6/25/2009 5:17:25 PM
Our lives are surrounded by small and seemingly insignificant objects that, if we stop and think about them for a moment, were created by designers. Golf balls, barrettes, toothbrushes: They are not simply manufacturing accidents but very specific responses to our needs and wants and the designers’ aesthetic goals. The “Objectify Me” section of the website for the design documentary Objectified invites designers and design-watchers to muse on these small wonders with wonderful results. The golf ball prompts Craig Foltz to ask a series of whimsical questions. Debbie Millman recalls a juvenile obsession with barrettes that led to misdemeanor theft. And Alice Twemlow turns her gaze to the badminton shuttlecock, which
seems to me to contain all the time and space of a long summer’s afternoon on a large green lawn. In its delicately ribbed frame are encapsulated pitchers of lemonade, the drone of bees, the smell of mown grass and the sun-baked mustiness of the garden sheds where shuttlecocks rest along with broken croquet mallets, dog-chewed Frisbees and trapped flies.
Image by barkertrax, licensed under Creative Commons.
6/25/2009 10:06:17 AM
An amazing thing happened over at Drawger , a website where illustrators post and discuss their work. Yesterday, artist Tim O’Brien posted the above portrait he drew of Neda Agha-Soltan, the woman whose death has become a symbol of the opposition movement after the contested election in Iran. As usual, other illustrators responded in the comments section. But through the magic of the internet, citizens in Iran also found it, and flooded the post with their own heart wrenching and inspiring comments . According to the artist, what is missing from the site are the hundreds of e-mails he received from people less comfortable posting in public. It makes you ponder the power of visuals, and how one image that strikes a chord can inspire a movement.
(Thanks, Edel Rodriguez .)
Image courtesy of Tim O’Brien
6/23/2009 4:02:47 PM
Guy Laramée turned a set of dusty old encyclopedias into a gorgeous replica of Jordan’s Petra, one of the world’s best-known archaeological sites.
The excellent Magers & Quinn blog tipped me off to this stack-of-books-sized rendering of Petra, which Laramée sculpted using a set of sandblasted encyclopedias. The piece was featured in a recent book-art exhibit at Seattle’s Bellevue Arts Museum; you can see more of Laramée’s work here and here.
(I'm sure there's a joke to be made about looking up Petra inside the encyclopedia, but I don't think it merits non-parenthetical treatment.)
Source: Magers & Quinn blog
Guy Laramée, Pétra (2007). Eroded encyclopedias, pigment, 12 x 11.25 x 8.5 in. Courtesy
and the artist.
6/23/2009 11:46:36 AM
When I heard about the new legislation restricting the marketing of cigarettes , I wondered how the tobacco industry would respond. The St. Petersburg Times asked noted designer DJ Stout of Pentagram to dream up a solution. He came up with a novel (at least for the tobacco industry) approach: Tell the truth. He explains:
Our marketing advice to cigarette companies in the new heavily regulated era is to fully accept the new aggressive anti-smoking restrictions and wallow in the government’s apocalyptic health warnings. Don’t make excuses or dance around the stepped-up marketing regulations, just transform the whole cigarette pack into a three dimensional warning label.
I think they are brilliant, what do you think?
(Thanks Design You Trust .)
Images courtesy of Pentagram
6/22/2009 5:25:06 PM
Of all the “curious undertakings” of performance artists, none have been as striking as Tehching Hsieh’s lifeworks, observes the Chronicle Review, in a review of Out of Now: The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh, newly available from MIT Press. In 1986, the artist dropped out of the public eye to begin his final performance piece, “Thirteen Year Plan,” a period during which he would make art but not show it publicly. He emerged in 1999 with a ransom note bearing a simple message: “I kept myself alive.”
In addition to “Thirteen Year Plan,” the dedicated Hsieh did a series of one-year pieces, which included spending a year in communication blackout (no reading or writing, either), a year spent in a room punching a worker’s clock on the hour, repeatedly, and a year of total artistic abstention. “Although [Hsieh’s works] attracted a cult following in New York and Taiwanese performance-art circles, they took place out of view of the art world, which barely mentioned them,” reports the Chronicle. But the mainstream art world has “finally clocked in,” with Hsieh’s works earning exhibits at the Guggenheim and MoMA.
Source: Chronicle Review (article not available online).
6/18/2009 5:46:49 PM
You need a weekend project, don’t you? No? Hogwash! Literally. In the endless stream of bacon-related pleasantries, you can now make your very own bacon-infused soap that resembles uncooked bacon. The recent issue of Make, the techie do-it-yourself magazine, features step-by-step instructions on how to take bacon fat, red food coloring, and a few other ingredients, and turn them into glorious, grease-free suds. Enjoy!
6/18/2009 12:14:00 PM
"When I'm singing I remember many things—the good times when we have the life in Somalia... Now everything is zero. The solution is to be dead. When I play music I remember the good times and I become very happy." That's Somali musician Mohammed Abbi Samantar. He lives with his wife, Kaha Mukhtar Mohammed, in a refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. In this video, the two sing beautifully together in their mud shelter as photos from the camp and the conflict in Somalia flash across the screen.
Source: Global Post
6/17/2009 5:37:43 PM
What are they listening to in Paris? Gareth Murphy at the new and impressive Journal of Music fills us in on the expansive playlists of Parisian radio stations:
Classical, jazz, electro pips and boinks, apocalyptic gangster rap from the Paris hoods, gay house, Congolese rhumba, chanson française, Hebrew religious songs, arty hip-hop from New York, Zouk from the Antilles, salsa from Havana, crooner slows from the 1980s, accordion cheese, Arabic trad, Algerian raï, French R&B for suburban girlies, weird cinematic soundtracks about geese flying to Moscow. Parisians approach music rather like food: they want to taste every dish that human civilisation has ever invented.
Murphy attributes this wild eclecticism to several factors. France is better known for painting, literature, and cinema than for music; hence its relatively small music industry “does not possess the arrogance and influential export market that the pop music scene in London is renowned for” and is free to play what it wants. He also posits that theater is a subliminal artistic reference point for the French, resulting in a strange combination of musical tastes:
Caught in a split personality between the brooding of Northern Europe and the simplicity of Mediterranean culture, it’s almost as if the French still don’t know whether music is supposed to be stupid or serious, ironic or first degree.
Murphy notes that many talented artists who failed to launch their careers in their homelands end up being the toast of Paris. For example, have you ever heard of the U.S. folk singer Alela Diane? Neither had I. But Murphy reports that this “rising genius” has gotten huge exposure through repeated plays on France Inter, the country’s news, society and culture broadcaster, launching her on national tours. “The Paris music scene does not have any special secret to teach the world’s musicians,” he writes, “except maybe that the expectations and values of your audience will denote the ambitions and content of your work.”
Source: The Journal of Music (subscription required for full article)
6/17/2009 2:36:29 PM
Fans of street art may be familiar with French artist Invader , who creates 8-bit-inspired mosaic tile art that can be found on city streets and in galleries around the world. He is also credited with originating a style of art called “Rubickubism,” which, as he demonstrates in the video below, uses Rubik’s Cube squares as the medium for a sort of digital pointillism. He has an upcoming solo show at Jonathan LeVine Gallery , one of my favorite galleries in New York, starting June 27th.
(Thanks, Wooster Collective .)
Image courtesy of Invader
6/16/2009 1:23:08 PM
Yarn graffiti artists wrap, weave, and hang their knitted and crocheted creations on doorknobs, car antennas, street sign poles, or even trees. These “yarn bombers” are part of an international guerrilla knitting movement.
In a book to be published in September 2009, Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain write about the activism and art of knitting and crocheting.
Yarn bombing can take many forms, but most yarn bombs are handmade items that are attached to street fixtures or left in yards. Members of the group Knitta have left “bombs” all over North America, South America, and Europe. One left a yarn bomb on a stone in the Great Wall of China.
For many yarn graffiti artists, yarn bombing is simply a fun and creative act that allows for self-expression. These “bombers” see yarn graffiti as a way to “take back the knit,” challenging the idea that knitting and crocheting are only useful for garment creation. Knitting should instead be appreciated for artistic value.
To others, the act of creating something is a protest against mass-produced goods and corporations. “Acts such as knitting and crochet, which traditionally have been devalued by society as domestic work, are now considered by many to be political statements,” write Moore and Prain.
Interested in becoming part of the yarn bombing revolution? For great photos, stories, and instructions, check out Moore and Prain’s book Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti (to be published by Arsenal Pulp Press in September).
To meet other yarn graffiti artists, join the online communities knitty.com or ravelry.com. Also, check out the Utne Reader article about Pretty Knitty Titties and Broken Pencil editor (and knitter) Lindsay Gibb's recent guest blog.
Source: Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti
Image by Candescent, licensed under Creative Commons.
6/12/2009 1:30:34 PM
Some people never leave home without their phone or wallet. Minneapolis artist Sarina Brewer never leaves home without a cooler, a hacksaw, and rubber gloves. That’s because she’s always at the ready to find road kill and other “pet casualties” to use as art subjects for her special brand of “rogue taxidermy,” which includes winged monkeys, conjoined squirrels and rabbits, and even a chicken-carp-lamb combo, Bust magazine reports.
She essentially creates fanciful, often irreverent sculptures by splicing together the bodies of various taxidermic animals, or, in other instances, transforming the creature into a freak-show mutant by adding an extra head, leg, or other body part....
Unlike traditional taxidermists, who preserve only animal hides, Brewer tries to avoid wasting the innards. As a consequence, she makes a fair amount of carcass art, which she creates by chemically treating muscle tissue before fashioning them into a whimsical pose—like a sculpture of dancing squirrel guts.
Brewer herself is fascinating, having grown up in a family so fond of their deceased pets that they relocated the remains whenever they moved. That same sense of memorializing has been a key influence in her work. The article isn’t online, but you can at least check out some of Brewer’s mutant creations in Bust's mini-mag if you scroll to pages 52-55.
Image courtesy of Sarina Brewer.
6/10/2009 12:08:24 PM
In Mumbai, where nearly 90,000 taxis roam the streets—mostly old, square-ish, yellow-and-black Fiats—drivers often go to great artistic lengths to make their cabs stand out. Brightly colored graphics, hand-cut from reflective adhesive material, liven up taxis’ exteriors throughout the city, reports Creative Review, in the form of “favorite gods, elaborate geometric patterns, portraits of film stars, and the logos of luxury brands.” The hip graphic-design magazine recently interviewed two of Mumbai’s most accomplished taxi artists, the father-and-son team of Manohar and Samir Manohar Mistry.
Samir: The taxi art form is different. It’s natural, like freehand drawing. You take a piece of sticker and you can cut whatever shapes from it you like. It’s a spontaneous art. There is no set way to do it. The cutting depends on the skill of your hand and how you use your mind.
The men also worked with Mumbai design studio Grandmother India to create an elaborate type-covered taxi for Creative Review's typography issue (that's the taxi pictured above and on their cover; check out a bunch more amazing photos here).
Source: Creative Review
Image by Aashim Tyagi, courtesy of Creative Review.
6/10/2009 11:05:41 AM
Have you ever wanted a bird’s eye view of an ax murder? How about a bear mauling? Or a giant octopus attack? In his series Pleasantville , Jonah Samson creates and photographs tiny moments of either pleasure or pain to hilarious and disturbing effect. His work is currently on view at G. Gibson Gallery in Seattle, and will be shown at Chernoff Fine Art in Vancouver this fall.
Images courtesy Jonah Samson and G. Gibson Gallery.
(Thanks, HOW ).
6/10/2009 9:17:33 AM
“How is it that we have so many people of energy, ideas, creativity and intelligence in the arts, and yet they haven’t even begun to generate enough money to support what they do?” asks Toner Quinn, editor of the recently launched, internationally minded Journal of Music. Good question.
Quinn has a plan, and it begins with blowing up our assumptions about “the economics of the arts.” We praise arts organizations for doing amazing things on shoestring budgets, he writes, and when there’s extra money to go around, it generally goes toward improving compensation for undercompensated people. Fair enough. Quinn notes, however, that arts organizations and artists often operate in bubbles, struggling to meet their economic needs without tapping into collective economic experience.
“Conventional thinking on the relationship between the arts and business is that it inevitably leads to compromise for the former,” Quinn writes. “Arts communities, however, have many successful people who manage to outwit that, striking a balance between business acumen and cultural concern, between artistic ambition and financial prudence, between the language of cultural entrepreneurialism and the language of commercial business….
“What they know cannot be found in books; and it won’t be issued as a memo by any commercial business. It is only learned through having formative experiences in the arts.”
Quinn proposes that arts councils rustle up their experts in the business side of the arts and offer their advice to newcomers. Extending the concept to art galleries, theater companies, publishing groups, and the like would eventually produce a system of economic mentorship. In addition to reducing missed opportunities and generating more money all around, such an insitutution would also strengthen the fabric of arts communities. Good idea, I’d say.
Source: The Journal of Music
6/9/2009 12:33:59 PM
DJ Derek doesn't smoke weed. "I tried it," he says, "but it didn't do anything for me." With that out of the way, let us get on with the story of this 67-year-old English DJ and reggae lover. Jamie Foord & Russell Smith have produced a delightful documentary short consisting mostly of DJ Derek telling the story of his life whilst gripping a pint. It's a hell of a story. Of his work, which consumes two to three nights a week on average, he has little to say: "I’m listening to music I like, generally among people I like, I can drink, and at the moment I can still smoke while I’m doing it. I can’t see how anybody wouldn’t be happy being able to live like that."
Here's the film:
(Thanks, Creative Review.)
6/5/2009 6:04:54 PM
Crystal-studded sauna ceilings, glass-tiled Roman bath-inspired pools, and ping pong tables resting on glass floors. Doesn’t sound like the usual workout facility, does it? Air Canada’s magazine enRoute, dug up and showcased some of the most sleek and artful fitness centers on the map. Working out looks (and sounds) so much more appealing when you’re scaling a wall of white picture frames and baroque furniture instead some dull brown surface.
6/5/2009 3:31:06 PM
Sometimes the news needs art. And there is perhaps no better art to illustrate the implosion of the American auto giants than Karl Biewald's Slow Inevitable Death of American Muscle. It's a completely mesmerizing slow-motion car crash, where two American muscle cars are squeezed together over a period of six days to simulate a head on collision. I suggest you watch the sped-up footage of the crash to the sound of General Motors CEO G. Richard Wagner getting grilled (ahem) on Capitol Hill.
6/5/2009 12:02:39 PM
How much does it cost to spread 650,000 pennies on the floor in a delicate wave pattern, atop a bed of oozing honey? Including the tableau attendant and accommodations for the sheep, about $13,791.36. (1989 dollars, of course.) The installation in question is Anne Hamilton’s “privations and excess,” which The Believer details in the latest installment of Creative Accounting, a series that’s plainly perfect for those among us who love both the arts and getting down and gritty with the details. Ahem.
In past issues, the magazine has unpacked the fiscal details of an unnamed Flaming Lips album ($158,338.53); a modestly-made indie film ($15,4800), and a less-modestly made yet nonetheless indie film ($18 million), which kicked off the series last March.
Source: The Believer
Image by kevindooley, licensed under Creative Commons.
6/5/2009 10:26:51 AM
I know firsthand how couples agonize over wedding invitations, having recently gotten hitched myself. For creative folks, the pressure is always on to come up with an original idea, and I’ve seen some incredible examples in my time. But this wedding invite takes the cake. It makes me feel really happy, and I don’t even know this couple. Enjoy.
(Thanks The Daily What ).
6/4/2009 5:24:44 PM
I’ve been haunted, or is it blessed, by the song “Pulling on a Line” by the Canadian band Great Lake Swimmers from their new album Lost Channels. It’s a simple but gorgeous folk song, deploying a sly fishing metaphor, gently strummed guitars, and a persistent melody that, once you’ve heard it, doesn’t easily drift away. Moreover it strongly evokes a sense of place, with images of water, snow, and “electric flushes” in the “dark sky” conjuring a northern landscape of natural wonders.
It turns out that head Swimmer Tony Dekker is all about soaking up his surroundings. He and his band recorded the album in the Thousand Islands region off the coast of Ontario, laying down songs in places that included a castle, a church, and a theater repurposed as an arts center, according to an article in Thousand Islands magazine:
The native of Wainfleet, Ontario, near Lake Erie, said the band wanted to record the album in a setting reflective of the group’s name as well as the spirit of its folk rock music.
“I grew up along the Great Lakes,” said Dekker. “I like that through music you can tell the story of the place where you’re from.”
Dekker’s fondness for rustic recording sites is also the focus of an article in the May-June issue of Tape Op magazine (article not available online), which presses him for the technical details of wiring an empty grain silo for a session, as he did for the band’s 2003 debut album. But he’s not just interested in the way sound bounces off the walls:
“The space becomes an instrument in a way. You can see it as providing texture, but I think it does more than that—it helps tell the story. The effect of singing or playing in a room changes the way you perceive the sound.”
And in an interview with Stereogum, he allows that there might be more than one metaphorical thread running through “Pulling on a Line”:
“The line being pulled in the refrain could be the act of writing or creating. … Sometimes I think the creative process is a lot like fishing, or like flying Benjamin Franklin’s kite, in the waiting for inspiration to strike.”
Sources: Thousand Islands, Tape Op, Stereogum
6/4/2009 3:31:29 PM
Think fancy lettering has no place in modern advertising? Think again. Hand-lettering extraordinaire Alison Carmichael, has made a name for herself by producing elegantly-scribed messages for the likes of Virgin Atlantic, Stella Artois, and plenty of other high-profile clients. Her pieces are provocative and often bawdy (see the promo with the renaissance-looking dame encouraging folks to “sit down and enjoy a Bishops Finger” or her dainty treatment of the word cunt), but they’re undoubtedly unique and a pleasure to look at. Carmichael tells the Creative Review, “I spent eight years really working on being able to pull off any style imaginable.” And it shows. Check out her “exquisite handjobs” for yourself.
Source: Creative Review
The Creative Review was nominated for an Utne Independent Press Award this year for its arts coverage.
, licensed under
6/2/2009 11:56:25 AM
A black man in the White House is not merely a breakthrough; it’s a prime opportunity to sell some Russian ice cream. Here’s an ad for a new ice cream bar, which exclaims: “The flavor of the week! BLACK in WHITE! Wow!” The executives behind this one are a special breed of blockhead.
Source: English Russia
6/1/2009 5:10:05 PM
No matter how great a book, film, or album is, there’s always someone on Amazon.com who’s willing to give it a bad review. The Cynical-C Blog has compiled some of the best one-star reviews into a section they call “You Can’t Please Everyone.”
Here are a few highlights:
I saw this movie and just about puked in my lap because it was so terrible! Go see the Da Vinci Code instead. Tom Hanks is ten times the actor Orson “Fatty McFat” Welles ever was!
Wizard of Oz:
the wort movie ive ever seen .I mean they clorized once color tv came out and there special effects are lame ,the costumes are ugly the props are ugly so never buy this film!!!!
first of all its NOTHING like the future is probly going to turn out. second of all every one says the aurthor george orwell is so trippy and wierd but i think he’s just trying to cover up for the fact that HE CAN’T WRITE. please george do us all a faver and stop writing books.
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl:
It was really really boring. Its about some girl and her life- who cares!?! It is a total girly-girl book. Too dull to even care. I couldnt even pay attention to what happened to her, why it was so awful. Oh Well, NEXT…
This book sucks. I dont care if Homer was blind or not this book is like 900 pages too long. I could tell this story in about 10 pages. Homer taking all long to say stupid stuff.
People, whatever you do, don’t buy this trash! Just wait until Limp Bizkit (the greatest band ever!) makes a documentary on their wild and crazy and cool antics! It’s sure to put this to shame!
This is more music for druggies. The Beatles should be ashamed to put out this album. I saw Paul Mcartney live last year and he was better than this album, and the other Beatles weren’t even there. But the stage show was boring, there where no pyrotecnics or girls. When I saw Motley Crew during there Dr. Feelgood tour they at least had Fireballs and dancing girls. Plus Mick Mars destroys George Harryson on guitar!
Source: Cynical-C Blog
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