8/31/2009 12:08:46 PM
A German environmental organization called Oro Verde produced this knockoff on naturalist illustrations. The message here, if you didn’t catch it when it hit you over the head, is stated explicitly
The destruction of the rainforest comes in many shapes. And there are all kinds of animal and plant species which suffer as a result. Every hour three different types of animal and plant life are made extinct. Help us to save the rainforest: www.oroverde.de
The blog No Caption Needed has posted a large image of the poster, called Diversity of Species in the Rainforest.
(Thanks Eyeteeth, No Caption Needed.)
8/27/2009 1:04:07 PM
For today’s coffee connoisseur steeped in the finer points of French presses and Italian espresso machines, the latest trend in coffeemaking may seem a bit déclassé: drip brewing. That’s right, the brewing method that our moms used is back, but this time it’s not Folgers in a Mr. Coffee machine: It’s of course being presented as an artisanal experience.
The August 12 Chicago Reader profiles the Asado Coffee Company, where proprietor Kevin Ashtari serves up manual-drip coffee. He roasts his own beans in-house and then practices his patient craft:
For each order of drip, he grinds half a cup of beans somewhere between fine and coarse. He then wets an unbleached, conical Melitta filter, to wash away any potential paper taste that could pollute the coffee. He inserts the filter into a porcelain dripper, set on a rack above a cup, then pours in the coffee and a dollop of hot water, just under the boiling point. Grounds bloom up in the filter and he stirs, slowly adding more water, still stirring and scraping the grounds down from the side of the filter. In about two minutes he’s made a bright, full-bodied, perfect cup of coffee, without a trace of bitterness. … Manual drip is probably most primitive and inconvenient way to make a cup of coffee, but because it allows absolute control over water temperature, proportion, and extraction, in the right hands, it can be dangerously good.
Ashtari become a drip-brew disciple after a 2005 visit to the San Francisco’s Blue Bottle Coffee Company, where baristas served up a cup of drip coffee whose body and clarity blew him away. But don’t expect the trend to spread to every java hut in the land: The Reader points out that Ashtari gets only about seven cups of coffee out of each pound of beans. Despite charging “two bucks a pop” for 12 ounces, “the only reason he makes any money is that he’s roasting his own.”
Retailers are already catering to newly reconverted drip brewers. Bee House sells Japanese-made porcelain coffee drippers, and the “liquid culture” magazine Imbibe writes in its September-October issue about the “coffee sock pot” that will make you a great cup of drip coffee—or should I say “maintain greater control over your coffee extraction”?
Sources: Chicago Reader, Imbibe (article not available online)
Image by biskuit, licensed under Creative Commons.
8/25/2009 4:35:34 PM
Idle chicken scratches left on scratch paper can have profound meaning. The doodle, Matthew Battles writes for Hilobrow, “is at once the most common and the most ignored art form.” People have been doodling for millennia, scrawling stick figures into the walls of caves and onto pieces of pottery. In post-Fruedian interpretation, these doodles can be windows into people’s unconscious minds. Though the action is sometimes conflated with “scribbling,” Battles writes:
Scribbling is not doodling, because scribbles are marks made in haste or by an uncertain hand. Doodling, by contrast, is beyond craft and criticism; it belongs to us all; it’s impossible to do it badly—or well. It springs from that flourishing thicket, common to everyone, where mind shoots forth its florid branches from the rootstock of the animal brain. Its intent, if it has one, differs from the preliminary brainstorming of sketching and the territorial mark-making of graffiti: it is the graphic expression of ennui, an existential criticism of the world-as-such.
8/21/2009 2:55:33 PM
Astronauts stuck in space need something to pass the time. Two years ago, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the website GovernmentAttic, NASA released a list of the books, movies, television shows, and music kept in the International Space Station.
The books on board include a standard canon of histories, science fiction, and action novels, but there are a few surprises. For example Michael Crichton’s anti-global warming novel State of Fear makes an appearance, and so does David Sedaris’s essay collection Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. The films include some great comedies, including Blazing Saddles, There’s Something About Mary, and National Lampoon’s Animal House, along side some truly terrible films like Rush Hour II, 50 First Dates, and the Ashton Kutcher thriller The Butterfly Effect.
In response to the list, the independent film organization The Shooting People complained to NASA, saying, “I felt that Caddyshack, Cheaper by the Dozen, and heaven forefend Beverly Hills Cop, might weaken the critical faculties of those on board, possibly even putting their lives and ours in danger.” The organization made some suggestions, including replacing Harold and Kumar with Harold and Maude and offering Man on Wire instead of Man on Fire.
NASA responded, thanking the organization for its input, and promising to pass the letter and the suggestions to the crew office “for further consideration.”
(Thanks, Scientific American.)
The Shooting People
8/20/2009 10:57:56 AM
I must admit, I am a big fan of the popular genre of documentary photography known as “Urban Decay.” Images of abandoned buildings or city blocks gone to seed can make for some strange and beautiful photos. And if urban decay photography has a capital city, it’s Detroit.
Vice magazine is critical of photographers and journalists who visit Detroit and come away with the same old stories and post-apocolyptic Detroit photographs in this cheeky article by Thomas Morton. He talks to Detroit photographer James Griffioen, who says he frequently fields phone calls “from outside journalists looking for someone to sherpa them to the city’s best shitholes”:
You get worn down trying to show them all the different sides of the city, then watching them go back and write the same story as everyone else. The photographers are the worst. Basically the only thing they’re interested in shooting is ruin porn.
Not every story coming out of Detroit is bad news, check out Bloggers Versus Blight from our Nov.-Dec. 2008 issue, a story about the feisty newspaper Detroit News.
Image by John in Mich, licensed under Creative Commons.
8/20/2009 10:55:39 AM
Copyright law? Who cares about copyright law? Just about anyone who downloads media—that is, most of us—should care. “This world in which we outlaw copyright criminals is like the Victorians, who pretended that they didn’t all masturbate,” says writer and copyright activist Cory Doctorow in the film Rip! A Remix Manifesto, a documentary that wears its free-culture position on its sleeve as it explores the current muddled state of copyright law.
Inspired by Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig and other “copyfighters,” as they’ve been called, the remix manifesto rests on four pillars: 1) culture always builds on the past; 2) the past always tries to control the future; 3) our future is becoming less free; and 4) to build free societies, you must limit control of the past.
To build its case, the film revisits some of the great cultural ripoffs in history, from Walt Disney appropriating ages-old fairy tales for his cartoons to Led Zeppelin riffing off an old blues song to create “Whole Lotta Love.” But Rip’s central sympathetic character is recording artist and DJ Girl Talk, who basically plunders snippets from hundreds of musicians as he builds his cut-and-paste dance-floor mashups. Putting Girl Talk at the center of the film makes for a fun ride. Footage from his mania-inducing shows allows viewers to occasionally blow off some copyrighteous anger, and his music illustrates all the complexities of the copyright debate: It’s both original and derivative, high- and low-brow, rump-shaking and thought-provoking.
True to its mission, Rip! A Remix Manifesto is available for download on a name-your-price basis, and its creator, director Brett Gaylor, has invited people to rip and remix the film. So go ahead: For once, you won’t have to look over your shoulder as you hit “download.”
Source: Rip! A Remix Manifesto
8/17/2009 11:33:07 AM
D.I.Y. pioneer cum documentary filmmaker Faythe Levine may be passing through your town screening her new film, Handmade Nation. The documentary, which began shooting in 2006, follows Levine over 19,000 miles to capture the new wave of art, craft and design happening all over the U.S. The film drops in on art spaces, punk rock craft fairs and even some crafters’ homes, in an effort to corral the recent surge in handmade wares into a powerful movement that reflects the evolving ethos behind D.I.Y. culture.
Levine created the film in conjunction with her book, Handmade Nation: The Rise of D.I.Y., Art, Craft, Design, which she co-wrote with the film’s producer, Cortney Heimerl.
Check out the trailer below and find out if there is a screening coming to your area.
8/14/2009 3:07:00 PM
Some of the best times I’ve ever had involved mercilessly pummeling my brother’s, sisters’, and father’s heads with wrapping paper tubes. So I was thrilled to catch wind of the Cardboard Tube Fighting League, where foes face off in organized duels wielding this old-school, low-impact weaponry that provides all the satisfaction of vengeance without the bodily harm.
“The CTFL was created out of a desperate need to better train and arm citizens with cardboard tubes,” says the website of the organization, which has hosted tournaments in San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Sydney.
“Where others see storage for posters, I see the means by which I can battle my oppressors. Or a few friends,” writes author Sherman Alexie, a CTFL fan, on the “Stuff I Like” section of his website.
In a CTFL duel, the technical goal is to break your opponent’s tube without breaking your own—but of course it’s a bonus if you get in a few sweet shots at their torso or melon. (While the rules ban face shots, they don’t say anything about the head.) There’s no body slamming or stabbing, and only official CTFL tubes are allowed. You’ve got to sign the obligatory waiver, too, which covers risks that “include but are not limited to the loss of eye(s), decapitation, impalement, bloody lips, bruises, welts, paralysis and/or death,” according to SFGate.
Duel if you dare. Me, I’m going to go find a tube and hit someone.
Sources: Cardboard Tube Fighting League, Sherman Alexie, SFGate
Image by Julian Cash, courtesy of the Cardboard Tube Fighting League.
8/14/2009 1:17:39 PM
Somebody teach me Dutch now! The formula for a fabulous new Dutch internet series is simple: a visual artist is seated at a table with a work of his or her art, joined at the other end of the table by a parent. There is a brief explanation of the piece (with constant parental interruption) which leads into a sometimes rambling, sometimes heated conversation. There is just one problem: the producers of this brilliant experiment only inserted English subtitles into the first episode. Still, I keep watching. The universal language of a parent attempting to understand their spawn is universal and mostly consists of some variation of: "huh," "okay," or "nah." Enjoy!
(Thanks, What Alice Found.)
8/11/2009 4:06:59 PM
Museums aren’t just casualties of the current economic collapse, they actively fed the boom and subsequent bust, Ben Davis writes for ArtNet. Museum boards engaged in short-sited speculation, gambling huge endowments in hedge funds and other risky investments.
Now that those endowments are worth a fraction of what they once were, and with governments drastically cutting their support for the arts to stave off budget crises, the large institutions aren’t the ones hurt most. “Everyone knows who is getting hardest hit,” Davis writes, “it is the personnel who do the unglamorous day-to-day stuff that makes these places run.”
Image by gomattolson, licensed under Creative Commons.
8/11/2009 2:41:09 PM
Will somebody please pay me to follow David Byrne around with a camera? Remember the video tour of his office? I do. Now we have Byrne literally playing a building, specifically the Roundhouse in London. Creative Review explains:
The installation sees Byrne convert the main space at the Roundhouse into a huge musical instrument, which can be played by visitors via an old pump organ keyboard that sits in the centre of the space. Attached to the organ are numerous pipes and strings that are linked to elements of the building’s structure to create noise. Some of the sounds are made by wind being forced through the pipes, eliciting a whistling sound, while elsewhere small strikers clang and bang the metal columns, and other machines cause the metal crossbeams in the building to vibrate, causing a humming sound. The disorganised and at times cacophonous results reveal a new way of thinking about the building, as well as about the creation of music.
Byrne's Playing the Building instillation has been around for a few years. Here's a video from its appearance in New York City. Delightful:
Source: Creative Review
8/9/2009 7:12:26 AM
When you think of “hair art,” you probably don’t imagine the beautiful, delicate jewelry of Melanie Bilenker, who creates tiny line drawings using locks of her own hair, then casts them into brooches, pendants, and rings. The new issue of Broken Pencil hipped me to Bilenker, whose inspiration lies with the Victorians, who “kept lockets of hair and miniature portraits painted with ground hair and pigment to secure the memory of a lost love,” she explains on her website. “In much the same way, I secure my memories through photographic images rendered in lines of my own hair, the physical remnants.”
One of the most striking things about Bilenker’s work is what memories she chooses to capture—“quiet minutes, the mundane, the domestic, the ordinary moments.” Moments like stepping into the bathtub, rifling around in the fridge, buttoning a shirt, tending to plants. It’s moving, somehow, to see such mundane moments so lovingly rendered.
Source: Broken Pencil
Images courtesy of Melanie Bilenker.
8/3/2009 12:50:57 PM
Frustrated that her neighborhood seemed to function as little more than a “giant hotel of passing strangers,” artist Candy Chang created a public installation meant to get residents talking. Her goal was simple: use public space effectively and engage residents.
Chang’s New York City installation featured post-its that asked for basic information about residents’ living situations. Passersby were quick to participate, sharing the kind of information we often keep to ourselves. One 43-year resident of a Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn studio boasted of paying just $146 a month in rent. A resident of Brooklyn's Cobble Hill neighborhood reported paying $3,720 for a four-bedroom apartment. For more results, check out Chang’s website.
(Thanks, Visual Culture.)
Image courtesy of Candy Chang.
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