Thursday, May 31, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen I bring you the newest and most exciting sport: train surfing.

Please note: Not for ages twelve and up.

The unbuilt praise for Issac Newton: Étienne-Louis Boullée's cenotaph.

From Wikipedia:

"Born in Paris, he studied under Jacques-François Blondel, Germain Boffrand and Jean-Laurent Le Geay, from whom he learned the mainstream French Classical architecture in the 17th and 18th century and the Neoclassicism that evolved after the mid century. He was elected to the Académie Royale d'Architecture in 1762 and became chief architect to Frederick II of Prussia, a largely honorary title. He designed a number of private houses from 1762 to 1778, though most of these no longer exist; notable survivors include the Hôtel Alexandre and Hôtel de Brunoy, both in Paris. Together with Claude Nicolas Ledoux he was one of the most influential figures of French neoclassical architecture
Geometric style"

Boullée promoted the idea of making architecture expressive of its purpose, a doctrine that his detractors termed architecture parlante ("talking architecture"), which was an essential element in Beaux-Arts architectural training in the later 19th century. His style was most notably exemplified in his proposal for a cenotaph for the English scientist Isaac Newton, which would have taken the form of a sphere 150 m (500 ft) high embedded in a circular base topped with cypress trees. Though the structure was never built, its design was engraved and circulated widely in professional circles."
The Cenotaph (or tomb) interior fully lit, Boullée's design was to have the interior of the structure complete a full solar cycle.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

There's weird, very weird, explosively weird, disturbingly weird, profoundly weird ... and then there's Aachi & Ssipak

From Wikipedia:
In the future, all energy sources are depleted, except human excrement. To reward production, people are awarded addictive treats: Juicybars. Aachi and Ssipak are street hoodlums who struggle to survive by trading black market Juicybars. Through a chain of events involving their porn-director acquaintance Jimmy the Freak, they meet wannabe-actress Beautiful, whose defecations are rewarded by exceptional quantities of Juicybars. For that reason, Beautiful is also wanted by the violent blue mutants known as the Diaper Gang (led by the Diaper King), the police (most notably the cyborg police officer Geko), and others.

- and here's the official site (be weirdly happy and more than slightly afraid)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Musical Interlude: Grace Jones's Slave to the Rhythm

The director was Jean-Paul Goude, who populated the video with his commercial work, including a spot featuring a quick glimpse of 1986 Citroën CX GTi Turbo.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Our Favorite Heroes - The Benevolent Sea Devil: Felix Count von Luckner

From Amazon, the write up for The Cruise of the Sea Eagle: The Amazing True Story of Imperial Germany's Gentleman Pirate:
On December 21, 1916, a three-masted sailing ship slipped out of the river Weser in northern Germany. Her captain had false papers, a deliberately damaged logbook, and a young sailor with a blonde wig to pose as his wife. The ship sailed under a false flag, and even her name - the Hero - was a ruse. So begins the amazing true story of The Cruise of the Sea Eagle, author Blaine Pardoe's account of Felix von Luckner, the Imperial German Navy raider set upon the high seas to sink Britain's vital wartime supply ships during World War I.

Using sheer determination, pluck, and the quick of his wits, von Luckner steered clear of the British Navy to board and sink as many merchant ships as he possibly could. Within a month, he had already boarded and sunk three vessels. But unlike Germany's vaunted submarine fleet, the gentleman pirate made room on his ship for all prisoners, and never fired a shot unless it was unavoidable.

Von Luckner's adventures include the tale of the Dupleix. When confronted by the Seeadler's message - Stop Immediately. German Cruiser - the French captain thought a colleague was playing a practical joke and rowed out to the German raider. The Dupleix was sunk soon thereafter. When chased by no fewer than three British Navy ships, von Luckner evaded capture by rounding the Horn in a heavy storm, raiding ships all the way. He marked his prisoners' personal effects with the word "Seeadler," causing the British to crow that the Seeadler had sunk, which gave von Luckner more time to slip away. And when the Seeadler ran aground on Mopelia Island in the Pacific, von Luckner and five crew members sailed nearly 2,500 miles in an open boat to raid again in an effort worthy of Shackleton, only to be captured. What happened after he escaped caps what is perhaps the most remarkable tale of piracy and adventure since Daniel Defoe's vivid imaginings, a tale all the more remarkable since it actually occurred in an era when pirates were still possible.

From the excellent Ye Old Editor, Tales of the Sea, Ships and Other Musings by George Frederic Brobyn:
... now comes the most incredible story of World War I, which makes our Knight a real member of that legend of the Round Table on a par with Sir Galahad. Captured prisoners quickly found out that they were in no danger and were allowed much recreation time on deck. The food was far better than they ever had aboard their mother ships. Even the bunks were better than 99 percent of the ships sailing at that time. Finally, no work was required. The Captains were also treated well and were invited to dine with Von Luckner at the Captain’s table every day.

When the prisoners quarters filled to its 260 capacity, Von Luckner concluded that his guests must go to the nearest port, Rio de Janeiro, in the next prize captured. It turned out to be the French bark, the CAMBRONNE. This ship was well provisioned and Von Luckner appointed the most senior of his “Captain’s Club” to take it in, but only after the upper masts were removed. As a condition of their release, Von Luckner asked for and received from each freed Captain a promise that they would not try to converse with any ships, and would sail directly to Rio. Each one stood by his promise. This agreement allowed the SEEADLER time to make her getaway.

Von Luckner honored his departing captains with a fine banquet. Then he paid off every captured seaman what he would have earned if he had not been captured and had been allowed to finish his voyage. All this, from his own private funds. All the officers and seaman prisoners shook his hand and wished him well when leaving the ship to board The CAMBRONNE.

It was during this transfer that the Count received the title of “The Sea Devil”, a term of real affection from both his own crew and his enemies alike. He always referred to it proudly to the end of his life ....
There's also a Felix Count von Luckner site where donations deservedly are being collected to create a memorial in his name for saving his home town of Halle from destruction during WWII.

You can also read more about this truly remarkable and honorable man at Ahoy - Mac's Web Log Naval, Maritime, Australian History and more:
Count Felix von Luckner known as the Sea Devil, captained Seeadler, a sailing vessel carrying an auxiliary engine, and fitted out as an Armed Merchant Raider in World War 1. He was a dashing character with a great imagination, who fought his enemy both with flair and fairness. He claimed never to have harmed anyone purposely.
Wikipedia has even more:
At the age of thirteen, Luckner ran away from home to see Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. He signed up, under the assumed name of "Phylax Lüdecke", as an unpaid cabin boy on the Russian sailing ship Niobe travelling between Hamburg (Germany) and Australia. His story might have ended there, since the Russian Captain refused to turn the ship around just to pick Felix up out of the water when he fell overboard in the middle of the ocean. The Chief Mate negotiated the costly delay of turning the ship around by pointing a harpoon directly at the captain. A huge albatross swooped down and seized Luckner’s hand in its beak but Luckner grabbed a leg of the albatross. Although pecked severely, he hung on for his life. The flapping of the huge wings and the gathering of other birds gave the crew of the lifeboat a point to aim at in his rescue ....

Jack-of-all-trades Arriving at Fremantle, Western Australia, he jumped ship and for seven years followed a bewildering array of occupations: seller of the Salvation Army's War Cry, assistant lighthouse keeper (having to abandon the job when discovered with his hotel keeper's daughter by her father!), kangaroo hunter, circus worker, professional boxer due to his exceptional strength, fisherman, seaman, a guard in the Mexican army for President Díaz, railway construction worker, barman, and tavern keeper. He served a short time in a Chilean jail accused of stealing pigs, suffered broken legs twice, and was thrown out of hospital in Jamaica for lack of money. Luckner was also an accomplished magician – Kaiser Wilhelm was fascinated by his tricks and frequently invited Luckner aboard his yacht to entertain important dignitaries ....
Some men become famous as soldiers, Felix Von Luckner brought a nobility - and kindness - to the infamy of war.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Gallery: The Maker Faire

One of the powertool drag race entries (voted the the most sexy-machine: rightly so...)

The Crucibles stunning V8 bio Diesel record breaking motorcycle.

A great compressed air powerd spider robot...small dogs and children should live in fear..

"Robot Made-because we can"

The mechanical chariot..with Bush pulling!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"In my writing I even question the universe; I wonder out loud if it is real, and I wonder out loud if all of us are real."

From The Philip K Dick Trust site:
Some of you may have already heard by now that a robotic portrait of Philip K. Dick has been built to debut at this month's Wired Magazine's NextFest. (It may sound like something from a long-lost PKD manuscript, but it is reality.) The project combines robotics and Artificial Intelligence with traditional sculpture, to create a memorial that endeavors to celebrate his life and his work.

As an artistic expression, the team of artists, scientists, robotics experts, and literary scholars, chose PKD for this project because of their desire to push the envelope of social consciousness and debate around key issues that they care deeply about and that PKD introduced to them in his stories and novels, especially We Can Build You.

Because this is a piece of interpretive art, we do not believe that they required permission from the PKD Trust to go forward using his physical image. They did however consult with us at every stage in the process. After discussing the goals of the project, it became clear to us that their philosophical goals are in alignment with the issues our father cared deeply about and frequently explored in his writing: the concept of human as defined by compassion and empathy, and also the potential for inhuman use of technology for destructive purposes.

We anticipate that the robot may stir some controversy because it breaks ground using human form. In addition, we suspect that those who connect with and care for PKD may also have strong feelings about the use of his image. (But when did he not involve himself in controversy and debate?) Overall however, we consider the project to be artistically groundbreaking and innovative, as well as a powerful tribute to both him and his work.
However it was soon tired of talking about Electric Sheep (robot goes missing).

Monday, May 21, 2007

At 4:15PM on Saturday the 19th of May the Device Being Demonstrated at Booth 212 Became Self Aware

.... or at least that's what I kept thinking might happen. S.A. and I will be posting lots of cool stuff about the wonderful Maker Faire very soon, but in the meantime here's some pics to wet your whistles.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Welcome to Weirdsville: You Are What You ....

William Buckland (when not eating)

The setting is fine and lavish: a stately home, the furnishings of fine lineage. Exquisite china, polished silver, an excellent cellar: the perfect elements for an extravagant dining experience. Your hosts, the father and later the son, are the most perfect of hosts: witty, urbane, educated, they tantalize and enthrall with rejoinder and anecdote.

Then there’s the meal itself, a presentation worthy of a truly great showman. Perhaps the company is shocked silent, staring at the flesh with puzzlement and terror, gastronomic rebellion threatening even at the thought, let alone the taste, of what is offered. But our hosts simply laugh heartily, spear a succulent morsel and consume what the other diners would consider inconsumable, with relish.

Francis Trevelyan Buckland (also not eating)

If what they say is true, that you are what you eat, then the Bucklands - father William Buckland and son, Francis Trevelyan Buckland - must have been composed of some very, well, ‘interesting’ stuff. Eating was more than just a predilection of the Bucklands: it was closer to an oral obsession.

In fact, compared to other extreme ‘individuals’, the Bucklands stand way out, more than anything for the audacity and surrealism of their diets. It would be easy to discount them as neurotics who, say, only ate foods of a certain color, or who took "scientific" dietary regimens of dubious repute to extremes but the Bucklands, you see, weren't any of that. It's just best to say that the Bucklands had unusual tastes.

Like the best of the British eccentrics, the Bucklands look quite respectable when viewed via the blinders of the Royal register or Who's Who. Between the two of them, they were responsible for London's drains, deduced that glaciers had at one time covered Britain, put gas lighting in Oxford, and were geologists of no mean repute.

But it was in the area of eating that they truly divert.

William Buckland, for instance, said that until he ate a bluebottle fly, mole had been the most disgusting thing he had consumed.

A lot of things had passed the learned lips of William Buckland and his son Francis Trevelyan. So much so that it is a wonder that the zoos of England during their lives (the early and middle 1800’s) didn’t warily count their lions, zebra, elks, snakes, and emus each and every night, praying that another species hadn’t been gastronomically rendered extinct by this dynasty

Why the Bucklands chose to indulge these rather tasty indulgences is pure conjecture. Oh, sure, they both had some rather elaborate mechanisms to explain their bizarre mastication. William Buckland, the father, for instance was the organizer of the Society for the Acclimatization of Animals in the United Kingdoms - which, aside from giving the very Avengers like acronym A.A.U.K. - gave him, and sometime thereafter his son, a wonderful excuse of importing new species to Britain to ease the food crisis to dine on such things as kangaroo, sea-slug, porpoise head, rhinoceros, earwigs, and (yes, you may shudder) a puppy.

Without blowing the joke, rest assured that aside from one documented incident, the Buckland’s reserved their tastes to species other than their own, but that by no means limits their weirdness factor. Besides trying just about everything that waddled, slithered, trotted, hopped, crawled or any other form of locomotion, the Bucklands also had opinions about what they consumed.

Aside from his distaste for bluebottle flies and mole, the senior Buckland also noted a lavish meal of crocodile was a wash, as were some of his more exotic dinners including mice on toast. His son also had his opinions, reserving horseflesh as one of the more disgusting things to have passed his lips. Though, as quoted Catherine Caufield’s indispensable The Emperor of the United States of America and other Magnificent British Eccentrics and the follow up, The Man Who Ate Bluebottles, he stated that, while not tasty, horses could easily be put towards other handy uses: “People who wish to have relics kept of favorite horses should have their ears preserved. They make nice holders for spills; the hoofs also make good inkstands; and the tails mounted on a stick as an excellent thing to kill flies.”

Francis Trevelyan was also a fan of living animals ... though considering his diet it is safe to assume that when they joined the choir invisible there wasn’t much left to bury. At one point, he had African mongooses, a South African river hog, a jackal, a raccoon, an eagle, a buzzard, and a bear. Walkies much have been quite the experience ....

To give an example of what the Buckland estate must have been like, a relative reported stumbling over a soft object at the foot of the stairs one night. Upon further examination, she was rather amazed to discover it was a dead baby hippopotamus. About her discovery, Francis could only scold: “You should be more careful. You might have damaged it. Hippopotamuses don’t grow on trees, you know!”

Even on his deathbed, the younger Buckland’s thoughts were on exotic fauna: a sentiment that must have brought the spirits of many an animal some consternation: “I think I shall see a great many curious animals.” And consume them, no doubt, with great spectral enthusiasm.

The senior Buckland’s knowledge of the animal kingdom often allowed him to perform some quite amazing Sherlockian analyses, though on two distinct ones must have sincerely ennobled him to the Catholic Church: while on honeymoon, Mr. and Mrs. Buckland visited a local shrine where, it was said, resided the bones of Saint Rosalia. One look was all it took for Buckland to loudly proclaim: “Those are the bones of a goat!”

Saint Rosalia (goat bones not shown)

Much later, both Bucklands were present at another miracle, the blood of a saint that were supposed to be appear fresh each morning on the floor of a cathedral. One sniff, one taste, was all it took for the elder to bellow out, “Bat urine!"

It's safe to say that wherever William Buckland went after shaking himself free of this mortal coil it could never have been hot enough for the Pope.

The consummation of this quick look at the lives, and diet, of the remarkable Bucklands has to conclude with a story about the elder: the plates are empty, the wine is almost gone, the sherbet is a fading memory, cigars are looming ... the meal is just about done.

But one last treat, one last morsel: one day William Buckland visited Edward Harcout, the Archbishop of York and an esoteric collector of some renown. Seems this Harcourt had been present during the Revolution and had managed to acquire a great prize, a trophy he kept in a special little velvet-lined case.

Shown this prize, Buckland could not resist: “I’ve eaten a great many things, but never the heart of a king” and with that he snatched up the embalmed heart of Louis XIV and swallowed it.

Louis XIV (shown not eaten)

Bon appetite!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Rare Proof That Mankind Deserves to Continue to Exist: Theo Jansen

Theo Jansen, artist, studied science at the University of Delft Holland. The first seven years being a artist he just made paintings. Then he starts a project with a big flying saucer, which could really fly. It flew over the town of Delft in 1980 and brought the people in the street and the police in commotion. Since about ten years he is occupied with the making of a new nature. Not pollen or seeds but plastic yellow tubes are used as the basic matierial of this new nature. He makes skeletons which are able to walk on the wind. Eventualy he wants to put these animals out in herds on the beaches, so they will live their own lives.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

... doesn't mean they're not out to get you: Chemtrails

From Wikipedia:
The accepted theme is the belief that a chemical and/or biological agent of some sort is being released. The term "chemtrail" should not be confused with other forms of aerial dumping (e.g. crop dusting, cloud seeding or aerial firefighting). It specifically refers to systematic, high-altitude dumping of substances such as barium oxide, trimethylaluminium, liquid propane, and mycoplasmas for disclosed purposes of geoengineering resulting in the appearance of these observed chemtrails.

Among the suggested rationales of the chemtrails are: atmospheric and weather modification, biological warfare, mind control or occult purposes. They are also theorized to be part of a system to counter the effects of global warming, to create a cheap wireless communications network for the military (by making the air more electrically conductive to microwave and radar signals), or to create a more sophisticated radar system with applications to both national defense and scientific study, such as those described within the HAARP project and the VTRPE project.

Naturally, NASA denies it ... or is that just what they want us to think?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The beautiful desolation of Japan: The works of Hisaharu Motoda

"Hisaharu Motoda is regarded by many as one of the rising stars in the world of printmaking, having won several major prizes since obtaining a Masters of Fine Arts and Music, where he now works as a teacher. His fame is spreading not only in his native Japan, but also overseas, where he has taken part in exhibitions in countries as Egypt, Canada, Hungary, and Thailand.
In his Neo-Ruins series Motoda depicts a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, where familiar landscapes in the central districts of Ginza, Shibuya, and Asakusa are reduced to ruins and the streets eerily devoid of humans. The weeds that have sprouted from the fissures in the ground seem to be the only living organisms. “In Neo-Ruins I wanted to capture both a sense of the world′s past and of the worldユs future,” he explains.
Motodaユs view of the future at first seems nihilistic, but the proliferation of plant life in the ruined streets seems to suggest that there are other ways for the plant to survive even after our great cities have fallen."

"About my works:

If you think of Japan, you may have a strong image of beautiful nature and oriental culture. However, after experiencing the period of the high growth of economy, Japan now suffers environmental disruption everywhere. When you come to Japan, you might not even find it beautiful. It is a pity, but it is true. Recently, the government and local government took it seriously, and started to consider creating a nature-friendly-environment. The awareness of people is not enough yet, though.
Japan was defeated in the World War2. Then, the Japanese culture and the way of thinking of Japanese people became more westernised. The Majority of young people in Japan don′t know much about their own culture. I was borned and grown up right in middle of the period of high economic growth.
As far as art is concerned, I believe that an expression of an artist will be different depending on the environment the artist has been living in, or has grown up. I have been searching for the way of expressing myself with Printing.
My work always has something to do with Wabi and Sabi which are the concept of the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Wabi means ‘austere refinement’ and Sabi means ‘quiet simplicity’. There is a Japanese saying ‘anything is impermanent’. Perhaps, I want to send a message “Anything is impermanen” through my work. And, I feel beauty on such fragile things, and would like to express it in my work."

Thanks to Pink Tentacle for the tip on this great artist.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Witty Title Not Needed: The Year of the Sex Olympics

Sooner than you think
-- Opening caption to The Year of the Sex Olympics
From the BBC Site:
Nigel Kneale's 1968 cult classic presents an uncannily prescient vision of a future which awaits "sooner than you think", as the pre-title caption informs us. Society is split into two strata: The 'low-drives' comprise the zombie-like majority, mentally anaesthetized by an incessant diet of television, largely consisting of pornography. This includes Artsex and Sportsex, in which grinning 'athletes' attempt to win trophies such as the Casanova Cup and thereby go through to the Sex Olympics.

Television, and by extension the masses, is controlled by the 'high-drives', an educated class who remain servile through their perpetual quest for better ratings and audience subjugation. When a new kind of programme becomes necessary to maintain the public's attention, co-ordinator Ugo Priest turns to comedy, but old fashioned slapstick fails. However, audience reaction soars sky-high when an accidental death is screened live, and a new concept emerges: reality television. A group of volunteers will be placed in a remote house on an island and their every move monitored as they fight, fall in love and fend for themselves.

The Year of the Sex Olympics remains difficult to categorise. It's a provocative, black comedy for much of the first hour but at the same time a character-driven psychological drama as several of the 'high-drives' begin to recognise and act upon compassion, their need for liberty and other impulses which have been submerged all their lives beneath greed, acceptance and the will to rule.

Overall, however, it's difficult not to view the piece as an icily accurate prophecy of media control through banal but manipulative programming. "It was a comment on television and the idea of the passive audience, observed writer Nigel Kneale, "...using porn as a socially beneficial element that turns people into the ultimate passive audience by hooking them on a substitute for sex rather than the real thing and so keeping the population down."

An excellent cast, led by the sublime Leonard Rossiter, does full justice to a brilliant script, and in particular the fascinating, semi-futuristic dialogue written by one of the acknowledged giants of British television.

From Wikipedia:
The Year of the Sex Olympics is a 1968 television play made by the BBC and first broadcast on BBC2 as part of its Theatre 625 strand. It stars Leonard Rossiter, Tony Vogel, Suzanne Neve and Brian Cox. It was directed by Michael Elliot. The writer was Nigel Kneale, best known as the creator of Quatermass.

Influenced by concerns about overpopulation, the counterculture of the nineteen-sixties and the societal effects of television, the play depicts a world of the future where a small elite control the media, keeping the lower classes docile by serving them an endless diet of lowest common denominator programming and pornography. The play concentrates on an idea the programme controllers have for a new programme which will follow the trials and tribulations of a group of people left to fend for themselves on a remote island. In this respect, the play is often cited as having predicted the craze for reality television.

Kneale had fourteen years earlier adapted George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four as a classic and controversial BBC broadcast and the play reflects much of Kneale's assimilation of Orwell's concern about the power of the media and Kneale's experience of the evolving media industry.

Nat Mender: Sex is not to do. Sex is to watch.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

To the moon Alice. The Roadrocket and the only good use of the Napalm delivery system.

"Die Metamorphose der Napalmbombe"
"The Buddha rocket"

The Buddha rocket-sans Buddha

I know very little about this amazing work from German site -but found it while searching for (among other things) vintage racing motorcycle sidecars racers of the sixties.

Here's one of the very "Buck Rodger-ish" Roadrocket sidecars....with (we assume ) the builder.

Here's a closer shot of the club chair and second stage booster wear a crash helmet before getting too comfy.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

One of Our Favorite Artists: Henrich Kley

From Wikipedia:
Heinrich Kley (born 1863 in Karlsruhe, died 1945 or 1952 in Munich(?)) was a German caricaturist, editorial cartoonist and painter.Kley studied "practical arts" at the Karlsruhe Akademie and finished his studies in Munich. His early works were conventional portraits, landscapes, still lifes, city scenes and historical paintings. From about 1892 he won a reputation as an "industry artist", painting manufacturing scenes in oils and watercolors. They proved his deep understanding of the modern machine world. Kley attained greater notoriety with his sometimes darkly humorous pen drawings, published in Jugend and the notorious Simplicissimus.

The date of Kley's death is uncertain. Rumors initially suggested his demise in the early 1940's. According to some authorities Kley died on August 2, 1945; others place the time of death on February 8, 1952. This confusion might have amused the artist, who was drawn to the demonic and absurd in man.

Cartoonist Joe Grant was well aware of Kley's work and introduced his drawings to Walt Disney, who built an extensive private collection. A number of early Disney productions, notably Fantasia, reveal Kley's inspiration.

Here are a few very excellent places to view Kley's wonderfully mischevious illustrations: