Art ennobles the human spirit. Through contemplation of the beautiful object, the soul ascends through the subtle bodies. Seeking the reflection of its own sublimity, rising in the realms, it comes, at last, to rest in the world of pure forms, where the angel of the imagination speaks to it in its proper tongue: oy Gott im Himmel, what in the fuck is THAT?!
If certain senior members of my family had not already perished, Jessica Joslin’s sculptures would certainly kill them dead. Not for my anxious kin, these dead-eyed taxidermic curiosities, sharp of tooth and claw. While I have no reason to think the artist lusts for the blood of the elderly—on the contrary, she’s into the whole ethical sourcing thing and recommends this responsible supplier of “osteological specimens”—the sight of these part-clockwork, part-flesh-and-bone sideshow attractions is sure to induce cardiac arrest in a body enfeebled by age.
I’ll grant that the playful expressions of some of these critters are kind of cute, but the cuteness only makes them more grotesque. They don’t know they’re the spawn of hell. They think this is all some kind of game. Well, let’s see how much “fun” it is when one of them comes to life and breakfasts on your lungs.
In the never ending mashup of cool nerds and music enthusiasts, a group of scientists from the University of Bristol in the UK and the Natural History Museum in London have named a newly discovered species of particularly muscular fossil fireworms after D.C. hardcore punk rocker (who has worn many creative hats throughout the decades), Henry Rollins.
During a study of the fossilized remains of the Rollinschaeta myoplena (fossilization is a rare event in nature when it comes to worms) the team was able to determine the species was a close relative of earthworms and leeches as well as a member of the “fireworm” (or “Amphinomidae”) family. All of which (unlike Mr. Rollins), have soft bodies. Comparatively speaking, this worm’s got a six-pack, in worm terms.
The fossilized remains of Rollinschaeta myoplena
According to Greg Edgecombe of the Natural History Museum, (the co-author of the study) this was the first time that “any fossil has been identified by its muscle anatomy.” Sadly, the Rollinschaeta is extinct so we can’t all run out and start a new hardcore punk rock worm colony in our basements.
No word on what Rollins thinks of all this, but he joins a growing list of musicians who have had animals speciesnamed after them like Lou Reed, whose name is now synonomous with a species of velvet spider known as Loureedia, David Bowie provided the namesake for a rare type of Malaysia spider, Heteropoda davidbowie, and Frank Zappa who had the distinct honor to have a jellyfish named after him, the Phialella zappai.
Zappa has an even stranger claim to scientific immortality: a type of bacteria that causes pimples was dubbed Propionibacterium zappae:
Loureedia annulipes, an underground-dwelling genus of velvet spider discovered in Israel
‘Spider from Mars’: Heteropoda davidbowie, discovered in Malaysia in 2009.
I have to admit I kinda love this. In honor of Guy Fawkes Night, a giant paper sculpture of a naked David Cameron with a decapitated pig’s head will go up flames tonight on Lewes bonfire, in East Sussex.
Apparently #PigGate is still not over. Fuck him. The Prime Minister I mean, not that poor defenseless pig he (allegedly) molested
(Once we get footage of the burning “pig fucker,” I’ll add it to this post.)
Wow, wow! Laughing Squid hipped me to these jaw-dropping pneumatic articulating feather wings by Alexis Noriega. They were made for her kickass Halloween costume. I can’t wait to see the final product. Noriega says she’s going to post a step-by-step tutorial soon so folks can build their own pair. Excellent.
I wonder how much time and money was put into this wonderful creation? Probably LOTS.
Chickens are generally the stupidest-looking birds on the planet. I own two different coffee table books of chicken photos simply because the mere sight of these idiotic fowl can literally bring me to laugh-induced tears.
It must be hard to be a chicken—they’re all going to laugh at you.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some elegant chickens out there. Today we cast the spotlight on two types of goth chickens: the Black Silkie and the Ayam Cemani.
The Black Silkie is thought by traditional Chinese medicine to increase female fertility and vitality and nourish the pregnant woman’s developing child. It’s feathers and skin are black and they are most often raised as pets or for showing rather than producers of eggs or meat—though they are indeed edible and make a great noodle soup.
The Ayam Cemani is a designer breed from Indonesia, also possessing black feathers and skin—not to mention black muscles and organs. They are an expensive breed. Chicks generally sell for around $200 each. They have been referred to in some circles as the “Lamborghini of poultry.”
Confronted with a bright pink room at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., American artist Jennifer Angus knew just what it needed: hundreds and hundreds of insects arranged in lovely patterns like spirals, circles, and skulls.
The art piece is called “The Midnight Garden” and the show in which it is included is called “Wonder,” which will be available to view from mid-November through next July.
A professor at the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Angus says that her research “is driven by my interest in pattern,” which is clear enough from this strange wallpaper alone. She has often used insects in her work, having collected the creepy crawlies (always in an ecologically sustainable way) from locations all over the world. Never one to take a lifeform for granted, she also carefully reuses her stock of arthropods from project to project.
“Many people who visit my exhibitions were never aware that such unusual insects exist,” Angus says. “I hope that my exhibition will get them excited and perhaps they will be motivated to get involved with one of the many of the rain forest preservation projects out there. I would also like people to think about their own environment and behavior.”
According to curator Nicholas R Bell, “The concept of ‘wonder’—that moment of awe in the face of something new and unknown that transports us out of the everyday—is deeply intertwined with how we experience art. These elements matter in the context of this museum, devoted for more than four decades to the skilled working of materials in extraordinary ways.”
Kevin Barnes has got to be one of the most fascinating, contradictory, theatrical, and inventive people in the contemporary music scene. Big words, I know, but when confronted with Of Montreal’s expansive discography, the imaginative vistas the band’s music explores, the remarkable plasiticity of identity featured in the songs, and the sheer WTF? inventiveness of their live shows, I think the label is justified.
Of Montreal is a product of Athens, Georgia (NOT CANADA, PEOPLE!), which is also the headquarters of the Elephant 6 Collective, of which OM counts itself a part; over the last 20-odd years, OM has released thirteen full-length albums, including (my favorites) 2004’s Satanic Panic in the Attic and 2007’s Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?—both released during a period of intense creativity on the part of Barnes that dovetails with the incredible concert described below.
There’s a temptation to reduce Of Montreal’s output to a single person, Kevin Barnes, but there’s a reason for that—a number of their albums are essentially solo albums, and the band is primarily a vehicle for Barnes’ infectious and overflowing creativity. Not for nothing does Satanic Panic contain the following credit: “All instruments played by Kevin”—before, well, listing a long roster of featured players.
It might surprise some to learn that Of Montreal’s albums Hissing Fauna, Skeletal Lamping, and False Priest explore the point of view of a key alter-ego of Barnes’, namely Georgie Fruit, once described by Kat Bein as “a black man in his 40s with a gender-bending glam-rock past.” This is someone who isn’t kidding about the project of exploring the limits of his own artistic impulses.
All of this is to say that Of Montreal thrives on spectacle, and their live shows have been known to set high standards for theatricality. The pinnacle of this tendency was almost certainly Of Montreal’s show of October 10, 2008, when they took over the capacious stage of Roseland in New York City with a jaw-droppingly flamboyant show involving all manner of extras, costumery, three giant video screens, and a cameo from the cutest white pony the world of indie rock has to offer. That’s right, during “St. Exquisite’s Confessions,” about 40 minutes into the nearly two-hour concert, Barnes took off his lustrous orange housecoat or whatever you want to call it, leaving himself wearing the merest scanty belt, and wandered offstage, only to stun the audience by returning on top of a nervous-looking white equine.
I saw Of Montreal in 2005 at the long lost North Six venue (the space is now called Music Hall of Williamsburg), but at no point did any livestock intrude upon the proceedings. The rock critic and mp3 blogger Matthew Perpetua, a longtime fan of Of Montreal, having attended the spectacle, waxed rhapsodic about this incredible show at the time and was in fact the person who recently drew my attention to the existence of a complete video of the show on YouTube—shot by a fan, alas, but it’s still a remarkable document of a remarkable show. Here’s Perpetua:
Hey did you know that the legendary Of Montreal show with the horse at the Roseland Ballroom in 2008 is on YouTube in its entirety? I am pretty excited about this as it’s one of the best concerts I’ve ever witnessed.
I don’t quite have the attention span to sort out what on earth all of the imagery in the concert is supposed to signify, it seems rather like a passion play plus New Orleans during Mardi Gras plus the Coney Isand Mermaid Festival plus, perhaps, Mummenschanz? A list of the objects you can spot in the video includes a sombrero, a fanny pack, a noose, dumbbells, a pantomime horse, the real horse of course, a Mexican wrestling mask, a tiger mask, a pig mask, a rooster mask, a giraffe mask, a throne, and a big papier-mâché coffin. Before the show reached its climax certain members of the ensemble were covered in shaving cream.
During the encore Barnes belted out an ecstatic version of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” featuring Andrew VanWyngarden of MGMT on guitar, while the throngs of fans joyously dance along. One commenter on BrooklynVegan observed that “the front row was pure madness.” which is easy to see in the video actually.
Without any further ado, here is Of Montreal’s full Roseland show of October 10, 2008, all 109 glorious minutes of it:
Tons of pictures and a setlist, after the jump…...
Here’s the best Internet dub/remix video of the week.
I’m sure by now you’ve all seen the “We witnessin’ a baby whale kid” video which went insanely viral a few days ago.YouTube user Dan Telfer has uploaded a dubbed version of the video which recreates the scene as if the Boston Guy were an expert marine biologist.
Biologists have recently discovered that giraffes hum.
The prevailing theory about giraffe vocalization had been that they are not capable of generating substantial sounds because of the physical difficulty of them producing sufficient air flow through their long necks. However, some had suggested that giraffes employ low-frequency “infrasonic” sounds below the level of human perception, similar to elephants and other large animals who use it for long-range communication.
After extensive research in three European zoos, Angela Stöger at the University of Vienna, Austria, found no evidence of infrasonic communication, but she did pick up an intriguing humming noise coming from the giraffe enclosures at night—in all three zoos. “I was fascinated,” Stöger was quoted as saying in New Scientist, “because these signals have a very interesting sound and have a complex acoustic structure.” That hum turned out to be a low-frequency sound, of about 92 Hz. That’s not infrasound; the human ear can detect it, but just barely. Stöger and her colleagues say the hum varies in duration and contains a rich combination of notes.
Giraffes have a structured social system, but scientists don’t know much about how they communicate, according to Meredith Bashaw at the Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “This new vocalization could add a piece to that puzzle. ... It could be passively produced—like snoring—or produced during a dream-like state—like humans talking or dogs barking in their sleep,” she says. But she indicated that it could also be a method of low-granularity information for giraffes to use in the dark, when vision is limited, as if to say, “Hey, I’m here.” There’s still information to be collected about the behaviors accompanying the humming. But it wouldn’t be too unexpected if the humming is used to transmit information about age, gender, sexual arousal, dominance, or reproductive states, Bashaw said.
John Doherty at Queen’s University Belfast, who studies giraffes in Samburu Reserve in northern Kenya, has come across similar vocalizations, “in a captive giraffe. ... But, in this case, [the giraffe] was clearly disturbed by a husbandry procedure being carried out on its calf in a separate but visible enclosure.”
Interestingly, last year residents of Paignton in southwest England complained of a humming or droning noise coming from the giraffe house at night: “I am very tired. The noise is still there,” said one resident. “I am being disturbed in the night and am being kept awake by this.” For her part, Stöger doubts that the complainants were actually hearing giraffes: “The giraffe signals are not so intensive. I personally doubt that neighbors would hear that,” she said.