Ah, the wonders of falling down YouTube rabbit holes and stumbling upon nuggets of pure lysergic genius. I’m not sure how I lucked into finding DEATH VAN, but I’m glad I did.
Presented here, for your approval, is a six-minute “animated space-rock adventure” by Michael Enzbrunner.
Through the magic of computer animation, the space-rock duo DEATH VAN “tours through a miniature world inhabited by surreal creatures that are haunted by a menacing and mischievous entity.”
It feels like a surreal 80s sci-fi film directed by The Brothers Quay after getting high with Noel Fielding—and the music is phenomenal.
The short was made using Blender, which is a free open-source 3-D animation program.
This particular animated space-rock adventure seems to be doing well on the festival circuit, having picked up several awards in the last five months. It’s the best music video I’ve seen in years—absolutely bonkers.
What if I told you there was an album that sounded like The Faust Tapes meets Raymond Scott meets the BBC Radiophonic Workshop? Like Stockhausen meets skiffle meets the Moby Grape? Like if La Monte Young made a cover version of “Popcorn”?
Haven’t you ever wondered what a dadaist cartoon scored by a meeting of the minds between Carl Stalling and Einstürzende Neubauten would sound like?
This exists. The soundtrack to the French cult cartoon Les Shadoks is such a rare bird. Aesthetically triangulated by musique concrète, Perrey & Kingsley’s electronic whimsy and Pink Floyd’s “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict,” the music of Robert Cohen-Solal—a member of les Groupe de recherches musicales, or GRM, the French equivalent of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop—nearly defies description. Lucky for you, you needn’t take my word for any of this, as there is a long excerpt/audio collage of the Les Shadoks soundtrack album embedded below for you to partake of. Please make it your soundtrack to reading this post.
Les Shadoks was created by French cartoonist Jacques Rouxel and animator René Borg—taking an obvious inspiration from Paul Klee’s painting “La machine à gazouiller”—and was broadcast in France from 1968–1974 as 2-3 minute cartoons. The Shadoks were absurd bird-like creatures, the inhabitants of a two dimensional planet. Their language has just five monosyllabic words—“Ga,” “Bu,” “Zo,” “Meu,” and “Ni”—but their primitive brains possess but four brain cells and they can only know four things at a time. The Shadoks represent French society. The Gibis are their intelligent and far more cautious opposites who are supposed to represent the buttoned up people of Great Britain.
“It was a long, long, long… long time ago. In that time, there was the sky. To the right of the sky, there was planet Gibi. It was flat and tilting from left to right. So sometimes when too many Gibis were on one side on the planet, it tilted too much and some Gibis fell into space. It was a big trouble… especially for the Gibis. To the left of the sky, there was planet Shadok. It had no precise form, or rather… its form kept changing. So sometimes some Shadoks fell in space. It was a big trouble… especially for the Shadoks. And on the middle there was Earth, that was round and moved.”
So the Shadoks and the Gibis are in competition for the Earth’s resources. Or something like that.
The simpleton Shadoks were famous for their dumb philosophies, and for their incessant pumping—“Better to pump even if nothing happens than to risk something worse happening by not pumping” being one of their mottos. Another example of Shadok philosophy is “When one tries continuously, one ends up succeeding. Thus, the more one fails, the greater the chance that it will work.” This theory is put to the test when a rocket launch is rushed through 999,999 failures on the calculation that it had a one-in-a-million chance to launch successfully…
Here are some more:
“Why do it the easy way when you can do it the hard way?”
“If there is no solution, it is because there is no problem.”
“To reduce the numbers of unhappy people, always beat up the same individuals.”
“Every advantage has its disadvantages. And vice versa.”
To this day, the French will compare their politicians with the idiotic Shadoks.
If you tend to like—broadly defined, of course—“this kind of thing” then I highly, highly recommend this release. There’s really nothing else like it. The Les Shadoks soundtrack album is easily destined for my top 10 of 2018 and it’s not even March yet.
In 1973 ‘The Shadoks’ appeared on Thames Television in the early evening. Kenneth Robinson provided the narration in English. Sadly this is the SINGLE example that I can find of an English episode of ‘The Shadoks’ anywhere on the Internet. The French DVD box sets have only French narration. Someone needs to put this out in English, like NOW.
Yōji Kuri is the big daddy of Japanese animation. Now in his late eighties—he hits the big nine-“o” next year—Kuri was one of Japan’s key pioneering animators/artists/directors who produced around forty short animated films during the 1960s and early seventies—all of which brought independent Japanese animations to global attention. He was for a time namechecked as “the only Japanese animator whose work is known in the West,” which, although a nice piece of hyperbole, gives some idea of his importance at the expense of ignoring quite a few of his contemporaries.
Kuri’s animations tend to be strange, surreal, experimental, and darkly compelling, yet often accomplished in what you might call a naive style. Take for example his Hieronymus Bosch-inspired animation The Midnight Parasites from 1972. Here Kuri imagines what would life might be like if we all lived in Bosch’s painting “Garden of Earthly Delights.” It’s a basically shit and death or rather a cycle of life where blue figures live and die; eat shit and shit gold; are skewered, and devoured; are regurgitated and reborn to carry on the cycle once again. It’s dark, dirty, oddly beautiful, with a groovy soundtrack—the kinda short flick that might pop up as a support to the late night psychedelic double-bill at the local fleapit.
It’s been noted that all of Hayao Miyazaki’s movies, in addition to being a feast for the eyes, are positively obsessed with food. There’s always a section in every movie where the characters enjoy a bite to eat, and in every case the food is meticulously observed and rendered. The food can be grand or simple, doesn’t matter, the same careful attention to detail, whether it’s the feast of the king in The Cat Returns or Umi’s cooking in Up on Poppy Hill or the candies in Grave of the Fireflies.
Some dedicated Instagrammer going by the name 01ghibli23 has decided to recreate the meals of Miyazaki’s movies in real life, right down to the careful positioning of the egg on the bread or the pieces of carrot on the plate. In addition to these re-creations, there are also pix of Miyazaki’s posters and Totoro-shaped cookies and stuff like that.
Great, now I want to watch all of Miyazaki’s movies and I’m hungry….. Actually that’s not a bad place to be at all!
The run of Aeon Flux on MTV in the early 1990s coincided with a period in my life when I was living abroad, but whenever I was stateside I would scarf down as many episodes as I could manage. The show looked and sounded like nothing else, something that continues to be true to this day, and seemed to resist regular plot continuity to an almost mind-blowing extent—at least I never watched it with any expectation that there was an intelligible “plot” that could be “followed.” Considering that all of the early shorts—seen initially on MTV’s experimental animation anthology Liquid Television—culminated in the eponymous protagonist’s repeated demise, it’s safe to say that narrative coherence was largely beside the point.
Aeon Flux (actually Æon Flux, right?) was the kind of show that was probably pilloried for being “pretentious” and self-serious but actually strikes me as a perfect expression of a certain variety of dry wit—if this sequence from “Tide” doesn’t make you grin at any point, you’re probably not paying close enough attention. One needn’t have been aware of the existence of the cyberpunk genre to intuit it from any random scene from the show, which also evinced an interest in fetishism and domination to an extent that was rare for a TV show in the 1990s. Every character looked like an emaciated Egon Schiele subject, and occasionally a spindly albino would materialize and lick someone’s earhole.
Aeon Flux was the brainchild of Peter Chung, a Korean-American CalArts grad who cut his teeth under Ralph Bakshi and also at Disney. A couple of weeks ago he participated an interview with The Art of the Title, in which he pointed to The Prisoner and the claire ligne style of Hergé and Moebius as key influences. It’s well worth a read. In the piece one of the items of visual collateral is the storyboard for the “Venus eyetrap” sequence, probably the most familiar visual element from the series.
On Deviantart, one can find nine further storyboards from artist Mike Jackson, who worked on “The Purge” and “A Last Time for Everything” late in the series’ run.
Having recently consumed several clips on YouTube, I’d like to offer the insight that dialogue almost always violated the show’s essence—the best sequences are as wordless as Harpo Marx. The entire series is available at Amazon for less than $20.
More production art from Aeon Flux after the jump…...
To celebrate their tenth anniversary in business, creative agency DBLG decided to make an experimental animation in collaboration with London-based animation studio Animade. After the usual rounds of toing-and-froing and sending ideas back-and-forth, the two companies decided on making a stop-motion animation imprinted on the naked human body called Hey Pressto!—you see what they did there?
Animade made the individual animations which were then passed onto DBLG who modeled “every frame in Cinema 4D and exported them as a physical 3D print.” Then it was a case of finding models who were willing to have the animation imprinted on their bodies. Some 270 applied, from which eight models—four men and four women—were chosen who were willing to have their butt cracks, nipples, and belly buttons filmed.
It was decided to film all the models at the same time as it took forty minutes between each shot for the mark of the imprint to disappear. But you know, no gain without pain, etc. The resulting film Hey Pressto! is certainly imaginative and quite amusing.
Watch the animation and a film on how it was made, after the jump…
Let’s try and imagine just how shocking it once must have been to have seen a young lady decorated in tattoos out shopping on the high street. It must have been quite something. These days, it’s almost de rigueur for young ladies to sport tatts. This morning, for instance, while taking the train to work, on came three young girls who barely looked old enough to be out of junior high let alone inked with a set of rather splendid tattoos. One had an eagle on her shoulder. Another had a snake curled from ankle to thigh, while the third flexed a bloody heart on her bicep. To be honest, it all seemed quite ordinary and utterly mundane. The last time I was ever surprised by a tattoo was when a friend (hi Bert) had a massive, thick, heavily veined penis tattooed on his thigh right down to his knee, no less. It was certainly a talking point when he wore shorts—but that was obviously the idea.
Tattooing has been around longer than we care to think—way back to the Stone Age apparently—and its ubiquity today tells us there is nothing outsider-ish, or edgy in having a drawing inked on the flesh. But at one time, well within living memory, a heavily tattooed woman would be considered dangerous and suspect and could probably only find work in a traveling freak show (right next to the Bearded Lady).
Which brings us to this fine selection of women going under the needle and having some fanciful designs made upon their bodies. In their own way, each of these women was a pioneer of body art at a time when only criminals, sailors and lowlifes sported tattoos.
A soldier has her arm tattooed in tattoo parlor in Aldershot, England, 1951.
I’m digging this old school Vans sneaker dressed up as Charlie Brown’s iconic shirt. Vans has teamed up with whoever owns the Peanuts trademarks featuring Charles M. Schulz’s iconic characters. Not only is there an ode to Charlie Brown, but there are other Vans showcasing Snoopy, Lucy van Pelt, and the entire Peanuts gang.
Vans Created with vintage artwork from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, the Vans x Peanuts Old Skool combines the iconic Vans skate shoe with sturdy canvas and suede uppers, a Charlie Brown-inspired sidestripe, and an embroidered tongue.
Like many women, Canadian screenwriter and animation director Lori Malépart-Traversy seems to have gotten frustrated with the weird aura of ignorance surrounding what is after all the primary vehicle for female sexual pleasure. You may have heard of it: the clitoris.
She took matters into her own hands (stop!) and created this smashing three-minute animated movie about this sometimes misunderstood sexual organ, which is so goddamned adorable, it’s easy to forget that the content is pretty much X-rated.
(Even having said that, it’s difficult to imagine a group of ten-year-olds that would be substantially harmed by watching a short film as engaging, funny, and informative as this one. Chances are they’ve seen worse by that age.)
The movie is in French but there are helpful English subtitles. Frankly it’s pretty clear what’s going on—or at least it should be, your mileage may vary—even with no text at all. I have to admit that my life is improved by having the phrase “clitoral obscurantism” added to it. (Damn you, Freud!!)
One waits eagerly for the day when the utility of the clitoris and the importance of the female orgasm are acknowledged by all of humankind. In the meantime, watch this terrific video:
It took a little digging around to figure out who made these “real life” versions of SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star. They’re scary has hell to look at. To feel the full-effect, click on the images to enlarge ‘em to see what I’m talking about.
The artist who made these 3D characters is named Miguel Vasquez and you can visit his site here to see more. If you dare… , that is.