Posts Tagged ‘cyberspace’

How They Did It: That Crazy Sour Music Video

Published August 19, 2009 by Graham


Remember that music video for Sour’s “Hibi No Neiro” we posted? You know, the one with dazzling displays of intercontinental webcam synchronicity? We wanted to know how they did it. Somehow, dozens of individuals had filmed themselves responding to carefully crafted choreography, and the resulting mountain of footage had been combined into something far greater than the sum of its parts– a geometrically beautiful display of cyber-social cooperation, like some sort of remote flash mob. How do you pull something like that off?

The answer lies in the massive pooled talents of four clever filmmakers– a brain trust, if you will– at the helm of this mind-bogglingly complex music video, shot on a $0 budget. The aptly named co-director Magico Nakamura graciously granted us a peek inside the bag of tricks that brought the Sour video together, providing sketches, screenshots and even an exclusive rough draft of the video, showing off rad techniques that didn’t make the final cut.

How many people participated in the video, and where did you find them all?
More than 80 people were involved in the production. Most of them were Sour fans that we’d gathered from the band’s website, from other social networking sites and from contacts we’d gathered while making Sour’s other music videos.

Could the participants see any of the other webcams, or were they blindly relying on your directions?
We filmed everyone separately so there weren’t multiple webcams on the screen however, we made quite detailed animatics of the entire music video and would send it to the people before filming, so generally people had a fair idea of what they were contributing to.

This provided a helpful guide that helped the fans wrap their heads around the choreography. For the more complicated action i.e. the dance sequence, we created individual movie files that people used to practice with before filming began. They also used these as an on screen guide while we directed them.

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Searching the Archives

Published August 12, 2009 by Graham


Not long from now, the cinematic language of digging through the past will be irrevocably transformed. No longer will we believe in the thrilling sight of harried protagonists furiously spinning through reels of microfiche in the dim recesses of their local libraries, searching for that one obituary that promises to validate all of their fears and unravel the unthinkable mystery. Those same sequences of historical investigation will all be relegated to the much less theatrical setting of a glowing laptop screen, as Google News quickly spells out the twist ending without any of that exciting legwork.

Google announced this week that they were quadrupling the number of articles freely available in their News Archive Search. While this may rain on the parade of few hack screenwriters of made-for-TV movies, it’s definitely good news for the rest of us. Perhaps most exciting is their inclusion of the entire Village Voice back catalog, giving the world instant access to fifty years of New York’s art, culture and politics. Searching for Maurice Sendak brought up some interesting results.

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Brad Troemel Goes Jogging

Published July 10, 2009 by Graham


Once upon a time, Brad Troemel was an acclaimed young Chicago photographer who maintained a personal website full of clever and visually striking images organized in the typical portfolio way. He also ran an incomparably shrewd and culturally attuned blog on the side, full of funny and sad musings on art, sharp interviews with his heroes and contemporaries, and best of all, grotesquely marvelous found photos and video culled from depressing MySpace pages and party-photo sites for all ages Miami night clubs. Both of those sites are now gone.

Troemel’s new home on the information superhighway is an collective Tumblr page called Jogging. It’s not completely clear who else is the group, and that seems to be how Troemel likes it. Rather than producing artwork in the format of tidy projects to be archived on individual artists’ static websites, Jogging’s ephemeral and anonymous format enables Troemel and his conspirator(s) to create an endless stream of new material updated regularly– freeing them from consciously curating their own work. It also allows the artists to explore different mediums without forcing them to adhere to specific labels. For instance, a photogaph of a banana resting precariously on a rusty nail can be an “installation,” while an image of a potato suspended from a wall by a band-aid can be a “sculpture.” There’s a tounge-in-cheek commentary on the conceits and expectations of contemporary art running throughout the work on Jogging, and it’s that sense of humor that allows Troemel to transcend the formal seriousness the blog’s artwork seem to be founded upon.


In spite of Troemel’s somewhat convoluted concept (see: the only statement of any kind on the site, an erudite interview with Troemel conducted by fellow Vice magazine shooter Maciek Pozoga), the work itself is indelibly fun. Who doesn’t like to see the unsettling texture of Gogurt out of its ordinary context? Who isn’t curious to read a full-length spec script for a brand new episode of Friends? I especially like the solemnly methodical video pieces on Jogging, like the conspicuously unreal eleven-second wonder A Renewed Interest in Craft: I Make a Basketball Shot, and Fountain, Rain, Sprinkler, in which we are treated to 41 seconds of a fountain and a sprinkler wasting gallons of water on an anonymous vast and well-manicured lawn during a rainstorm. Check out Untitled, a brief yet endearing video of a “performance” Troemel enacts on a slow day at the mall.

Everything is Terrible: The Movie

Published June 19, 2009 by Graham


There’s no doubt: Everything Is Terrible is the funniest and most depressing collection of found footage Cyberspace has ever seen. The group of video artists that contributes to the site keep it simple: each clip is a highlight reel of pure insanity usually culled from a single infomercial, self-improvement tape or edutainment special. Without straying too far from the source material, Everything is Terrible cuts through the filler to tastefully underscore the horror and hilarity of these all-but-forgotten bargain bin VHS marvels. While the dated, low-budget anonymity inherent in these clips makes it easy to feel distanced from the subjects of Everything Is Terrible’s playful scorn, the implicit message in all this admirable work seems to be: whenever it was made, no matter how professional it looks, just about anything can be awesomely awful– so learn to enjoy it!

The collective’s first feature-length DVD, Everything Is Terrible: The Movie, hits mailboxes tomorrow. To celebrate the release, the entire EIT gang is appearing in person tomorrow night for a special presentation at (where else?) The Silent Movie Theatre.

Roald Dahl in a Sleeping Bag in the Virtual Hut

Published June 8, 2009 by Graham


Cabinet Magazine recently published an article entitled “To Sit, To Stand, To Write,” examining a deep rift amongst history’s greatest writers: the ideal bodily position for writing. Friedrich Nietzsche, for instance, responded to Gustave Flaubert’s casual remark that “one cannot think and write except when seated,” with an infuriated accusation of cultural decadence, writing, “There I have caught you, nihilist! The sedentary life is the very sin against the Holy Spirit. Only thoughts reached by walking have value.”

Nietzche was not alone in his preference– though he was perhaps unparalleled in the philosophical weight he placed behind it. According to the article, Virginia Woolf, Lewis Carroll, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Ernest Hemingway all wrote standing up, hovering over lecterns and typewriters placed upon dressers. Still others preferred the supine pose, including Mark Twain, who wrote in bed. Roald Dahl’s writing habits were generally rather traditional in his tendency to be seated, and yet the description of his writing environment is one of the most interesting parts of the article.

We can conjecture that it was phsical considerations that caused the six-foot-six-inch Thomas Wolfe to write his opulent, autobiographical novels using the top of his refrigerator as his desk, the shifting of his weight from foot to foot being a neat approximation of the Nietzschean decree that all writing should “dance.” But what do we then make of Roald Dahl, also six-foot-six, who everyday climbed into a sleeping back before settling into an old wing-backed chair, his feet resting immobile on a battered traveling case full of logs? Dahl’s claim that “all the best stuff comes at the desk,” is a simple modern variation on Flaubert’s static dictum.

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, we can go on an informative virtual tour of Dahl’s fabled writing hut, minus the writer and his lanky legs that are no longer resting on that log-filled suitcase. When do the rest of us get our writing huts?

The Texture of Cyberspace

Published June 5, 2009 by Graham


Meme Scenery is the sublime result of removing the humans (and cats) from wildly popular internet memes like Star Wars Kid, Afro Ninja, and David After Dentist. What remains are a series of uninhabited environments– documents of ordinary settings minus the characters and actions that rendered them extraordinary. These empty bedrooms, stores and local news environments form the palette of an era. This is the set design manual for 2000s-era period pieces and costume dramas.

via This Is A Race.



The Cloud Society

Published June 3, 2009 by Graham


Every month The Cloud Society presents a new challenge. Every challenge is a game in The Cloud Society, a game that everyone’s invited to play. “Use a mirror or several mirrors to create an image that reflects reality,” was the prompt one month. Another month, participants were encouraged to “Make a monster or capture it. Send us an image of the beast.” The picture above comes from a proposal called “Be Frida”– a command designed to instigate intentionally superficial interpretations of Frida Kahlo cosplay.

Come on, try it out! Quoth The Cloud Society’s manifesto:

We like to play. We like to practice. We believe in good intentions. We would like anyone to participate, no matter their age, interests or job. Don’t feel intimidated by a musical project, for example, if you’ve never written a song. We don’t judge the quality of the collaborations, so give it a try. You might discover something interesting. What is there to lose?

It Wasn’t Supposed to Be Real!

Published April 29, 2009 by Graham

And now, Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon! Oh wait, it’s not Frost/Nixon. It’s Frank Langella in Brainscan with Edward Furlong playing his exact character from Terminator 2, and some dude with a hilarious “cyberpunk” mohawk. Is this a real movie? Does it actually exist? In the words of T. Ryder Smith, “Real, unreal– what’s the difference?” So postmodern, dude. And totally cyberdelic.