Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I quit, Mr. White.

I've decided to drop this blog, so I can pay attention to something that will be infinitely more funny and interesting, if only for the fact that it involves people who are considerably funnier than me.

I'll be posting at Fageater; not full time but exclusively.

Quick, wasn't it?

Here's some going away music for you.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Forbidden Zone

I really like movies. I like movies a lot. It's gotten to a point where I can't even enjoy movies that used to be important to me, because my new found in depth interest in film has me over analyzing to the point that I'm almost distracted.

This is why I generally take it with a grain of salt when someone recommends a film to me. Film is fickle art form, what's good today may not stand the test of time, and things that are important now could have slipped under the radar in it's heyday. Also, I'm kind of a snob, so when a friend of mine told me that I absolutely must see Forbidden Zone, I was hearkened back to a time in my childhood when someone told me that Vanilla Sky or Requiem for a Dream would change my life.

By the time the opening credits started rolling, I was glad that I submitted to my friend's suggestion.

This film opens with a flimsy backstory of a pimp, a lanky blackfaced charicature, who wanders upon a house that filled with drugs. He takes the drugs and sells the house to the Hercules family.

The plot for the film is very loose, it revolves around a house with a secret door in the basement that transports all who enter into the sixth dimension. The plot, really just an engine for the musical numbers performed by Danny Elfmann and the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, follows the tribulations of Frenchy Hercules, played by Marie-Pascale Elfmann, in the sixth dimension. She is captured and held hostage by King Fausto, expertly realized by Herv Villechaize, and Queen Doris, played by Villechaize's real life wife Susan Tyrell. She is followed into the sixth dimension by her brother, her grandfather, a deaf and dumb champion Jewish professional wrestler.

What follows is innane and wonderous. Hand made sets, fantastic hand drawn animations and a cut-and-paste floating head that required a photographic print to be made from every frame of a minute and a half long shot, hand cut and pasted onto individual animation cells.

The movie is mind numbingly...well, the best word for it, and I say this only because I mean it...it's mind numbingly trippy. It will make your brain pop very quickly. There's imagery galore that seems to be included just to make you slap your forehead and drop your jaw. A lot of the performances seem wooden, but if you take into consideration that this film is stylisticly cued and was created as a stage show, it makes more sense. It has a great theater vibe that permeates every aspect, from the sets to the acting and the music.

I tend to shy from spoilers, but if I haven't convinced you to go out and get this movie, then I will tell you this. Danny Elfmann plays Satan and sings a rendition of Minnie the Moocher.

Still not satisfied? Midget sex. Yep, there's midget sex and lots of titties. Titties, rape, gender bending, school room shootings, racism, animal cruelty, dilusional schizophrenia, and The Kipper Kids.

The version I first saw was the original full frame 35mm black and white version, but I recently picked up is the 2008 DVD release, which was digitally colored, but in a style that looks more like a tint job. The process was overseen by the director. The coloration doesn't attempt to modernize the film, it doesn't stick out or look over done, and enhances the overall experience of watching the movie which was originally filmed with the intent to colorize for it's theatrical release.

The film, which was direccted by Richard Elfmann represented the divergeance of the theater troop and the band that made up Oingo Boingo at the time. Danny took the band and blazed paths in the world of sythesized music and, of course, went on later to become one of the most highly recognized film score composers. Richard went on to live in relative obscurity, directing a few Oingo Boingo documentaries and some made for TV movies.

The DVD also includes a decent set of special features including a colorized trailer, some deleted scenes, a 16:9 anamorphic widescreen cut, 5.1 surround, and an extended ending which is titled "The Passion of the Squeezit"

Don't waste any time; rent, or if you can, buy it tonight.

I'm a failure already.

I knew as I was posting that schedule yesterday, I'd regret it. It's Saturday, and I haven't lined up an artist, and I'm way too exhausted to find something depressing to satirize today.

Maybe after I take a shower, I'll come up with something to write. Per haps an old movie review or something. I feel like I might be able to write something about Forbidden Zone today, as yesterday, I received the 2008 color reissue.

Also I may have something pretty fucking huge in the works. Right now I've got a feeler out, just a slim chance that I'll get exactly what I want, but there's a lot of ways this can pan out and be highly entertaining.

Keep your ears to the rail, scouts.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The new way things are going to be.

I've come up with my final decision on a format.

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday I will post an art related blog, either a criticism or a review, Tuesdays and Sundays will be my days off, and Fridays will be a movie, music or television review, or if I'm feeling saucy, might even throw in some current events.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Yan Pritzker

I would like to start by saying that in the last few days, I've been pretty harsh, and Aaron Nace, as confident and popular as he is, did not cause the problems that run throughout the Flickr community.  He's a symptom of a large problem that, though the efforts of some fine photographers, we may be able to watch, slowly disappearing, in the rear view mirror.

One such of these photographers is a fellow named Yan Pritzker.  I stumbled over his Photostream last night, when I was mildly intoxicated.  The next thing I knew, it was three o'clock in the morning. 

One of the photos that really stood out to me was one entitled "The Briefcase"  The simplicity of the subject matter is really fantastic, and the composition gives it this sinister element of espionage.  In the description, he says he's using Tri-X, and I'd assume from the amount of grain that it's probably TX400.  There is some post processing on this shot, but it's done in such a way that nothing is removed from the image, the subject matter is  maintained and enhanced, by the post, not defined by it.

Pritzker's pertinence comes from his approach to his photography.  He's not a trade photographer, and his interest was built from exposure to the craft from an early age.  The way he presents his images is very simple, letting the process speak, instead of the technology. 

He states Richard Avedon as one of his influences, which he wears just enough on his sleeve with his portrait work.  This photo, using all natural light, is striking.  The overall effect achieved by an understanding of simplicity, that seems to permeate every aspect of this shot.  The subject has a ten mile stare to die for, and the low key back drop has some fantastic detail that make the subject appear to be floating in space and popping right out at you.  I love
 this photo, not only because it shows a true grasp of the fundamentals of portraiture, but also because it has an intangible allure.  Of corse, for the gear heads out there, an Epson RD-1, and a 50mm Leica Summicron definitely gives him the right tools for the work he does.

And the final little surprising happy coincidence that I found after I had contacted Yan, was that we have the same aversion to the way that Flickr has changed the face of photography on the Internet.  Here's a short excerpt from an interview with The BPP Group on Flickr

9. What was important for you when choosing you
r pictures for your portfolio?

Every time I go through the Explore stream I see the same pictures rehashed. The macro flower, the over-photoshopped HDR image, the cute baby, the beautiful girl portrait, the long exposure saturated color landscape, the bokeh galore, the water drops caught mid-fall. While all of these are fine examples, and I'm not going to contradict the thousands of people who fav pictures like this, I am choosing pictures that I think stand out in their own way, not conforming to any common flickr standard.
I'd like to close this up with one last photo from Yan's photostream.  It reminds me a lot of my idol, George Tice.  It's got an ethereal air to it, that I just can't seem to put words to.

All photos used with permission of Yan Pritzker (Flickr/Portfolio)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Is it 1997 yet?

Hey guys! It's Aaron Nace here! How the hell are you all doing? Man, it was so nice of Alex to let me guest blog on his overnight sensation blog, Please Help the..., Let's hear it for Alex! He's seriously such a sweet man, and I love him.

I just wanted a quick chance to quickly go over my process for creating high quality images that really, in my heart of hearts, display my feelings on my sleeve, and showcase my unique and interesting artistic talents and visions. I'll use my most recent masterpiece, the one you see above there, to explain.

Usually my day starts with me getting dressed. I put my pants on two legs at a time, and brush my teeth for four minutes, then I go into my closet of costume clothing, and see what kind of zany shit I can throw on and call a statement today. Today I found this awesome black striped shirt and tie, and I was like, "Oh man, that stuff is just so emo, I'm totally gonna do a emo photo today!" Remember when Johnny Cash said "I wear black on the outside, 'cause black's how I feel on the inside"? Me neither, but ever since I put Rosie back on the plane to England, (Brixton? Buxton? Whales? I get so confused) I've been feeling so glum.

So that was the concept of this photo; I wanted to marginalize and stereotype an entire group of people who look a certain way, and glaze it over under the guise of artistic pursuit, with out taking into consideration the grossly erroneous nature of my claims.

You see, in this particular photo, I'm attempting to make fun of emo kids. I'm so out of touch, that I didn't realize that emo kids, unlike goth kids, are not only accepting of their status of cliquish conformity but them embrace it, but who really cares about that. My avenue of attack on these unassuming (and apparently, uncaring) lot is the use of common emo style cues and an embarrassing iconic music selection. Note my use of facial piercings and leather bands; so poignant!

To top it all off, I added a little prose laden captions to whet the appetite of my little darling, Rosie. Why are you so far away from me? I'm right here, and you're way across the sea!

P.S. Thanks Rivers!

No, thank you, Aaron. Isn't he something folks? Aaron Nace, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to enlighten us.

I don't have much to say, because he did such a wonderful job. I would like to say that anyone who's ever heard the song "Black Parade" by My Chemical Romance should know that emo kids love their sense of unity and conformity. I don't even like emo music, and I know that.

Also, Aaron, focus is a little soft in this one, what happened?


Check out my Flickr for an alternative to thoughtless art!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I feel a rant coming on...

Originally uploaded by aknacer
Wow. It's such a refreshing notion to have motivation. After the post I wrote yesterday, I felt resolved. I even felt a little pompous myself. My taste in art could in no way be considered 'high brow'. In fact, I typically prefer a really good illustrator over a fantastic artist, any day.

This morning, I got to work, and checked my analytics page on my blog, expecting to be able to quit my job and work as a full time blogger. My mother taught me, when I was but a small child, that if you can't make your way in by being smart, then you have to do it with bastardry. I definitely turned that corner yesterday, and now it's just a waiting game before the lucrative offers just start rolling in, right?

I better work some posturing, if I want to stay fresh in the minds of my loyal throngs. I don't want you to think it was a fluke, or something. It wasn't. I'm always that witty. This time, I'll avoid analogies, because sometimes I like to put myself in a box, just to see how I handle it. This will be straight up criticism.

So let us begin with photography basics; when you're shooting a subject that is highly reflective, even if it's digital and you plan to post process, you must use a polarizing filter to reduce annoying glare, such as is evident on the plastic bag, and the can of fine malt beverage. This is, obviously, the effect of the new age of photographers who don't just ignore the history of photography, they actively seek to escape it. To these new age digital photographers, a filter is something to be applied on top of an image, but in reality a filter is something that is meant to treat an image before it reaches the medium, be it film, photographic paper, or a digital sensor. What's the purpose of using an SLR camera, if you're just going to crop and process the shit out of your image after it's been taken? Get yourself a point and shoot.

Oh! Because if you had a point and shoot, you wouldn't be able to dazzle us with your 'strobist' info. If you were doing that to enlighten an aspiring photographer as to the complicated concepts of studio lighting (ah-hem, Rosie, are you impressed?), then you'd be sending mixed signals. What you ought to do is after all your strobist cues, you should put a disclaimer that would read something like this; "Results such as mine can be achieved with half the gear, half the complication, and half the investment if you just use your brain and stop caring so much about what gear you have, and take more into consideration the quality of the image you're attempting to create." Aaron, you're strobing with a X1600; which has an effective w/s rating of about 660. At 1/32 of nominal power you're getting about 20 w/s of light. You've got about eight times that much light coming from the other side, and you've still failed to create much light and shadow detail, besides your trademark terribly harsh drop shadows.

Now for my finale'. The subject matter of this photograph is so offensive, strange, and despicably stupid, that I honestly was shocked to see that it made it to the top of Explore. You see? I'm still acting naive. Lets just start from the top down, and point out all the inconsistencies independently.

1. Rednecks don't wear hats cocked to the side; frat boys do...what does that reveal about our friend, Aaron, here?
2. If you had a mullet like that, you'd never bury it under a hat. That's a four or maybe five star mullet, and it's a tragedy to hide it.
3. Do you have good dental hygiene or poor? Make up your mind, because you're sending mixed signals.
4. Rednecks don't eat Ruffles. They are like 4.50 a bag! Mama Utz is 99 cents. You've officially ruined my suspension of disbelief.
5. Colt 45 in a tall-boy? I might see that in my neighborhood in South Philly, but at the trailer park, you're more likely to see cans of Miller High Life.
6. Are your wife beaters too precious to make an actual stain? You have to add a digital stain? Bad form. Beer washes out of wife beaters, trust me, I know.

Prospectus: Between the poor technical approach, the stylistic inconsistencies, and the overall offensive nature of the societal constructs displayed in this photo, should have relegated this photo to Flickr obscurity, but because of what I layed out yesterday, it's actually number one on Explore.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Aaron Nace and Rosie Hardy can go suck dicks in Hell.

If you, in the last year or two, spent any time on Flickr's Explore page, you've probably seen this douche bag's annoying face, and it's more than likely that you've seen his talentless girlfriend's photos as well. There combined contribution to the world of fine art photography is on par with the effect dogs playing poker and Velvet Elvis has had on fine art painting, and I'm not just saying that to be a dick head, I'm saying it because it's true. Let me explain, citing examples;

1. Dogs playing poker is a painting, as Aaron Nace's work is photography; but if you get a closer look at either, you start to notice strange things. 'Hey!' you might say to yourself. 'That dog has three legs, and that one seems to be sticking out his tongue, but his mouth looks closed!' Or you might be looking at that photograph posted up there at the top of this article, and you might say to yourself, after close (or not so close) examination, 'Wow, his face looks awfully red, and the placement of the lights allows the book to cast a weird shadow on his neck. Per haps he should have used some more fill flash, so that the colors on top and bottom of the shirt would look congruous, as well.' You might also find yourself thinking 'Gee, the over all concept of this photo is pompous, overly transparent, a bit condescending, but mostly it's just kind of stupid.'

2. You may also find yourself, at some point, looking at this Velvet Elvis. You might look at that Velvet Elvis and say to yourself, 'I know it's no Van Gough, but hey, it's part of the American experience, and I guess you could consider it ironically hip, now-a-days.' So what, right? But ponder, for me, this per haps, all to common experience. You're trolling through your parents attic, searching for something valuable to sell, so you can pay off your drug dealer, and you find this painting. There's one of two things that you might find running through your mind at that moment; one, "Sweet! Mine!"...or two; "oh my God, my parents were so tragically un-hip, that not only did they purchase a Velvet Elvis, but they liked it so much that when they were too ashamed to display it anymore, they saved it." And maybe later on, you find yourself looking at this Rosie Hardy photo. And you'd almost positively look at yourself and say, 'Fuckin' amateurs! Haven't you goddamned Brits yet learned that if you do something with CCTV cameras in it, we're instantly going to make a comparison to Banksy, and call you a cop out!' And on top of that, you'd say, 'way to take a moderately moody and almost well composed photo of an attractive person and ruin it by tying to make it a political statement, and then throw some really cheesy background effects on it to draw your eye away from what would have been the focal point of this image.' At which point, you'd leave your computer to watch Grey's Anatomy on DVD, or something, and totally forget about the whole experience. Later on, that day, your room mate will say, "Hey man, you've got to see this hilarious video of Chris Walken with these plants, and googly eyes and stuff! It's freaking hilarious!" You'll be intrigued and tell him, "Yo, cue that shit up on my computer, while I finish my 40oz of malt liquor, I'll be up in a minute." And as your friend wakes up your computer, he'll see that photo on your still open browser window, and go through the exact same emotional gamut that you just went through in your parents attic.

So why, you might ask, are their respective works always in the top four photos in the entirety of Flickr? Well, let's examine the top ten on Explore at any one moment. Generally, there's at least two shots of hot girls dressed in revealing clothing. Then there is a token HDR photo of a cityscape at night, three or four pictures of flowers in macro, you've got a clouds at sunset shot, with the remaining photos generally being either humorous or tragic, but the top spot is always reserved, for no good reason, for Aaron or Rosie. So if there's no good reason, there's got to at least be a shitty reason, right? In fact there's two;

1. Aaron and Rosie met and fell in love on Flickr. So while I'm ashamed and secretive about soliciting sex on Craigslist, this guy is so proud of his creepiness, that he lauds it about on Flickr, and she's so enamored by his endless knowledge of poor lighting techniques, that she fawns over him like a schoolgirl over a Pontiac Firebird, and the whole Flickr universe laps it up like reality TV on a rainy night.

2. The rolling stone gathers no moss. By that, I mean that these two individuals are nothing if not prolific. I could post four or five shitty photos a day, and still not garner as much attention, but because I don't have an 'Aww!' factor, and since these two have capitalized on their vomit-inducingly cute story of trans-Atlantic love, they could, to analogize with a quote from the movie Airheads, fart on a snare drum, and still make the front page.

But I must be fair; I've met neither of these individuals, and don't know enough about them to make a character judgment. I'm sure that they are nice people and probably great fun to hang out with, but it's not stopped me from hating them and everything they stand for. And on top of that, what have I accomplished by making this post? If anything, I may have drawn an infinitesimally small amount of traffic to their respective Flickr pages, but in no way have I stopped or even slowed the juggernaut that is the Flickr political machine. That's up to you, my dear readers.

Please, if you've ever seen an awful piece of creative effort being vaulted on high by the ruthless internet masses and said to yourself, "I've had more artistic bowel movements than that piece of trash, why not me?!?" then link to this, or spread it along. Feel free to copy and paste it into a chain e-mail, or pin it to your memo board at work. Spread the word and end the tyranny of shitty art on the internet!