Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Paranoia makes people really, really stupid.

You've seen the Aqua Teen Hunger Force "bomb scare" on all the networks and you may have heard statements from Boston officials such as, "We're not going to let this go without looking at the further roots of how this happened to cause the panic in this city."

Hmm. I don't think they need to look very far. The cause of panic lies not in the harmless guerilla marketing campaign, but the mind boggling over-reaction of Boston law enforcement and local officials. (We can blame the culture of fear created by the federal government and the news media too, if you like.)

Just what level of terror are we talking about here? "It had a very sinister appearance," Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley told reporters. "It had a battery behind it, and wires."

Holy shit! Wires! Hide the children and grab the duct tape!

Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke praised Boston authorities for sharing their knowledge quickly with Washington officials and the public. "Hoaxes are a tremendous burden on local law enforcement and counter-terrorism resources and there's absolutely no place for them in a post-9/11 world."

Valid point - if it were a hoax. It's a marketing campaign. It's not pretending to be a bomb or anything other than an advertisement for a cartoon. It's comforting to know our Homeland Security spokesman has such a fine grasp of those tricky one syllable words.

Also of note, the campaign has been up in ten major cities across the US for the past two to three weeks. Way to go with the quick response! If they were real bombs (rather than LED cartoon characters) we'd all be... uh... yeah...

At least I know what to get all my friends in Boston for Christmas.

What's wrong with this picture? (Quickly, hipsters!)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Shrinking Cities: The Uber Huge Calendar List of all Public Programs at both Cranbrook Art Museum and MOCAD. The exhibition and programs are all free and open to the public, so no excuses not to get out and do things. There's even transportation between both!

Saab Celebrating Sixty Years of Independent Thinking

In celebration of our upcoming diamond jubilee, we've assembled a potpourri of 60 little 'gems'. It's intended to express something of the passion and tradition for innovative, independent thinking that continues to inspire the Saab brand and the development of its products today.

As someone who's proudly owned no fewer than five of these freaky little cars, this is a great look back on Sweden's quirkiest and most innovative manufacturer.

[via Core77]

Uneasy Listening Music: An Important Message from ADULT.

Mindless packs, erroneous folklore, misguided shepherds, aggressive incompetence, and real life horrors blend together into this, our fourth album. Why Bother? Some will read this title, sigh and agree, while others will read the title and react with reactionary resentment and countless reasons why one should bother. A test? Why Bother? Well, if you've got a minute to spare, we'll tell you exactly why you should care. Uneasy listening music for uneasy times. A time to contextualize "folk" for our intent and advocate the importance of being folk. Folklore defines a distinctive culture, the common people, real people. Folk suggests a culture content to operate "outside"; the place where we are most at ease. With that explanation, this must be a folk record, but realistically it would probably be that kind of "folk" that conjures up images of "Deliverance", "Motel Hell's" Farmer Vincent or Leatherface's family life.

Uncomfortable, restless, disturbed, perturbed, awkward and anxious. "Why Bother?" hopes to spread the word of weird... Abnormal motivations, ready and willing. Trying to tilt the balance of over-stimulation. What is the next step if VIDEODROME is not the endgame itself? Cataloging, categorizing, sterilizing, co-opting and over-hype marketing have created a social smothering and mass indolence. If you aren't inclined to vomit, than you will probably feel worse when exposed to our brand of folk.

"Why Bother?" will be released March 20th.
Click the link above to read on, view tracklist and cover art.

[I'm kinda surprised we got this before Pitchfork... perhaps they just didn't 'bother'?]

Speaking of new, uneasy releases: Skinny Puppy's 13th studio album Mythmaker was released today. Referencing the VIVIsect VI era at times (read: less guitars, more synth doom) and featuring Mark Walk's intricate production skills (which were the highlight of their most recent work,) "Mythmaker" can be seen as both a return to form and a stride forward. Check out a little sample clip here.

[photo from Cyberoptix]

edit: I've been listening to Mythmaker for the better part of the day. "politikiL" is the stand-out track for me, reckoning some of the best moments of Rabies, followed by the quite pretty "jaHer" and the spazzy "lestiduZ" and "ugLi" (which I presume Otto Von Schirach had a latex gloved hand in.) The vocoder-laden title track "magnishift" is cheesy at times, but that's part of why we love them. It's like calling Anthony Rother cheesy. Derrr. "haZe," on the other hand, takes the melodrama a bit too far for my taste, and "pedafly" totally loses it for me with the Manson-esque bang bang guitars.

As much as part of me would love to hear them pick up from 1989, that's selfish and unrealistic as a fan. It's also counter-intuitive, considering that Skinny Puppy's music has always pushed and pulled the very limits of technology. The songs on Mythmaker morph and develop like organisms - blooming, mutating and returning to the digital ether in a storm of hundreds of thousands of tiny pieces of shrapnel. Even if you don't like the music at all (and it's not everyone's cup of tea,) the production detail is jaw dropping - which should be no surpise, as they've been perfecting the art for 25 years, and hundreds (thousands?) of imitators must be on to something.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Relive the wonder.

The site is a bit lacking on info, but the World of Magic screen grabs are priceless.

I dont know how much coverage Robbie Williams gets in the States but I just saw a seriously (for someone like him at least) dark video - possibly best watched without sound - the best bit is at the end:

Come Undone (theres nudity at the end if you´re at work!)

and his other is it funny or disturbing? : Rock DJ

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Our friend Max came across a wonderful segment that Jim Henson did on the Ed Sullivan show in 1967, and juxtaposes it with "Tickle Me Elmo On Fire": click.

Also (I know a little late,) How To Make A Hip End of the Year 'Best Albums' List

The Detroit Film Theatre's winter/spring season starts February 14th with Jean-Luc Godard's Two or Three Things I know About Her.

We're eagerly anticipating the Detroit debut of The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes. The Quay Brothers' second feature length live action film (executive produced by Terry Gilliam) comes to the DFT March 1st-3rd. To coincide with their newest theatrical release, Zeitgeist Films presents a new retrospective of the Quay's short films, including classics such as Street of Crocodiles and recent work including The Phantom Museum.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Doing some digging around on Bjork's pre-Sugarcubes work, we came up with a few more video gems:

Tappi Tikarrass performing live in 1982

Tappi Tikarrass was founded after her all-girl punk band Spit and Snot, and were often compared to early Siuoxsie and the Banshees and The Cure. It was KUKL though which really fleshed out a distinctive post-punk sound. Their first live show was in Reykjavik in September 1983, opening for Crass, who released KUKL's first album The Eye in 1984, based on the book Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille.

Live clip,music video for 'Anna' and the infamous pregnant performance from Icelandic television.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Yay, it's Friday night videos!

For you, I am a chrysthanemum.

Nick Cave had the best hair ever.

Remember when U2 was really goth for a quick minute?

Daniel Ash wants his sunglasses (and his persona) back, please.

It's all about the gloves.

What ever happened to Crime And the City Solution? God, they were good.

Nick Cave's newest video: not coming to MTV and NSFW.

The Glasgow apartments which served as the setting for Sony's latest Bravia advert (and once home to Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill of Simple Minds) have been demolished. Article here and Flickr slideshow here.

[thanks Chris Bissonnette]

Caffeinated donuts.

The Clinic is a high concept entertainment complex recently opened in Singapore's Clarke Quay district. The 15,000 square foot space includes a restaurant, dance club, retail shop and multiple themed bars with names like Cyanide, Anthrax, Morphine and Amino.

Inspired by Damien Hirst's art work (14 of his works are on display,) The Clinic boasts a "medical chic" theme throughout, from stainless steel kidney shaped dishes, to drinks delivered via syringes, beakers and IV tubes(!)

The interior was designed by Dutch architects Concrete, who arranged the 13 different rooms like a labyrinth of pill shapes.

While one would imagine a soundtrack suited to a David Lynch film in the space, descriptions such as "uplifiting house" *vurp* seem to be at complete odds with the very dark and witty concept. Unfortunate, but that sells at most Singapore megaclubs. I'd still consider the 24 hour flight to sample chef Paco Roncero's 13 course molecular gastronomy menu while seated on a gold wheelchair. (But I've been obsessed with the idea of using medical equipment in a restaurant/bar application since first laying eyes on a scientific supply catalog.)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

More images and analysis devoted to the costume and prop design for Edward Scissorhands. Costume renderings at the the tour's myspace page and video clips at their youtube channel.

Edward Scissorhands (the play) made its US debut in San Francisco last November and opens March 14 for a limited run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Director and coreographer Matthew Bourne's stage adaptation of the classic Tim Burton film is told entirely without dialogue and features a cast of 24 dancers. Watch a video preview at BAM and view the official site here.

Thanks for mentioning that website Mike because I think I have a new hero Donnie Davies, of Love Gods Way (of course). My favorite part of the video is how they changed the Psychedelic Furs "Love My Way" into, thats right, "Love Gods Way".

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The White Rapper Show

This post is dedicated to Nathan, and a follow-up to Gay Bands To Watch Out For (I can't make this stuff up.)

I'm especially impressed Merzbow made the list (spelling error aside.) Also, the ministry might want to do a little fact checking on their "safe bands" list...

Speaking of the emperor of noise and sexual deviance, Merzbow will be performing at the No Fun Fest in May. We are so there. Click here for details and the full line-up.

42 year old designer Marc Newson's first solo exhibition in the United States opens this Thursday at the Gagosian Gallery in New York.

With a portfolio including the 021C concept car for Ford, the Lever House Restaurant and most famously the Lockheed Lounge, Newson will be showing new limited edition works, each fashioned in a single, seamless piece from various materials, including marble and nickel.

[via Core77]

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Vinoly Spanks Freedom Tower
Architect Rafael Vinoly, who's design team was the runner-up for the WTC master plan competition, recently gave a presentation on the past five years' WTC design proceedings and offered up some priceless critiques of SOM's Freedom Tower.

Vinoly characterized [the design] as economically inefficient and aesthetically mediocre, especially in relation to the adjacent, arguably superior office towers now being designed by Norman Foster, Richard Rogers and Fumihiko Maki.

[He] observes that its chief architectural features are its cheesy name and its height as measured in feet, which is the same number used to describe how many years passed between Jesus's birth and the American Revolution.

Finally, Vinoly compared the "comedy of errors" of designing and redesigning the Freedom Tower to the US invasion of Iraq, in the sense that the situation may be too flawed to fix. "You can't save face - because you made a blundering mistake," he said.

Three cheers to Rafael for calling it... a bit late though. Not only do most agree the Freedom Tower design falls somewhere between mediocre and trite, but the process by which the bullies of bland quietly wiggled their way in and gutted Daniel Lebiskind's design is quite repulsive. I actually thought to myself on Sept. 12 of 2001, "I wouldn't be surprised if SOM is already at the drawing board and stroking Pataki and Silverstein." Unfortunately no amount of talk at this point changes the fact that a 1776 ft. of uninspiring glass and steel is currently being erected on a site which deserves something of breathtaking genius or nothing at all. Meh.

God Hates Goths

If this is an elaborate parody, it's pure genius. If not...

Curbed has been doing a great job covering the transformation of my old stomping grounds from charming industrial wasteland to affordable furniture mecca.

Enjoy some beautiful photos of the Red Hook Grain Terminal here and here, as well as some shots of the soon-to-be-demolished Revere Sugar Plant here and here.

Our friend Eames Demetrios' latest project is the DAS FilmFest, a video webcast featuring new short films about design, architecture and sustainability every week. This week is part 1 of 901: After 45 years of Working, documenting the Venice, CA workshop of his grandparents Charles and Ray.

In related news, the Eames Office has moved from Main Street to a new location at 850 Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica, CA. A grand re-opening party will be held this Wednesday night from 6-9PM.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Here's a little video clip form this past Saturday's show - the first time Perspects and The Hacker have played Flesh And Bone live together (stateside at least.) A little piece of history in a dark basement filled with barbed wire and black-clad androgynous freaks... ahhh. Detroit still has it. I will always choose being with 150 of the most creative, motivated people in the city over 1,000 assholes who just want to party.

Huge thanks to BMG, Amber, Erika, Ian, Keith and the whole IT family for kicking off 2007 right. Some photos here. We ended the evening by watching DAF videos, which couldn't have been more awesomely apt.

I know a lot of our readers come here for the inside scoop, so here are three tidbits to whet your whistle: new Perspects and The Hacker as well as new Miss Kitten and The Hacker material is forthcoming. Also, the new Goudron record on IT has been pressed and will be available very soon (the aforementioned Miss Kitten has been playing the hell out of it during her DJ gigs since last summer.) '07 is shaping up to be a very good year for electro.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Last November, The History Channel initiated a design competition to imagine what New York, Los Angeles and Chicago might be like in the year 2106. The winners are all in, which include both some big names and radical concepts.

Perhaps the most intriguing is Architecture Research Office's vision for Manhattan after the polar ice caps have melted.

view proposal here

The office of SCI-Arc director Eric Owen Moss addresses the LA River corridor and attempts to humanize the city's vast infrastructure.

view proposal here

Friday, January 19, 2007

Capri-quarius birthday week continues...
Yes, my day has officially passed, but we're still celebrating at tomorrow night's Hacker/Perspects show at the Labyrinth. Until then, here's a little clip of the Hacker at Rex Club in Paris [more under 'related'.] Also, BMG would like our readers to know that the show will be going late and everyone should "bring their gas masks" [as cyberpunkity fashion accessories I'm guessing.]

p.s. awwee...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

iPhone OMG PRADA Phone.

Designer Katamari Damacy T

I guess I love my Katamari too.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Last spring Marius posted the most awesome image of a rat lemur, also known as "Madagascar's gothest mamal," a.k.a. the aye-aye.

I recently came across audio clips of this adorable little bugger. (It would be crime to not sample these.)

Just how goth is the aye-aye? "Due to its bizarre appearance and unusual feeding habits, it is considered by many to be the strangest primate in the world. It is the world's largest nocturnal primate. Unusual physical characteristics include incisors that are continually growing (unique among primates), extremely large ears, and a middle finger which is skeletal in appearance, and is used by the animal as a primary sensory organ."

I've been listening to Ballads For The Age Of Science all day.
Can't tell if I'm getting smarter or going nuts though.

Oh, and Bethany got me a real bat for my birthday! (Taxidermized, unlike these little darlings, but they're much easier to care for this way.) He's happy hanging out in a glass shadow box right now, alongside Ninja Ice Bat, our raven puppet, a pair of mother of pearl opera glasses, broken WWII-era aeronautical instruments, porcelain molds and all the other weird crap which finds its way into the house. I'm thinking about building a proper Cabinet of Curiosities one of these days. The latest addition to the family (let's call him Sparky) is from Necromance in LA, which totally rules for all your natural history fetishes.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Kittens and synths for April + Hacker and Perspects this Saturday!
cftpa poster 13x19

In the more immediate future, this Saturday our friends at Interndimensional Transmissions presents The Hacker and Perspects live with DJ BMG of Ectomorph.

This will be The Hacker's first appearance in Motown in more than six years (though not for lack of trying here at the lab,) and we haven't been this excited about a show in Detroit since... a really long time. Fingers crossed for a Flesh and Bone duet.

Saturday, January 20th
The Labyrinth: 1703 Cass at Bagley, Detroit
$10 presale online and at Spy (4470 2nd Ave. at Prentis)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Serious urbex street cred: Your own Supervillain Hideout, aka tailrace tunnel of Niagara. Any super villain of suitably ill repute would be proud to call it home.

The Detroit Auto Show is now open to the public and all the journalists and big-wigs have fled, tummies full of food and arms full of schwag. I started to write a full wrap-up of the past week, but screw it... Jalopnik has it covered, as only they can.

Two of my personal faves from the show were the V-10 powered [on paper - the car shown was a clay] Alfa-does-Vette looking Acura Advanced Sports Car Concept and the skull crushingly bad ass Ford Interceptor Concept [better pics here] "squircles" and all.

As far attainable candy, I'll take a Volvo C30 in metallic white with a T5 motor, please. The '70s style glass hatch has me.

I still can't decide which is the best blogspot on all teh internets: Just A Little Guy or Gibby's Daily Video Blog. Both have exceptional writing, but Gibby's pretty frequent, while JALG posts about as often as our former 9th planet makes an orbit. Then again... Jesus freakin' Christ... you have to pull the baby otter card?!

Via our own BitBoy: Los Angeles has been ranked the new "center of the universe" according to Hub Culture's 2007 Zeitgeist Ranking.

A controversial choice? Sure it's big, but LA is finally hitting on all cylinders: fashion, tech, entertainment, and overall groove. American Apparel is changing fashion with vertically integrated manufacturing. LA's skull and bones indie rock fashion dominates globally. Myspace culture is taken for granted, everywhere. New walking areas and urban regeneration projects, from downtown to Malibu to Hollywood, make the city much more palatable than before, despite the endless crush of traffic. All in this and more help make LA the city of the moment: the energy is positive, its power is on the rise, and people everywhere have LA on their mind.

LA is certainly a different place than it was five years ago.

Speaking of cities, reader Jim Piana took the time to write a very thoghtful resonse to my obsevations on the current atmosphere in Detroit last week. Well worth the read.

I've been a frequent reader of the lab report for a few years, and as your postings have frequently been either an inspiration to me to check out something new, or have just been a barometer of other things I've been feeling as a Detroiter, I wanted to share some of my reactions to your post last weekend. The idea that a city that has been torn apart by economic, cultural, and political forces can be such an incubator for creativity has long been my belief; the inspiration that is found in decay and pain from the past has always seemed to me a natural source of hope to the artistically inclined.

When a gem like Oslo appears on the scene, it changes perceptions of this city for those that experience it. The same can be said about other venues that have come and gone over the past several years - think of how CPOP (it may not be gone, but it is a shadow of what it was circa 1999) changed the way a whole slice of the city looked at a formerly dark corner of Woodward. As each of these places fades in and out of the consciousness of our city, it leaves behind new supporters of the city, new attitudes about a place that has long been feared and underestimated. Losing places we love is painful, but I'd suggest that you not indict the whole of the community for letting it go. Oslo died, as many places like it do, for a whole host of reasons, but the bottom line is that it couldn't survive as a business. This is a loss for the city for the small population that frequented it, but I hardly feel this is a reflection of a core problem with the culture of Detroit.

The culture of Detroit has many faces, and only a few of those faces supported Oslo. Dismissing Oslo's demise as some faceless cranky windbags on [the internets] have isn't right, but cynically suggesting that such a dismissal is the reason that Oslo disappeared ignores the other problems that Oslo had as a business. I have to disagree with the suggestion that there are now no venues left for the music that Oslo promoted - this is pure hyperbole. Oslo's atmosphere, spirit and deccor matched the music that you and others brought to it perfectly, but I truly believe that the nature of music allows it to transform any venue given the chance. Last Saturday night at Fifth Avenue at Comerica Park is a perfect example - a place that I'd never really given a second thought became another world with Jeff Mills working the crowd. You of all people should know that given great music, tools as simple as a projector, and the right passion, you can turn an otherwise bland "place" into something real that speaks to people.

I'll be the first to agree with you that a cookie-cutter gentrification of this city isn't the answer: Zug Island will never be a Navy Pier, and the still-empty storefronts of Merchant's Row speak to the gap between vision and reality. I remember the first renderings I saw of Merchant's Row - it looked like Michigan Ave in Chicago, and my eyes rolled instantly. Banana Republic ain't going to fix Motown. But I am not so quick to dismiss the transformative effect of places like the Hard Rock Cafe. Sure, I've never been there, but lots of other people have. And if a few of those people wander out the front door and end up skating at Campus Martius, and maybe they bring someone else with them next time they venture downtown, and maybe one of those people happens upon Pulse or some other interesting little entrepreneurial place off the beaten path, then HRC has done some good.

I'm going to miss Oslo, but I'm also looking forward to whatever is next to amaze me in this continuously reconfiguring city. I encourage you to not lose hope, to succumb to the cynicism that is the easy excuse most use around here. Make art. Make music. Make this the place you want it to be. Encourage those that do want to make Detroit better, and try to change the opinions of those that don't. For every ten cynics out there, there is someone like you or me that knows what this place can be. Tell everyone you can.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

After like, probably 35-hundred mixes of each song, 800beloved is about ready to master their debut LP. Check out the brand new mixes of Skeleton Collection and Kiss Me Crooked on teh link. By far the best yet.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Lily, you will be missed.

[thanks Ben]

Guerrilla video art hack on the MoMA.

I know we dont talk sports around here much (at all?) but David Beckham just signed a massive deal with the L.A. Galaxy worth $250 million over 5 years. Quick math shows he´ll be earning $100 per minute.

As a follow-up to Wednesday's teaser post, I was going to wait until I had the flyer on Monday, but eh... here's the lineup for Machines That feel II on Saturday, April 14th at CAID:

If you are at all a fan of The Postal Service or Magnetic Fields, (and haven't been listening to my rambles here) your new favorite band is CFTPA, who, after eight years of recording some of the most relevant, literate and gut-wrenching music in all of indie-electro-pop, will be making their Detroit debut at CAID (courtesey of Dethlab.)
Also performing will be several of our dear friends form the very young and ridicuously brilliant Square Root label.

Check back Monday for all the infos.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Robots in Disguise

This video from Dave the Chip for Robots in Disguise rocks it. BTW I am curating for Oberhausen Film Festival this year so if anyone has any cool stuff or knows of anything now's the time to send it my way.

ADULT.'s third proper LP Why Bother? will be released on March 20th. If the new songs previewed on their most recent tour are any indication, this looks to be their best and most confident release yet. Let the countdown start.

Also, The Horrors have just announced their debut LP Strange House, set to be released the first week of March.

details here / cover art by Scott Irvine

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Great article in Time magazine about the gestation of the iPhone, plus some pr0n.

Man, am I bad at keeping secrets when I'm excited. Fans of low-fi indie electro-pop in Detroit should pencil April 14th on their calendars. More soon.

Speaking of spilling the beans, iPhone, WTF?!!

Pending FCC approval whatever... I'm not even a big gadget junkie, but I want it! Few things with this much buzz saturation ever live up to expectations when they are finally announced. This little rascal packs every Apple nerds wettest dreams into a shiny 4.8 ounce bar of joy. Not an iPod with a phone, but a fully functioning OSX based personal computer in your pocket. Save from running PhotoShop, iPhone does 90% of what most people use computers for - with OSX (did I mention that?) and multi-touch technology everyone thought was a good two years off for real world application.

Dang. It's officially the future.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

More on special programs related to Shrinking Cities at Cranbrook:

Friday, February 23, 7-8 pm
Sound Effects: Music Builds Community in Shrinking Cities
Gallery talk and music presentation by Walter Wasacz

Journalist-photographer Walter Wasacz produces The Subterraneans, a column in Detroit's MetroTimes devoted to international electronic music culture. He is also a founding member of the DJ collective Paris '68. Walter will talk about the contemporary music scene and will play samples from Detroit and the European cities featured in the Shrinking Cities exhibition.

The presentation will be followed by live music at MOCAD from 9 to 11 pm, featuring World Class Detroit Jazz Improvisation: Raw Truth Ensemble with Michael Carey; Skeeter C. R. Shelton; Ali Allen Colding; Timothy Caldwell; Jiles Rosbury; and DJ Brad Hales. A bus will travel from MOCAD to Cranbrook at 6:15 pm and from Cranbrook to MOCAD at 8:15 pm; the bus will leave MOCAD at 10:50 pm to return to Cranbrook at 11:30 pm.

This will brighten your day like a rainbow sandwich with sprinkles:
Magas on Chic-a-go-go, an all ages dance show from '03.

Monday, January 08, 2007

This one goes out to the Jon Oziases and Mike Doyles of the world.

Two songs from Nick Cave's new band, Grinderman. Easily the most abrasive stuff he's done in a decade.


As an apt follow-up to yesterday's observations on Detroit, the city will be host to the US debut of the highly acclaimed Shrinking Cities exhibition starting next month. Shrinking Cities examines both the positive and negative effects of urban decline through more than fifty works by artists, architects, filmmakers, journalists, culture experts, and sociologists.

Split between the Cranbrook Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, the exhibition opens February 3rd, and a bus will be available to take viewers to both venues. The shuttle bus itself is a fascinating aspect of the exhibit. I spoke with MOCAD curator Mitch Cope about it recently, who would like the bus to take a direct route up Woodward Avenue. The experience of driving the stretch along Woodward between downtown and Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills is one of almost unfathomable socio-economic contrast. Underscoring this divide is the fact that it is illegal for Detroit public buses to stop in the city of Bloomfield Hills. (I hope the shuttle doesn't get impounded by Bloomfield police...)

The MOCAD portion of the exhibit will focus on Detroit, while Cranbrook will feature European cities such as Leipzig, Ivanovo and Manchester. A series of talks and performances are scheduled in conjunction with the exhibit, including a presentation by music journalist Walter Wasacz at Cranbrook on February 23rd. Check back here for more details.

The Pet Shop Boys are great and all, but they're kinda like Frankie Goes to Hollywood Lite. I think Holly Johnson is probably one of the most underappreciated artists of our time.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Decline of Midwestern Civilization

Detroit is a city that has spawned far more than its fair share of great creative individuals. I used to refer to this as the "Detroit/Berlin Complex" - describing any world power of a city with a rich history, that fell into the darkest of dark times, to emerge as a breeding ground for creativity. This fertile soil is a rare and powerful combination of elements. Very little great art ever comes from sunny, happy places, as does little come from lonely industrial towns like Gary Indiana and the like. Detroit is a unique place in the world. Industrial revolution London, mid-century New York, and afore-mentioned Berlin are of the few other places in this class. The combination of former grandeur and extreme desperation fuels people to make. When you have nothing, but remember what it's like to have, you are compelled to create a new reality with your bare hands, sheer will, imagination and whatever scraps of brass and terracotta you can salvage. I don't need to remind any of our readers of the Cass Corridor artists, or musicians from Iggy to Ersatz who found inspiration in the rotting pre-war skyscrapers and burning hearts of the city's citizens. There is not a soul in Detroit that does not share a love/hate relationship with this city. It is a disfunctional relationship to the extreme. Anyone who cares at all is in constant struggle between moments of unparalleled inspiration and feeling as if they are being sucked down into a black pit. The struggle is what makes Detroit strong, and what drives artists in all media to create some of the most brilliant work in the world... and what can and has destroyed some of the strongest and brightest among us.

When I moved back to Detroit in 2004, after living in New York for five years, there was a momentum I never saw the first 28 years of my life. The city seemed to be on more than a rebound, but a real rebuilding. There was an energy - a sense that all the empty promises we were fed our entire lives were suddenly coming to fruition. Detroit is, if nothing else, a city built on cynicism. That cynicism was beginning to evaporate. Oslo was one business which signified that Detroit was arriving to a new place. I bragged to my friends on the coasts and in Europe about what an amazing place Oslo was: the best combination of decor, food, sound and musical talent I had ever seen under one roof in any city. It was an icon for what Detroit could be. At the same time however, chain businesses such as Hard Rock Cafe and Au Bon Pain were opening up just one block down. I know these exist in every major city, but their jubilant reception made me queasy. If Detroit was to become a world class city again, it must do it on its own terms. A generic blueprint for gentrification would never work in a place like this. Importing the worst of suburbia to the struggle which is Detroit was a recipe for disaster.

A mere two and a half years later, Detroit is a very different place than it was in 2004. The area around Oslo and Hard Rock Cafe have been transformed from abandoned buildings to luxury lofts. This is not bad. What is bad is that much of what made Detroit unique and desirable to artists has been wiped away. One of the great appeals of the city was the fact that you could get away with almost anything. There was a great degree of leeway afforded to creative people with the motivation to do anything that drew people into the city. This is not at all the case now. On top of that, Oslo closed its doors one month ago. It is, granted, one business, but it is symbolic that something unique and of the highest quality cannot survive in this city. The reasons for Oslo closing are questionable, but there is a core problem with the culture of Detroit that played a role. To read people dismiss Olso's closing as no big loss on a local techno messageboard made me feel sick to my stomach. There is no second best venue in Detroit. We're back to nothing. Whether it was mismanaged or not is inconsequential. Oslo closing is a loss for Detroit greater than most people will admit, and symbolically devastating.

Bethany and I were talking with a very good friend at an art opening this weekend about Oslo and the current state of Detroit. When I said that it strongly reminded me of Pontiac Michigan's forced revival and steep decline in the 1990s, we could see the blood drain from his face, because he knew. I hope dearly this is not the case for Detroit, but everything seems to the be imploding, and cynicism is back in vogue stronger than ever. As for me, I can not be here when Detroit hits bottom again. I give it nine months, max.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

CAID Presents Automation 07 - January 6 through January 20, 2007

As the dominant modes of economic production and industrial organization mutate, adapt, and evolve, we search for our place in the new order of things. CAID has challenged the artistic community to pause, reflect on, recast, and reinvent the technologies that were once taken for granted. CAID invites the people of Detroit and its vast motor hinterland to join them in a skeptical celebration of the automated life.

Featuring the work of Andrew Thompson, Brandon Vickerd, Charles Fairbanks & Adrienne Vetter, David Bowen, Deva Eveland, Erin Swanson, Frank Pahl, Katharine Liesen, Melissa Machnee, Mike Richison, Moshe Quinn, Ryan Buyssens, Tectonic Industries, Teresa Petersen, and Tyler Bohm.

WK+12 "Ad School" - Applicant Deadline

What at first to me looked like a call for entries for an innocuous DIY art book, is actually meant to encourage new applicants to apply for Wieden+Kennedy's own internal "Ad School" program. Now accepting applications for it's 4th year, you will work for 13 months on projects for high profile clients that "do good things", in W+K's Portland OR headquarters - all as part of the "training program". A quick watch of the video above and all is clear.

But hurry, the submission deadline is Jan 12th, and just to make you sweat in your designer shoes, only 12 people are selected each year! You better have some nice shoes though: a little more research and I dicovered that should you be accepted, your annual tuition fee will be $13K.

In yet another fascinating twist in the fiercly postmodern adworld, I'm dubious.

Scratchcard Wallpaper
This is a shameless reblog, but clever work from london artist Linda Florence: aluminum plated wallpaper for scratch-n-look fun:

8 Bit Peoples 50th CD Release

This is a 2CD Set, 50 ARTIST compilation. Heard a lot of the artists and tracks at the recent Blipfest in NYC, and it's really all solid gold.Try before you buy? there's a couple gems in the downloadable bonus tracks here.

If that get's your fingers twitching for more gameboy action, you'll want to check this out:

Monday January 8th
8-bit Rockers
Nullsleep, Anamanaguchi, Bronx Monx, Mark DeNardo,
and the Depreciation Guild

Fat Baby - 9PM
112 Rivington St., NYC

The Good, The Bad & The Queen will release their second single Kingdom of Doom on January 15th. As first reported by Joshua several months back, the Danger Mouse produced super-group consists of Damon Albarn [Blur,] Paul Simonon [The Clash,] Simon Tong [The Verve,] and Afrobeat legend Tony Allen. Their debut LP will be released on January 22.

Preview Kingdom of Doom and check out tons of goodies at TGTB&TQ's site.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Dear Labbers, we'd like to introduce you to the post-plywood/soft-opened Death & Co., as worthy a contender for New Black status as there is. The details are still hush hush thus far (of course they are, bless the cagey proprietors' hearts), but what we can tell you about this gem is that it's at 433 East 6th Street, between First and A. The space is, by other accounts "kind of gothically good looking." Some have noted accurately that it compares the venue to the venerable Milk & Honey. It's still not open, but will entry can be gained. Here's to the night.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Mulchfest 2007

To all in NYC who may be so festive as to have dead trees propped up in their living room: Recycle Your Tree! For those outside the NYC area visit this link for recycling services nationwide.