Calm down there kid
Gary Hustwit’s latest film “Objectified” is pretty cool, although it (unsurprisingly given the title) fetishises contemporary consumerism-especially in a bourgeois “if you understand what this object is, then your a person of my class” kind of way.
However the film is at its strongest while talking about how we can (or have) actually improve the day-to-day relationship we have with tools and objects. An example used at one point is of a Toothbrush. Arguing it shouldn’t just be a stick with bristles on ityou should factor in the elements core to a users experience such as ergonomics, weights, texture and bristle orientation. However, they don’t mention how the desperate desire of the market for “new” often contaminates this otherwise honourable pursuit. It is not mentioned how many times the toothbrush has been “re-invented” with a new feature which doesn’t improve its functionality at all, merely the novelty.
It does also touch (in spirit, not specifically) on the Bachellardian “space as experienced” and Bourdieusian cultural artefact through discussions of cultural and personal value around objects. Even before the advent of Capitalism we’ve seen that objects carry a great deal of emotional and personal value for those who possess them, and these designers are trying to understand what generates that value and how to contribute to it.
It’s stylistically very similar to Hustwit’s earlier film “Helvetica”, and carries many similar themes. Beautifully shot, disjointed interviews with greets of the field intercut with examples in montage. However, I can’t help but feel it’s a *little* more shallow than his earlier work.
- Radical Friend’s Yeasayer video for “Ambling Alp” and Phase IV
Radical Friend’s Yeasayer video for “Ambling Alp” and Phase IV
Although Radical Friend’s new music video for Yeasayer’s “Ambling Alp” looks, at first glance, like a generically indie mishmash of technology and gothic overtones - a closer look suggests it’s actually a charming homage to the cooler visual elements in (the otherwise incredible) Saul Bass‘ infamous debut feature film, “Phase IV“.
Yeasayer - Ambling Alp
Trailer - Phase IV
Unfortunately this Trailer doesn’t include a lot of the wonderful stuff from the film, but you can see a few examples that cross over - such as the scientific dome, rocky desert, hyper-colour mud lakes (+ people) and the obsession with geometrics. Although clearly Bass’ great failing was not including as many TITS as they manage to get into the Yeasayer video.
- A closer look at the production and design of the Dollar
After hearing about the newUS $100 bill, I started to look a little closer at our own notes. I was surprised to see there’s actually a whole bunch of details I’d never noticed before, and a few subtle changes across time.
As you can see below, there seems to have been a subtle change in the notes around 2002, where the Secretary to the Treasury and Governor of the Reserve where inverted. I’ve always noticed the lettering in the area, but never really paid it much heedbut it’s interesting to see it actually bares their signature. Which I guess reinforces the idea of currency as a token of trust, which it is in most modern economies (Fiat/Embodied value). I also hadn’t really noticed just how much of the artistic features on the note are actually constituted of the value,micro printedin blocks.
The other really interesting feature is that the newer notes have the name of the figure written in sans-serif beneath them. I remember spending hours in primary school trying to interpret their signatures (which are also featured, and have been form their original designs) to discover who the portraits were actually of. Now, it would seem, the task has become much easier. I also hadn’t noticed the triple coloured thread that runs through a $50 note before. It’s pretty impossible to miss once you realise it’s there, and it’s actually created by pink “forward slash” and a blue “back slash” which cross over to create the purple stripe. Fascinating!
After realising the breadth of features I had never even realised were incorporated into our bank notes, I decided to do a bit of digging to see how they came into being, and whether or not there were similar secrets.
One such discovery was that all Australian bank notes are printed with Intaglio, which is a raised dark ink. It contributes to the distinctive feel of Australian notes (although I’ve noticed it becomes less tactile with age). Which compliments the more commonly known use of Polymer Substrate instead of papers used in many other countries. However I wasn’t aware that this substance was a closer cousin to Motion Picture Film than it was to any actual paper, I guess since I was young I had just assumed it was a fancy kind of laminating. For those interested in the fancy chemical talk, there’s more at theNote Printing Australiawebsite.
Visually inspecting a sheet of substrate for the $5 note
I was also quite surprised to realise that the Reserve Bank makes quite a bit of money out of this innovationprinting the bank notes for a wide variety of other countries as well (Details/Images). It seems like an unusual step though. What country would want their currency to be produced by an agency independent of their state? It sounds dangerous, but I guess counterfeiting is a greater threat than an external nation instigating hyper-inflation or some other dastardly plan.
In closing, I found a few other interesting little steps on the pathway to todays currency. Below is an early CSIRO test note, which still featured a holographic insert as well as the othermore commonsecurity features developed by the CSIRO. The image features theologian Albert Schweitzer.
And here are the first ever production Polymer Substrate notes, which as you can see also still use the holographic technology (or Diffractive Optically Variable Device (DOVD)). However apart from these early tests, the hologram was never used in production as it often fell off (awkward!). As such it was replaced by the window we’re now familiar with.
If this has piqued your interest, as it did mine, check out some of these sites below.
Has some early drafts of each modern note, and also cites visual influences. A surprisingly large number of them are licensed from the News Ltd photo archives!
The website of the Official Currency printers (surprisingly doesn’t seem to be tied to the Mint?). They’re also the producers of all Australian Passports
Outlines the specific printers used to produce our bank notes
General reading related to the history and development of bank notes in Aus
- Deutschland ist die Zukunft jetzt
It seems that most of my friends like to pride themselves on the diversity and obscurity of their musical tastes, but I feel confident that the following tunes are my ace in the hipster hole. You have never seen anything this amazing, I can say with confidence. I similarly feel confident that it will entirely adjust your entire outlook on lifefor the better.
So like a bad TV Variety Show host, let the music begin!
The Imperial Bohemian - It was in the Bohemian Forest (1985)
I wish these guys could play at my birthday party.
Feldberger - Tractentrampletanz
Ask not why perform a tractor, but why not?
D’ Feldberger Spitzbuebe - Buregaudi-Boarischer (1993)
Gorgeous specimens of humanity.
Marianne & Michael, Geschwister Hofmann, Wildecker Herzbuben - Piraten-Medley
I always trust German pirates to pillage the booty of sorrow from my heart.
Geschwister Hofmann - Immer auf die Kleinen
- A Pop Music Interlude
I’ve always had an aversion to pop music. It seems to be a world built on perfidious personalities, constructed characters and general image manipulation. From Britney to 50 Cent, they are designed to serve a demographic. But that’s not to make a negative judgement; these people are the pretty public faces who turn a profit. I hear it’s a pretty good gig, if you can get it. Just not my thing. Until recently.
Over the last month or so I’ve had a developing fascination with Lady GaGa. She seems to be simultaneously embracing, rejecting and challenging this cliche of the industry. As her profile has risen so has the level of her creative control, allowing her to manage her identity in a fascinating and nuanced way. Her avant-garde arts background is the clear grounding point, which she draws on to pull the same levers of provocation she observed with her (all too literal) classmates. However this pursuit of attention doesn’t appear to be (just) out of vanity. Her collaborations with (often) unknown or obscure artisans, and willingness to experiment with identity suggest a considered attempt to construct the absurd. From her work with Frank Gehry, Jeff Koons and Hussein Chalayan to her deliberately vacant fascial expressions in public and the rumours of being a hermaphrodite. She seems to be going out of her way to say “I’m a blank canvas! Imagine of me as you will”. The first Post-Modern pop star perhaps?
She’s not the first musician to be deliberately controversial and provocative though, both Madonna and Bowie easily come to mind, but she’s certainly a more interesting example of the tactic. I would argue the breadth and engagement of involvement with other arts practitioners puts her in a much more interesting space. It doesn’t just provoke media interest or provide a sense of theatricality to her performances, but is actually bringing elements of the avant-garde to the mainstream.
In a twist of good fortune I was able to attend her recent Sydney show, where I was enraptured by her interludes/intertitles. To say that the Haus of GaGa are skilled at creating images (both physical and imagined) is axiomatic, but these were notable for being less commercial and targeted than some of their more famous works.
Created by Nick Knight (director), Ruth Hogben (editor), Kevin Stenning (Rapido3D) and BURSTvisualthey seem like they’d be more at home as an inner west gallery installation or a fashion show. They appear to have been shot on RedOne and all of them experiment with time and space. Another, less conceptual, observation was that they were all projected onto a large silk by four projectors that were all aligned perfectly. This seemed to eliminate most of the shadowing.
The fashion analogy is perhaps most apt, as both Nick Knight and Ruth Hogben ordinarily create “fashion films”. Which appear to be elaborately staged fashion dioramas, set to motion (check out Nick’s site for examples).
“Jumping Film” or “Monster Ball Intro”
This film opens the show. Unfortunately the combination of audience recorded footage (LET’S JUMP UP AND DOWN WITH A CAMERA IN OUR HANDS! OF COURSE THAT WON’T BECOME NAUSEATING LATER) and not being there takes some of the punch out, but it was a strong way to open the show. High in energy and building tension.
An earlier incarnation
Dress by Marko Mitanovski
An earlier version featuring guns
Put Your Paws Up
So Happy I Could Die
Manifesto of Little Monsters
Outfits by the late Alexander McQueen, Masks by Nokie, Jaiden rVa James
The show changes every now and then, but for a full rundown of what our concert was like, from setlist to costumescheck out the blog of her stylist Nicola Formichetti.
- Mad Men Figurines
- Photo Attribution, Copyright and Facebook
I’ve always found it a little strange how facebook profile photos aren’t attributed to their authors, only the people pictured. It’s not a big thing, as clearly I’m not monetizing party photos, but it just strikes me as a little unethical. If it can say who took the photo when it’s in a group poolwhy not when it’s a profile photo?
A nice person
An awful person (not really).
Why doesn’t it work like this? A simple line above the album link
- The Imagined City: Dubai
When I was young I drew elaborate dioramas and floor plans for the most insane buildings and cities my mind couldconceive. Starting on the amazing (and endless) canvas that wasdot-matrixprinter paper, and moving through mediums up to Sim City.
It’s on this basis that I’ve found myself so fascinated by Dubai, and so willing to forgive their (many and terrible) sins. It’s like a fantasy world where anyone’s wild ambition seems to get funding, where engineering innovation seems more important than making a return on outlay.
This site has a great series of photos showing some of the major structures from a few different perspectives, a bit of an overview and some really fascinating photos of Dubai pre-oil boom! I particularly like the above photo, which looks like it could well have been a still from metropolis.
- “Aussies against Kevin Rudd increasing the drinking age to 21″
I get that following politics isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, even though I think it’s incredibly important to understand how decisions that effect you are made. But to see thousands and thousands of young, former myspace-r’s, throwing out impulsive ridicule over something that was only ever an spontaneous, personal aside really gets my goat.
Many of the people commenting on the group wall seem to genuinely think that such an informal comment (which shouldn’t be a surprise anyway, given how Rudd’s never been secretive about his social conservatism) equals a public policy promise. Such as, “it would be a rather ill fated move on his choice- it would only mean that there would be more illegal underage drinking being done by kids. the other point is that it wouldnt b fair really to those of us that are legally allowed to partake in these fun events and then have that taken away from us- how does that work? Rudd- ur a wanker!!” from Jacquileen Aalders. Or the far more eloquent contribution from Marie Louise Nichols “KEVIN IS A MASSIVE CUNT…….:@”
All of this is aside from the fact that, even the most basic of research, would have uncovered thatBen Riley (the groups creator) is a young liberal and that a number of links he has contributed to the group are party political. What a sad example of scare politics. I wonder how the kids would feel, knowing they were so readily being exploited? Obviously not too concerned.
The whole thing would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad. Impulsive, easy-to-rage teenagers passionately defending their right to binge drink and engage in violence, sex and all manner of other destructive behaviour.
At-least they still can’t vote.
- A rethink of social network privacy
I’ve spent the afternoon reading about impression management and identity construction on networks like facebook, and it got me wondering.
What if privacy settings, instead of just reducing or expanding access depending on group, gave you the ability to construct alternate profiles? A serious, professional photo and only your “intelligent” status updates for your work colleagues/network, and a semi-nude photo and related drunken updates for your (hopefully) more forgiving peers?