Kanye + Krautrock

Posted: March 24th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Brian | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments »

It turns out that Kanye West and Mos Def spend their free time much like whoadu.de contributors. They sit around on their yachts, listen to somewhat-obscure 70s German rock, get blazed, and make up new song lyrics. On Kanye’s new album, Graduation, they borrow generously from one of my all-time favorite songs, Can‘s Sing Swan Song. Here’s a video of them performing it in Paris in 1973.

Here’s Kanye performing his version, Drunk and Hot Girls.

All of this makes me very confused. Initially, I was annoyed that they changed this song to being about “drunk and hot girls.” It’s obvious, though, that they came up with the lyrics by listening to the Can song. And, after listening to the original lyrics a number of times, it is completely unclear what Damo Suzuki is singing. According to music lyric sites, it’s “you’ve been just the junky hot bowls.” This may or may not be true, but when you have a drugged-out Japanese guy singing in English with a German band, dissonance is inevitable. It really does sound like he is saying “drunky hot girls.” All of this is very unnerving.

betrunkenen und heißen mädchen.

Geronimo and the Personal Monument

Posted: March 23rd, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: mike | Tags: , , | 9 Comments »

Forgive me, forgive me, forgive me, for I have sinned and am performing the only penance at hand: a forced mini-vacation in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

This is no sleepy hollow, nor is it but a stop on the Trucker’s Atlas. This is a one-stoplight relic of a town that sits somewhere between Hitchcock’s Bates roadside motel and a sun-soaked refuge for the weary, lost and flotsam of our modern age. There are twelve motels, two museums, one gas station and a 110-degree aquifer that broils the town from underfoot. A ditch in an outhouse is a bath; a ditch in the road is a sidewalk.

But what of the museums?

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the donk-shaped hole in your heart

Posted: March 20th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Sukjong | 1 Comment »

Forget the time capsule, the cryogenic seed bank — If I were in charge of the next wave of post-apocalyptic memorializing I would just make sure that this sale on amazon.com was preserved for public viewing.

Unveiling the…. Badonkadonk. Not that badonkadonk (which until recently I had no idea was shorthand for ‘big ass’). No, this is the Badonkadonk Land Cruiser, on sale for only $19,999.95! (shipping not included)

A personal battle tank for the off-road enthusiast, sheathed in the aesthetic of the future-past (‘rust patina’), and tagged under ‘donk’ and ‘fresh whole rabbit,’ I have to agree, yes, there is something about the combination of big wheels, big guns, and big money that starts up the salivary glands.

184 customers reviewed this product. The Badonkadonk is clearly a hit with homicidal soccer moms, vigilantes, separatists, Jesse Helms, people who like to grill, and those cruising for Star Wars fan badonkadonk. Not surprisingly, it is also seen as the heartier alternative to the FEMA trailer on the mean streets of New Orleans. But it has its drawbacks, of course: 2 miles to the gallon, guns cost extra, and why doesn’t it come in Candy Red?

Really, when I think about it — the subprime mortgage crisis, the rise in home security systems, the precipitous drop in bowling league memberships across America — it is all too clear that we’ve been under the spell of the Badonkadonk for a long time. I’m just glad that now I have a single word for it. All the hours I’ve wasted rambling on about “the single-family house, car, backyard, 2.3 kids” when I could have simply used “badonkadonk.” And “sprawl” sounds so bland in comparison, a dry and colorless word for spatial cannibalism. But “badonkadonk” evokes an entire way of life and the premium sound system that goes with it. When people talk about “saving up for badonkadonk” I would know they are not just talking one unforgettable night with a trafficked person.

And here it is, in its natural habitat:

But for those of us who believe in comparison shopping, there are also dealers of baddboyz and Soviet-era Urals, Zils, Tatras, and Pragas. Bringing the war home means bringing it IN STYLE.

Masters of the Metaverse

Posted: March 20th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Brian | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Photosynth is amazing. Among other things, it can scour through Creative Commons-licensed Flickr images and generate a composite 3D model of a site based on image tags, somehow triangulating the sites from which the photos were composed. I don’t know, I usually attribute things to algorithms when I don’t understand them. Anyway, now there is a real use for those obligatory tourist photos of famous destinations.

Photosynth’s “architect,” Blaise Aguera y Arcas, is the tightest computer nerd/physicist in the “metaverse.” I’m not sure if he coined that term, but all of this spatial talk about the infobahn is dizzying. Cyber-space, web-site, information superhighway. These geographical (and architectural) meta-metaphors are a bit of a stretch- they construct the internet as an existing physical entity. Still, there’s no doubt that the boundaries between cyberspace and physical space seem to be dissolving. Hyperreality is becoming a reality. Whoa dude.

The Color of the Future

Posted: March 16th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Adam | 6 Comments »

Any visit to Home Depot or Lowe’s and a stroll through the paint aisle will no doubt take you past scores of displays containing paint chips from Sherwin Williams to Ralph Lauren faux finishes. Invariably, the abundance of color possibilities of these brands defies actual verbal classification. In lieu of simply ascribing numbers to the various swatches, they get names like “Deep Biscuit”, or “Viking Mist.” These names are laughably abstract as there is no concrete referent for colors such as “Cheerful Whisper”. Inspired by this, I’ve created a color palette of 30 colors from images obtained through Google Image Search, each a direct PS sample from a photographic still of a Science Fiction film or television show. You can download and print out a high-res version to use yourself here.

O Hai Insurgent

Posted: March 14th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Brian | 1 Comment »

Sukjong reminded me of this fascinating essay yesterday. Apparently, the Israeli Defense Forces are training their urban warfare units in contemporary theoretical and philosophical texts, such as Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus. As one example of tactical appropriation of architectural theory, Israeli soldiers now move through dense urban Palestinian territories by creating “overground tunnels.” In other words, they cut linear paths through the walls of civilian homes, treating the built environment as a “flexible membrane.” I guess it’s not that that remarkable that the education of the urban warrior and the architect involve some of the same sources, but this is fucking crazy. The scariest part is that they drop the name of my advisor. Whoa dude.



Magic in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Posted: March 9th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Adam | 2 Comments »

In Walter Benjamin’s 1936 essay Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit or “Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” he mentions the analogous properties of photographers and magicians. The mystification of the chemical and mechanical processes of photographic reproduction techniques have elevated the photographer to a wizardly status amongst the non-tech population. Even in the age of CS3, photographers are often regarded as guardians of secret tomes of arcane information, which oddly enough, is in some sense very true. As the silver halide crystal passes the torch on to the pixel, many Photographers continue to horde useless clockwork devices, brew smelly, toxic concoctions, and dedicate hours of their lives reading and recording strange combinations of numbers and letters on dials and data sheets. The end result of this seemingly alchemical ritual is a unique object, which is itself something admittedly magical; a piece of sequestered, reconstituted reality, compressed and re-formatted for portability and distribution.

The art director of the Harry Potter films, Stuart Craig, was wise to pick up on this bit *actual* magic and went to lengths to include a very well-costumed and outfitted wizard-photojournalist in many scenes of the “…Goblet of Fire” movie. Attending the strangely seductive Rita Skeeter, our Daily Prophet freelancer seems to have at his disposal a number of pre-war era magical cameras,replete with all the trappings of steampunkery; redundant cables and lenses, brass fittings, bellows and even a cast-iron tripod (?). Now, anyone who has had the good fortune to see any of the Potter movies knows the purpose of this camera is to produce magical, animated photographs which seem to display and loop 5 or so seconds of time. Now, although not explicitly stated, it is assumed that within the wizarding world, technological innovation has pretty much not progressed past the Victorian age. However, the magical community also seems to have been able to pick and choose which Muggle technologies it integrates into its secretive realm.Assuming that the photographic technology of the Potter universe was adapted from the mechano-chemical Muggle process (and not merely an example of convergent evolution), how have wizards and witches successfully married the opposing methodologies of science and the occult? Let’s start with what we know about this properties of this unholy union:1). Magical cameras use simple lenses to focus and capture light, not souls or spirits2). Magical cameras look really badass3). Magical cameras use film (see picture below)This last is particularly perplexing. Given that the photograph produced from this film will display the motion of a scene whose light is focused upon its surface, how is the film able to record this movement without itself moving, (as in a motion picture camera)? My hunch is that wizardly photography employs the same powerful spells of multi-spacialism evinced in other incredible contraptions through the Potter story, i.e. the Weasley’s magical tent, which though no larger than any other tent while folded, contains many full-sized rooms (including kitchen) when pitched. Though the magical world seems yet to have mastered the concept behind the radio or telephone, their knowledge of quantum physics seems to greatly outstrip our own. No doubt employing some Latinate nonsense words, witches and wizards seem to have long ago discovered how to layer space upon itself, allowing multiple objects to exist in parallel, or inside each other. Using this technique, coupled with the pseudo-scientific methodology of Potions-mixing, it would be possible to create a magical photographic emulsion in which multiple layers of emulsion exist simultaneously upon one frame of film, each behind another. Over the course of several seconds, light from the camera’s lens would pass through each consecutive layer of bewitched emulsion, exposing that sub-frame to a slightly different image than the frame in front of it. Given the extreme variation in exposure time between sub-frames however, it must be assumed that this magical film would have a push-pull processing ability far greater than any Muggle film, an innovation no doubt achieved by a Slytherin alum Potions genius, the likes of Horace Slughorn, or the indefatigable detective of Harry’s delinquency, Severus Snape.

The existence of magical imaging necessarily implies an extant form of wizardly printing. Though the Potter movies have made clear that magical color photographic printing is possible (remember the picture of Harry’s parents dancing in the snow?), the majority of photographic reproduction seems limited to the black-and-white, animated images of the Daily Prophet. Given the bold, sans-serif typefaces and distressed appearance of many of the letters used in printing this daily journal of wizardly affairs, it may be assumed that this publication is produced by a moveable-type printing press, with hand-set cast blocks of pewter letters, much like a pre-modern Muggle paper. Assuming this is the case, one must assume that some kind of magical lithography or etching is used to transfer the picture from the magical film to a magical metal plate. Again, multi-spacialism would seem here to be a plausible explanation for the reproduction of such an image, as a letter-press type device may be used to ink each individual sub-plate and impress the surface of magical paper stock with each consecutive image. Each newspaper may then be bewitched to shuffle the multiple layers of its surface upwards, to display only the space upon which the magical photograph was printed. Through this selective inter-spacial rotation, the image would appear to move, as in a well-crafted flip-book, while the printed letters would remain static on the page. The exclusivity of monochromaticism in magical printing may be due to a lack of understanding the relationship of RGB to CMYK color.

Acid Mothers Nomenclature

Posted: March 3rd, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: mike | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments »

FACT*: There are more people alive today than have ever existed in human history.
FACT**: There are over 995,112 words in the English language.
FACT***: There are, according to scientific analysis, an indeterminable number of bands in the world, musical or otherwise.
CONCLUSION****: The number of untaken good band names should be somewhere between 10^6 and infinity, give or take a standard deviation or two.
Given these facts, how has society, masters and masses alike, fallen into the trap of repetitive and recursive derivatives of the known axioms that lead to successful band naming? And why do my band names always suck?
First, let us enumerate and explore our traditions:

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Papercraft Op Art

Posted: March 2nd, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Adam | 1 Comment »

The ubiquity of the pixel has certainly left its mark on contemporary craft and other “fun” art. As much as I’m sick of plush robots dolls and felt fruit, I have to admit I’m a sucker for the resurgence of craft as much as the next guy, (girl?) and its convergence with vintage computer technology. Papercraft is probably what gets me going the most, as paper is such an incredibly versatile medium to work with. It can be both sculptural and graphic, not to mention you can print photographs on it! I biked over to WalMart on a cold winter day recently to pick up a great (read cheap) book of textured 12×12 pastel cardstock to use for a special project I had in mind. I’ve always had a crush on bold, formal, geometric graphical things and of late, particularly intrigued with the work of Victor Vasarely, the patriarch of the Op Art Movement.

His deceptively simple, heady pieces were highly influential on the 60’s fashion scene, as well as on the classic 80’s video game, Q-Bert. Lacking the ability to render space realistically in 8-bit color and with limited processing speed, ancient video game programmers were forced to find creative solutions to making their game-spaces immersive and fun. Through tessellating shapes and careful color choice, Vasarely was able to create intense, falsified experiences of space in his viewers. Seeking a gimmick to make an otherwise uninteresting ovoid, snoot-faced creature entertaining, Nintendo co-opted the Vasarely technique of parallelogram-tessellation to create the mind-bending 3-D pyramids known the world-over as “that Q-bert thing.”

Since my childhood, I’ ve endeavored to wrap my feeble mind around those synapse-melting shapes, and in the creation of this mini-mural, have finally seen for myself, the beauty and challenge of creating such a series of shapes effectively. Using 21 sheets of cardstock, a ruler, scissors, masking tape, a pencil and some helping hands (Corrine, Josh, Amanda), I now have an awesome new addition to my living room!