decadnids – phatic musk 5 inch vinyl release

Phatic musk recently released a 5 inch vinyl record!

This is a hand lathe cut 5 inch record! that’s CD -sized. Cut by bladudflies.com  With two tracks by decadnids . This was a response by Farmer Glitch for the Eastville Project Space CD vending machine. Strictly limited of 9, 5 for sale here and 3 in the physical vending machine. This is hand made, very limited and comes in a hand sprayed cd case with custom stickers.

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Culture eats itself: The aesthetic of technological fail made real

There is something weirdly odd but satisfying in seeing the aesthetic results of technological failure being realised as artefacts in the ‘real’ world. Glitch art has been kicking around as long as technology has been failing and recently there seems to be a new bunch of designers and artists creating some interesting glitch inspired art.

These self referencing, technical and cultural mashups are painfully post modern. As exercises in extreme cultural navel gazing they remind me of Ouroboros, the mythical snake that is constantly eating itself, the perfect symbol of eternal recurrence (and possibly postmodern regurgitated self referencing art culture …)

Here are three projects/artworks that I have come across over the last couple of months through various design blogs that are inspired by the glitch:

Glitch textiles by Phillip Stearns

These are just great, and what a good idea. Glitch art faithfully re-created as textiles. The lines of corrupted pixels make a great weave and Phillip Stearns is a clever man for making seeing this possibility and using Kickstarter to get this project up and running. Buy his glitch textiles here. … Also check out his Year Of The Glitch blog.

 

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Abstract paintings by Beverly Fishman

Beverly Fishman produces abstract paintings that look just like corrupted bitmap images. I would imagine these 84″ wide, enamel on steel paintings would look impressive seeing them for real and I’m sure that glitched images are not her only influence … they kind of make me think of Koons and his aluminium ‘inflatables’ in an odd way – especially as I am looking at her paintings on a computer screen – they really do look like glitched out jpegs and I have to trust the accompanying copy telling me she’s an artist and these are paintings, just like I had to trust the little bit of text telling me a Koons’ ‘inflatable’ caterpillar was made of aluminium.  Here is some serious art speak:

“The patterns of Beverly Fishman paintings are transcriptions of EKG, EEG, and neuron spike readouts, with some bar codes thrown in to add a social measure to the disembodied bodily data. And, for good measure, some of the patterns are derived from the modular shapes of the pills and capsules that are supposed to cure us of our ailments, mental as well as physical. The pattern registers time, giving it spatial form, a geometrical objectification that suggests that all our problems are subjective and thus of no great consequence, however fraught with understated consequence the diagnostic patterns are.” - Donald Kuspit.

(Via triangulationblog.com)

 

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An architecture of density

These photographs of Hong Kong by Michael Wolf are just lovely. I cannot read any reference to glitched images on his site, so the inclusion of these images in this post is directly because of the meaning I put upon them. To me, they look like glitched out jpegs. Whether this was intended, whether glitch was an influence or reference I don’t know, but to my eyes, they certainly look like it.

 

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Sketchbook pages 18.07.2013

A few recent sketchbook pages. I have been slow in my sketchbooks recently and after about six years of using Moleskines I have ditched them. Mainly because of the hefty prices Moleskines now charge – I feel I am subject to some kind of hipster tax. Moleskines recent crowd sourcing marketing fail also contributed to me moving on …

So more skulls (again) and Blondie.

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Bouncer The One Armed Gunslinger: Alexandro Jodorowsky and Francois Boucq

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Published in late 2011 but only arriving on my lap the other day, Bouncer The One Armed Gunslinger (published by Humanoids) is the second volume of collected issues in the ongoing adventures (or misadventures) of the half indian one armed gunslinger Bouncer, written by Alexandro Jodorowsky with art by Francois Boucq.

Bouncer, as his name suggests is the bouncer of the Inferno Saloon in the frontier town of Barro City, and his story is a violent one. The varied cast of characters in this graphic novel include a creepy, freaky trio of Mexican assassins, an aged spooky indian, evil landowners, a loyal three legged dog, a whole array of raggedy outlaws and the odd lynch mob. These characters inhabit a story drenched with violence. All very Sergio Leone, very spaghetti western. Oh, I forgot to mention the opium dens, the revenge obsessed hangwoman, the freaky murderous monkey and the hideously burnt and bedridden owner of the Inferno Saloon. All vital ingredients in this quite epic but exploitive tale. And by exploitive I mean very 70’s, very B movie. Which is a good thing.

Published in late 2011 but only arriving on my lap the other day, Bouncer The One Armed Gunslinger (published by Humanoids, US) is the second volume of collected issues in the ongoing adventures (or misadventures) of the half indian one armed gunslinger Bouncer, written by Alexandro Jodorowsky with art by Francois Boucq.

Bouncer, as his name suggests is the bouncer of the Inferno Saloon in the frontier town of Barro City, and his story is a violent one. The varied cast of characters in this graphic novel include a creepy, freaky trio of Mexican assassins, an aged spooky indian, evil landowners, a loyal three legged dog, a whole array of raggedy outlaws and the odd lynch mob. These characters inhabit a story drenched with violence. All very Sergio Leone, very spaghetti western. Oh, I forgot to mention the opium dens, the revenge obsessed hangwoman, the freaky murderous monkey and the hideously burnt and bedridden owner of the Inferno Saloon. All vital ingredients in this quite epic but exploitive tale. And by exploitive I mean very 70’s, very B movie. Which is a good thing.

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The story opens with Bouncer becoming the town hangman against his wishes, corralled (contextual verb usage!) into the job by the town’s corrupt officials. Events conspire and he ends up being the reluctant hand that brings about the death of his old lover and her new amour. Both are victims of a set up by evil landowner Clark Cooper, with Bouncer the reluctant hangman. Clarke was previously embarrassed by Bouncer as he was booted out of the Inferno saloon and their mutual hatred fuels much of the plot. As all these shenanigans are going on, a mysterious old indian dude is jumping about the town rooftops knocking off members of the towns ruling elite by the nefarious means of a poisonous green coral snake.

There is much more to this graphic novel, and in particular the old Indian, than what I have described above. There is a flashback sequence that fills in some important backstory, and some heartbreaking plot twists and turns, but revealing more would be adding spoilers so I will resist it.

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As a writer and director Jodorowsky is simply legendary and he is rightly celebrated for his films as well as his comic book writing. I first saw his very tripped out film Holy Mountain a couple of years ago and reading Bouncer reminded me that I really need to watch El Topo, his famously weird western.

My first introduction to Jodorowsky was via comic artist genius Moebius and The Incal, a series of comics with a vaguely parallel plot to that of Holy Mountain, that of a twisted and somewhat surreal journey to spiritual awakening. On the back of the success of The Incal Jodorowsky went on to write some great science fiction, notably Les Technopères (The Technopriests). Bouncer … was my first view of Jodorowsky writing a western, and I was a little reluctant to pick it up as my first – my only exposure to Jodorowsky is through his sci fi writing, but I should not have been worried, after a couple of pages in I was hooked.

The art in Bouncer … is by Francois Boucq. A french comic legend, the only Boucq art I have been exposed to previously is the set of satirical shorts collected as Pioneers of the Human Adventure and featuring his absurd character Jérôme Moucherot (published in 1989 by Catalan Communications and translated by Elisabeth Bell who seems to have translated every foreign language comic I read growing up.)

The art by Boucq is excellent, he has that lovely loose but realistic french style, full of energy and expression, and with the analogue appearance of pens and pencils rather than the sterile computer generated look of many contemporary mainstream comics. His art in Bouncer … has moved along since the eighties and Monsieur Moucherot. The quality of line is less scratchy and urgent, but still fluid and expressive. The colouring more subtle and muted. The colour palette in Bouncer … is especially evocative of seventies westerns, all sepia and beautiful autumnal shades of red and orange.

The exaggerated proportions and features of his characters has been replaced with a much more considered approach, but there is still huge expression and character in the faces of his protagonists. Maybe this is due to the subject matter, I would be interested to check out his other contemporary work, and after reading Bouncer … I certainly will track some down.

 

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Chatting to my comicbook aficionado friend about Bouncer … the other night we both remarked on how painterly some of the panels look, in their composition. Bouncer looks like it has been inspired by the epic westerns of John Ford, and my friend pointed out that Ford himself was influenced by the great american painters of the frontier, painters like Thomas Cole, Frederic Church and Albert Bierstadt. Seeing the beautifully composed painterly panels within Bouncer … seems to complete the circle. Bouncer … is a perfect love letter to the Westerns of Ford, but it’s also a note scrawled in blood on the back of a fag packet, addressed to Sergio Leone.

All in all I can’t really fault Bouncer, The One Armed Gunslinger. I am not a huge fan of the western in comic format, Blueberry by Moebius aside. The fact that I enjoyed this so much is a testament to artist and writer. Having always been a fan of Jodorowsky’s writing, I am now on a mission to track down more contemporary English language translations of work by Boucq. Can’t say much more than that really.

 

Yeah get real! Originality and authenticity in a postmodern age

“No one loves authenticity like a graphic designer. And no one is quite as good at simulating it” Michael Bierut

We’re all authentic. Instagram vignetting, print textures, Superdry tee’s imitating vintage americana logos, the whole concept of vintage in fashion, any tattoos not picked up from the army, navy or prison, digital SLR’s that look like 60′s film cameras, clothing that has been ‘distressed’, those retro Nissan Figaro cars …

Contemporary culture seems to be obsessed with authenticity, with being ‘real’. With many fields of design this predilection manifests itself as merely signifiers of authenticity, the appearance of authenticity. Much of the ‘authenticity’ we see around us is smoke and mirrors, a coating of signifiers, the veneer of authenticity, an outer shell of illusion.

Rollieflex digi camera photo by Silvio Tanaka, jean photo by Celia Hippie, tattoo photo by Patrick Carey and Nissan photo by MIKI Yoshihito, all images reproduced under Creative Commons license

Should not the aesthetic of any design be the result of a great concept rather than applying a link of paint after the engineering has been done? Or am I being pedantic? I understand that there are cases where it is perfectly acceptable to simply add a style to something; in the case of game design when thematic elements are added to a game mechanic – perfectly reasonable. You want to add a bit of fake texture to the digital print of anthropomorphized vegetables you’re flogging on Etsy? Go ahead. My beef is when the skin is all that there is, when the signifiers of authenticity are the only meaningful content.

As a designer should I be bothered about being authentic? After all I can fake it easily enough. And what does authenticity even mean? The definition that most would use in relation to art and design is authenticity of expression – in Aesthetic philosophy authenticity of expression is how genuine a work of art is, how committed an artist or performer is, how true they are being to their own beliefs and culture.

There also exists a very different meaning of authenticity within the realms of philosophy. One very different than that of Aesthetic philosophy. In Existentialist philosophy authenticity is the realisation that you are responsible for yourself and that in any situation you always have freedom of choice – recognising and acting on this freedom is what makes a person authentic.

This definition by Emmy van Deurzen & Martin Adams might help explain authenticity in the Existential context :

 

“Authenticity/Inauthenticity do not refer to what is real or genuine but instead to our ability to own and be the author of our lives in full awareness that it will end and that it is up to us to make something of it.”

 

Image by Cea, reproduced under Creative Commons licence

Harsh. But true.

So as a designer how do these definitions of authenticity inform my approach to design work? I see the desire to innovate as an authentic act, I want my work to be genuine, both in concept and execution. And as a designer I try to look for inspiration from areas beyond my profession, to escape from the label ‘designer’ and experience more from outside the design filter bubble and inform my work with my experiences. To be authentic in the existential sense is to rise above the expectations labels give us and by doing this we transcend being a ‘thing’ (a designer) and realise the extent of our ability to make free choices beyond what others might expect, beyond the labels put upon us. Very deep, very existentialist.

When talking of authenticity it is hard not to talk of originality. If authenticity is all about being ‘real’ then originality is about being ‘new’ and ‘first’. Originality in our world today is a confused affair, if it even exists at all. We live in a postmodern age where ‘things’ no longer seem original, rather their context or use supplies the originality. According to the philosopher Barthes artists no longer create original work as all art is a regurgitation of what has gone before. Even those purist Modernists were echoing tropes of the past.

When I think of Barthes and his rejection of originality I immediately think of Duchamp and his ‘ready mades’ – his urinal and bike wheel. But Damien Hirst also comes to mind. His shark and his diamond skull – nothing original in preserved sea life or decorated skulls but their context as ‘art’ removed from mere decoration or ritual and placed in a gallery setting is what lends Hirst’s art as original, even though Hirst’s repeated themes of death and commodification are hardly new …

Duchamp urinal photo by Steven Zucker, reproduced under Creative Commons license

Bringing this meandering ramble back to design rather than art, You could look at the smartphone as an example of postmodern originality (bear with me, I am simplifying here). The smartphone is a cultural game changer, permanently altering the way (some of us) live our lives. Very original and new. The smartphone bundles a load of utilities into one device, but many of those utilities we are already familiar with – their new and shiny context, all grouped together in a mobile device is what’s new. A calendar on a smartphone is based on (and looks like) the calendar I have pinned onto my kitchen wall. The email functionality on my phone is not miles away from my desktop email programme. The smartphone is original. Many of the tools that make up a smartphone are not. Even how we interact with our phone is based on metaphors no matter how ‘flat’ the design is supposed to be.

You could say that what we do with our smartphones is not new – making a call, sending an email, playing a game, taking a photo, updating a calendar … but how we do these things has changed; we now make these actions on the move, on our accessible portable hand-held (or hands-free) device. The smartphone has altered the behaviour of its users, who complete familiar tasks in new ways.

Of course designers chasing originality in our postmodern age can be a fruitless task. Especially for designers like myself, user-centric designers who rely on the recognition of conventions, the concept of originality can seem irrelevant and an exercise in tail chasing. But despite the need to rely on conventions there is still an important need for innovation: to introduce new ways of interaction, new conventions. New technology and new behaviour demand it. And if I can go back to my smartphone analogy – there are opportunities to present familiar actions in new contexts. And in the area of conceptualisation there really is no excuse for plagiarism and lazy thinking when it is entirely possible to aim for originality. Or like Duchamp, change the context. And even if you fail remember the Existentialist view of authenticity. It’s the intent thats important. You at least have to try.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is that even within our postmodern, convention strewn world there is still the ability to be original, new and first even if the concept of originality has somewhat shifted. And don’t fall into the trap of dressing something up in the trappings of authenticity. Don’t fetishise the past. If authenticity rather than pastiche is what you are aiming for then try to be … authentic. And don’t rip – as a designer (or a thinker), aiming for authenticity and originality however the philosophical meaning is a reputable task.

I am no way an expert in existentialism, but these books have made things a little clearer for me. For a contemporary introduction to Existentialism I would recommend How to be an Existentialist by Gary Cox. Cox writes clearly and with humour.

Existentialism And Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre is a good introduction to the writings of Sartre, it is a transcript of a lecture he gave so is quite a slim book – his magnum opus Being and Nothingness is quite a beast and so far I have only used it as reference.

 

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phatic musk :: Uschi-No-Michi :: Ameratsu

In 2004 I started pathmusick with alex cortex.  Our aim was to set up a net label that allowed artists to put out their material with freedom.  We trusted the artists we asked to join pathmusick so we had very few restrictions with regards to what they released.  Over the 9 years pathmusick has had well over 100 releases and the downloads are still going strong with around 1 new release per month.

Last year I decided I’d like to try to release some stuff in physical formats.  It was 10 years since the release of the hermetech records compilation Word Become Flesh, so time to give it another go!

I decided that pathmusick deserved a physical form and phatic musk was born.  The first release was going to be Uschi-No-Michi .  She’d previously released her Blue Light EP on pathmusick and had great downloads, and I really like her music.

I’ve always wanted to use old 8 inch floppy disk as a container for a 7 inch and thought it would be perfect for this release.  So after much searching I was able to find a good source of enough disks to use as packaging.  With the old hand written labels and the different company branding on the different disks, it makes for a one off package when hand stamped and numbered.

So, please go and buy the wonderful 7 inch single from here

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The 1962 film ‘Carnival of Souls’ reduced to six animated GIF files

The synopsis for Carnival of Souls from IMDB is quite brief – “After a traumatic accident, a woman becomes drawn to a mysterious abandoned carnival.” Thats it… but this film has a little more about it than just that brief explanation. A genuinely creepy film, and very low budget, it’s one of those films that rattled around in my head for a good while after I saw it.

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≈ carnival of souls ≈

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