Monday, December 27, 2010

You Are Beautiful

 I was walking down the street one day, when suddenly three words popped out of a grey wall.
"Wow,"  I thought.  "How nice!  And so sweet that someone wrote it."

What I didn't know is that "You Are Beautiful" is a worldwide Street Art movement.  It aims to make the world a better place by catching people in the midst of daily life and creating moments of positive self realisation.  Advertising constantly tells us that we're not good enough; this project tells us that we are. 
 A You Are Beautiful website actively encourages people to spread this simple, powerful statement.  It provides downloadable templates (in a variety of languages), and if you want, they'll send you free stickers.
It began in Chicago in early 2003, and since then, the stickers have spread to every continent in the world (including Antarctica).
Adelaide, Australia
Aruba, Central America
Alabama, U.S.A
Prague, Czech Rep.
Rome, Italy
Cape Town, South Africa
Berlin, Germany
Cairo, Egypt
Beijing, China
Dublin, Ireland
Ironically, if you type "You Are Beautiful" into Google, the first site that comes up is.... a plastic surgery company.  Not to be mistaken folks!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Uniforms for the Dedicated: evoking the age-old debate of Aesthetics versus Pretension

A DJ I know recently posted a deadly tune on his Facebook page.  It was accompanied by a music video that mixed live action, sets, green screen, animation, and computer graphics.  Sophisticated, highly-stylised, and cool, yet it didn't it hold my attention.  Why?  It was all style, no substance.

Art doesn't need to have a "deep meaning".  It does need to come from a unique, inspired place.  That's what makes it "art", right?  That quality that distinguishes something aesthetically slick from something pretentious.

"Mr. Brainwash" sold over a million dollar's worth of art, in spite of it being a blatant rip-off of Andy Warhol and Banksy.

This video ticks a lot of boxes.  Black+white animation, old-school set design, surrealist fable - all great.  But the piece doesn't take you anywhere or make you feel anything: there's no spirit, no journey.

I have to confess, when I sensed something was amiss, I did a little bit of research.  Turns out "Uniforms for the Dedicated" is a clothing range that has branched into music and art.  In their words: "Uniforms for the Dedicated forms a continuously growing playground of men’s fashion, music, art projects, and film..... We captured our alter egos on March of No Coincidence, a concept of a board game which play instructions merely are left to be challenged for realization of any vision or destiny of liking."

What does that drivel even mean?!  In fairness however, the tune is cool ;)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Disney versus Daft Punk

"Tron" hits cinemas today, featuring a much anticipated soundtrack by Daft Punk.  And quelle surprise, how boring is the theme tune?  I'm not even going to use the "S.O" phrase because this musical effort is simply the latest in a long line of mediocrity since "Discovery".

Incidentally, the film looks pretty cool!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Amazing Paper Animation Video

A short story about moving house, illustrated through paper
By Director / Art Director Mandy Smith.  More on her to follow!

The Move, Paper Animation from Mandy Smith on Vimeo.

Satire on the Web

The other day I was researching documentary theory, and google threw up a link that had the word "fucking" in it.  Not really what you expect to find when you're trying to be studious, so of course I clicked in.  Ever heard of Uncyclopedia?  Neither had I!

On the home page, Uncyclopedia describes itself as "the content-free encyclopedia that anyone can edit".  On other pages, it proudly announces it's a satire on Wikipedia.

Its content ranges from articles on Regifting ("the act of taking a useless gift you've received and presenting it to somebody else under the pretext of it being a recently purchased item that was specifically chosen for the recipient") to Gibberish ("Linguists classify Gibberish as a Romance language, because the only time it is heard is in public houses, being used to pick up women"), and it also hosts other satirical sites, like UnTunes (a collection of fake songs and album sleeves.  New home for the Rubber Bandits maybe?), Undictionary (The ick!tionary of all things best left unsaid), UnBooks (Content-free books), UnPoetia (Poetry for people who hate poetry), UnScripts... you get the idea.

In theory, a satire on Wiki would be hilarious.  In practice, you've got every nincompoop from here to Shanghai trying to be the next John Daily.  To help them along, the friendly Uncyclopedia staff have written an article on How_To_Be_Funny_And_Not_Just_Stupid which is supposed to be funny and, you guessed it, is not.

(Incidentally, after reading the article I decided to test some of the pointers on a friend's status update.  I thought I was hilarious.  She thought I was a cranky bitch.  Conclusion?  The article was useless / I'm not funny / people can't identify attempts at written humour without the support of emoticons).

In a nutshell - Uncyclopedia reeks of desperation.  Or am I just a cranky bitch?
;) ;) ;)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Salad Fingers

Creator David Firth summarises the story succinctly: "Salad Fingers is a green man who lives on his own in a desolate shack in the middle of nowhere. He enjoys the feeling of different textures against his skin".

Salad Fingers did the rounds of the internet in 2005, but five years later it still makes my skin crawl.

Disclaimer:  These may upset children and the elderly.  (That's the actual disclaimer!)

Episode 1 - Spoons

Episode 2 - Friends

Episode 3 - Nettles

Episode 4 - Cage

Episode 5 - Picnic

Episode 6 - Present

Episode 7 - Shore Leave

Episode 8 - Cupboard

Trivia:  Music in the background is Boards of Canada!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Juicy Intro

Great mash-up of The XX and The Notorious B.I.G.  No youtube video (yet) but you can listen to it here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Smile for London!

In January 2011, the London Underground will be using their advertising screens for a more worthy cause.  On weekday mornings, for two weeks, there'll be creative intermissions of film, art and animation.  The hope is that exhibiting "the best of London’s emerging and established artistic talent" in the dreaded month of January will lift Londoner's spirits when they need it most.

No cynical comments from me about this - having something beautiful to look at whilst avoiding eye contact with fellow tubers is fine by me :)

The great thing is that the creative work will all have been submitted by artists, filmmakers, and animators through Vimeo - meaning that anyone who wants has the opportunity to exhibit.  (Provided you submit before the deadline... on Wednesday!)  Some of the submissions (which must be 20 seconds, and silent) look pretty nice.

Photograph of Jesus (Excerpt) from Short & Sweet on Vimeo.

Technicolor Leak from Tripp/Jenna Watt on Vimeo.

so what? (20 sec) from bestbefore on Vimeo.

To check out more (or to submit something), see their vimeo page or website.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"You've Got the Love" - Candi Staton

I suppose one good thing came from hearing 'The XX's murderous cover of "You've Got the Love" last night.  It motivated me to educate myself about one of the greatest house tunes of all time.
It's been covered many times (most famously by 'Florence and the Machine'), but the original single came out in 1986.  It was a soul/disco/gospel track by a band called 'The Source' (actually just an alias for Source Records), with vocals from an overlooked single by Candi Staton, "You got the love".

Staton, an American gospel singer, had recorded the tune for a 1980s documentary about an obese man who was trying to lose weight.  The film went straight-to-video, Staton forgot about the song, and didn't even know her vocals had been sampled until she was told that she had a number 1 single!

"They were calling my house saying I had a number one record in England, and I said, 'What song? I haven't released any song.' When they told me it was "You Got the Love", I said I'd never made a record called that. Then I got off the phone and realised - it was the one from the diet video - which was never supposed to be put on a record at all!"

The most well-known house mix (released in 1991) layered the vocal track over an instrumental version of Frankie Knuckles and Jamie Principle's "Your Love".

Ravers everywhere assume the track is about romantic love, but actually the lyrics are about Jesus.  Praise the Lord for Candi Staton and dieters everywhere!  Without them we'd be missing one beautiful piece of music.

Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air
I know I can count on you

Sometimes I feel like saying, "Lord, I just don't care"
But you've got the love I need to see me through

Sometimes it seems the going is just too rough
And things go wrong no matter what I do
Now and then I feel like life is just too much
But you've got the love I need to see me through

When food is gone, you are my daily meal
When friends are gone I know my Saviour's love is real
Your love is real

You've got the love, you've got the love, you've got the love
You've got the love, you've got the love, you've got the love

Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air
I know I can count on you

Sometimes I feel like saying, "Lord, I just don't care"
But you've got the love I need to see me through

Oh, it gets so rough sometimes
Oh, the going gets so hard
But I know:

You've got the love, you've got the love, you've got the love

Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air
I know I can count on you

Sometimes I feel like saying, "Lord, I just don't care"
But you've got the love I need to see me through

It's all I can do sometimes to keep it together
But I know you've got it; you've got the love

You've got the love
Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air
I know I can count on you

Sometimes I feel like saying, "Lord, I just don't care"
But you've got the love I need to see me through.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Alexander Harding "Visible Light"

Light is only visible when it strikes something.  Alexander Harding’s "Visible Light"" series makes us see it in a whole new way.

Harding says: "When I make these pictures, I track light over several days and make notes about its location at various times.I usually make drawings and smaller digital pictures to get a general idea of what I want. Light moves very fast so I have to be quick when making the final picture, which is hard with an 8x10. I make very long exposures and sometimes use steam or a fog machine to give the light a more discernable shape in the registered image."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pirelli Calender 2011 unveiled!

For fashion photographers all over the world, yesterday was one of the biggest days of the year, as the 2011 Pirelli Calendar was revealed.

Daria Werbowy as Artemia

This year's issue was particularly anticipated.  Partially because it was photographed by Karl Lagerfield, an institution in himself, but also because this was the first 'Cal' to feature men as focal point models.  A controversial decision, but Karl Lagerfield does what he wants!

Choosing "Mythology" as his theme, the creative director of Chanel and Fendi, photographed fifteen beauties (including Julianne Moore), and three sexy men (including French model Baptiste Giabiconi, Lagerfield's favourite face of nearly three years) as Greek and Roman Deities.
Baptiste Giabiconi as Apollo, the Sun God
Iris Strubegger as Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and War
Erin Wasson as Ajax, Trojan Hero
Julianne Moore as Hera, Wife of Zeus and Goddess of Marriage
Elisa Sednaoui as Flora, Goddess of Flowers
Garett Neff, flanked by Isabeli Fontana and Biana Balti as Bacchus (God of Wine) and "two Bacchantes"
......... Oh - sorry, I fell asleep mid-sentence.  Karl Lagerfield - what have you done?  This is one of the dullest Pirelli Calendars I've ever seen!  Everything is uninspired - the poses, the costumes, the facial expressions.

His reasoning for shooting Greeks and Roman Deities in a darkened Parisian studio?  A beach is "too obvious".  The man makes a good point.  We all know that a beach is the only possible location in the world to do a fashion shoot.  Especially a theme like "Mythology". I mean, where else could you possibly shoot Ancient Greek and Roman Gods?  Certainly not Greece or Rome.

What a wasted opportunity.  How cool would it have looked to have the Pantheon in Rome as the backdrop?  This is nearly as bad as last year's photographer Terry Richardson going to Brazil and producing photos that look like they were taken by a hick farmer outside his shed in Alabama.
Lagerfeld, the photographer of the Pirelli Calendar edition 2011.

Lagerfeld said that he produced “the visual version of Homer. I did with my camera what he did with his pen, although we understand that he probably didn't use a pen.”  Granddad, with such a knowledge of literature you're clearly being wasted in fashion. 


Verdict?  Lazy and uninspired.   Go to the back of the class.

And Pirelli?  Bring back 1984's Uwe Ommer! (and beaches if needs be)



Sunday, November 28, 2010

Life Without Limbs

I have times when everything seems like an uphill battle, and giving up on my dreams seems like the easiest option.  I think most of us have these.

That's why I think it's so important that people like Nick Vujicic are out there.  This is a man who was born without arms or legs, who wanted to commit suicide at the age of eight, who attempted it at the age of ten, but who's gone on to live an inspired life.  He has a degree, he plays sport, he's loved and lost.  He's now travels all over the world, giving talks about how anyone can take control of their lives.

I think it's his ability to laugh at his own disability is the reason he speaks to me.  I don't feel like he's trying to guilt me into feeling grateful for what I have.  He just shows me that it's never too late to achieve our full potential, or find meaning in life.

See for yourself.

Friday, November 26, 2010

National Geographic Photo Competition 2010

National Geographic's Annual Photo Competition is taking place again, and this article from 'The Big Picture' gives a selection of the favourite images so far.  Amazing stuff.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pale Man versus No-Headed Princess

You can't beat a good monster, and from the first time I saw "Pan's Labyrinth", I thought the Pale Man scene was one of the creepiest, and most original, in movie history.

But after randomly watching the 1985 film "Return to Oz", I'm not so sure.  Are these scenes similar or is it just me?

Stranger things have happened than a macabre film director being influenced by a Disney film!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rondò Veneziano "La Serenissima"

I absolutely love this little tune (and music video) from Rondò Veneziano.  They're an Italian chamber orchestra that play Baroque-period music, but fuse traditional instruments with synthesizers, bass guitar and drums. 

This song, "La Serenissima", was released as a single in 1983, but was later featured on an album compiled by the "Venice in Peril" Fund (a charity established to protect art and architecture in Venice against rising sea levels).  I'm assuming this is why the surreal music video features robots being submerged by water. 

Whatever the reason - it's unique and cool... and pre- Daft Punk!  Enjoy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Talk to Me (short documentary)

A man makes a documentary about his life by using voice messages left for him over a twenty year period.

When asked in an interview what the biggest lesson he learnt from making the film was, Mark Craig replied "Life's short, and nothing stays the same for long."

This made me cry.

Talk to me.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


A few years ago on youtube I stumbled upon 'Alice' - a song entirely composed of sounds from the Disney film 'Alice in Wonderland'.  It was one of those moments where you feel you're experiencing something special.

Looking at his work is not only inspiring from a creative standpoint.  In these times of copyright/pirate warfare, Pogo seems to be giving massive corporations the finger, and getting away with it!  Read on...

Pogo (Nick Bertke) is an electronic music artist living in Perth, Western Australia. He creates music by taking chords, bass notes and vocal samples from a film, and sequencing the sounds together.  This sampling-and-remixing method of making music was first made popular in the 90's by House music producer and UK Garage influence Todd Edwards, but Pogo brought a new dimension to it by creating awesome electronic tunes from children's cartoons.

'Alice' is his most famous track (it's gotten nearly 5,000,000 views on YouTube) and since then Pogo has worked his way through the Disney films, producing tracks from 'Mary Poppins', 'The Sword in the Stone', 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang', and most recently 'Snow White' ('Wishery').

Interestingly, off the back of this "plagiarism", Disney/Pixar, contacted him and commissioned him to compose a track from their film 'Up'.  The condition was that he remove his previous Disney mixes from public view.  Nick adhered, and produced 'Upular', plus two more commissioned mixes from 'Toy Story' ('Toyz Noize' and 'Buzzwing').  When his contract with Disney ended, the old Disney mixes were made public again ;D  Which is great, because personally I think these commissions pale beside his self-inspired work.  (I quite like this one from TV series 'Dexter').

Not everyone is as sympathetic as Disney though.  When Pogo released 'Bangarang' - featuring footage and sound samples from 'Hook', Sony Pictures Entertainment freaked out.  Pogo responded, saying:
"My work serves as free viral marketing to the organisations that own the films I sample from. It's high time the music industry pulls its head out of its ass, and realises that today's remix culture is an asset, not a liability. To shoot down the potential here would be utterly illogical."
He removed the video, but several YouTube users protested by uploading their own, previously saved versions of it (the same had previously been done for 'Alice').  Amazingly, the outcry was loud enough to convince Sony that they had made a mistake, and 'Bangarang' was returned to YouTube within weeks.

Another commission came Pogo's way in the form of 'Pirates Of The Caribbean'.  He regards the mix as one of his best, but Jerry Bruckheimer Films decided they want nothing to do with it.  On his blog, Pogo says:
"The sad reality is, Swashbuckle was contracted work. I’d literally have to start saving the money that Disney would sue me before making the decision to upload it. But who knows? It might just come to that. My music is my mark in this world. If I have to pay to watch it entertain millions of people, then so be it."
What a cool guy.

He continues to inspire fans, who often make tribute videos to him, which he acknowledges and applauds on his blog.

And want to hear something that will make you sick?  He was born in 1988.  I need to find some more late bloomers ;)

I highly recommend checking out his website, where all of his tracks are availbale for download as mp3s.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Carpaccio Magazine

Cool online magazine for photography, art and design.

Adele - "Someone Like You"

Adele is the antithesis of a late bloomer.  The English singer-songwriter, at the age of 22, has already produced two albums (imaginatively called "19", and "21".!)

This is a track from her new album "Rolling in the Deep", which comes out in January.

I'm not a huge fan of her earlier stuff - a bit too close to Lily Allen for me, but this soulful riff is just beautiful:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

X's and O's

These days I write so many emails and text messages signed off with: Love, Yola xxo that I started to wonder where the X's (and O's) actually come from.  Good old Google gave me the following answer:
"How did X's and O's come to represent kisses? The common custom of placing X's on envelopes, notes and at the bottom of letters to mean kisses dates back to Medieval ages, when a cross was drawn on documents or letters to mean sincerity and honesty. A kiss was then placed upon the cross, by the signer as a display of their of their sworn oath. It was also used in early Christian history as much of a display of the same. Since most of the common people were unable to read or write, the 'X' was placed on documents, and a kiss placed upon it as a show of their sincerity, gradually, as it was used so often, the cross was hurried drawn and often resembled an 'X'. The 'O' is of North American descent, no one really seems to know how it was started. It has been said that when arriving to the US, Jewish immigrants would use an 'O' on documents, not using the sign of the cross, and shop keepers would often use an 'O' when signing documents, in place of an 'X'. Perhaps now it is used as the 'O' being rounded represents arms encircling another, as in an embrace."
 You never know what you might be asked during a table quiz!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Resonators

Saw these guys last night at One Taste Festival in Balham last night, and was very impressed.

The Resonators are a Reggae / Dub Step act.  Throw in a trumpet, a saxaphone, two soulful female vocalists, and four other musicians, and you've got one of the more original sounds I've heard in quite a while.

Creating fully live Dub, in addition they had amazing stage presence - every one of the 8 piece band bounced around and threw good vibes to a crowd alll-too-willing to accept them.  The result was smiles and dancing that I generally associate with day one of a music festival.  Good times :)

Highly recommended - check them out here:

Mandrake by Resonators

Sweet Love Affair by Resonators

Borderline by Resonators

Read more

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What's in a face?

At the risk of sounding like an episode of "Sex in the City" - do you really know what kind of romantic partner you want?

I just came across this interesting article at BBC Science.  You do a "Face Perception" test (where you choose 20 out of 40 somewhat-creepy faces).  Based on your preferences, they tell you what kind of partner you really go for.  

Intrigued?  So was I.  According to them, first impressions may be right.

In fairness, I didn't learn much from the quiz or article (apparently I go for faces that are 50% introvert, and 50% extrovert), but the quiz is kind of fun.

Thanks to Rofo at for sharing this info!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Pirelli Calendar

November may not be good for many things, but believe it or not, it's an exciting time in the fashion world.  Why?  Because on the 30th of November, a new Pirelli Calender is unveiled!

This year there's even more of a buzz, because tomorrow the first-ever documentary about "The Cal" ('The Saga of the Pirelli calendar' created by Emmanuel Le Ber) will be broadcast on the French TV channel Paris Premiere.  So I thought now would be a good time to trip down memory lane and revisit some of the Pirelli calendar's memorable moments.

Every year a renowned photographer from the fashion world is invited by tire company Pirelli (yes - tire company), to take a series of images that celebrate the female form.  Only 40,000 calendars are produced, and are gifted to celebrity VIPs and a restricted number of Pirelli customers.  Every calendar becomes a collectors item, and nearly every fashion photographer wants to be behind one.

So how does a tire company end up creating and sustaining one of the most coveted possessions in the fashion world?!

Actually, the Pirelli Calendar was intended to be an auto-garage pin-up "girly calendar".  Pirelli Ltd in the UK decided to issue a Calendar as a gift for their top U.K. customers.  In 1964 they got Beatle's photographer Robert Freeman to take the snaps.  The images were so beautiful that the calendar was released for distribution.  It was an instant sensation

Sonny Freeman-Drane, wife of Robert Freeman, and reputed lover of John Lennon.

The early editions had a European refinement:  they were sunny, simple, and almost wholesome.

Photographer: Brian Duffy, 1965

Photographer: Peter Knapp, 1966

Photographer: Harri Peccinotti, 1969

In 1970 French photographer Francis Giacobetti brought a new sophistication to the pictures.  Oozing sensuality, they were tactile, warm, and erotic.

The 1972 edition was the first to include topless images. Sarah Moon, a British fashion photographer, was a surprising choice: partly because no woman had been hired before, and partly because she was unpopular with journalists. Nonetheless, she took the calendar in a distinct new direction: choosing petite models, and creating delicate images filled with feminine intimacy. Many of Pirelli's calendar customers complained that the 1972 calendar had 'lesbian' qualities.

From here on, the calendar became as much about story-telling as sex.

Uwe Ommer, 1984

Bert Stern, 1986

Arthur Elgort, 1990

Clive Arrowsmith, 1991

Richard Avedon, 1995

Bruce Weber, 1998
Mario Testino, 2001
Nick Knight, 2004

Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, 2006

Patrick Demarchelier, 2008

Depending on how good (or bad) the documentary is, I'd like to revisit this topic, looking at each year in-depth.  The calendar reflects changing perceptions of beauty and taste.  There's a lot to discuss!

By the way, this post will feature tomorrow on Irish Fashion Blog What Will I Wear Today, where I've recently become a guest blogger.  It's a great site - check it out!

The 2011 Pirelli calendar was shot by Karl Lagerfeld in Paris earlier this year.  It features Isabeli Fontana, Heidi Mount, Bianca Balti, Lara Stone, Natasha Poly, Iris Strubegger, Elisa Sednaoui, Magdalena Frackowiak, Julianne Moore. It will be unveiled in Moscow on the 30th of November.



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