Archive for August, 2010

Kodachrome curtains

So I’m conflicted.

I stumbled onto this a while back.  And I have to say, I love the look of these curtains.

Kodachrome curtains

Kodachrome curtains by yarnzombie

But the archivist in me weeps for the fact by using the slides in this awesome way, they are going to be destroyed by the sun.  They’ll last a while, but direct sunlight is brutal on slide film (on any film really!).  First they’ll start to color shift towards yellow/orange and then they’ll just fade away.

Kodachrome curtain detail 1

Kodachrome curtain detail 1 by yarnzombie

I guess the question is which part of something like this is more valuable – the temporary enjoyment of the art or the long term preservation of a part of photographic history.  They don’t make Kodachrome film any more. Does that make these old slides more valuable?  From a scarcity standpoint, yes.  In the same way that after daguerreotypes went out of fashion, they became cool art objects to collect.  It didn’t matter who was in the picture, just that it was a daguerreotype was enough to make it desirable.

And what about the pictures themselves? This is someone’s family history. Then again, these slides were found in an antique shop and there is little chance there was anything that would have identified the the photographer with them.  Sure, many of the photos have people in them, but do you know how many people there are?  At last count, billions.  And more than 300 million in the US alone.  Even if you could figure out where these photos were taken and of who, most were taken in the 50s and 60s.  If that young woman on the horse was 20 in that photo and it was taken in 1960, she’d be 70 now.  The older person in the slide next to her is most likely dead. Do they care about the images? If they did, I doubt they would have ended up in an antique shop.  Are old slides going to be the carte de visite of this generation? Walk into any antique store worth its salt and you can find a box or two or ten of old carte de visite portrait cards from the turn of the last century. Most don’t have names on them and are often referred to as “instant ancestors.” Because really, if you framed a photo at random and put it on your wall, who would know that isn’t your Great Uncle Roy? Will we find piles and piles of instant ancestors in slide form now?

So.  I am conflicted.  It looks so cool, but…

What do you think, dear reader?  Does the awesome factor out weigh the destruction of history factor?  Or is that such an non-issue that no one but me even cares?


Shibori: Japanese tie-dying

When I saw this post from Honestly…WTF, all I could think was how much I want to try this RIGHT NOW.

All of these fabrics were dyed using different styles of Shibori. Shibori is the Japanese term for dyeing cloth using a variety of binding, folding, twisting, etc. techniques.  I LOVED tie-dying when I was a kid.  It always seemed like the quintessential summer camp activity.  I had quite the collection of tie-dyed shirts for a while.  But, as kids tend to, I grew out of them (emotionally AND physically).  I’ve always had a love for fabric and good patterns and to me, this looks like tie-dying’s older, classier, sexier sister.  Perfect! I can’t wait to try this out for myself!

How to Be Alone

Love this.

How to be alone by filmaker, Andrea Dorfman, and poet/singer/songwriter, Tanya Davis.

Once I started poking around their websites and video feeds I discovered this wasn’t their first collaboration.  Turns out they’ve made another little animated film together called The Drums.  So sweet and lovely:

Objects in motion

For Day 4 of stop-motion animation week, I’d like to share some films that used a wide variety of interesting objects to animate with.  Watching these films I am always amazed at how simple the elements used to create them were.  There are few things in any of these that would take a serious commitment of money to make.  I love seeing that sort of ingenuity.  And it reflects something I think more teachers should be impressing on their students: you don’t have to have a lot of money or fancy equipment to make something really excellent.  Mostly it is time and perseverance over anything else that make an artist (or anyone else for that matter) successful.

The first film comes to us from PESfilm.  [side note: I tried to find out more about the film maker himself, but I came up totally empty other than that he is a he. Strange]  I could try to describe this first, but it is better if you just see it:

Not surprisingly, this film has gained is author much acclaim and he has gone on to direct commercials for companies like Coinstar and Smirnoff .  And it is all relatively simple.  All it took was him noticing that rubber bands and pick-up sticks sort of look like spaghetti in its cooked and uncooked state.  Awesome.  He also has made one about fireworks that I love and you should watch that one too.

This next one is all done with post-it notes:

Talk about an awesomely economical solution to animation.  I would say at the very most, he spent $20 on post-its.  And the rest is just a blank wall, a camera, and time.

This next one is all done with dice and is the music video to Fujiya & Miyagi‘s song Ankle Injuries.

That must have taken a lot of patience to do.  Simple, beautiful, totally effective.

This final one is all done with illustrations on t-shirts by two guys called Rhett and Link.

They also have a making of video that is really entertaining and shows how they managed to get everything to line up.  Like PES, this video has done some great things for their career.  They went on to make another commercial for Coke and McDonalds based on this t-shirt war idea.  That is big time awesome from something they were just messing around with.

Guy walks across America

It’s Day 3 of stop-motion animation week.  And today I want to share this amazing piece with you all.  First, the film, then the reasons it is so awesome:

Now that you have seen what I’m talking about here is why it is even cooler.  They ACTUALLY DID IT.  What I mean is that a group of guys actually got in an RV and actually drove across the US to take all those photos of the actor in all those places. For reals. They could have just filmed the guy walking on a blue screen and then added in the background later.  But they didn’t.  THEY ACTUALLY DROVE CROSS COUNTRY to do this.  And that just makes me happy.

Here is another short film about how they did what they did:

Time Lapse + Stop Motion = AWESOME.

Aardman Studios

So I’ve decided to keep going with this stop motion animation theme this week. I want to share a few shorts from one of my favorite animation studios, Aardman.  Aardman Studios is a British animation house founded in 1976 by Peter Lord and David Sproxton. They started as a low budget studio making claymation shorts as part of a children’s television series for the BBC.  Their big break came as a result of the work of Nick Park, one of their younger associates.  In 1990, his short Creature Comforts won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film (more on that in a minute).  Park went on to create what is arguably Aardman’s biggest success, the fabulous duo Wallace & Gromit.  Of the three original short films featuring the pair (A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers, A Close Shave), two won Oscars.  They’ve even made a feature length film: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.  They’ve also released a series of shorts on the web featuring the two.  Here is one of my favorites:

In 2007, an American-ized version of Creature Comforts was made.  They made 7 episodes but only ever aired 3.  They put it on in an odd time slot, didn’t advertise it well and then wondered why ratings were low.  Instead of letting people come to the program naturally, they booted it early and replaced it with reruns of another sit-com. How some TV executives get to be in charge of ANYTHING is beyond me.  At any rate, I found the new version to be just as hilarious as the original and was sad they never made more. The premise of the show is that the producers went around and interviewed regular people about regular things.  Those voices were then used as the dialog track and animal characters were animated around the conversations.  Each show is centered around a theme (attraction, loss, travel, favorite things to eat and so on).  Here is one of my favorite bits where every one is talking about art:

Aardman also has a bit of a naughty side.  One of my favorite examples of that is a series of shorts called Angry KidAngry Kid is a vile, foul mouthed, booger picking teenager who ends up in all sorts of trouble, much of it entirely of his own making.  The animation technique is actually quite unique.  Instead of an entirely clay character, Angry Kid is a full grown person.  The animation is all done in the face which is a mask that is replaced or changed repeatedly.  The person is moved just like a puppet by the director as you would a clay character.  Here is an example of one of my favorites:

I totally recommend you work your way through the whole series.  Be forewarned – there is a fair amount of naughty language and gross-out situational comedy. If those things don’t bother you, go nuts.  Those things don’t usually do it for me, but some how when it is all done with a British accent, I find it hilarious.  Go fig.

Stop Motion Animation

I love love love stop motion animation.  I’ve played with it for years, I’ve taught it to elementary and middle school kids and the more I do it, the more I love it.  I especially love seeing what other artists are doing with the medium.  Here is a new favorite and a few classics.

This film uses a moving, layered approach to stop motion that I find absolutely captivating.  It also makes me a little emotional.  The older I get, the more aware I am of how quickly time passes.  And to see it all sped up like this, well, gosh. Its a bit overwhelming. But sentimentality aside, this film really is a little piece of brilliance.

A lot of the techniques used in the previous film have been experimented with for years.  Here is an earlier work in a similar vein done entirely with polaroids.

And finally, this is one of my all time favorites. This is the music video for Oren Lavie’s song Her Morning Elegance. I love the whimsy and the very happy/sad quality of the whole thing.

My favorites list on youtube contains lots and lots of stop motion animation. I’m thinking I might have to make a stop motion animation week to share all of my favorites with you, dear readers.  Sound good?