Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"1945-1998," 2003, Isao Hashimoto

From the Artist: "This piece of work is a bird's eye view of history, by scaling down a month's length of time into one second. The blinking light, sound and the numbers on the world map show when, where and how many (nuclear bomb) experiments each country has conducted."

It's a mesmerizing, War-Games kind of video, with nuclear tests forming the soundtrack. Also, a reminder of what kind of information artists and designers can make concrete using time-based maps.

Shortly after the primary video, we are shown another time-lapse map of each country's nuclear tests, but the detonations leave artifacts on the screen correlating to size and location. The result is stunning.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Crashpop World Service Mix for May 2010

Here's a Crashpop World Service Mix for May, since the radio show has been suspended. 12 tracks, just in case anyone else has finals they need to be distracted from.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Flannel Magazine

Here's a "shouting outs" to Flannel Magazine, Maine's finest and grittiest lo-fi, DIY zine-book dedicated to local underground artists and writers. Add them on Facebook or just go ahead and buy the new issue.

Yes, I'm a regular contributor. No, I don't get any money out of spamming you about it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Playing Super Mario Bros. with Roger Ebert

Braid trailer 1.2 from David Hellman on Vimeo.

Roger Ebert, who is actually really awesome about films, and about all kinds of other things, seems to be really (disappointingly) weird about video games.

About Braid, he writes: "Nor am I persuaded that I can learn about my own past by taking back my mistakes in a video game. She also admires a story told between the games levels, which exhibits prose on the level of a wordy fortune cookie."

He's basing his review of Braid on a YouTube video of Kellee Santiago's 2009 talk at a TED conference:

Instead of playing these games, Ebert is basing his opinion on a description of the games, not on actually playing them. No one would write a review of a film based on seeing a lecture about the film, so I don't get what he's doing.

Examining games in an old-media context is weird, because the "art" happens in the interaction, not the storyline or the explanation of the game's gimmicks. Experience changes the 'meaning' of those gimmicks in a tangible way - you transfer yourself into the screen, so it's not the same as "taking back a move" in chess (That's Ebert's comparison) but more like watching a film rewind itself precisely when you need it to, and being able to see a different output.

You can't like Run Lola Run without loving video games, or understanding them as art. That film follows Lola as she runs through three 'levels' of 'missions' to save her boyfriend; Ebert was lukewarm on the film, but he made an odd note (even after acknowledging the video game parallel in his lede). "Film is ideal for showing alternate and parallel time lines. It's literal; we see Lola running, and so we accept her reality." It's weird, then, that he so easily dismisses video games when they achieve the exact same end.

Ebert says games are closer to the chicken scratch end of the art spectrum, but notably, he's not a gamer. You can't get the culture of games - or understand something like what Braid does differently, without knowing what the culture of games is. Maybe that's an indictment of gaming's insularity as an art form. But the context of mediocrity - there's a lot of bad movies, and a lot of bad games - actually kind of defines what happens when a movie dodges, expands, or devastates the cliche's of its genre. That may be meaningless on its own. Perhaps you won't have your mind blown by reversing time in a game if it's the first game you've ever played. But I do think it's important.

Ultimately Ebert is a film guy, not an images guy, it seems, but the "it ain't art" argument is dead, dead, dead. I mean heck, I was writing about Video Games as Art back in like, 2009, guys.

On YouTube Art's Aesthetics, or "OMGart"

Jacob Ciocci, "The Peace Tape," 2009, on YouTube

Of course this is what art looks like in the 20-teens.

This stuff, Jimmy Joe Roche,

and Ryan Trecartin,

and Everything is Terrible, is more than just pastiche/collage of images/sounds. It's a pastiche of mediums - art about VHS tapes and about what's on VHS tapes. Art on YouTube and about what's on YouTube. Simultaneously. And arranged into microblips (microkitsch?) to mirror the 'frenetic onslaught of information in the digital age' (TM), with the nuggets plucked out and exploded, the art of a world that has too many search engine results for "corgi dog +awesome".

Here's curation in 'the future of art' - just as journalists, stock brokers, photographers and anyone else who had a sweet job in the 20th century has been replaced with some variation of an RSS feed, curation can be done with an iPod touch and a Tumblr app. "We don't need guys in museums" showing us archival 1990's kitsch, because the Tumblrkids and the VHStubers are going to do it for us. And they aren't even going to argue about the role of the curator, or the role of the museum, or the role of the gallery.

Don't worry, you guys, all of that is dead already. The most significant cultural export of the 2010's will be 15-year-old kids reassembling old shit.jpg's / trash.mov files and passing it on and making fun of how lame instructional videos for the Internet are, while galleries go the way of movie rental stores and newspapers.

Everything is Terrible, 2010, '90s Gaming is Very Cool'

Which is why I have been fascinated by Tumblr as a sort of manifestation of Walter Benjamin's dream to write a book using only passages from other books. Benjamin struggled with it, but now teenage kids in Wisconsin do it for fun without even knowing it's 'art or whatever'. This is a gallery and it's a zine, and it's what curation looks like, circa 2010-2020.

Authors are dead and talking about the author being dead is dead. It's all about the curator and the collector and it's a first-hand, instinctual impulse to make art that makes sense of all these raw materials. And that collector is recombining all of the stuff into a new thing where authorship isn't assumed or considered, where the museum is a museum of images which themselves are museums and it's all under some kid's YouTube screen name followed by a couple of numbers.

OMGArt guys amiright? It's even stupider if you say it out loud.

Peace Tape comes by way of All Everyone, United

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Xiu Xiu, "This Too Shall Pass" (Music Video), 2010

C. Spencer Yeh, "This Too Shall Pass" video for Xiu Xiu, 2010

Pitchfork calls this video 8-bit, but I have my doubts. It's still pretty great.

The video for Boy Soprano was also '8-bit':

Jose Perez III, "Boy Soprano" video for Xiu Xiu, 200(?)

If anyone's up for a surreal nighttime activity, you can scour YouTube for Tweens who make fanvideos for Xiu Xiu songs, like this video for Apistat Commander made from the computer game 'movie studio' which made me really uncomfortable.

Jamie Stewart's lyrics consist of self-aware, hyperbolic angst that kind of mocks itself at the same time that it's being really sincere, which I guess is also the feeling of being 15 and having access to the Internet.

Let's look at the videos kids are making for Xiu Xiu songs (If I didn't link, there's a reason):
1) "I Love the Valley (Oh!)" is set to simple cuts of different LiveJournal Icons;
2) Tweens build nuclear bombs for "Poe Poe"
3) Tween stares at a mirror real scary and mouths along between cuts of John Ashcroft and antidepressant medication,
3) Tweens with Disco Balls and glitter-soaked victorian garb stand on train tracks.

What would your YouTube Xiu Xiu video have looked like when you were 14? What experimental percussive/electronic noise band did you make music videos for in middle school?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Charanjit Singh, "10 Ragas to a Disco Beat," 1982

I don't usually post music here, despite running a world music program by the same name, but since I'm not doing the show and since this is retro electronic music, here you go.

In 1982, Indian electronic musician Charanjit Singh decided to reimagine traditional Indian Ragas in the style of contemporary electronic pop music. The result is explained in the title: "Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat."

Which sounds promising enough in a hokey, disco-kitsch kind of way, except that the music is pure acid, ahead of its time (We'd get that 303 squelch stateside sometime around 1989, unless you were in Detroit).

Check it out below on the blog, or at the link if you're on FB/RSS:

(Youtube: Raga Bhairav, 1982)

It's so good that I almost don't buy it. The sound quality is kind of too pristine (compare it to other, mainstream Bollywood musical recordings: Disco Dancer's 'homage' to 'Video Killed the Radio Star', for example):

Which is funny, because Charanjit's music could have actually benefited from tape warble; it would have made a pretty sweet chillwave record. As it stands now, the most accurate comparison I've seen is to Aphex Twin's "Analord" series. The melodies do fit in with the standard Raga fare.

There are liner notes in the sleeve, for what it's worth. Props to Bombay Connection Records for the find.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Short Take: Lo-Fi Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Bros on an 8x8 LED matrix from Chloe Fan on Vimeo.

Because Super Mario hacks will never stop being awesome.

By way of Engadget.