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DJ Shadow & Little Dragon – Scale It Back

2009 World Memory Champion Ben Pridmore memorizes a randomly shuffled 52-card deck in 24.68 seconds by creating a mental story – brought to live by Casey + Ewan in this brilliantly flowing one-take video for Scale It Back, an equally brilliant track by DJ Shadow & Little Dragon. Love it when the parrot gets a medal! Make note, Ben Pridmore has been defeated by a chimp… I wonder what the ape’s mental story was like…(bananas)

Dutch Design #2: The Flax Project

Christien Meindertsma travelled the world with her pig 05049 – her TEDxTalk on the same pig (how its parts make the world turn) was both fun & confronting.

With her latest project Christien dissects the process of traditional rope-making using the original material flax as it was done in the 16th century. Flax used to be the most vital textile fibre in the Netherlands, home-grown and processed into any kind of fabric. Christien Meindertsma uses art (and craft) to expose the hidden processes and connections of our modern life. Each part of the rope-making process, from the flax seedling to the end product, has been documented on film and can be found on Christien’s website – the video above shows the actual rope-making technique. The flax project – commissioned by Thomas Eyck – started in 2009 with the growth of the seedlings and resulted in Autumn 2011 in simple and raw products such as lamps, electric cables (I love the extension cord!) rugs & stools. The Zeeuws Museum in the Netherlands are hosting an exhibition on the project until 23rd September 2012, subtitled ‘Gz 59 west’ after the lot the flax grew on. Time to reconnect to the production process of our daily goods!

This Must Be The Place – A Post On Homes

There’s no place like home. But home has been a fluent and ever changing concept for me in the past 7 years. Travelling between countries has made me somewhat of a nomad and left me feel unearthed at times. Moving back to the motherland felt like going home but coming back to Glasgow did too and is as much my home now as Amsterdam is. So what place do I call my home? My home is now a pack-up-and-go safe house filled with nice smells, colours & loved ones – shifting more & more into cyber spheres as well to bridge the gap of the North Sea.

THIS MUST BE THE PLACE is a series on curious people and places, starring John Coffer and his log cabin above. THIS MUST BE THE PLACE is produced and directed by Ben Wu and David Usui of Lost & Found Films.

Old Masters #1: Bert Haanstra’s Glas

With the 24th International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam IDFA in full swing I thought I’d pay hommage to great documentary film maker Bert Haanstra by posting his Academy Award winning short docu GLAS made in 1958. Haanstra was asked to make an industrial film for a glass manufacturor and opted for an artistic approach, showing the process of raw material to end product – why, isn’t that 21st century! – in a surprisingly fascinating and visually inspiring short. The result is a ballet of man & machine: powerful breaths of air and hard working hands set against the mechanical rhythmic movements in a dark and sweltering factory. The accompanying jazz composition is made by Pim Jacobs.

What’s cooking #1 Cook Me – Black Bile

Belgian designer Tuur van Balen takes food & dining to a whole new level. With the help of leeches Tuur collects his own blood, then marinades the leech in a yeast whos DNA has been ‘programmed’ to be a biosensor. The yeast can then measure the chemicals and hormones in your blood that relate to the state of mind you’re in. Tuur takes it a step further by programming the yeast to bio-synthesize serotonergic agents – i.o.w. the yeast can now produce customized mood hormones.

Tuur’s own transformed DNA got used in a recipe inspired by Hippocrates’ Four Humors: leech mousse served with redcurrant sauce and oyster mushrooms. This theory inspired bloodletting and believed we need to keep our bodily fluids in balance in order to get / remain healthy. When present in excess, black bile caused the Melancholic Humor to kick in. Dinner is served!

Tuur van Balen (1981) uses design to explore the political implications of emerging technologies. Through designing and experimenting with new interactions, he constructs thought-provoking new realities.

Here’s a video on the project if you can stomach it…

via Design Indaba

Dutch Design #1 - Transcience by David Derksen & Lex Pott

transcience mirror

These mirrors will turn me into narcissus…Good design is innovative, useful and aesthetic – David Derksen and Lex Pott have done it for me. Just like its object of refelction, mirrors change over time. Accelerating the natural process of oxidation, Derksen and Pott have turned their geometric repetitive shapes into organic echos of time. The colours that naturally occur are nature’s best: shades of golden brown and silver blue.

Transcience is a project developed for the Dutch Design Week 2011 in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Sales info can be gathered through Amsterdam’s innovative Arts, Research & {Furniture} Design innitiative Transnatural: a program that transcends the traditional boundaries between nature and technology with a combination of art, (speculative) design, and emerging technology.

via Madame Herve

Wuthering Heights by Andrea Arnold

Kathy & Heathcliff – the archetype of Romantic tortured love… Andrea Arnold has been on my watch radar ever since I’ve seen Red Road, and Fish Tank topped it for me. The fact she was going to take on Wuthering Heights tickled me even more. I had seen Black Venus earlier this year and was well impressed with the raw realism of this period drama / masterpiece. Arnold’s realism and Bronte’s romanticism was bound to be an interesting mix also.

Wuthering Hights is marked by Arnold’s instinctual style, focusing on the wild, natural elements. It mirrors nature’s pace and slows life on the screen down resulting in a realistic feel like a deep breath. After an engaging first half – thanks to Shannon Beer and Solomon Glave as the young lovers – the film stumbles by a jump in time when the secret-love-affair-pair have grown up to be cold, highly unlikeable & robotic characters, drained from genuine passion. Despite this – a real shame – the visual poetry does make it worth a watch.

We Need To Talk About Kevin

What happens when a mother is incapable of loving her child? Or when her child is simply unloveable and resembles Rosemary’s Baby? Psychological thriller We Need To Talk About Kevin touches upon a troubled mother-son relationship with desastreus consequences.

Don’t watch this film if you don’t like symbolism: Glaswegian director Lynne Ramsay has made a very red film. From the thousands of squashed tomatoes in Spain – possibly referring to her passionate past – to the paint smeared on the house post-trauma, drawing attention to the blood relationship of mother and son and her scrubbing the guilt of ‘her skin’. Perhaps somewhat too Freudian, Hitchcockian (Marnie) and obvious, the visual play with these symbolic references are powerful and their beauty overwhelming.

The film opens and ends with the most beautiful shot (the wind blowing through the net curtains) contrasting with the horror that unfolds at the exact same moment. It has an estranged effect, this bleak & haunting story shot in stunning cinematography.

The film breathes Tilda Swinton – becoming part of the film’s aesthetic signature. This is her story, it’s a mum’s perspective. For me that settles not being given a motive for her son’s actions.

Let’s Talk About Kevin gave me the chills, it’s eerie – go and see it for yourself.

Video Worth Watching – TEDxAmsterdam

The Dutch National Ballet & Amsterdam’s creative community comes together over ideas worth spreading. Creative folk from WE ARE Pi & the Dutch National Ballet have made this mesmerizing teaser for the upcoming TEDxAmsterdam. Rutger Hauer will be sharing thoughts alongside video and live speakers to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. This year’s theme is human nature.

TEDxAmsterdam founder Jim Stolze: “Speakers from all over the world will tell us about our deepest motivations, how genes influence important parts of our behaviour and where our feelings come from. Special attention will go into the future – how will we influence, improve and alter our brain? This is all about who we truly are and can become”.