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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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.

 

Toshio Saeki (佐伯俊男)

A first for 20three, I am posting up some Erotica. I would not like readers of this blog to think that this is a new direction for the 20three, or that I have an extensive erotica collection, which may or may not be true… but all this besides, I would like to introduce some images by Japanese iconoclast Toshio Saeki.

Toshio Saeki himself describes his work as Erotica, but I think the somewhat twisted and nightmarish subject matter make his work a little more than just titillation. His work is often labeled as Ero guro – “a literary and artistic movement from 1920s and ’30s Japan that puts its focus on eroticism, sexual corruption and decadence” (definition taken from wikipedia). For the western reader there is not much information on Saeki – a web search brings up a few pages, the most informative being at www.akatako.net.

The information I do have is mainly gleaned from the introduction of ‘Onikage’ (published by Last Gasp) which I had imported from the US – this book gave me a little more background on the man himself, especially this quote, written in 2009 when he was 75, about his childhood, which informs a little on how Saeki developed his singular view…

Amidst working hard on sketches of plaster figures and oil paint, I gradually found myself drawing forbidden erotc pitures. At that time, I had no experience with women yet, so my imagination was persistently obscene. I drew the pictures to satisfy the few friends I had, but first and foremost, they had to arouse and infatuate me sexually, or else I would not be happy with them. So as a gratifying a task as it was to me, it was quite a difficult practise. I had no idea that this secret creative engagement would turn out to be the strong foundation for my future works.

(Read the full extract here)

Another great quirk I love about his work is a result his childhood fascination with famous japanese movie stars – these famous screen heros would often crop up in his work, as the creepy male protagonists, lurking in the background, behind a doorpost or behind a tree…

Here is a small selection of images by Toshio Saeki:

 

Toshio Saeki

 

Toshio Saeki

 

Toshio Saeki

 

Toshio Saeki

 

Toshio Saeki

 

Toshio Saeki

 

Toshio Saeki

 

 

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Photographs from this years Magazine Library exhibition, Tokyo, Japan

Now In Lemon was featured in this years Magazine Library exhibition, Tokyo, Japan. The organisers very kindly sent me some pictures of the exhibition as we could not get over there ourselves this year.

All photography: (c) Nishio Shinsuke / a Zillion ideas.

~ Magazine Library ~

 

~ Magazine Library ~

 

~ Magazine Library ~

 

~ Magazine Library ~

 

~ Magazine Library ~

 

~ Magazine Library ~

 

~ Magazine Library ~

 

~ Magazine Library ~

 

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Databending and glitch art

I’m a big fan of imagery produced from mistakes, accidents, glitches and other random acts. As a student I messed around with the accidental results photocopiers could produce, and now I still abuse scanners to randomly warp and distort images.

Most recently I have been looking into Datamoshing and Databending as part of a Kerb project – both are terms for deliberately corrupting images or video.

Glitching out images and video has been going on for as long as there were images and video to glitch out – nowadays a new wave of creative types are jumping on this lo-fi/glitch bandwagon, and as movements grow and get popular they get labels, so now we have Databend and Datamosh.

Below are a few results from using a HEX editor (I have been using Hex Fiend for the Mac) to manipulate the code of a JPEG image. The first image is the uncorrupted original, a cross-processed photo I took in Spain using an LC-A,  the following five images have been corrupted by randomly replacing characters, copy and pasting chunks of code, and cutting chunks of code entirely.

 

Original JPEG image

Corrupted JPEG 01

Corrupted JPEG 02

Corrupted JPEG 03

 

The two examples below are quite extreme, almost completely destroying the original image. This was achieved by running ‘search and replace’ on the code. I randomly chose a glyph which I swapped out for another randomly chosen glyph.

 

Corrupted JPEG 04

Corrupted JPEG 05

 

As you can see some quite crazy and random results occur from just some colour change to the outright destruction of the original image.

Below are a couple of examples of glitch art that I have seen recently that take these techniques and create something interesting. The examples below are a video created by using a load of corrupted still images, and still images created by corrupting video.

Here is the video using corrupted JPEG’s. Created by my old Creative Director at Lateral Simon Crab. Apparently it took him a long time… (he did the audio as well)

 

 

Here are some freaky beautiful portraits created by deliberately corrupting video, produced by Jared Leistner:

 

Portrait by Jared Leistner

Portrait by Jared Leistner

Portrait by Jared Leistner

 

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Now in Lemon featuring at the ‘Magazine Library’ exhibition, Tokyo, Japan

Our self published art zine, Now in Lemon has been invited to be featured in the 2012 Magazine Library exhibition, Tokyo. From the exhibition organisers: “Since its launch in March of 2009 the travelling ‘Magazine Library’ exhibitions have featured more than 1000 magazines, art books and independent publications. The past 9 exhibitions welcomed more than 50,000 visitors and more than 30 publications have found new distribution routes in Japan via the Magazine Library”.

We are very pleased to have been invited, only wish we could make it over. Here is a video of the 2010 exhibition:

You can take a look at the 2012 Magazine Library exhibition website here.

We still have some copies of Now in Lemon for sale, check it out here.

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Sketchbook: 20three type

I did do some post production work on this scan from my sketchbook – I made the image grayscale then reversed the colours, making the image white on black. The letters were also generated on the computer then printed out, cut up and glued into my sketchbook.

The font I have thoroughly abused is Futura Book. Paul Renner is probably spinning in his grave, considering that legibility was a fundamental concern when he designed Futura, widly known as the first mass produced geometric sans-serif typeface.

Ah well, destroy your heroes and all that.

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