Date Archives November 2011

Space Thing of the Week

Space Thing of the Week

Space Thing of the Week

The earth is a truly spectacular place. Michael König compiled this video from footage taken by Expedition XXVIII & IXX aboard the International Space Station from August to October 2011. The footage is courtesy of NASA Johnson Space Center Image Science & Analysis Laboratory’s Gateway to Astronaut Photography.

König’s compilation includes a number of views of Aurora Borealis & Aurora Australis. One would be quite cosmically fortunate to witness something so spectacular from earth let alone witness it from space- repetitively. Expeditions are long duration missions flown by the Russian Federal Space Agency usually lasting about four months in orbit. These sights, shown above, occur more often than most enough will ever have the opportunity to enjoy (unless you live in the arctic circle).

I tried to calculate how many times one would be able to possibly witness these sights from the International Space Station, but calculus has been long been lost in the dusty archives of my brain. I did however figure that those on board see eighteen sunsets and eighteen sunrises every twenty-four hours. Give or take a couple, an Expedition crew member could witness 2,162 sunsets during a mission. I can’t even begin to fathom what it would feel like to wake up in the morning, look out the window and see the sunset or the green hues of an Aurora Borealis dance across the horizon. Let’s only hope that the crew isn’t jaded by the end of it.

Alana

Originally found via Colossal. Also thanks to the7000club for the tip!

Meanwhile, in Ambulatory Roller Coasters

Magic Mountain by Tiger and Turtle

Magic Mountain by Tiger and Turtle

The designers of this convoluted but walkable structure, Heike Mutter and Ulrich Genth, realize that visiting their curvilinear platform may be a bit of a let down. Why? Because despite it’s amusing appearance this is not a roller coaster, but an ambulatory platform that has taken on the swooping form of that mechanical attraction.

In their own words: “The visitor climbs on foot via differently steep steps the roller-coaster-sculpture. So the sculpture subtly and ironically plays with the dialectic of promise and disappointment, mobility and standstill.” After all that hope that you had seen a roller coaster in the distance, it’s really just a set of stairs.

Still, there is something fantastic about the unlikely path this set of stairs takes. The looping tubular steel may not be animated by cars of screaming folks, but instead full of people walking around, taking photos and marveling at a curious roadside attraction– bending whatever disappointment you had until it turns back toward excitement, making a nice loop.

Alex

‘Let’s Go Out For A Ride!’ by Tatsuro Kiuchi

'Let's Go Out For A Ride!' by Tatsuro Kiuchi

'Let's Go Out For A Ride!' by Tatsuro Kiuchi

'Let's Go Out For A Ride!' by Tatsuro Kiuchi

'Let's Go Out For A Ride!' by Tatsuro Kiuchi

I love the work of Japanese illustrator Tatsuro Kiuchi. Above are a few of the illustrations taken from his 2009 children’s book Let’s Go Out For A Ride. It looks like a really wonderful book. It tells the story of a boy and his father who take a day trip to the top of a mountain and on their they ride on various forms of public transport. Not only are Kiuchi’s wood-cut illustrations beautiful, but they’re also busy with activity – the kinds of images you’d spend all day getting lost in as a kid.

‘Lets Go Out For A Ride’ is only one of a number of great projects on Kiuchi’s site. I also really adore his illustration work for the The Folio Society’s edition of Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea which you should take a look at. You can view the complete collection of his work online here.

Philip

Hours of Architecture Lectures care of the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning

Lecture from the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan

Lecture from the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan

Who doesn’t love spending the afternoon watching several hours of lectures about architecture? These lectures are from Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at The University of Michigan, and feature several architectural luminaries speaking about their own work. Preston Scott Cohen describes how the idea of attenuation has shaped his work while Elizabeth Diller talks about how the “erection” of the Hirshhorn Balloon broke the ice in a room full of 70 year-old dudes that had a hand in deciding the project’s fate. It will be erected for the first time in 2013. There are others that I haven’t had the opportunity to watch yet, but these are good and worth watching.

Alex

Dance of Death – A Film Review of Melancholia

Dance of Death – A Film Review of Melancholia

There are no guns in Lars von Trier’s Melancholia. There are no tanks, or nuclear bombs – just humans, and their immaterial battle for life. It seems befitting that a film exploring isolation, internal darkness and the weighted feeling of not belonging in the world would be bracketed within a story about the end of it. A disaster film that takes mental illness head on? Or a film about mental illness set under the pretence of imminent disaster? I’ll stand by either contention, especially when the film in question is Melancholia, crafted by the controversial director Lars von Trier. Preceded by his 2009 film Antichrist, Melancholia is his second unofficial entry into what could likely become his trilogy of “Grief, Pain, and Despair”. Stemming from the director’s own battle with a deep depression Antichrist and Melancholia share a lifeline that seeks to excavate the profound, the difficult, and the complexities of human suffering as related to psychosis.

As similarly executed in Antichrist, the prelude to Melancholia is bathed in cinematic eloquence, forming the summation of the events about to transpire as well as the link to the subconscious of the film. Comprising the first 8 minutes, each sequence presents slow motion images of agony, beauty, and symmetry, all contained within a suffocating stillness. Lush and luxurious greens are juxtaposed against what resembles a world without oxygen. Extended over the soundtrack to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde III, this is Lars von Trier at his best.

Countering the baroque introduction is the banality of the first scene where we meet the main character Justine (Kirsten Dunst) who is stuck in a limo on the way to her wedding reception. It is supposed to be the happiest day of her life, at least, that is what everyone around her wants it to be. Set against the macro destruction of the world at the hand of blue planet Melancholia, the micro struggle of Justine occupies the first half of the film building the case for von Trier as a sensitive filmmaker intent on justifying emotional disorder. As Justine trudges through her wedding night, much to the chagrin of her whole family, her polarity between delicious highs and devastating lows sheds a realistic light on a woman coming undone. Shot predominantly in a handheld style, von Trier embodies in Justine the emotional, physical and social facets of self-destruction. Justine’s sorrow is inferred through everyone else’s insensitivity towards it. Her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsburg) is her only support.

Melancholia’s duality comes into effect in part two: Claire’s half of the film. The disintegration of Justine’s mind is halted and the power struggle shifts as catastrophe draws near. She grows stronger and Claire tumbles into a frantic state. Where the former has faced death, the latter is only just meeting it. Gainsbourg, who was the tour de force in Antichrist, brings an innocence to Claire as the helpless and naïve caregiver who seeks a “nice” ending to the planet’s explosion. Awarded the Best Actress prize at Cannes, Dunst’s performance here as the transformative weak and dependant patient to authoritative and almighty savant is a testament to the film’s power. The path of destruction for all of human kind is Justine’s saving grace, as von Trier uses the approaching Melancholia to repair her fractured state.

Von Trier who was  accused of misogynist filmmaking with Antichrist, has done the contrary here. In Melancholia it is the female characters that demonstrate courage and emotional strength in the face of adversity. And when that adversity is the end of the world, I can only trust that he believes we can handle it.

Christina Stimpson

‘The Falcons’ by Patrick Wolf, video by Noriko Okaku

The Falcons by Patrick Wold, video by Noriko Okaku

The Falcons by Patrick Wold, video by Noriko Okaku

The Falcons by Patrick Wold, video by Noriko Okaku

I had no idea that Patrick Wolf released a new album back in June, that was until I saw the video above for his song The Falcons. It’s the last track on the album, and it’s a welcome return to what I’d consider what Patrick Wolf sounds like. I wasn’t a big fan of The Bachelor, so I’m really excited to hear what the vibe of this album is.

The video for The Falcons was created by Noriko Okakau and it’s really well done. I love all the hand painted birds and he use of still photographs for the backgrounds. She put so much work and effort into this, I can’t imagine how long it took her to complete it. I’d say this is one of my favorite music videos of the year so far. Check it out and see what you think.

Bobby

The videos of Everynone – Bringing us joy and tears

The videos of Everynone - Bringing us joy and tears

The videos of Everynone - Bringing us joy and tears

The videos of Everynone - Bringing us joy and tears

The videos of Everynone - Bringing us joy and tears

I’ve posted about the work of Everynone before, and I’ll probably keep doing so because they work is always consistently great. They’ve posted two new videos in the last few months, the most recent one called Losers came out two days ago and already has 114,000 pageviews. Losers is exactly what the video is about – outcasts, rebels, freaks, loners… and the people who bully them. Bullying is getting a lot of much needed attention in the world these days, especially with the rise of young people committing suicide because of it. This video perfectly portrays the feelings, the hate, the anguish that comes out of those situations. It’s powerful stuff, so prepare yourself.

On the flipside is their video called Laughs, which is a compilation of people, you guessed it, laughing. All of the video was found through YouTube and goes through a surprising and touching narrative of young people to old people laughing. What’s funny though is that even though it’s all laughing, it’s still a touching video that got me a little misty eyed. What can I say, I’m a sentimental guy. I’d suggest watching these in order so you don’t end on a sad note.

Bobby

MK12’s fantastic 8-bit interpretation to Occupy Wall Street

MK12's fantastic 8-bit homage to Occupy Wall Street

MK12's fantastic 8-bit homage to Occupy Wall Street

Created for a special Occupy Wall Street screening at the Zero Film Festival, MK12 has done a great job of representing the spirit of what Occupy Wall Street is all about, told through the simplicity of Pong. The classic arcade game works as a great analogy, the 1% keep getting bigger and more unstoppable, but when the 99% team up we make a much larger, more powerful force. I read somewhere that tomorrow is going to be a big day for OWS, especially in New York, so this video is particularly timely.

Bobby

Firma Casa facade designed by the Campana Brothers and SuperLimão Studio

Firma Casa designed by the Campana Brothers and SuperLimão Studio

Firma Casa designed by the Campana Brothers and SuperLimão Studio

Firma Casa designed by the Campana Brothers and SuperLimão Studio

Many green walls are imagined as vertical lawns– even fields where the variation of plant material creates all the depth. This is not one that kind of green wall. The wall here is the facade of a São Paulo furniture store, Firma Casa,  where 3,500 bent aluminum vessels support a total of 9000 seedlings. The plant growing here has some curious nicknames: Mother-in-Law’s tongue, Snake plant or Sword of Saint George, but the green and pointy grid is regular, at least in terms of distribution, and still far from quotidian. The furniture store’s living facade has been realized through the efforts of the Campana Brothers working with a young architecture firm, SuperLimão Studio. The sharp geometry of the bent aluminum shards create storage for the the roots of the tongues/snakes/swords but the wall would probably still look great even if all the plants died. Speak of, are these things irrigated? Does it rain as much in Brazil as it snows in Canada?

Alex

The Daily Gift & Gadget Guide, illustrations by Matthew Lyons

The Daily Gift & Gadget Guide, illustrations by Matthew Lyons

The Daily Gift & Gadget Guide, illustrations by Matthew Lyons

The Daily Gift & Gadget Guide, illustrations by Matthew Lyons

I feel I should preface this post with, “I hate gift guides.” When a blog or website does a gift guide, most of the time they’re sponsored, and if they’re not, the person writing them is usually trying to get something free for writing it. In my opinion the gift guide has become the infomercial of our time, a way of saying that you don’t know how to buy gifts for the people you know best, so here’s a bucket of items to consume.

That said, I love what The Daily has done with their Gift & Gadget Guide app. To be honest, I didn’t spend a lot of time really looking through the app, though it seemed well put together and pretty fun to flick around on the iPad. What I enjoyed the most though were the awesome illustrations by Matthew Lyons, who helped bring across the theme of the guide, which was retro futurism. He’s a fantastic illustrator and it’s always great to see him doing work, especially on something special like this. The app is free, so for those of you with iPads I suggest giving it a spin, it’s a fun experience all around.

Bobby