Archive for May, 2008|Monthly archive page

¡Land of the Lucha Libre!

Luchadors. Mexican wrestlers. They’ve all got a story – and a logo. Their mask.

Where does the mask come from?

Aztecs, if you’re being dreamy and distant. The need for self-promotion, if you’re being 20th century and consumerist.

But hold that disbelief for one second. There are stories behind those masks. There’s honour and history behind the luchadors, even when they’re fighting werewolves in comic books.

Can the same be said of the WWF (WWE?) loudmouth? The hard-selling capitalist breed of this noble and ridiculous warrior, changing identity and allegiance as the money takes him?

I’m not sure. But I know I prefer the underdog’s story. And it takes good storytelling to get millions transfixed by a single TV second, over and over.

Take it away, Santo…

Related: Brazilian logo mashing.

Event: Lucha Libre in London this July.

Remember: This is just cultural mash-up. But feel free to start a serious discussion if you want one…

What is Analogue Cheese?

Not a question I expect to be asking myself on a Sunday night.

But browsing the freezer of your nearest cornershop tends to leave you with a basketful of questions. Or, at worst, spectacularly poor answers.

This San Marco pizza presented the answer to a question I never dreamt I’d ask. What is analogue cheese?

“Deep pan pizza topped with analogue cheese, reformed ham, mushrooms and mozzarella cheese.”

You can add another question to that list. Who are San Marco pizza? They were offloaded by Heinz in 2003 and picked up by Northern Foods sometime after that. The rest is mystery.

But Google analogue cheese and you get a quick, cheery answer:

[Update: European Foods appear to have cleaned up this page since I took the screengrab.]

“Cutting your costs, building your profits”? That sounds a bit like industry salespeak now, doesn’t it…

Delightfully, it is. Not only do companies seem bound to state analogue cheese as an ingredient on their packaging, but muppets are running their online shop.

The manufacturer might want to “emulate cheese” and “imagine the savings!”, but the consumer will do a little sick in the back of their mouth at the sight of this thinly-stretched masquerading imposter.

And it’s top of the SEO pops for the term ‘analogue cheese’.

A victory for online transparency?

Or does it just beg another question – what is digital cheese?

More Bad Language: Dogs Down the Sh*tter; P*ssed Kids Film Drivers; Give Chihuahuas A Little F*cking Respect.

How to VJ #3

After How to VJ # 2, you’re now in the deep groove of pre-production.

Your footage is moving alright. But you’ve got to cut it correct in the edit, or you won’t be able to make it behave on the night.

You look ahead to that future in loops or lines.

Stop for a second. Listen to music you like – the kind of music you want to perform to. You have to understand that music.

Parts of it will be looping in regular and complete patterns. Parts of it won’t feel complete. They’ll be coming in at intervals and fading out, unfinished. They’ll be stabbing in, hard, jagged, irregular.

Your footage should use both if you want your live performance to be subtle and impressive. You’ll rely on loops to create layers and depth. You’ll need lines to give it surprise and character through manual control.

I’ll end this with Zan Lyons. I was lucky enough to work alongside him for London Poetry Systems this week. His layers, loops and lines reverberated through sound and image together and they explain this core thought much better than I can in words. Truly stunning.

Just watch closely what he’s doing, and turn your speakers up…

Bonus thought: Still not sure what’s meant by loops and lines? Look at the next Flash landing page you hit online. Is the load animation linear (like a load bar with a defined end point) or looping (like a circle going round continually until the page loads up)?

Recommended reading: Gilles Deleuze – Cinema 2: The Time-Image.

Previously: #1 What can you do?; #2 How can it dance?

Up next: #4 You know the type?

Hey! Leave Those Brands Alone

Danish artist Nadia Plesner devised this design to raise money for Darfur.

Louis Vuitton aren’t happy about her fundraising activities (full story here), citing an infringement of “Intellectual Property Rights”.

“Intellectual Property”?

Wow. How contrary. Brands want us to love, cherish, kiss and hug them. Online, they want us to play with them, tickle them, retouch them (I’m thinking sneakers and labels – Beck’s Fusions last year comes to mind).

They want us to remix. Because they know we like to remix. But only if it’s on their terms and, preferably, their microsite.

This attitude’s so retro it’s almost charming. But not quite. And far less charming for its PR stupidity. They could have easily supported the campaign and added buckets to their brand greenwash. Not to mention dirtied dollars to the Darfur appeal.

I’m with Brazilian designer Mario Amaya (see below). Let’s get remixing brands, whether they like it or not. If they want to be in our lives, they need to be taught how the real world shakes today.

Related: Boosh vs. Honey Monster, Round 1.

Essential: The Pirate’s Dilemma – We Invented the Remix.

Previous: Segway Watch – the Future Goes Social.

Ponging for Pacifists

No winners and no losers in this piece by Viennese collective Monochrom.

Just eternal interaction. Harmony and synchronisity. A noble thought.

But it raises the point: without an element of competition, how long can interaction stay interesting?

Have a play and find out (via). (It could give you a breather from GTA IV.)

Movimiento Porteño

Last year in Buenos Aires I was hungry-eyed on the streets. There was protest, performance, politicking and an implacable air of tango. Under the stern skies, always life and movement.

Now, after a winter of work by Blu, the walls have started moving (thanks Kaara for the link).

So what the hell’s happening out there?

You can keep a watchful eye on What’s Up Buenos Aires.

And if you need a motion refill, last month Buenos Aires hosted Punto y Raya (snippet below). Not the same ai ai ai! factor as Blu’s animation, but a bucketload of technique.

Back to basics: dots, lines, movement.

All core for VJs. But with HD and new(ish) sites like Vimeo – not to mention BBC’s iPlayer – everyone needs to stay sharp to movimiento.

It’s a language the whole world’s speaking in. You gotta catch its finer inflections.

Update: Blu, the artist who created the first video, is from Bologna. You can read his blog here. More info about the production here. And a well-gathered overview at Drawn!

Enter the ROJO®

ROJO®tv is now switched on. Broadcasting via internet from an HQ in Catalonia.

The “consortium” run visual rackets from Milan, São Paulo and Barcelona.

And with the quality coming out of Spain and Brazil in particular, you could almost shrug at this site for being excellent all over.

But it’s a hot day on the beach.

The video content is beautiful. The sun’s out. It’s worth having a bask. Warmed up a few ideas for me.

It’s Big City Waxing

No one cares that Superman’s dead. Did you spot him in Chris Ware‘s illustration?

Foot on the ground in big city, there are millions of things you don’t notice. Most are banal. Some incidental. A few, tragic.

But you keep on keeping on. As long as it’s not your tragedy. Tough luck for Icarus (he’s kissing the fishes, bottom right).

No doubt cursing himself on a design oversight. Wax for wings? To the sun?

That’s not the style of a Renaissance man. Gotta see outside the grid to plough on in the big city.

How to VJ #2

After How to VJ #1, you’ve still not touched any VJ software.

You’re making, animating, filming, researching – one way or another, you’re finding your way to put together material.

But when it comes to a club night, you’ll have to perform. You’ll have to make it dance.

In preparation, you do one of three things:

1. Nothing. It’s already dancing

If you’ve filmed or sampled moving footage, it’s got its own in-built motion. A life of its own, baby. You gotta dance with it, so learn your steps. It’s leading the dance. Not you.

2. Order a few cocktails

If you’re animating, this is where you turn static into Thriller. Give it some attention, a couple of Long Island Ice Teas and it’ll shake to your moves.

For a strong all-night performance, though, you’ll need to move in the right circles. So keep thinking about loops.

3. Drop a killer beat

If your material’s still not toe-tapping, the show’s not over. As soon as you start editing, whether pre-production or live, you’re supplying a new beat. You can get a booty shimmer out of a photograph if pick the right cuts.

You shouldn’t think about equipment or software until you’ve figured how to make it dance the way you want. You want rhythm, you want style, you want personality.

It can get more meaningful in the right combinations. But I’ll let Alfred Hitchcock march in to finish. He’ll explain the Kuleshov effect better than I could:

Previously: #1 What can you do? Up next: #3 Keep it in time.