Saturday, August 30, 2008

Big Questions... little payoffs.

The last week had me phoning friends to hash out my art-related anxieties. This came to mind...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


These plants are like astronauts on my windowsill--way out of their element, but doing fine.  They have no soil, only water.  The onion came from the grocery store, but was forgotten in a bag.  Once I saw how much it had grown, I decided to keep it around.  Eventually I'll pot them both, but for now I enjoy watching them.

I am continually amazed at plants' ability to build their bodies out of air.  They take in  atmospheric CO2 and use it to create more complex molecules like cellulose.  Thus, the spider plant on the right has been able to nearly double in size using only light, air, and water.


Read more about it here.

Photo by Michael McDevitt

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

One thing always leads to another, which somehow brings me back home: A study in latenight overkill

There was deviltry afoot in Seattle today. All day long, the people I met were acting edgy and aggressive, culminating in an actual brawl in my immediate vicinity. I was relieved to get back to my messy, little room.

Goofing around on my computer, I searched the terms Devil animation on Vimeo, which turned up this...

Devil's Revenge Demo from Erich carrle on Vimeo.

...which immediately made me think of this (if you're in a rush just check out the beginning of the 2nd part)...

The Mascot by Władysław Starewicz( aka Ladislas Starewicz)
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

...which I know about because of this...

I travelled up the eastern seaboard in an ice storm to see two performances by Tin Hat Trio. The first night I caught them in New York City at a Tom Waits tribute concert (which can be streamed here) while 6-8 inches of powder snow fell on Manhattan. The next day it was down to Philly, were I saw them perform their own score for Starewicz's animations. They are my favorite band, and I went far out of my way to see them while they were still together. In searching for that clip I came across this, the print version of which is published by Seattle's own Fantagraphics.

Frederick & Eloise, with music from Brian Biggs on Vimeo.

As if using the music of my favorite band weren't enough, it turns out that Brian Biggs made a video for another band that I adore. One Ring Zero are originally from Richmond, VA, where I had the pleasure of seeing them perform many times.

One Ring Zero: Stop Metric Madness from Brian Biggs on Vimeo.

The first time I saw ORZ perform, it was at the Pumpkin Pie Show, which is the wicked spawn of Clay McLeod Chapman. also from Richmond. If there was ever a prime example of animated deviltry, the Pumpkin Pie Show is it.

The End

Monday, August 4, 2008

A History of Movements

Film Still from Felix in Exile by William Kentridge

One of the fundamental myths of America is that it is possible to escape the past. We are enamored of the idea that we can live today as if yesterday never existed. We set off down the highway, ride into the sunset, board a plane, or simply change the channel.

The art of South African artist William Kentridge is a direct refutation of this notion. Kentridge creates his animations by drawing, erasing, and redrawing on a single page, rather than using a series of cells. The process leaves behind a history of all the movements that precede a given moment. When a paper blows through the air it leaves a faint trail. A house collapses but leaves behind the standing ghost of its former self.

The following two films were the best that I could dig up on YouTube. The first is a trailer for a film that focuses on the artist. The second is a bootleg of Felix in Exile.

I'm not sure if Kentridge is responsible for the surreal elements of the trailer. I suspect that they are the doing of the filmmakers, but would love some clarification on this point. I am also unsure if I have seen this film. Years ago, I watched an exceptional documentary about Kentridge that included excerpts from his animations, segments of interview, and footage of his creative process. I don't recall any surrealistic edge, but it was quite a long time ago.

I regret that the quality of this video is so poor. Nevertheless, it shows the film in its entirety and conveys a sense of Kentridge's work.

I intend to write more in depth posts on Kentridge in the future. In the meantime, I suggest that you all go to your local library or video store and look for DVDs of his animations. For a written interview with Kentridge go here.

Credit: Felix in Exile still jacked from Wikipedia.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


This fellow was emptying the trash can piece by piece. I suppose it struck him as silly to hide all that good food under so much rubbish.
Photos by Michael McDevitt