Well here’s an interesting way to up-cycle or reuse old materials, why not paint on coins? There’s a twofold action going on here, appropriation of historical figures and use of objects we may not even need anymore in a few years time. It’s a very clever but less conceptual approach to readymades, which makes it even better in my book. Get too abstract or philosophical and you’ve lost me. This is art you can exhibit in a gallery or sell as jewellery at a local market. Miniature Pop Art one can collect like baseball cards or wear around one’s neck.

The Brazilian illustrator, art director and visual artist uses the contours of the original figures to transform them into pop culture icons, a kind of update for the TV and video game generation. The personal (painting on objects we use everyday day) meets our mass produced media commodities (the new idols or gods if you will). There is also something mischievous at play here that reminds me of graffiti, that supposedly sacrilegious moment when an anonymous citizen decides to redecorate a billboard or any number of bronze deities in our parks and squares. But instead of just writing his or her name, what you get is something thought provoking or at least entertaining. More info on the project below:

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www.zhion.com.br

Ah the joys of surrealism, my go to cure whenever the well runs dry. Blending or juxtaposing together sometimes completely unrelated images, words or sounds to come up with something neither the maker or the audience is ready for. What I wasn’t ready for is the seemingly simple beauty of the work of Susana Blasco, graphic designer, illustrator, collage artist and junk hunter based in Bilbao, Spain. Don’t know about you dear reader but that description just ticked a whole lot of boxes for me.

As much as we all may be bored by even the words ‘vintage’ or ‘antique’ at this point, Blasco’s montage of decades old photographs and quite random objects is at times funny, ridiculous, bizarre and dark but somehow always appropriate. Sense in nonsense, a kind of inner logic where the brain fills in the missing parts for us. The juxtaposition of photograph and three dimensional object is where the unexpected magic happens.

www.susanablasco.com

 

Eric’s light paintings first caught my eye when I bought the ‘Games’ LP by electronic composer Larry Fast aka Synergy. The cover fits the music quite well, his contemporaries were Isao Tomita and Jean Michel Jarre among others in case you’re interested. This is quite fitting actually, as both Staller and Fast are considered pioneers in their respective fields. Much of the work presented here was done at night in late 70’s New York City, which adds a very sci-fi/ film noir quality to the proceedings. It made me think of everything from War of the Worlds and Odyssey:2001 to the Philip K. Dick based Blade Runner, here was something mysterious, elemental and alien.

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Utilizing various light sources as a brush or pen as it were, the drawings were photographed over long time-exposures in deserted urban landscapes. There is something very eerie about these uninhabited spaces, as though these lights were the only living organisms left roaming our cities. Or could it be that these signals, waves and objects are the signs of an oncoming alien invasion? For some reason, I can now hear a John Carpenter soundtrack coming on ha ha

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ericstaller.com

 

So for some insane reason I’ve agreed to DJ at a friend’s bar maybe once a month even though I have no clue what I’m doing ha ha. No requests either please because who knows where anything is! I also took time to document some of the labels and paper sleeves, gives one a real cross section of record label designs over the last 50 years or so.

What we essentially have here are the original mp3’s but only this lot is a lot more work to sort out and clean. I just don’t have the same enthusiasm or interest in something like iTunes, digital media doesn’t involve the treasure hunt, meeting fellow collectors and in some cases finding genuine design artefacts.

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So I’ve been using another blog for my own work, but I don’t think that site has been maintained by its developers since 2013 at least?? Not sure what was happening there, but it was unstable at best and at times I couldn’t log in at all which is a bit of a problem when you’re the admin ha ha. Anyway, I’ve shared bits and pieces of it on this blog but now it’s been fully integrated into another WordPress site so we’ll see how the juggling act evolves during the year.

remakeremodelstudio.wordpress.com

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This blog is basically the research and inspiration board for my work under the Remake/Remodel moniker, the name borrowed from a Roxy Music song but signifying using any materials around you as springboards for creative work. I just find that working with what you have available in your own environment is a more realistic way to get inspired and a truer reflection of who you really are.

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Continuing on from the last post, here are some pagan costumes from rituals still practiced today across the European continent. Magnificently documented by French photographer Charles Freger for his ‘Wilder Mann’ series, it’s people dressed up as animals or monsters. The creations look like something out of a dadaist or surrealist play but actually date back to the neolithic times. These traditions mainly mark the winter solstice and the beginning of spring, stemming from a time when appeasing nature (various gods) was the difference between life and death. I’d say that in modern times its mainly a chance to get drunk and celebrate our animal half, to let our hair down for a few days or hours before going back to our respective cubicles. It’s the equivalent of New Year’s, Halloween, camping with friends or surviving a particularly wild gig.

 

Some of these costume designs are used to bestow fertility, scold naughty children, chase away evil spirits and for parades and ritual dancing. There is design which stemmed from our modern times and needs but there is a different power inherent in ancient objects, costumes and tools which have been reiterated over many centuries. Japanese design often features objects that have been modified over lengthy periods of time, always the same but always slightly different in response to the changing environment, technology, society etc. Short shelf life or built in obsolescence just doesn’t have the same emotional or intellectual pull no matter how shiny it is or how much press one gives it.

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So I tend to see these costumes as ‘Organic Design’, fulfilling real and imagined needs and having a clear message without any academic market researched psycho-analytical mumbo jumbo. Its not selling the latest trend, it operates on a whole other time scale. We are never going to know which board of ancient hipsters decided on the size of the horns, the colour of the cloth or the choreography of the dance moves and that’s OK too. It’s our instincts which keep us coming back for more.

www.charlesfreger.com

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Well this post comes out of the blue, a flash of inspiration if you will. One of my favorite hidden little bars The Coffee Pot puts on a fantastic movie night once a month, so you get to see gems such as Suspiria, Turkey Shoot, Cat In The Brain, Creepshow and The Wicker Man on a slightly larger screen. Now, for a variety of reasons, The Wicker Man is one of those films you just have to ‘experience’ in all its creepy, slightly sleazy 70’s folk pagan horror glory ha ha. There’s plenty of naked dancing, psychedelic folksy sing-a-longs and Christopher Lee in one of the leading roles. You get to see him prancing around in white makeup and a wig, a precursor to Death Metal? Really, what more do you need??

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When the locals start wearing ceremonial masks during the second half though, I was reminded of the fact that in some regions of Eastern Europe (this is as far as I know, it probably includes most of the continent)  a lot of these traditions have remained from pre-Christian times. Halloween is an offshoot of these practices, for example. Basically its the difference between worshiping god (ourselves really) and worshiping our planet (hoping our environment doesn’t kill us). A lot of the pagan costumes, masks and ‘magic’ objects were a big inspiration to modern artists in the early 20th century. They have a force you cant learn in art school, it comes from something non-intellectual and has been made and remade over many centuries. It reflects our animal self and is ever present. It exposes us to War, Sex and Death, all the things we’d like to shut off so we can safely watch it on TV. I’ll be exploring a photographer who’s been documenting European ritual costumes in the next post.

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Popular or urban culture has always had a link with folk horror and so it continues today, from Giallo/Slasher film and soundtrack revivalists such as Death Waltz Recording Company, Zombi and Umberto to the Sci-Fi/Folk Horror revival or rather re-imagining by the Ghost Box record label I’ve posted about before. Ghost Box artists such as The Focus Group and The Advisory Circle at times sound like they formed specifically to soundtrack films like The Wicker Man. Recent films The Babadook, Berberian Sound Studio, Where The Wild Things Are, The Ring and Pan’s Labyrinth all draw from our pagan myths and rituals too.

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Leading on from my last post about French street artist Invader, here is a local offshoot (Adelaide, South Australia, to be precise) and he works under the name of Tyler Mario. Most of the information I could find is in the article I scanned above, because I’m old school like that ha ha. Below are some examples of pixelated versions of characters the artist likes, and now I wonder how many other people have put their own spin on this idea around the world?Photos taken during the Adelaide Fringe Festival, the Mario pieces being only a small part of a whole street makeover called Little Rundle Street Project, and believe me a lot of streets in this town need more colour!

 

Taking his inspiration from 70’s and 80’s video games (his name is derived from the ‘Space Invaders’ arcade game), French artist Invader is interesting in a variety of ways, not least in the fact that he uses mosaics instead of spray paint. He has also used Star Wars characters, Pink Panther and Popeye. Like Banksy and many others, Invader protects his identity and refers to himself as an Unidentified Free Artist and has been ‘invading’ city spaces all over the world since 1998. In true video gaming style, he’s also kept score: 3280 Invaders / 65 CITIES ha ha. And speaking of identity, he’s one the artists who appears in the film ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop’, itself an interesting and often funny look at celebrity and the art world.

If you’ve ever had to remove tiles you’ll know that its easier to break them than to save them as some collectors have found out with Invader’s work. One of his solutions is to offer ‘invasion kits’ for sale, so you too can build-your-own Space Invaders ha ha ha. Alternatively you could go to your local home-depot-bunnings-masters-whatever monstrosity you have in your town and purchase some construction strength glue and cheap building material and invade space with your own creation! Anyway, I like the approachable nature of this project and the fact that its industrial nature has the potential to make it almost invisible. ‘Why would you want to make it invisible?’ I hear you say and my point is that quietly altering a highly regimented and controlled environment is more important than getting arrested, banned or being famous for 15 minutes.

I don’t think I’ve written much about street art previously, but this process, along with old-school DIY book/zine/record publishing and the still largely decentralized internet, seems to be the last frontier of free expression and speech. Wanting to side step the museum and gallery system, Invader sees himself as a ‘hacker’ of public space, displaying work at street level for everyone to enjoy. Working in public spaces also rearranges a city’s architecture to an extent, at least giving it a much needed splash of colour. We already have our head and physical spaces invaded by all kinds of junk so why not Space Invaders or Shepard Fairey’s Andre The Giant?

www.space-invaders.com

Wow WordPress has informed me this morning that I’ve been doing this thing for 7 years! How time flies, so here’s to 7 more years! I’ve enjoyed the journey and the cybernetic winds of destiny that have brought some of us into contact ha ha. Speaking of flying, destiny and time, there was a time when people (well at least in the East and West blocks of the mid 20th century) dreamed of a space age and this was reflected in music, films, clothes, cars, household appliances, architecture, you name it, it was everywhere. It was our destiny to explore and live in space, inner and outer. I think the 60’s marked the point where people increasingly turned to inner space as everyone realized that cold war paranoia, racial/class tensions, corporate wars and all out Roman-feast type consumerism was here to stay.

These days inner space means plugging into the internet and staying there as long as possible in the belief that somehow we are living in the future. What we have for the most part is a bunch of techno gadgets in the attic, far away from personal jet-packs and holidays on the moon. So NASA’s ‘imagination is our window into the future’ rallying cry reminds me that, for example, science fiction novels and movies were these windows before google search. I wonder if my generation can muster the same kind of innocent amazement without detachment and irony? Anyway, what this long rant actually brings me to are these imaginary space travel posters that evoke those very same novels by Asimov, Clarke, Dick, Gibson and others we all sought out in dusty second hand bookshops at one time or another.

3 of these were designed by Invisible Creature, a multi-disciplinary design and illustration studio founded in 2006 and based in Seattle, WA. This was a special project for the two founders as their grandfather Al Paulsen was an illustrator and graphic designer at NASA for over 30 years.

blog.invisiblecreature.com/new-posters-for-nasa/

www.jpl.nasa.gov/visions-of-the-future/

 

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