‘All-Star Superman’, the only Superman story that makes sense

All-Star Superman, the defining Superman story

The problem with Superman is that he’s God in the form of a human.

He’s easily one of the most well-known fictional characters ever created. Faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings with a single bound, he’s everything we aren’t but want to be. The problem with Superman, fundamentally as a character, is that he doesn’t do all of the things he should be able to do. For example, why doesn’t he feed all the starving people in the world, planting sustainable crops in their backyards. Why doesn’t he free the oppressed? Cure cancer with his brilliant, Kryptonian mind? This is where disbelief tends to not be suspended and your left with an omnipotent being that fights dudes in spandex outfits.

Then came along All-Star Superman in January of 2006, written by Grant Morrison, with pencils by Frank Quitely and digitally inked and colored by Jamie Grant. In my opinion, it’s the best Superman tale ever told, because this creative team simply makes Superman, super.

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Bobby Solomon

December 12, 2011 / By

An Interview with Keene Kopper

An Interview with Keene Kopper

Keene Kopper Floating Landscapes

Keene Kopper Floating Landscapes

Below is an interview with Keene Kopper. I’m a big fan of his work, which lies somewhere between art and architecture. When I sent him a few questions, I was surprised by his answers, including how influential music has been for him. I will also be trying to work “mistake cul-de-sac” into conversations this holiday season, giving him full credit.

Who are you and what do you do?
The first part of that question is funny. When someone does something debatably stupid, I find my self sometimes saying sarcastically out loud: “Who are you?” Its more of a personal joke, but anyway… I consider my self an environmental artist or environmental architect, but I think that when most people hear the word “environment” it makes them think of the ecological environment, which is definitely a canvas for me too. When I refer to the environment though, I am referring to our direct context composed of a space/non-space or volume of space, sound, smell, touch, light, temperature, taste (good or bad) — really anything that sets the scene for a person to have a whole body and mind experience. Those are my tools and the type of content that I express with that set of tools typically revolves around the exploration of the ego itself, or sometimes the exploration of the ego in various contexts, like in politics, relationships or my personal evolution. I find astrology and Buddhism to be a big source of inspiration and I enjoy seeking out and experimenting with overlapping points of theory or belief between the two.”

Keene Kopper Floating Landscapes

How did you get interested in architecture/art/design?
I think early on because of my father’s involvement in the music industry, I was surrounded by a lot of really open minded creative types. Music is a really important part of my life, I find a lot of inspiration in it, whether its the lyrics of a Talking Heads or Jim O’Rourke song, or the monotonous tones of La Monte Young or noise of The Hafler Trio or Zoviet France.

In school I actually started off in mechanical engineering but switched my major to architecture because I found that I wanted a job that allowed me to be more expressive. It was a BFA with a concentration in architecture, which was a good balance of a fine arts degree and an architectural design degree. After working at Kohn Pedersen Fox for four years, I got really tired of working in such an intensely corporate environment, and in some ways, I felt that it was really killing my ability to design spontaneously. At that point I didn’t have a lot of free time after work because I was working so much, but in the time that I did have, I made small oil paintings, kinetic wood sculptures, and installations or “party pavilions” for friend’s birthday parties on my rooftop in Brooklyn. I’d say that was when I started to realize that I needed to move further away from engineering towards art, which is really where I am right now.

What projects are you currently working on?
Currently, I’m working on a dance piece for a Pecha Kucha presentation with Brittney Everett under our collaborative pseudonym WNFG. We’re collaborating on the slide images, costume design and choreography. I’m also about to sign a commercial lease on a 2000 square foot, 17 foot tall old concrete manufacturing building space in New Orleans where I’m going to be building out 6-8 artist studios/residencies and gallery. I’m hoping to have that up and running at least partially, in the next few months.

I just thought of this project recently that I’m really excited about executing, but have not found a gallery or funding for it yet: I’m going to ask 6-8 people to grow all of their body hair out for 1 year. In a gallery, there will be 4’x8’ tall pieces of plexi mounted to the wall (as place holders for future images). At the opening there will be just these places holders on the wall and the performers dressed in street clothes, hopefully mingling with guests. At a predetermined, precise time, the 6 or 8 performers will, seemingly spontaneously, stand in front of their respective place-holder-on-the-wall and strip bare naked. Then I’m going to take a pair of sheers and cut compositions out of all of their hair, from head to toe. I’ll take photos and replace the place holders.

The most important thing I have going on right now is my MFA grad school applications, due in January.

Interview with Keene Kopper

What do you appreciate the most about well-designed spaces?
The kinds of spaces that I appreciate are usually what most people might call minimalist, but I consider minimalism to be more about conveying an idea succinctly, rather than just having a minimal form, geometric, organic or what have you. I feel the same way about art; I really don’t like architecture or art that tries to address too many concepts or issues, or on the other hand work that is just an exercise in a particular style or gestural language, void of any conceptual agenda. I’m not totally against things just being beautiful for the sake of being beautiful, but there is a limit in my immediate surroundings to things that are just nice to look at, there has to be a functionality to the object/architecture and that functionality can be to fulfill an architectural program or the art can serve the purpose of conveying an idea, hopefully one at a time. Executing a design or a piece of art is like writing an essay, essays are to address one idea at a time succinctly.

Exploration is good for the notebook, I just don’t think its an economical use of time to be building a massive sculpture when you don’t already have a strong agenda -conceptual or formal- set up already. Some people might be turned off by that and think that that sounds really limiting creatively, but for me, intense forethought and journaling is more free and open to the birth of new ideas than just setting off on the course to build stuff that could get caught in a mistake cul-de-sac. Like most people, I don’t have a lot of time or money, so ending up with an art-object-in-a-cul-de-sac is really a huge waste of resources.

That all being said, that is the lens I use to look through when I’m looking at art/architecture/design; I appreciate good composition, gestural and formal economy (both a collaborative result of material economy), thought provocation and succinctness.

Interview with Keene Kopper

Which architects/artists/designers are seriously overrated or underrated?
I dont think that Hafler Trio is underrated, but few people know him outside his genre. Those who know his work and philosophy have respect for him. He is a really talented musician and music producer who uses contrast compositioning beautifully to evoke basic, instinctual feelings. I think Frank Gehry is overrated. MVRDV is one of my all time favorites, maybe a little underrated and I think they get a lot of respect, but not like OMA, which I have some respect for and wouldn’t consider Rem Koolhaus overrated; there is some really great job-specific design happening there. I read this interview this summer with Urs Fischer that turned me off a little bit, but otherwise I find his work succinctly provocative.

When do you do your best work?
I do my best, most authentic work when I breathe in and out and am not being interrupted by egos, those of others or my own.

Alex Dent

December 12, 2011 / By

‘Scale It Back’ by DJ Shadow feat. Little Dragon

DJ Shadow - Scale it Back feat. Little Dragon (Milo Firewater Remix)

DJ Shadow - Scale it Back feat. Little Dragon (Milo Firewater Remix)

I’ve heard really mixed reactions to DJ Shadow‘s latest album The Less You Know, The Better, and so I’ve been putting checking it out on the long-finger for a while now. That said, I was interested in hearing his collaboration with Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon and so last night I watched the video for Scale It Back.

While the track itself is an enjoyable and infectious listen, it’s the music video by Ewan Jones Morris and Casey Raymond that really caught my attention. Inspired by a memory sequence created by Ben Pridmore, the video really does an excellent job of bringing such a wonderful concept to life. Both inventive and playful, it’s well worth checking out!

Philip

Philip Kennedy

December 12, 2011 / By

Last Week on TFIB

Last Week on TFIB

Jessica Hische outlines the differences between inspiration and imitation
Jessica Hische gives an amazing breakdown of ways in which you can be a better artist while finding your own style. A lot of people have been really taking what she’s saying out of context, but I for one applaude her for what she’s written.

Those stacks look familiar…
Luis Urculo takes household objects and carefully positions and cantilevers them to resemble works of architecture.

Complex, organic landscapes by Sakiroo Choi
Sakiroo Choi, a South Korean illustrator, makes landscape drawings you might see if you take hallucinogens. The color combos are not to be missed.

A Checkered Cylinder of Mirrors by Arnaud Lapierre
Set within Place Vendôme in Paris, the tidy project generates a virtually infinite number of optic effects, even though such effects are created on simple principles of physics and the construction of the installation it not hard to comprehend.

Metaphorical Horizons by Lene Wille
LEGOs as art? That’s what Lene Wille did back in 2005. Her installation is stark and sculptural and yet its use of material makes for something which is both fun and playful.

The Desktop Wallpaper Project featuring Jesse Tise
Last week’s wallpaper comes from L.A. based artist Jesse Tise who’s work couldn’t be any brighter! This wallpaper is only for the bold and daring, you’ve been warned.

Say hello to Kepler-22b
NASA has found an Earth-like planet called Kepler-22b! It’s 2 1/2 times our size, has an orbit similar to Earth’s, but sadly it’s 600 light years away.

Designer Holiday Lights by Ilmex
It’s a fact, Madrid has the prettiest X-mas lights in the world.

Bobby Solomon

December 12, 2011 / By

Designer Holiday Lights by Ilmex

Designer Holiday Lights by Ilmex

Designer Holiday Lights by Ilmex

Designer Holiday Lights by Ilmex

Although it’s not officially winter yet (December 22, for those who are curious), we can all agree that it gets dark too early in the winter (apologies to any nocturnal species reading.) The sun doesn’t rise as high in the sky durring the winter months, and as low as the sun rises, it doesn’t stay around as long. Maybe this starts to explain why our cities redress themselves for the winter holidays using electric accessories?

Take for instance Madrid, which might have some of the most interesting holiday lighting projects I’ve come across. All of the photos above are taken from the website of Ilmex, which recently released a design edition of holiday lighting featuring designers like Luis Urculo (you might remember him). If you had giant, illuminated eyeballs with eyelashes floating over your streets, would you complain about the extra hours of darkness?

Alex

Alex Dent

December 9, 2011 / By

Space Suit of the Week

Space Suit of the Week - Adam Devarney

Space Suit of the Week - Adam Devarney

Bon Voyage. Good luck. See ya later. Godspeed.

A spacesuit has 27 layers. Like the garments they bear, Adam Devarney’s travelers navigate through a layered patchwork of imagined narratives. Devarney’s pieces were first included in a 2010 exhibition entitled Godspeed, collaged portraits pieced together in a dream-like narrative of hallowed ghosts of aviators past, suited up for a prosperous journey ahead. The Fox is Black reader and Vermont native speaks of his process:

“I’m interested in how narratives arise from simply taking things out of context and thrusting them together,” Deverney says. “How the collage material relates depends on the associations we make with the content.  They are almost like dreams to me… Vague fogs, with little snippets of information that allude to some sort of dialogue or story.”

Alana

Alana Zimmer

December 9, 2011 / By

Finding your Twin – Kepler-22b

The planet Kepler-22b

After years of waiting, nothing came. So instead of waiting we found a planet.

Kepler-22b is NASA’s latest discovery. The incredibly awesome Kepler telescope has been searching for earth-like planets for years now. This is the first instance in our history that we have found a planet similar to our own. A twin if you will. Except we have no idea what it is made of and it is 2 1/2 times our size. It has an orbit similar to Earth, which makes Kepler-22b’s year (290 days) as close to ours as possible. As they said on badastronomy,

[T]hat puts the planet inside of that star’s habitable zone, the distance where, given certain planetary conditions, liquid water can exist. It may be that life can arise where there’s no water, but we know life on Earth needs water, so if we’re looking for habitable planets it makes sense to look for the possibility of water there.

NASA has provided one theoretical image of Kepler-22b. I mean, it is 600 light years away, it’s kinda hard to see. Yet this definitively proves there are water-bearing planets in our universe, leading to the possibility of life. Kepler will find more planets like ours, but how many and how close will they be to us?

Alec

Alec Rojas

December 9, 2011 / By

‘Pin Ups’ by Julianna Brion

Pin-up by Julianna Brion

Pin-up by Julianna Brion

Pin-up by Julianna Brion

I love these drawings of pin-ups by the Baltimore-based illustrator Julianna Brion. The simple line and bright colors really work well together and they’re only a taste of some of the amazing things she has been creating over the last few years. Originally from Brooklyn, Julianna moved to Baltimore to study illustration and design at The Maryland Institute College of Art and she has lived there ever since.

I’ve been a fan of Julianna’s work for quite some time, and in a happy coincidence I noticed half-way through writing this that the guys over at the excellent Poolga have just released two of these excellent drawings as iPhone wallpapers. I like to think that it’s a case of good minds thinking alike! You should make sure to head over there and pick one up for your phone – I know I certainly will! Also make sure to check out the rest of Julianna’s work online here.

Philip

Philip Kennedy

December 9, 2011 / By

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