Monday, June 30, 2008


Please welcome our newest Burnlab editor Love/Hate [a.k.a. Patrick Brander,] a Michigan ex-pat responsible for the most interesting electronic music events and label in Baltimore, Bmore/Electro. We're very pleased to have Patrick contributing his insights on music and culture [as seen below] and repping Charm City.

Matmos, Face Melting, Neon Clad Armies

This interview with Matmos was originally done in February via Baltimore based music blog Aural States.

For those not paying attention to everything Matmos, Drew Daniels (Matmos/The Soft Pink Truth) and his partner Martin Schmidt (Matmos) moved to Baltimore where Daniels had accepted a teaching position at Johns Hopkins University. (Plus the interview was done a block from my house! Whatever...)

AS- What are you impressions of Baltimore so far?

Martin- It’s forbidding because of its reputation, and it’s large and sprawling, and not very well laid out. But I’m speaking as a Californian. California has all been built, essentially since the 1960’s. So they have a great fondness for grids there, which makes a clear layout of the city, but also very dull.

Baltimore is really complicated because it is laid out more like a European city, which is to say fucking higgledypiggledy. It’s like a spider on acid weaved a web and they threw street names down on it. But, I think that I have been quit cowardly in that we moved into this house and I haven’t done a lot of exploring.

Drew- When I came here I was given a four-hour tour of the city by a Hopkins professor who teaches a class about Baltimore. He took me to Sandtown, and to the loading docks where the old dead industries used to be, and to all these different neighborhoods. It was kind of overwhelming.

To echo Martin, there is a longer history here, architecturally. There is so much brick, which you never see in California because of earthquakes. So you are just aware of this lumbering gothic mass of buildings, so many abandoned. Obviously you can’t cross Baltimore without seeing a lot of poverty, and predatory environments, and struggling people. That is certainly different from San Francisco, which is very much under going a Manhattanization.

Martin- Yeah, at the moment San Francisco is on fire. I lived there for 22 years and it wasn’t always like that, but it was never as low as Baltimore is now.

Drew- I love Baltimore. I’ve sort of been frustrated and confused by its physical layout. We came back
from a show in California in two in the morning, in the pouring rain, and thought that Franklin was a two-way street driving the wrong way straight into traffic. This cop pulled out of nowhere.

Martin- And this was just in a bad neighborhood.

Drew- Yea it was gnarly. I thought “man we’re so fucked.” The guy took one look at our California plates, and the equipment in the car. The cop was like “what the hell is wrong with you guys? What are you doing?”

continues here...

I guess the whole reason for digging this up is that they will be playing live in Baltimore at the Charles Theater as a part of Whartscape. For those of you not from Baltimore, Whartscape is the anti-thesis of Artscape (think lame touring acts, bad djs, and craft fair style art), and created by the folks over at Wham City, a collective of artists who have garnered national attention for what can best be described an acid soaked wild west meets warehouse neon raves with ironic overtones that could choke a baby elephant to death. I'll let you come to your own conclusions though.

Whartscape takes place at 5 different locations in Baltimore City July 17-20th featuring over 50 different acts including Matmos, Black Dice, Beach House, Mark Hosler (Negativland), WZT Hearts, and much much more.

Visit Aural States for full lineup and schedule.

Something wicked this way comes to Pontiac's Crofoot Ballroom.

Based in London, where he works as an artist, DJ, and owner of the influential Hyperdub record label, Kode9 makes his first Detroit-area appearance with support by nospectacle.

Dub specialist Kode9 (his friends back home in Glasgow call him Steve Goodman) studied rave culture, cybernetics, postmodernism and afrofuturism at the University of Warwick in England, where he got his Ph.D in philosophy. In 2004, he founded Hyperdub records. The first release was a dance 12 by Burial, who went on to release two stunning full-lengths in 2006 and 2007.

nospectacle is a Detroit laptop/turntables/video trio featuring Chris McNamara, Walter Wasacz and Jennifer A. Paull. The group recently performed at the 8 Days in June Festival at Detroit's Max Fisher Center, on the Main Stage at Movement '08 and during the Eero Saarinen Shaping the Future exhibition at Cranbrook Art Museum.

The show is July 3. Doors are at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10. For more info and tickets go here.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Kill Devil Hill

Kill Devil Hill 3 500px

The praise hasn't stopped since Mark Christopher Straiton [Cowboy Mark to music lovers] and Mary Beatrice Brockman opened their fabulously eclectic boutique in Greenpoint Brooklyn a couple weeks ago.

Kill Devil Hill was listed in the New York Times style magazine last week as one of the six top new stores in the United States:

Kill Devil Hill (gifts, housewares, accessories) | Brooklyn, N.Y.
Greenpoint’s gentrification continues with the arrival of Kill Devil Hill, a well-appointed shop with a honky-tonk vibe. Its co-owners channeled the American frontier while stocking their general-store-style shop. Greenpoint pioneers can find a nice assortment of retro curiosities for the home, in particular some Civil War-inspired gaiters designed by Seana Gordon ($160) or a genuine calf skull ($400).
170 Franklin Street (between Kent and Java streets)

Kill Devil Hill 2

Kill Devil Hill 1

If you're in the market for "vintage clothes, furniture, industrial machines, tools, audio gear, bones, taxidermy, lighting, car parts, antlers, and american dreams," this is the place.

Rob Walker on Girl Talk's new record

Lifted from More interesting than Radiohead

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty curious about the Girl Talk release.

It’s getting a lot of attention, although nothing like Radiohead did. And although Girl Talk is clearly following in Radiohead’s footsteps by releasing a record on a pay-what-you-want basis, in my view this is a lot more significant. And not just because Radiohead generally bores me to tears.

In addition to that factor, it’s because, as I’ve said before, the whole Radiohead thing was imperfect as an indicator of where the music business might be headed for the simple reason that Radiohead is in fact a creation of the major-label system. The band benefited mightily from the precise traditional band-building method that anti-label zealouts are so fond of attacking. So when those zealots said that In Rainbows demonstrated the death of big music and a portent of a new, enlightened future, their argument was rather seriously undercut by the fact that Radiohead is a product of big music. Period.

So what happens when an artist who was not built by the labels starts dabbling with new distribution methods, and, potentially, builds a major name for him/her/itself in the process?

Girl Talk is at least potentially a more interesting case study to watch.

Plus, Girl Talk gets bonus points for being basically a mashup artist who uses massive numbers of samples to build songs, and apparently doesn’t clear any of it with rights-holders. So he’s pretty thoroughly postmodern.

Thus I’m watching this with interest. (And listening. I paid $10 for the release, and have been listening to it over the weekend.)

I haven't listened to Girl Talk yet myself. I have a feeling it won't be my thing and I think the pay-what-you-want model is terrible [although a smart legal side-step in this particular case,] but that doesn't matter and I agree with Mr. Walker on all major points above. It doesn't really matter what big label acts do. Independent artists who can create their own following and write their own rules will have the greatest impact on how the entire industry functions. This requires that all successful artists are enterpernurial, marketing-savvy renaissance people who also happen to be much more talented and dedicated than the rest of the herd at the core of what they do. I don't see anything wrong with that. It'd be a nice change actually.

This gets back to the fundamentals of DIY: Why do it yourself? Because nobody will do it for you, and even if they do, you can do it a lot better. [And if you can't, there's always accounting.]

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Not so punk

Artist, musician and punk rock pioneer Malcolm McLaren names the ten things he won't do without. His choices are a bit traditional for me, but I was moved by his attention to detail in the description of his tortoiseshell Ray Ban Wayfarers; "They must be those with true glass lenses and without the silly corporate logo printed on the lens of those new, horrid Ray-Bans of Italian manufacture."

Unsurprisingly, my favorite of the ten things authors comes from my Tokyo-based peer, Sony ID guru Morisawa-san.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Internet Ephemera

Like I do on a pretty regular basis, this evening I was thinking about when that big-ass magnetic storm or wayward asteroid knocks out all of our electrical grids and digital communication networks. [It's only a statistical matter of time, and if you believe all the doomsday programs on the History Channel, we have just under four years.] I sometimes question my judgement for not keeping elaborate scrapbooks, photo albums and journals like I used to - instead depending on services like Flickr and this very blog you're reading to document the myriad of experiences and thoughts that make up the story of a life.

magnetic storm

We're quickly growing accustomed to the freedom of wireless data systems, where anyone can draw their personal files and any information they choose down from "clouds" such as Apple's MobileMe. [I don't know how many times I've downloaded a song I wanted from iTunes, Beatport or a friend's site in the middle of a DJ set and cued it up in a matter of seconds.]


What was once a very traditional website with something called a root folder, Burnlab is now powered almost entirely by Google and Flickr. I don't even know in what city and on what server most of my files are located anymore. [Thank goodness to Datavibe for the archives.] The point of this new age is to not know or even care - just to know that we can access any and all of it any time we please. This is wonderful. This simultaneously brings us one small step closer to The Singularity and to a world of unlimited information exchange. In other words: a total information utopia where knowledge is less of a commodity and more of a universal tool to better society. As it should be.


The ephemeral nature of the internet struck me today as I was digging through some old, old pages on Burnlab [and by old, I mean 2001 or so... which in not old by any other measure, except perhaps when discussing the life cycle of mayflies.] The Modus page was a section of this site which was more or less a link page/shrine to some of the artists and organizations that have had the most impact on my creative process. Poking around, I was dismayed - but not surprised - that about 70% of the links didn't work anymore. If you go to the nav bar on the top left, you'll find that much of the old Burnlab site is broken in some form or another. This can be attributed to sloppy server change-overs and multiple hard drive failures, but that's exactly how these things happen - and they happen a lot.

On the up side, I was very pleased to stumble across some old pages from the L0C810N site and Dorkwave site, including the Noise page - which includes still downloadable mixes we did in the spring of '05 and charts that go back as far as '03. [Among the many plans on my lengthy to-do list is creating a proper archive of the Dorkwave golden years some day. Actually, I should really make a time capsule of every Burnlab related project. Not that most people would give two rats' asses about it, but I'm a documentation freak like that.]


It's kind of messed up that one would be pleasantly surprised to discover that a web page they created only a few years ago still exists. I don't want to get all Luddite or Y2K here, but I'm seriously thinking about taking a more analog approach to documentation - at least in tandem with digital media. I know the chances of losing your boxes of photographs in a fire is much higher than a solar flare or a shift in magnetic polarity wiping out every hard drive in your hemisphere, but as our society relies more and more on ambiguous remote servers and web 2.0 aps as the sole record of our place in history, the more vulnerable we become to having the history of our entire society lost in one cosmic burp.

Amron Cash Money Clip

Cash Money Clip is the latest prodject [I meant to type it that way] from Amron Experimental.
Scroll down for the Obsolete Currency variant, my personal fave.

Scott Amron's work is deceptively simple at first glance, but often loaded with meaning and has an almost surreal wit and humor about it - not dissimilar in spirit to Droog. It innocently shuns applied styling and gleefully dismisses preconceived notions of how we're "supposed" to interact with basic objects.

[previously on the B'lab]

Fantastic Contraption Exhibition

Fantastic Contraption exhibition poster

Lifted from Coilhouse:
"On July 19th Device Gallery in La Jolla opens what very well could be The Ultimate Steam-Cyber-Cog-And Otherwise-Punk Art Show. Once you’ve collected yourselves after taking a bewildered gander at the list of names I have provided below you will know I speak the truth. And if you somehow do not, have no fear. Over the next two weeks Coilhouse will be giving you detailed looks at the work of these skilled creators. Rejoice!"

[Some select links below. Go to Coilhouse for the full list.]
Ashley Wood
D. Hwang
H.R. Giger
Kazuhiko Nakamura
Mike Libby
Wayne Martin Belger

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Jerry Seinfeld on George Carlin

From the New York Times: Dying Is Hard. Comedy Is Harder.

I was on the phone with George Carlin nine days ago and we were making some death jokes. We were talking about Tim Russert and Bo Diddley and George said: “I feel safe for a while. There will probably be a break before they come after the next one. I always like to fly on an airline right after they’ve had a crash. It improves your odds.”

As a kid it seemed like the whole world was funny because of George Carlin. His performing voice, even laced with profanity, always sounded as if he were trying to amuse a child. It was like the naughtiest, most fun grown-up you ever met was reading you a bedtime story.

[via Ann Althouse]

Michael Lind on The Moral Minority

From Salon: Relax, liberals. You've already won.

The people who are known today as "conservatives" are better described as "counterrevolutionaries." They didn't just want to stop the clock. They wanted to turn it back.

For four decades, from 1968 to 2008, the counterrevolutionaries of the right waged war against the New Deal, liberal internationalism, and moral and cultural liberalism. They sought to abolish middle-class entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, to replace treaties and collective security with scorn for international law and U.S. global hegemony, and to reverse the trends toward individualism, secularism and pluralism in American culture... And they failed. On every front conservatives have failed, completely, undeniably and irreversibly.

[via Simon Reynolds]

Asobi Seksu vs. Gamera


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Falling Sun

Since I'm clearly on a kick, here's one more:

A Place To Bury Strangers - The Falling Sun [2008]

Possibly NSFW only because it's one of those paralyzingly beautiful songs that won't let you do anything else until it's done tearing your insides out.

The rather awesome video uses footage from the public television sci-fi film The Lathe of Heavan.

More Places to Bury Strangers

Long time aggregators and champions of things that don't suck, did this three part video interview with the lads from A Place to Bury Strangers back in '06.

"It's rare that we feature an unsigned act but we strongly feel that we are witnessing the beginnings of a group which is bound for international recognition. With a music which is equal parts Pornography-era Cure and Skullflower, this trio match noise and energy, joy and dissonance, the dark with the bright."

Brainwashed liked them so much that they put out APTBS's debut LP on their own Killer Pimp Records this past fall.

A Place to Bury Strangers

In a turn of events almost too perfect for the pages of rock'n'roll history to be true, the master tape for the single To Fix the Gash in Your Head was so loud, it actually destroyed a rare 10" record press a couple months back. [Slightly delayed, the 10" and a super-limited edition single-sided 12" yellow vinyl edition are now out on Meal Deal Records in the UK.]

To Fix the Gash in Your Head can also be found on a new Nine Inch Nails tour sampler, designed to generate exposure for NIN's five different opening acts prior to the start of this summer's North American tour.

+ Here is a recent full length live show from FabChannel, who's sound and video quality is always tip top notch:

Monday, June 23, 2008

Nendo's Elastic Diamond

Elastic Diamond chair and display for Lexus by Nendo

Elastic Diamond display and chair for Lexus by Nendo

Nendo is the Tokyo and Milan based design firm of one Oki Sato. Sato's recent Elastic Diamond display and chair is the latest in Lexus' series of art installations at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano.

Elastic Diamond chair for Lexus by Nendo

One of the most interesting aspects of the two piece rapid prototyped chair is that is could potentially eliminate all the space, time and fuel consumed in shipping and storing objects:

We're not planning to mass-produce the chair, but since it only takes five to six days to produce, a manufacturer would not have to worry about keeping it in stock, and overseas orders could be filled by sending data overseas for production on a local RP machine, drastically cutting shipping time and cost. In other words, the diamond chair project showed us that in the near future, we may well solve problems that have long plagued the furniture industry.

See more at the nicely executed Art of Lexus website.


I generally try to keep this blog PG-13, but there is no more appropriate headline for this post.

Comedian George Carlin Dies in Los Angeles at 71

A great fucking motherfucker will be fucking missed.
All our fucking love and best fucking wishes to his family.

We love you, George.

Am I in hell?

Ferndale is a cool city and all, but there's a bloody drum/stoner chant circle going on next door. Where's the SWAT team when you need them?

The only thing worse I could possibly imagine is being at the freaking Rothbury Festival. [You seriously don't need to click that. Just know that Dave Matthews is headlining.]

I'm playing industrial music as loud as I can in my kitchen right now.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Place To Bury Strangers: "Total Sonic Annihilation"

If there are only two musical genres that are universally loved and nobody ever tires of, it has to be shoegaze and acid. We'll be talking mostly about the former here.

A Place To Bury Strangers - I Know I'll See You [2007]

This morning, over perfectly runny eggs at Pete's Place in Ferndale, Lynchy, his girlfriend Nicole and I were talking about "the loudest band in New York" (no... seriously) A Place To Bury Strangers and the possibility of putting a show together with them, 800beloved and Dethlab this fall. That still may or may not happen, but everything took an interesting twist this afternoon when Sean noticed that they're opening for bloody Nine Inch Nails in August! (Past creative miscarriages and thick neck aside, Trent has really been on top of it lately. He, JJ Abrams, Rob Walker, Geoff Manaugh, Marius Watz, Bruce Sterling and Sam Valenti should get in a room together and just make something awesome - I don't care what, but I'm sure it'd be a lot cooler than a Segway. Something on the level of inventing the internet or a whole new spectrum of colors... but I digress. Point is: Trent knows what's up these days, and booking A Place To Bury Strangers is just further proof.)

Backing up to the beginning:
A Place To Bury Strangers is the brainchild of one Oliver Ackermann, who's company Death By Audio builds the most intense hand crafted distortion pedals in the universe. Don't believe me - check out the sound samples, or ask people such as The Edge and the aforementioned Mr. Reznor. The things come with a warning label ["this WILL blow your amp",] and a lot of what sounds like analog synths on 800beloved songs is a Jaguar Baritone run through DBA pedals.

Death By Audio SchematicDeath By Audio schematic 3

Ackermann was previously in the shoegaze outfit Skywave with Ceremony frontman Paul Baker [for the record, not Barker - though that would be a very intersting pairing.]

A Place To Bury Strangers - To Fix The Gash in Your Head [2007]

As Lynchy noted, the thing about A Place To Bury Strangers isn't that they're just loud, but they hit frequencies the human ear is not accustomed to. Ackermann understands sound at a very scientific and physiological level, and exploits that knowledge to what some might say are sadomasochistic ends.
I, myself, quite like it.
[Hurts so good.]


[edit] Instead of posting the video for "Oh My" for the fourth time, here's a clip from MTV News.
[I seriously didn't know MTV still covered music.]

One of the things that makes Office so great is Scott Masson's ability to package incredibly dark and subversive lyrics into tightly crafted, sugary pop songs with the skill of Blur or XTC. For example, "Oh My" is about a depraved post-Ballardian double murder - which is only apparent by the rhyming of "gun" and "cum". Brilliant.

More from MTV here. ["Retarded" doesn't even begin to describe MTV's journalism style - I think I wrote better articles in journalism class as a freshman in high school - but if you can get past that and the totally out of context lead, there's some very interesting stuff here worth reading.]

+ pics of Office and The Horrors at CMJ in '06.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Pop Assembly this Saturday

Office, 800beloved and Star provide a mega-dose of power pop and dreamy shoegaze tomorrow evening at the Magic Bag Theater in Ferndale.

Star goes on at 9:00, so get there early to see Scott Cortez work his guitar loop maigc. Here's a live clip of Star performing their instant shoegaze classic Champion of Love , and Office hanging out with '80s pr0n stars.

Saturday, June 21
The Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave Ferndale, MI
doors at 8PM | $7

Random recently enjoyed: A four-part interview with Ira Glass talking about the building blocks of a great story.


Philips N1700 VCR Commercial

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Nixa: The Kirk/Spock of Our Generation

Second Blixa Bargeld post of the week: Goth girls sure know how to write hot fantasy gay pr0n...
via our dear friends at Coilhouse (of course.)

[Original post here.]

Attn: B'laber Community

Just a quick reminder to everyone on the blogroll: I have my long-winded, hyperbolic opinions on here, but Burnlab is still very much a community site - not a personal blog. Thanks to Tenzin and Jennifer for posting about their events this week. I don't have time to scour the listings for New York, Detroit and every cool city in the world to see what's going on, and that's part of why we have such a big team of bloggers here. Please self-promote! (Humility is charming, but can be a character flaw if taken too far.)

Speaking of long-winded, hyperbolic opinions... I would love more than anything to see more of that here. I certainly hope my style doesn't intimidate other writers. Most of the time I'm just trying to get a dialogue going. (Poke, poke, poke!) Challenge me, please! (Allen's done a pretty good job at that.)

Please rant, and please continue to write about your art opening, club night, favorite new record, physical exam gone awry... whatever.


p.s. If you think you have something to add to the conversation, we're always looking for interesting new voices. Hit me up via Mike at

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Spontaneity at the Max

During Model D's three-year anniversary party at the DSO's 8 Days in June Festival nospectacle will mix live music and video
at a cocktail reception in the atrium at the Max 6:30-8 p.m. and again at 10 p.m. after the Bill Frisell concert (in Orchestra Hall).

nospectacle is Chris McNamara, Jennifer A. Paull and Walter Wasacz.

The night's program is called Spontaneous Creation and includes cash bar and food.

Atrium access is free.

June 20, 2008

Max M. Fisher Center
3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit
8 Days in June
Model D


Language released their first music video this morning.

Language - Macadamia [2008]

[Those pants should look familiar - our pal Hugo is the sometimes third member of MOTOR.]

Oh, Blixa...

We can't go more than a few months here without a Blixa Bargeld post.

Herr Bargeld singing "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" from Cabaret - from the 1985 film Berlin Now

If anyone out there has a copy of this obscure documentary on the early '80s Berlin scene, please drop me note! It also includes performances by Malaria, Mona Mur and more.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Dubfire's rework of Plastikman's Spastik came out last November on Minus. I'm not a huge Dubfire fan, but I have to say this is about the most perfect remix/cover I've ever heard.

Messing with a song of such holy grail status as Spastik is treacherous territory for even the best producers, but Ali Shirazinia managed to keep everything that made the original song so iconic, while adding whole new levels of depth and texture which unfold over the course of the track, making it simultaneously respectful and current. I'm normally annoyed by nine+ minute songs [because 90% of them don't do a darn thing which couldn't be said in two and a half minutes] but this one works every last second like good urban design: a constant game of teasing and revealing breathtaking new vistas. There is nothing redundant or tedious here - only pleasant surprises around each corner. I'm almost ashamed to say that I like it much better than the original - which is still one of my favorite tracks ever.

Bethany and I are apprehensive to play techno songs in Dethlab sets, because 1) there are hundreds of much better techno DJs already, and we don't see any point or imagination in doing something that's already been done well, and 2) there is a vast spectrum of electronic dance music out there which is not being addressed, which we feel very strongly about exposing. As Solvent would say, "if you don't have something new to add, please don't bother!" We couldn't agree more.

We did play Dubfire's remix of Spastik this past Saturday at the Bankle. Bethany mixed some vintage religious instructional records over the song, and I thought it was one of the better moments we've had as a duo yet. We also played a handful of songs which fall under the category of "techno according to Dethlab," such as "Joyride" by Jenner.

It was definitely weird - but I hope respectful - playing Spastik at one of the first places I went to see Mr. Hawtin DJ while in college. It certainly said volumes for the song that it works just as well in a totally different context and with a totally different generation of dancing art school freaks.

What to do with six thousand Ikea boxes

Brooklyn artist John Hobbs and ad agency Deutsch have created a series of spots to mark the opening of the first Ikea at the center of the universe, made entirely from Ikea boxes.

[via Curbed]

Thursday, June 12, 2008

BMW GINA fabric skinned concept car

Read all about it here.

The GINA isn't the first fabric skinned concept: Ed Natividad built a Batmobile of black leather stretched over a brass wire skeleton for his senior thesis and Adam Barry created a series of wire and spandex skinned concept models back in the early 90s, but the GINA is still awesome if for nothing else, its ability to wink and shape shift.

edit: I failed to note that the whole idea of stretched fabric bodies came from early aircraft designs, and that Taru Lahti (of Ford Focus Concept fame - to this day, still the most innovative and sensual concept car ever built) experimented with wire and cloth models with fellow Propeller member Camilo Pardo while at Ford.

[I also added and removed a rant here about the business culture in Detroit driving away some of it's most creative people - it was kind of long winded. It can be pretty much boiled down to two forces of evil: Ronald Reagan and Applebee's.]

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I'm still working on that Dune post, but first: The Synchronicity Suite

Our good friends at Moodgadget released their fifth compilation The Synchronicity Suite on iTunes yesterday.

I haven't had a chance to listen to it all yet, but The Reflecting Skin delivers yet another monstrous slab of organ eating bass worms and soaring sulphurous melodies. Check out exclusive previews over at ISO50.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Kucinich Moves to Impeach Bush

Ohio representative Dennis Kucinich introduced 35 articles of impeachment against president Bush on the floor of the US House of Representatives yesterday.

This isn't about politics: nothing good could possibly come from this for the Democrats politically. This is about the Constitution and holding ourselves accountable. I only hope that other members of congress are brave enough to do what's right.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Dystopian Sci-Fi Design and Culture: A Personal Introduction

As a sensory-oriented, particularly visual person, absorbing inspiration is a 24/7 job I can't help do and can't help adore. As much as I love music, live theater, print, architecture, etc., nothing does it for me quite like movies - especially highly stylized science fiction movies.

Long before I even entered college, my intent was to become a production designer for science fiction films by following in the footsteps of people like Syd Mead and Joe Johnston - who both studied automotive design at Art Center before going on to design films such as Blade Runner and the original Star Wars trilogy, respectively. Part way through my time at CCS though, I lost interest in designing for the screen and became much more interested in the sensory and psychological effects design could have on people in the real world. Young, overly-confident, and inspired by a handful of almost equally young instructors I greatly admired, I felt like part of a new movement which challenged traditional Bauhaus thinking head-on by vastly expanding the definition of "function" in the seemingly tired old adage which had defined design education since the beginnings of modernism.

Of course, I learned later that Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen and their peers at Cranbrook had done exactly this many decades before my time... and much better. The problem was [an still is] that most people take "function" in such a primitive and literal sense, there is no room for the function of emotions, the nuances of human psychology, or any of the highly complex ways people interact with an object, an environment or an idea that defines the eventual form. There was never anything wrong with the phrase itself - only the interpretation.

I left the automotive program at CCS [which I felt represented the shallowest possible interpretations of both function and form] to focus on environmental and experiential design. I even turned down an offer to interview with Lucas Films shortly after graduation. [The woman at the other end of the line at Skywalker Ranch seemed annoyed, and perhaps it was a foolish move, but I was quite intent on my direction at the time, and was frankly scared by the idea of moving to California.] Science fiction design never left me though, and remains my biggest source of inspiration - not just aesthetically, but in the holistic and thorough approach required to create entire worlds which are both captivatingly alien and realistic enough to be believable.

Although I still have no desire to design for fantasy scenarios, the design of science fiction films - particularly the dark, saturated, epic dystopias of the early 1980s - are still an incredible influence on not just my work, but an entire generation across multiple disciplines.

The influences of Blade Runner and Brazil have been talked to death - and for very good reason. The recent explosion of steampunk in popular culture wouldn't have the City of Lost Children - and certainly not typewriters retrofitted with Fresnel lenses and flickering cathode ray tubes to reference without the groundwork Ridley Scott and Terry Gilliam laid. Heck, cyberpunk as we know it may not have existed without Blade Runner.

In the following posts, we'll discuss the influences various sci-fi films have had on everything from fashion and product design, to music and art, starting with David Lynch's Dune.

Howard Hughes, Frank Abagnale... and now the great Nolan Bushnell

Leonardo DiCaprio to portray Atari and Chuck E. Cheese Founder

According to reports, the film will detail Bushnell's life from his early work at amusement parks, through founding Atari and eventually building the Chuck E. Cheese's empire in a "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington meets Tucker" fashion.


Nolan Bushnell
More on Bushnell here and here .

Daily Poetics

Daily Poetics is one of my favorite sources of inspiration which I haven't shared here yet [simply because I just haven't gotten around to doing so until now.]

Kariann Burleson's blog covers so many topics - print ephemera, jewelry, experience design, objects, interiors, materials, food, ideas, and of course poetry - the only way to describe it is "stuff that's beautiful".

Also be sure to check out the Flickr Photostream.

Sunday, June 08, 2008



Did we need to hybridize a watered-down Deuce Bigalow with a non-ironic Zoolander and a non-funny version of The Hebrew Hammer, starring the only man-child in Hollywood slightly less annoying than Carrot Top?

This is a real movie?

Always Trust Prasraiko, part 1

Whatever Derek Plaslaiko does or wants you to do, no matter how questionable it may seem at times, you will thank him later.

exhibit A.)
Derek played a white label of this at UNTITLED in the summer of '03.
Needless to say... people freaked.

[This is a brand new open series. Please feel free to add at will.]

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Twin Crystals

Twin Crystals - Two Girls [2007]

I think I just had another life defining moment.

Crest Hardware Art Show

crest hardware art show

It's the Crest Hardware Art Show [as seen on EGG]
June 7 - July 11
Opening reception Saturday, June7 at 1PM with live performances by The Subjects, Frankpollis, Drug Rug, Bill Bell, Meowskers and more

Thanks to Scott Amron! Be sure to check out his clever and uber-trendy Thin Screw.

The Locust’s talk show debut on Jerry Springer in 1999

Watching this broadcast was one of the three or four personal defining moments of my life.

In 1999 I had become disillusioned with the testosterone driven direction of the britpop and twee scene, and indie culture was totally dead to me by that point [two years earlier, the mayor's "Sweater Task Force" had driven cardigans from thrift and vintage stores and into commercial mall storefronts I wanted little to do with.]

Never even hearing of The Locust, JP descended upon my television one summer night and made me fall in love with music all over again.

Ann Arbor Urban Forest Project - Gallery Exhibit and Banner Auction Fundraiser tonight

AIGA Urban Forest banner by James Alleman

30 designers and students from all over Michigan created banners to raise awareness about sustainability issues in urban areas. The designs adorned Main Street in Ann Arbor from May 1 - May 30 and will be converted into mail bags and auctioned off to raise funds for the Ann Arbor Ecology Center this evening.

Thursday, June 5, 2008 6:30 pm - 10:30 pm
University of Michigan School of Art and Design
2000 Bonisteel Blvd, Ann Arbor MI

Details at AIGA Detroit

Pulp's US debut on Letterman in 1996

Watching this broadcast was one of the three or four personal defining moments of my life.

In 1996 I had become disillusioned with the testosterone driven direction of the goth and industrial scene, and rave culture was totally dead to me by that point [two years earlier, the mayor's "Rave Task Force" had driven techno from lofts and abandoned factories and into commercial nightclubs I wanted little to do with.]

Never even hearing of Pulp, Jarvis Cocker descended upon my television one summer night and made me fall in love with music all over again.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Who out there would be interested in an electro-punk cover of Radio Free Europe?

[I'm on a totally inexplicable early R.E.M. kick this week and was thinking something along the lines of Bombardier meets GD Luxxe... kicked up several notches of course. Bethany and I have been just dying to record some music for months, but haven't had any time.]

Thinking out loud here... in an ideal world I'd like to have Sean Lynch on guitar, Jack Vulpine on bass, production by Doc and engineering by Josh Eustis. Vocals are a tough call. I think Bethany or I could pull it off with enough effects, but Lynchy, Nicola, Jared Louche, Adam Killing... heck, Dirk Ivens or Ian Clark [who's currently my favorite vocalist in any genre - that video's not the best example, but it's too awesome not to link] would be pretty bloody amazing.

[Stand by for next musical whim.]

New Moz Video

Brilliant and biting as ever.

Morrissey - All You Need Is Me [2008]

+ Moz fan art:

Monday, June 02, 2008

Movement '08 Recap Part 2: ShadesVision/SKETCH3D

A couple weeks before the festival, Dr. Bill at Shades Optical asked o2 about doing something unique for them at the DEMF this year. During the course of brainstorming we landed on anaglyphic stereoscopy as a theme, and the tag-line "ShadesVision" - based on the notion of "seeing the world differently." Being the obsessive perfectionists and gluttons for punishment art we are, what began as a simple window graphic quickly evolved into a multi-part multimedia installation which was executed in about a week's time.

Michael Haener during install

3D banner at Movement '08

The first component was a fifty foot stereoscopic banner we designed and installed in the wooded VIP area at Hart Plaza. Stretched between the trees, the banner was comprised of various Detroit landmarks [photographed in stereo of course] with a vibrating red line weaving through all the images, representing the thread of the city's creative energy. A pair of custom designed 3D glasses were included in all the artist, VIP and press kits, as well as distributed in person during the festival.

o2 SKETCH3D screen test
SKETCH3D screen grab during development

SKETCH3D at Movement '08
SKETCH3D control box

SKETCH3D at Movement '08
SKETCH3D control box

SKETCH3D at Movement '08
SKETCH3D display

SKETCH3D in action
Christopher Bissonnette running the system through the paces

The second element was a new software application developed by one of our newest team members, Andrew Sliwinski, called SKETCH3D. This basically works just like an Etch-a-Sketch, but with a third knob for the Z axis. In addition to the software, SKETCH3D included a custom control box and surround for a 60" plasma screen. This was by far the biggest hit. Every time I walked into the artists' lounge, someone was wearing the 3D glasses [and a huge smile] as they played with it. I think it was just right balance between gadget nerdery and intuitive playfulness.

ShadesVision DEMF window graphic

window graphic at Movement '08

The third element was an 8' x 8' graphic in the lower bowl area of the plaza, which explained the other installations and included some stereoscopic imagery not on the banner.

More info can be found at the project website and more photos on my Flickr page.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Movement '08 Recap Part 1: Too Far Gone... No Way Back

We've now had a full week to recover from another DEMF here in Detroit. This was the busiest and the best festival yet for me personally, [even more so than two years ago] mostly due to being involved in two very intensive and exciting projects. I'll write about the other project in the next post.

Bethany and I teamed up with our good friends at Interdimensional Transmissions to throw an event at the new Cyberoptix studio last Saturday. We had been planning to bring Motor back to Detroit, and I.T. was planning a follow-up to their legendary series of Cannonball events and last December's No Way Back. I think it was around February we all decided to pool our efforts and make it one massive twelve hour party with two distinct personalities, and by the end of April we had what I think is the most killer line-up I've ever seen on one flyer.

Bryan Black of MOTOR
Bryan Black of Motor at Too Far Gone... No Way Back

Le Car 2008
Adam Lee Miller and Ian Clark at Too Far Gone... No Way Back

Dethany and Nicola scheming
Toybreaker and Nicola Kuperus at Too Far Gone... No Way Back

Bryan, BMG and Adam
Bryan, BMG and Adam at Too Far Gone... No Way Back

I don't think last Saturday could have gone much better. With everything we do [I think I can speak for both Dethlab and I.T. here,] we first and foremost want people to have a great time, but we also have an agenda. In this case, it was showing people that electronic music isn't about club culture and all its superficial trappings. We wanted to show that the cold, mechanical soul of underground electronic music is alive and well, and as feisty, rebellious and D.I.Y. as ever. I think every aspect of the party and everyone involved - especially the DJs - communicated that, and the positive response was absolutely overwhelming. It was an honor to be a part of this and to work with so many great friends. I've lost track of how many times I've heard it was the "party of the weekend" or "best party in years," from both people I respect and admire, and total strangers. Huge thanks to everyone!

Abbott up to no good

I feel like a douche going on about an event I helped throw, so here are some of the comments from various message boards:

"Best, most intense, evil music I heard all weekend (all year?) by a long shot. Carlos Souffont, Patrick Russell, and especially Mike Servito were fucking amazing. I think Derek played a little at the end, but I was gone. The vibe and location were superb... it was a dark sweaty loft party as opposed to stale club bullshit."

"I made my way to the location for No Way Back. I'll be honest, this was just plain out one of the best fucking parties I've ever been too in my life. It was held in a loft just outside of downtown and to get there, you basically had to know where it was. No signs on the door advertising it, just an address with the instructions, "Enter and park in the back of the building." From Gratiot Ave., you wouldn't see a thing. Behind the building cars were lined up all over the place. Headed up the stairs, made my way into the loft, and it was just perfect. Absolutely none of the bullshit I've come to hate about the club scene. No dress codes, no VIP sections or lines, no horrendous music, and everybody who was there wasn't interested in being seen or being a fashion plate or seeing how fucked up they could get. Sound was perfect, and the only "lightshow" they had was a single strobelight. And the music was beautiful..."
-Electro Soundwave

"It was a GREAT party. I found the music to be just the dark and evil that is so missing from many other electronic music events. It was just what this somewhat deranged doctor [of internet message board journalism] needed."

"Now THAT was a party! Patrick Russell straight up brought the heat last night. That was one of the better sets I've heard in a long, long time. Actually, that was one of the best parties I've been to in a long time."
-Craig Gonzalez

"I came in from Philly. This party was great. Came to see Adult. and was pleased by Dethlab and all. I blew off my web-ordered Hawtin ticket and my friends were all pouty. Waaaa. They regretted it after long lines and lots of positive chatter the next day. If Philly partied like that... the cops would have been kicking us in the neck long before sunrise. Thx for showing me the dark side of electro that I was hoping to find in Motown. I knew it was there. Rust belt industrial is going strong. Best thing I saw all weekend by far. I'm kind of fascinated by your town right now... hope to get back soon."

"HOLY SHIT what a GREAT party!!!!! Mike, Bethany, Brendan, etc. GREAT FUCKING JOB!!!! Wow. STILL recovering. Btw, new rule: When Interdimensional Transmissions and Dethlab throw a party.......GO!!!! No excuses, just GO!!!!"

Mazda's Nagare Design Language


There's a good article over at Car Body Design on Mazda's bold new design language.

“We wanted to create cars that had a ‘snapshot feeling’ of this natural motion,” explains Laurens van den Acker. “We realised that the automotive industry is one of the few industries that hadn’t yet captured these amazing natural textures from the landscape. Architecture, fashion and product design have all looked at these landscape elements. There was a great opportunity for us to interpret this for Mazda design.”

“Our new surface language is car-centric,” adds Franz von Holzhausen. “After studying the architectural approach, which tends to be strictly rigid, and the organic approach, which is highly fluid, we created Nagare to straddle those two disciplines. It is fluid, graceful, and dynamic. But the message it registers on the beholder is flow-motion.”

From here Mazda’s designers began to explore the possibility of textured surfacing on cars: as if the cars’ surfaces had been naturally sculptured by air or water. Mazda’s design team began by developing a surface language to visually describe their Flow philosophy. Like the natural elements that had inspired them the team wanted to communicate the sheer raw power of Mazda motion even when their cars were still, as van den Acker explains:

“It was in making the transition from observing motion in nature as an expression of energy to applying it to a manmade object such as a car that we discovered what a thoroughly exciting and logical creative approach the design concept represented. This revelation allowed us to proceed to create one dramatic and unique design after another.”


Conventional automotive design dictates that the panels of car bodies are comprised of smooth, clean and clear surfaces. Yet Flow is like a ripple or a wave effect across the surface of the metal.

“The surface language of Nagare goes against conventional design thinking of clean, uncomplicated surfaces,” explains Franz von Holzhausen. “This is what we are all taught at college so it goes against the grain.

“We are breaking the golden rule of design – which is to simplify,” explains Laurens van den Acker. “Everybody will tell you to remove lines until you have no more left to remove. We are adding lines, which is kind of counter intuitive, but if we do it well it looks natural and creates beauty.”

Previously on Burnlab: Crossed Folds and Maximum Joy