Monday, April 26, 2010

Born Free

The new M.I.A video directed by Romain Gavras looks and sounds like something Atari Teenage Riot might do. It's a powerful [and explicitly violent] piece of politically-charged art. I don't see stuff like this from mainstream artists much, if ever. If you haven't seen it yet, you might want to be sitting down.

M.I.A, Born Free from ROMAIN-GAVRAS on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Philip.K. Dick: A Day in the Afterlife

Here's an extraordinary documentary about PKD from the BBC program Arena, originally broadcast on 9th April 1994. You'll spot cameo "endorsements" by Terry Gilliam and Elvis Costello in this first of six parts below:

Watch all six parts of Philip.K. Dick: A Day in the Afterlife here.

[Thanks to our dearest at Ghostly International for the link!]

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Xeno & Oaklander

Cold waves, warm hearts: Brooklyn's Xeno & Oaklander on Weird Records.

Xeno & Oaklander - Rendez-Vous d'Or [2010]

Xeno & Oaklander - Sentinelle [2009]

Friday, April 02, 2010

Sustainability is the New American Dream

Ogilvy & Mather - one of the biggest ad agencies on the planet - totally gets the state of the world. Their 2010 Post-Recession Consumer Study has me cheering from my rented patio furniture.

An excerpt:

Sustainability is the New American Dream

CHICAGO, IL, March 15, 2010 – Today’s consumer is emerging from the recession with a radically new definition of the American Dream and a renewed sense in their own resourcefulness and priorities according to a just released quantitative study of 1200 consumers and qualitative research with nearly 700, conducted by Ogilvy & Mather Chicago in partnership with leading consumer insight company Communispace.

New View of the American Dream

Among the study’s key findings is that “having it all” is an unrealistic goal with 75% of those surveyed saying they would rather get out of the rat race than climb the corporate ladder – and instead, 76% said they would rather spend more time with family than make more money. Moreover, Americans are showing disenchantment with the pursuit of money with 75% again saying they would trade job security over a job that offered an opportunity for raises.


“The most surprising thing about our study was how much consumers were saying what they would NOT do for money, even when money worries are high on the list,” explained Graceann Bennett, Managing Partner and Director of Strategic Planning at Ogilvy & Mather Chicago. “Prioritizing your life based on money is seen as a sure way to be disappointed since the pursuit of money is often reliant on factors outside of consumers’ control. They have gone down this road before and are saying that they are not necessarily happier or better off as a result.”

In fact, the recession has revealed important new consumer priorities with quality of life and peace of mind at the top and a focus on living life in a more sustainable way both from an environmental and financial point of view.

“Sustainability” takes on a new Meaning

According to Manila Austin Ph.D., Communispace’s Director of Research, “Consumers didn’t fully understand the idea of sustainability until they found themselves living unsustainable lives – working too hard, carrying too much debt, and not living or planning for the long term. Now consumers are re-imagining their lives for a sustainable future for themselves and their families.”...

Related: Bruce Sterling's brilliant contemporary I Ching, the Viridian Design Movement

Crossing the Kcymaerxthaere, Eames Demetrios' parallel universe


The American Airlines in-flight magazine has an extensive travel feature on the fictional[?] world created by geographer-at-large, steward of a design legacy, multi-media artist and all-around inspirational weirdo-supreme and great guy Eames Demetrios.

Crossing the Kcymaerxthaere
An excerpt:

Exploring the Kcymaerxthaere requires a hearty imagination because Demetrios’ fictional universe is based on the theory that we can change how we perceive our visual environment, or as Henry David Thoreau said, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” With a bit of mental flexing, these stories — accessible online, at individual physical sites, at Demetrios’ Kcymaerxthaere lectures and in two travel guides — are not just amusing but also interesting, with inventive characters like time-slipping Grwosts and seven-legged Gnaciens, deer-resembling creatures that have highly nutritious prime-numbered legs but poisonous (and ultimately deadly) nonprime ones. Similar to our linear world, the Kcymaerxthaere is separated into continent-like shapes called rezhns that are then divided into distrykts and gwomes, or nation-footprints. Each gwome has its own texture flag, a unique cultural symbol that Demetrios often displays at gallery shows. All of the Kcymaerxthaere’s plaques and stories relate in a larger context but not necessarily to all the others.

The son of sculptors Lucia Eames and Aristides Demetrios, Eames Demetrios was born and raised in San Francisco. At an early age he developed an interest in film (a passion shared with his grandfather Charles) and later, while volunteering at the city’s Steinhart Aquarium in Golden Gate Park, he became interested in biology. However, when Demetrios graduated from Harvard in 1984, it was with a BA in general studies — a “rare” degree, he says laughingly, received as a direct result of being thrown out of both the school’s film and biology departments. A year later, Demetrios moved to Los Angeles to pursue filmmaking and has since made dozens of pictures, including The Giving, an award-winning black-and-white film about a computer programmer who reprograms ATMs to give back to the homeless. Today, Demetrios runs the monthly movie website and is director of the Eames Office, which celebrates and preserves his grandparents’ legacy. He resides in linear Greater Mar Vista, Calif., with his wife and two sons, but spends a quarter to a third of each year on the road, during which time he researches new Kcymaerxthaere sites, installs plaques and spreads the word of his fictional universe.

Once I learned about Demetrios’ Kcymaerxthaere project, it took me a few hours to realize that it would be nearly impossible to visit every point of intersection in the linear world. In addition to a truckload of time and travel funds, sturdy walking shoes and a rock-solid GPS system, I’d also need a scuba-diving license, since a plaque detailing the Unsoiling of Rockall lies at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, “about an hour’s steaming from Oban,” states my Kcymaerxthaere guidebook. In fact, not even Demetrios has visited every point of -intersection, instead opting to study photographs and satellite images for possible installation sites. “It’s sort of deliberate,” he says, “so I’m not just telling stories that bounce off local history.” He’s also careful not to assign physical depictions to his characters and cultures; instead, he allows imagination free rein — one reason the Kcymaerxthaere especially resonates with children.

Previously on Burnlab: alternate realities, mythology of the Eamespunk meme and more

Orwell's 1984: the BBC teleplay

Until yesterday, I didn't know that the BBC produced a live teleplay of George Orwell's iconic dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four starring a young Peter Cushing in 1954. They sure did.

BBC 1984

1984 was made for the then astronomical figure of £3,249. Nigel Kneale (Quatermass, The Year of the Sex Olympics) wrote the script and Peter Cushing headed the cast. Director Rudolph Cartier even stretched to commissioning an original score, which was conducted during the live transmission.

The live performance on Sunday 12 December 1954 scored the highest ratings since The Coronation. Critics were excited at seeing what the new medium was capable of, calling it "a landmark in the at-present short history of television drama" but furious watchdogs campaigned for the planned second performance a few days later to be cancelled. The BBC's Head of Drama Michael Barry refused to concede, and that second live performance was recorded.

Watching 1984 today one cannot help but marvel at the ingenuity of the production. Actors move through 22 sets while the cameras perform a high-speed waltz around the studio to capture the full horror of Orwell's dystopia; filmed sequences are played while sets, cameras and actors are repositioned.

It is interesting that while television makers today, standing on giants' shoulders, can achieve so much with so little effort, there has been a desire in recent years to recapture some of the strange magic that live television offers.

Watch the entire program on the George Orwell Youtube channel. [Embedding disabled. I will never understand why people check that box.]

Do watch it. The production is incredible - especially considering it was performed live! I have to think this teleplay had an impact on Terry Gilliam while making his own dystopian magnum opus Brazil.

Hacking Metro Detroit

Metromode has a great feature on Detroit makers this week, Hacking Metro Detroit by Michelle Martinez
Some excerpts below:


Nick Britsky is inspecting a rough spot on the tire well of a cupcake-shaped car, hoisted wrapper-side up onto a worktable. The accordion-shaped spray-painted steel was cut by hand, and a few jagged edges still need to be filed down.

Britsky is converting the one-man car into something that could roam indoors. "I'd like to make a fleet of them," Britsky says. "Maybe four or eight."

Britsky is a member of i3Detroit, a group-operated hackerspace, recently moved to Ferndale from Royal Oak. Above Britsky is another member project -- a hand-carved wooden canoe hanging from the ceiling; beside him are two motorized 'bots that resemble small moon cars, and in the corner is a stack of arcade game parts that look like they could be used as spares for Centipede or Donkey Kong. One room over, an antiquey-looking player piano that plays music it downloads and prints from the Internet is pushed against the wall.

It's all the work of i3 members, affectionately called "hackers." Far from gangly cyber-punks hacking their way into your credit card information, hackerspaces are about like-minded tinkerers, crafters, artists, and self-titled geeks gathering to work individually or collectively on projects. One such example is i3Detroit's mentoring of Clawson and Oak Park High School students in robotics, with the moon cars the result of the venture.

And they're not alone. Worldwide, there are nearly 350 self-described hackerspaces, with more than 150 in the U.S., including a handful in Michigan, according to

"There's a lot of interesting stuff happening," says Dale Dougherty, publisher and editor of MAKE Magazine, which showcases DIY projects and their makers. "There's always been a group of enthusiasts who love to play with technology, are curious and want to learn ... but the power today from the Internet is that it can connect people to each other more easily to share ideas and projects."

Got hack?

In Metro Detroit, the idea is taking hold. i3Detroit got its start from meetings at an area coffee shop last April, moved into a sparse Royal Oak loft in September and by the following April landed in an 8,000-square-foot former industrial space in Ferndale. Ann Arbor-based hackerspace All Hands Active was started last September, and another yet-to-be-named group is growing in Detroit's Eastern Market --the brainchild of former New York City Resistor member Jeff Sturges and Detroit- based artist Bethany Shorb (founder of Cyberoptix).

"As soon as we talk to one, they have other people we should talk to. It's really organic," Shorb says.

MAKE Magazine's July 31 - August 1 Maker Faire, the tech-boosted Woodstock for the DIY and hacker set is in Detroit this year, appropriately taking place at The Henry Ford.

"The plan this year was to have it in New York," Dougherty explains. "We're still going to do that, but we thought that this was a place where this could really matter. ... This is a region with a lot of people who make things, are inventive and creative. There's a lot going on [in Detroit] -- a strong crafting community, emerging hackerspaces like i3Detroit and several other initiatives. We're trying to connect people together."

Hacking for the greater good

Infusing hackerspaces in Metro Detroit is the earnest belief in the power of collective brainstorming. If one could be used to build cupcake cars, vinyl cows with space helmets, and pirate ships (an upcoming i3Detroit project), the thinking goes, it can also be a space to engage entrenched societal problems.

New York City transplant Jeff Sturges is working to build a Detroit-based fab lab. It's an idea inspired from the work he did with a Sustainable South Bronx and MIT program aimed at teaching "digital fabrication" to solve community problems.

"Once I got involved in the FabLab and hackerspace, I thought it would be awesome for Detroit. I've had that dream since 2004," he says. Sturges studied architecture from 2003 to 2005 at the Cranbrook Academy of Art before going back to New York.

Outside of Detroit, efforts are underway to make brainstorming big problems a global hacker endeavor. Eric Michaud, founder of Chicago's Pumping Station: One and a serial hackerspace developer, says that a monthly global hackathon has started to gain followers, and is working its way towards engaging "bigger, grander goals and projects."

"What I'd love to see is what if we work on a project for 24 hours? For one week?" he poses. "Grab this collective expertise and let's give them a goal: Something that can eradicate malaria, for example, cheaply. ... We got to the moon with that kind of focus; a lot of technology came out of that."

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Revolution Party, circa [Mondo] 2000

As a former art school student with Skinny Puppy and H.R. Giger inspired paintings on his biker leather, a Leebinator haircut, 1950s style eyeglasses and always smelled like a welding shop when going into the local bookstore to pour over the latest issue of Mondo 2000 and as an adult desperately searching for a political identity which combines both the ideals of absolute freedom and individual exceptionalism of Libertarians and Objectivists with traditional Liberal and Humanist values of social responsibility, equality and compassion, I'm totally embarrassed that I was not familiar with Mondo 2000 publisher R.U. Sirius' political party and run for president in 2000.

I've got nothing to add to this:


No, the Revolution party is not a bunch of wild-eyed insurrectionists hell-bent on the violent overthrow of an oppressive regime.

As founder R.U. Sirius explains it, "The Revolution is a new political party that aims to be the voice of the non-voter, the alienated, the visionaries, the rabble, and the Internet. Combining left and libertarian politics with a kind of post-political futurism and the love of a good laugh, The Revolution¨ intends to bring all the subcultural tribes together to wrest control of worldwide political systems from the drug warriors, the cultural ayatollahs, and the various corporate mega-destructo gangs, ranging from the military-industrial complex to the HMOs ad infinitum."



"NOTE: All of these platform points are stated simply in three-or-less sentences. The reality is far more complex. Each one of these will be detailed, one by one, in the months to come.

1. We will repeal five times as many laws as we pass. We need to simplify and clarify the rules of the game. We will do a better job of enforcing and obeying a few reasonable rules than thousands upon thousands of incomprehensible statutes.

2. End all corporate welfare. Let allegedly-free enterprise stand on its own two feet.

3. No Federal Personal Income Taxes for individuals with incomes of less than $100,000. Encourage states and counties to also end taxation of middle-class and poor individuals. Institute a flat tax on income over $100,000.

4. Legalize most pleasure drugs, prostitution, and gambling. Institute a 'sin tax,' taxing these activities at 100% to make up for some of the funds lost as the result of #3. Use part of this tax income to make counseling and rehabilitation easily available in all locales.

5. Close down the prison/industrial complex. Pardon all prisoners who are in for non-violent crimes involving sums involving $25,000 or less, provided they have no known history of violent activities. Pardon all prisoners listed with Amnesty International.

6. Defend civil liberties. For the first time in recent memory, let's have a federal government that respects The Constitution and The Bill of Rights. Let's have the ACLU and the EFF and other pro-rights organizations inside the federal government.

7. Stop policing the world. Become just another member of the UN, with responsibilities equivalent to our numbers. Reduce the Pentagon's budget by at least 50%.
8. Close down the National Security State. Since the end of World War II, representative democracy has been hostage to the National Security State. Release all secret documents (excluding only those recent ones that present a very clear and present danger), fire the CIA, and reform the federal intelligence apparatus.

9. Put environmental concerns before profits and jobs. On the other hand, put scientific consensus and reason ahead of emotion-based environmentalism. Protect the environment while limiting Orwellian bureaucratic absurdities.

10. Open federally-funded birth control clinics all across the country, guaranteeing women in every locale reasonable access to her legal right to abortion and other forms of birth control.

11. Allow 'autonomous zones.' Offer ways in which localities and even households can -- with a very few limits -- opt out of the system.

12. Re-establish social services at pre-Reagan levels, for starters. Study the possibility of a 'workfare' state that would create an ultimately self-sustaining 'generic' maintenance economy that would involve those who don't receive income independently, or through employment, in the production, distribution, and receivership of life's essentials. Ultimately, an advanced high tech society will need to end the employment/make money ethic entirely or risk a total psychotic break from the social/environmental pollution wreaked by billions of desperate people on a hustle.

13. Study the possibility of restructuring the economic/money system toward making money consistent with actual value in an age where money-as-information is excessively abstracted from the creation of real wealth and unfairly favors those who know how to manipulate it. Also, question the oligarchic power of those who control the money system, such as the Federal Reserve, the IMF, and the World Bank, reforming or possibly eliminating those organizations.

14. Fund a 'Manhattan Project Toward Utopia.' Finance and encourage altruistic scientific and technological projects geared towards breakthroughs that can diminish or eliminate scarcity, disease, and other forms of suffering that most people would prefer not to experience. Establish a principal of universal access to the products of such breakthroughs.

15. Victory Over Horseshit! The political process in America is hostage to certain obvious absurdities that are an embarrassment before the civilized world: like the continuing embargo against Cuba (and particularly the Helms/Burton bill), the excessive numbers of state executions, our refusal to sign the land mine treaty, the opposition to policies like needle exchange that are geared towards slowing down a plague, refusal of funding for international birth control, ad infinitum. Let's have a national government that calls ridiculous horseshit what it is."
R.U. Sirius/The Revolution

There's a book too, titled The Revolution: Quotations from Revolution Party Chairman R.U. Sirius, if you can find it.