The Rethink Scholarship is an $18,000 scholarship for aspiring art directors and designers to Langara College’s Communication and Ideation Design program. The winner will also receive a 3-month internship with Rethink.
One of the great music videos by N.A.S.A. mentioned in that Tom Waits post (though I don’t know if it’s the best) features the distinctive work of the artist Marcel Dzama (ignore the D and you’re probably pronouncing it right). The song, ‘The People Tree’, features David Byrne so, you know – get to it.
But Dzama’s imaginatively eerie style (if his art was in a horror film, it would be an artful crayon drawing by a haunted child that makes the parents wonder just what the hell is wrong with their kid) has been better captured on video elsewhere – in this Department of Eagles video for ‘No One Does It Like You’, which the artist himself co-directed with Patrick Daughters:
(Dzama also, Wikipedia tells me, contributed to this Bob Dylan music video ‘When the Deal Goes Down’, but his contribution seems to come only at the end, by which time it may be competing for the viewer with the creeping approach of yawns and sleep.)
Okay, so NASA bombed the moon recently, and I think we can all agree that’s kind of cool, in the same way that slapping Lenin’s corpse in the face would be kind of cool: it’s intuitively a good idea, but once you’d done it, it would be hard to be too proud or say exactly what you’d really accomplished.
But N.A.S.A. the music project (standing for North America South America, and fronted by Squeak E. Clean and DJ Zegon) have been turning out some of the best music videos ever made, so it’s hard to say which is now my favourite NASA. Oh wait, did the National Aeronautics and Space Administration ever do a song with Tom Waits? No? Then fuck them.
And it turns out Tom’s been animated before – he was rotoscoped for a 1978 short called Tom Waits for No One, singing ‘The One that Got Away’ (the film even won an Oscar for Scientific and Technical Achievement).
And there’s some of the original footage on YouTube, before the animators drew over it:
And! here’s a video directed by Anders Lövgren that animates the lyrics to the Waits’ song ‘Come On Up to the House’ in hand-drawn type. Stick with it – it’s a simple idea, but so well done it becomes hypnotic instead of tedious. (It doesn’t hurt that it’s a great song.)
(Thanks to my friend Stephen for letting me know about Tom Waits for No One; ‘Come On Up to the House’ video via The Font Feed. It should be noted that despite his being a figure of beer-slurring cigarette-smoking louche male disintegration, I feel for Tom Waits roughly what six-year-old girls feel for pink.)
It made me think of the photographer Robbie Cooper’s Immersion project. He filmed children playing video games. The level of involvement’s similar, but the concentration is something else. I don’t know exactly what that says about video games.
You can see more images on Robbie Cooper’s own website (just click ‘Simulations’ and then ‘Immersion’), and you really should go and watch this video of the players at the New York Times, from which the stills are taken.
About an hour after I posted this I was flicking through the ol’ feed reader and came across this post on the Creative Review Blog about a new Japanese advertising campaign for the slim PS3 called Playface. As with Immersion, they’re filming people as they game.
Just to reiterate, this is an occasional attempt to trace the work of creative minds as it is adopted, reused and transformed by those that follow them, and (either sooner or later) ingested by the hungry maw of advertising. Only because the attempt might be kind of fun, not because referencing or being influenced by previous creative work is necessarily a bad thing.
Here’s the trailer for the American release of Armando Ianucci’s implausibly funny and just as clever political satire In the Loop.
The frenetic cutting of the trailer calls back to the work of Pablo Ferro, who was recruited by Stanley Kubrick to make the trailers to Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb and A Clockwork Orange. The In the Loop trailer also refers to the Clockwork Orange trailer in its choice of soundtrack: both use a disturbingly insistent electronic version of the William Tell Overture (in the grip of madness, or when woken by them first thing in the morning, all mobile phones sound like this).
However, Kubrick apparently initially approached another master of quick cuts to produce the trailer for Dr Strangelove – Arthur Lipsett, whose short film ‘Very Nice, Very Nice’ Kubrick much admired. Lipsett declined the offer, and Kubrick got Ferro. (You can see ‘Very Nice, Very Nice’ here, if the National Film Board of Canada’s website is working.)
Whether Ferro was influenced by Lipsett when cutting his trailers together isn’t clear. But this is the tradition the makers of the In the Loop trailer built on to convey a sense of the film without including any of its impressive, inventive and near-fucking-constant profanities. Which is a pretty miraculous feat of editing.
To create any kind of art, whether personal or commercial, without taking inspiration from the art of others that preceded it is neither a realistic nor a desirable goal. Still it seems like it might be worthwhile, or at least interesting, to track some more or less original ideas as they work their way into advertising – advertising being constantly hungry for new and attention-grabbing ideas.
This isn’t to pass judgement or cast scorn. In art (including advertising) being under an influence is nothing to be ashamed of. Appropriation can be done intelligently and elegantly (as much as it can be done crassly). And good derivative work will stand up to having its influences identified and examined.
Anyway, this time, the excellent work of graffiti artist Blu, whose animation MUTO appeared on the internet about a year ago and has since had more than 7 million views through Vimeo and YouTube. If you haven’t seen it before, you’re in for a treat.