BIRDEMIC and the Dichotomy of Ironic Hipster Fan Luv

Lucky, lucky Los Anglicans. Your cup runneth over: Tarkovsky festivals, the approaching Hollywood Forever film season, Kenneth Anger screenings… and soon, an encore presentation of Birdemic: Shock and Terror:

Only last month, Cinefamily housed the drunkenly enthusiastic world premiere of this cinematic Tour de Farce. The screening was hosted by Tim and Eric in cahoots with Severin Films, who turned the entire West Hollywood theater into “a temporary aviary with epic displays of Birdemic special effects, props and costumes that… put the Smithsonian to shame.”

Some background on the film from Severin’s official press release:

Birdemic, described by [writer/producer/director] James Nguyen as a romantic thriller, is a horror/action/special-effects-driven love story about a young couple trapped in a small Northern California town under siege by homicidal birds. Birdemic also tackles topical issues of global warming, avian flu, world peace, organic living, sexual promiscuity and lavatory access.

Nguyen, a 42-year-old Vietnamese refugee, wrote, cast and shot the film over the course of four years using salary from his day job as a mid-level software salesman in Silicon Valley. The film pays homage to Hitchcock’s The Birds via location shooting in Mission Bay, California, as well as an appearance by star of Tippi Hedren. When rejected for an official screening slot at Sundance, Nguyen spent eight days driving up and down the festivals nearby streets in a van covered with fake birds, frozen blood and Birdemic posters, while loudspeakers blared the sounds of eagle attacks and human screams.

Severin’s executive producers took one look at Nguyen’s labor of love and bought the rights to Birdemic for the next 20 years.

After the premiere screening last month, Nguyen and Birdemic co-stars Alan Bagh and Whitney Moore stayed on hand for a lively Q&A session with their soused and roaring public. They laughed, they cried, it was better than Cats. Now, thanks to popular demand, Birdemic is hitting the open road. Screenings are scheduled in thirteen cities across the continental US, starting April 2nd. Not since The Room or Troll 2 has a film been so poised for Ironic Hipster Fan Luv.

Hey… can we talk about Ironic Hipster Fan Luv for a sec?

Or not. In fact, I’m going to put the rest of this post under a cut, because I honestly don’t know if its ouroboric tone will be interesting, or merely irritating, to the majority of our readers. If you’re not already rolling your eyes with your arms folded across your chest, I invite you to read on!

Andrew Chase’s Metal Mammals

I’m really not sure what I have to say to properly convey the danger of robots to you people. Really, at this point I feel that the risks should be self-evident; but almost on a daily basis I am proven wrong. You just do not seem to understand where this road leads to and my words appear impotent, unable to realize the dark future I see should mankind continue down this path towards sentient mechanical beings.

And yet, I find myself unable to just give up. Someone has to be the voice of reason, if only to be able to point out that they told you so; and that person might as well be me if only because I like being right and I am an accomplished pointer, if I do say so myself. With that in mind follow my index finger and gaze in horror and wonder at the sculptures of Andrew Chase. Chase, unlike most who crusade for our demise by automatons, has his sights set squarely on the animal kingdom, making him, perhaps, even more despicable — for what kind of man would set such a plague upon the beasts of the Earth, innocent and pure as they are? Chase has no such qualms, creating giant, lumbering steel pachyderms and lithe, gear-driven, and indefatigable cheetahs. The savannas of the future will be occupied by metal giraffes, wading through the corpses of extinct fauna to hunt down the last of humanity with laser eyes under a smog-choked and blackened sky, mark my words.

And you’ll have only yourselves — and Andrew Chase — to blame.

Mister Graves’ Nuclear Landscapes, Life-worn Faces

Mister David Graves does many things, but this post is about his gorgeous photography, and about his charity walk across Oregon in support of the Oregon Food Bank. More on that in a moment. In fact, this post is just about two aspects of his photo-repertoire, while there are several. For instance, Graves has taken plenty of photos of beautiful women and forgotten cemeteries, but today I’d rather show off his nuclear landscapes and life-worn faces.

The shot below is titled “They Make Milk Here”.

Arresting, yes? This is one of a series of vertical panoramas, another one of which is below the jump. Uncle Tarkovsky would approve.

Much of Graves’ work explores nature – sometimes coexisting in contrast with civilization, other times wild and exceeding all, with objects of human development becoming lifeless artifacts, left behind by an environmental revolution.


Dead House

Another dimension of Mister Graves’ work takes on cities, society, and its casualties. His photos of the homeless are, to me, among his best. On Flickr, these portraits are often accompanied by short blurbs of how the shot came about. This is Sally, captioned, “She asked for change, I asked for a picture in trade. She showed me her tattoo.”

Graves is far from a spectator with a camera. After years of working for various non-profits and going through a number of skin-thickening experiences like hitchhiking across parts of America, he’s decided to spend ninety days walking for charity. He leaves next week. On his website, WalkingOregon.com, David Graves states:

I believe that access to real food is a basic human right. This philosophy is in line with the work the Oregon Food Bank does, and therefore I have chosen them as my charity for this event. All donations, minus personal expense, will be given to the Oregon Food Bank to support their efforts throughout the state. It is my hope that through the kindness of individual donors, and aided by numerous radio interviews/newspaper articles, I can raise $40,000 for the Oregon Food Bank.

My walk will begin and end at the State Capitol building in Salem. The event is planned to last anywhere from 80 to 100 days, with a scheduled start date of April 5th. My planned rate of walking is 15 miles per day, but I am leaving room for various setbacks, such as sickness, closed roads, and theft/robbery. My walk will begin heading east from Salem until I reach John Day. From John Day, I will walk north to Umatilla, and back west to Portland. From Portland I will walk to the coast and continue south to Coos Bay. The final leg of my walk will take me from Coos Bay to Springfield and back north to Salem. Many of my nights on the road I will be camping, in an attempt to keep my personal expense as low as possible. Any couches/hotel rooms that can be offered along the way will be of great help.

David is taking his cameras along for this journey, and he’ll be documenting his adventure online, which I’m really looking forward to. You can follow his progress on the Walking Oregon Facebook page.

Click the jump for some of my favorite shots by Mister Graves.

A Tribe of Dark and Poetic Creatures


Les gardiennes du temple : “La tordue “

Like a menagerie of majestic, menacing mythological creatures from savage campfire fables, or ancestral memories translated through the fantastical filter of dreams, Svene’s dark sculptures possess a primitive grace, a fierce  splendor, and a shadowy awareness of faith, and fear and love,   inextricably linked.

As a dance teacher, art director and choreographer for a collective, the enigmatic Svene’s  artistic path seemed to be mapped out;  during those years she had explored music, choreography and scenography….but felt that a part of her “remained asleep”

Better Than Coffee: Dom Yunogo Technika

Ah, the legendary 14th episode of Nu Pogodi (“You Just Wait!”), a ’70s/’80s children’s cartoon outlining the tormented, love-hate, co-dependent relationship of Zayatz and Volk (bunny and wolf), the Wile E. Coyote & Road Runner of the USSR.  Their relationship spanned 16 “classic” episodes (from 1969 to 1986) and included plenty of substance abuse, violence, “bad touches,” and one very awkward romantic dinner.

The 14th episode – with its murderous rabbit simulacrum, metrosexual hair-cutting/pants-pressing robots, junky schteeempunk Volkswagon (YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE?!), and zero-G flight simulators that play Space Race-inspired Soviet pop music. Episode 14 – my first exposure to electronic music of any sort. The techno kicks in at 2:57, when the main Space/Technology portion of the episode begins. In this episode, the wolf chases the rabbit around the “Dom Yunogo Technika,” which translates roughly to “House/Society of Young Tech-heads.” (That’s my best 5 AM translation, at least).  Before 2:57, there’s a short mini-episode in which Rabbit & Wolf share a dinner together – the aforementioned date, which ended in hilarious tragedy and made the show go down in Russian gay animation/film history, as both Rabbit & Wolf are male.

As with all episodes of Nu Pogodi, which can be found on YouTube, the wide-ranging music is one of the best parts. This episode is one of the best examples of that. The tracklist of Episode 14, which includes some appearances by Western artists, is this:

1. Alla Pugachova – Million Alyh Roz
2. Digital Emotion — Get Up, Action
3. Digital Emotion — Go Go Yellow Screen
4. Bonnie and Clyde – Leroy Holmes
5. Methusalem (Empire) – Black Hole (Bavarian Affair)
6. Digital Emotion — The Beauty & The Beast
7. Zemlyane – Trava u Doma
8. VIA Leisya Pesnya – Kachaetsya Vagon

Friday Afternoon Movie: Fear Of A Black Hat

In 1993 a movie titled CB4 starring Chris Rock was released. A parody of the “gangsta rap” phenomenon of the 90s it was met with mediocre reviews and went on to gross 17 million dollars domestically. A little over one year later another movie in the same vein appeared. Written, directed, and co-starring one Rusty Cundieff it was released to critical acclaim and went on to make a total of $238,000.00. In other words, like many good movies, no one saw it.

If you, dear reader, are one of the many who have not seen Fear of a Black Hat the FAM is giving you an opportunity right now to remedy this situation. Filmed in the mockumentary style popularized by Rob Reiner’s This is Spinal Tap, Fear of a Black Hat treats its subject as a real entity; and the members of N.W.H. (Niggaz With Hats) — Ice Cold, Tasty Taste, and Tone Def — go about the business of being a headwear-centric rap trio as they normally would under the gaze of sociologist Nina Blackburn’s camera.

What ensues is an almost pitch-perfect satirical time capsule of early 90s hip-hop. References abound from the internal feuding of N.W.A., to the ubiquitous “Ice” moniker and the hippy weirdness of P.M Dawn. Cundieff manages to tick off an entire checklist of well-worn rap tropes with hilarious consistency. It’s a movie that never fails to make me laugh, no matter how many times I see it. Rather than running the risk of talking this film up too much, I will simply leave you with one of my favorite exchanges, in which the boys explain just what N.W.H. is all about:

Nina Blackburn: So, guys, what’s the deal with the hats?

Ice Cold: That’s what NWH is all about. We got a whole hat philosophy, you know what I’m saying? I mean, see, back in the days when there was slaves and stuff, they would work in the hot sun all day, you know, with the sun beating down them. Hatless. I mean, not even a babushka.

Tone Def: Word. Heads totally exposed to the sun.

Ice Cold: You know, so by the time they got back to the plantation from being in all the heat, they was too tired to rebel against their masters, right? So what we saying with Niggaz With Hats is, “Yo, we got some hats now, muh-fuckers.”

Renaud Hallée’s “Sonar”

A simple piece of music animation from Renaud Hallée in which notes and the time between them are represented in various forms. Abstract but extremely effective it’s as fun to count along as the seconds spin by as it is to simply listen to.

Plastic Bag By Ramin Bahrani

Previously on Coilhouse:

Credence was given to the supposition that Werner Herzog, or someone who may sound only somewhat like Werner Herzog, can add tremendous weight to even the most mundane and innocent of children’s tales; his intonation imbuing the words with a profound sense of existential navel-gazing.

Ramin Bahrani understands this all to well and therefore enlisted the talent of Mr. Herzog to give voice to the titular protagonist of his short film, Plastic Bag; a film described thus:

Struggling with its immortality, a discarded plastic bag ventures through the environmentally barren remains of America as it searches for its maker.

I like to imagine that whenever a script like this arrives at his mountain-top fortress, he reads the script and, upon finishing it, bolts upright. Standing there, arms akimbo, he exclaims “This is a job for…WERNER HERZOG!” to the chagrin of his ever-faithful manservant who can do nothing but go ready the Herzogmobile.

via kottke

Creative Applicants Wanted for “Synthetic Aesthetics”

BERG co-founder Matt Jones just forwarded me a missive from one Ms. Daisy Ginsberg, an artist and scholar who uses design concepts to “explore the implications of emerging and unfamiliar technologies, science and services. She is fascinated by the macroscopic view, the larger-scale social, cultural and ethical consequences of engineering invisible organisms.”

Ginsberg and a handful of fellow researchers are putting out a call for artists, designers and scientists to collaborate on a well-funded synthetic biology exchange program called “Synthetics Aesthetics“. The project sounds like it will offer immense potential for personal growth, as well as aid other up-and-comers from a wide range of disciplines in developing completely new ways of thinking about and approaching the relatively newborn field of creative synthetic biology.

What is synthetic biology, exactly? Read on:

Synthetic Biology is a new approach to engineering biology, generally defined as the application of engineering principles to the complexity of biology. Biology has become a new material for engineering. From the design of biological circuits made from DNA to the design of entire systems, synthetic biology is very much interested in making biology something that can be designed.

Traditional engineering disciplines have tackled design by working alongside designers and developing longstanding and mutually-beneficial collaborations. Synthetic Aesthetics – a research project jointly run by the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and Stanford University, California – aims to bring together synthetic biologists, social scientists, designers, artists, and other creative practitioners, to explore existing and potential collaborations between synthetic biology and the creative professions. Interaction between these two broad fields has the potential to lead to new forms of engineering, new schools of art and design, a greater social scientific understanding of science and engineering, and new approaches to societal engagement with synthetic biology.

This website provides detailed information on the project… and useful information on synthetic biology and its relationship to art and design. As the project develops, the site will feature the results of our work and track the collaborations we establish.

Intrigued? Read their FAQ here. Specifically, they are looking for twelve people: six synthetic biologists and six designers/artists to take part in collaborative two week residencies. You have until March 31st to apply.

Heatswell: Advertising That Touches You

If hundreds of pages of Philip K. Dick have taught me anything it’s that in the inevitable overpopulated, smoggy, and rain soaked future advertising will be everywhere. Surrounded by it, we will be assaulted by high-tech neon shillery to the point of utter desensitization. Advertisers will have to think up increasingly invasive ways to grab the attention of eyeballs shielded by shiny, all-weather sunglasses and absurd personal computer visors. Short of implanting the desire for a particular product directly into our cerebellums with a biochemical cocktail delivered by evil looking needles, they will no doubt turn to something akin to what is on display here in this video by Scott Amron.

Bypassing the optic route all together, Amron advocates a more tactile approach; his beverage container swelling with protuberances in an allergic reaction to hot liquid, pushing their tumescent ridges into the palm of the purchaser’s hand, creasing it with ad-man braille. Coffee clenched in hand it is all you can do to keep from shrieking as it gropes you. Unable to tear you away from the horrid alien porn displayed on your visor screen while you wait for the bus the next step is no doubt to simply envelop your extremity and forcibly drag you away to some previously unknown destination to buy jeans.

via core77