August 27th, 2006
The things one finds wandering in a landscape: familiar things and utterly unknown, like a flower one has never seen before, or, as Columbus discovered, an inexplicable continent;
and then, behind a hill, as if knitted by giant grandmothers, lies this vast rabbit, to make you feel as small as a daisy.
The toilet-paper-pink creature lies on its back: a rabbit-mountain like Gulliver in Lilliput. Happy you feel as you climb up along its ears, almost falling into its cavernous mouth, to the belly-summit and look out over the pink woolen landscape of the rabbitís body, a country dropped from the sky;
ears and limbs sneaking into the distance; from its side flowing heart, liver and intestines.
Happily in love you step down the decaying corpse, through the wound, now small like a maggot, over woolen kidney and bowel.
Happy you leave like the larva that gets its wings from an innocent carcass at the roadside.
Such is the happiness which made this rabbit.
i love the rabbit the rabbit loves me.
After almost 5 years of knitting the rabbit found its final place in the italian alps (close to Cuneo). It waits there to be visited by you. You might even take your time or check back every now and then as the rabbit will wait for you 20 years from now on.
August 25th, 2006
Max Streicher is a sculptor and installation artist from Toronto. Since 1991 he has worked extensively with kinetic inflatable forms. He has exhibited his work across Canada in numerous public galleries and artist-run centres. He has completed several site-related projects, most recently in Venice, Siena, Stockholm and Erfurt, Germany. He was a founding member of the Nethermind collective of artists which organized four large exhibitions in alternative spaces in Toronto between 1991 and 1995.
Inflatables have had an important place in my work since 1991. In most of these sculptures and installations I have used industrial fans and simple valve mechanisms to animate sewn forms with lifelike gestures. My use of light and papery materials, like Tyvek (and more recently nylon spinnaker), has been significant to the character of their development, specifically to my focus on movement. The weightlessness of this material allows it to respond with surprising subtlety to the action of air within it. I use air to animate my work because it provides an effortless naturalism. It not only looks right, it feels right, recollecting our sensation of breath.Inflatables are the medium of enchantment, fantasy and optimism, but things do go wrong. Take the Hindenburg, for example. Macy’s Parade balloon characters occasionally crash into the crowd. In my work the distress behind the whimsy takes different forms. Scale is one factor. My giants, for example, are intended to overwhelm. In contrast to similar commercial counterparts, they are out of control. They appear to struggle, but why and to what end? However that sense of disruption is read also depends on what the individual viewer brings to the work. For some, gasping for breath, endlessly straining to rise, portray an image of playfulness, and even resurrection, while for others it is distinctly an image of torture. Both cases however involve physical empathy, a bodily recognition of the elemental—powerful and tenuous—forces that animate us all.
August 19th, 2006
Artist and curator Sutapa Biswas is of Indian origin and has studied Fine Arts in several different UK universities. Her photographs, strongly marked by a recurring bodily presence, explore themes of dislocation and individual identity, referring to her own experience as an international curator based in London.
August 18th, 2006
Stina Persson has lived, studied and worked in Tokyo, New York, Florence and Lund, Sweden, where she was born. She says her illustration style is basically about “finding the right balance between the edgy and the elegant the raw and the beautiful.” To achieve this, she uses ink, watercolor and gouache, as well as Mexican cut paper (used at ceremonies and festivals). Recent projects include the poster for the musical Billy Elliott, the cover for the magazine Flaunt and a summer campaign for Absolut. She is featured in Laird Borelli’s new book “Fashion Illustration Next”, Pao & Paw’s “Clin D’Oiel” as well as the Italian book “Fashionize” by Delicatessen. Stina now lives and works in Stockholm with her journalist husband and son Astor.
Stina’s work has appeared in many publications, including Elle (UK, Swe, Greece, Brazil) , Flaunt, Marie Claire (US, UK, Spain), Nylon, Jane , AMICA (Ger), übersee (Ger), CosmoGirl, Io Donna, Travel & Leisure, Gourmet (Swe), Self , Madame (Ger).
Among Stina’s corporate clients are Absolut Vodka, Godiva Chocolatier, Atlantic Records, Macy’s Department Store, Bloomingdale’s, UNIQLO, American Eagle Outfitters, The Creative Partnership, Volvo Japan, Franco Sarto Shoes, 2K T-shirts, Björn Borg Clothing, DKNY, Ballentine’s Mumm Lillet brand of liquor, Goldwell Styling products, and the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation.
August 17th, 2006
It’s like sex, cigarettes, moshing and grinding, and rock and roll have revived from all of these vintage photographs.
All thumbs up.
Photographer Sue Rynski is a cult figure of the pre-punk/punk rock scene, which she documented during 1977-82 in Detroit. Trained in Paris, at Rhode Island School of Design, and at University of Michigan, she found artistic inspiration in the re-emergence of powerful, original rock music. The transfer of energy from performer to photographer is evident in her work, which captures movement and emotion live and up close.
Rynski was chief photographer for the legendary White Noise magazine, Paul Zimmerman and Jerry “Vile” Peterson’s first Detroit publication. Her photos also appeared in the local, national, and international music and mainstream press, as well as being in demand by the bands. She was nominated for Best Photographer in the first Michigan Rock Awards. In 1983-84, she briefly took the stage herself as lead singer of psychedelic pop rock band Batteur Attaqué.
She believes that music is a precious cultural and artistic heritage, especially Detroit’s original music. Her photo archives preserve a highly creative era in rock history. Artists photographed include Detroit’s own as well as the other well known U.S. and British bands of the period. A selection from Sue Rynski’s archives is exhibited at Detroit’s cpop gallery.
August 17th, 2006
Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown in an old, ultra-violent student cartoon that takes off on the Peanuts gang, turning them into a cast of savage murders hunting a berzerk, mohawked, Taxi-Driveresque Charlie Brown. (Thanks, Jon!)
Update: Adam sez, “Thought you might like to know that the “Ultra-violent Charlie Brown student film” you posted on Boing Boing was made by Jim Reardon, a Simpsons director who’s currently working on a Pixar project. Another Simpsons director, Rich Moore (who was also a supervising director of Futurama), is mentioned in the credits as one of the voices for Charlie Brown.”
Extracted from http://boingboing.net/
August 16th, 2006
Extracted from a book, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Like what mk had said, art as good as drugs.
In the Brave New World of my fable there was no whisky, no tobacco, no illicit heroin, no bootlegged cocaine. People neither smoked, nor drank, nor sniffed, nor gave themselves injections. Whenever anyone felt depressed or below par, he would swallow a tablet or two of a chemical compound called soma. The original soma, from which I took the name of this hypothetical drug, was an unknown plant (possibly Asclepias aeida) used by the ancient Aryan invaders of India in one of the most solemn of their religious rites. The intoxicating juice expressed from the stems of this plant was drunk by the priests and nobles in the course of an elaborate ceremony. In the Vedic hymns we are told that the drinkers of soma were blessed in many ways. Their bodies were strengthened, their hearts were filled with courage, joy and enthusiasm, their minds were enlightened and in an immediate experience of eternal life they received the assurance of their immortality. But the sacred juice had its drawbacks. Soma was a dangerous drug — so dangerous that even the great sky-god, Indra, was sometimes made ill by drinking it. Ordinary mortals might even die of an overdose. But the experience was so transcendently blissful and enlightening that soma drinking was regarded as a high privilege. For this privilege no price was too great.
The soma of Brave New World had none of the drawbacks of its Indian original. In small doses it brought a sense of bliss, in larger doses it made you see visions and, if you took three tablets, you would sink in a few minutes into refreshing sleep. And all at no physiological or mental cost. The Brave New Worlders could take holidays from their black moods, or from the familiar annoyances of everyday life, without sacrificing their health or permanently reducing their efficiency.
In the Brave New World the soma habit was not a private vice; it was a political institution, it was the very essence of the Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. But this most precious of the subjects’ inalienable privileges was at the same time one of the most powerful instruments of rule in the dictator’s armory. The systematic drugging of individuals for the benefit of the State (and incidentally, of course, for their own delight) was a main plank in the policy of the World Controllers. The daily soma ration was an insurance against personal maladjustment, social unrest and the spread of subversive ideas. Religion, Karl Marx declared, is the opium of the people. In the Brave New World this situation was reversed. Opium, or rather soma, was the people’s religion. Like religion, the drug had power to console and compensate, it called up visions of another, better world, it offered hope, strengthened faith and promoted charity. Beer, a poet has written,
. . .does more than Milton can
To justify God’s ways to man.
And let us remember that, compared with soma, beer is a drug of the crudest and most unreliable kind. In this matter of justifying God’s ways to man, soma is to alcohol as alcohol is to the theological arguments of Milton.
In 1931, when I was writing about the imaginary synthetic by means of which future generations would be made both happy and docile, the well-known American biochemist, Dr. Irvine Page, was preparing to leave Germany, where he had spent the three preceding years at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, working on the chemistry of the brain. “It is hard to understand,” Dr. Page has written in a recent article, “why it took so long for scientists to get around to investigating the chemical reactions in their own brains. I speak,” he adds, “from acute personal experience. When I came home in 1931 . . . I could not get a job in this field (the field of brain chemistry) or stir a ripple of interest in it.” Today, twenty-seven years later, the non-existent ripple of 1931 has become a tidal wave of biochemical and psychopharmacological research. The enzymes which regulate the workings of the brain are being studied. Within the body, hitherto unknown chemical substances such as adrenochrome and serotonin (of which Dr. Page was a co-discoverer) have been isolated and their far-reaching effects on our mental and physical functions are now being investigated. Meanwhile new drugs are being synthesized — drugs that reinforce or correct or interfere with the actions of the various chemicals, by means of which the nervous system performs its daily and hourly miracles as the controller of the body, the instrument and mediator of consciousness. From our present point of view, the most interesting fact about these new drugs is that they temporarily alter the chemistry of the brain and the associated state of the mind without doing any permanent damage to the organism as a whole. In this respect they are like soma — and profoundly unlike the mind-changing drugs of the past. For example, the classical tranquillizer is opium. But opium is a dangerous drug which, from neolithic times down to the present day, has been making addicts and ruining health. The same is true of the classical euphoric, alcohol — the drug which, in the words of the Psalmist, “maketh glad the heart of man.” But unfortunately alcohol not only maketh glad the heart of man; it also, in excessive doses, causes illness and addiction, and has been a main source, for the last eight or ten thousand years, of crime, domestic unhappiness, moral degradation and avoidable accidents.
Among the classical stimulants, tea, coffee and maté are, thank goodness, almost completely harmless. They are also very weak stimulants. Unlike these “cups that cheer but not inebriate,” cocaine is a very powerful and a very dangerous drug. Those who make use of it must pay for their ecstasies, their sense of unlimited physical and mental power, by spells of agonizing depression, by such horrible physical symptoms as the sensation of being infested by myriads of crawling insects and by paranoid delusions that may lead to crimes of violence. Another stimulant of more recent vintage is amphetamine, better known under its trade name of Benzedrine. Amphetamine works very effectively — but works, if abused, at the expense of mental and physical health. It has been reported that, in Japan, there are now about one million amphetamine addicts.
Of the classical vision-producers the best known are the peyote of Mexico and the southwestern United States and Cannabis sativa, consumed all over the world under such names as hashish, bhang, kif and marihuana. According to the best medical and anthropological evidence, peyote is far less harmful than the White Man’s gin or whisky. It permits the Indians who use it in their religious rites to enter paradise, and to feel at one with the beloved community, without making them pay for the privilege by anything worse than the ordeal of having to chew on something with a revolting flavor and of feeling somewhat nauseated for an hour or two. Cannabis sativa is a less innocuous drug — though not nearly so harmful as the sensation-mongers would have us believe. The Medical Committee, appointed in 1944 by the Mayor of New York to investigate the problem of marihuana, came to the conclusion, after careful investigation, that Cannabis sativa is not a serious menace to society, or even to those who indulge in it. It is merely a nuisance.
From these classical mind-changes we pass to the latest products of psychopharmacological research. Most highly publicized of these are the three new tranquillizers, reserpine, chlorpromazine and meprobamate. Administered to certain classes of psychotics, the first two have proved to be remarkably effective, not in curing mental illnesses, but at least in temporarily abolishing their more distressing symptoms. Meprobamate (alias Miltown) produces similar effects in persons suffering from various forms of neurosis. None of these drugs is perfectly harmless; bu
t their cost, in terms of physical health and mental efficiency, is extraordinarily low. In a world where nobody gets anything for nothing tranquillizers offer a great deal for very little. Miltown and chlorpromazine are not yet soma; but they come fairly near to being one of the aspects of that mythical drug. They provide temporary relief from nervous tension without, in the great majority of cases, inflicting permanent organic harm, and without causing more than a rather slight impairment, while the drug is working, of intellectual and physical efficiency. Except as narcotics, they are probably to be preferred to the barbiturates, which blunt the mind’s cutting edge and, in large doses, cause a number of undesirable psychophysical symptoms and may result in a full-blown addiction.
In LSD-25 (lysergic acid diethylamide) the pharmacologists have recently created another aspect of soma — a perception-improver and vision-producer that is, physiologically speaking, almost costless. This extraordinary drug, which is effective in doses as small as fifty or even twenty-five millionths of a gram, has power (like peyote) to transport people into the other world. In the majority of cases, the other world to which LSD-25 gives access is heavenly; alternatively it may be purgatorial or even infernal. But, positive, or negative, the lysergic acid experience is felt by almost everyone who undergoes it to be profoundly significant and enlightening. In any event, the fact that minds can be changed so radically at so little cost to the body is altogether astonishing.
Soma was not only a vision-producer and a tranquillizer; it was also (and no doubt impossibly) a stimulant of mind and body, a creator of active euphoria as well as of the negative happiness that follows the release from anxiety and tension.
The ideal stimulant — powerful but innocuous — still awaits discovery. Amphetamine, as we have seen, was far from satisfactory; it exacted too high a price for what it gave. A more promising candidate for the role of soma in its third aspect is Iproniazid, which is now being used to lift depressed patients out of their misery, to enliven the apathetic and in general to increase the amount of available psychic energy. Still more promising, according to a distinguished pharmacologist of my acquaintance, is a new compound, still in the testing stage, to be known as Deaner. Deaner is an amino-alcohol and is thought to increase the production of acetyl-choline within the body, and thereby to increase the activity and effectiveness of the nervous system. The man who takes the new pill needs less sleep, feels more alert and cheerful, thinks faster and better — and all at next to no organic cost, at any rate in the short run. It sounds almost too good to be true.
We see then that, though soma does not yet exist (and will probably never exist), fairly good substitutes for the various aspects of soma have already been discovered. There are now physiologically cheap tranquillizers, physiologically cheap vision-producers and physiologically cheap stimulants.
That a dictator could, if he so desired, make use of these drugs for political purposes is obvious. He could ensure himself against political unrest by changing the chemistry of his subjects’ brains and so making them content with their servile condition. He could use tranquillizers to calm the excited, stimulants to arouse enthusiasm in the indifferent, halluciants to distract the attention of the wretched from their miseries. But how, it may be asked, will the dictator get his subjects to take the pills that will make them think, feel and behave in the ways he finds desirable? In all probability it will be enough merely to make the pills available. Today alcohol and tobacco are available, and people spend considerably more on these very unsatisfactory euphorics, pseudo-stimulants and sedatives than they are ready to spend on the education of their children. Or consider the barbiturates and the tranquillizers. In the United States these drugs can be obtained only on a doctor’s prescription. But the demand of the American public for something that will make life in an urban-industrial environment a little more tolerable is so great that doctors are now writing prescriptions for the various tranquillizers at the rate of forty-eight millions a year. Moreover, a majority of these prescriptions are refilled. A hundred doses of happiness are not enough: send to the drugstore for another bottle — and, when that is finished, for another. . . . There can be no doubt that, if tranquillizers could be bought as easily and cheaply as aspirin, they would be consumed, not by the billions, as they are at present, but by the scores and hundreds of billions. And a good, cheap stimulant would be almost as popular.
Under a dictatorship pharmacists would be instructed to change their tune with every change of circumstances. In times of national crisis it would be their business to push the sale of stimulants. Between crises, too much alertness and energy on the part of his subjects might prove embarrassing to the tyrant. At such times the masses would be urged to buy tranquillizers and vision-producers. Under the influence of these soothing syrups they could be relied upon to give their master no trouble.
As things now stand, the tranquillizers may prevent some people from giving enough trouble, not only to their rulers, but even to themselves. Too much tension is a disease; but so is too little. There are certain occasions when we ought to be tense, when an excess of tranquillity (and especially of tranquillity imposed from the outside, by a chemical) is entirely inappropriate.
At a recent symposium on meprobamate, in which I was a participant, an eminent biochemist playfully suggested that the United States government should make a free gift to the Soviet people of fifty billion doses of this most popular of the tranquillizers. The joke had a serious point to it. In a contest between two populations, one of which is being constantly stimulated by threats and promises, constantly directed by one-pointed propaganda, while the other is no less constantly being distracted by television and tranquillized by Miltown, which of the opponents is more likely to come out on top?
As well as tranquillizing, hallucinating and stimulating, the soma of my fable had the power of heightening suggestibility, and so could be used to reinforce the effects of governmental propaganda. Less effectively and at a higher physiological cost, several drugs already in the pharmacopoeia can be used for the same purpose. There is scopolamine, for example, the active principle of henbane and, in large doses, a powerful poison; there are pentothal and sodium amytal. Nicknamed for some odd reason “the truth serum,” pentothal has been used by the police of various countries for the purpose of extracting confessions from (or perhaps suggesting confessions to) reluctant criminals. Pentothal and sodium amytal lower the barrier between the conscious and the subconscious mind and are of great value in the treatment of “battle fatigue” by the process known in England as “abreaction therapy,” in America as “narcosynthesis.” It is said that these drugs are sometimes employed by the Communists, when preparing important prisoners for their public appearance in court.
Meanwhile pharmacology, biochemistry and neurology are on the march, and we can be quite certain that, in the course of the next few years, new and better chemical methods for increasing suggestibility and lowering psychological resistance will be discovered. Like everything else, these discoveries may be used well or badly. They may help the psychiatrist in his battle against mental illness, or they may help the dictator in his battle against freedom. More probably (since science is divinely impartial) they will both enslave and make free, heal and at the same time destroy.