August, 2016 Archive

Courage in Defeat: Why Fictional Tragedy Inspires Us


Can tragedy as a genre point the way to peace? “‘Man Killed by Falling Tree’ is not a tragedy,” explains Frank to Rita, in Willy Russel’s appropriately titled play Educating Rita (1980) — probably one of the better stories about mansplaining written in the 20th century. Frank, who is played by Michael Caine in the 1983 film version, alongside Julie Andrews as Rita, is attempting to illuminate the differences between a tragic event and tragedy, the genre. “Yes, it’s tragic. It’s absolutely tragic,” he goes on, “but it’s not a tragedy in the way that Macbeth is a tragedy. Tragedy in dramatic terms is inevitable, preordained.” (That’s preordained, not preordered. Macbeth is a play, not a McDonald’s sandwich. I checked.) Educating Rita, Acorn Pictures Many great thinkers have offered their 10 cents on what counts as tragedy — what its features are and why it’s worth our time — but        …read more

Stop-Motion Animation Celebrates a Rich History


For nearly 120 years, stop-motion artists have brought entertainment to the screen one click at a time. Stop-motion animation has been around about as long as film. It used to be if a movie was going to include a dinosaur, a giant crab or an army of reanimated skeletons, stop-motion was the only way such a sight could be achieved. Now with CG, stop-motion is seldom used outside of niche films because of the time and effort required, but some are holding on to stop-motion tradition to breathe life into some of the most endearing animated creations ever seen. Here we’ll cover some of the originators of the process as well as the filmmakers today keeping the technique alive — one tweak of a model and a click of the camera at a time. Originating in the late 1800s, the first use of stop-motion animation was in The Humpty        …read more

Why Video Game Music (Still) Matters

video game music

Composer Dale North takes us inside the creative process of video game music scoring. You couldn’t escape it even if you wanted to. It crawls inside your head. Takes up residence. Music is arguably an essential ingredient to our daily lives. Video game music encompasses the fabric of the game player’s life. No matter what generation of gaming you hail from, those iconic video game themes — past, present and future — enhance the gaming experience. It can inspire courage, rage and even fear. Good video game music, whether you’re playing on a console, portable system, or your cellphone, is supposed to do those things to you. It’s supposed to take you deeper into the world it explores. What would Super Mario Bros. be without that jaunty theme? What would Grand Theft Auto be without the multiple radio stations punctuating the thrill of cruising the San Andreas streets? Music is as important        …read more

Clark Little, Master of Shorebreak Photography

Clark LIttle

Clark Little puts himself into the ‘heaviest, sickest, gnarliest part of a wave’ to capture these stunning images. In one of the most famous surfing beaches in the world where the big waves can reach 30 to 40 feet high before barreling onto the shore, one photographer has made his mark, capturing the instant where water and earth, beauty and danger collide. That’s where Clark Little does his best work — he’s the master of shorebreak photography. “Shorebreak boom is like my shot of adrenaline,” says Clark Little. “I don’t mind getting sucked over the falls and getting smacked into the sand. I actually feed off of that and I feel comfortable in large shorebreak,” he says in Behind the Scenes of the Making of ‘I Am Different.’ Little has spent years of his life in the water, first on a board riding the waves and now in the waves,        …read more

Guerrilla Artists Disrupt the Art Gallery

art gallery

Avant-garde designers are rewriting the rules and making the world their art gallery. To make your way into the art world, you have to work within the “white cube.” Getting into the art gallery scene can be as easy or as difficult as your nearest connection. Those who’ve made it can attest that who they know has been as important as what they’ve created. Emerging artists, however, are starting to shake things up. For so long the art world has been based on exclusivity and close-knit circles, but it’s undergoing one of the biggest developments in recent years. In a bid to change the elitism of art gallery openings, a number of out-of-the box artists are expanding the reach of the cultural space. Building careers via unorthodox channels is very much en vogue today. Whether you’re looking at installation, videography, fashion design or street art, a huge range of unusual        …read more

Contemporary Dadaism and Internet Memes


The internet is a gallery of contemporary Dadaism. Memes. The inexplicable internet phenomenon that gets better every time a fresh crop of Photoshopped pictures, gifs and Vines pop up on your screen. Thanks to the internet we can fully enjoy modern visual culture. Modern artists, such as Bill Domonkos, are using the internet to create their own digital art. The threshold to create art is lower than it has ever been and more people are expressing themselves online through contemporary Dadaism. The internet reveals a wide variety of content. The most enticing part is the intersection between digital art and memes. Whether it’s Tumblr, Instagram or Twitter, you’ll regularly find outrageous user-generated content — photos, gifs or text. From the crying Jordan meme, pettiness with Disney’s Skai Jackson, Mr. Krabs blur meme, the various Drake meme-ifications from the best dancing gifs to a tiny Drake who’s randomly placed on        …read more

Redefining Black Superheroes for the 21st Century

black superheroes

A conversation with comic book creator and innovator of Black superheroes, Arvell Jones. When the Marvel Netflix TV series Luke Cage goes live on September 30, viewers will be treated to another, hopefully riveting Marvel Universe narrative, but this one will be a little different — it’ll focus on a Black superhero. Luke Cage in Jessica Jones, ABC Television Studio The title character, Luke Cage, has indestructible skin and describes him as superhumanly strong. He was last seen on the Marvel Netflix series Jessica Jones. His first appearance in comics was in 1972 in a book called Hero for Hire issue #1. Black superheroes, if they appeared at all in those days, were always men. It took a kid from Detroit named Arvell Jones to dream up another Black superhero who happened to be a woman. He called her Misty Knight. Marvel in the ’70s The mid-’70s were a time        …read more

Tarot Card Reading with Beautiful Ancient Decks

tarot card reading

In praise of the rich, evocative imagery of ancient decks in tarot card reading. If you read tarot cards and live in the US or England, or if you’ve had a tarot card reading outside of continental Europe, chances are the cards laid down in front of you were from the ubiquitous Rider-Waite deck or one of its many variants and clones. Occasionally, you might run into a reader who uses the Aleister Crowley–designed Thoth tarot. But the majority of readers use the Rider-Waite and its imitators. Three of Swords from the Rider-Waite (left) and CBD Tarot de Marseille (right). Part of the reason is the ease of use. The Rider-Waite (sometimes called the Rider-Waite-Smith, or RWS, to honor the artist, Pamela Colman Smith), unlike older tarots, has pictorial scenes on every card — a revolution when it was introduced in 1909. In pre-20th-century decks, all of which came out        …read more