Saturday, December 4, 2010

Best Art Vinyl

Recently I stumbled across an article about the "Best Art Vinyl of 2008", and I found it interesting that on MTV UK's list of fifty albums with the coolest covers, first and third place went to bands with album art that referenced classic paintings.

The folk band Fleet Foxes took first place for the front of their self titled record which features a detail of the 1559 painting Netherlandish Proverbs by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Netherlandish Proverbs (also called The Blue Cloak or The Topsy Turvy World) depicts a land populated with literal renditions of Flemish proverbs of the day. Like most of the painter's work, it contains themes of the absurdity, wickedness and foolishness of mankind...definitely in intriguing choice of album art. In an intervies, vocalist/guitarist Robin Pecknold notes:

"There's all this really weird stuff going on. I liked that the first impression is that it's just pretty, but then you realize that the scene is this weird chaos. I like that you can't really take it for what it is, that your first impression of it is wrong...I liked that it had a really intriguing meaning, like there's a story to each little scene. Which I just felt fitting for that record- dense but unified, not a collage or anything."

Netherlandish Proverbs
Fleet Foxes' Album Cover

Third place was given to the English alternative rock band Coldplay for the Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends cover. There were three covers for the album. The front cover for the standard edition (the award winner) is a painting by Eugène Delacroix, entitled Liberty Leading the People, which was slightly altered for the cover by using a white paint brush to draw "VIVA LA VIDA". The painting commemorates the July Revolution (in France) of 1830, which toppled Charles X-a symbol of the end of Age of Enlightenment, the end of the French Revolution, and the start of the romantic era. This theme resonates throughout the lyrics of the album with references of life, death and war. Also, the Spanish phrase "Viva La Vida" translates in English as "long live life".
Liberty Leading the People
 Coldplay's Album Cover



Friday, December 3, 2010

Motion Graphers

Motion graphics as a genre of media technology, encompasses a wide variety of graphic work that uses video and/or animation to create the illusion of motion. The art of motion graphics has evolved significantly over time. In the last fifty years we have moved from the title sequences of Saul Bass to 3-D particle systems. Today, the production process varies from artist to artist. One designer, Kyle Cooper, has in a way followed the footsteps of Saul Bass. Cooper, like Bass, works with title sequences - most critically acclaimed for the 1995 film Se7en. More recently, Cooper worked on scenes in the musical film Across the Universe (2007), Here is a clip from the "For the Benefit of Mr. Kite" scene.
 Another designer, Mike Winkelmann-also known as "Beeple", focuses mostly on ways to "visual music through video." In one of his most recent projects, Beeple worked with Vince Ream on a music video for the Flying Lotus song "Kill Your Co-Workes". Link to the video below.


Saturday, November 20, 2010


After watching a documentary on the work of architect Frank Gehry earlier in class this week, I was interested in learning more about his work that of similar architects. I then discovered that much of Gehry's work falls within the style of Deconstructivism. Deconstructivism, also known as DeCon Architecture, is a development of postmodern architecture that emerged in the 1980's as an opposition to the ordered rationality of modernism. "It is characterized by ideas of fragmentation, an interest in manipulating ideas of a structure's surface or skin, non-rectilinear shapes which serve to distort and dislocate some of the elements of architecture, such as structure and envelope." (1) "DeCon" buildings or structures are most commonly described as radical, chaotic, and unpredictable. Simply the main philosophy of deconstructivists is to move architecture away from what its practitioners see as the constricting 'rules' of modernism such as "form follows function," "purity of form," and "truth to materials."

The design of Frank Gehry’s own Santa Monica residence, (from 1978), has been cited as a prototypical deconstructivist building. His starting point was a prototypical suburban house embodied with a typical set of intended social meanings. Gehry altered its massing, spatial envelopes, planes and other expectations in a playful subversion, an act of "de"construction" (2)

Other lead architects of the Deconstructivism movement include  Daniel Libeskind, Rem Koolhaas, Peter Eisenman, Zaha Hadid, Coop Himmelb(l)au, and Bernard Tschumi. 


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Objectified: Pencil vs. Printer

A couple of weeks ago we watched the documentary film Objectified, and many a time since that day in class I have found myself pondering the idea of  (how the film put it) "our complex relationship with manufactured objects and, by extension, the people who design them". Each little detail in a product's design has purpose and makes an impact. The film asks the viewer to think about what the objects with which we surround ourselves, might reflect about us.

While stumbling through images and company websites, I found two dramatically different objects that struck my attention. One is a manufactured product, the other-meticulously handcrafted.

The Printer:

"Printing Your Toast" is a design by MA student Othmar Muhlebach, that recently won second place in the 2009 Berner Design Awards.The idea of this re-designed toaster (which resembles an ink-jet printer) is to stack slices of bread like you would paper in printer. The bread is then fed into the design from the top, it's then toasted and ejected onto the base. Additionally, the toaster could be modified to burn any kind of graphics on the bread  run through a USB device!!

The Pencils:

On the complete opposite end of the product design spectrum are the pencil carvings of Dalton Ghetti. Dalton, who works as a carpenter, has been making his tiny graphite works for about 25 years. He uses three basic tools to make his incredible creations – a razor blade, sewing needle and sculpting knife.According to Dalton a standard figure will take at least a few months, but the longest he ever spent on a piece was two and a half years.



Monday, October 25, 2010

The Giant Hipster Feedback Loop

This blog entry is in response to today's E-learning assignment: The Merchants of Cool. In the video program there were many interesting points made about consumerism and teen materialism, but what I found most compelling, was the theory of "the giant feedback loop". In section five, the question is asked: "Do shows hyping teen sexuality simply reflect the world of teens? Or are teens imitating the image being sold to them?" For example, the narrator explains that when he and his crew came around to the groups of girls dancing it seemed as if they displayed specific behaviors because they knew the camera was filming them. In respect, The Merchants of Cool project is almost a decade old now, so I have chosen to relate this loop theory to something more current in the culture of college students today: "the hipster".

Generally speaking, hipsters are a a subculture of men and women that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter. As consumers, hipsters shun any product, media or advertisement deemed mainstream or conventional, and consequently the hipster prides him/herself on having obscure/underground or ironic taste. The true irony here is that hipsters are conformists within their own subculture, and are in fact unknowingly following a path that hipsters have carved out years before them. Even hipster rebellion can be bought and sold by the media machine- while clothing companies like American Apparel, and Urban Outfitters make tons of money from the hipster demographic that crave the "effortless cool" look. Another huge aspect of the hipster culture is interest in underground, indie, or obscure music. However, the hipsters rely heavily on sites like Pitchfork Media to tell them what's cool, which bands have "sold out" etc. Here it is: the feedback loop.

There are several websites and forums that parody "underground" hipster culture. My favorite, is a site called Hipster Kitty that often pokes fun at the way a hipster brags about having more obscure music taste than his peers. It's always a competition about who's heard what band first. See example below:


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bob Masse: Concert Poster Artist Exraordinaire

It was March 2009, I was walking down the streets of downtown Baltimore when I saw it: sitting there in the window of a head shop-beautiful, colorful, psychedelic. It was perfect. "It", if you are wondering, was a retro print of a Bob Dylan/Paul Simon concert poster for the show at Meadows Music Theater in 1990. Well, I bought it of course. I had to (being the obsessive Paul Simon fan that I am). It wasn't until a few months later, however, that I noticed the small print on the bottom of the poster:BOB MASSE.

Bob Masse, it turns out, is "Canada's foremost rock poster artist" and a pioneer of the psychedelic art genre. (1) While searching through online collections I noticed a predominant theme of Art Nouveau influence. It is said that Bob's designs reflect his interest in the Art Nouveau movement and the work of Alphonse Mucha in particular. Similar techniques of the two artists include a brilliant color palette, fluid line-work, unique lettering, and intricate figures. Although Bob Masse is most widely attributed to music poster production, there was a break in the 1980's when Masse turned his focus to film posters. During this time, he worked for a variety of film projects including Total Recall and Back to the Future III. The switch did not last long, and the artist returned to his original medium the next decade. Masse has been producing posters since the 1960's and continues to produce for contemporary performers. Throughout his career, Mr. Masse has done work for many artists including Bob Dylan, The Doors, Grateful Dead, U2, Alanis Morissette, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Led Zeppelin.



Friday, October 22, 2010

Lolita Fashion

Although I have been aware of Lolita fashion for some time, I would say that I was only first really exposed to the Lolita fashion culture when we watched Kamikaze Girls in class a couple weeks back. The way Momoko gushed about Lolita clothing and how she wished she had been alive during the Rococo era, peaked my interest in the subject. From the film I concluded that Lolita fashion is a fashion subculture, originating in Japan, that is primarily influenced by the French Rococo style. After researching the subject, however, I learned that there are actually many different Lolita style types. Momoko followed the "Sweet Lolita" fashion-the type of Lolita most heavily influenced by the Rococo and Victorian styles. Sweet Lolita, also known as ama ron, clothing consists of soft pastel fabrics, flowers, lace, and bows to emphasize cuteness and femininity.

"It is often assumed that girls who dress in Lolita follow a Lolita 'lifestyle' in which they seek to emulate the mannerisms, etiquette and the aesthetic of historical time periods, specifically that of the Victorian era. Although some do choose to follow a strict Lolita lifestyle, there are others who simply enjoy wearing the clothes. For the majority of Lolita, dressing in the fashion does not mean changing personalities and habits: It may simply be a preference of style or a statement for modesty." (1)

As the Lolita  fashion culture spread globally, many different sub-styles developed from a collection of influences including everything from "Goth"' to Japanese anime. These other sub-style types include Gothic Lolita, Classic Lolita, Punk Lolita, Wa Lolita (combines traditional Japanese clothing with Lolita fashion), Qi Lolita (combines traditional Chinese clothing with Lolita fashion), Oji ("prince" or boy style), Hime ("princess") Lolita, Guro Lolita ("broken doll"/"innocent gore"), and Sailor Lolita.

 "Sweet Lolita"

"Guro Lolita"

"Qi Lolita"