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FEELS LIKE...

Ladies and gentlemen, FEELS II is in the books. Much love and many thanks to all the folks involved in bringing our first art and music festival to reality. Bringing together a host of musical artists, from Kool A.D., Teebs and Kreayshawn, to visual artists like Ryan Rocha, Bud Snow and more, FEELS II was one to remember.

Category Archives: Art

FRANK OCEAN – “PYRAMIDS”

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The first Frank Ocean song I ever listened to was “Novacane”. Aside from just being a great song though, there was something about the storytelling that really stuck with me. There was this crazy sense of detachment about the whole thing, as if even as he was narrating in the first person, he was able to remove himself from the narrative, to see things from a bird’s eye view, or a director’s chair (“feelin’ like Stanley…Kubrick”). It’s a talent that kept resurfacing on the first album, and sure enough, when Nabil stepped into his own director’s chair for the “Novocane” visuals, he kept the song’s removed, hazy feel fully intact, with Frank sitting and reminiscing in the midst of a trippy, melty, out-of-body experience..

“Pyramids” once again finds that unique balance, and in a lot of ways, it almost feels like a sequel to that piece. The story all seems to come to us as a version of what’s flashing in front of Frank’s eyes, a Fear & Loathing-style blur of gunshots, menacing strippers and pretty lights, complete with a vision quest, desert mirage John Mayer guitar solo. And yet, through all that drugged-out, woozy haze and confusion, Frank somehow seems above it all, enough removed that it somehow feels like he’s both a character in the story, and the author weaving it all together. It’s something along the lines of Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation. Of course, there’s nowhere that balance delivers more powerfully than on Channel Orange, and I suppose it’s only natural. At a certain point, all great writers write themselves into the script.

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GEBRAUCHSGRAPHIK: WORLD OF GRAPHIC DESIGN

A look back at Germany's pioneering commercial art magazine

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Gebrauchsgraphik

In 1924, graphic design, as such, wasn’t really a thing yet. Granted, the practice of creating visuals for commercial or political causes was nothing new, but it wasn’t until the growing needs of a globalized world–massive military conflict, and more importantly, the rise of an international culture of commerce, mass-production and pop culture–would spur the development of graphic design into a discipline of its own. Like any discipline then, there emerged a handful of pioneers at the forefront, pushing the boundaries of the art form, and helping to articulate its purpose and parameters. Enter Gebrauchsgraphik, a Munich-based publication celebrating typography, innovative graphics and illustrations, and other staples of the still-burgeoning art form.

Over the decades to follow (though unsurprisingly, with a hiatus from 1936 to 1944) Gebrauchsgraphik became a leading force in graphic design, featuring some of the finest from artists’ whose work fell squarely at the intersection of art and commerce. Leading the way for publications like Graphis or Avant Garde, Gebrauchsgraphik was published in several languages and circulated worldwide, and in fact is still published today under the name Novum, a change adopted in the early ’70s. Today, each issue is a goldmine trove of images and information, but maybe what’s most striking is the cover design, particularly during the golden age of advertising, from the late ’50s to the early ’70s. Featured below is just a brief selection, for inspirational purposes.

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CHASING FIRE

Sean Garrison shows us how to photograph 100-foot flames and live to tell about it

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LA Is on Fire
Porter Beach

When most people hear that a fire is approaching they run, evacuating their location while clutching on to what belongings matter most. Sean Garrison runs as well–just in a different direction. Over the past six years, inflamed terrain in the greater Los Angeles area has provided Garrison with a perilous pursuit that has yielded gold many times over. Capturing fire as a means to show his audience a reality they would not otherwise encounter, Sean’s photographs remain an enduring representation of fire’s beauty and destructive power. We sat down with Sean earlier this week to gain some insight on how he goes about photographing the flames.

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GATS: Graffiti Against The System

Art and agitation in the streets of Oakland

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Stemming back to the 1980’s, graffiti writing has been a thriving subculture in the Bay Area. Often coinciding with political movements and tensions, the much-debated art form continues to be a relevant part of Bay Area culture in 2012. As well as examining the motivations behind graffiti writing and the current state of the scene, the video above focuses on Oakland-based graffiti artist GATS (Graffiti Against The System), one of the most well-known and respected graffiti artists in the Bay Area. As tension between the people of Oakland and the Oakland Police Department has increased in recent years with the killing of Oscar Grant and the Occupy movement, GATS has linked up with musician and songwriter Roberto Miguel to paint verses from an original poem around the city of Oakland.

Despite the disappointment that I, and many other Oakland residents, felt with the results of the Occupy movement, I still remember how exciting it was initially. This time last year there was a pervasive feeling in the streets of Oakland that a radical change was forthcoming. As I walked down Adeline and across the overpass to the Port of Oakland on November 2nd, side by side with fellow residents of all colors and ages, it felt as though the people in this city were a stronger force than any institution. A year later, it’s clear that there’s still plenty of work to be done. To my mind though, any form of artistic protest is a step in the right direction. Find part two of the video below.

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FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA PREDICTS THE FUTURE

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I guess he never really could’ve seen it coming. Did anybody? I’m not sure he had Chocolate Rain or the turtles kid in mind. Let alone Worldstar. But it’s a beautiful thing, the walls coming down the way they have in the YouTube era. Accessibility is almost always a good thing, and pretty clearly, it’s a big reason why art is thriving on so many platforms, in so many places. Even if a low bar of entry means we’re exposed to a pretty substantial amount of dumb shit. I suppose it’s all up for debate. But in a sense, it’s why Max and I, and the rest of the crew are here, doing what we’re doing. On a side note, for the Coppola fans, Hearts of Darkness is a must. But more broadly speaking, this particular excerpt just kinda tripped me out. The future’s arrived. I guess all we have to do now is figure out what we’re going to do with it.

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FLYING LOTUS – UNTIL THE QUIET COMES

Director Kahlil Joseph brings the latest from FlyLo to life in another bizarrely beautiful short film

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It was sometime late last year when I finally caught a glimpse of the short film that served as a preview for Black Up, Shabazz Palaces’ ridiculously dope, afro-hyper-futurist opus, which landed them on no shortage of best-of lists and critics polls for 2011. For me though, as cool as the album was, it was Joseph’s vision as a director that really made the music translate, the abstract imagery and this crazy, eerie feeling it left me with.

Having lent his talents to projects showcasing a handful of music’s more forward thinking folks (Aloe Blacc, Shafiq Husayn, Seu Jorge), a collab with Flying Lotus seemed only appropriate, particularly with FlyLo’s third full-length, Until the Quiet Comes, around the corner. For this particular short film, Joseph takes a similar approach to Black Up, using a handful of the album’s more hypnotic songs to soundtrack a dreamlike set of beautifully orchestrated, slow-motion scenes. In doing so, Joseph takes the album’s title to a morbid extreme, crafting a surreal, sublime meditation on life, death and violence. As music videos go, Kahlil’s on a whole different level right now. Oh, and did I even mention the music? I mean, god damn.

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THE ART OF DAGGERING

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Jennifer McLeod. She was the first girl I ever freaked with. Freak dancing hit the scene fast at the EBISC dances. It was the year 2000. Walking through a foggy haze of B.O. and Tommy Hilfiger cologne, you’d run into Palley straight freakin to the left and The Zappas playing tag on the right…Cot damn. There was nothing like those EBISC dances. Nonetheless, the apex of our freak days don’t hold a candle to the legacy of Switch, the self-proclaimed king of daggering. If daggering is new to you, you might want to direct your attention towards a variety of Major Lazer videos to get an idea of how exactly this dance is performed. Essentially simulated sex on the dance floor, daggering has now taken the world by storm, so much so that contemporary fashion label Insight has put together this short documentary for your viewing pleasure, appropriately entitled, “Split Your Jeans, But Don’t Break Your Dick”. Watch and learn.

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BARE: PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRIAN GREEN

Nudity and dark, surreal beauty in this collection from the South Carolina-based photographer

Brian Green

Lovely People. No Clothes. Brian Green‘s description, not mine, but it pretty succinctly sums up the theme of Bare, a gorgeous series put together by the South Carolina-based photographer. Lovely people, no clothes. I suppose it’s not the first time a photographer managed to riff off that particular theme successfully. For one, it’s tough not to look at this collection and be reminded of Ryan McGinley, of Vice and other fame, who’s built his massively impressive portfolio around an abundance of shots showcasing the young, the hip and the naked. Far from recycling though, Bare finds Green carving out his own distinct aesthetic–dark, faded beauty, double exposures, and a talent for finding that unique combination of all things nostalgic and surreal. Thanks to Pas Un Autre, for putting me up.

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REMEMBERING KEITH

Lono Brazil looks back on his times with Keith Haring

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Written By Lono Brazil

One night Keith came to a party at Nell’s for art dealer Tony Shafrazi. As he was leaving he turned back to me and offered me a button to put on my Levi’s Trucker’s Jacket. I asked him if he could tag my jacket, since I saw his tag all over the Village I figured I might as well ask. So he obliged. He always carried sharpies in his bag, so he drew a little man on the back with a black sharpie. I saw him not long after at the Garage again and he brought me into his group. I started hanging out at his studio at 676 Broadway in Greenwich Village. Lots of cool people used to come through that studio. And it put me in the loop into the Downtown 80’s art scene.

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SUMMER OF LOVE BY SAIMAN CHOW

Raised in Hong Kong until the age of 15, you could say Saiman Chow’s overseas upbringing helped inspire his artistic career. Influenced by his love of comic books, cartoons and Japanese pop culture, Saiman’s artistry spans a multitude of mediums, from illustration and design, to animation and directing. In his 2009 work Summer of Love, Saiman captures a variety of peculiar pairings locked in love between the months of May and August. Interestingly enough some of Saigan’s imagery made its way onto the cover of Ariel Pink’s 2010 release, Round and Round. Yet in his own words, Saiman describes Summer of Love as “a bitter sweet series that examine our fascinating yet frightening views on sexuality in our exploitative society.” Do your thing Saiman, do your thing. I’m not mad.

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CAPTURING GREATNESS

Charting the meteoric rise of '70s pop culture photographer Brad Elterman

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Brad Elterman
Brad Elterman By Ian Flanigan

In a pop culture landscape where television feigns reality and celebrities pose as icons, the work of Brad Elterman only gains relevance. Tapped by the hand of destiny to photograph the reclusive Bob Dylan in concert in 1974, the by chance occurrence spawned a single photograph that catapulted Brad to the pinnacle of the editorial world. Seemingly overnight, publicists, record execs, and media personalities grew infatuated with the photographer’s work, clamoring to make sense of how a virtually unknown photographer managed to capture an icon in the midst of his craft. He was 16 years old.

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PLACES & SPACES I’VE BEEN BY PHARRELL WILLIAMS

Pharrell preps for the release of his first coffee table book this fall

I wonder if Pharrell knows his true influence. He probably has an inkling, but how could he ever fully know? Does he know how many kids he influenced to take their size XXXL’s down to an L? Or how many kids he compelled to pick up a skateboard? Does he know how many kids he turned into producers, or how many fists hit tables to recreate “Grindin'” across lunch tables around the nation? He helped Britney get on, and made Justin Timberlake accessible to dudes, birthed a clothing brand that’s still relevant seven years in, and picked up a couple Grammy’s along the way. The list goes on, but I’m gonna stop there. We haven’t even gotten into N.E.R.D….

Adding another notch to his already expansive list of achievements, Pharrell’s latest endeavor comes to us in the form of the artist’s first coffee table book. Enitled Places and Spaces I’ve Been, the book will feature a variety of conversations with Pharrell’s numerous friends and fellow collaborators, from Kanye & Jay-Z to Hans Zimmer and Anna Wintour. Set to release officially on October 16th, with multiple colored covers to accentuate your own living space or bookshelf, I think it’s safe to say that Places and Spaces will be a keeper.

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