Cargo Cult, Native Appropriations, and Voodoo Programming

The campaign slogan was “Traditional Goes Digital,” and it included three images: Squaw, Brave and Chief. These were created for Australian printing company ColorChiefs in 2006, and recently resurfaced on the How to Be a Retronaut blog, to such wry comments as “Native American steampunk use ALL the parts of the 8088.” The images have also garnered some critique, both for their cultural appropriation and sexism. As blogger Ikwe recently wrote on Tumblr, “it’s not very creative to sexualize a native woman in this way but it’s packaged with a new futuristic sexy theme so it’s sooooo groundbreaking and chic. Oh yes, the ad also reminds us that we are moving forward from our primitive and savage ways. Meh.” Paging Dr. Adrienne!

Looking at this somewhat clueless ad campaign did lead me through an interesting Wikipedia tunnel. Come with me on a magical journey:

Cargo Cult on Wikipedia:

With the end of the war, the military abandoned the airbases and stopped dropping cargo. In response, charismatic individuals developed cults among remote Melanesian populations that promised to bestow on their followers deliveries of food, arms, Jeeps, etc. The cult leaders explained that the cargo would be gifts from their own ancestors, or other sources, as had occurred with the outsider armies. In attempts to get cargo to fall by parachute or land in planes or ships again, islanders imitated the same practices they had seen the soldierssailors, and airmen use. Cult behaviors usually involved mimicking the day to day activities and dress styles of US soldiers, such as performing parade ground drills with wooden or salvaged rifles.[5] The islanders carved headphones from wood and wore them while sitting in fabricated control towers. They waved the landing signals while standing on the runways. They lit signal fires and torches to light up runways and lighthouses.[citation needed] In a form of sympathetic magic, many built life-size replicas of airplanes out of straw and cut new military-style landing strips out of the jungle, hoping to attract more airplanes. The cult members thought that the foreigners had some special connection to the deities and ancestors of the natives, who were the only beings powerful enough to produce such riches.

Which led to Cargo Cult Programming on Wikipedia:

A style of computer programming that is characterized by the ritual inclusion of code or program structures that serve no real purpose. Cargo cult programming is typically symptomatic of a programmer not understanding either a bug he or she was attempting to solve or the apparent solution (compare shotgun debuggingvoodoo programming).[1] The term cargo cult programmer may also apply when an unskilled or novice computer programmer (or one not experienced with the problem at hand) copies some program code from one place and pastes it into another place, with little or no understanding of how the code works, or if it is required in its new position.

Voodoo Programming on Wikipedia:

In computer programmingdeep magic refers to techniques that are not widely known, and may be deliberately kept secret. The number of such techniques has arguably decreased in recent years, especially in the field of cryptography, many aspects of which are now open to public scrutiny. The Jargon File makes a distinction between deep magic, which refers to (code based on) esoteric theoretical knowledge; black magic, which refers to (code based on) techniques that appear to work but which lack a theoretical explanation; and heavy wizardry, which refers to (code based on) obscure or undocumented intricacies of particular hardware or software. All three terms can appear in source code comments of the form:

Deep magic begins here…

In fiction, the term comes from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, an early book from C. S. Lewis‘s The Chronicles of Narnia, which describes ancient laws and codes as “deep magic from the dawn of time.”

[via m1k3y]

MadInSpain 2011 Via Toch Studio

Toch Studio’s opening titles for MadInSpain, an annual design conference in Madrid that took place at the beginning of this month. Taking the theme of madness, the team created an unnerving animation featuring tumorous protrusions erupting from the back of their subject’s head. Balloon-like, they float in mid-air, connected by gnarled and knotted cords. Creepy and clinical, it’s a clever, if unsettling, representation of creativity.

Thanks, John!

Welcome the Coilhouse Issue 06 Advertisers!

Coilhouse Issue 06 is coming soon, but it’s not quite there yet. With more pages, more contributors, and more articles than any previous issue, it’s been quite a journey to put this one together. Thank you all – readers, friends, collaborators, and advertisers – for your patience. Because this issue is still deep in the production stage, we’d like to share our new Issue 06 advertisers here on the blog. Joining our existing family of small-business advertisers, these guys will appear on the pages of Issue 06. Check them out and support their wonderful creations. Here they are!

Medina Maitreya is a costume designer who crafts unique outfits and accessories by mixing new and vintage materials. Working a palette of vintage lace, beads, coins, feathers, silk, flowers and other “antique bling”,  Medina constructs bespoke items inspired by everything from belly dance to circus arts to Erté. You may have seen some of Medina’s extravagant costumes sported by the Lucent Dossier Vaudeville Cirque, March Fourth Marching Band, Kami Liddle of the Bellydance Superstars, and  Zoe Jakes of Beats Antique. You can see some of Medina’s creations on her blog, and many more on Facebook.

Casual Animation specializes in creating affordable custom animations based on your concepts. You supply the idea, pictures and audio: animator-for-hire Kenneth Sanders will create an original cartoon in your preferred file format (avi, mov, m3v, etc.) based on the assets that you provide. Collaborate on any concept your heart desires: experimental surreal shorts, character sketches, music videos. Plus, an optional DVD of your cartoon could be mailed to you. You also have the option of having your cartoon featured on the Casual Animation website.

Constance is a freelance artist, designer and photographer whose work and blog can be seen at i heart constance. Constance specializes in helping small business craft a unique identity. Recent clients include Blue Betta Media, Big Purple Tree, and Saucy Ladies. A full portfolio of Constance’s 2011 design work can be found here. Constance is available for any design task ranging from a complete brand/identity overhaul to custom type treatments, business cards, package development, logo design, information layout, posters, flyers and much more. She’s also available for photography assignments including commissions portraits, product shots (yum!), compositing and retouching. In her website manifesto, Constance writes, “I write to inspire you to push your creativity / I write to provoke your sense of adventure / I write to motivate you to dream big.”

Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School is a worldwide alternative drawing movement in which art, booze, and burlesque collide. Every month, over 3,500 artists gather in nearly a hundred cities to sketch glamorous alt-culture models and compete in drawing contests in an atmosphere of creative mayhem. Artist, model and oft-Coilhouse collaborator Molly Crabapple (who’s about to embark on a Week in Hell) kicked off the first Dr. Sketchy’s event at a dive bar in 2005 as an antidote to the stiff, sterile life drawing classes she had posed for in the past. Local Dr. Sketchy’s branches are known for outrageous themed nights. At a recent Dr. Sketchy’s event in New York, for example, an elaborately-costumed Stoya and Jiz Lee acted out the story of Jack the Ripper while raising funds for a local sex workers’ rights campaign.

Ember Nomad a clothing company created by fashion designer Danica, and specializes in flowy, fun clothing “for travellers, dancers, and anyone who wants to feel a little bit of magic in their life.” The image above is from Ember Nomad’s 2010 Aphrodisia fashion show; more images can be seen here. Check Ember Nomad’s Facebook Page and Etsy Store for new items. Stripey bloomers, ruffled boleros, leather harnesses, hooded tank tops, and more! The cleavage-enhancing circus vest is hot.

Previously featured on Coilhouse, the Gilding Primal Instinct jewelry line by artist Danielle Nicole Hills features large theatrical pieces intended to transform the wearer into characters inspired by archetypes of human behavior. The jewelry line is at once elegant, theatrical and violent. Dental cuffs, blood-filled medical sample necklaces (or gold-filled ones!), wearable metallic claw predator rings, a majestic antler headdresses, a tooth-adorned surgical mask, and other ferocious adornments can be found on the Gilding Primal Instinct site. The materials list for each item is fascinating: for example, the surgical apron is made out of “copper, bronze, latex resin, taxidermy chick fetuses, 22k gold leaf, and blood.”

The Pornographic Portrait Project is a series of paintings by artist Molly Peck depicting the intimate orgasmic experience in a lush large-scale format. The current series includes several vibrant portraits of people in the throes of passion, and Molly needs your help to grow the project. “Shortly after embracing the idea of this project,” writes Molly, “I realized that it would be difficult for me to capture source images/photo references myself, which is where the collaborative or subject-submission angle came from. I am asking you to send me an image of the moment you ‘let go’, from which I will create a painting (if it inspires one).” The initial concept for the series focused on people’s faces, but has expanded to include “a more broad representation of release, as the individual sees it or defines it (but sticking in the sexual/erotic arena).” Molly welcomes submissions: check the FAQ for more info!

Night Flight is an aerial performance and training company based out of Portland, Orgeon. Founded by performers Gemma Adams and Stephanie Lopes, Night Flight performances combine breathtaking aerial artistry and playful storytelling. The Night Flight Aerial Art Studio offers 8-week intensive series classes, drop-ins, and private lessons focusing for aerial arts silks (tissu), static trapeze, hoop (lyra), rope (corde lisse), sling and straps, as well as strength and flexibility training. The next batch of classes starts up in July; check the class schedule for details. Those of you who don’t live in Portland should still check out this breathtakingly sensuous performance by Night Flight on silks and duo hoop, as well as this gorgeous Flickr photo set featuring Night Flight performers shot by Christopher Perez.

Opir is a politically-charged industrial music project by New York-based artists Spencer Thomas and Vivienne Gucwa. Opir’s first album - America: 25 Years in Review (1983-2008) – is a thoughtful reflection on America’s politics from the rise of Reagan to present day. Opir’s polished, caustic soundscapes, rhythmic textures, distorted samples, and dark ambient industrial beats recall Frontline Assembly, Hocico, Mentallo & the Fixer, and Muslimgauze. Beneath the visceral, corrosive auditory assault and dancefloor appeal of each track lies a richly-contextualized political message. Opir’s website provides a breakdown of song lyrics for the first three tracks, referencing economic theorists, social policies, historical events and legislations to help break down each song’s meaning. You can hear three song samples on Soundcloud, and you can get the album on iTunes or on Amazon.

The Idirlion Project is a fusing of chaos magick / sigilization with old school shamanism, all filtered through a future tech approach to altering reality. Readers who enjoyed our Grant Morrison interview in Issue 04 (as well as our articles on Jodorowsky, Larkin Grimm, Kenneth Grant, and other mystics throughout time) will appreciate the services that the Idirlion Project has to offer. Drawing on both Irish and Peruvial traditions, Idirlion will aid the client in the creation, casting and charging of a sigil. “The catchy tagline that we use on the site is ‘Shamanic Sigilzation For A Better Tomorrow.’ Kind of adds a nice silver age, Bradbury-esque touch to what can often be serious work.” Last month, the founders of the Idirlion Project helped launch the Starseed Institute For Shamanic Studies, an intensive four-weekend training program that explores the four aspects of the shamanic medicine wheel.

Jewels by Mouse, created by Valerie Fordham (Mouse) and Jon Boisseau, offers unique handmade jewelry and jewelry boxes. Mouse describes her jewelry as “sparkly, tactile, beautiful, and peculiar.” Tentacles, mixed metal and rivets, unusually shaped stones, spiraling organic forms, iridescent glass beads, cast bones, and “textures that want to be touched.” Mouse only uses sterling or fine silver, never plate, and the copper and brass in her jewelry are backed by sterling. Check out the onyx spiral earrings, Midsummer Vines necklace, copper keyhole bracelet, and spiral dragonfly pin.

Retro-a-Go-Go sells accessories, jewelry and home décoror inspired by the 50s and beyond: hot rods, rockabilly, Irving Klaw, kustom kulture, psychobilly, robots, zombies, monsters, tattoos and pop art. Exclusive lines include Bettie PageBuck RodgersHot Rod DeluxeKen the Flattop, and Mitch O’Connell. There are flasks, bill boxes, parasols, cigarette cases, belt buckles, and lots of retro tees for guys and dolls featuring everything from pin-up starlets to pulp horror novels.

Previously featured on Coilhouse, Miyu Decay is the new jewelry venture by artist Stephanie Inagaki. Since we last covered Miyu Decay, the shop has grown significantly. Whereas previously, some of the jewelry was only available in sterling silver, there are now pewter versions for those of us on a budget. For example, this gorgeous bat skull necklace for $350 is now available in pewter for $50. Other new creations in the Miyu Decay shop include an asymmetrical feather and lace collar, the Scottish tribal queen headdress, and the black chain skull bracelet.

All these companies, along with many of the advertisers we’ve blogged about previously, will appear in our upcoming Issue 06. Stay tuned for more updates!

This Crazy Stuff

Let me be honest with you, dear, beloved readers: I have no idea what “Velvo Finish” is, nor do I care. No, this ad, from the nether regions of Popular Science circa 1958, is posted here solely because of the slick-haired, mustachioed gentleman, so prominently featured. It is because of this man, this unctuous huckster from a by-gone era, that I place this ad in full view, perched high on this hallowed home page in all its glory. Stare deep into his lifeless gaze and accept his wordless invitation to inspect his pubic hair collection.

via Vintage Ads

MK12 Does it Again. (FITC 2011 Title Film)

After more than a decade, ruddily engorged by countless commercial and artistic coups d’états, the Kansas City-based design and filmmaking collective known as MK12 still excels at chewing bubblegum and kicking ass and making the baby Jebus cry. PROOF:


(Via MK12 co-founder, Matt Fraction.)

FITC is a design and technology events company that celebrated their 10th annual flagship event in Toronto just last week. MK12 produced this brief-but-brutal animated title film to mark the occasion. Indelibly. In your shuddering brainmeats. For all eternity. Nnnngh.

Pipe dream of the day: MK12 makes a full-length movie in cahoots with Al Columbia.

BTC: David Lynch and Barbie Discuss Coffee

Jeez… what’s goin’ on…

Via Laughing Squid:

To promote his new David Lynch Signature Cup Organic Coffee, the film auteur made this insane or absolutely brilliant video of a conversation he has with a Barbie doll about the coffee. The video consists of a relentless four minute close-up of Barbie’s head firmly clenched in Lynch’s hand as he provides all the dialogue, making very little attempt to distinguish between his gravelly voice and Barbie’s.

Yep, you just watched four straight minutes of one of the most influential filmmakers of all time making small talk and flirting with a doll head. Intrigued? Befuddled? Creeped out? Laughing hysterically? Irritable? Delighted? All of the above? Let’s talk about this.

Unholy Marriage of Star Wars + Adidas from Taipei

… I don’t even know.

These were done by artist Dorothy Tang for the Star Wars x adidas Originals Collection launch in Taipei. Larger images can be seen here.

[via the constantly delightful Wunderkind Jellygraph]

Rob The Rainbow And The Rainbow May Rob You

To his children everything seemed fine: chasing them around the house when he came home from work, helping them with their homework, acting out the books he read them before bed as always. His wife, on the other hand, had noticed an ever so slight change in Bill. Those nights spent reading in the living room after the children had been put to bed, in quiet co-habitation, punctuated by short bursts of conversation, a brief exchange over a particular news story or a bit of neighborhood gossip — the usual discussions that make up the mundane nights of married life — they were different. Now there was something else.

It was the silence. It had always been there, but now that silence had a strange quality, a cold weight to it. It had a density Agnes could feel pressing in on her. These moments were fleeting, but often she would look up when they occurred, only to find Bill staring off into space, at some point far outside the walls of their house. When asked if everything was alright, he would assure her that it was, flashing his goofy grin at her to drive the point home and send her back to her book.

But everything was not alright. Bill had endured the smirks and the sniggering for too long now, and it was wearing on him, eroding a great rut in his spirit. Who were these people to sneer at him? All he wanted was to make them gay and the best way he knew to do that was to clothe them in the most resplendent fabrics he could find, which he also knew, as should any fool with half a brain, came from the rainbow. What was so funny about that? What was the goddamn joke?

Maybe, he thought late at night, his wife sleeping soundly beside him, maybe they didn’t deserve to be gay. Maybe, he thought, gritting his teeth until they ached and his gums bled, maybe they didn’t deserve to be gilded in the fruits of his labor, those hours spent toiling on that fucking rainbow. Maybe, he thought, his fists clenched, a white hot fire burning in his brain right behind his eyes, maybe they don’t fucking deserve to be here on this beautiful, gay Earth at all.

And maybe he was going to do something about that.

Via Vintage Ads

David O’Reilly’s Creativity Masterclass

Someone asked sadistic Dada animator David O’Reilly (previously on Coilhouse) to give a talk on advertising. This is what happened. The most sincere advice for working in advertising that you’ll ever hear.

[via nicoles]

Franchised Goodies for the Children of Dune

In light of the charming Goodnight Dune children’s book that’s making the rounds online right now, today seems like a great time to share some treasures from my personal stash of weird, random, off-color, No-Seriously-WTF-Were-They-Thinking movie franchise ephemera.

These, for your delectation, are scans and photos of various pages from the astoundingly age-inappropriate Dune activity book series, published in 1984 to promote David Lynch’s movie adaptation of the classic Frank Herbert novel, produced by Universal Studios.

You know, FOR KIDS:

Yes, that’s a coloring page of Dr. Yueh preparing to assassinate Duke Leto with a dartgun. And up at the top there, that’s a floppy, diseased sex organ-reminiscent Guild Navigator, presented a-la la la “Connect the Dots”.

And here’s another cheerful coloring page of the fresh corpses of Duke Leto and Piter:

Heeeeee! Who the frak was in charge of marketing? More to the point, what kind of Melange were they smokin’ during the merch meeting, when it was decided that producing this series of vengeful activity books for a K-through-8 demographic made good business sense?

Well, whoever they were, Coilhouse salutes them.

Explore the childlike wonderment murder, intrigue, suppurating boils, phallic symbolism and knifeplay after the jump.