Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Amazonian Geekcraft

One of the things I love about working at Amazon is the sheer density of brilliant, obsessive nerds with diverse skills and passions. This translates not only into an awesome work environment and Amazon’s ability to ship some seriously cool products, but also in some incredible products bashed out on the side.

Three examples:

1.) St. Optimus of Prime.

2.) Custom robotic target holder with randomized target presentation:

3.) No link for this one, but I was talking to one of my fellow Amazonians over beer the other day, and apparently his team just got finished building out metrics, monitoring, and alarming for their kegerator. Yes, in the true “metrics or GTFO” engineering attitude, they added scales to check beer weight left in the kegs and wired it up via an Arduino processor to send an email when the beer is low. Apparently the next step is to set up a real-time metrics dashboard to track beer consumption over time and to add a way for the metrics to be content-aware so they can alert people which beers are on tap and which are running low.

Forward Unto Dawn

Forward Unto Dawn is a live action series prequel to the upcoming Halo 4. It’s insanely well done and, with five 15-20 minute episodes planned, almost ends up being the live-action movie a lot of Halo fans have been hoping was in the works.

Halo is one of the most compelling Sci Fi franchises of the past decade and I’m stoked to see it done in live action and more over to see it done so well. The trailer’s embedded above and includes a link to the first episode in the video.

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

by Richard Brautigan

I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

I like to think
(right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

I like to think
(it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.

That’ll Leave a Mark

Writing about Ralph Rugoff, director of the Hayward Gallery, David Thompson delivers this beautifully executed jab:

Prior to his moving to the Hayward, we learn that Mr Rugoff “curated a survey of invisible art that included paintings rendered in evaporated water, a movie shot with a film-less camera, and a pedestal once occupied by Andy Warhol.” Such was the unspeakable daring of this invisible art venture, Mr Rugoff has seen fit to repeat it, daringly, at the Hayward. If the colossal cleverness of it all is too much to endure, art lovers may wish to extend the premise by not being visible either.

Simulation, Simulacra, and the Species of Art

I found this video on recurrence, inspiration, and mimicry in art to be interesting:

“…in the telling and in the retelling, the people reveal not the action, but themselves.”

When I was young, the assertion that there was no new ideas in art offended me. I was sure that there were an infinitude of possible plots just waiting for someone creative enough to discover them. (In my minds eye, this creative uber mensch who transcended all prior plots looked a lot like me.)

But I now understand that there are no truly new ideas unless there are new elements to our humanity. Art, being an expression of the human, has nothing truly novel unless the species has something truly novel. And so we get the rare glimpses of novelty, but new plots, like new species, arise slowly.

While new ideas in art are rare, though, new art is constant. Because whereas plots are like species, art is all individual. We each have our own expression of the ideas and each of us, standing on the graves of our precursors, sees a unique vista.

The Raven

I saw The Raven last night with my buddy Erik. It’s a cool idea, and seeing as how I’m a huge fan of E. A. Poe, and not well versed in movies, I was basically the ideal audience for it. So it says something about the poor quality of the film that I was not impressed.

As I said, the idea is cool. The basic premise is that the last days of Poe’s life were spent, not in an opium-and-liquor-fueled daze, but rather helping the police track down a serial killer who was basing his murders off of Poe’s stories.

Unfortunately, the casting, acting, and pacing were all sub-mediocre. John Cusack was cast in the role of Poe, which he treated basically like an obtuse, pouty version of all of his other characters. The supporting cast were mostly bland, though Luke Evans did play a sufficiently likable and badass police inspector.

The plot particulars also left a lot to be desired. Without spoiling anything, they don’t really set up the final reveal at all, and when it is revealed, it creates a few bizarre inconsistencies in the plot.

All in all, unless you’re a huge John Cusack fan or a Poe fan who doesn’t mind Hollywood playing fast and loose with his life and works, then this is definitely a skipable film. If you must see it, spare yourself the twelve bucks and get it on NetFlix.

Faith in Art: Restored

Nina Katchadourian is my new favorite photographer:

While in the lavatory on a domestic flight in March 2010, I spontaneously put a tissue paper toilet cover seat cover over my head and took a picture in the mirror using my cellphone. The image evoked 15th-century Flemish portraiture. I decided to add more images made in this mode and planned to take advantage of a long-haul flight from San Francisco to Auckland, guessing that there were likely to be long periods of time when no one was using the lavatory on the 14-hour flight. I made several forays to the bathroom from my aisle seat, and by the time we landed I had a large group of new photographs entitled Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style.


Seriously. Click that link. Go see. They are amazing. Go. Now.

Art in the Future

Welcome to the future, where one passionate, committed person can create works of art like this:

ROSA from Jesús Orellana on Vimeo.

This is the work of Spanish artist Jesús Orellana. He did it over the course of two years, debuting it at this year’s Seattle International Film Festival. He’s currently in talks to turn it into a full-length, live action feature film.

I’m absolutely blown away by how much computer graphics has developed in just a few short decades. Ten years ago, I doubt you could have made a film like Rosa for less than millions of dollars. Twenty years ago, you couldn’t have made it for any price at all. Today, it only took one artist and (I would imagine) some modest, “pro-sumer” grade equipment.

I can’t wait to see what our digital art looks like in another decade.

For more information, check out the film’s website.

Edited to Add: I love the “behind the scenes” images Orellana made:


Click for Full-Size


It wasn’t as good as I expected, but far better than my Special Lady Friend expected. The plot was suitably psychotic, but the characterization was thin on the ground and a lot of chances for interesting plot points went unused. The central theme of waging a battle purely in your mind that has effects in the real world is an interesting one, but it was largely discarded in favor of over-the-top battles that got kind of repetitive.

Stylistically excellent, technically impressive, and beautifully shot, but ultimately it drags towards the end.

Worth the Netflix queue, but not worth the price of a rental.

Let the Right One In

Brilliant film. A beautiful blend of dark and adorable. It’s a potent mix of adolescent liminality and limerence mixed with the brutal, cannibalistic side of vampire myths. Combine that with surprisingly good acting from its child stars as well as insanely good cinematography and some of the best sound design I’ve ever experienced and you have one hell of a great movie.

Highly recommended.

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Magic Blue Smoke

House Rules:

1.) Carry out your own dead.
2.) No opium smoking in the elevators.
3.) In Competitions, during gunfire or while bombs are falling, players may take cover without penalty for ceasing play.
4.) A player whose stroke is affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb may play another ball from the same place.
4a.) Penalty one stroke.
5.) Pilsner should be in Roman type, and begin with a capital.
6.) Keep Calm and Kill It with Fire.
7.) Spammers will be fed to the Crabipede.