Notes : 01/09 - 03/09


March 29, 2009

I came across the above images on one of the creative blogs I am constantly checking (Picdit, BOOOOOOOM, or Changethethought). I was quite taken with them. They feel very fresh, but also have that smooth 80s utopian cgi feel that I was weaned on as a young sci-fi fan. They also reminded me a bit of Skybox basketball cards. I had (still have) some of the cards as a young basketball enthusiast and have often wanted to incorporate them into a current project.

BUT, here's where things take an interesting turn. The artist doesn't use software to generate the colors or textures. As I examined them I was wondering whether they were done with something like Maya or just drawn well in Illustrator or Photoshop. Instead, they are photographs of paper. The artist may use Photoshop to create the symmetry, but otherwise it's a creative analogue project. Very interesting.

The artist, Rein Nomm, writes : "The objects depicted in my 'Folds in Space' series exist only as photographs and have no exact corresponding reality. To create them, I took various types of paper (copier paper, paper towels, color-coated and metallic coated papers), both full sheets and cut strips, and glued them into various shapes. I then lit them and photographed them against a black or white background. I took the resulting images and mirrored them onto themselves one or more times until I created works that I found aesthetically interesting. Many of these images have a classical or mathematical elegance and some of them serendipitously have taken on a representational quality."

Rein Nomm's Web site can be found here. It would seem he lives near my old stomping grounds - Detroit.

March 21, 2009

The house, the car, the street - all rad. This is a small house in Tokyo. Unfortunately I lost my note as to which Web site had this featured. I'm thinking BOOOOOOOM.

February 28, 2009

The top image is from the artist Mu Pan. The second is from the artist Robert Hardgrave. I believe both come from the art and design blog PicDit.

February 28, 2009

Oh, man, is that awesome. I'm going to have to get this from eBay and frame it for my Color Foundations class.

February 25, 2009

I ran across this during a recent perusal of Beautiful Decay's online presence. The actual interview with the artists, UFEX, is here. I have this eerie feeling that window blinds will become a really prevalent art material in the future...

Really fun inventive spirit and a nice sense of texture... By the way, Beautiful Decay is a really nifty print magazine, too. Nice blend of different artists from a variety of places in and not-entirely-in the art world.

January 27, 2009

I would imagine I found this in a Style section slide show. The top half looks a bit like something I would draw (or wish I drew) turned into an outfit. Very slick.

I get on kicks where I like to check out fashion-oriented Web sites. I am mainly interested in how designers might reinterpret the forms and shapes of the body, although I also sometimes respond to the strong color palettes of contemporary fashion as well. I'm sure I would be deadly boring at an actual fashion show and don't particularly dress in a distinctive style myself. For awhile I was checking in on The Sartorialist and I occasionally send students to the site if they are interested in fashion (and many art students are). The site is interesting and the writer/collector/photographer writes in a friendly-sounding voice, but I rarely abide authoritative pronouncements when it comes to visual materials. I like to take in as much as I can visually, so I find statements on the "correct" blend of colors, for instance, to be peevish. But again, I don't really fault the writer of the blog : I'm not his audience really.

If you find fashion authority to be grating, too, you'd get a real kick out of reading the comments on the blog.

January 18, 2009

I found this image while browsing Flickr collections. It's from a user named E.M.M.A.N.U.E.L. He has several different sets of nice photos of robots, heroes and his interest in photography in general. This is a sentai robot named Phantom Star God Gun Riser. I think. I don't know very much about sentai (in America, the sentai show is "Power Rangers" and sentai shows generally follow that format of multiple heroes who team together in giant robots).

January 10, 2009

I was idly browsing the Web and came across this custom Flash action figure by a customizer called "Doubledealer". Some how it not only caught my attention, but it stayed lodged in my imagination. I just liked that it was a simple figure, sort of jaunty looking with a nice shiny red surface. Nothing profound at all, but there was a simplicity of design and execution that was pretty neat about it. Plus I always like shiny stuff.

As often happens with this sort of thing (images sticking in my head), I eventually decided to read up on the Flash. I'm a big reader of comics of all kinds, but I've never read "The Flash." In my superhero reading, I've tempted to read more Marvel Comics than DC by far. Lately, I've been reading a fair amount of Marvel's Essentials series, plus I just checked out All-Star Superman in trade paperback form. There is a fair amount of really fun superheroing in the new Love & Rockets book, plus I managed to pick up the collected Zot! stories. Both of the latter books are a bit of superhero deconstruction, although not in the contemporary super-serious way. Grant Morrison's All-Star Superman is a reconstruction of Superman as it freely borrows from many phases of Superman's history in building a modern, romantic sci-fi adventure tale.

But anyway, "The Flash"... I thought it might be interesting to poke around wikipedia and to get a feel for the stories and images of the Flash and his world. There seems to be a sci-fi feel to the Flash's world as many of the villains operate with various gadgets as much or more than outright superpowers. There is (or was) an innocence to characters like Mirror Master or Weather Wizard, too, that reminds me of childhood viewings of "Challenge of The Superfriends."

DC gets a fair amount of flak from the comics blogging community for writing pretty rough and depressing fare for their superheroes these days and the Flash characters don't seem to have escaped that at all. Of course it might not help that the mantle of Flash seems to kill the character itself with 2 of the 4 Flashes passing back into the Speed Force.*

So, interestingly one of the wiki links had a Flash cover drawn by Joe Staton, whom I recently discovered through a nifty blog called "Seduction of the Indifferent" (which is a play on the Fredric Wertham book that demonized comics). Staton did his own book called "E-Man" which I've managed to find a few copies of. He has a nice simple drawing style that emphasizes elasticity and humor. The Flash cover from Staton exhibits a nice diagonal composition and simplified each character in a way that wouldn't be too out of place in Archie comics without losing some of the tension a superhero comic needs. It's certainly not earth-shattering or avant-garde art at all, but it's very well-handled. You get the sense that the artist cared about the work but didn't obsess over rendering - which can get deadly dull in a hurry. I'm having to fight the urge to find issues from this era (particularly by Staton) on eBay. In the course of putting together this post I decided to look Mr. Staton up on wikipedia and discovered that he is a graduate of Murray State University here in Kentucky (they are sometimes referred to as our sister school).

Lastly, I was reminded that there was a short-lived live-action TV series for the Flash in 1990-91. I can vaguely remember watching it. The wiki entry notes that it was critically lauded, so I may have to dig that out from somewhere, too, in a fit of nerdom. This is one of the Flash's opponents from the show, The Trickster, with his sidekick, Prank. Bonus points if you recognize the actor - it's Mark Hamill. I saw this phrase on another blog, but it fits here :

Do it the 90s!

* - That's how a Flash dies.**

** - I think.

January 9, 2009

A blog probably isn't a blog without huge gaps in the text, no?

January 26, 2008

Godmarz (pictured right) and Raideen both reflect an interesting Art Deco strain in 70s/80s era Japanese robot design. Raideen, in fact, could be seen as somewhat avant garde having been designed in the early 1970s with a detailed pharaonic appearance that significantly sets him apart from contemporaries like the Getta G robots. Godmarz caught my eye for its interesting use of similar visual motifs in the form of repeating trapezoidal forms, particularly on the legs. They verge toward gaudy rhinestones in their color and solidity (if not their outright superflous nature on a giant robot - what do these big chunky "ports" or "stones" do?), but are reined in by a pretty precise sizing and application. The contrasting primary colors of the different limbs reflect the role of elements as a trope in various Japanese super-hero and -robot shows of the 60s through the 90s. At times these "elements" literally refer to the traditional earth elements, such as earth, air, fire and water or at other times become a meta-metaphorical shell wherein the colors are the symbol (to madden the semioticians) : the Red Ranger's color red refers to the fact that he is colored... red.

The geometrically ornate detailing on the legs in particular puts me in mind of the craft-heavy pursuit of modern forms that took place in the early part of the twentieth century. The leg forms are simultaneously architected and bejewelled. There is a sense of joy combined with purposeful balance.

Godmarz also seems to sit between the era of the "Super Robots" (60s through early 80s) and the "Real Robots" which were ushered in by Gundam. Certainly combining multiple humanoid robots into one form makes Godmarz a "Super Robot," a term which refers to an earlier era of robots that resembled an indestructible, square-jawed innocent American superhero. "Super Robots" are often considerably more organic in their shape and make a much less serious attempt to explain the physics or engineering of their construction.* The "Real Robots" purport to reflect military and engineering concerns in an effort to add a layer of "hard sci-fi" to their appearance and storytelling possibilities. Godmarz's forms are considerably more contained than Raideen's below. Although "realism" is a very fluid category in the creative arts, we can surmise that Godmarz looks a bit more like the kind of robot it might be possible to build.

Both Godmarz and Raideen have an autobiographical role for me - a friend had the Raideen toy when I was growing up. It was quite large and very mysterious with its Egyptian-styled headdress. I was always very curious as to what it was. Godmarz's anime series "Six God Combination Godmars" served as a prototype of sorts for another show called "Mighty Orbots" which is lurking around in the depths of my memory somewhere.

* - The "Getta" robots are comprised of a series of three swoopy planes that combine, in various ways, to form different slightly-balloony robots. The late 90s reworking of the story, "Getta Robo : Armageddon" made a valiant, curious attempt to explain, in a literal way, how the transformation could occur in a lovingly rendered, nano-technology inspired scene.

Credits: Jumbo Machinder Raideen (above) - "nekrodave" on and Godmarz (top right) - Bandai's Soul of Chogokin line.

January 21, 2008

I've been gone for quite a long while, but I return with another post related to fashion. Just a fluke, really. The "bat" coat came from a New York Times Style section piece on fashion. Unfortunately, I found the image back in the Summer, so I don't have a credit for it anymore.

The spacesuit-wearing gents at the bottom are from "Robotech." Robotech was a compilation of various, maybe unrelated, Japanese anime of the 80s, repackaged into one long story for an American audience. My sister and I "graduated" to Robotech from G-Force/Gatchaman and couldn't get enough of it. I was also drawn to the designs of the second series, which were taken from an anime called "Super-Dimensional Cavalry: Southern Cross." These images are box designs from a model series from that show. They're very fluid and do a great job of merging medieval designs with an 80s hard sci-fi look.

I'll be patching this blog back together soon!


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