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The entire town of Twin Peaks sculpted in clay
11.14.2014
08:04 am

Topics:
Art
Television

Tags:
Twin Peaks
Bruce Bickford


Laura Palmer (RIP), Leland Palmer/BOB and Ronette Pulaski.
 
Frank Zappa fans among you will likely recognize the name of Bruce Bickford, the animator whose painstaking claymation accompanied Zappa’s music in Baby Snakes and The Amazing Mr. Bickford. Well, it comes as news to me that Bickford is a fellow Twin Peaks obsessive. He has sculpted the entire town in clay, along with some key scenes from the series and movie. In the Twin Peaks-themed gallery at Bickford’s website, a clay Leland carries Laura Palmer’s plastic-wrapped corpse out of the railroad car, and a clay Cooper steps into a miniature Glastonberry Grove.
 

Agent Cooper enters Glastonberry Grove en route to the Black Lodge.
 

Norma serves pie and coffee at the Double R.
 

 

“She’s dead, wrapped in plastic…”
 

The whole fucking town!

In the short clip below, Bickford says that his interest in the Twin Peaks story began with the Green River serial murders:

In my story file, I’ve got way over 150 stories in various stages of development, and up in the front corner here there’s a number of Green River stories. I started working on those stories back in the ‘80s, when the Green River murders were still unsolved. Gradually, it became three different stories, kind of a trilogy, and as it went along, when the Twin Peaks show came on TV, I started to realize there were some of the same characters in that, like the detective, Cooper. I have a character in the Green River stories called Copland. I changed the name a little bit, but it’s the same guy, basically.

 

 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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Black Panther: The revolutionary art of Emory Douglas
11.13.2014
02:38 pm

Topics:
Art
History

Tags:
Black Panthers
Emory Douglas


1969
 
One of the unique aspects of the Black Panthers as a political project was their emphasis on the cultural component of revolutionary work. In addition to community-based education and social programs for both children and adults, the Panthers had a house band (The Lumpen—check them out), and a Minister of Culture, the groundbreaking Emory Douglas, whose art for The Black Panther newspaper created a visual context for black liberation. Douglas’ political art came honest. His own impoverished childhood in the Bay Area was interrupted by a spell in a juvenile detention center, where he found a niche in the prison print shop. He later studied commercial art at San Francisco City College, which is where he joined the Black Students Union before being appointed Minister of Culture.

Douglas’ work is incredibly distinctive, often produced with very little budget or time. He favored bold, organic lines, thoughtful collage-work and saturated colors, creating imagery of both dignified black people and cartoonish political antagonists (often soldiers, cops or politicians depicted as rats or pigs). You’ll notice a lot of weapons—remember, the original name was “The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense,” and much of the original intent was protecting black communities from police harassment—but Douglas was also invested in producing joyful or righteous images of hope. Douglas struck a perfect balance between optimism and realism, a negotiation that produced an enormous and varied body of work that still bore his unmistakable style.

Though Douglas continued producing art well after the Panther’s dissolution (most notably for the black-oriented newspaper, The San Francisco Sun Reporter) the work below is all from his tenure as Minister of Culture (between 1967 and the 1980s, though the dates for individual works are often unavailable or contested.). It’s only been since the 2000’s that Emory Douglas’ work has been curated into larger retrospective exhibits, and only since 2014 that his work has been collected into a (fantastic) book, Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas
 

1969
 

Date unknown
 

 

The text says, “We are from 25 to 30 million strong, and we are armed. And we are conscious of our situation. And we are determined to change it. And we are unafraid.”
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Republicans painted on Tijuana Black Velvet
11.13.2014
08:16 am

Topics:
Art
U.S.A.!!!

Tags:
Republicans
velvet paintings


 
I don’t know who the target market for a velvet painting of Pat Buchanan is supposed to be. Extremist right wingers aren’t known for their adeptness at parsing irony, and it seems doubtful that patrician right wingers would darken their homes with an objet with cultural connotations so déclassé. And I can’t see why even the most thrift-store hardened ironist would want such a thing around—I’ve harbored plenty of ironic art in my day, and while if I actually saw a velvet Pat Buchanan hanging somewhere I would surely say “WHOA, AWESOME,” not in a million lifetimes would I want that pasty, jowly, vulgar, hateful, fascist walrus staring down at me from the walls of my own home day in and day out.
 

 
And yet, the velvet Buchanan is a real thing that really exists and someone who is so inclined could, in principle, actually own it. In fact, Pat is one of many right wing icons whose velvety vileness is enshrined and sold at velvetpaintings.com (“Quality you can FEEL”), though the list of honorees on the site skids to a halt during the George W Bush administration.
 

 

 

 

 
I LOOOOOOVE how Newt Gingrich comes off looking like a sentient, murderous ventriloquist dummy in a cheap movie.

More of these knuckleheads after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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This is it—the single most beautiful vinyl record I’ve ever laid eyes on
11.12.2014
06:21 am

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
vinyl
Unconscious Collective


 
Since the advent of digital B2B and streaming, the promotional records and CDs that labels used to send to music writers like junk mail are now mostly a thing of the past. This bums me out somewhat. Digital is fine, I like hearing new music irrespective of the “container” it comes in, but not only am I an incorrigible vinyl hoarder (and don’t get me started on the whole uncomfortable commodity-fetish aspect of that hobby, believe me, I KNOW IT), getting surprise records in the mail is just a lot of fun.

So when, unbidden, I got a vinyl copy of Unconscious Collective’s epic 2xLP Pleistocene Moon in the mail, it was a nice surprise, and it felt pleasantly like a throwback. Then I opened it to behold the most beautiful records I’ve ever seen. I’m not even slightly exaggerating. If what follows seems uncomfortably like a record-boy travesty of the business card passage from American Psycho so be it: each record is a lush, opulent vortex of a dense, eggshell cream and a raw, subterranean gold. They feel satisfyingly hefty in the hand, the 180-gram thickness of the media imparting further depth to colors that seem, almost magically, to alight and shimmer just beneath the grooves. It is stunning and elegant. I’ve seen a hell of a lot of great-looking records. This is the best. The glamor shots provided by the label and pressing plant don’t even come close to doing justice to these slabs, so I had a try at shooting some record-porn with my own DSLR. I think I got a lot closer, but this still ain’t quite there; alas, only reality is reality.
 

 

 

 

 
The packaging is equal to the media. Printed and foilstamped on heavyweight unbleached artboard (again with the Patrick Bateman-ing, sorry), the sleeve and inserts feature the cyanotype and tintype photography of artist Ginger Berry. Both of those processes are well older than anyone reading this, and so impart a distinctively antique look. Further, the package includes three 12x12” collodion photographs of the band’s members in their stage costumes, reprinted on linen paper. I absolutely adore it when a band goes to the trouble to make a release a proper art object, and Unconscious Collective have gone several extra miles on this one. Again, pixels fail to properly convey the depth and sheen you’d see in the real thing.
 

 

 

 

 
So now, at last, I’ll actually talk about the tunes: Unconscious Collective are Texan brothers Aaron and Stefan Gonzalez (bass and drums, respectively) with guitarist Gregg Prickett, and their music is a beefy and ritualistic jazz/prog/post-metal hybrid that’s full of amazing moments. Do not mistake this for mere jazz fusion. Their jazz elements are sinewy and tasteful, and contrived more to resonate emotionally than to showcase any one member’s ability to play tricky passages—though they can and do. And their rock has a goddamn spine of steel. (It’s entirely fitting that some tracks here feature the saxophone of Mike Forbes, of the equally powerful and genre-defiant Chicago jazzists Tiger Hatchery, who are one of my all-time absolute favorite bands to see live, and whose Sun Worship album is essential.) I could probably wax as rhapsodic about the music on this godmonster of an album as I have about the art, but there’s no need. Tofu Carnage Records have very graciously given us permission to stream the entire LP right here on DM, so you can hear it all for yourself.
 

 
Lastly, to give you an idea of the U.C. live experience (health issues forestalled their tour until this coming spring), here’s a live-in-studio video of the band performing “Kotsoteka.”
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Let’s play Revolution: Gorgeous but violent Soviet board games, 1920-1938
11.11.2014
11:50 am

Topics:
Art
Design
Games
History

Tags:
Soviet
board games


“Chemical War,” 1925
 
The phrase “war toys” usually evokes images of little plastic guns, gritty action figures with kung-fu grips and more recently the first-person shooter video game. In Soviet Russia however, bloodthirsty board games were incredibly popular. I’d imagine this was partially due to a national penchant for games of strategy (like chess), but also probably owing (at least somewhat, if not to a great extent) to manufacturing considerations. Russia was still attempting a massive industrialization project throughout the 1930s, and board games were pretty quick and easy to produce without much in the way of materials or tools.

Obviously not every Russian board game had the hawkish tenor of most of the games below (“Electrification”), but there’s certainly enough of them to see palpable themes of nationalism and war. You’ll notice the game “Battle” looks pretty wholesome at first glance… until you realize that the players are engaging in a leisurely game on a battlefield, seemingly unaware of the carnage taking place directly behind them. Despite the intriguing cover art, I can’t find much on the rules or premises of these games, except they they were educational tools and often contained a military trivia component. Still, as far as insidiously nationalist, war-mongering propaganda goes, don’t they look kind of… fun?
 

“Revolution,” 1925
 

“Air War,” 1925
 

“Battle,” 1938
 
More Soviet games after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘Oops’: Greeting cards for ruined lives
11.11.2014
07:18 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art

Tags:
Sam McPheeters
greeting cards


 
Shopping for greeting cards can be a humiliating ordeal. They command an entire aisle at your local drugstore, but damned if you can find a single one worth stealing. No matter how they’re tricked out with chirping sound chips, ornate pop-ups, encrustations of glitter, or the wisdom of Garfield, they tend to express feelings you don’t feel in images you don’t recognize and in words you don’t believe. Speaking plainly, they’re for people whose lives are perhaps simpler than yours and mine.

But don’t despair: now there’s Oops, a set of real talk greeting cards for grown folks. Did you “get wet” last night and run into trouble with John Law? Oops has “got your six.” Sexually attracted to your mother-in-law? You’re a loser at Rite Aid, bucko, but you’re royalty here. Need to comfort a bereaved friend and hit him up for cash at the same time? Then you need Oops. Or has a toilet with muscular arms been controlling your nervous system by means of a PlayStation handset that is plugged into your brain? Oops can help you express how that feels.
 

(inside) Let’s have this one end in some death?
 

(inside) I’m so sorry, This card didn’t seen nearly so inappropriate when I bought it
 

(inside) Can you drive me to the hospital?
 

(inside) Can I borrow $40
 

(inside) “WHY THAT”
 
The set of eight cards is the latest offering from Sam McPheeters, the polymath hardcore singer, visual artist, graphic designer, record label boss, novelist, raconteur, magazine editor, VICE reporter and army of clones. I know Sam personally, but our friendship has only strengthened my suspicions that “Sam McPheeters” may be no more of a real identity than “Carolyn Keene,” “Betty Crocker” or “Luther Blissett.” Didn’t lots of people believe they were close, personal friends of JT LeRoy’s, too?

Oops is available from buyolympia.com.

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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Awful things: Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli publishes his photographs in book of seedy haiku


 

She placed the barrel
under her chin and smiled big
quick, take a picture

Amid the flurry of renewed Afghan Whigs activity over the last couple of years (their new album, Do to the Beast is 100% worthy of the band’s legacy, in case you wondered), an altogether different project by that band’s singer Greg Dulli is attracting notice. Dulli’s contributed his photographic work to illustrate I Apologize in Advance for the Awful Things Im Gonna Do, a book of haiku (you read that right) written by former Cat Butt/Dwarves member (you read that right, too) Danny Bland. Bland and Dulli aren’t the only figures from independent music involved in I Apologize… Calligraphy was contributed by X vocalist Exene Cervenka, the book was designed by Camper van Beethoven/Monks of Doom’s Victor Krummenacher, and it’s been published by Sub Pop, the record label that introduced Cat Butt and Afghan Whigs to the world.

I hid the razors
you bought, you sucked the pills from
my throat, quid pro quo

Though they all strictly adhere to haiku’s typical 5-7-5 syllable count, Bland’s haiku are far from traditional—not only do they not take nature as their subject, these poems are just downright raw and seedy. His debut novel, last year’s In Case We Die, was a junkie fable of porn, bad relationships, and damaged humanity, and his haiku hit all the same notes, often with a brutal sense of humor.

I paged my sponsor,
I paged my dealer, then I
waited; heads or tails

While Dulli’s lyrics can often revolve around similar themes of wastedness, obsession, and human relationships gone horrifically wrong, his photographs don’t particularly strike those chords. The most engaging shots seem intended to evoke moods or represent emotional states, concealing as much about reality as they reveal. (The least interesting images just straight up look like they could have been culled from a random art student’s Instagram account, but thankfully there’s not a whole lot of that.) Dulli talked a bit about his photographic work in an interview with the Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger:

I think a picture presents itself. For me, photography and songwriting both seem to start with a strange inspiration. I don’t necessarily go around looking for photographs, I wait to find them. [Pauses] It’s hard to quantify it exactly. Catching a picture is the same kind of spirit as catching a song. You hear a melody in your head, you start to interact with it—that’s what photography is to me.

 

Click to enlarge
 

Click to enlarge
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Clean, cute and cruelty-free knitted dissection specimens are cuddly and gross!
11.07.2014
09:29 am

Topics:
Amusing
Animals
Art

Tags:
dissection
knitting


frog on dissection tray
 
I seem to remember being one of the kids that refused to dissect a frog in Biology class, but I wonder if I could have swung a passing grade if I had offered to do a mock-dissection with one of these beautiful knitted specimens from aKNITomy. Look at those lovely little felted innards! My first concern was actually that I might not be able to remove the creatures from their mounts for fun pranks, but no!

He comes pinned into his actual dissection tray (never used!), but he is not glued down, so you can take him out and cuddle him if you wish.

Fantastic! In addition to hiding one of these ghastlies in your infantile roommate’s childhood teddy bear display, you can actually cuddle with these disemboweled stuffed animals! A cute touch I noticed was the dead-as-a-doornail “x’s” over all the eyes ... all except the alien.. who stares at you, all blank and lidless. The description says “alien autopsy,” but are we dealing with knitted extraterrestrial vivisection here? Because I just don’t think I can ethically support yarn-alien cruelty.
 

rat on dissection tray
 

fetal pig on framed cork
 

bat on framed foam core
 
More, including the alien autopsy, after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘Memory Hole’: Your best source for America’s most DEMENTED home videos


 
Do you realize that America’s Funniest Home Videos is currently in its 25th season? Well, it is. It’s on ABC, every Sunday evening. I didn’t know it was still on.

Someone who knows it’s still on are the geniuses behind Memory Hole, the most striking recent entry into the well-populated found-video universe. What Memory Hole does is, they take videos that did not make the cut to be on America’s Funniest Home Videos and they add creepy audio and abrupt edits (Actually, the videos aren’t 100% un-fucked-with, but the bulk of the effect comes from the addition of new audio and jarring cuts.) That recontextualization transforms videos submitted to a nationally televised “laff-riot” suitable for the broadest of audiences America has to offer, into an avant-garde commentary on the inherent strangeness of the American people.
 

 
As we reported in September, Memory Hole is what happens when the Everything Is Terrible found-video collective somehow obtains access to storage space containing a whopping 300,000 videos belonging to the producers of America’s Funniest Home Videos. The crazy thing that you realize is just how much footage is out there, countless thousands of people have been sending ABC their nutty little videos for a generation now—as well as some videos that aren’t so nutty. (For fear of legal action, I reckon, Commodore Gilgamesh, one of the found-video geniuses behind the site, is obliged to refer to his source material as coming from “the longest running prime-time television series in history,” which, apparently, it is.)

Some of the Memory Hole videos are single-take masterpieces, whereas others are compilations on a theme—few are longer than about a minute. Two of my favorites are “Is She Sleeping?” in which the game is to try to figure out if Grandma is dead or alive, and “Shaving Cream Torture,” in which ... well, you just have to see that one for yourself. Another fascinating one is “Body Horror,” which is a compilation of double-jointed-and-who-knows-what-else-what people showing off the quirks of their insane bodies.
 

 
The great thing is that, much as with Adult Swim’s Too Many Cooks, which Richard brought you yesterday—that’s a must-see—or Chris Elliott’s brilliant Action Family one-off from 1986, which I wrote about earlier this year, you realize that virtually anything can be made “funny” as long as you put some sprightly music nearby and pipe in a canned laughtrack. In that sense, the creepy music added by Memory Hole is helping expose the true nature of this ridiculous footage, in some cases.

It makes you realize how much America’s Funniest Home Videos actually was the YouTube of the 1990s. This is the most “Tim and Eric” thing I’ve seen in a while, and it was all done without manipulating video imagery (much), it’s done by manipulating audio, in the manner of one of my favorite fucked-with TV intros, the “creepy” version of the intro to Diff’rent Strokes. It’s a simple trick but it works wonders.
 

 
Two more Memory Hole videos after the jump…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Furry furniture that looks like taxidermied Dr. Seuss creatures
11.06.2014
07:19 am

Topics:
Art
Design

Tags:
Dr. Seuss
furniture
taxidemy
fur


Golden Corral and Beast Guests, 2014
 
Texas twins Nikolai and Simon Haas desperately wanted to see the Ralph Bakshi flop, Cool World as kids, but their parents wouldn’t let them. Mom and dad were right. Not only was the the film a little seedy for 8-year-olds, it was a half animated, half live-action mess, high on concept and low on plot. The movie came out in 1992, four years after Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, but it lacked that film’s imagination (and writing) and the animation felt cheap and gimmicky. The Hass Brothers haven’t seen the movie to this day, but their fantasy idea of it serves as the inspiration for their new show, “The Haas Brothers: Cool World,” at R & Company in New York.

The furniture and furnishings they created in the name of Bakshi’s box office bomb are actually far less louche than their inexplicable source material. I’d argue the work is downright Seussian—comic and surreal, but with the added element of a playful sexuality (including an actual “Sex Room Entrance”). The ceramics could be the work of Whoville artisans, and the furniture resembles the animals from If I Ran the Zoo. The use of leather and fur (real), alongside horns and feet (metal), leave the viewer with the distinct impression that a few Fizza-ma-Wizza-ma-Dills were harmed in the making of that chaise lounge.
 

Mini Beasts, 2014
 

Beast Bench, 2013
 

Accretion Vases and Zoidberg Lamp Series, 2014
 

Beast Club Chairs, 2014
 

Beast Setee, 2013
 

California Raisin, 2014

Candelabras, Accretion Vases, Hematite Vases, 2014
 

Anna Nicole, 2014
 
“Hairy Belafonte” and more after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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