Well my idea of posting more has gone nowhere this year so here’s something I’ve been collecting in recent years. Most of us probably browse past these records thinking ‘oh it’s a cheesy 60’s Latin take on Bond themes, probably won’t play it more than once’, but we’ve missed out on some great arrangements, playing and production! At least 80% of the compilations have been hugely entertaining to my ears, not sure what the rest of the tenants in my building think ha ha.

Not to mention the usually glorious covers! The rule seems to be to include as many as the art department can afford scantily clad ‘Bond-type’ women striking action poses in imaginary spy or crime films and TV shows. I think this ‘imaginary’ aspect actually allows for more interesting visual interpretations of the tunes than the usual screen shots used from productions. The Basie Meets Bond, Thunderball and Senor 007 covers are particularly striking, or ridiculous, depending on your point of view. Others like the Al Caiola and Bang Bang Bang records feature more imaginative design work.  I have found roughly half of these so far, which means the hunt shall continue!

Now it has to be said that in reality the covers were exploiting a current trend and one gets the sense that they were pumped out at the same rate as the movies themselves. Some have a distinct sense of something brazen and even illegal going on, much like the many Bond spin-offs and spoof films themselves. But again, some of the films and soundtracks are totally worth finding.

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Or more accurately 3D animation, real time computer graphics and projection mapping interacting with electronic music to create something that merges theater set design and production, cinema, live music and virtual reality. One could imagine a character out of say, Blade Runner, walking into a concert or nightclub scene resembling what I saw in this performance. Unfortunately it wasn’t live but on YouTube, though it would be quite an experience to see it at the Sydney Opera House in person. As usual, my discovery was out of tune with any sequential time sequence as I’m busy bouncing all over the place.

I first stumbled upon it while looking up Amon Tobin, the Brazilian electronic musician who collaborated on this project with director Vello Virkhaus, media production collective V Squared Labs, Leviathan and set designer Vita Motus. The music was originally from Tobin’s album ISAM (which has been a part of my lounge room ‘ambience’ lately), an Acronym for “Invented Sound Applied to Music”, the record was: ‘an experiment in synthesizing field recordings and transforming them into new physically playable instruments to create unique sound palettes.’

The set itself at various times looks like a dystopian city of the future, a mass of broken T.V. sets, a giant game of Tetris or some kind of self conscious but irrational space ship with Tobin embedded in the structure as the captain. It’s at times a disorienting 21st century version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis assembled from musique and video concrete sources, filtered through Kraftwerk’s industrial elegance and finally interpreted by the mix, match and fusion of DJ culture. This is a one of a kind audio/visual spectacle and definitely worth your time dear reader. Let it paint unique pictures in your own mind.



vsquaredlabs.com

amontobin.com

 


By looking at these images one might think that the sculptures were made of stone, bronze, clay etc but not toilet paper rolls. Well that’s exactly what these brilliant and funny faces are made from. It’s like a gallery of theatre masks or an expressionist puppet show.

From my own experience, these rolls can be hard to work with as the cardboard is very thin. These objects are painted and then shellacked from what I understand which may increase the strength of the material. All in all, a great bit of upcycling here.

You might not be familiar with the name but Karl is a Canadian experimental filmmaker whose videos, projections and stills have been an integral part of the band Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Me and a few friends got to witness them perform together last summer, an event I can only describe as a post-apocalyptic yet poetic requiem for the decline of western civilization. A doomed sense of helplessness but with a few hints of sunshine here and there, or as fellow Canadians No Means No put it: ‘In every defeat, there will be a victory’.

What was fascinating was that the projectionist was situated in the middle of the dance floor with actual rolls of film dangling everywhere. Lemieux was as busy as the group onstage and his imagery seamlessly blended with the music and in fact became the visual focus and served to obscure the players themselves. One could draw parallels here with the psychedelic 60’s ‘happenings’ but really the projection of improvised imagery is where it ends. I’m not sure the kids were really ‘grooving’ to this multi media spectacle. But you could connect this to other film and music collaborations such as Jem Cohen/Fugazi and Ge.Sus/Crass, where imagery takes part in the process rather than just documents it.

Karl Lemieux: ‘I’ve never been a musician or seriously learned to play an instrument, but, to some extent, I prefer music to film. It’s something I wish I could share in. Especially the improvisational part, where the musicians get together and communicate by sound. They respond to each other and create this whole thing all together. I think that’s what brought me to performance, because it involves controlling an instrument. But instead of sound rhythms or sound vibrations its light rhythms and the physical experience of light.’

The key figure for the filmmaker seems to be one Pierre Hébert, whose projection work dates back to the 70’s but that’s all I know at this stage. This character warrants further investigation in another post, and it will be interesting to see their similarities and differences in approach. Karl’s loops of 16mm film are bleached, burnt, hand-painted and god knows what else until they resemble a lost home video tainted by some kind of radio activity. A bleak, post-industrial-grey, abstract expressionist, dream-logic travelogue of the damned. Or something like that, you dear reader, may see it from another angle.

Incite Interview

Karl Lemieux on Vimeo

 

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:

talesyoulose.tumblr.com
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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