photos or a song you were listening to. Sure, those things can bring up memories, but there’s so much more to what a memory is. There’s smells, there’s taste, their’s touch and feel, and none of that can be experienced through a dump of information which Facebook is calling your life.

Your life is more than a bunch of information. Your life is more than songs or photos, it’s experiences, it’s friends, it’s things that can’t ever be replicated. Real memories live inside you, in your head and heart, made with real people in real life. It’s sad and scary that a company is trying to redefine what a memory is, that all we are is data in a cloud somewhere. Is there an answer to this problem? I don’t know, I’m kind of feeling pessimistic about it, but I can try and be hopeful that people are smart enough to know what’s real.


September 23, 2011 / By

Cate Blanchett collaborates with Nathan Coley, turns into an Archtiect

Nathan Coley and Cate Blanchett "Another Lecture"

Nathan Coley and Cate Blanchett "Another Lecture"

Atist Nathan Coley, presents images of insignificant structures and spaces from Glasgow and Melbourne. The presentation of these buildings is narrated by Cate Blanchett, who speaks as if she were an architect responsible for each of the spaces. It’s pretty hilarious. About the stacked stones that make the entrance to the derelict building above, the architect says: “The carved stones act as a contemporary sign post. On the left side, the stones are carefully positioned, adding order and stability; on the right, it’s a bit more free and romantic.”  Coley says the video is teasing about the pompous attitude of the architecture world while at the same time celebrating the found and unconsciously made.


September 22, 2011 / By

‘Bioshock Infinite’ Preview (Video)

BioShock Infinite

BioShock Infinite

BioShock Infinite

For many video game enthusiasts, the BioShock series is a grouping of games handcrafted by the gods of video games for us mortals to play when they allow us to. The series has two games so far–BioShock and BioShock 2–with a new one which will be released next year: BioShock Infinite.

Details on the new game were kept under wraps for some time, but are now out in the open: the new game does not take place underwater as the first two but in the air, in Columbia, during the year 1912. You play Brooker DeWitt, a former government agent, who is searching to find a woman named Elizabeth, who he feels is at the center of a civil war. Unfortunately for them both, she is being pursued by a former captive/robotic monster called Songbird. Sounds a little confusing, yes, which I am sure is the point until you actually play it.

The video above is a fifteen minute gameplay demo that debuted at this year’s E3, where it swept the conference’s awards. The video takes place in the middle of the game where Brooker and Elizabeth are perusing this air city, occasionally stalked by Songbird and others, but also using tears, items that alter space and time. As you can see in one of the photos, there is a “Revenge Of The Jedi” marquee which is when Elizabeth opens a tear to the early eighties (yes, that is Tears for Fears you hear in the clip).

As you can tell, this new entry in the series is a total departure and looks nothing like the other entries in the series. Watching the above clip it seems very, very confusing how to play this game as it looks like a movie. If you still want more on the game, the Bioshock Infinite site has much more fun videos and IGN released the first ten minutes of the game last year, furthering that this game is just a movie you click buttons through.


September 22, 2011 / By

‘Slipstream’ by Patrick O’Hare

Development Site, Lake Forest, Virginia by Patrick O'Hare

Sam’s Club, Waterbury, Connecticut by Patrick O'Hare

Nazareth, Pennsylvania by Patrick O'Hare

Model Home, Clinton, New Jersey by Patrick O'Hare

Slipstream is a series of photographs by American photographer Patrick O’Hare. The work explores the American landscape in moments of development and it examines how these environments become ravaged during transitional periods. O’Hare throws a dark eye over these places and aims to capture the absurdities and mysteries of the land.

Yet amid these entropic moments O’Hare also manages to capture a bleak beauty amongst the land. My first impressions of his photographs was one of attraction, especially to the colors that O’Hare finds in these mysterious places. Take a look at the red soil at the development site at Lake Forest, Virginia (above), or look at the rich dark-green grass that runs up to Model Home at Clinton, New Jersey. These are place that really capture my interest, and this is something which is important for O’Hare:

I’m interested in what lies behind these netherworlds when they are stripped down to their essence. I look for the hillside drive through where light and darkness fill a shape, the roof of a Wal-Mart stretched to the horizon, the sweep of roadside embankments, cleared and manicured; all the borders where earth, man, and sky meet and melt into each other.

More work can be seen online here, and Slipstream is currently available as a limited edition book.


September 22, 2011 / By

R.I.P. R.E.M. – From a Fan

I became an R.E.M. fan for all the wrong reasons. I bought Monster when I was 11 because of the one big single on it. I also liked the other one, and I had heard their great big hits as well. I knew it was the sound of colleges right then and as a grade school kid, I thought that was the coolest thing ever. That orange cover, the multicolored CD, it was all unbelievable to me. I didn’t even know they had been around since the early eighties and I was mad that Everybody Hurts was played at my sixth grade dance. I knew of their other singles – who doesn’t remember It’s the End of the World… and Losing My Religion – but didn’t really care. When I finally made it to college I bought Green and New Adventures in Hi-Fi. I finally understood they wrote for social change and acted on it – just see the video of World Leader Pretend. But I winced thinking about the buzzing guitars from Monster and was disappointed.

I guess I didn’t get it.

After time I explored the back catalog and found Murmur. I was hooked to the tune of dozens of plays. The lyrics were from another planet. Stipe mumbled endlessly, providing the name for the record by not speaking clearly once. Bill Berry would lightly shift the rhythm on almost every verse. Mike Mills brought a crushing bass line over Peter Buck’s delightfully clean guitars. I listened to Pilgrimage for two months straight, marveling its spiritual and post punk nature. It is still one of my favorite songs ever. The staccato of 9-9 was only heightened by the surrealist, frustrated poetry of We Walk. Only later did I learn that Rolling Stone called this album the best of 1983, the year Thriller and Synchronicity were released. It was so punk because it was so anti-punk. Clean guitars instead of distortion, verses instead of guitar solos and melodies in the bass. In a great interview, Peter Buck revealed some of its secrets.

“On We Walk, Michael [Stipe] had his vocal mic in the hallway – he never found a vocal booth that he liked – and the hallway was connected to the pool hall. Bill and Mike were playing pool and the noise of the pool balls leaked into the mic. Mitch and Don turned the tape backwards and slowed it down, and the result is this threatening rumbling sound.”

Wow, dude. Just wow.

I preached to many of my friends about how fundamental this record was, how it encapsulated the idea of college rock better than any band. Few cared and I trudged through the Chicago snow in massive headphones singing along to Radio Free Europe. Quite frankly, there was no college rock before Murmur. I drove to Santa Barbara with my girlfriend and the only song she really liked was Perfect Circle, not understanding my obsession with the rest of the record. But, like most things, she hit the nail on the head. It is a nostalgic, circular song about crystallizing memories, and in the process, has crystallized her for me.

As Bill Berry retired in 1997 after a brain aneurysm a year before, it appeared the conclusion was on the wall. The band rolled on for fourteen more years after that with the pace of a car with a flat rear tire. Stipe, Mills and Buck could still write great songs but that creative spark that drove them to write some of the best records and songs of the eighties was gone. That’s not to say they did not record great music without Berry. But as a band reaches the twenty year marker, it is hard to get new fans and placate the old ones without pissing off either one. Do you stay innovative, hopelessly dated by your age, or do you rehash your classics? The band had already seen the top of the mountain, but how much higher could they climb? Regardless, this performance of E-Bow the Letter will always give chills. A young Thom Yorke given a chance to talk about the passion alongside his idols. It’s a special moment to see the kings of alternative rock play with the young prince.

It’s a shame, then, that I was too young to hear them at their best. A lot of us digital kids saw them as an alternative rock giant. Yet Athens, Georgia, is the unofficial home of the music we listen to today. They were innovators of the gap between punk and pop, creating alternative and college rock at the same time. I feel lucky that curiosity led me back around. I reckon you should listen to the first few records for that inimitable country, punk and rock sound. Don’t go back to Rockville.


September 22, 2011 / By