I ♥ †

22 01 2012

Audio, Video, Vanitas

The new video for the Justice single “On ‘N’ On” pairs the emptiness of space with the emptiness of vanity, and it’s a tour de force that bisects asteroids and carcasses in its linear push toward infinity. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Roll the tape.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIW1m3jbEsg&ob=av2n

This thing is straight-up infested with vanitas symbols. Some of these, like the goblet and the hourglass, are striking even though they occur only once. The musical instrument in this tableau is an electric guitar positioned between two nudes, and the fruit, though spilled as bounty from a cornucopia in one of the few active vignettes of the video, is colorless. Other visuals are serial, and become more interesting with each iteration. Among these recurrent vanitas symbols are diamonds, coins, and swords, as well as the steady depictions of stars, planets and other celestial bodies and phenomena (I guess this includes all the Kubrick nods; that light show at the bridge is essentially a 2001: A Space Odyssey homage). Most prominent, though, are the vanitas symbols involving the human form, including long flowing hair, the female nude, skeletons, and skulls.

Fig. 1. An assortment of skulls.

There are also hybrids. Though no mirrors occur per se, many visuals are twinned or doubled—often as a mirror image. And included among the video’s representations of the human form is imagery that borrows heavily from the exploded diagrams and cutaways of classic anatomical illustration. These repeated suggestions of a human corpse range from the the realistic to the surreal, and reinforce a tone that is more empirical than ghoulish. But my favorite thing about this video? The vanitas symbols of coin and skull are combined in the appearance of an Indian head nickel that has been altered by carving.

Fig. 2. Hobo nickel.

Though it was the crucifix, and not the cross, that was a popular inclusion in vanitas painting, the Justice logo has its own assigned meaning when it comes to momento mori symbolism. Because it has come to indicate death when attached to a name or date, the symbol of the cross will forever signify  justice pour tous. Not to mention that, when it’s hurtling through space, a monolithic slab of a cross passes as another good 2001 reference.

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No One’s Cutting Away

29 09 2011

If Awesomeness Were Bountiful Zinc Deposits, Community Would Be Zambia

Britta has a backpack now. For a hot minute she was even feeling her see-through yellow pen—until an errant, cause-related flyer sent her into one of those episode-long fits of unfocused rebellion. And this one was a doozy. At first it just seemed like “regular side of the bed” Britta, as Troy put it. Britta’s character got a rant which, while not nearly as hilarious as her “civil liberties” speech from the bottle episode, did involve a four-letter word (Ikea), and did  include the line “maybe my path is a warpath that leads to the Terrordome”. But it wasn’t the rant that blew my mind. It was the unprecedented degree of physical comedy assigned to Britta’s character. At one point she was in a dog crate pouring red paint on a globe, and right before getting tased by Chang she stormed into the caf wearing a black bodysuit covered with mutilated Barbie dolls. For real, Britta was straight-up feral in this one. So cherry.

Mind the can, student.

There were other highlights. In an interesting variation, Pierce appropriated Leonard’s raspberries. The Model UN Battle Royale showcased Garrett and utilized a deliberately-ridiculous disembodied head storytelling device (think “dental plan”/”Lisa needs braces”/”Flintstones chewable morphine”). Oh, and yeah! You know how I love doubles? Well, tonight Community added Annie Kim (a.k.a. “Asian Annie”, a.k.a. “Annie Lite”) to their already lengthy list of character doubles. I was totally psyched. Annie Kim gets her comeuppance by the end of the episode, but here’s hoping she gets Springfielded into a subsequent storyline. I mean, she’s a guest star, not an extra, but they got Anthony Michael Hall to come back for the paintball redux, right?


Clockwise, from top left: see-through yellow pens; “Hello”, by Lionel Richie; Hadron Collider; the arm.

My favorite bit, though, was when they were all squeezed into a cafeteria booth like they always are, and Annie is freaking out about her evil twin, and she’s in one of those Adderallesque states, all agitated, all nervous energy, and she’s squeaking her straw up and down in her cup’s plastic lid while delivering a long section of dialogue, and all of a sudden you see Troy’s hand slowly and purposefully enter the frame, and Troy’s hand takes the cup, and just as purposefully leaves the frame, and Annie’s still going on, and then Troy’s hand re-enters the frame, and returns the cup sans lid, and I thought to myself “well that was one of the most brilliant things I’ve ever seen”.

Because it was.

This wrinkled my brain. 





A Blog About Sacks As Well As Things That Are Not Sack-Related

14 09 2010

Just Another WordPress.com Site Indeed

My only possible tagging rival, the weird beard behind Hovermansion’s Blog,  has been doing some amazing things with crepe paper seriality lately. Whether it be confounded specularity, as is the case with a preening Dracula who two-fists hairstyling accoutrements in front of a reflectionless mirror, or confounded primogeniture, as evinced by the disappointed king who sees little of himself as he stands before his decidedly not shovel-ready son, doubling and reflection are recurrent Hovermansion themes.

The digital mixed media pieces on Hovermansion, which are usually sparse collages built up from original drawings, are characterized by a wanton incorporation of generic, Google-retrieved clip-art. Through the deliberate selection of mostly one-point perspective images, Hovermansion scenes achieve an impossible flatness that would make the Cubists proud. But it’s the blog’s subtle approach to content-through-technique that really twirls my props. I’ll start with the author’s most recent creation, since it’s the one that prompted me to finally post about his blog. Oh, and I don’t usually include image links in my posts, but this is a rare instance in which I will, because these Hovermansion pieces deserve to be seen in all of their over-sized glory. So, yeah. Do click through.

Picture-In-Picture

In “It’s Gonna Be A Rough Day At School”, the seriality of Eugene’s triple portrait is nothing short of comic genius. Not one but two instances of PIP (and the sloppy pasting of Eugene’s face onto the family photograph may actually score higher on the funny than the comic-font captioned inset over Bernard Shaw’s shoulder).

Broadcast and Projection

Another great post involving duplication and facsimile is “Conspiracy Theory 101”. Here ima hafta insist that you click through on the small version above to explore the original, as the strange hole in the wall (the post’s tags suggest that this is to be interpreted as a “wormhole”) contains aliens who observe the same scene as the viewer—duplicated via surveillance equipment that itself echoes the overhead projector in the main space.

Despite all of the repetitition, the “do not erase” bit is probably my favorite detail on this one.

Infinite Regress

The earliest instance of Hovermansion’s hallmark seriality is found in “House Rat”. And it’s an intricate example—perhaps even more intricate than the elaborate upside-down representation required for the overhead projector in “Conspiracy”. In “House Rat”, the blog’s ubiquitous gilded frame (it has since held Hulk Hogan, as well as an Ames employee working at a key-cutting machine) contains the entire image, which itself contains the entire image, and so on—without any indication whether the viewer is seeing a mirror or a static depiction. The presence of this gilded frame and its contents is awesome in its superfluity.

The inherent observational humor, wordplay and forced literalness of Hovermansion really make it unnecessary for me to tweak or draw parallels or identify source material. But that’s never stopped me before, so I’ll still end on one of my side-by-side comparisons:

L: PT Cruiser (artist’s rendering), via Hovermansion; R: Midlife Chrysler (in banana), via a douche bag near you