Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Terry Gilliam on the making of Brazil

via John at Uncertain Times

In this excellent interview, Gilliam discusses a variety of issues surrounding the production of his film Brazil - from his creative process to communication, bureaucracy, science fiction, his battles with Universal, poo-poo, and much more. They cram a lot into 13 minutes.

[Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.]

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Our Brother the Megazord

Our Brother the Megazord

Real Detroit Weekly's Artist of the Year and Ghostly International's newest shining star Deastro performs as his alter-ego Our Brother the Megazord tonight at the Berkley Front.
See you there.

01.27.09, 9PM
w/ Thrust Lab
The Berkley Front
3087 12 Mile Road, Berkley, MI

Charles Wesley Cooper, III (April 12, 1977 - January 22, 2009)

Charlie Cooper

From Telefon Tel Aviv's MySpace page:

Hello, Everyone.

It breaks my heart to inform you all that Charlie Cooper, my better half in Telefon Tel Aviv, passed away on January 22nd.

We have been friends since high school, and began making records together a decade ago. We have been so fortunate to tour the world together, while at the same time having a massive amount of laughs at one another's expense.

Aside from Charlie's singular genius and musical gifts, I can tell you that he was a total sweetheart of a guy, and a loving friend and confidant to people everywhere. His musicianship was surpassed only by his greater gift to the world - his warmth, his generosity, his unquenchable humor, and his undying loyalty to those whom he loved. In the spirit of honorable mention, however, I should mention that he had a shoe collection that was marvelous, knowledge of hip-hop that was profound, and knowledge of wine that was subtle.

He is survived by a sister, a neice, a nephew, his mother, his stepfather, me, and more adoring friends than the Universe has dark matter. As such, his family and I ask for your discretion and consideration of our privacy during these extremely turbulent waters.

Yours in Music,

Joshua Eustis

Blogging and sex at the end of the universe

Colliding Branes is a new short story by Rudy Rucker and Bruce Sterling.
Read an excerpt from Asimov's magazine.

As professional bloggers, Rabbiteen and Angelo knew each other well. For three years, they’d zealously followed each other’s daily doings via email, text messages, video posts, social networking, and comment threads.

Yet they’d never met in the flesh. Until today, their last day on Earth—the last day for the Earth, and, in stark fact, also for Earth’s solar system, Earth’s galaxy, Earth’s Local Group galactic cluster, and Earth’s whole twelve-dimensional universe shebang.

The end was near, and Rabbiteen didn’t care to watch the cosmos collapse from inside her cramped room in her parents’ house in Fremont. Nor did Angelo want to meet the end in his survivalist bunker in the foothills of the Sierras near Fresno—a bunker which, to untrained eyes, resembled an abandoned barn in the middle of a sun-killed almond farm.

So, after a dense flurry of instant messages, the two bloggers had joined forces and hit the great American road together, blasting one last trump from the hearse’s dirge-like horn, a mournful yet powerful blast that echoed from Rabbiteen’s parents’ pink stucco house and all through the table-flat development of a thousand similar homes.

Chastely sipping biodiesel through the apocalyptic traffic, they’d made it over Tioga Pass onto Nevada’s Route 6 by midnight. They were out well ahead of mankind’s last lemming-like rush to universal destruction....

Monday, January 26, 2009

Beta Evers

[Legendary creator of dark-ass electro and candidate for the Iconoclast Hall of Fame I'm constructing in the former Boblo Island Sky Tower.]

Beta Evers - Foreign Control [2008]*
*Special thanks to Melvin!

Black Spider Clan - Deadline at Dawn [live in Paris, 2006]

Beta Evers vs. MANASYt - Play Bizzare [2008]

Zwischenwelt [w/ Heinrich Mueller] - Segunda Realidad [2008]

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Imperial ride 1
{exhibit a}

Imperial ride 2
{exhibit b}

Fiat & Chrysler Embrace the New Barter Economy

Fiat to take a 35% stake in Chrysler by exchanging tooling, management services and distribution channels.

If Chrysler doesn't need cash, who does? Money is so last millennium.

Monday, January 19, 2009

One Billion Dollar vs. Burning a Million Quid

Michael Marcovici's One Billion Dollar

Michael Marcovici's work One Billion Dollar is being dubbed as "the most expensive piece of art ever made." It's quite literally one billion dollars stacked on 12 pallets.

I thought I was experiencing déjà vu, because Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty did almost exactly the same thing fifteen years ago, but much better. In addition to stacking notes on palettes, they nailed money to boards, gave £40,000 to Rachel Whiteread for being "worst artist of the year" [for the record, I'm a big fan of Whiteread - but that's neither here nor there,] and in the end burned one million quid of their own money as performance art.

Bill Drummond shoots blanks over the audience at KLF's farewell performance

I'm not sure what Marcovici's intent is with his piece, or if he was even aware of the previous works, but it seems incredibly simplistic; a one-dimensional postmodern folly. Drummond and Cauty's work says more about the creative intensity of the artists themselves - bordering on self-loathing psychosis.

The K Foundation Burn A Million Quid documentary
[If the above clip doesn't work, click on "go to Google Video". It's well worth 48 minutes of your time. I've seen it a half-dozen times at least.]

The K Foundation Burn A Million Quid is less about the money or the act than it is about watching the pair lash out in all directions and then implode under their own internal strife. Were they geniuses or assholes? Probably both.

[Previously: KLF Appreciation Week]

Objectified to Premier at SxSW

Gary Hustwit, director of the documentary Helvetica has finished his next film which is set to debut at the SxSW Film Festival in March.

Objectified is a feature-length independent documentary about industrial design. It’s a look at the creativity at work behind everything from toothbrushes to tech gadgets. It’s about the people who re-examine, re-evaluate and re-invent our manufactured environment on a daily basis. It’s about personal expression, identity, consumerism, and sustainability. It’s about our relationship to mass-produced objects and, by extension, the people who design them.

The film's website also reports that special screenings will be scheduled in San Francisco, Chicago, New York and London.

Big Black

If Steve Albini were any more awesome, he'd supernova and devour the universe.

Big Black - The Model [live, 1987]

Big Black - Passing Complexion [live, 1987]

Big Black - Kerosene [live, 1987]

The New York Times says my set design for Lexus looks like a loofah

A Loofah for New Lexus Hybrid

I actually love this. I certainly wasn't thinking "loofah" when I designed this surface, but it works. [I certainly wasn't thinking "birthday cake." That offends me a little, but I'll get over it.] The design intent was to compliment the work Nendo did for Lexus.

Lexus HS 250h press reveal

Lexus HS 250h press reveal


The thing about this set is we got to recycle it from the LA auto show. Normally set pieces are thrown into the dumpster after a press event - which is a freaking disgusting practice, but out of our control. Our design agency, o2 has been very diligent about reusing architectural elements and Toyota/Lexus has been very receptive. I wasn't thrilled with how the scenic company who built it applied the expanded felt - it was supposed to be much more structural and cellular, as seen in the prototypes. Nonetheless, the surface material of the set got more interest than the car - which is... interesting.

I'll post later about the Prius 3 launch we did, which had zero architecture and zero waste.

Detroit Auto Show on Core77

I served as Core77's insider correspondent for the North American International Auto Show once again this year. Designing three press events for three different clients, I was a little busy and still owe Core a couple Clogger posts - but, we do have a gallery up you can check out right here.

Audi exhibit

Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500
Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500

Chrysler 200C
Chrylser 200C Concept

Mercedes McLaren SLR Stirling Moss
Mercedes McLaren SLR Stirling Moss

Bethany and David
Ms. Toybreaker and David Blunk II at Designer's Night

As expected, it was possibly the weirdest auto show ever. There weren't any fantastical, jaw-dropping concepts like the Mazda Furai and Taiki concepts from last year, but everyone and their mother had an electric concept car. It's hard to say how much was vaporware and how much was real, but everyone from the Big 3 to start-ups had battery-powered cars of the future on display. [If you know me, you know I'm a Thom Mayne style punk-rock environmentalist who hates greenwashing with an acute passion, and is far more interested in cradle-to-grave impact than granola marketing. Unfortunately, anything with a battery pack is way more evil to the planet in the long view than keeping your existing gasoline car running.]

Alt Weddings

As you know, Ms. Toybreaker and I are planning to get married in the very near future. [No, we *still* don't have a date - but probably this year.] Offbeat Bride has been a great source of inspiration. I came across this site via our dearest at Coilhouse. [Anything with the Coilhouse stamp of approval is good enough for me, and this site is a gem among gems.]

For Kids

Our good friend Mandi makes nice rabbit dolls for all the nice children - like cute little Pavlov here.

Mandi also makes the coolest bath products ever - as featured in the 2008 Core77 Holiday Gift Guide [which Bethany and I had *nothing* to do with assistant curating...]

Hello, old friends

Too much auto show work + Twittering + birthday celebrating this past week = no blogging. Correcting that ASAP.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


If it were possible to peer into my brain on Tuesday, I'd imagine this is exactly what it would look like.

Daft Punk vs. Adam Freeland - "Aer OBAMA" from Gold Greendot on Vimeo.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Dullest Blog in the World

Ann Althouse asks us to remember The Dullest Blog in the World.
A couple examples:

Looking at my watch
I was busy doing some things and began to wonder how much time had elapsed. I glanced at my watch and saw the time displayed, thus providing an answer to my question.

Pulling my chair a few inches towards the table
I was sitting at the table and realised that I would be more comfortable if my chair was a couple of inches nearer to the table. I moved the chair forward slightly, thus lessening the gap between me and the table. I was then able to continue what I was doing in greater comfort.

Althouse then muses:
Now, that was fascinatingly hilarious back then. Today, does the humor even register? It looks like Twitter!

There's this odd phenomenon where the things that were once the most serious become jokes and funny stuff from the past somehow becomes the grim norm.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Detroit Wildlife

Detroit Wildlife from florent tillon on Vimeo.

Via our good friends at Blank Artists:

Detroit Wildlife is a taster film for french production companies. The movie was shot by student and filmmaker, Florent Tillon and offers a haunting yet nostalgic glimpse into the social and physical landscape of post-industrial Detroit. This taster is also somewhat of a prequel to a longer, more in-depth documentary about Detroit. We hope you enjoy the film and we wish Florent the best of luck in finding that production company. For more works by Florent Tillon, visit

Toyota IQ is crazy amaze driving!

Awesome domestic market TV spot for Toyota's new microcar:

Watch the whole series here.

+ the original crazy amaze driving spots from Isuzu:

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

RIP Ron Asheton

Asheton with Niagara and Iggy at C-POP Gallery in Detroit - photo by the meritorious Doug Coombe

Ron Asheton, whose scorching and energetic guitar work behind singer Iggy Pop in the band The Stooges established a model of raw emotion for a succeeding generation of punk, grunge, and alternative rockers, has died. He was 60.

"That first Stooges album and the second one had a big influence on me," Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones said yesterday. "The Stooges' and the New York Dolls' albums were my blueprint for how to play guitar."

Iggy Pop called Mr. Asheton "my best friend" in a statement yesterday, and the band expressed shock at his death.

"For all that knew him behind the façade of Mr. Cool & Quirky, he was a kind-hearted, genuine, warm person who always believed that people meant well even if they did not," the band said in a written statement. "As a musician Ron was The Guitar God, idol to follow."

"In many ways Ron was the heart of The Stooges, and The Stooges were the creators of punk rock," Paul Trynka, author of the 2007 biography "Iggy Pop: Open Up and Bleed," said yesterday. "If you don't understand Ron, you don't understand The Stooges, and if you don't understand The Stooges, you don't understand punk rock."

The Stooges - live in Cincinnati [1970]

Iggy Pop - The Passenger, live in Manchester [1977]
* My mistake here - Asheton didn't perform on Lust For Life [but it's such a great song, we'll leave the video.]

+ NME picks Ron Asheton's 5 greatest riffs

Telefon Tel Aviv's new LP: two weeks and counting

From the bits I've heard thus far, this just might be the album I've been waiting for my entire life. [It kind of feels that long, as we were first teased with material one year ago.]

Fans of Telefon Tel Aviv's trademark micro-edit, Rhodes-fueled, spaceport lounge glitch may not like Immolate Yourself. In fact, they might hate it. That's fine. Those folks can languish in their IDM bubble while the rest of us bathe in the warm light of some of the most sophisticated analogue synth-pop ever put to tape. Josh and Charlie masterfully defined the micro-edit style years ago - displayed on two previous LPs and numerous remixes, including the Benelli rework of Nine Inch Nails' The Frail. There are familiar treatments present, but the whole of the work is a new direction.

From Josh's mouth:

We realized that without thinking about it, so much of our sound had changed, or been forsaken; left on the side of the road to wither in the sun. Gone are all of the high-definition micro-edit minutiae in favor of a new approach to texture for us - long form. The arrival of a tape machine in our studio gave way to experiments that are decades old in practice but entirely new to us - creating loops of drums, string synths, etc., running them around microphone stands in the studio, and striping them back against themselves - timing off, tuning suspect, noise abundant, texture rich. So our attention to detail strayed from the micro and wandered into the macro - for example, things such as the tape loops of church music that i found with Turk Dietrich of Belong, on an old reel that was given to him that neither of us had ever had the presence of mind to listen to in all these years, until this ripe time came upon us.

The record is still entirely telefon tel aviv, but through a cross-processed filter; saturated, grainy, distorted, dusty, distressed. The whole idea of modern sounds in an outdated setting became the sonic focal point of the whole record, and almost instinctually so. Our meters were buried throughout the most reactionary and speedy mixdown of either of our careers. to use a hackneyed axiom as our own, we weren't thinking - we were feeling. But it was in the dark without a torch, and running full speed for the nearest wall or the deepest unseen precipice.

Listen for yourself:
Helen of Troy via Pitchfork
You Are The Worst Thing In The World via Pitchfork

Immolate Yourself will be released later this month on Ellen Allien's B'PITCH CONTROL label.
[Ellen - second only to Ms. Toybreaker - is like the Sigourney Weaver of Techno.]

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Two views from 1986

Incredible to think these were happening at the exact same time.
So close, but so far away.

Depeche Mode - live on the Joan Rivers Show [1986]

Skinny Puppy - live in Vancouver [1986]

If I Had A Heart

Take all the dance out of The Knife and what are you left with? Fever Ray, the new solo project by Karin Dreijer Andersson, the female half of The Knife. Check out the haunting new video for If I Had A Heart, directed by Andreas Nilsson.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Drawing Machines

I started a research project on mechanical theatre, which [as these things go] quickly digressed into a nearly infinite number of tangents. One of the most interesting digressions led to a number of incredible drawing machines I hadn't seen before. Here are a couple:

David Shingler
David Shingler - Bird Drawing Machine [2008?]
Movement of the stylus is controlled by the chirps of a pair of zebra finches. I was able to find precious little additional info about this artist, unfortunately. The image above and words below come from this blog.

The kinetic sculpture above (second foto in the placeholder entry last Friday) is a "Bird Drawing Machine", which consists of a rotating arm on which is mounted a birdcage that contains two tiny birds. As the arm rotates, a stylus shoots out from time to time down and back up parallel to the arm, forming ellipses. I liked this, and when what appeared to be the artist, whom I'd seen crouching by the paper(?) on the floor, was free, I asked if this was his, and which brother he is. It was indeed his, and he was David, a slite young man with lots of curly, dark-blond hair and, I think, blue eyes. He explained that the stylus moves into action when the birds chirp, and thus the birds effectively draw the lines (actively when they chirp; passively, when their silence leaves the stylus making circles where it came to rest alongside the rotating arm). Lisa realized then that the wire leading from the birdcage must be connected to a microphone to pick up the bird's chirps. And so it is.

Desmond Paul Henry machine

Desmnod Paul Henry print
above: Desmond Paul Henry with one his drawing machines, a WWII-era bombsight computer, and one of his machine-generated drawings

Desmond Paul Henry [*link fixed] was a British pioneer of Computer Art/Graphics who during the 1960's constructed a series of three mechanical drawing machines from analogue bombsight computers.

From Wikipedia:
Henry’s drawing machines of the 1960s represented a remarkable innovation in the field of Art and Technology for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the bombsight analogue computer provided not only the inspiration but also the main tool for producing highly original visual effects (O’Hanrahan 2005). Secondly, his machines’ reliance on a mechanics of chance, as opposed to pre-determined computer programmes, ensured the unrepeatable and unique quality of his infinitely varied machine-generated effects or ‘mechanical fractals’ (O'Hanrahan 2005). Thirdly, the spontaneous, interactive potential of his drawing machines’ modus operandi pre-empted by some twenty years this particular aspect of later computer graphic manipulation software (ibid).

Finally, Henry was never artistically inspired by the graphic potential of the modern digital computer (ibid). He much preferred the direct interaction afforded by the clearly visible interconnecting mechanical components of the earlier analogue computer and as a consequence of his drawing machines also. This was in stark contrast to the invisible and indirect workings of the later digital computer: ‘the mechanical analogue computer, was a work of art in itself, involving a most beautiful arrangement of gears, belts, cams differentials and so on- it still retained in its working a visual attractiveness which has now vanished in the modern electronic counterpart; ….. I enjoyed seeing the machine work…’ (Henry, 1972).
In view of these considerations, Henry’s drawing machines may be said to not only reflect the early experimental phase of Computer Art and Computer Graphics but to also provide an important artistic and technological link between two distinct Ages of the twentieth century: the earlier Mechanical/Industrial Age and the later Electronic/Digital Age (O’Hanrahan 2005).

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Calatrava in Venice

[How on earth did I miss this?]

photo by seier+seier

The fourth bridge to span Venezia's Grand Canal opened this past September. Ponte della Costituzione was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and features alternating glass and marble steps over a rhythmic red steel arc. The architect calls it "my most beautiful bridge." From the images I've seen, I absolutely agree. The rich combination of color and texture adds intimacy to his always stunningly elegant [but generally monochromatic] structures.

photos by nikite

Friday, January 02, 2009

Jim Kunstler's forecast for 2009

More from my new favorite doom-monger. Man, this guy is nothing short of a bushel of rainbows. [But he's usually right on the money, and no matter how depressing a portrait he paints, he's so good at it that reading his words are like eating a juicy peach.]

+ Here's Kunstler from TED Talks in '07, speaking mostly about urbanism and "places worth caring about":