I’ve been friends with the homies of Dark Igloo, made up of duo Dave Franzese and Mark Miller, for a few years now, and they’re two of the most creative dudes I know. Taking a look at their portfolio you can see the amazing amount of diverse thinking they posess – each project is unique and totally engaging. The guys hit me up recently with some beautiful wallpapers that I’ll be sharing today and tomorrow. The first is Dave’s wallpaper who’s keeping things NICE. I feel like this is a perfect wallpaper for the season; nothing overly holiday but certainly fits the vibe of the weather. Check back tomorrow for Mark’s wallpaper which is a throwback to the little things that made up (some) of our childhoods.
Imported Landscape is the title of a series of photographs taken by the Icelandic photographer Pétur Thomsen. Started in 2003, the series charts how the landscape of Kárahnjúkar was devastatingly transformed during the building of a large hydroelectric power plant in the east of the country. Built by The National Power Company of Iceland and opened in 2009, the project involved creating three reservoirs and building five dams; one of which is the largest of its type in Europe. The project has been the frequent subject of protests by a number of environmentalists, chiefly because the area was formerly the second largest area of unspoiled wilderness in Europe.
Thomsen’s images play an important role in documenting the transformation of the landscape and also contribute to the debate about whether or not massive projects like these can justify their environmental impact. You can view the complete series of photographs here.
Because I grew up in a small town, I thought that every town had exactly one library. It wasn’t until I started college in Cincinnati that I realized branch libraries exist. As an example, the New York Public Library has some eighty-seven branch libraries through out the five boroughs of New York City. But the most recognizable of these seven dozen branches is the one that sits between Fifth Avenue and Bryant Park. It is the main branch of the library system, was finished in 1911 and has some 75 miles of shelving. But where are all these books? I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but even after visiting the library I’m not sure I could tell you. They weren’t exactly hiding (how do you hide 75 miles of shelving?) but were in a less glamorous part of the building underneath the photogenic, Beaux-Arts reading room. It took a year to move all of the books into the new shelving.
It’s now a hundred years after the library’s completion and when the library announced that architect Norman Foster would be giving the branch a $300 million dollar update, folks had lots of opinions. One of these folks is Alda Louise Huxtable, whose articulate and somewhat acerbic critique of the library’s plan can be read here. She argues that you can’t update a masterpiece, saying:
“This is a plan devised out of a profound ignorance of or willful disregard for not only the library’s original concept and design, but also the folly of altering its meaning and mission and compromising its historical and architectural integrity. You don’t “update” a masterpiece. “Modernization” may be the most dangerously misused word in the English language.”
So what will the new library look like? Until now, we didn’t know. That’s because today, the library is releasing renderings from he office of Foster + Partners, in part because of the clamor generated by the announcement to overhaul the library. And guess what? These seventy five miles of shelving that I wasn’t sure existed are the center of the action. There, the firm will relocate a significant chunk of the library’s print holdings to make way for more generous and technologically-savvy spaces. But what’s more interesting than the pixels of these particular renderings is whether or not the images will assuage critics. Was the racket because we hadn’t seen the building? Was it image insecurity? Or is it truly just a bad idea to change the building in this way?
After almost too many years of waiting, the audience finally gets what it wants. The nerd/geek fantasy first came to life to the tune of billions of dollars of revenue and endless DVD sets, each claiming to be more essential, more complete, more fulfilling than the last. 9 years after snagging 11 Oscars at the 74th Academy Awards for its grand finale, The Lord of the Rings receives the beginning of the prequel that started it all: The Hobbit, elongated and trifurcated for our viewing pleasure.
As we approach the end of one year and the beginning of another, podcast co-captain Jon Setzen and myself decided the final episode of 2012 would be a year in review, the best of the best. 2012 was a really great year for both of us and ’13 is looking to be equally bright.
Our third episode is about a lot of things:
• Most life changing app of the year
• Top 5 favorite albums (and our runner ups)
• Best gadget of the year that’s not the iPhone 5
• Most eye opening design experiences of 2012
• Best design trends of the year
• Best meal of the year (there were actually many)
• Screw you Instagram, we’re back on Flickr
• 3 work-related work-related goals for 2013
• Music from Heavenly Beat, The Walkmen, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, and Dirty Projectors
Over the last few days I’ve really been getting into the festive spirit by visiting It’s a Shape Christmas. This special seasonal website is a digital advent calendar that features the work of 25 illustrators from all over the globe. Created by Shape Design Studio, the project is now in its second year and they’ve really brought together a great selection of talent and built a great looking website around their work.
Everyday you can unlock a new illustration from the calender, with illustrators creating Christmas themed pictures based on a number of different shapes. You can take a look below to see some examples of these including Barney Ibbotson’s hexagonal snowflake, Brandon James Scott’s circular present and Dave Raxworthy’s triangular birdhouse. They’re all great pieces!
Best of all, each illustration is also available to download as a wallpaper for either the iPhone or iPad so you can visit the site each day and get a brand new festive wallpaper. What more could you want! Go check it out here!
Yesterday at work my buddy Frank was playing some music when a song came on that caught my ear. I asked him what it was, he looked to his Spotify, and said “It’s Jim James.” For at least 10 seconds I was trying to process this statement. “It does sound like Jim James… but it’s so… odd,” I thought. Sure enough, Mr. James has a new solo album called Regions of Light and Sound of God which comes out on February 5 on ATO Records. The song above, Know Til Now, is the first and holy geez is it an amazing jam. It honestly reminds me of the whacked out solo albums of the late 90s/early 00s that folks like Scott Weiland put out. The track blends all sorts of elements into it like disco, jazz, blues all tied together with James’ signature falsetto. This definitely gets me excited for the upcoming album.
December is a little late in the year to welcome a new candidate into the best music of the year chatter. Efforts released in either November or December of any year are always forgotten or simply assumed to be a part of the following year’s releases: it’s very easy to get swept under the rug. Holly Herndon isn’t letting that happen to her. On November 13 she released her RVNG Intl. debut Movement which has stormed the techno and experimental worlds alike: Holly has stepped in as the genre’s new hope.
The seven track LP is a quick roll through vocal performance and mutation, computer geek techno plays, and electronic music card tricks. The title–Movement–is a suggestion of the body, bringing visions of athletic musculature and vocal exercises: Herndon’s focus is on the human body’s performance. Title track “Terminal” eases you into Holly’s world with a vocal piece that is stretched and stretched and stretched until it is nearly mistakable for the hum of an overworked laptop. “Dilato” is a high art cousin to this LP starter and a clear play on distending the voice to shrill scratches and in-synch pitches. This song was my first introduction to Herndon and was cause to perk up at the thought of electronic music digging and digging back toward the experiments they originated from.
As avant garde as she can get, she can and does turn out some ball busters. “Movement” (at top) runs itself closely with alarm sounds and squeezes beautiful vocal sweeps through a fan. It is essentially the song that you would want to have played if you were escaping from zombies on a dance floor. “Fade” (directly above) is clearly the best electronic song of the year, a surprise you will want to build up from after “Terminal.” The song is a complex, layering of vocal chants (The phrase “Reach out your hand.” is folded and unfolded, over and over itself like vocal origami.) underneath powerful synth kicks, bass, and an ending breakdown that no techno genius in Berlin could ever reach. It is complicated, it is fun, and you feel like you need a cigarette after listening to it.
Herndon is so damned good because she is building her own world of academic electronic atop of an already rich history of music in an often obscure genre. Encounteringmanyinterviews with her, you find that she is a Tennessee singer who moved to Berlin, discovered techno, and has since dedicated her life to understanding and challenging what singing and music making can be. She is currently studying to be a doctoral student at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics program. Basically she’s getting a doctorate in electronic music: that is how fucking legit Holly Herndon is.
The album is a treasure and a first effort that dares you to question its power. Movement is an on-trend entry into the “doom” house that Andy Stott, Demdike Stare, Laurel Halo, Shed, and more have been making–yet Herndon’s effort deserves to be installed at MOCA. In repeated spins of Movement, you delve into bigger questions related to electronic performance, the female body, and queer theory: in the male dominated worlds of science and electronic music, where does an extremely experimental American female fit in? Herndon is taking cues from historic female and queer electronic artists like Laurie Spiegel and Wendy Carlos and answering this question. Get ready to hear a lot more from Herndon–she’s just getting started.