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)


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