I was immediately drawn to Kris Mukai’s work in the latest issue of The New Yorker, and when I discovered that she also makes animated GIFS of her characters I became a fan for life. The best part about Kris is her versatility, she can go from creating a really goofy anime caricature of Notorious BIG to a seriously detailed commercial illustration for the film Dogtooth. Zine fans will love her self-published comic strips like “Ghost Factory“ which involves a cat and bear doing whacky antics like breaking into a factory to find a ghost.
Last week I came across this image by Yarisal & Kublitz over on Today & Tomorrow and it definitely resonated with me. It’s called Just Like Starting Over, and for some reason I find this idea really romantic, that you could start things over and it could all be better. It’s a naive idea as well, and silly most definitely, but that’s what I like about it. I’m sure when some people view a piece like this they’ll see the inverse, the U.S. flag in pieces on the ground, but this feels like a glass half empty/glass half full scenario. I’d describe myself as a realistic optimist, so this looks like an opportunity to be creative and make positive changes, make things better.
Today is holiday here; a break from work or summer classes, because stateside, it is Memorial Day: a day to remember the folks who died serving under the American flag. So this week, I thought we start in the United States by looking at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The memorial was designed by Maya Lin while she was still an undergraduate student at Yale. It shouldn’t be too surprising that a memorial to a controversial conflict would elicit a lot of dispute itself, but anger ignited after Lin’s design was selected: fueled by disagreements over what a memorial should be, the austerity of Lin’s design and, sadly, her race. At the dedication ceremony in 1982, Lin’s name wasn’t even mentioned.
Whenever something this important is this abstract, the interpretations of the form, materiality– everything– are open to many readings. The memorial has not turned out to be the scar that that detractors feared it would be. Most of the controversy dissolved when visitors experienced that it wasn’t a dig at veterans, but a powerful tribute to the men and women inscribed in its walls. That it was conceived by someone so young, selected by the jury, survived the political tumult and built on the national mall is unlikely and I’m not sure a similarly situated design would survive today.
Occasionally in school when architecture students and architecture professors disagreed about the direction or propriety of a project, you would hear the anecdote about Maya Lin, whose studio professor allegedly disliked her memorial project and gave her a low grade. “It just shows you how little professors know,” you might hear as tired people stood around a model picked apart physically and conceptually. But the strength of an idea isn’t if it is immune from criticism and controversy, but if it can survive.
Wow, I think I might have spent my whole weekend listening to Jape‘s Lying on a Deathbed. It’s the second single from a free double A-side which was released last Friday which is well worth getting your hands on. Jape is the band name of Dubliner Richie Egan, who might be best known for his excellent track Floating, which was covered by Brendan Benson on a few occasions and has a really excellent video.
Richie hasn’t released anything since 2008, and he recently mentioned how he had gotten close to finishing up a new album on numerous occasions but kept going back to write more and more songs; pushing his songwriting as hard as he could. This really shows on Lying in a Deathbed which, for me, could easily be one of the best Irish songs of the last 10 years. Richie describes the song as “one long dying breath” , a look back on a life filled with fond memories and gentle musings about existence. It’s a mellow track with a simple melody, but Richie’s world of bus trips to Brittas Bay, single-sex schools and gigs in the Baggot Inn is one which I too have familiar memories of. It’s this familiarity that I think makes this song so special, and Jape’s simple, and at times, understated recollection of this life is both unsentimental and sweet.
As I said, maybe it’s my familiarity with many of the things mentioned in this song that makes it so special for me, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to share it with you on the site today. Seeing as The Fox Is Black has such a broad readership, I thought I’d finish by asking what your favorite song from your country has been in the last ten years? It would be great to hear a mix of songs from all over the world, so if you want to nominate a song stick it in the comments below, and be sure to mention your country. Who knows, maybe if it catches on I’ll share some of my favorites in the coming weeks? Cheers!
This week, I thought I’d share a few shorts featuring space suits or on some space-related theme. The first is Arrive by Elena Jil Osmann, the second is Starcrossed by Tactful-Cactus, and the final is The Lonely Astronaut by Benjamin Prichard. Each short has a different conception and distinct portrayal of space, but all have something to do with isolation. Isolation may not be the most optimistic territory, but it’s a persistent theme for a reason that I haven’t exactly figured out over the past year. My best guess is that space exaggerates physical isolation so that we easily understand the emotional isolation of some character. It is also surprising, even if it’s not novel, to ignore the technological wonder of space in favor of something that can be darker, more interesting or surprising.