Hello 2012, it’s nice to meet you

Sunrise at Joshua Tree

I’m still amazed that 2011 has come and gone so quickly. Nearly a year ago Kyle and I were moving into a new apartment together, boxes all over the place, a new life beginning for the both of us. 2011 was good to me. I started Los Angeles, I’m Yours with the help of Kyle, we adopted an adorable dog, and I got a new day job working at Disney. I don’t have much to complain about, you know what I mean? I guess my life is on the top part of the wheel right now, and for that I’m extremely thankful.

I’m also rather excited to get into 2012. The Fox Is Black turns 5 in April, which is a huge milestone for me. It’s crazy to think I’ve been doing this for so long, and had the opportunity to meet and work with so many rad people. Being on vacation for the last two weeks I’ve realized how much more there still is to do, that I’ve still got a lot of big ideas to achieve, hopefully this is the year it happens. I also turn 30 in August, which is another exciting milestone in my life. I don’t have any fear about getting older, in fact it’s turned into the opposite, I enjoy getting older. Every year I learn more, what I like and dislike, and the path I travel takes shape even more clearly.

I need to give a big thanks to Kyle, for being here, always. A big thanks to Alex and Danica, for being the first writers I ever brought on and for doing such an amazing job. And to Philip and Alec for continuing to post interesting things that I would never write about on my own. Working with such great folks really helps the site grow into something even better.

2012 is going to be good. The site is going to be redesigned soon. It’ll be cleaner, simpler, and I’ll be sharing a lot more of the things I see. That’s really important to me, sharing things which are special. I see a lot of people out their spinning their wheels on bullshit projects, and it really bums me out. I hope everyone takes the time in 2012 to look at what their doing and make sure that it’s helping people or making the world a much more beautiful place to live in. Our time is finite, so don’t waste it. Have a good year. Be good to one another. Thanks for reading.

Bobby Solomon

December 31, 2011 / By

Do You Wanna Play? – A film review of Shame

Poster for the fim Shame

Artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen makes gorgeous films about dirty subjects. His 2011 feature Shame pumps an erotic and visceral heartbeat into the cold exterior of New York City’s accessible culture. The voice that exists within Shame – the unsaid – is as powerful as McQueen’s sleek composition and stylish framing. The film resolves to blur the line between actual ecstasy and inner agony, through main character Brandon (Michael Fassbender) as he struggles with his need for carnal lust within the absence of intimacy.

Brandon is a detached character. The undercurrent to his sterile lifestyle is obscene urge and sexual compulsion. Within minutes of the film, the obsessively structured habits of the austere businessman are set up to include the daily cycle of work, masturbation, pornography, and sex. In Brandon, McQueen has crafted a character whose existence, although dominated by the most passionate of subjects, is flat and lacking the moral compass to find his way through “right” and “wrong” behaviors. There are no consequences to Brandon’s hyper-sexualized actions. He watches porn at work, he has sex in alleys, and recesses from his desk to the public washroom for a daily session of masturbation. Although at first he is able to function publicly, his secret fetishes are at the forefront of his existence. Single and living alone, there is no one in Brandon’s insular world able to judge his private perversions.

The introduction of his sister Sissy (Carey Mulligian) who unexpectedly becomes his unwanted houseguest with a TBD departure date interrupts his sterile world of work, masturbation, pornography, and sex. Brandon’s dirty private life becomes exposed to the last person on earth who should witness your vulgar side – your family. Basic psychology dictates that the feeling of shame surfaces through the guilt of knowing that you’ve acted in violation of your own internal law. The mere presence of Sissy within Brandon’s daily life unearths his suppressed inner law and becomes the catalyst for him to experience shame. As Sissy squeezes Brandon’s private compulsions into public light his inner battle becomes a weight too heavy to bare, leading to a reckless rampage that transitions him to a predator of sort.

Although present throughout the film by way of dialogue between Brandon and the female characters, the delineation between his propensity for the impersonal over the intimate comes through McQueen’s choice in shot composition of two explicit sex scenes. The filmmaker pulls the camera away from the romantic love scene, representing the disconnection Brandon feels when encountered with intimate feelings. Here, the setting is a cold modern hotel room, bathed in blue hued natural light, and framed from a distance in a long take. The more ravishing sex scene, an inter-racial threesome, representing the impersonal connection of prostitution, is warm, fragmented and shot in close range. Visions of the salacious and obscene are assembled in an alluring montage. McQueen’s choice of framing for the “dirty” scene tells us that it is here, within shame, where Brandon feels most protected. Set to a soundtrack that mirrors his climactic moments, the sequence culminates in a soft focus close up of Michael Fassbender’s face. He is looking directly at the camera, yet it is difficult to tell if he is experiencing pain or pleasure, as he is an enemy to both.

Shame is a progressive film, which seeks to loosen the boundaries of material usually presented in standard wide release films, yet the NC-17 rating seems exaggerated. We live in a world where pornography is no longer taboo. The fact that Brandon engages in this behavior is not shocking, yet what is interesting is the choice to leave Brandon simmering and unchanged. That, is realistic, disturbing and most provocative.

Christina Stimpson

December 22, 2011 / By

Pass Museum in the Timmelsjoch Experience by Werner Tscholl

Pass Museum in the Timmelsjoch Experience by Werner Tscholl

Pass Museum in the Timmelsjoch Experience by Werner Tscholl

Pass Museum in the Timmelsjoch Experience by Werner Tscholl

This is the Pass Museum in the Timmelsjoch Experience designed by Werner Tscholl. The Experience extends along a road in the mountainous region between Austria and Italy, and although the road evolved from a simple mule path connecting two valleys, the experience is now punctuated along its length by small and sculptural works of architecture, like the one above. The sophistication of these new structures might be lost on the mules today, and they may not appreciate an interior meant to resemble an ice cave, but the Timmelsjoch Experience is about celebrating the history of this pass: its early trekkers and their mules, too. Because the modern road ribbons through high, steep and snowy elevations, the pass is only open from June through October each year; at least for cars.

Alex Dent

December 21, 2011 / By

The Desktop Wallpaper Project featuring Eda Akaltun

The Desktop Wallpaper Project featuring Eda Akaltun

Eda Akaltun

It’s nearly X-Mas, so why not celebrate the holidays with penguins and jellies? This week we have British illustrator Eda Akaltun at the helm, and I think she’s done a wonderful job. Her work uses a lot of found images mixed together with bright colors and random shapes, creating a timeless but nostalgic feeling.

For her wallpaper, she took a wrapping paper design she created for Nobrow and wallpaper-ized it for us. The result is pretty cute, and would probably look awesome on your mom’s monitor. Just change it for you, she’ll be so excited! A big thanks to Eda for a beautiful wallpaper, and check back next week for something special.

Bobby Solomon

December 21, 2011 / By

The year in volcanic activity, in photos

The year in volcanic activity, in photos

The year in volcanic activity, in photos

The year in volcanic activity, in photos

Click images to enlarge

2011 has seemed like quite a year for volcanos, although, perhaps we’re really just astonished by them more than ever? It’s not like the volcanos got together and decided that 2011 was gonna be a crazy year, you know what I mean? Anyhow, The Atlantic’s In Focus photo blog has collected together a series of the best volcano related photos from the past year, and there are some really beautiful images to be seen.

The image at top is from Puyehue volcano near Osorno in southern Chile, the middle photo is from Nahuel Huapi Lake in Villa La Angostura in southern Argentina, and the bottom image is from the same location as the top image. Pretty crazy stuff. You can check out the full series of photos by clicking here.

Bobby Solomon

December 21, 2011 / By

‘The Great Divide’ by Nich Hance McElroy

Nich Hance McElroy

Nich Hance McElroy

‘The Great Divide’ is a new series of images from the Seattle-based photographer Nich Hance McElroy. McElroy has an eye for capturing the hardship seen in nature and nearly every image he takes shows the landscape at it’s most unforgiving. Yet his photographs also show the beauty that exists within this grim world too. There are horses, mountains and vintage cars to be seen amid these surroundings.

Like any great photographer, McElroy allows us to enter his world and shows it to us through his own eyes. It may be a troubling place but it is also filled with beauty and splendor and it would seem that McElroy wouldn’t want it any other way. Make sure to check out the full series of ‘The Great Divide’ here as it comes highly recommended.

Philip Kennedy

December 21, 2011 / By

Photos of China’s Abandoned Wonderland by David Gray

David Gray photographs Abandoned Wonderland

David Gray photographs Abandoned Wonderland

David Gray photographs Abandoned Wonderland

David Gray photographs Abandoned Wonderland

Abandoned buildings have always creeped me out. It’s unsettling to fumble between decaying walls, where you’re likely to find… well, who knows what rusty-and-mold-covered joys. There’s a strange feeling with you, as you intrude into the past like this. But if there is a kind of abandoned place that should be amusing, it would have to be an amusement park, right?

Maybe not. Above are eerie pictures taken by David Gray of an amusement park abandoned durring its construction: Wonderland. 20 miles outside of Beijing, the site could have become the largest amusement park in Asia, that is if developers hadn’t run into “disagreements with the local government and farmers over property prices.” So instead of becoming Wonderland, the long rows of corn have remained growing, defining the edges of what could have become long rows of parked cars or crowded lines of people waiting for a roller coaster.

Maybe that’s what so strange about this series of photos– it’s the future from the past– where galvanized ambitions turned rusty and there’s mysterious darkness where you would hope to find shelter. Wonderland is a place where the corn won. All that’s left are steel skeletons of buildings, some with thin and stylized veneers, and the tracks of famers, kids and the occasional photographer. It makes for a compelling series of photos, but it doesn’t seem like a very amusing place.

Alex Dent

December 20, 2011 / By

The beautiful, brooding photos of Alex Webb

The beautiful, brooding photos of Alex Webb

The beautiful, brooding photos of Alex Webb

The beautiful, brooding photos of Alex Webb

I came across the work of Alex Webb over on Lens, The New York Times photo blog, a photographic genius who’s been shooting for the last 30 years. He sees himself as a street photographer, but one that explores more areas than just the streets. His work proves his statement, as evidenced by the photos above and the photos in this Lens slideshow. To learn more about Alex, click here to read the interview he did with Lens.

Bobby Solomon

December 20, 2011 / By

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