Friday, May 28, 2010

"Agent Dale Cooper!"

The first ten seconds of this clip from Twin Peaks are among my favourite ten seconds ever. And yes, that's David Lynch himself playing the character of Cooper's hearing-impaired FBI boss, Gordon Cole.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I came across this very interesting program about cinema by the polish philosopher Slavoj Zizek. It's called The Pervert´s Guide To Cinema and you can find more info on the link above.

Here is the intro:

And here is an excerpt where he talks about some of David Lynch´s films and explains the similarities between and Mulholland Dr. and Lost Highway:

Arvo Pärt on Für Alina

I just couldn't resist posting a clip of another true musical genius, Arvo Pärt, in respons to Marcus post. Here he is, totally absorved in explaing the musical ideas behind one of his most famous pieces - Für Alina, with the participants standing politely in the background, trying to grasp what the hell he is talking about.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Messiaen and his birds

As part of a project I'm working on I'm currently researching the use of 'musical codes' in post-war classical music, and I came across this delightful clip of french composer Olivier Messiaen, who was absolutely nuts about birds, often codifying and including birdsong in his compositions.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Wrong Side of Art

A friend brought this wonderfull website to my attention: The Wrong Side of Art. A great collection of B-movie posters, in high resolution and well organised. It is a great source for sweet typography, classic compositions and use of color. Because the posters are posted in high resolution I also love to study the marks of time on them, the dust and scratches, folds and ripped edges. Most of these movies are probably not suitable for watching, but oh boy I love the art! Even if it comes from the wrong side...

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Wunderkind from the North

I just learned that musicologist Gunnar Valkare has written the world's first biography of the legendary and enigmatic Swedish composer Bo Nilsson. Nilsson is a very interesting character indeed, so much so that I've always felt that his life story would make a great film.

It's the classic story of a young wunderkind, coming out of nowhere, rising to the top, bedazzling the elite, and then falling as quickly as he had risen.

In the mid 1950's, the teenage Nilsson was a shy and introverted young man, living in a small, isolated town in northern Sweden, where he spent his time listening to German radio stations broadcasting the latest experimental atonal classical music from the continent. Nilsson, already a talented jazz piano player, quickly adopted the sounds, ideas, codes and inner workings of this new 'modernist' music and started composing his own works.

In 1956, the 18 year old composer travelled to Cologne, Germany for a premiere of one of his pieces. If I remember correctly, Nilsson was invited by the leading guru of the musical avant garde, Karlheinz Stockhausen himself. Unfortunately, once in Cologne, the young Nilsson got lost in the city and was too shy or confused to call Stockhausen or anyone else to ask for help, so he travelled back to northern Sweden without having attended the premiere and without having talked to anyone. Or so the story goes.

In any case, soon after this rather awkward start, the 18 year old Nilsson was hailed by the international avant garde elite as a genius, a true Wunderkind, everyone in the 'scene' was crazy about his infinitely complex and mathematically advanced scores in all their intellectual sophistication, and especially Nilsson's refined methods of deriving his works out of complex mathematical formulas.

Only it wasn't quite true. After a couple of years, Nilsson was fed up with the whole intellectual avant garde music scene and admitted that the mathematical formulas he had printed in his scores had little if anything to do with the actual compositions, which apparently had been composed completely intuititively. The intellectual elite was outraged, and probably quite embarrassed by the whole thing, after all, Nilsson had exposed the absurd and dirty underbelly of a movement apparently more preoccupied with the myth (and kitsch) of scientific and mathematical perfection than any genuine artistic expression, and once that myth had bursted, they found themselves in a kind of 'emperor's new clothes' situation.

Nilsson, however, didn't seem to care that much; he turned his back on the world of complex atonal music and started writing more conventional, tonal music from the 1960s on. I'm hoping to pick up a copy of Valkare's book later this summer, I'm sure it'll be a fascinating read. Until then, here's a rendering of one of his infinitely complex piano pieces from that era, "Quantitäten" (1957):

Friday, May 14, 2010

Beast of the earth!

Speaking of fascinating gigantic machines, you are probably already familiar with this beast that devours the earth, and sometimes other things as well (there is a picture with a bulldozer stuck high up in the shovel-like cogwheel mechanism!).

The name of the beast is called Bagger 288 and was manufactured in germany by Krupp.

According to Wikipedia the monster is around 220 m long and 96 m high and it can excavate the equivalent of a football field dug to 30 m deep - every day!

Monday, May 10, 2010


That is a truely AMAZING machine, Anton. On the rusty pictures it almost looks too fantastic to have ever been able to move. It is like a huge piece of art. I had visions of an insane artist who worked on some abandoned Russian dock, used all the scrap material that was lying around and somehow built this Kaspian Sea Monster as a symbol of the coldwar madness, the arrogance of man and it's fascination for machinery.
But no, this thing is for real and once flew over the surface of the oceans. Already being a dinosaur on the verge of extinction by the time it could be put to use.

Here is a video of the monster in full flight. There are a few other versions floating by as well, but the original one Anton posted is the best, it shows up around after 4:40 minutes or so.

Monster of the sea and sky!

This set of photos of the Ekranoplan "Caspian Sea Monster" really inspires me. The sheer size, the unusal architecture of the aircraft, the aged textures and the whole set is just fascinating. I wonder what it would be like to wander arounds it's wonder...

Buggin' out!

I just love these bugs! Illustrations by Feodor Rojankovski from 1955. They come from the 'ASIFA - Hollywood Animaton Archive', a great place to take a look around.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Great animation

Get ready for this fun ride! Don't forget the sound.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

manifesto of the day

The mother, of all art manifestos, the Fluxus-manifesto, written by George Maciunas in 1963, one of the founders of the Fluxus movement.

Strange enough, there's a second Fluxus manifesto, looking almost the same, just a very small "add" by Joseph Beuys, changing the word "europanism" to "Americanism", what shows the tension inside the group, that, at the end, during a Stockhausen performance broke out into an open conflict.
Being the first real international art movement, there were still these differences. Maybe it's really about an european vs. an american attitude, it was actually the question about individuality - an "induvidualistic genius cult" vs. a new kind of collectivism (represented by the american tradition) getting over this old individualism. I'm not sure if it was ever this simple.

My first professor in art school was Fluxus-artist Alison Knowles,
so I had a connection to it from the beginning. First I had really big problems in getting the point of this whole fluxus thing.
Meanwhile I really like it :)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Doing bad things

Starting tomorrow, I'm going to do really bad things, daily. Not morally bad, just artistically bad.

For some time now, I've been blessed with a stream of new, exciting ideas that I really want to explore, ideas that more or less divert from my previous work. And I've tried exploring them, too. Problem is, since it's new territory, the ideas often don't turn out very good when I start working with them. And so I get discouraged, start to doubt, and either I abandon the whole thing or I try to 'save' the result by reverting to old, proven methods, playing it safe, and ultimately ending up with something that isn't at all what I wanted to explore, but an uninteresting, safe result that is nothing but a testament to my own cowardice.

The thing is, we must crawl before we walk, everyone knows that. But as accomplished, adult beings we don't like the idea of going back to crawling -- our egos won't allow us to, so we play it safe and stick to what we know, saving face but failing to develop. Children, always the fastest developing people ever, do not care; they have no other choice but to crawl, stumble, fall, do things badly, because they have nothing 'safe' to revert to and nothing to lose. And so they do things badly, over and over again, until one day, they do them really well.

So I've realized that what I have to do if I really want to explore these new ideas is to push my ego aside and really do things badly in the beginning. I think and hope that it'll be easier if I make my mind up and decide to really, really do very very bad stuff the next couple of months. Daily. In fact, as I've done before with stimulating results, I'm going to start a secret little blog where I post my daily piece of bad work, just to have a framework and a little something to motivate me to stick to it daily. But I won't tell you the address to my secret blog, because I'm still scared.