Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Whatever

So it's about to be 2009 okay, all across the USA. If you had a good year, a bad year, or if you're still waiting till the last second to make up your mind about it, this is your last chance to do something in it. So do that. Happy New Year.

Below is a short entitled Slow Rave (last moments of Trance Energy 2006)
by New York based video artist Damon Zucconi.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Christmas, Burnlabbers, and a very fruitful New Year.

Best of 2008

I know it may be a bit early for the best of post, but I would like to use up my top ten for one album, which is The Secret Life by The New Bloods.

Their bio says they sound a bit like ESG and the Raincoats, but I honestly don't think they can be compared to anything. They are, sort of, super otherworldly, in a frantic dream sequence sort of way. They're one of those bands that in 10 years, all of the good bands are going to cite them as an influence. Trust me, if you can listen to anything in the next 10 minutes, make it this.

They're on the MySpace

They're also on Kill Rock Stars (KRS always a source for awesome)

Also look at this video. It's really cool.


Exyzt BoomBox

BoomBox is the latest installation by renegade media architects Exyzt [who created the mind-bending live visuals for Etienne de Crecy Mr. Black tipped us to earlier this year.]

Exyzt BoomBox
Exyzt BoomBox
Exyzt BoomBox

As the installation is primarily motion-based, you really have to watch the video.

I love everything about these guys - not just what they do, but why and how they do it.

Below is the Exyzt projects manifesto and "action methods":

Be utopian. We want to build new worlds where fiction is reality and games are new rules for democraty. We want to encourage creativity, reflexion and renew social behaviours. If space is made by dynamics of exchange, then everybody can be the architects of our world.

Experiment. Architecture can expand into a transdisciplinary field, where new tools can be explored. Our current recipe : marinate construction with video, music, graphic design, photography and gastronomy, without forgetting to leave space for interaction, freedom, informality and unpredictability. Our projects can result in spatial video games, architectural buildings, musical environments and/or thematic food feasts.

Even if we refuse to enter the current architectural practice which is under economical and political constraints, we do deal with the reality of construction. We design and build ourselves, live in our constructions and leave freedom for visitors to appropriate our designs.

What we produce is open source architecture. We collaborate to give free access to a structured living program and an interface for exchange. We only offer a framework for a direct and immediate emulation between people and space.

Our projects are always in movement. It is this dynamic process based on interaction between people and their environment that really make our projects. We are here to incite you to have conscience of your environment. React and act.

Thank you to : Yona Friedman, Archigram, Dada, Fluxus, hybrid architecture of the world (observed on our trips to Vietnam, Japan, Eastern europe, Africa). We owe you.


We usually choose sites that are not regulated by real estate economy or social control.
Among them : wasteland, leftover spaces, or abandoned spaces.
We also work on flexible/neutral spaces offered by events like festivals or exhibitions.

Even if we usually use identical materials like scaffolding, textiles, photo, video and sound material, our projects are non reproductible products. They are designed and built in the context of location, place and participants.

Architecture is an adventure in time. We like it short and dense so as to focus more on the project. And also because we want to multiply projects around the world!

We experiment endlessly different tools for our interventions like videogames, short cuts, and vj. We attempt to translate media into physical space. A video projection can constitute a facade, a video game becomes a spatial interactive game.
Films are the memories to our constructions.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Surprisingly, KTM X-Bow makes a helluva winter car

KTM X-Bow in the snow

From Jalopnik:

The rear-engined, 240 HP, 1,700 Lbs KTM X-Bow is one of the fastest ways to lap a racetrack. But with no ABS, traction control or even a windscreen, how does it the snow?

Some crazy Scandinavian motorcycle journalists had booked the up-specced, all carbon fiber KTM for a review, but when the car arrived, it started to snow. Rather than be put off by the inclement weather, they suited up in full winter riding gear and took it for a spin. The results are simply epic.

"The car is actually doing fine on the snow. It runs on winter tires, but no studs. Compared to an old Porsche 911 with a similiar set-up (rear engine, rear wheel drive and no weight on the front wheels) it's a beauty for winter driving. The steering is 'ultraquick' and there's no ABS, ESP or any other three letter electronic devices."


Institute Benjamenta

Brothers Quay - Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream People Call Human Life ["classroom dance" scene, 1995]

Le Voyage dans la lune

Georges Méliès - Le Voyage dans la lune [1902]

Thursday, December 18, 2008

nospectacle transmission from MOCAD tonight

Curated by Irene Hofmann and co-organized by ICI, New York,
and the Contemporary Museum, Baltimore, the Broadcast exhibition
runs through Dec. 28 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

Broadcast explores ways in which artists since the late 1960s have
engaged, critiqued and inserted themselves into official channels of
broadcast television and radio.

On Dec. 18, nospectacle and Paris '68 present Holiday in the Sun VII
as part of the series of special live transmissions from the museum at
4454 Woodward Avenue, Detroit. Guests include nosoul, noscene and

Music and conversation, 4 - 8 p.m.

Ben Trautman

Ben Trautman 2

From SF Weekly: The mechanical marvels of Ben Trautman defy categorization

Trautman has a Renaissance man's interest in the mechanics of how things work. He is inspired by bird wings, cricket legs, and fish spines, as well as clockworks, camshafts, and linked train wheels. Both elegant and humorous, his complex articulated sculptures are activated manually or by hand cranks (think Model T, not Porsche). Trautman works them like a puppeteer and each has its own distinctive character that is dramatically expressed when it moves. His kinetic sculpture — architectural, mechanical, and bio-morphic — eludes categorization.

"I am a sculptor. I believe in the mass and joints of bodies and bones and skin, but I am interested in how they move as well, the fluidity and quirkiness of organic motion," he explains. "The work inhabits a realm between art and architecture; the work wants to inhabit space, suggest architecture, create spaces for your mind to inhabit. The mechanical aspects of it also remove it from the typical gallery scene where you are not supposed to touch the art, where how things work is not part of the dialogue."

Trautman doesn't have a traditional fine arts background. He studied architecture and some basic engineering at UC Berkeley in the '90s. But he often found his mind wandering in school and would fabricate tiny structural "gadflies" that clamped to ceiling beams instead of working on his assigned projects.

"I was unable to break through all the constraints of architecture to get to the point where I was able to express all the forms and visions that were racing around in my mind. However, I do work with the language of architecture, just at a different scale," he says.

Trautman has three large works on display at the Franklin Institute's Amazing Machine exhibit, alongside several priceless examples of early automata - including Maillardet's Automaton.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Jim Kunstler's Clusterfuck Nation and The Change You Won't Believe

Wowzers - Kunstler's is the most realistic take I've read yet on the new economy we're facing. I'm lifting the below quote right from Bruce Sterling's blog, because everything is better with Bruce's inserted quips. [Not to get on a tangent, but I'd like an algorithm-based handheld device that would provide one-line Bruce Sterling commentary on anything and everything you point it at: objects, food, ideas, etc. We'd all live with a better - or at least a more challenging - perspective on things.]

Surely the public would be shocked to grasp what's in store. Probably the worst thing we can do now would be to mount a campaign to stay where we are, lost in raptures of happy motoring and blue-light-special shopping.

The economy we're evolving into will be un-global, necessarily local and regional, and austere. It won't support even our current population. (((Let 'em eat fruitcake.))) This being the case, the political fallout is also liable to be severe. For one thing, we'll have to put aside our sentimental fantasies about immigration. (((Unless we're Americans emigrating somewhere else, in which case, hey, sentimental fantasies, who can't love 'em.))) This is almost impossible to imagine, since that narrative is especially potent among the Democratic Party members who are coming in to run things. A tough immigration policy is exactly the kind of difficult change we have to face. This is no longer the 19th century. The narrative has to change.

The new narrative has to be about a managed contraction -- and by "managed" I mean a way that does not produce civil violence, starvation, and public health disasters. One of the telltale signs to look for will be whether the Obama administration bandies around the word "growth." If you hear them use it, it will indicate that they don't understand the kind of change we face.

It is hugely ironic that the US automobile industry is collapsing at this very moment, and the ongoing debate about whether to "rescue" it or not is an obvious kabuki theater exercise because this industry is hopeless. It is headed into bankruptcy with one hundred percent certainty. The only thing in question is whether the news of its death will spoil the Christmas of those who draw a paycheck from it, or those whose hopes for an easy retirement are vested in it. But American political-economy being very Santa Claus oriented for recent generations, the gesture will be made. A single leaky little lifeboat will be lowered and the chiefs of the Big Three will be invited to go for a brief little row, and then they will sink, glug, glug, glug, while the rusty old Titanic of the car industry slides diagonally into the deep behind them, against a sickening greenish-orange sunset backdrop of the morbid economy.

A key concept of the economy to come is that size matters -- everything organized at the giant scale will suffer dysfunction and failure. Giant companies, giant governments, giant institutions will all get into trouble. This, unfortunately, doesn't bode so well for the Obama team and it is salient reason why they must not mount a campaign to keep things the way they are and support enterprises that have to be let go, including many of the government's own operations. The best thing Mr. Obama can do is act as a wise counselor companion-in-chief to a people who now have to leave a lot behind in order to move forward into a plausible future....

(((I wonder if there are any Obama cabinet members who actually read this guy. Do people talk about him in the Davos Forum?)))

We still think that "the path to success" is based on getting a college degree certifying people for a lifetime of sitting in an office cubicle. This is so far from the approaching reality that it will be eventually viewed as a sick joke -- like those old 1912 lithographs of mega-cities with Zeppelins plying the air between Everest-size skyscrapers...

[Okay, maybe just digest that image for a minute before you read on. No, seriously. I'm going to sound wildly optimistic in comparison.]

I've said before that our economy needs to shrink. By that, I mean Western Culture, and America in particular needs an intervention when it comes to consuming endless quantities of shiny new stuff with theoretical money. The mindset is partly to blame on easy five and six figure credit - which has really only been around for a couple decades. When I talk about the economy shrinking, I certainly don't mean lowering standards of living, but do mean reexamining what a good life really means.

I don't think it's hard [at least for the Richard Florida poster children who read and write this blog] to live with little or no credit if we reject a new car every couple years and a 4,000 square foot house being shoved down our throats as The American Dream. The real American Dream is capital F Freedom. Massive debt and mountains of expensive, useless crap anchoring us to a garage aren't the stuff of Freedom. That's entrapment. I'd go so far as to call it the indentured servitude of the middle class. [This is where I say Democrats and Republicans are just factions of the same party, rant about our distorted memory of the 1950s and blame Ronald Reagan for absolutely everything... but I'll skip the details for your sake.]

If the current crisis isn't an intervention, I don't know what is. If there's a second tap on the shoulder, it won't be so soft.

Read Jim Kunstler's whole article here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Detroit By Design 4 Year Anniversary / Cyberoptix Tie Lab show, in pictures

Ms. Toybreaker has a mega-post about last Saturday's Detroit By Design Anniversary Party.

"Thanks so much to the hordes of people that made it to a magnificent show, Detroit By Design's 4 Year Anniversary was our first runway show in a long time. How do you make showing a tiny little accessory into something that people will bother taking a look at? Super interesting models and photographers sure don't hurt. ;) Binding them with hundreds of ties (and tape) is a good start too. Special thanks to my main photographers Amy Hubbarth, Josh ( and Christos ( for capturing all the brou-haha and my models...of course. Without them, neckties just really aren't all that exciting..."


Click here for the rest + tons more photos.

Independent Greenland [get it before it's hot!]

Beyond the Ice [This is about the only place I'd be buying real estate right now.]

Greenland is four times the size of France, but with a population of only 57,000 - and as its huge ice sheets begin to melt, it could find itself sitting on a fortune in oil and gems. Now, it has voted to cut all ties with its Danish rulers.

When it does shake off the last of its colonial shackles, Greenland will become the newest and the most extraordinary country in the world, as well as one of the most isolated. Although its remote north-west coast is little more than 100 miles from Canada's Ellesmere Island, it is nearly 2,000 miles from Europe. Four times the size of France, Greenland contains the longest fjord and largest national park in the world; 85% of its territory is covered with ice. Ten per cent of the world's fresh water is frozen on Greenland's ice-sheet; if it melts, sea levels will rise by seven metres, sweeping away capital cities and countries around the world.

It's a Lex Luthor style strategy - you know: like buying up land along the San Andreas Fault - but without the hijacked nuclear missiles, bad wig and meddling guy in underpants. Hear me out though. Once you figure out how to harvest and sell all that melting fresh water to the expanding desert nations [like France and the United States,] you have not only a mind boggling amount of untapped mineral resources, but a new agricultural region the size of the Midwest - the breadbasket of the 22nd Century. Your formerly frozen Danish colony is now the most powerful nation on the planet. [Time to start learning Kalaallisut.]

"Green Banksy" walks right into power plant and shuts down turbine

"Act single-handedly cuts UK carbon output by 2%" [I love how the Guardian frames this story. In the US he'd be labeled a terrorist in a hot second.]

The £12m defences of the most heavily guarded power station in Britain have been breached by a single person who, under the eyes of CCTV cameras, climbed two three-metre (10ft) razor-wired, electrified security fences, walked into the station and crashed a giant 500MW turbine before leaving a calling card reading "no new coal". He walked out the same way and hopped back over the fence.

Yesterday the hunt was on for the man dubbed "climate man" or the "green Banksy". Climate activists responsible for hijacking coal trains and breaking on to runways said they knew nothing about the incident.

"It looks from the CCTV like he came in via a very remote part of the site by the sea wall and got over the double layer of fences."

The intruder then crossed a car park and walked to an unlocked door. But instead of going to the power station's main control room, where about eight people would have been working, he headed for its main turbine hall, where no one would have been working at that time.

Within minutes, says E.On, "he had tampered with some equipment" - believed to be a computer at a control panel - "and tripped unit 2, one of the station's giant 500MW turbines".

"This caused the unit to go offline," she added. "It was running at full 500MW load and the noise it would have made as it shut itself down is just incredible. CCTV shows that he then just walked out, and went back over the fence.

One word: cohones.
"It could be that no one has taken responsibility because they were so frightened by the noise it would have made. It's probably taken them a week just to get over the shock."

E.On, which wants to demolish the station and replace it with Britain's first new coal-fired power station in 34 years, said it was reviewing security, but doubted it was an inside job or the work of a big environment group. The intruder may have had some experience at one of Britain's other major power stations, insiders say.

"He left a banner but it was a real DIY job. It was really scrappy. This was an old bedsheet with writing done out of gaffer tape. It was very crude," said Highmore.

"People at the station are gobsmacked," she added. "This is a different league to protesters chaining themselves to equipment. It's someone treating a power station as an adventure playground."

Wait, what... they're not?? [Okay, there is a big difference between getting your situationist kicks by having tea time in an abandoned factory and shutting down a portion of the UK's electricity grid with the supreme coolness of some kind of eco-Batman. I don't agree with his actions, but I gotta admire his method.]

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Minilogue - Animals

Minilogue - Animals [2008]

Just lovely.
Via James at KinoSport.

Secret Vintage Junkyard in Switzerland

Swedish junkyard

Situated in Kaufdorf, Switzerland exists a peaceful junkyard, holding over 500 classic machines hailing from the 1930s through the 1960s. The government wants it paved but locals want to preserve this history.

Legend has it a car dealer, buying cars for parts, couldn't bring himself to scrap these beauties and began parking them in his yard. The dealer retired in the 70s, passing the business on to his son, who left the cars untouched.

As is the common plight of every forest junkyard, the Swiss government says the grounds must be cleared, paved and sealed to prevent fluids from seeping into the ground. Local crusader Heinrich Gartentor says rare trees and moss will be destroyed if the car graveyard is cleared, not to mention all of the steep automotive history that will be lost in the process.

The cars are agreeably too far gone for restoration, but the collection is arguably more thorough than most car museums. The current owner of the yard agrees to pave the area holding newer models, but refuses to disturb the vintage iron. We say keep fighting the good fight!

More gorgeous pics at Jalopnik

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Retro Burnlab

As some of you may know, I've been working from home most of this week, on pain killers due to having two wisdom teeth extracted from my head. [Age 36 is not the ideal time to have this surgery, let me tell you.]

Unable to concentrate on much else, I stumbled across some old Burnlab pages from the totally amazing two years I spent working in Singapore. I'm very glad to find these pages weren't lost in the ephemeral information tidepool.

Without further ado, BURNLAB MOBILE LAB, 2001

This is Agostina

From three of our favorite Mikes: This is Agostina

Agostina is new font designed by Mike Cina. The fabutastic promo video was created by our old friend Mike Young, with sound design by our even older friend Mike Madill [who is perhaps these days best known for the award winning sandwich that bears his name at Mudgies Deli in Detroit.]

See the video here and buy the font here.

Monday, December 08, 2008

INSENSATE film project by SHOWstudio + Gareth Pugh

insensate by SHOWstudio+Gareth Pugh

Gareth Pugh and SHOWstudio present INSENSATE

Conjuring a macabre phantasmagoria that unfurls before your eyes like a sinister but beautiful bloom, Insensate showcases the brutal geometry and raw creative fire of Gareth Pugh's A/W 2008 collection to truly bewitching effect. Set to a thundering, atmospheric soundtrack specially devised by artist Matthew Stone and utlising Pugh's twin cinematic inspirations of Predator and The Wizard of Oz as an aesthetic starting-point, this film takes us on a mesmerising, monochrome whirlwind ride, creating a chilling yet compelling world of complex reflection, refraction and glittering incandescence melting in and out of inky black.

Artois: Le Passage

This stunning animation for Stella Artois was created by Alphabetical Order.

Le Passage is an interactive animated short film inspired by early 20th poster design and constructivist cell animation.

The film guides you through the content of the site. The story is told through a character representing the Artois brewmaster, as he takes a typographical journey through the world of Artois on a quest to fill his chalice with the fabled Artois liquid.

The Stella website is also wonderful - like the opening titles of a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Josh Keyes



I've been meaning to post about Josh Keyes for quite a while. His symbolically loaded and beautifully executed paintings are like illustrations for a science book from a dystopian future.


"I often think of the paintings as stage sets that I use to play out my thoughts, feelings, and ideas about global events and personal experience. The scientific format I use in my work screams rationality and precision. It suggests and stands for the intellect or empirical knowledge, which is concerned with the absolute model of things in the world. I use this dry form of illustration to contrast the personal and emotional response I have to current events and issues. The polarity between the hard, factual, realism, and emotional expression creates tension. The intersection between things known and things felt is what interests me. The scientific, dissection and cross section model expresses a certain hidden or underlying beauty of how all things are interrelated. A cross section can expose the root structure of a tree, or express geological time through the different layers and strata of the earth and soil."

"My intention is to create work that asks questions about the implications of urban sprawl and its impact on the environment. I am interested in creating psychological narratives set in closed systems that express the behavior and interaction between humans and animals. The dystopic model provides a dynamic playing field where I can explore the possible future effects that human activity might have on ecosystems, human populations and the geography of the earth."



Thursday, December 04, 2008

A positive twist on Sturgeon's Law

"10% of everything is extraordinary."

[I might make this the new tag-line. What do you think?]

previously: Ninety percent of everything is crap.

Inclusive [Eamespunk] Objects

Inclusive Objects by David Pompa
Inclusive Objects by David Pompa, 2008

From 3rings:

Pompa envisions the collection as an antidote to workplace drear: “why do we always think about functions
when we talk about inclusive design? Interaction is often reduced to a functional basis; this collection is an approach to help objects and humans interact on an emotional level with the aim of stimulating creativity.”

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Core77 Gift Guide

Our cohorts at Core77 have just published their 2008 Holiday Gift Guide.

C77 has always provided a distinctively whimsical, often practical, sometimes edgy and certainly nerdy alternative to the troves of trendy design object du jour roll calls, but they've really topped themselves this year. There are too many highlights to mention, so just head over and check out all the goodness.

core77 gifts 1
core77 gifts 2

Monday, December 01, 2008

Richard Florida: "Financial recovery needs a massively different mindset."

I've made an effort to lay off politics and industry in recent days, but Dr. Florida summed up almost everything I've been thinking in his most recent article.

The recent collapse of banking and manufacturing were not only inevitable, but a rare opportunity to approach the 21st Century economy with fresh thinking. We need to take bloated old systems off life support and stop throwing money we don't have at them in order to preserve stagnant, age-spotted power structures and some sick sense of nostalgia. [The 80s weren't really that good, and the 50s were even worse... unless you were a rich white guy with an oppressed wife.]

We should seize this time to do what we do best: be innovative. American business and government needs to take actions relevant to contemporary circumstances if we want to not only progress humanity [which should be the whole point of this life on earth thing,] but to survive. Giving money [which we will have to borrow from China] to banks and car manufacturers is only going to prolong the pain. Let those who've sown their own destinies through greed and lack of vision fail, and reward and support new thinking in every possible way we can.

The hard lesson is that we need to consume less, not more. Our economy needs to shrink. We should make fewer and smarter purchases. With few exceptions [such as higher education] there's not much any of us really need to borrow money for. Nobody needs a new car. If you want to be "green", buy a used car with good mileage. It's environmental footprint is astronomically less than a brand new hybrid, with it's toxic batteries and all. Until we're all driving hydrogen fuel cell cars powered by wind, everything else is simply corporate public relations to make you feel good. Even the idea of home ownership is an outdated notion tied to an outdated idea of lifelong employment in one location. That "great investment" is just an anchor in 20th Century industrial mentality.

It's not just an economic shift, but a cultural shift that happened more than a decade ago. The economics are just starting to catch up.

I'm going to stop ranting and let Mr. Florida speak for himself:

The Way to Recovery

What’s needed now is to massively shrink expenditures on houses and cars to free up spending for newly emerging goods and services. Part of this rollback will naturally occur as the real-estate bubble deflates and housing prices fall. But we need to take it a step further if we truly want more demand for new kinds of economic activity.

Our reliance on single-family homeownership is a product of the past 50 years – and the experiment has outlived its usefulness. Not only is it now readily apparent that not everyone should own a home, and that the mortgage system is a big part of what got us into the current financial mess, but homeownership also ties people to locations, making it harder for them to move to where work is. Homeownership made sense when most people had one job and lived in the same city for life. But it makes less sense when people change jobs frequently and have to relocate to find new work.

Housing production remains a cottage industry that needs to be brought into the 21st century. As a sector, it holds huge potential for making environmental gains, reducing energy use and overall consumption, and introducing new technology.

Government can also encourage a shift from ownership toward flexible rental housing. Instead of bailing out homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments, tying them to houses and locations for life (and taking up 38 per cent of their income or more), why not take the houses off their hands and rent them back at a much more affordable rate? This would allow people to move more freely as their job, career and lifestyle prospects change. Government incentives spurred a massive increase in homeownership after the Second World War; it can do the same for the expansion of new, more flexible forms of rental housing today.

Both energy and transportation must become significantly cheaper before we can shift into a new era of economic growth. Every economic revolution has been premised on the rise of new and less expensive sources of energy to power growth, and a drastic reduction in the costs of moving goods, people and ideas. The car will surely remain part of our life, but we need to improve rail, subway and bus transit. We should also make a major effort to reduce widespread commuting patterns.

Imagine a future where people live in plug-and-play rental housing units – able to move quickly when they change their jobs, with many shrinking their commute to a short walk or bicycle trip and many others able to trade in their cars for accessible mass transit.

Last but not least, government investment can help to revolutionize the way we develop people. Human capital investments are the key to economic development. But many of our schools are giant creativity-squelching institutions. We need to reinvent our education system from the ground up – including a massive commitment to early-childhood development and a shift away from institutionalized schooling to individually tailored learning. This will require a level of public and private investment of a magnitude larger than the widespread creation of public schools and modern research universities a century ago.

Only by catalyzing such a wholesale shift in our underlying socio-economic system – and thereby unleashing the massive innovative and productive potential of our time – can government investment restore our economy.

Black Friday... meh. It's Blue Monday!

I don't think we've ever written about a sale before, but figured you'd want to know about this one. Everything at the Ghostly Store is 40% off today only. [That's a good chunk of change.] Simply use the coupon code TGSHOLIDAY when checking out.

Be sure to see new releases like the Centrifugal tee designed by Mike Cina and the brand new Kll Memory Crash EP Of Fire.