follow us in feedly
Slint and Will Oldham discuss that famous ‘Spiderland’ album cover
12.18.2014
08:41 am

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
Slint
Will Oldham


Brashear, Walford, and Oldham treading water
 
Spiderland was that haunting and evocative bit of early-‘90s indie rock, the second (and final) album from Slint, four fellows from Louisville, Kentucky, the reconstituted shards of Squirrel Bait. It took a long while, but it has emerged as one of the profoundly influential albums of the post-classic era, contributing to the foundations of post-rock and inspiring acts as disparate as P.J. Harvey, Pavement, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai, and Sebadoh. No small part of the album’s appeal derives from the photograph that graces the cover, a black-and-white, ever-so-blurry pic of the band members bobbing in the waters of a quarry somewhere. The picture suggests the frolics of summer and youth, but the lack of color lends it a foreboding aura—a wholly apt introduction to the bracing, enervating music of the album. The picture was taken by Will Oldham, a buddy of the band’s who went on to record scads of music under the name Bonnie “Prince” Billy, among others.

In the following clip, filmmaker Lance Bangs brought Oldham and Slint members Britt Walford (drums) and Todd Brashear (bass) together to reminisce about the shooting of that cover. There’s some talk of Slint guitarist Brian McMahan cooking up some mayhem with a “sacrificial goat” and the entire band, save McMahan, getting arrested for trespassing. It’s evident that the quarry is the site of a tony residential community of some kind, we catch a glimpse of a billboard for a building development company from southern Indiana called Quarry Bluff, which bills itself as (initial caps and all) “A Unique Development Located on the Banks of the Ohio River in Utica, Indiana Just Across the New East End Bridge!” So it appears that the quarry isn’t in Kentucky at all but in Jefferson, Indiana.

This clip comes from Breadcrumb Trail, Bangs’ recent documentary on the band and the album. The clip ends with Oldham, Brashear, and Walford jumping into the water to re-create the album cover as best they can.
 

 
via Biblioklept

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
follow us in feedly
The women of ‘Twin Peaks’ re-imagined as Sailor Jerry style pin-ups
12.18.2014
06:49 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Pop Culture
Television

Tags:


 
San Francisco based illustrator Emma Munger is a recent MICA grad who’s working in a comix shop while producing fun portfolios inspired by the famed tattoo artist Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins. Though she’s done pin-ups and flash pages of characters from Orange is the New Black, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Parks and Recreation, and Thelma and Louise, her largest collection is the women of Twin Peaks. You may never look at the Log Lady the same way again, and before you even ask, yes, Agent Bryson is indeed one of the ladies. Prints of Munger’s work are available from søciety6.
 

Laura Palmer
 

Nadine Hurley
 

Audrey Horne
 

Denise Bryson
 
Log Lady and much more (some slightly NSFWish) after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Indian comic book heroine is a rape survivor who fights violence against women and rides a tiger
12.17.2014
12:21 pm

Topics:
Art
Feminism

Tags:
India
comics
violence against women


 
Two years ago, a fatal New Delhi gang rape inspired mass protests all over in India, but the the legal reforms (which include things like the banning of acid sales) have done very little to protect women, and most of the more programmatic promises (tracking public transportation, more women cops, better lighting in urban areas, etc) have gone largely unimplemented. Feeling discouraged by the purely legalistic approach to rape, New York-based filmmaker Ram Devineni decided to fight violence against women on the cultural front—starting from childhood education.

Devineni has produced Priya’s Shakti, a graphic novel available online and in print, featuring a rape survivor protagonist who is aided by a goddess and her faithful tiger steed. The book is currently available in Hindi, English and Marathi, but will be translated into other languages to better serve India’s diverse population. The concept is a masterful utility of traditional values to further humane ends, and I’d argue something aimed at younger readers is going to have the greatest long term effect on culture at-large. 
 

 

The storyline focuses on Priya, a human woman and ardent devotee of the Goddess Parvati who has experienced a brutal rape and the social stigma and isolation resulting from it. The Goddess Parvati is horrified to learn about the sexual violence that women on Earth face on a daily basis and is determined to change this disturbing reality. Inspired by the Goddess, Priya breaks her silence. She sings a message of women’s empowerment that enraptures thousands and moves them to take action against [gender-based violence] around the world. This project highlights the threat of sexual harassment and violence that women face on a daily basis unless deeply rooted patriarchal norms are challenged.

 
The discussion of sexual assault in far-away lands often results in a lot of projection and avoidance of more home-grown violence, but I think we in the US could learn a lot from this project. The anti-rape movement here has only just begun to move beyond telling women “how to not get raped,” but I’ve yet to see a childhood sex education project that instills ideas of bodily autonomy and consent. Then again, I suppose our growing commitment to Abstinence-Only Education kind of precludes talking to kids about how to have mutually agreed upon sex.
 

 
Via NPR

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Nick Cave’s handwritten dictionary
12.17.2014
08:56 am

Topics:
Art
Books
Music

Tags:
Nick Cave
lexicography


 
Few musicians are as word-drunk as Mr. Nick Cave from Warracknabeal, Australia, wouldn’t you agree? As a younger man Cave kept a journal in which he jotted down new words he wanted to remember and arranged them in alphabetical order. It’s definitely a good tip for writers starting out, you’re always learning, there’s always something to learn. Take notes endlessly and don’t waver!

A section from the A’s and a section from the M’s was made available a few years ago, words include AUTOCHTHON (“primitive or original inhabitant”) and MICTURITION (“morbid desire to pass water”). I’d dearly love to see the whole thing. I hope that will happen someday.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Mike Kelley fronts Sonic Youth, 1986
12.17.2014
07:36 am

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
Sonic Youth
Mike Kelley


 
The first time I visited New York’s SoHo district in 1992 I remember seeing a large print of the cover art for Sonic Youth’s Dirty hanging in a loft window. Earlier that year, my art teacher had complained about Sonic Youth’s use of Mike Kelley’s “Ahh. . . Youth!” on the Dirty sleeve, so I probably wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that Kelley had fronted the band during a 1986 performance.

In the mid-‘80s, Kelley worked on a project called Plato’s Cave, Rothko’s Chapel, Lincoln’s Profile. It consisted of a series of paintings, a cave-like installation called The Trajectory of Light in Plato’s Cave, and a poetic text. The project culminated a December 1986 performance of the text by Kelley and an actress named Molly Cleator, backed by Sonic Youth.
 

 
Alec Foege’s old Sonic Youth bio Confusion Is Next gives some background on the collaboration:

In December 1986 Kelly invited the band to provide sound effects and incidental music for three performances of his piece Plato’s Cave, Rothko’s Chapel, Lincoln’s Profile at Artists Space in New York. Kelley recited an hour-and-a-half poem he had written and dramatized with the help of actress Molly Cleator while the band droned on.

Plato’s Cave had begun “as a project about the possessive,” Kelley said in one interview, “about how ascribing a quality of possession to something would equalize everything. Like, if I said that this was an exhibition of everything from Lincoln’s house, it links all this random stuff together that has no link except as a possible way to psychoanalyze Lincoln. Everybody asked me why I picked those three people. I made a whole list of possessives that were in common usage and I just picked the three that sounded best together. . . . Then I wove a set of associations between them.”

The band got together with Kelley a couple days before the performance. Kelley went through the script and told the band what he wanted at certain cues—a chunky rock sound, a bang, a spooky noise.

“I wanted to play with rock staging,” Kelley says. “For a lot of the performance, they were behind a curtain, so you didn’t even see them. I was trying to play against this rock-star thing, where there’s a shift of focus to somebody who in normal kind of rock-theatric terms would be the singer.” Kelley’s actions made him the center of focus—the singer, as it were—even though Sonic Youth’s accompaniment accentuated his actions and words with kabuki-like synergy, rather than in the traditional way in which a rock band interacts with a vocalist.

 

 
Kelley and Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo discussed the show in a 2009 interview:

Then, to connect your and Mike’s practices—I understand that Sonic Youth provided the soundtrack for Mike’s piece Plato’s Cave, Rothko’s Chapel, Lincoln’s Profile at Artists Space in 1986. How did that collaboration come about?

LR: I think Mike and Kim [Gordon] had been friends in LA. Mike was coming to New York to do this piece at Artist Space and asked us if we would work with him. Steve [Shelley] had just come aboard as our permanent drummer, and we were at the point where we were past just trying things, and had really formed a language that we were all comfortable working with.

MK: That’s right—I knew Kim in LA before she moved to New York. At that time she was not yet a musician; she was a visual artist.  I watched the development of Sonic Youth, and I liked the music and I liked them as people. In that particular performance I wanted to have a live sound element modeled after kabuki theater, where there are musical sections that play off the language in a quite disjointed way.  I also wanted to play with the idea of rock staging. A lot of the audience was there to see Sonic Youth specifically, because at that point they were a known band, so I had some parts where the band was really foregrounded and others where they were completely hidden—behind a curtain, for instance—so you couldn’t see them. And it was great, because they sometimes were doing music not at all typical for Sonic Youth—at one point, for example, I asked them to repeat a riff from “Train Kept A-Rollin’” over and over.

Kim Gordon reminisces about her relationship with Kelley in the video clip below, produced as part of this year’s Mike Kelley retrospective at MOCA. (Kelly committed suicide in 2012.) She says a few words about the performance:

Plato’s Cave, I felt like we were some kind of a Greek chorus to it, and I always thought of Mike as a performance artist more than a visual artist. And at some point, I realized the work was the performance.

 

 
You can listen to the 38-minute (not hour-and-a-half, pace Foege) Plato’s Cave performance in its entirety here. A CD is available from Kelley’s label Compound Annex.

 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Hiding from Big Brother with style: Make-up tutorial to confuse facial identification software
12.16.2014
06:09 am

Topics:
Activism
Art

Tags:
1984
Big Brother
make-up


Photo via Anti-Surveillance Feminist Poet Hair and Makeup Party
 
As facial recognition technology makes the transition from dystopic science fiction boogie-man to modern Big Brother reality, folks are becoming understandably concerned about being tracked and recorded without their permission. In many cities, including New York, it is at least unwise if illegal to wear a mask in public, so completely obscuring your face is out of the question. As an alternative, artist and designer Adam Harvey has developed a make-up technique—CV Dazzle—that hides from facial recognition software but falls well within the parameters of legal fashion. Confusing the machines is surprisingly simple:

The name is derived from a type of World War I naval camouflage called Dazzle, which used cubist-inspired designs to break apart the visual continuity of a battleship and conceal its orientation and size. Likewise, CV Dazzle uses avant-garde hairstyling and makeup designs to break apart the continuity of a face. Since facial-recognition algorithms rely on the identification and spatial relationship of key facial features, like symmetry and tonal contours, one can block detection by creating an “anti-face”.

“Anti-Surveillance Makeup Parties” have made waves with a subset of young feminists, but I don’t see CV Dazzle actually catching on in our highly aesthetically-minded urban centers. The source pattern, “Dazzle” is most relevant in today’s culture as the inspiration for an ugly-ass, Jeff Koons-designed yacht. The look is bad enough on a boat, but it certainly runs counter to what most people consider attractive on a female face. Meanwhile most men stubbornly refuse to even try mascara (even though you’d look so pretty!)

Still, while the practical applications of CV Dazzle may be limited, especially as facial recognition becomes more and more accurate, as an art project this dystopic raver of an “anti-face” is a fascinating take on privacy. Check out the makeup tutorial from artist Jillian Mayer below to get the basics—your life may depend on it, enemy of the state!
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
follow us in feedly
‘Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear on No Stamp’: Kings and queens of hip-hop
12.15.2014
01:24 pm

Topics:
Art
Design
Music

Tags:
hip hop
Chuck D.
Madina

3madinahiphopst.jpg
 
Artist and designer Mark “Madina” Culmer produces lyrically inspired work from “The Golden Era Hip-Hop 1980s-1990s.” Taking The Public Enemy album/track “Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear on No Stamp” as his cue, Mark has created a print consisting of 42 postage stamps honoring the kings and queens of hip hop who:

...propelled the genre from humble beginnings in the block parties in New York to the global phenomenon we see today. So if you thought ‘most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps’ a few words of advice ‘Don’t believe the hype’.

Based in Brighton, England, Madina’s designs are also available as T-shirts and hoodies, and the whole range of his work can be found here.
 
03chuckdstamp.jpg
Chuck D.
 
009jdilla.jpg
J Dilla.
 

The Notorious B.I.G.
 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Inked ladies: Vintage photos of women with full body tattoos
12.15.2014
08:08 am

Topics:
Art
Feminism
History

Tags:
tattoos

001tattdame.jpg
 
The 1991 discovery of the well-preserved body of a 3,000-year-old corpse revealed (amongst many other things) that ancient humans tattooed their bodies. The mummified body was called “Ötzi the Iceman” after the Ötztal Alps where his remains were found. Ötzi had 50-odd tattoos across his body, which some scientists have suggested may be evidence of an early form of acupuncture—which if true, would put this form of treatment 2,000 years before its first documented appearance in China.

Tattoos have a long and culturally significant history—being used as a sign of initiation, association, clan, tribe, ownership, or sexual and personal liberty.

In Victorian times, upper class women had their bodies tattooed as a symbol of their independence. In her book Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoos, Margot Mifflin believes this was a “feminist gesture” with these women “taking control of their bodies when they had little power elsewhere.” Winston Churchill’s mother Jennie had a serpent tattoo around her wrist as a symbol of her feisty independence. However, not all Victorian women who sported tattoos did so willingly. Mifflin reports how some poor women were forcibly tattooed and exhibited in freak shows and carnivals.

The first recorded woman tattooist was Maud Wagner, who was said to have traded a date with her future husband to learn the craft of tattooing. In the 1920s, full body tattoos were popular, but their charm was lost during the 1930’s Depression, only to re-emerge during the late 1940s to 1960s, when they were seen as a symbol of outsider status.

These vintage photographs show tattooed women from early in the 1900s to 1960s.
 
004tattwmn.jpg
 
10tattwman.jpg
 
006tattwmn.jpg
 
More tattooed ladies, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
follow us in feedly
The astonishingly incompetent superhero art of Fletcher Hanks
12.11.2014
10:48 am

Topics:
Art
Heroes
Unorthodox

Tags:
comics
Fletcher Hanks
Paul Karasik


 
The other day I was trying to describe the work of Fletcher Hanks to a comics collector friend of mine, a fan of Spider-Man and the X-Men and Daredevil, and I made the following analogy: Fletcher Hanks is the Shaggs of superhero comics…. they have the same combination of fascinating (ahem) “excellence” and off-putting weirdness, the same feeling of a direction very much not taken, the same outsider status, the same fervent adoption by devotees.

Hanks drew superhero comics for a terribly short time—1939 to 1941—before dropping off the map altogether. It’s a bit of a miracle that we have so many of his comics in print, and much of that is due to the heroic labors of Paul Karasik, a former RAW employee of Art Spiegelman’s who also collaborated with David Mazzucchelli to create a graphic novel version of Paul Auster’s novel City of Glass in 1994. Hanks first became known to contemporary readers in Art Out of Time: Unknown Comics Visionaries, 1900-1969 edited by Dan Nadel, a fascinating delight for comics lovers, experts, dorks from 2006. In 2007 Karasik published I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets! and in 2009 You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!, both of which are highly recommended if you like what you see here. The first volume contains a 16-page comic by Karasik about discovering Hanks’ work and meeting with his (it turns out) estranged son.

Hanks was born in 1887. We know he was married and had a son but then packed up and left around 1930. According to his son, who is named Fletcher Hanks Jr., he was an alcoholic and physically abused his wife and son. We know that he was found, frozen to death on a park bench in Manhattan in January 1976, at the age of 88. Hanks’ work had two primary characters, “Stardust the Super Wizard” and “Fantomah the Mystery Woman of the Jungle,” and a host of less interesting characters like Space Smith, Big Red McLane, and Whirlwind Carter. Hanks used pseudonyms like Hank Christy, Barclay Flagg, Bob Jordan, and Charles Netcher. As Karasik points out in the video below, part of the fascination Hanks exerts is that he is a rare early case of a true auteur, a comics artist who “wrote, penciled, inked, lettered, and, I think, colored his work.”

Stardust is a well-nigh omnipotent space traveler who has prodigious strength, can read people’s thoughts, can control objects with his mind, produce all manner of anti-gravity rays from his body, and generally do whatever he wants. On the page he seems a lot like Magneto of the X-Men but in truth he has a whole lot in common with Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen. Fantomah was similarly prodigiously powered and whenever she used her powers, her face would transform from that of a normal human woman to a blue-skinned skull-like visage with a blond locks of hair, an arresting voodoo-like image.

Stardust bears some resemblance to Superman but in fact ends up being an unwitting critique of Superman, in that a creature who has so many powers ends up being less than interesting. Stardust never faces the slightest resistance in any of his plots. A typical Stardust story features Stardust becoming aware of some nefarious scheme by some gangsters or “fifth columnists” and then zeroing in on the malefactors and stopping them and then either depositing them with the federal authorities (who have done nothing to assist Stardust) or else consigning them to some horrible fate that somehow, poetically, serves as a just comeuppance. The best-known example of that comes in “De Structo & the Headhunter,” in which he punishes the ringleader by reducing him to nothing but a head, while stating “I’ll punish you according to your crime, De Structo. ... You tried to destroy the heads of a great nation, so your own head shall be destroyed.” In another story he turns the head honcho into a rat with a human head.

Here’s Nadel on Hanks, as quoted in Tom Spurgeon’s Comics Reporter blog:
 

Fletcher Hanks I like graphically. Some people might call him a primitive, but what’s so great about him is that he took this idea of superheroes as gods literally, even before anyone articulated the idea. He made these moving statues. You have characters carved out of granite, moving around the page, and then maybe he got lucky with whomever was coloring the Fiction House stuff. There are these clunky outlines of bodies and this gorgeous flat color laid over it. Icons moving across the page. Granite statues. It’s really intriguing. Every single Fletcher Hanks comic I’ve seen is like that. They’re just these incredible visions of statues in motion. The writing is just bizarre, so intense and vicious—maybe one of the more visceral comics in there.

 
Hanks’ stories are full of un-nuanced plots and schemes with bad guys who are constantly trying to “enslave” or “destroy” something. Even adjusting for the pre-WW2 atmosphere of fear, these stories are just silly most of the time. What sets Hanks’ works apart are his remarkable compositions and use of color—Karasik is quite right in observing that these strips are so fascinating because they so CLEARLY emanate from one mind. All the compositions are defiantly 2-D, and as Karasik establishes in his second Hanks volume You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!, he frequently reused entire pages in different stories. Hanks’ comics are wildly inert, improbable, at times ugly, yet always bountifully colorful and arresting and distinctive. Hanks showed great imagination in his tropes, which frequently involve Stardust or somebody suspending a phalanx of tanks suspended in mid-air, or rocketing every human being in existence away from planet Earth simultaneously before Stardust can set it right. The vitality of Hanks’ expression isn’t on a par with Winsor McCay and George Herriman but does have something of that flavor of strange distant fever dreams from long ago…...
 

 

 

 

 
More amazing Fletcher Hanks frames and a Q&A with author Paul Karasik, after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Three Dadaist recipes from Man Ray
12.10.2014
06:54 am

Topics:
Art
Food

Tags:
Man Ray
Dada


 
If you happen to see an affordable copy of The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook in a bookstore—assuming there are any bookstores left—grab it. It looks like most online booksellers’ copies are going for between $100 and $200 this holiday season, but I found one for just $8.50 a couple years back, so there must be other affordable copies out there.

Published in 1961 by Contact Editions in Sausalito, the cookbook collects John Keats’ recipes for pike and duck, Isak Dinesen’s oysters au naturel (not much of a recipe, really), Marcel Duchamp’s steak tartare, Lillian Hellman’s shrimp creole, Edgard Varèse’s boeuf bourguignon, Pearl Buck’s spare ribs, Robert Graves’ yellow plum jelly, Paul Bowles’ recipe for majoun—the Moroccan cannabis candy that fueled The Sheltering Sky and Let It Come Down—and much else. I can’t say I’ve used the book much for cooking, mainly because the recipes are so heavy on meat. But even if, like me, you don’t plan to whip up a batch of Enid Foster’s brains in beer anytime soon, where else can you come across things like Man Ray’s “Menu for a Dadaist Day”? Here are three mouthwatering, kitchen-tested Dadaist favorites that will have your family clamoring for seconds.

Le Petit Dejeuner. Take a wooden panel of an inch or less thickness, 16 to 20 inches in size. Gather the brightly colored wooden blocks left by children on the floors of playrooms and paste or screw them on the panel.

Déjeuner. Take the olives and juice from one large jar of prepared green or black olives and throw them away. In the empty jar place several steel ball bearings. Fill the jar with machine oil to prevent rusting. With this delicacy serve a loaf of French bread, 30 inches in length, painted a pale blue.

Dîner. Gather wooden darning eggs, one per person. If the variety without handles cannot be found, remove the handles. Pierce lengthwise so that skewers can be inserted in each darning egg. Lay the skewered eggs in an oblong or oval pan and cover with transparent cellophane.

Mmm! Just like Mom used to make.

 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Page 1 of 227  1 2 3 >  Last ›