Despite merging architecture, engineering, physics, kinetics and function into a (mostly) aesthetically pleasing structure, the rollercoaster is not really at home in the art world.
The only media interest it gets is when a new one breaks current records or when an old one breaks down. Even abstract theories use the roller coaster as a fairly pedestrian and weary synonym: "Life is a rollercoaster" (which might be so profound that there is nothing to add to it) and the boring old comparing of the stock-market to a coaster ride. Recently we see lots of the latter and I guess we will have to endure much more of it in the near future.
The exhibition, La Montaña Rusa by Cuban artits duo Los Carpinteros, consists of a new work of the same name, which alludes to both a roller coaster and a bed, juxtaposed with other new sculptures and a group of drawings. The exhibition investigates Los Carpinteros' interest in objects of domesticity, as exemplified by items such as beds, swimming pools and shelves.
La Montaña Rusa, which occupies the main room of the Sean Kelly Gallery in New York, demonstrates the artisanal aesthetic of Los Carpinteros' oeuvre, at the same time as it domesticates a large-scale public form of outdoor entertainment.
The work's title literally translates to "Russian mountain" in English, but it is commonly known as the Spanish term for roller-coaster. This double entendre is consistent with much of the work of Los Carpinteros. La Montaña Rusa clearly alludes to the cycles of life, rest, dreaming, sexuality, birth and death.
Finally I see that famous Bette Davis quote in a new light: "Hold on tight, it´s going to be a bumpy night!"
Coaster purists will argue that it is not really a coaster-bed because it doesn´t have a lifthill and it is not a continuous circuit.
More on Los Carpinteros here. Visit the Sean Kelly Gallery.
Despite merging architecture, engineering, physics, kinetics and function into a (mostly) aesthetically pleasing structure, the rollercoaster is not really at home in the art world.
When I was in Tokyo for the first time in the winter of 1992 I came across many late teenagers who appeared to be totally stressed and fatigued.
It was explained to me that they were in the final stages of the long process to enter university.
I heard bizarre stories that it was not unusual for parents to enlist their fresh-born babies for acceptance tests to be taken 18 years into the future. Those tests were said to be so tough that japanese kids are actually just going to school to learn for these tests.
My host, a Japanese guy who grew up and went to school in Germany, was currently studying at Tokyo University.
Of course I was curious how he managed those tests, without ever going to school in Japan. He told me that his main study was German language and history. He apparantly received his test-papers, read them, corrected them and walked out. This must have been so embarrasing for his tutors that they gave him his immatriculation right away.I was also told that many families would/could only enlist their son(s) for the university. Either for financial reasons or some sexist bullshit.
So when the girls would finish school they would find work as "Receptionists" in the countless department stores and shops of Tokyos sprawling, five city-centres. I came across this brigade of incredibly beautiful, immaculately groomed and uniformed girls everywhere. It was not unusual to be greeted by 8 or 10 of them while entering a shop. They would stand there, neatly lined up, they opened the doors for you and would tell you how pleased they were to open the doors for you.Nobody could tell me about the career possibilities for these girls, each of them looking like a supermodel or at least a Stewardess from the most luxurious first-class Airline.
Apparantly they are expected to find a man and marry. After all, each new year brings an abundance of highly educated young women who were not enlisted for the university test upon their birth..
These wonderful pictures are taken by japanese photographer Junko Takahashi. The book The Receptionist is her first to be published in the USA.
The video for Funplex has just arrived and its almost suberversive. And fun!
Seeing Fred Schneider rolling around this fantasy mall on a Segway is just too funny and there is even another cameo of RuPaul.
It seems that the dreaded mall-culture is recently becoming the subject of artistic re-evaluation from spontaneous musical performances to dystopian novels about people who live in retail-land.
Leave it to the B-52s to cause a party riot in this dreary place. But "Hippie be quiet, your peace-sign t-shirt can cause a riot."
I am not a Treckie, but artist Devorah Sperber most likely is.
Her "Mirror Universe" works are remakes or copies of iconic Star-Trek-scenes, The last supper and the Mona Lisa. In a somehow hilarious but ultimately contrieved way she choses glass beads, chenille stems and spool threads to turn these images into curtains.
In a mixture of op- and pop-art, postcard painting, kitchen-curtain furniture and "Ministeck" techniques she creates a piece of work that is commercially accessible, abstract and a total pisstake on supposedly "female art" like knitting, needlepointing and so on.
"Spock (Beaming in) 1" consists of 25.000 glassbeads strung up on monofilament. The idea and execution is great. The curtain simulates the semi-transparent look of Mr. Spock materializing in a) an art gallery, or b) your flat.
The work and cost that goes into these objects will probably prevent their cloning for a mass market. And I do know some Trekkies who will certainly be sad about this and I would gladly use it as a kitchen-curtain if I wouldn´t have an open kitchen.
For "Holodeck: Simulation Programm..." she used close to 10.000 coloured spool threads in a similar way. And with the help of 27.648 (!) chenille stems, she re-creates still shots such as "Uhura and Sulu (the game has rules)" to a photo-realistic perfection (as far as the chenille stems allow.).
She reflects on the recurring science-fiction-theme of alternative realities, parallel universes and mirrored identities. But to play even further with the space-continuum she lines up spools in distorted order so that the image can be only seen properly with the help of a perfectly placed hemispherical dome mirror.
In older works she did a huge upside-down display of the Last Supper out of nearly 30.000 spools, and mimics the laterna magica (and maybe even some helping techniques used by the old masters) by putting a viewing sphere in front of it.
New Yorkers can see her "Mirror Universe" exhibition until April 26 at the Caren Golden Fine Art Gallery, but I still secretly hope that her "beaming in" - curtains will find their way to Ikea or habitat. I think they are so POP, they belong there
All of Sperbers works and more can be seen here
The Black Dog are about to release a new album Radio Scarecrow in early April. Yikes!
I am a bit undecided about the new, reformed Black Dog, since their last album "Silenced" somehow flew past my ears. I was trying to get into it, but it somehow didn´t click with me.
After all, Black Dog mk1 are responsible for my favourite electronic music ever. Especially the enourmous "Spanners" is -for me- the best electronic album ever recorded and nothing that was released under this name ever came close to this dense and fantastic work.
Listen to "Psil-cosyin", one of the main track from "Spanners" that goes to places in 10 minutes that other aural wallpaper creators can only hint at in their whole career. This is not "close your eyes and drift"-music as it will transform everthing you see while you hear it.
After the split of the trio, Plaid were trying to continue with the alien-exoctica sound and they had some brilliant moments, especially on "Rest Proof Clockwork", "Double Figure" and lately they had some great tracks on the "Tekkon Kinkreet"-Soundtrack ("White´s dream" is easily their best piece). Comparing their sound aesthetic to the old Black Dog stuff, it is quite clear that the two Plaid guys were the ones who were responsible for the far-out sound design.
But this morning I came across this Interview, Black Dog gave to Fact Magazine. And they are dropping references like Cabaret Voltaire and R.H. Kirk in his "Virtual State"-phase, they tell that they ate Prozac to record under the influence and hint at colossal low frequency experiments during the recording sessions. Suddenly I was all giddy for it!
"Radio Scarecrow" can be streamed (in one minute bites at least) here and what I have heard so far is very, very pleasing and exiting.
A succession of 17 tracks, mostly relaxing with an uptempo track here and there and interspersed with strange radio transmissions. The sound is absolutely clear and sparkling, the drum patterns are once again shuffling and complex.
Here is "UV Sine" in full (not much to see, but anyway)
I read about Muxtape this morning and since then I pushed work aside and started compiling my first online muxtape mixtape.
That´s the whole idea behind this fairly new service: Create an account, upload up to twelve songs (mp3), not larger than 10mb, arrange them in your favoured order (and everybody who loves mixtapes knows: the order is as important as the song selection!) and share it with friends online.
So I flipped through the stuff I have on my mobile harddrive and compiled this 60 minute, very suave "tape" which is a perfect companion to this strange snowy-sunshine-y weather on the Hamburg waterfront. It contains some tracks I wrote about here.
Here is the link to my mix: "Stellavista: Sounds from the balconies". Just click on the first track in the list to start the mix.
It is extremely easy to use and a lot of fun! However, the uploading was interrupted two times and the site seems to bit very slow and feeble at the moment. I guess this is due to strong growing interest during the last hours.
I am listening to my tape now for the first time and the re-play is flawless. The tracks are loading while you play them and there are no delays. The soundquality is fairly good and I think that, due to the 10mb limit per track, the playback has the same rate as the upload.
The limitation of 12 tracks and 10mb per song nearly mimics the problem you had whith your C-60/C-90 tapes when the tape was running short and finding a song that would fit before the tape was over.
Paul Keeley - Sussex Blue
Deluge - Departure
Locust - No one in the world
My My - Pelhourino
Power House - Kenny´s Jazz
Iony - View from the upper balcony
Bill Nelson - When your dream of perfect beauty comes true
Nelly Furtado - Say it right (electro mix)
Sensation - Beautiful morning (Fluke Magimix)
Bochum Welt - Home
Model 500 - Starlight (Soultek´s falling star mix)
I wonder how long Muxtape will survive before the industry will shut it down.
The winner of the 2nd annual International Color Arwards - Architecture is this photo by Danial Clements and shows the memorial blocks in Berlin.
All contributions by professionals and amateurs from numerous categories here.
Some of my faves:
The work of Brody and Pateau, who work solo and as a team, is sometimes considered as conceptual neo-dada. I don´t think that dada is the right word here as there is certainly a very clear moral message behind the initial shock or giggle.
The attack on fashion and consumerism in "TransRatFashion" is actually a bit flat and sub-punk.
But the comissioned oil paintings in the series "Painting China Now", which show horrible injuries inflicted on chinese citizens by the government are very powerful and disturbing.
The latest work "Dog Carpet" comes across as one of those countless internet, photoshop pranks which are distributed by blogs like this one. The real suprise behind these furry carpets is the realization that there would probably be a market for them.
In one episode of the Simpsons Homer enters the 3rd dimension and wanders around L.A.
The photoshopping artist at Pixeloo has created a spooky real life vision of Homer and an Mario by adding skin textures from portrait photos.
By keeping the proportions of the original the result is incredibly creepy.
Click for a closer view of the incredibly detailed skin texture
Commissioned by the London Sinfonietta and Warp Records as part of the Warp Works and 20th Century Masters show this video is an accompaniment to the Plaid track, "Scope".
What starts out as a timelapse video turns into a stop-motion exercise as the mood of the music picks up.
The video was done by Sheffield based Flat-e who have done several promos for Warp. They are also responsible for "Like a child", the felt-pen animated video for the beautiful Junior Boys song. With their work, Flat-e are referring to early 20th century experimental animation of Hans Richter and Leopold Survage.
Both films and more can be seen in better quality on the Flat-e website.
This timeless piece of electronic pop always brings a sparkle of wonder to the dreariest places. As the video shows endless lines of grey houses, overpasses and carparks, the "you are here"-spots of every western cityspace, the hands of a solitary man compose a song on a small pocket-keyboard. "We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of the dreams". This no-budget clip was made in 1984 but it looks and sounds like something that was just released.
Section 25, the band that claims to put back the fun in dysfunction, is about to release a "Best Of"-compilation by the end of this month.
The Blackpool based band that reportedly invented acid-house without knowing it, started out in the late seventies and has recently reformed. As one of the early Factory bands they were always standing in the shadow of Joy Division. They shook that image with the electro-elegance of "From the hip", the album that contained the almost hitsingle "Looking from a hilltop", which put them in the shadow of New Order.
Cut Copy have upped their new album "In ghost colours" for full pre-listening on MySpace.
As expected, it is pretty good! My favourite track, apart from the three that are already known is "Out there on thin ice", which is a brilliant raise-the-roof-party-track.
"Lights & Music" and "Heart on fire" are a bit different with added bits. Very 12-inch-y.
Of course there are also some indie-guitar tracks and some short instrumental fillers and lead-ins.
The overall energy level of "In ghost colours" is much higher than "Bright like neon love" and I hope they sell truckloads of it. It will be out tomorrow, on march 22!
The original Disneyland in L.A. needs to do some work on their over forty year old attraction "Its a small world". The ride that everybody loves to hate! The ride that can melt brains with its repetitive mantra and thousands of waving little dolls that always remind you what a weird little place this planet can be.
Over the years guests to "the happiest place on earth" have increased in size and weight and this frequently causes the boats to get stuck in their water-trough. To save the guests and the employees from the embarrasment to evacuate the oversized guests from the bowels of the ride (after they have been lulled into a trance by the theme-song) Disney has decided to make the boats and the troughs bigger.
While they are at it they have also decided to make the ride a bit more...exiting!
"It´s a small world" was designed by Disney Imagineer Mary Blair as one of a few attractions which Disney contributed to the EXPO 1964 in New York. After a successful run at the exhibition the ride was relocated to Anaheim and continued to delight or embarass millions of guests ever since.
The little puppets which make up the centrepiece of the attraction are far behind the usual animatronic machinations of Disneys other attractions. But its exactly the simplistic style, the childlike features, combined with overly colourful costumes and artificial backdrops that makes the ride stand out above most other show attractions.
You can love and or hate it, but you will certainly never forget it for the rest of your life!
Probably the main idea of "Its a small world" was to invite Americans to see the rest of the world through the eyes of its children. Every culture which more or less makes up the melting-pot of the modern USA is presented with a firm eye for stereotypes. But hey, its for kids, you know?!
So the basic idea was to depict the world outside the USA and therefor the host country took a backseat in the spectacle.
But this is supposed to change now. In order to tie in more of Disneys characters and to not forget who is the best country in the world, the Imagineers have decided to plop down an "UP with America" section into the ride.
So far so chauvinistic. But to make room for the new America, they decided to rip out the original "Rainforest"-part of the ride and turn it into the new world.
I have to admit that I couldn´t care less, but isn´t this a publicity nightmare waiting to unfold.
Of course this has happened already! Disney fans all over the world have the tendency to be quite uptight about any changes to their beloved Disneyland. When it comes to Disney, which is one of the most sinister companies on the planet, they all become conservators.
That´s why they have started the "Save the rainforest"-campaign on many devoted sites and it is already beginning to make waves.
The irony could not be any greater!
I wonder if they´ll get STING to sing for their goal!?
I found the story and the "Save the rainforest"-logos on this site.
The other pictures are taken from the "It´s a small World" Wikipedia entry.
A fourteen minute ride-through in its original condition can be seen here. I invite everyone to read the rest of my blog to the soothing sounds of "It´s a small world after all".
UPDATE March 30: It was declared that the design proposal was a fake!
Next year will be the 120th anniversary of the Tour Eiffel. To celebrate this event and to heighten its already massive tourist draw the Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel has asked several architects to come up with some flashy ideas.
This is the temporary re-design proposal by SERERO, a french group of architects and I hope it gets build (just to see purists foaming at the mouth)!
Their plan it so to extend and enlarge the top platform from 280 to 580 square meters.
The additional platform will be a high performance carbon Kevlar structure that will be attached to the existing structure without further modification.
After the celebration is over, the 3-piece structure will be dismantled and the tower will return to its former, iconic look.
I love this idea, and find the design very beautiful and daring. Of course it is a bit questionable to celebrate the greatness of 19th century architecture by attaching a new, state of the art platform to it which basically alters the perception and design of the tower. But I think its a great statement and people who wish to jump from the top platform might even find it a bit easier then.
Speaking of "I fell towers": The SERERO design reminds me of another iconic structure, the Parachute Jump Tower at Coney Island, New York. It was built in 1939 and offered daring passengers the chance to experience a controlled, seated parachute jump from a hight of ca. 80 m.
The parachute jump is closed and abandoned since 1968. It is listed as a landmark and there is constant but fruitless planning to re-open it with modern ride technology.
The Eiffel Tower renderings are taken from the SERERO website.
The Parachute Jump picture is taken from Wikipedia
This perplexing video of "Big Dog", a walking machine, is currently all over the net. This must be the work of years and years of combined research of eager scientists financed by military funds.
Isn´t it kind of strange that the emotions that this extraordinary four legged machine evokes are more negative than positive? After short moment of admiration a feeling of creepiness and downright fear at the possibilities this robo-dog is capable of kicks in.
Sure, it could be helpful in many ways and terrains, but does anybody doubt the opressive use of "Big Dog"?
Even without any cuddly fur and some big soft eyes, "Big Dog" makes us believe that it´s alive! The way it moves on ice is just too familiar to be artificial.
Some have commented that they felt sorry for it, when it was kicked and tried to keep balance. I immediately expected it to turn around and go after the attacker!
Are we really so conditioned by watching sci-fi movies, or have we inherited the cynical approach that all new technology will be turned against its creators?
Maybe I followed the guys from Survival Research Laboratories for too long.
Photosite Worth 1000 are currently looking for the best photoshop work which has robots photoshopped into classic paintings. The voting ends in a few hours and I am curious who will win.
I really like the robo-Scream of Edvard Munch
RoBoticelli is also nice
My favourite is the robot-knight of Pietro Perugino
I also like the "Mother with artificial child"
which reminds me of the very similar, 28 year old Moritz Rrr painting which was used for the album-sleeve "Geri Reig" by Der Plan.
I am spending half of the year in Germany, the other half in Canada and to an extent in the USA. After I had returned to Hamburg last november I sometimes literally forgot where I was after turning on the TV. Since the pre-elections started it is nearly impossible to miss any news on Hillary, Barack and the other guys. It´a all over German internet sites, there are discussions, reports, insights and gossip. It seems like people all over the world can´t wait until Bush finally can go back to be an alcoholic again. The interest in the quest for the democratic candidate is amazing and the presence in the non-US-media is overwhelming.
I even know who DMX is, after he released a seminal hip-hop album ten years ago. So I was quite surprised when I read this interview with him on XXLmag.com. Oh boy, he must be living under a pretty large and expensive rock in Arizona.
According to the interview he has neither heard of Barack Obama, nor the fact that the USA might have a black man as president soon. This is how it goes:
"...You know there’s a Black guy running, Barack Obama and then there’s Hillary Clinton.
His name is Barack?!
Barack Obama, yeah.
What the fuck is a Barack?! Barack Obama. Where he from, Africa?
Yeah, his dad is from Kenya.
What the fuck?! That ain’t no fuckin’ name, yo. That ain’t that nigga’s name. You can’t be serious. Barack Obama. Get the fuck outta here.
You’re telling me you haven’t heard about him before.
I ain’t really paying much attention.
I mean, it’s pretty big if a Black…
Wow, Barack! The nigga’s name is Barack. Barack? Nigga named Barack Obama. What the fuck, man?! Is he serious? That ain’t his fuckin’ name. Ima tell this nigga when I see him, “Stop that bullshit. Stop that bullshit” [laughs] “That ain’t your fuckin’ name.” Your momma ain’t name you no damn Barack."
After the first shock and the slight embarassing amusement over his rather childish reaction wears off, he offers an honest, yet rather depressing view on things. As a convict he has lost his rights to vote. But he explains that this is not the reason for his colossal lack of interest:
"Is that why you’re not following it?
No, because it’s just—it doesn’t matter. They’re gonna do what they’re gonna do. It doesn’t really make a difference. These are the last years.
But it would be pretty big if we had a first Black president. That would be huge.
I mean, I guess…. What, they gon’ give a dog a bone? There you go. Ooh, we have a Black president now. They should’ve done that shit a long time ago, we wouldn’t be in the fuckin’ position we in now. With world war coming up right now. They done fucked this shit up then give it to the Black people, “Here you take it. Take my mess.”
It’s all a fuckin’ setup. It’s all a setup. All fuckin’ bullshit. All bullshit. I don’t give a fuck about none of that."
"The president…they don’t have that much authority basically?
But Bush pretty much…
You think Bush is making fuckin’ decisions?
He did, yeah, he fucked up the country.
He act like he making decisions. He could barely speak! He could barely fuckin’speak!
Can’t be serious. He ain’t making no damn decisions."
This is a pretty nihilsitic answer to Obama´s "race speach".
The full online interview can be read here.
Ryuichi Sakamoto & David Sylvian: Bamboo Music
Released in 1982, this is one of the last moments of unbound futuristic pop! Shortly after the sound of the decade would turn into overblown and overproduced schlock.
I always wonder why the retro-train has not stopped at these Bamboo houses yet. After all, this has it all: highly artificial music, tons of make-up, white rooms with fog, keyboards and hairspray.
Were you there to? Stoned, lazy weekend afternoons in your sleazy neighborhood laundrette?
You never knew if the comatose, bald guys next to you would become the kings of stadium-rave or if the friendly girl, daydreaming on a washing machine would later style herself successfully as Thea-von-Harbou-Sex-Robot.
I bet they all have at least one washing machine now!
Orbital & Alison Goldfrapp: Are we here?
Everybody agrees that the person who is now calling himself Michael Jackson can under no circumstance be the same person that appears on the sleeves and in the videos of "Off the Wall" and "Thriller". Something must have happened to him that made him suffer through the most hideous plastic sugery.
Did he really want to become somebody else? And was this somebody a white version of Diana Ross?
But even before Jackson started his transformation there was another pop-star whose mutation was vitually taking place before our eyes: Jim Kerr, the singer of The Simple Minds.
Is it humanly possible that somebody, somewhere in summertime can change his appearance AND his talent in a process of only three years?
From the bleak and dry experiments of "Real to Real Cacophony" to the transcendent electronic euphoria of "Empires and Dance" the band suddenly emerged as if the best drugs of the world were finally kicking in.
From there they would expand their sound into epic, awe inspiring bliss. The joys of "Love Song", "In Trance as Mission" and "This Earth that you walk upon" along with the earlier european proto-disco of "I Travel" are still testament to a group of musicians who were clearly at the height of their game and at the right moment in time.
Along with the great Associates, the Scots were influential in creating a sound and an aesthetic that is still holding up today.
And then there was "New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)"! The album that washed over Europe with waves and waves of blissed out sound and euphoria. For a moment the Simple Minds were the best band in the world.
Sweat in Bullet
But Jim Kerr wanted to be somebody else! He wanted to be a rock-star. He wanted to be Bono Vox. He wanted to be married to a Pretender and to Patsi Kensit. He wanted to be fat.
And after the new gold years (81-82-83-84) had passed, like a prophecy from the song title, he became all that. With "Sparkle in the Rain" they had lost their spark.
I refused to see them live when they toured that album. But a friend of mine invited me, because he wanted to see The Waterboys, who were supposed to be the opening act. But they didn´t show up and we were witnessing the birth of a horrible, schlocky stadium-act instead. The name of this band was Simple Minds. The transformation was underway and it would be complete by 1985.
What is going on in Dubai?
They are building a future desert-magalopolis from scratch and they have only just begun.
Every architect worth a grain of sand is submitting plans for the most outrageous, shoehorn shaped skyscrapers which will make the local Burj al Arab and the Petrona Towers in Singapore look like shabby huts within the next few years.
Artificial islands, formed like palmtress, whales and continents (which can only be recognized from the air) are currently created and New York Times reports that dutch architect Rem Koohlhaas is planning a whole city within the city, a sort of miniature Manhattan, which should work as a social experiment in urban planning.
One year ago Dubai had just under 1,4 million inhabitants (with the highest percentage of millioners) and around 6 million tourists. By 2010 they want to triple the number of visitors. But will a franchise of every western amusement park, shopping malls so big that you´ll need your whole holiday just to walk through them, and a bunch of spectacular high-rises in the desert do the trick? Will millions of fun-seekers actually enjoy themselves in an environment that practically forbids everything westerners are used to?
Lately grotesque stories of imprisoned tourists are making headlines because they were caught with miniscule amounts of canabis. Is it fun to hang out in a place which throws you in jail because they find poppyseeds on your clothing or you are in posession of some medication, which consists of forbidden ingredients? It goes without question that gays are certainly not going to book the next flight to Dubai either, because homosexuality is outlawed by the Sharia. So without casinos, sex and cheap booze, what will draw people to the persian gulf?
And how will they get there? If the idea behind this high-tech tourist-trap is the end of fossil fuel in the ulf-area, will we still be able to afford mass tourism and how will a metropolis in the desert be able to sustain itself?
Is Dubai actually going to be the last retreat for the ultra-rich, while we will be left on our dying continents? Or is the current boom in Dubai only a self fulfilling prophecy which is set in motion by uncontrolled investments? Is Dubai going to be the biggest and newest desert ruin? Will the Burj Dubai (which will be around 880 meters high when finished) be the subject of a new mythology and will its inhabitants be seen as new deities, livin in luxurious apartments half a mile above the dunes? Will they gather around the ruins of this Neo-Stonehenge?
I can hardly wait!
The renderings are taken from Designboom