Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Anthropomorphism of the day

"Being so close to having 8 electrons in its outer shell, chlorine is quite desperate to get that one last electron - and will literally rip other atoms apart to do so."


I want some discipline in here

Throbbing Gristle - Discipline [live, 1981?]

April is the new October

Sorry for the lapse in daily posts. I mostly blame Twitter making me a lazy blogger, but I've also been hyper-busy at our studio [a blessing really - particularly in these times, in this town,] plus Ms. Toybreaker and I making visceral art, spring cleaning our house like mad and booking music events for the first time in ages.

We have three very different shows coming up that we're really excited about. From Dethlab dot net - our April schedule:

Dethlab April schedule

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Your arms would not be able to strech as far as necessary to form an adequate gesture for beauty

Einstürzende Neubauten - Beauty/Die Befindlichkeit des Landes [live in Berlin, 2000]

Friday, March 27, 2009

Lift up your hearts, shout golden shouts

Really nice quality footage from NE's reunion tour:

Nitzer Ebb - Murderous [live in Hamburg, 2006]

Image[s] of the Day

Matt Jones, who provided us with the "Get excited and make things" poster, just uploaded these wonderful images from Cosmos:

Carl Sagan Gestural Interface in Cosmos

The Dandelion Starship

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Quote[s] of the Day

I've never been a huge Rothko fan [I could probably stand to slow down a bit when I go to museums and just sit in front of a painting for a minute or an hour,] but man, he really got experience design... and one could say the whole point of art for that matter:

The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when painting them. And if you say you are moved only by their color relationships then you miss the point.

I’m not an abstractionist. I’m not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else. I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on.
-Mark Rothko


Extravagant Results of Nature’s Arms Race

Beetle Weaponry

Extravagant Results of Nature’s Arms Race: a beautiful study of animal weaponry in the New York Times.

Nature is reputed to be red in tooth and claw, but many arms races across the animal kingdom are characterized by restraint rather than carnage.

Competition among males is often expressed in the form of elaborate weapons made of bone, horn or chitin. The weapons often start off small and then, under the pressure of competition, may evolve to attain gigantic proportions. The Irish elk, now extinct, had antlers with a span of 12 feet. The drawback of this magnificent adornment, though, was that the poor beast had to carry more than 80 pounds of bone on its head.

In a new review of sexual selection, a special form of natural selection that leads to outlandish armament and decoration, Douglas J. Emlen, a biologist at the University of Montana, has assembled ideas on the evolutionary forces that have made animal weapons so diverse.

Sexual selection was Darwin’s solution to a problem posed by the cumbersome weapons sported by many species, and the baroque ornaments developed by others. They seemed positive handicaps in the struggle for survival, and therefore contrary to his theory of natural selection. To account for these extravagances, Darwin proposed that both armaments and ornaments must have been shaped by competition for mates...

Slideshow |

[Thanks David & Zoe!]

Blade Runner's Original Ending: Yes, Deckard's A Replicant

Blade Runner storyboard

[Oh, spoiler warning by the way.]

io9 compares early Blade Runner scripts, including one that just recently surfaced. In all cases Deckard realizes he's a replicant, and in at least two versions he blows Rachael's brains out against a snowy backdrop. [Dang. And you didn't think that film could get any darker.]

Deckard finds Gaff staking out his apartment, and almost shoots Gaff. But Deckard says (in a voice-over!) that he's tired of pulling triggers. So instead Rachael and he sneak out and go out to the countryside. Rachael makes Deckard pull over because she's never seen snow before. They talk about Roy Batty, and how he made Deckard realize every moment is precious. Rachael says it's the happiest day of her life, then she begs Deckard to shoot her. He does. Then he drives off, realizing it's too late for him to get away. "They wouldn't give me papers for the Colonies even if I wanted them." He wonders who designs "the ones like me."

Monday, March 23, 2009

House is a feeling that no one can understand really unless you're deep into the vibe of house.

What's that? You haven't heard about the $100 Detroit house yet? Walter Wasacz over at Model D says that the new ideas being generated here are priceless. Is Detroit the next Berlin?

I don’t really know what I can say that hasn’t already been said about Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert’s Power House Project. They've been all over the media radar ever since Toby Barlow's $100 House Op-Ed contribution was published in the NYTimes on 7 March 2009. The Detroit News follows up. Watch the $100 house segment from 20/20's "Life on the Edge" here.

The Power House Project has taken over the airwaves on Michigan Radio, All Things Considered and Boston's Here & Now.

Ismael Estrada, producer for Anderson Cooper 360 asked: what would you do with a $100 house? I have to try hard to ignore all the uninformed comments at the bottom. Mitch and Gina are not bourgeois, suburban artists trying to create some kind of elitist artist community in a rough neighborhood. The idea is to integrate art into existing communities while employing ideas of alternative energy, community gardens and human resources provided by the neighborhood people.

Dwell discusses the hopefulness of art in Detroit. I have always had a hard time convincing people that there is a glimmer of hope in my Detroit photography of abandoned boats out of water, firebombed cars, crumbling architectural gems and depictions of nature taking back parts of the city. I swear, I can see the hopefulness.

Amazingly, when they aren't adding accomplishments to the Power House Report, Mitch and Gina operate Design99 (which they describe as "retail space for experimental design and contemporary architecture that blurs the distinction between art and design.") in Hamtramck, conveniently located on the corner of Gallagher and Caniff in close proximity to Al-Haramain Market which has great fresh produce, bulk spices, nuts and a boundless olive bar. The owners of Al-Haramain also run the snazzy Middle Eastern restaurant across the street, Royal Kabob.

Keep your eyes peeled on the Power House blog for updates. Mitch and Gina work fast!

Also, read my article in the Hamtramck Citizen.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Destroying your powercenters since 1995

Influential indie electronic label and DIY champions Interdimensional Transmissions presents a special exhibition of its 14 years of vinyl releases this Saturday at Detroit's Bankle Building.

Music will be provided by Erika (Ectomorph) and Ian Clark (Perspects), followed by a "disco birthday dance party" with Sal P (Liquid Liquid), BMG (Ectomorph) and Scott Zacharias (Disco Secret).

"Destroy your powercenters."

Saturday, March 21
The Pawn Shop Years: An IT Retrospective
exhibition 10PM - 12AM | party 12AM - 5AM
Detroit Exposure + Detroit By Design S2UDIO NIGHT @ the Bankle Building
2944 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48201

More info here.

Detroit institution turns 75, tries to stay open

Baker's Keyboard Lounge

The oldest continually operating jazz club in the world, Baker's Keyboard Lounge marks its 75th anniversary in a few weeks. Local and international artists including Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane and Ella Fitzgerald have performed at the cozy lounge near the corner of Livernois and Eight Mile Rd. over the years.

Owners John Colbert and Juanita Jackson are now struggling to keep the club open.

Business is off 35% to 40% in the last nine months, Colbert said, and a combination of factors - the recession, road construction on Livernois, parking issues and a dramatic hike in the club's water bill - have conspired to bring Baker's to the brink of extinction.

"Nobody gets rich running a jazz club, but in the 13 years since I've owned the place, we've never experienced anything like this," Colbert said.

Baker's has been integral to Detroit's cultural identity as a jazz mecca for so long, it's hard for musicians, aficionados and even casual fans to conceive of the city without it.

If metro Detroiters have been to one jazz club, it's likely been Baker's. With its hipster vibe, cozy banquets, art deco decor, rich history and bebop soundtrack, Baker's has long been regarded as the Platonic ideal of a jazz club.

The club, which opened in 1934, runs neck and neck with the Village Vanguard in New York for the title of world's oldest jazz club. Down Beat, a leading jazz magazine, routinely names Baker's on its list of the 100 great jazz clubs worldwide.

"It's like the Alamo in a sense -- it's the last real jazz club standing in Detroit," said Jim Gallert, a die-hard fan and historian of local jazz.

Baker's Keyboard Lounge

We stopped in last night to see Ben's Friends Big Band [pictured above] and enjoy some of the best soul food and classic cocktails served anywhere. I was very pleased to see it packed, and we didn't mind a bit having to wait for a table in the bar area - with its iconic curved and keyboard patterned bar top. We'll be back with more frequency and I hope more Detroiters do as well. Baker's is one of those special places where you can see, hear, smell, taste and feel the soul of a city.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

MOTOR + Depeche Mode

MOTOR officially announced today a summer stadium tour supporting synth-pop legends Depeche Mode. MOTOR's third LP Metal Machine will be released this spring, and Depeche Mode's newest studio LP Sounds of the Universe will be released April 20th. Tour dates will be announced later today here.

Depeche Mode - Wrong - directed by Patrick Daughters from Bruno Dejonghe on Vimeo.

Motor. Flashback. from Hugo Arcier on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Don't keep calm and carry on.

Get excited and make things!

From Matt Jones in response to this baloney.

Gareth Pugh Fall 2009 RTW

Following INSENSATE, his phantasmagoric film collaboration with SHOWstudio, Gareth Pugh presented his fall '09 RTW collection as a large format video projection rather than a traditional runway show - not that Pugh has ever done anything traditional.

While the 2-D format meant it took a visit to the showroom to appreciate the texture of Pinhead outfits carpeted with fine spikes like a lethal fur, it did allow for a chance to see the clothes in movement, whipped into aerodynamic shapes on screen by an elemental wind.

Aware of how often he's been stuck in a sci-fi box, the designer stressed, "This is not from a spaceship, it's from under the ground. I wanted it to feel earthy." If the palette—black, gray, and hematite, the color of oxidized iron—was of this earth, it was definitely somewhere way down inside. Matthew Stone's soundtrack, which used a piece of the Krzysztof Penderecki music from The Shining, compounded the mines-of-Mordor mood.

One attendee aptly describes his aesthetic as "Dark euphoria."

Pugh himself says, "People are worried about the future, but I think it's a good time for creativity." [That's a sentiment I couldn't agree with more!]

Jet Blue embraces the econopocalypse with hilarious new ads

Jet Blue has launched a hilarious new "targeted PSA campaign" for executives forced to give up their private jets and fly on commercial airlines.

The CEO's Guide to Jetting: "An introduction to commercial air travel for CEOs only. No minions, lackeys, or 'regular' people allowed."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ghostly at SXSW

Here's the essential pocket guide to everything Ghostly at SXSW. Our dear friends are everywhere all week, so no excuses. If you've never seen Deastro live, you have four chances this week - not to mention Matt Dear, The Chap, School Of Seven Bells, etc.

I'm bummed we're not in Austin this week. The schedule looks fantastic, and apparently our friend Mr. Sterling was in especially rare form last night. [Hope to see a transcript of his presentation soon!]

As a side note, it seems that SXSW broke Twitter. No Fail Whale, but posts are just randomly disappearing. I've been relying on Twitter as a sort of brain dump/idea sketchbook/drunken rant filter for potential Burnlab posts, but it's made me a very lazy blogger and now a lot of my random jottings have been eaten by the Twitter Koala. It's probably just a temporary snag, but it is a reminder of how ephemeral the internet is, and I'm taking it as a sign to pay more attention to this blog. I much prefer long-form blogging with [relatively] proper grammar and nice images anyway. [And before you ask, I'm not adding any more Twitter followers. Too many people already know far too much about the convoluted way my brain works as it is.]

Return of The Horrors

Horrors 2009

The gangly, black-clad lads from Central Saint Martins are back with the first single from their sophomore LP Primary Colours.

Produced by Portishead's Geoff Barrow, Sea Within a Sea is a departure from the Birthday Party style gothic punk & 60s garage influenced sound of 2007's Strange House, instead taking cues from Krautrockers Can and Neu!

Clocking in around eight minutes, it's an epic. I could personally do without the meandering three minute space-rock intro and get right to the lovely synth lead - yes, it's mostly electronic. On top of that, Faris sings [quite nicely] rather than growls.

Watch the video at thehorrors.co.uk and download the track here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Traces of an Imaginary Affair: experience design fiction?



Traces of an Imaginary Affair designed by Björn Franke is a kit containing a set of nine tools which can be used to create an imaginary affair. These tools leave marks on the body, such as bite marks, carpert burns, bondage marks, love bites, scratches and bruises. In addition, probes of perfume, lipstick and haïr can be applied to either the body or clothes. It was inspired by stories of people who used to fake évidence of victimisation or illnesses to receive attention from others.

Björn Franke is a designer who investigates the social, psychological and philosophical implications of artefacts and products; in particular how the shifting technological environment alters human behaviour, relationships and self-conception. By means of both socially and psychologically challenging projects, Franke explores how people can express and control their emotions, obsessions and fears through objects and technology.



This kind of high concept design can be simultaneously fascinating and unnerving - depending on both the motivations of the user and the perceptions of the viewer. Either way, I think it's quite brilliant and refreshingly pure in concept. Alternate reality and social engineering tools in the most literal sense of the word.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I'll show you the wolrd if you tell me your name

My friend Jeremy lent me the Mute: Tonal Evidence compilation in 1991, which was as 'bout as good a companion to the era as one could hope for and the beginning of my obsession with all things related to Daniel Miller's Mute label. The track I practically wore through was Million Headed Monster:

I Start Counting - Million Headed Monster [1989]

Also from Tonal Evidence:

Wire - Drill [1987] [This clip from the Late Show is great not only for the performance, but Suzanne Somers' surprisingly awesome outfit.]

Renegade Soundwave - Biting My Nails [1988]

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - The Ship Song [1990]

ThruYou: Kutiman Mixes YouTube

I've always appreciated mashups. The ability to hear random pieces of music and find their unintended match(es) elsewhere. Forget the skill of putting them together. They always surprise and delight me.

This is something new I think. Drawing from the huge, untamed (free) library of resources that is YouTube, Kutiman sorted through the musical minutiae collecting different videos - people playing instruments, singing, teaching - and looking for ways they fit together. The end result is 7 tracks of varying style and genre that are completely original, along with an edited combination of their videos. It kind of blew my mind.

[via: Daring Fireball and my pal Mitch]

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mark Stewart

Echo asks Mark Stweart 11 questions.

A documentary about Stewart titled ON/OFF debuts next month, including interviews with the likes of Daniel Miller, Nick Cave, Mick Harvey, Adrian Sherwood and others.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Mike Banks Interview

[I don't understand why Mad Mike hasn't been appointed the defacto mayor of Detroit for life.]

Monday, March 02, 2009


Tropism prototypes

Commonwealth recently relaunched their website and posted new projects. Zoe and David do organic shapes better than just about anyone. Great proportions and tension to the lines, and truly unexpected forms and materials. The photoresin and horse hair masks are out of this world and I wouldn't mind having this vase around the house one bit. [Also check out their blog.]