Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Harry Potter of the Street Art Vanguard Has Taken Me Down A Notch

Uh oh!
The Situationists and the Graffiti kids are at war in New York City!

I'm excited and I am totally siding with the Situationists on this one - in theory. But not the part where they are literally throwing explosives into galleries where graff artists are getting shows.

The NY Times reporter seems a bit offended and accuse the new Situationists of looking like Harry Potter and being unfocused, arguing that there is nothing wrong with artists making money. That's fine, but he then acts like Guy Debord shares his opinion. Guy Debord does not share that opinion, Guy Debord slept on couches until he was like 103. Still, I enjoyed this paragraph, if only because Situationists never really make it to the NY Times these days:
"Guy Debord, the Situationist writer and spokesman who, before he died in 1994, couldn’t resist responding to anybody who barely mentioned him, would no doubt be exercised by this latest invocation of his legacy. A Situationist in Paris did once dress up as a Dominican priest and read an anti-theist tract to a baffled congregation at the Cathedral of Notre Dame. In Copenhagen, in the ’60s, members of a group calling itself the Movement for a Scandinavian Bauhaus Situationniste were suspected by the police of being responsible for the decapitation of "The Little Mermaid," the city’s famous symbol, and absconding with the head. Still, Situationist pranks were pointedly political. Across nearly half a century of random art world mischief, they seem almost scientific in their focus, by comparison with young people who toss stink bombs at gallery openings or splash paint on street art."

Maybe the intention is nice, but I suppose stink bombs aren't exactly revolutionary, either. There is a situationist trick - adopted by hipsters in regard to music and 14-year olds in regard to everything - where you find something your friends think is cool, then declare it co-opted by the bourgeois. Well, maybe that's not the words they're using, but you know what I mean.

I discovered that I can never fully embrace the rejection of bourgeois art simply because I like pretty things too much.

(Image: Cover, The Situationist Times #6, Bramsen et Georges Clot, Paris 1967)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Music: Vampire Weekend, "Oxford Comma"

This song by Vampire Weekend has been lodged in my head all week thanks to numerous other music blogs, so I'm passing it on, with commentary on the subject matter that most will find ingratiating:

Who gives a fuck about an Oxford Comma? I do, for one. Given that I was bitten by the copy-editing bug a year or so ago, it is mildly concerning. Given that I worked with people who are much more passionate about that job than I was, it was the source of contention and some passionate discourse.

For those who are not grammar enthusiasts, an Oxford Comma is the comma that comes before "and" in a list.

Example, with:
I told him to buy a bag of lemons, limes, and cherries.
Example, without:
I told him to buy a bag of lemons, limes and cherries.

It's controversial because it is grammatically correct either way, but various publishers have unique standards for it. Otherwise, it's a matter of taste. I tend to avoid it. Where do YOU fall, grammatically engaged reader?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"Scout" by Josh Keyes

Josh Keyes has a number of paintings up at his Web site, primarily a collection of whimsical-yet-macabre scenes of animals on small plots of land, floating in an isolated space. It evokes feelings of a peacefully-exploded Earth, while also serving up an all-too-apt metaphor for human sprawl and the dwindling spaces for nature. That said, it also looks a lot like Katamari Damacy.

There's a number of recurring themes in his work: the floating concrete, the signposts, animals growing extra heads, or prey animals that are missing cleanly excised areas of their bodies. When Keyes shifts to the dwellings of humankind, they become planes of inter-folded lawns, literally confronting us with the illusion of infinite space.

Not to say all of his work is Adbusters-level dreary, there's an element of satire that makes the pieces clever (in a good way) in getting at the message involved.

Deconstructing Lichtenstein

The Web site Deconstructing Roy Lichtenstein is a fascinating, side-by-side compendium of Lichtenstein's images and the source materials they derived from - which must have taken countless hours of researching 60s-era comic books.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Girl and Bear

A poster-glue-and-wall collaboration between marketing genius Obey and graff writer Gaia that caught my attention.

It's "Dressed In Bags" Monday!

This dress was made out of recycled plastic shopping bags. It was ironed together to form "seams" and you can see pictures of it being worn here.

The Treehugger blog has some other great links to this and other plastic-bag fabric projects, including a link to Etsy's helpful plastic-bag revamping tutorial.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Super Amigos!

Super Amigos is a Mexican-based documentary (really!) about five activists who have adopted super-hero identities to fight problems in their communities. Taking on the characteristics of the Luche Libre tradition of Mexican wrestling, they don capes, masks, and costumes while fighting injustice. There are five wrestlers, including:

- Ecologista Universal, who fights pollution.
- Super Barrio, essentially "Super Union Worker."
- Super Gay, who battles homophobia in Mexico City.
- Super Animal, who battles matadors on behalf of animal rights.
- Fray Tormenta, a priest who fights poverty on behalf of children.

From the distributor:

"With a mixture of live action, comic book-style animation and a surf guitar soundtrack inspired equally by mariachi music and Batman, Super Amigos shows that with a little imagination, a good heart and the right mask, anyone can activate their communities to triumph over evil."

Finally, a trailer:

Drawing with HTML Tables

Go ahead and keep the volume turned down for this one. It's a fast-motion video of a "Japanese guy" (that's all the info I have) who has figured out how to draw images using table elements within HTML. It's a bit like ascii art, only he's doing it in real time and using free-hand techniques. Pretty impressive!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Video: Bat For Lashes, "What's A Girl To Do?"

It's a bit like if Lily Allen and Portishead collaborated on the soundtrack for a David Lynch film, and then had him direct the video. This album is pretty impressive, sometimes veering a bit too far into Tori-Amos territory; but songs like this one have company.

Edward Burtynsky

There's a New York Times article up about photographer Edward Burtynsky, who is probably my favorite photographer working today. Burtynsky makes enormous photographs of industrial incursions into landscapes - places where quarries make mountain ranges suddenly stop, or where massive oil tankers are being disassembled. The trick of Burtynsky's is that he makes these images fascinating and beautiful rather than morbid and foreboding. Nonetheless, the images are derived from horrific environmental destruction, and you don't lose sight of that in the images themselves.

There's a movie about him called "Manufactured Landscapes," and what's below is an excerpt.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Vinyl Record Albums = New Media

Turns out that Vinyl Video - the anachronistic late-90's media for low-fidelity, black and white video art (check out the amazing infomercial) - was lagging behind a small number of UK Pop Acts who built software into their 12" records.

"Most of these programs were written for the Sinclair Spectrum home computer series. The Sinclair Spectrum was a relatively cheap home computer system that used a television set as a monitor and loaded programs from tapes."

This article has an amazing recap of computer games built into records by the Thompson Twins, Information Society and The Freshies, and even has a few available for download.

The Spectrum's cassette medium also allowed for pirate radio stations in Eastern Europe to file-share simple programs by broadcasting the tones, which could be recorded by the software pirates of the communist era.

Also, since we're on a Vinyl Kick, 8-bit Game Hacker and Musician Cory Arcangel passes along a zine called "The Journal of Popular Noise," which puts out "issues" consisting of 7" records. I haven't heard them yet, but it's a cool idea.

Monday, June 18, 2007

MP3: The Cave Singers

Matador has just announced that they're signing a little band called The Cave Singers, formed by post-Pretty Girls Make Graves bassist Derek Fudesco. One of their songs from their upcoming album has been pleasantly mounted in my head for a few days, so I'm posting it here:

::The Cave Singers - Seeds of Night ::

If you like them, check out more over at the band's Myspace page.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

It's Slow Motion Sunday!

Here's two videos that use slow motion in really beautiful ways. The first one is Menomena's new video for "Rotten Hell" which is on Barsuk Records (Ben Gibbard's label). It seems to evoke 70's board of education film stock with slow motion cafeteria food slinging. It's melancholic and ecstatic at the same time, somehow.

The second is older and has been around the block a few times, it's the promotional video for Sony's blah blah blah series TV's and is essentially a music video for Jose Gonzalez's cover of the Knife song, "Heartbeats."

Sony dropped 250,000 superballs onto the streets of San Francisco and played the results back in slow motion, which you can see in better-than-youtube-definition here. Low res isn't worth it, you'll just see a mess on your screen.

I know three videos is super intense, guys, but here's the exact opposite of slow motion: The video for Dan Deacon's "Crystal Cat." Check out how awesome that crystal cat's dancin is at the 1:30 mark!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

It's "Oil Made From Dead Bodies" Saturday, too!

After noting that current energy policies will likely lead to "huge global calamities" and disrupt oil supplies, Wolff told the audience "that in the worst case scenario, the oil industry could "keep fuel flowing" by transforming the billions of people who die into oil," said a Yes Men press release.

"Corporate Tricksters" the Yes Men infiltrate the Gas and Oil Exposition in Alberta to pose as representatives from Exxon to pitch "Vivoleum," a fuel source made from the bodies of people killed by global warming. Wired has the whole story here.

The presentation ended when the "representatives" had attendees light candles in remembrance of a dead Exxon worker. As ridiculous tribute video played out on-screen, a shot of the worker talking about how he wishes his body could be turned into oil when he died led attendees to revolt.

It's "$150,000 Pac Man Saturday!"

Early 80's Atari video game paraphernalia is on the auction block, and may earn its owner - who paid $80.00 for 20 file cabinets back in the mid-80's as Atari was going out of business - upwards of $150,000 - $200,000.

The auction of materials is part of Sotheby's "Fine Arts and Manuscripts" auction, and includes the early pixel sketches for Dig Dug, Donkey Kong and Mario Brothers.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Best Political Advertisement Ever Made

Mike Gravel is a Republican* candidate for President. This is the best political advertisement ever made.

* = Nah, he's Democrat. There's crazy on both sides. And he ended the Vietnam draft!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Silk Screening for +/- $10.00

Here's one of the best, fastest and cheapest guides to Silk screening I've ever seen. Makes me want more embroidery hoops.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I am on Blogger. I am about to publish this post.

Beloved magazine, N+1, has an article on its front page called Whatever Minutes, and it is dovetailing nicely with an article in the copy of Adbusters one of my roommates left on the kitchen table while I was eating cereal.

From Whatever Minutes - and, yes, this is the ending:
When you eavesdrop on cell-phone conversations, you learn who people are by what they are saying to their friends: “I am now doing one thing. I am now doing another. I will report them all and notice none.” And in effect this mode of constant self-report can be summed up in a single phrase: “I am on the phone. I am on the phone. I am on the phone.”

This brings to mind the inherent uselessness of Twitter, the ultimate "stupid bullshit" Web site. Those familiar with facebook are aware of the "status update" in which you can make ironic, pithy statements about activities you are doing which appear at the top of your profile. Always about 10 words maximum, they're quick, perfect mechanisms for conveying to all of your friends that you are in the library, annoyed by something, or really, totally clever.

Twitter takes all that and makes it just that. So there's nothing but a stream of one-sentence status updates from your friends that - like facebook - you can get text messaged to your phone or e-mailed.

Adbusters strays from its typical content - depression and anxiety-ridden cures for depression and anxiety - to suggest that this kind of status-speak changes the way we communicate. It changes authentic expressions of complicated ideas and emotions into bursts of updates on activities.

Which is true. In order to ever really be honest on Twitter, you would have to simply type, "I am on Twitter. I am on Twitter. I am on Twitter."

"Creepy Paranoia Can Be Cured By Science" Wednesday!

Worried that your significant other - or your slutty kids - are fooling around on you? For just $49.95 you can scientifically test for the presence of semen - right in your own home!

Put away your suspicions and fears while surrendering all claims to a happy marriage or teenager. For only $49.95!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

It's "Lucha Libre and Etch-A-Sketch Turntables Tuesday!"

Lourdes Grobet takes photographs of masked Mexican Lucha Libre wrestlers. 25 years worth are on display, and you can see a slideshow of the photos (which only get more amazing) here. (Hint: go "siguiente," not "anterior.")
(+ thanks to We Make Money Not Art).

Unrelated bonus:

Etch-a-Sketch Turntables.

Uses Max/MSP, other than that, I hate to say I've got nothing to say about it or link to.

Christopher Hitchens makes his case re: Paris Hilton:
Hilton is legally an adult but the treatment she is receiving stinks — indeed it reeks — of whatever horrible, buried, vicarious impulse underlies kiddie porn and child abuse.

Also? He hates Sarah Silverman.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Subconcious Art of Graffiti Removal

Not to make this a Miranda-July blog, but here's a film I mentioned in the comments earlier. It's from 2001, and Ms. July narrated it, and it's called "The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal." This here is how the Web site describes it to y'all:

Emerging from the human psyche and showing characteristics of abstract expressionism, minimalism and Russian constructivism, graffiti removal has secured its place in the history of modern art while being created by artists who are unconscious of their artistic achievements.

It's about the paint they put over graffiti to make the downtown all pretty-like.

You can watch a six-minute excerpt of it here, so long as you have above-dial-up modem speeds and the patience to handle the really annoying background noise.

Matt McCormick is the director. He also made the video for YACHT's "See a Penny, Pick It Up." Same deal w/ Quicktime and all that magic.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Why Wouldn't I?

This is a video for Blonde Redhead featuring Miranda July:

Miranda July is a total dream boat. There's also a great interview in the The Believer's music issue this month in which Ms. July interviews The Blow's Khaela Maricich. Sample dialogue:

KM: [in a normal speaking voice] If there’s something in the deli aisle that makes you cry / You know I’ll put my arm around you and walk you outside / through the sliding doors / Why would I mind?

MJ: OK, but you sing it much less flip. I love the “why would I mind?” part. It implies that someone else is saying “Do you mind doing this for me? Is this OK?” That’s the part that breaks my heart, because it’s very female to feel like that’s too much to ask.

KM: Yeah, yeah, totally.

MJ: Even in your fantasies there’s an implicit apology.

When I described "Sexuality" as an interest of this blog, I mostly meant that I would be discussing my crushes on obscure female celebrities of the diy art scene.

Hi! I'm a short-lived blog.

This is my new, soon-to-be-abandoned blog of stuff I like. It will be great. Usually, just links to stuff I like. Here are things I like:

8-Bit Culture.

There you go, this is going to be great.