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Art installation pairs prog rockers Van der Graaf Generator with a 220-million-year-old fossil

A story at TeamRock alerted me to artist Vladislav Shabalin’s latest work, a collaboration with Peter Hammill’s mighty prog band Van der Graaf Generator. The Earlybird Project, now on display in Thailand’s Bantak Petrified Forest Park, combines a 220-million-year-old fossilized tree trunk (a specimen of Araucarioxylon arizonicum, the state fossil of Arizona) with birdhouses that play Van der Graaf’s song “Earlybird.”

Previously, Shabalin collaborated with Diamanda Galás on a 2011 sound installation called Aquarium. A dissident artist in the former Soviet Union, Shabalin’s work got him diagnosed schizophrenic and committed to a Soviet psychiatric hospital. He writes that he bought his freedom from the hospital and its regimen of electroshock therapy by bribing his doctor with his collection of forbidden Led Zeppelin LPs, procured at great expense on the black market. In 1988, after his “rehabilitation,” Shabalin founded a space called Avantgarde, which his bio says was “the first exhibition center in the USSR devoted to unofficial art.”

Shabalin has posted the following description of the Earlybird Project installation at his website

The EARLYBIRD PROJECT: a work in progress

For a long time I’ve worked as a restorer of fossils, which gives me the opportunity to use some fossils for my art. Several works of mine relate to environmental issues, pollution, exploitation of the land, climate changes, forced migration.

Some time ago, I restored a fossil tree trunk from Arizona dating back to the Triassic (220 million years ago approx.). It is 7 meters long and weighs 2,200 kilos. The petrified wood is a spectacle of colours.

The idea of a sound installation came to my mind when I remembered “Earlybird”, from Van Der Graaf Generator’s album Alt. On the inner cover of the cd there is a note on this particular track: “The earlybird you hear here is of course, not from rural Cornwall but the heart of Camden, the morning idyll shortly to be shattered not by frolicking swallows, but by groaning refuse trucks and the curses of itinerant blackheads.” I had met Peter Hammill before, so I decided to contact him and, through him, the other members of the band, Guy Evans and Hugh Banton. The three of them have willingly accepted to collaborate on the Earlybird Project.

The main element of the installation is the fossil tree, to which I have attached 3 birdhouses that I made using exclusively stone with traces of fossils. Small loudspeakers have been placed inside each of them to replay “Earlybird”.

The installation is a huge still life representing a natural world that no longer exists. Everything in it is “artificial”: the trunk is no longer wood but stone, the birdhouses are petrified, too, and could never be used as real birdhouses, and the birdsong is a recorded music track. The trunk is also a fetish to which we give a great economic value. We devote much labour and care to its restoration, in sharp contrast to the careless relationship that we have with the trees (flora) and the birds (fauna) that live here and now.

Some videos will be also included. I’m currently checking with the film archive La Cineteca del Friuli the possibility of using 3 particularly significant excerpts from Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Offret (The Sacrifice). Also, I have made 6 more birdhouses, some of which have already been shipped in different parts of the world. The plan is to complete the installation with 6 videos: 3 shot in big cities and 3 shot in important parks – in Asia, Europe and America – with remains of fossil trees in the open air.

A note about the recurrence of the number 3: I have chosen the “perfect number” (which is also the number of the members of the VdGG) for the high symbolic value it has in almost all civilizations, eras and religions: the cosmic totality of the Chinese (Heaven, Earth, Man), the divine triads in Christianity and Hinduism, and so on. Environmental destruction goes hand in hand with the contempt of our ancestors’ history and legacy.

The Earlybird Project should be first exhibited in Venice, a city built on stilts – houses “attached” to tree trunks – and which has a particularly delicate environmental balance.

The short video clip below, from Shabalin’s website, shows the artist arranging the fossilized trunk and the singing birdhouses.

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Happy Mondays’ Bez, now a politician, forgets to register his ‘Reality Party’

Bez the talismanic dancer from the Happy Mondays launched the Reality Party on Monday and announced his intention to stand as a representative for the party at the UK’s parliamentary elections in May. Bez is running on a platform of “free energy, free food and free anything.”

The perpetually bankrupt Celebrity Big Brother contestant (real name Mark Berry) is hoping to be elected to the Salford and Eccles constituency in Greater Manchester—the seat of former Labour cabinet minister Hazel Blears who is standing down.

The Reality Party is a new political party founded in 2014, and this is the first time it will take part in a general election.

On Monday, under a billboard bearing the slogan “It’s Real – It’s Your Reality,” Bez announced his candidature, standing on an anti-fracking ticket. Bez says he wants to “create a permaculture society,” and his election manifesto includes plans for a zero carbon economy, an end to tax breaks for big business, more nationalisation, bee hives in every school, glow-in-the-dark roads and hemp to be grown on Salford’s Chat Moss. Bez is one of three candidates representing the Reality Party in the election.
However, as the Independent newspaper reports, Bez has one major problem—the Reality Party is not registered with the Electoral Commission. In fact, the party was “deregistered” on the very day Bez launched his campaign.

According to the Independent, the regulator for the Electoral Commisison wrote Bez “several times” informing him that the Reality Party would be removed from the register as its name was too close to that of the Realist Party. Under the Commission’s rules there cannot be “two parties similarly named” as it may cause confusion with the electorate.

Bez was given until 12th January to register a different name for his party but failed to get back to the Commission:

The Independent has discovered that Bez, along with two other Reality Party members hoping to become MPs, will in fact never be able to stand in any election under that name.

A spokesman for the Electoral Commission said: “Following a review conducted last year, we contacted ‘The Reality Party’ on two occasions to tell them the party name they had registered, if seen on a ballot paper at a General Election, could mislead voters.

“We recommended what they could do to address this and whilst the party indicated that it was looking at ways to alter its name with the Commission, it did not submit a revised name before our 12 January deadline and so was removed from the register of political parties.”

However, it’s not all doom and gloom for Bez and his fellow Reality Party candidates—Nigel Askew, a pub landlord is standing in South Thanet against Ukip leader Nigel Farage, and Jackie Anderson, “who is listed as the ‘west Salford and Eccles’ candidate, although the constituency does not exist anymore”—as a Commission spokesman said:

“There’s still time for the [Reality] party to submit a revised name to the Commission before candidates who want to stand for a party have to submit their nominations papers to Acting Returning Officers with the name of the registered party they are standing for.”

Which means Bez and co. could still stand for election but not under the name of the Reality Party.

Via the Independent.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Badass woman on motorcycle f*cks with litterbugs BIG TIME!
09:09 am



As someone points out in the comments on reddit, it’s almost as if this is some new kind of female superhero archetype. A leather clad woman (you can’t see what she’s wearing in the video. I’m using my imagination here) who rides a motorcycle and schools assholes who litter.

It’s pretty hardcore what she does. I wouldn’t recommend doing this in real life although I wish more people would.

Next we need a superhero who fucks with assholes who text and drive. Your Facebook update can wait, moron. You know who you are.

via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The Garden: A tour of cult filmmaker Derek Jarman’s home, a living work of art
11:38 am


Derek Jarman

In his latter years, the film-maker, artist, diarist and writer Derek Jarman bought a small cottage on the shingle beach at Dungeness, in south-east England. It was a place of respite, a studio where he could write and paint, and a setting in which he created a beautiful garden amid the harsh, sea-lashed landscape.

Jarman first saw Prospect Cottage “on a springtime drive through Kent for a bluebell wood to Super-8 for the film which would become The Garden” in 1986. His partner, Keith Collins (HB) described the discovery of the cottage in the preface to Derek Jarman’s Garden:

Derek suggested eating at the Pilot Inn, Dungeness—renowned for serving ‘Simply the finest fish and chips in all England’.

Charmed by the landscape, we decided to visit the old lighthouse. Derek said: ‘There’s a beautiful fisherman’s cottage here, and if ever it was for sale, I think I’d buy it.’ As we neared the cottage, black varnished with bright yellow window frames, we saw the green-and-white ‘For Sale’ sign—the improbability of it made the purchase inescapable.

Jarman described the cottage in his collected journals Modern Nature:

Prospect Cottage, its timbers black with pitch, stands on the shingle at Dungeness. Built eighty years ago at the sea’s edge—one stormy night many years ago waves roared up to the front door threatening to swallow it… Now the sea has retreated leaving bands of shingle. You can see these clearly from the air; they fan out from the lighthouse at the tip of the Ness like contours on a map.

Prospect faces the rising sun across a road sparkling silver with sea mist. One small clump of dark green broom breaks through the flat ochre shingle. Beyond, at the sea’s edge, are silhouetted a jumble of huts and fishing boats, and a brick kutch, long abandoned, which has sunk like a pillbox at a crazy angle; in it, many years ago, the fishermen’s nets were boiled in amber preserve.

There are no walls or fences. My garden’s boundaries are the horizon. In this desolate landscape the silence is only broken by the wind, and the gulls squabbling round the fishermen bringing in the afternoon catch.

There is more sunlight here than anywhere else in Britain; this and the constant wind turn the shingle into stony desert where only the toughest grasses take a hold—paving the way for sage-green sea kale, blue bugloss, red poppy, yellow sedum.

Inside: Prospect cottage had four rooms. Jarman called his writing room and bedroom the “Spring room” a 10-foot by 12-foot space of “polished tongue and groove with a single window facing the sea.”

In front of the window is my desk: a simple 18th century elm table. On it is a reading lamp of tarnished copper, two pewter mugs full of stamps, loose change, paper clips, several bottles of ink, and pens, envelopes, scraps of paper on which to make notes for this diary, an iron spittoon used as an ashtray; in the centre a lead tobacco box in the shape of a little Victorian cottage, in which I keep my chequebook and money.

The cottage was overlooked by Dungeness nuclear power station that loomed like “a great ocean liner moored in the firmament, ablaze with light: white, yellow, ruby.”

Jarman started work on his garden “accidentally” from the “beach-combed treasures” found on the shore at low-tide. With the arrival of his friend the photographer and “keen plantsman” Howard Sooley Jarman’s plans for his sea-sprayed, shingle garden progressed:

[Howard] gave up London weekends to chauffeur Derek—via the nurseries of the south of England—to Prospect Cottage. With his collaboration the garden entered its second phase: the unexpected success of new plants and bulbs, flint and scallop-shell edged beds, honey bees enclosed in a raised herb bed, and more seashore-rusted metal and wind-twisted wood.

In the mid-1980s, Jarman had been diagnosed as HIV-positive. As the illness took hold, Jarman’s work in the garden took on a new meaning:

...the plants struggling against the biting winds and Death Valley sun merged with Derek’s struggle with illness, then contrasted with it, as the flowers blossomed while Derek faded.

Howard Sooley photographed Derek Jarman’s garden from the first day he arrived at Prospect Cottage in 1989, when the land looked like the surface of the Moon. Sooley documented Jarman’s unstinting hard work that changed the garden from shingle shore to hardy burst of beauty and color. Most recently, Sooley made this film about Jarman’s garden for Nowness, and together with Keith Collins he continues to tend to Derek Jarman’s last great living artwork.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Trippy ‘Fantasia’ parody shows evolution of life from a germy alien soda bottle

Bruno Bozzetto’s Allegro Non Troppo (“Fast, not too fast”) is a full-length animated parody of Fantasia made in Italy in 1976, so you should probably let that sink in for a minute. Debussy, Vivaldi, Stravinsky and others are the soundtrack for a series of snarky cartoon vignettes that frankly, give Disney a run for its (vast sums of) money. My personal favorite segment however is Ravel’s Boléro, which chronicles the birth of life from the primordial stew of a Coca-Cola bottle, tossed out by a careless spaceman.

What follows is a perfect compliment to the rich swell of Boléro. Creatures grow and change and shift into multitudes, marching across a shifting landscape with a graceful sense of purpose. Eventually of course, man is born, and the vast diversity of life is crushed by the vulgar descendants of apes and their brutal cities. There’s a tragicomic fatalism to the whole parade that is never observed by the progenitor astronauts, who are probably off somewhere else, casually littering ultimately doomed cradles of life onto other faraway planets like intergalactic Johnny Appleseeds.

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The Fatberg that ate London: Disgusting blob the size of an airliner removed from city’s sewer
07:35 am

Stupid or Evil?

fast food

The Fatberg!

Beneath the busy streets of London lurks a monstrous hideous man-made creation that is slowly engulfing the city’s sewers with its gross oily bulk.

The Fatberg!

Soon this monster will be oozing out of the sinks in kitchens and toilet closets, encasing everything it meets in lard!

The Fatberg!

When you see it—you’ll scream “No, no, no, no!”

You can run but there is nowhere to hide from the hideous Fatberg of Old London Town!

This may all sound like the trailer for some 1950’s sci-fi feature, but the “fatberg” is a very real threat to Londoners and their Victorian sewerage system.

The “fatberg” is created by stupid, inconsiderate and selfish people pouring cooking oil down kitchen sinks, and flushing wet wipes and sanitary products down the toilet.

The cooking oil mainly comes from the restaurants, and those innumerable fast food outlets that have spread like cancer thru-out England’s capital.

Last week, a giant “fatberg” the length of a Boeing 747 jet was removed from a sewer in west London after it threatened to send effluent and waste spurting back into homes. It took Thames Water workers four days to clear the foul-smelling blockage from over a 260 foot stretch of Shepherd’s Bush Road.

Dave Dennis, Thames Water sewer operations manager, told Sky News:

“The sewers serve an important purpose - they are not an abyss for household rubbish,” he said. “Fat goes down the drain easily enough, but when it hits the cold sewers, it hardens into disgusting fatbergs that block pipes. Wet wipes cling to the fat. Fat clings to the wipes. And pretty soon your fatberg is out of control and sewage is backing up into roads, gardens and in the worst cases flooding up through toilets and into homes.”


Last year, a 15-ton fatberg (the size of a bus) was removed from a sewer in Kingston upon Thames, southwest London. If people (that’s you restaurant and fast food fuckwits) don’t wise up London will one day fall under its own mass of waste.
You wanna see more? Well, here’s a report on last year’s massive fatberg….

H/T Arbroath

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Going Underground: Inside Melbourne’s storm drains
08:19 am


storm drains
urban exploration

The “Maze” storm drain in Melbourne, Australia, may not be the city’s longest drain, but it is “perhaps the hardest and most confusing to navigate. The clue here is in the name.”

The drain twists and turns for approximately four miles, traveling across the city and out into the River Yarra. This drainage system ranges from large tunnels to passages the width and size of crawl spaces. A perfect setting for a horror movie, the waterway is also home to a number of venomous spiders (Red Backs, Funnel Web) and snakes. The fine for trespassing into this subterranean netherworld is $20,000 AUSD.

One urban explorer who has traveled through the perilous “Maze” drain is writer, musician and photographer, Darmon Richter, who documented his journey here.
Via The Bohemian Blog
More claustrophobic pictures of the ‘Maze’ drain, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Photo series of Americans lying in seven days worth of their own garbage
06:06 am


Gregg Segal

7 Days of Garbage could have come off way preachier if the subjects weren’t photographed portrait-style—some of these folks are absolutely working the camera! Households and individuals were shot among a week’s worth of their own garbage, and while the results aren’t really a shock, the fakey-nature sets really drive home the reality that human beings don’t live “outside” of the environment—the trash has to actually go somewhere. As photographer Gregg Segal puts it, “We’ve made our bed and in it we lie.”

It’s worth pointing out that not all garbage is created equal. Biodegradable orange peels aren’t really comparable to a plastic milk jug or used diapers, the latter of which I notice to be conspicuously absent from the pictures featuring a sweet-faced infant or toddler. It’s quite possible those families do cloth diapering (or didn’t feel like bringing clean diapers to the shoot to represent the used ones), but it might be even more interesting to show the sheer bulk of disposable nappies required to keep a baby happy, healthy and clean.

The tragedy in all of this is the fact that our refuse output can’t be solved by conscientious consumerism. Reducing waste will require political intervention and modifying our manufacturing practices. Until that happens, we’re just going to be… kind of filthy. New Yorkers can check out 7 Days of Garbage at The Fence, in Brooklyn.



More people and their garbage after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Massive wasp nest fused to a La-Z-Boy recliner looks like an art installation
09:19 am


yellow jackets

This actually happened back in 2012, but it’s started to make the rounds again on the Internet in the past few days. I’ve never seen this one before so I thought I’d post it anyway, maybe you’ve missed it, too.

Wayne’s Bee’s—which is a honey bee removal service located in Lantana, Florida—filmed an incredible sight: a massive yellow jacket nest fused to both a La-Z-Boy-style chair and the floor carpeting. In a weird way, it’s almost like a work of art. I could totally see this being displayed in a museum like some sort of fantasy collaboration between Damien Hirst and Mike Kelley.

This all went down in Hobe Sound, Florida.

via Geekologie

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
An abandoned shopping mall full of fish
08:56 am



I’m a sucker for these nature takes over man-made monstrosities themed photo essays. Thousands of fish have taken over the now derelict New World Mall in Bangkok. The onetime Thai shopping emporium was shut down in 1997 due to building code violations and a massive fire that destroyed its roof. Apparently rainwater slowly filled the abandoned building and caused a major mosquito outbreak in the area. It was a bad enough problem that in an effort to stop the mosquitos, locals introduced freshwater fish to the abandoned mall to eat the insects.

I guess it worked like a charm, because now mall is alive and kicking with thousands of thriving fish. I like that idea. Shops around the mall even sell fish food to tourists or the curious.






Via Nerdcore, Daily Mail, reddit, Imgur

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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