Saturday, 31 May 2008

Favourite Scenes: THE GREAT DICTATOR

It has been something of a political week (though not by design) on the Wire so I suppose it's appropriate that this is the current favourite scene. I selected it before the last, but it's arrival is timely.

The ending scene from The Great Dictator is a heartfelt plea that remains surprisingly relevant. The mention of the "aeroplane and radio" is easily applied to modern transport and communication. "The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all." As for prejudice, greed, war... we haven't outgrown those either.

At this point in the film, Charlie Chaplin is less a character than his self and looks directly at the audience. It's startling and the conviction with which he delivers the speech is hypnotic. Below are the original speech as well as an effective version from Duffy23 featuring music and mixing from the brilliant Lasse Gjertsen.


original


Lasse Gjertsen mix

Here is the full text of the Look up, Hannah speech:
"Hope... I'm sorry but I don't want to be an Emperor - that's not my business - I don't want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that.

We all want to live by each other's happiness, not by each other's misery. We don't want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone.

The way of life can be free and beautiful.

But we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men's souls - has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.

We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in: machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little: More than machinery we need humanity; More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me I say 'Do not despair'.

The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress: the hate of men will pass and dictators die and the power they took from the people, will return to the people and so long as men die [now] liberty will never perish...

Soldiers - don't give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you - who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder.

Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines. You are not cattle. You are men. You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don't hate - only the unloved hate. Only the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers - don't fight for slavery, fight for liberty.

In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written " the kingdom of God is within man " - not one man, nor a group of men - but in all men - in you, the people!

You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let's use that power - let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfil their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfil that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men's happiness.

Soldiers - in the name of democracy, let us all unite!

Look up! Look up! The clouds are lifting - the sun is breaking through. We are coming out of the darkness into the light. We are coming into a new world. A kind new world where men will rise above their hate and brutality.

The soul of man has been given wings - and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow - into the light of hope - into the future, that glorious future that belongs to you, to me and to all of us. Look up. Look up."
Links:
The Great Dictator (Roger Ebert)
The Great Dictator Wiki
The Great Dictator (BFI)

From Another Shore

For those of you in New York, there's an excellent opportunity to see an impressive selection of Icelandic artists at Scandinavia House (just four blocks south of Grand Central Station).
"This survey of contemporary Icelandic art from the National Gallery of Iceland includes sculpture, installation, painting, photography, and videos by 21 of Iceland’s most acclaimed artists: Þórdís Aðalsteinsdóttir, Olga Bergmann, Hildur Bjarnadóttir, Margrét H. Blöndal, Ólafur Elíasson, Steingrímur Eyfjörð, Gabríela Friðriksdóttir, Hulda Hákon, The Icelandic Love Corporation (Sigrún Hrólfsdóttir, Jóní Jónsdóttir, and Eirún Sigurðardóttir), Guðný Rósa Ingimarsdóttir, Hekla Dögg Jónsdóttir, Ragnar Kjartansson, Ólöf Nordal, Jón Óskar, Eggert Pétursson, Katrín Sigurðardóttir, Hrafnkell Sigurðsson, Magnús Sigurðarson, and Hulda Stefánsdóttir."
The show will run through to August 15, 2008.

Links:
Scandinavia House
LIST (Icelandic Art News)
Icelandic Love Corporation interview (SiouxWIRE)
Katrín Sigurðardóttir (SiouxWIRE)
Gabríela Friðriksdóttir (SiouxWIRE)

Friday, 30 May 2008

CIRCLE OF FEAR... or doughnut

What would T.E. Lawrence make of THIS? By these standards, McDonalds' uniform is reminiscent of Benito Mussolini or as one reply to the BBC article states, this "is like saying that UPS should change its brown uniform because it pleases the Hitler Youth."
"The US chain Dunkin' Donuts has pulled an advert following complaints that the scarf worn by a celebrity chef offered symbolic support for Islamic extremism."
Further insight into the mind that put forward this paranoid and reactionary thesis can be seen HERE. This ignorance reminds me of the case of Balbir Singh Sodhi who was gunned down in Arizona four days after 9/11. His killer bragged beforehand that he would "kill the ragheads responsible for September 11".

Links:

BBC News
Fox News

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Introducing MAMORU TSUKADA

Mamoru Tsukada has some intriguing work in his portfolio. From Tokyo Art Beat:
"Mamoru Tsukada was born in Nagano prefecture in 1962. After studying photography in the U.S, he is currently based in Tokyo. He started his career as a photographer taking pictures of blind people. Blind people build their visual experience through their other senses and the image they create in their brain differs from our reality. Tsukada gets his artistic inspiration from working with them. He explores how an image functions, by making photographs that deviate from reality to arouse the unconsciousness."



Links:
Mamoru Tsukada (Asian Photography Blog) - SOURCE
Mamoru Tsukada (Tomio Koyama Gallery)
Mamoru Tsukaka (Hangar.org)
Tokyo Art Beat

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

NATIONAL PRIORITIES

The National Priorities Project aims to bring clarity to the US Federal Budget through number crunching and contextualization of the resulting costs.



Links:
National Priorities Project
NPP (YouTube)
NPP Wiki
NPP Myspace (official?)

Monday, 26 May 2008

CINEMATIC TYPOGRAPHY

The following is a selection of typographic animations based on movie scenes. It's interesting to see how they flow, influence and enhance the dialogue.



Sunday, 25 May 2008

Baz Luhrmann's AUSTRALIA

"Australia is Baz Luhrmann's first feature film since the 2001 musical success Moulin Rouge! The highly anticipated film centres on an English aristocrat in the 1930s, played by Nicole Kidman, who comes to northern Australia to sell a cattle property the size of Belgium. After an epic journey across the country with a rough-hewn drover, Hugh Jackman, they are caught in the bombing of Darwin during World War II. Filming began late April 2007 & concluded December 19th 2007. The film is slated for a November 13 2008 release."

The teaser trailer for Australia is below. For additional viewing options, visit the official site HERE.



After enjoying Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge!, I'm looking forward to seeing his approach to this film which looks like a departure from his earlier work. Also, I highly recommend Nick Cave's The Proposition which (like the recently mentioned Dead Man) viscerally presents a convincing representation of a gritty period of history and like Luhrmann's latest is set in Australia.

I haven't enjoyed everything from Luhrmann but that doesn't diminish my admiration for his work which began with this gentle gem:



Links:
Australia
Bazmark Inq (official Baz Luhrmann site)
Baz Luhrmann Wiki
Baz the Great! (fansite)

Friday, 23 May 2008

BILL HICKS is made of bricks

“Bill Hicks–blowtorch, excavator, truth-sayer, and brain specialist, like a reverend waving a gun around. He will correct your vision. Others will drive on the road he built.” – Tom Waits



Links:
Bill Hicks
Bill Hicks Wiki
The Gospel According to Hicks (GQ Magazine)
Bill Hicks (Spike Magazine)
Bill Hicks (BBC)

Featurette: Húbert Nói Jóhannesson

One day when I live in Reykjavik, I hope I'll actually be able to go to one of these. This new show at Gallery Turpentine is featuring the work of Húbert Nói.

From CIA(Center for Icelandic Art):
Húbert Nói (b. 1961) studied biology, geology and chemistry at the University of Iceland in addition to his studies at the Icelandic College of Art and Crafts. While painting forms the core of his artwork, his diverse oeuvre includes drawings, etchings, videos, and even a CD of real-time music for astronauts. His creative work can be conceptualized as a sort of contemporary alchemy: transforming the scientific into the spiritual.


Links:
Húbert Nói
Húbert Nói interview (LIST)
Gallery Turpentine
CIA (Center for Icelandic Art)

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Favourite Scenes: DEAD MAN

Jim Jarmusch certainly ranks among my favourite film makers and I can track key events in my life through the release of his films. I saw Dead Man on the day of its release(1996) in London and having seen Jarmusch's earlier works, this was surprising. I have several scenes I love in this film, but the one scene that has lingered with me all these years is one in which the protagonist William Blake(Johnny Depp) embraces a dead fawn in the forest.

I have read numerous interpretations of this scene and generally speaking they're all quite interesting, but I believe it is our protagonist literally embracing death. Up until this point in the film, he has been running from the truth ("but I'm not dead") and in his vision quest for which his discovery of the fawn is a part, he finally understands Nobody(Gary Farmer)'s view that death is inherently a part of the fabric of life. In facing this truth, he finds peace and this scene perfectly illustrates this.

Aesthetically, the way the black and white film exaggerates the textures of the leaves, the fawn, the fur of Blake's coat, and the plaid of his trousers is rich and earthy. The appearance of his black hat in the top-down view of the scene is almost like a hole in the ground. Everything blends and in death, everything returns to the earth and in the stillness of this scene, it looks beautiful and tranquil.

The scene also reminds me personally of a time when my mum went mushroom picking in Washington State and one day found a mortally wounded deer in the forest. It had been shot and left. She stayed with it until it breathed its last and came home without the mushrooms but returned instead with a story. I was 10 years old at the time.


Dead Man trailer

Links:
Dead Man analysis (The Film Journal)
Jim Jarmusch Dead Man Q&A (NY Trash)
Jim Jarmusch (Senses of Cinema)
Jim Jarmusch Wiki
Jim Jarmusch interview (The Guardian)

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

SiouxWIRE Snippets 9.0


Cannes: The decline of the world's leading film festival
Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent
Busy, expensive, and bureaucratic?

Wines Pleasures: Are They All in Your Head?
Eric Asimov, The New York Times
As an art, the perception of wines is dependent on more than what's in the bottle.

There's Beauty in Limbo
Chloe Veltman, ARTSJOURNAL
How should we approach unfinished artworks and why do we feel compelled to finish them?

Older Brain May Really Be a Wiser Brain
Sara Reistad-Long, The New York Times
"When older people can no longer remember names at a cocktail party, they tend to think that their brainpower is declining. But a growing number of studies suggest that this assumption is often wrong."

Little Orphan Artworks
Lawrence Lessig, The New York Times
"In a digital age, knowing the law should be simple and cheap. Congress should be pushing for rules that encourage clarity, not more work for copyright experts."

Hearing music that isn't there
The British Psychological Society, Research Digest Blog
An interesting piece on musical hallucinosis.


“I see a new, pervasive and global condition of fundamentalist violence directed against dissident images and thought”

Chris Bratton, The Art Newspaper


Monday, 19 May 2008

Postcard as Diamond



I have a small request from all of you that requires very little effort but will mean a great deal to a sick little boy for whom a calendar has become a countdown. Diagnosed with leukemia some months ago, he is beyond treatment and to keep himself going, he has taken to collecting postcards sent from various places. He's a part of my extended family and is currently living in Poland. At just 8 years old, it's an absolute tragedy.

What I'm asking is that anyone out there who is willing to send him a postcard, email me at sioux(at)siouxfire.com and I'll send along his name and address. For him, a postcard is a source of wonder and inspiration.

And for those of you who have blogs, please feel free to duplicate this post as you see fit.

All the best,
Sioux

Links:
Children with Leukemia (childhood cancer charity)
Leukemia Research (UK)
Leukemia (UCSF Children's Hospital)
Leukemia Wiki

NOTE: The image above features my own son and not the person in question

Friday, 16 May 2008

Ari Folman's WALTZ WITH BASHIR

One of the first films from this year's Cannes to cause a stir is Ari Folman's animated feature Waltz with Bashir.

The synopsis from the official site:
One night at a bar, an old friend tells director Ari Folman about a recurring nightmare in which he is chased by 26 vicious dogs. Every night, the same number of beasts. The two men conclude that there’s a connection to their Israeli Army mission in the first Lebanon War of the early eighties. Ari is surprised that he can’t remember a thing anymore about that period of his life.

Intrigued by this riddle, he decides to meet and interview old friends and comrades around the world. He needs to discover the truth about that time and about himself. As Ari delves deeper and deeper into the mystery, his memory begins to creep up in surreal images …





Links:
Waltz with Bashir
Animation tipped for Cannes glory (BBC)
Waltz with Bashir (GreenCine Daily)
Folman's confession thrills Cannes (Guardian)
Ari Folman (IMDB)

LORCAN FINNEGAN's video for Orba Squara's "Gravel"

This video was a little confection in an otherwise bitter day. EDIT: Lorcan has removed the video from his Vimeo page. Here's the YouTube version:



Links:
Gravel (Lovely Productions)
Gravel (No Fat Clips)
Lorcan Finnegan (MySpace)
Lorcan Finnegan (Vimeo)
Orba Squara
Orba Squara (MySpace)
Lorcan Finnegan (YouTube)
Lorcan Finnegan (BBC)

Introducing MARK LECKEY

Mark Leckey is the third introduction to the four nominees for this year's Turner Prize. I have to say it's refreshing to see an established artist with a MySpace page. In addition to being a fan of Doctor Who, Madame Bovary, and Little Richard, Leckey provides this to the point introduction:
I am a British artist. I show with the Cabinet in London, Gavin Brown's in New York and Buchholz Galerie in Cologne. I teach at the Stadelschule in Frankfurt and have a band called Jack too Jack....
In regard to his work, it is varied, often hybrid, and intrinsically modern. He is nominated for his solo exhibitions which incorporate sculpture, film, sound and performance.

Borborygmus in the Kunstvereins basement



Links:

Mark Leckey (MySpace)
JackTooJack (MySpace) - Mark Leckey's band
Mark Leckey (Guardian Unlimited)
Mark Leckey (Frieze)
Mark Leckey (ArtForum)
Mark Leckey (Manifesta 5)

Featurette: LAU NAU

Having just released her sophomore album Nukku, I just discovered the Finnish band Lau Nau over at Antville. Their music is wistful, spare, psychedelic folk; perfect listening while sitting on the lunar-like landscape at bottom of the ocean.

From Locust Music:
Lau Nau is the nom de plume of free spirited Finnish artist Laura Naukkarinen. Since the release of her celebrated debut full length Kuutarha on Chicago’s Locust Music in 2005, Lau Nau has enjoyed considerable recognition for her intimate & playful blend of ethnic tinged folk songs with curious & intuitive sounds conjured from familiar and exotic sound sources.
Here is a selection of Lau Nau's videos:



Lau Nau will be performing at the Clandestino festival, Göteborg, Sweden on June 14, 2008 at Koloni Klub.

Links:
Lau Nau
Lau Nau MySpace
Sami Sänpäkkilä (vimeo)
interview (Digital Industries)
Lau Nau (LastFM)
Lau Nau - Kuutarha review (Pitchfork)
Painovoimaa, Valoa Quicktime (Fonal)
Fonal Records
Locust Music

Thursday, 15 May 2008

The 2008 SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE Shortlist

"The judges for the 2008 BBC FOUR Samuel Johnson Prize announced the shortlist today, 15th May. Now in its tenth year the prize is the world’s richest non-fiction prize and is worth £30,000 to the winner.

The BBC FOUR Samuel Johnson Prize for Non Fiction Shortlist 2008

  • Blood River: A Journey to Africa’s Broken Heart by Tim Butcher (Vintage)
  • Crow Country by Mark Cocker (Jonathan Cape)
  • The Whisperers by Orlando Figes (Allen Lane)
  • The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V.S. Naipaul by Patrick French (Picador)
  • The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross (Fourth Estate)
  • The Suspicions of Mr Whicher Or The Murder at Road Hill House by Kate Summerscale (Bloomsbury)

Rosie Boycott, Chair of the judges, comments:

“This superb list of books captures both the surface and the underbelly of human existence in all its myriad variations. There is murder, betrayal, brutality, beauty and tales of the unexpected. In every instance, it is the power and the quality of the writing that has drawn us to this eclectic selection - and, as judges, it has been our great privilege to discover and help promote this award-winning short list. All six books are ones which changed the way we looked at the world, they are all ones we are eager to pass onto others. To quote Yeats ‘He, too, has been changed in his turn / Transformed utterly / A terrible beauty is born.’” (Easter 1916)

Rosie Boycott is joined by an eclectic panel of judges who offer a wide range of literary, journalistic and academic experience. They are literary editor of the Guardian, Claire Armitstead; poet, Daljit Nagra; Director of the Science Museum, Chris Rapley; and documentary maker and journalist, Hannah Rothschild.

The judges will announce the winner of the Prize at an awards event in the Ballroom of the Royal Festival Hall at the Southbank Centre, London on 15th July. The winner receives £30,000, and each of the five shortlisted authors, £1,000."

Links:
Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction
Blood River - Tim Butcher
Crow Country - Mark Cocker (Guardian Unlimited)
The Whisperers - Orlando Figes
The World is What It Is - Patrick French (Guardian Unlimited)
The Rest is Noise - Alex Ross
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher - Kate Summerscale (Guardian Unlimited)

Storytime: CHARLES BUKOWSKI reads "Bluebird"


It has been a long time since the last storytime. This is Charles Bukowski once again, this time reading his poem Bluebird.

The Reykjavík Arts Festival 2008

The Reykjavik Arts Festival has been held since 1970 featuring an international selection of artists. Since 2004, the original bi-annual schedule of the festival was made an annual event held each May. This year it will be held from the 15 May to 5 June.

The festival takes in a variety of artists with music representative of classical, pop, jazz, opera, and world as well as visual artists, seminars, theatre and dance. Some of the highlights of this year's festival include Croatian Contemporary Art at Gallerí 100°, the Experiment Marathon Reykjavík at the Reykjavík Art Museum (RAM) organized by the Serpentine Gallery(London), and what sounds to be a fascinating performance by the Iceland Dance Company and The Norwegian Company of Contemporary Dance featuring choreography by Ina Christel Johannessen and music composed by two Icelandic musicians, Kira Kira and Hildur I. Gudnadottir, along with their German counterpart Dirk Desselhaus.




Links:
The Reykjavik Arts Festival

Cannes 2008 - Short film online competition

Having been selected by Danny Lennon from more than 650 submissions from around the world, the nine entries selected for the 2008 NFB online competition can be viewed below. Voting ends on May 19, 2008.

EDIT: Voting has ended and the videos have been removed. The winner will be announced on May 21, 2008.

Introducing RUNA ISLAM

The second introduction to the quartet of Turner Prize nominees, Runa Islam graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2004. Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 1970, she now works and resides in London.

From White Cube:
Runa Islam makes film and video installations that use overlapping layers of narrative to explore notions of truth and fiction, subjectivity and authorship. Islam installs her films in architectural configurations, frequently presenting them across two or three screens as a framing device. Her work aims to blur the distinctions between film and sculpture, art and cinema, and encourages a range of interpretations from viewers.





Links:
Runa Islam (White Cube)
Runa Islam - video excerpt (Artonfilm)
Runa Islam (Hammer Museum)
Runa Islam (Frieze Magazine)
Cinematic Effects: The art of Runa Islam (ArtForum)
Runa Islam images (Shugo Arts)
Runa Islam - Conditional Probability (Serpentine Gallery)
Runa Islam - CV (White Cube)
Runa Islam - Time takes a cigarette (White Cube)
Runa Islam interview (Kopenhagen.dk)
Runa Islam Q&A (White Cube)

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Featurette: FAR EAST RECORDING / OMODAKA

Japanese musician Soichi Terada is the founder and creative engine for Far East Recording. Omodaka is described as "...the name of [a] project developed through a trial and error process of mutational fusion of music and motion graphics. It will knock over your existing image toward a music video by a beautiful trajectory."

It's well outside my usual listening, but I really enjoy it. The videos are interesting as well. Here are some examples:




Links:
Far East Recording
FER/Omodaka profile (ZB's AtoZ of J-Music)
Far East Recording (YouTube)

Introducing CATHY WILKES

The first introduction to the four artists nominated for this year's Turner Prize, Cathy Wilkes was born in Belfast(1967). Her work is varied, precocious, feminine and as a whole surprisingly concise. A Borges-like symmetry and enigma emanate from her creations.

Cathy Wilkes currently lives and works in Glasgow. Her show for which she is nominated at the Milton Keynes Gallery runs through to June 8, 2008




Links:
Cathy Wilkes (The Modern Institute)
Cathy Wilkes (MAP Magazine)
Cathy Wilkes (Manifesta 5)
Cathy Wilkes (Milton Keynes Gallery)
Cathy Wilkes (Frieze)
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