MagPlus and the Impending “Year of the E-Reader”

The Coilhouse crew makes no bones about being paper fetishists. (Mmm… the texture of pulp against thumb, the perfume of ink and fresh card stock, the printed tome as art object. Purr.) Because of this bias, I’m skeptical when discussing the ability of e-tablet technology to bridge more tactile, primal gaps between my print and digital reading experiences. However. The London-based BERG design consultancy is blowing my puny mind with their Mag+ prototype:

This could be a readable art object in its own right.

Unlike previous e-tablets I’ve seen, the Mag+ technology would run articles in scrolls rather than as “flipped” pages (an abhorrent digital gimmick, if you ask me), and placed side-to-side in what BERG is calling “mountain range” format. It’s a far less literal translation. More organic. Readers page through by shifting focus, tapping pictures on the left of the screen to peruse content, then tapping text on the right to hone in. Magazines are still presented as compartmentalized issues, without that sense of incompleteness created by an infinite webfeed. It’s… cozy, somehow. BERG says:

It is, we hope, like stepping into a space for quiet reading. It’s pleasant to have an uncluttered space. Let the Web be the Web. But you can heat up the words and pics to share, comment, and to dig into supplementary material.

The design has an eye to how paper magazines can re-use their editorial work without having to drastically change their workflow or add new teams. Maybe if the form is clear enough, then every mag, no matter how niche, can look gorgeous [and] be super easy to understand.

Watch the demo; it’s fascinating. I’m eager to see where they go with this. There’s a discussion board over at Bonnier R&D Beta Lab, if you want to give them direct feedback.

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Student team’s CG “Wall of Knowledge” design proposal for the Stockholm Library. (via)

On a related note, the press is saying 2010 will be “The Year of the E-Reader”. We’ve never really discussed e-books here, have we? What has your experience been –if any– with portable tablets like Kindle, Nook or the Sony Reader? So far, bibliophiles I know have had really strong and varied reactions to them. My more tech savvy  (also, dare I say, somewhat more jet-setty and affluent) friends have embraced the digital format as a new and freeing medium. Other, more traditional bookworms reel in horror from the concept of spending yet more time staring at a pixelated screen. [edit: although, as Mark Cook just pointed out in comments, ideally, an e-book screen does not look pixelated.]

Monica Cook’s Food Fights

You’d think that after the past, oh, six years on the internet, an image of human flesh mingling with cephalopods would scarcely register with a seasoned browser. It seems that time has finally proved that even the most devout of C’thulhu enthusiasts occasionally reach a tentacle limit. However, my deep, personal fear of web frigidity was dispelled with but a glance at the painting below.

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Yes, I can still feel.

Monica Cook, a painter from Georgia, started out as a self-portraitist, moving on to other subjects several years into her career. Her earlier work is relatively sober, with solitary female figures peering and gesturing enigmatically from their canvas quarantines.  2009 marked a period of transformation for Monica, when she created a series of sexually-charged paintings for a solo show at Marcia Wood Gallery, titled Seeded and Soiled. Showcasing mostly-nude, slimy women in glimpses of bacchanalian orgies and a more commanding brush stroke, these paintings are in quite a contrast to the self-reflecting maidens of Cook’s earlier work.

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Delightfully energetic and fetishistic, Seeded and Soiled covers everything from power exchange and food play to asphyxiation and foot fancy. Click the jump for two more pieces from the series and two bonus cephalo-phallic images by Monica Cook.

Coilhouse Small Business Advertisers, Issue 04

So… it would appear that Issue 04 is coming out next week. This means two things:

  1. Mark your calendars! Be ready for the mysteries of Issue 04 to be revealed.
  2. You can’t get Issue 04 as a Christmas gift. We’re sorry about that, guys. We tried, but we couldn’t rush this one out the door. You’ll understand when you see it, trust us.

Because Issue 04 is only coming out next week, we wanted to put out our Issue 04 Small Business Advertisers before the issue’s actual release, so that you can see them all right now, in case you’re still looking for last-minute gifts. The diversity of the advertisers who have made Issue 04 possible continues to inspire everyone on the Coilhouse staff. You’ll recognize some of them from Issue 03, but there many new artists, designers and makers joining us this time around. Strange and atmospheric music projects, science fiction magazines, bone/clockwork jewelry, knit capelets and scarves, metal sculpture, web hosting, graphic design, art books, vinyl toys… click here to see them all. We’d much rather have these folks in our pages than a Toyota or a Budweiser, so we hope you support them by checking out their projects.

Rather than cramming it all into a blog post, we’ve made a special site where you can see the Issue 04 ads (designed by the talented Nubby Twiglet) in all their glory. Please click here to check it out!

Better Than Coffee: Kaiju Thriller Dance

More cynical types may pooh-pooh the Thriller flash mob phenomenon. “Meh. If you’ve seen one Thriller homage, you’ve seen them all.” But I prefer to receive each and every re-imagined Thriller dance as a precious, unique, and glorious internet snowflake. Will you join me? Let us twirl, Winona-like, reveling in their abundance.

This one is extra special:


(Thanks, Gooby!)

Krautrock: The Rebirth of Germany


Krautrock: The Rebirth Of Germany. Part 1 of 6. Parts 2-6 posted under the cut.

Produced for BBC Four, this excellent hour-long documentary offers an engaging and comprehensive overview of the 60s/70s experimental music scene in Germany that came to be known as Krautrock. Here’s a fascinating glimpse of what it meant to be part of a generation of radical young musicians, artists and filmmakers struggling to redefine themselves in the rubble of post-war Germany. These kids were drowning in a sea of Schlager pop and classical schmaltz– arguably the music of cultural guilt and denial. Meanwhile, they had the most horrifying historical specters imaginable hanging over their heads. They were isolated, rebellious, and deeply disinterested in “traditional” anthemic western guitar rock. The synthesizer was newly invented, and electronic music as we know it today didn’t really exist yet. They breathed life into its lungs.

Featuring the works of Popol Vuh, Amon Düül, Can, Cluster, Neu!, Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Faust and others.

The Friday Afternoon Movie: Tetsuo: The Iron Man

Sit down right now. I don’t care that mail has to be delivered. N- no, seriously, you can change that ink cartridge later. Ju- just, shhhhhhut up. Shut up and sit down, because it’s FAM Time.

Today’s very special FAM is Shinya Tsukamoto’s unmatched 1989 cyberpunk film Tetsuo: The Iron Man. To explain this movie can only be done in the very simplest of terms: The man (or The Metal Fetishist) sticks an iron bar into a wound he has made in his leg. Soon it is festering with maggots. He runs, screaming into the street and is hit by a car, driven by the Japanese Salaryman who decides to hide his crime by dumping the body in a ravine. What follows is one of cinema’s more bizarre experiences as the Japanes Salaryman, haunted by the spirit of the Metal Fetishist, begins to undergo a startling transformation wherein his entire body metamorphoses into a shambling heap of scrap metal. This is a movie in which a man’s girlfriend fucks herself to death on his penis, which by that time has changed into a giant drill bit. No, I’m not making that up and, no, telling you that it happens won’t diminish its impact in the slightest.

At first blush this all probably seems fairly pedestrian and in the context of the torture porn/special fx demo reel trash turned out these days you would be forgiven for thinking so; but Tsukamoto’s film is never about mere grotesqueries. Tetsuo is a superb audio/visual experience, its stark, moody black and white images set to Chu Ishikawa’s pounding industrial score. Many have compared it to David Lynch’s Eraserhead but it is mostly a superficial one, insomuch as, like Lynch’s seminal film they both share the same, high contrast black and white, industrial aesthetic. Tsukomoto’s presentation leaves the (purposefully) monotonous dirge of Eraserhead far behind, instead opting for a frenetic and, one might say, decidedly anime-like pacing epitomized by its multiple chase scenes, making for a frantic, fever dream of a movie.

What Tetsuo is about — the subtext, if any — is much more difficult to pin down. One interpretation is that the entire film is a metaphor for being homosexual and while it can be read that way I’m not entirely convinced that that was the intention. For certain, sex is a central component in Tsukomoto’s oeuvre, serving as a catalyst for metamorphosis, but the nature of that sexuality — homo or hetero — appears irrelevant or, at least, equal opportunity, although the final scene may convince you otherwise. Regardless of how one chooses to interpret it, however, Tetsuo: The Iron Man remains a much watch. It’s a powerful, beautiful, and confusing film, one that I find myself revisiting long after my initial viewing and it always sticks with me long after the “GAME OVER”.

The Simpsons Opening By Way Of Estonia

To those of you who live in Estonia or are of Estonian descent: please pardon my ignorance. Not only do I know next to nothing about your fine country but I can only fill this void with ridiculous and completely false information such as that your population is 54,640 and your main exports are rocks and sex slaves. This is terrible and I will do my best to amend this grievous lack of knowledge. For example, Wikipedia informs me that you are a Finnic people, which means that you enjoy an unfathomably difficult language. Good luck with that.

Also helpful is this wonderful parody for Estonia tv3, what I assume is one of at least three television channels in Estonia. It incorporates all the hallmarks of modern life in Estonia, like one room school houses, horse-drawn carriages, pigs heads, and toy stick horses. Of course it could all be a big ruse and, in fact, Estonia could be a nearly energy independent country with the most robust economy of the three Baltic states. Only the Estonians know for sure.

via The Daily What

Santa, NO! (The Tumblr Experience)

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This holiday season, if you see one Tumblr blog, make it Santa, NO!*

“An advent calendar of unpleasant Santa antics, with the occasional uplifting/confusing Santa action shot.”

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“Y’know, for kids.”

*Brought to you by the producers of THE FIVE FISTINGS OF SCIENCE and HOBO DARKSEID: THE MUSICAL.

Under The Sea

Fascinating and beautiful time-lapse footage of sea scavengers feasting upon the corpse of a seal in Antarctica. Part of the BBC series Life narrated, as all nature documentaries should be, by Sir David Attenborough. You can see a higher quality version of this clip here.

“The TV Show” by Sugimoto Kousuke


Directed by Sugimoto Kousuke. Music by Manabe Takayuki. (via Ben Morris)

“The TV Show” animated short is one of those super condensed, frantically paced, ultra action-packed, hall-of-mirrors-ish, infinite-loopy, style-mashing, color-clashy, genre-fusing, worlds colliding, fractal braingasm-inducing kinda sorta thingies that most folks will probably need to watch multiple times in a serene, zen-like state before they begin to absorb everything that’s going on.

It was independently produced by director Sugimoto Kousuke, who sees many things. He sees plans within plans.