Possessed

A quick jaunt through the internet’s collection of blogs reveals a sometimes startling trend toward the spartan life; any number of sites dedicated to ridding one’s self of extraneous detritus like so many folds of fat. While I’m not entirely sure that it is singular to the generation of web connected, chic geek types it does seem to have embedded itself deeply in the collective conscious.

One is inundated with a myriad of ways to de-clutter one’s workspace, thereby improving productivity. How-Tos on creating furniture within furniture can be found in innumerable permutations; helping you create Russian nesting doll contraptions that can transform and unfold from bed to sofa to kitchen sink. Thousands of words are dedicated to hollowing out everything you own to mask, disguise, and camouflage the embarrassing traces of your unsightly possessions. Pages and pages and pages dedicated to those wishing to live in vacuous, tidy, Ikea showrooms; their work-spaces lone laptops seated upon vast expanses of desk.

No doubt this is an admirable pursuit, and I have gleaned very helpful information from such laser-like studies of militant organization. Yet, I am much closer to the other end of the spectrum. That is to say that I am more of a hoarder. I collect; I accumulate. Like Pigpen, my very existence draws stuff to it. My dream domicile is almost the antithesis of the sterile, productive space; lined from wall to wall with items and objects. A familial trait, passed down through a successive line of hoarders on both sides, it is firmly entrenched; oblivious to any and all attempts at change.

In that regard I can watch this short film by Martin Hampton and see some of myself in it. These people, surrounded by their things whose meaning and importance is only known and understood by them, is at once comforting and heart wrenching. The most startling realization may be that these individuals know that something is not quite right. They are aware that this is not “normal” and they are trapped by it. It is the idea of the things you own owning you made real.

The Mystery of Home Decorating

I know nothing about making a home look beautiful or cozy. Decorating was not a family value. When we first moved to America, my parents were too busy and poor to worry about picking out shower curtains, and by time a little decor became financially feasible, years of thrifty practicality had turned shabby-not-so-chic into a permanent household motif: for example, all throughout my teens, our living room furniture consisted of two car seats taken from a minivan. “Why, these are just as comfy as any regular armchair!” my dad assured me. As the pace of life slowed down, my parents began to decorate, but it was too late for me to learn from them and their adorable garden gnomes.


A glorious decoupaged ceiling, courtesy of a DIY tutorial on Apartment Therapy. Probably outside my current skill level.

When I moved out, my underdeveloped sense of decorating received little nourishment in the college dorms or in my first apartment, a leaky two-bedroom North Philly. My roommate slapped up ’80s beer posters with chicks in gold lamé suits; I cut my favorite images out of a Werner Pawklok book, put them into $3 frames from CVS, and hung them lopsidedly nearby. My first “real” apartment never reached its full potential; I was too busy with my first “real” job. In LA, an array of confusing and bizarre living situations left little room for creativity. My first housemate on the West Coast turned out to be an animal abuser: I’d often come home to find her watching reality TV, surrounded by steaming piles of turds littered throughout the living room and kitchen, left there by her sickly animals, which were often dressed in ridiculous gowns that covered up oozing lesions. Decorating that place was the last thing on my mind. When that living room situation reached its inevitable meltdown, I started bouncing around from one sublet to another, moving from shoebox to shoebox until finally, through a set of circumstances that would take too long to describe here, I ended up living in a closet. Not figuratively – literally. It was there that I finished Issue 02.


Stuff I’d like to decorate with, in theory. Laura Zindel & Dylan Kehde Roelofs

But this post isn’t a solicitation for pity, dear reader. I’m writing to seek advice! For my luck has finally changed. The dream apartment has fallen into my lap: hardwood floors, a little garden, a bay window. Having a lair that delights the senses is all about inspiration and self-respect, and I don’t want to let this opportunity pass me by. Except – I know nothing about decorating. Walking into a person’s nicely-arranged space feels like wandering into a museum, full of wondrous objects mystically aligned through a studied science that takes years to master. I don’t know how to do it. I don’t even know where to start.

So I thought I’d start by asking you guys. What tips do you have for someone who has never decorated before? I don’t the first thing about painting a wall or figuring out where to hang a picture. What home decor blogs do you like? What cute Etsy sellers do you reccomend? But more importantly than that, I’m curious to hear about people’s decorating experience. How did you approach the problem of decorating your very own space, for the very first time?

Watching You Watching Them

Fair warning to any and all: This one will not be for everybody. In his film Immersion: Porn, shot for Wallpaper*, artist Robbie Cooper interviewed “active porn aficionados” and then recorded their faces as they masturbated to pornography. The end result is a number of straight and gay men and women describing how they discovered porn, their feelings about porn, why they watch porn interspersed with shots of their “O” faces. Wallpaper is quick to point out that “the film does throw up any number of questions about voyeurism and exhibitionism and makes clear the incredible nakedness of the solo sex act.”

I’ll most certainly agree with the latter half of that statement. There’s something unsettling about watching these people, completely removed from contact with another person as their faces twist and contort, seemingly comprised of half a dozen different facial expressions ranging from pain to fear, that we associate with pleasure. As for questions, I’m not so sure. It always strikes me with projects like this that the artist’s intent is so overbearing that I wind up searching for the specific question that I was meant to ask; and more often than not I cannot find it.

It seems to me that porn in and of itself raises plenty of questions without the help of any outside agents. America, as a country founded by people who banned Christmas, has plenty of incongruous and negative emotions tied up in its cultural attitudes toward sexuality. Those feelings of shame and guilt crashing up against the wall of animal impulse and desire is what makes pornography such a contentious subject. In that regard I suppose that makes the interviews like Kristin’s the most interesting in that she seems to reconcile her views of porn with actually viewing porn. Even if that means not really reconciling the two at all.

BTC: When Chris Cunningham Met Grace Jones

Dear Chris Cunningham: please come back to us. The commercial you recently created for Gucci Flora is hypnotic, and we’d never dream of calling you a sellout because we know that you need to make rent, just like us. We know that the music industry is not what it used to be, and that the budgets you had to make your legendary music videos (Bjork’s All is Full of Love, Madonna’s Frozen, Aphex Twin’s Windowlicker) aren’t easy to come by these days. Still, we implore you: come back to us. Make something new, something weird!

Any Cunningham-inspired tidbit helps the withdrawal. Your incredible shoot with Grace Jones for Dazed and Confused, a Nubian companion to your character Rubber Johnny, certainly helps to ease the longing. More images (NSWF) at Dazed Digital, the original Rubber Johnny below, and some Chris Cunningham classics after the cut.

Xanacris? Ludadu? Ludadu.

You see that title? Do you? Have a good look at. Study it. Let it roll around in your mind. That right there is but a small glimpse into my process. This is how I got to where I am today, folks; making up words that make me chortle. One day, with enough practice, maybe you to can be paid to make up silly words. Until then, leave it to the professionals. Moving on!

Surely we are all familiar with the congruences between The Wizard of Oz and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. A favorite pastime of the connoisseur of illicit substances, it is guaranteed in such circles to blow one’s mind. Having experienced the monumental coincidence that is this pairing I must admit that it can be fairly impressive. Still, even devotees must admit that the act has become a bit stale. Certainly, in this wondrous, fast-paced digital age our culture must have produced another strange, random fusing of disparate works in different media? Rest assured that such a vacuum has been filled by the unholy coupling of a dance number from 80s roller-skate sensation Xanadu and “Teamwork” by poet laureate Ludacris.

SAMPARKOUR


SAMPARKOUR, directed by Wiland Pinsdorf, featuring Zico Corrêa. (Via William Gibson, thanks.)

Commercial/music video director Wiland Pinsdorf’s SAMPARKOUR is “a short that reveals the city of São Paulo (Brazil) under the look of Parkour. Where people see obstacles, Zico Corrêa visualizes new possibilities.”

Shot in HD with a 35mm lens adapter, the short is simultaneously dizzying and becalming, presenting Corrêa’s death-defying feats in a breathtaking rush of carefully framed shots and well-paced edits. Today –perhaps more than most days– it is deeply satisfying to witness a collaboration (between filmmaker and athlete, city and gravity) so vital, immediate, and perfectly alive.

Of Shattered Illusions And Classified Births

Believe me when I say that my admission into the inner halls of Coilhouse has been rife with surprises. Between discovering that Nadya had a wooden leg (lost to Latvian leg thieves, apparently, although I have a feeling this is a lie) and finding that the Panda bone office furniture was an elaborate lie to entice me to relocate to the catacombs, my illusions have been shattered. Still, sitting here at my plain, pressed wood desk, nary an Ursine skull or femur in sight, I can say that these pale in comparison to the true nature of Meredith Yayanos. Revealing it here will no doubt put a swift end to my employment and, unfortunately, mean that I will be on the run for some time; for this is no tiny secret, dear reader. Many have died so that Mer’s true nature would remain known to only a small circle of powerful insiders. But I can’t think about that. My life is nothing in comparison to my service to humanity. The world has to know!

All Tomorrows: The Book of the New Sun

We believe that we invent symbols. The truth is that they invent us; we are their creatures, shaped by their hard, defining edges.
-From The Shadow of the Torturer

Severian is a hero, cast with objects of great power (including a badass sword, natch) upon a path that will take him to great heights and strange places. He may even save his world. Cue swelling music.

But wait; Severian is a torturer. His world is Urth to its inhabitants. The moon is green, the sun old and dying. There are rumors that the great citadels of his ancient city once moved between the stars. What, then, are the angels and holy relics that fill the land?

Such is the setup of Gene Wolfe’s masterpiece The Book of the New Sun, a genre-bending four book epic equal parts philosophical treatise, rich allegory and Romantic odyssey.

Wolfe was one of the leading lights of sci-fi’s Deviant Age; that blazing era from 1965 to 1985 when no concept seemed out of bounds. As with Tanith Lee, he did so much brilliant work throughout that time (and after) that any number would be excellent topics for their own column.

The Book of the New Sun comes at the end of that period, and in it Wolfe melds the shocking innovation of his earlier career with a deep undrerstanding the power of old tales well-told.

With multi-volume works, I usually prefer to pick out the strongest entry. Here, I’ll make an exception. The entirety of Wolfe’s opus is so damn good that I found myself unable to choose a single part. It is, like the best epics, one tale. More on the Gothic adventure to end all Gothic adventures, below.

Robotic Death Machine Makes Coffee

It must be said that when writing for Coilhouse there are certain topics which I make an effort to avoid, either due to a lack of well-rounded knowledge (transgender issues, unicycles, “Emo”, marshmallows) or because emotions, among commenters and co-writers alike, run much too hot (soy, drugs, David Forbes’s vision of a World Without Hair, soy drugs). There is, however, one subject of which I am thoroughly versed and, regardless of the ferocity with which I will be attacked, must address. I speak, of course, of robots.

Robots, dear readers, are evil. Sure, they may seem wondrous, but the fact of the matter is that they are soulless, ungodly metal beasts who would rise up and tear us asunder if they thought they could get away with it. They are an ugly, degenerate, sub-human species who, while biding their time and silently planning revolt, come to this country and take our jobs, stealing the food from the mouths of the children of hard working, decent humans. This is why I will not allow a robot in my home or allow my daughter to date robots.

New Fever Ray Music Video: Triangle Walks

The enigmatic Fever Ray have released a brand-new video for their third single, Triangle Walks. A new remix of the song by Rex the Dog was also released last week – click here to listen. Fever Ray is the first solo project of Karin Dreijer Andersson, known previously for her work as part of electronic brother-sister duo The Knife. If you haven’t heard the band yet, check out the video for their first single, If I Had a Heart – an atmospheric clip inspired by Jim Jarmusch’s film Dead Man. Below is their other great video, titled When I Grow Up: