Culture Osolence by Lucas de Alcântara

From the same land that recently brought us Vinicius Quesada’s ominous post-apocalyptic images in the McDonald’s color scheme comes this two-image series from Brazilian artist Lucas de Alcântara.

The strange atomic-age flying machines (robots? winged helmets? …life forms?) recall Leonardo da Vinci’s technical drawings, while the composition echoes high-concept, hand-drawn film posters of bygone days. The would look great on a wall next to some Takashi Itsuki prints, no?

The images appear in Alcântara’s Depthcore portfolio. Consisting of digital artists around the world, Depthcore is a treasure trove of weird cyberpunk art. Work on Depthcore seems to be presented in chapters, and the image above appeared in the chapter titled Obsolete among many other beautiful submissions.

[via the highly addictive Surrogate Self]

“Athena’s Curse, Medusa’s Fate” — Created by Jessica Rowell, Nina Pak, and Elizabeth Maiden

Sometimes, when creative and inspired people get together to collaborate on making imagery in a specific vein that no one’s attempted before, a special kind of magic happens. Case in point, this elaborate photo series independently produced by Jessica Rowell of J-Chan Designs and photographer Nina Pak in cahoots with model Elizabeth Maiden:

Κατάρα της Αθηνάς, η μοίρα της Μέδουσας
Αθηνάς: Elizabeth Maiden
Μέδουσας: Jessica Rowell of J-Chan’s Designs
Photography: Nina Pak
Costume Design & Styling: J-Chan’s Designs
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Ancient Greek lore and steampunk culture clash, titan style, in a sumptuous mythos-meets-modernity photo series depicting the Goddess Athena (Elizabeth Maiden) and the Gorgon Medusa (Jessica Rowell).

According to legend, the once ravishing Medusa was cursed with a monstrous appearance after “seducing” Poseidon, Lord of the Sea, under the roof of Athena’s sacred temple. Hence, this series title (which, translated into English, means) “Athena’s curse, Medusa’s fate.”

Rowell pulled “inspiration from Desmond Davis’ 1981 film Clash of the Titans, then put an atemporal spin on things by incorporating several contemporary ingredients that “also felt industrial and familiar to alternative culture.”

Surreal Yugoslavian Sci-Fi Art from the ’70s/’80s

The incredible blog 50 Watts recently published a collection of illustrations by artist Nikolai Lutohin. Will at 50 Watts writes:

Milena and Vlada, the duo behind Yugodrom—a new blog focused on “graphic aesthetics from ex Yugoslavia”—have been unearthing gems from seventies and eighties issues of the science magazine Galaksija.

They wrote to me suggesting that the “surrealistic, sci-fi-sh, serigraphic and absolutely amazing” illustrations of Nikolai Lutohin would be suitable for 50 Watts, and I am inclined to agree. The Russian artist Lutohin was born in Yugoslavia and did many illustrations for Galaksija. I’ve included ten below.

I also love the magazine’s covers and for this post selected a handful from the 136 covers inYugodrom’s flickr set. See more of my favorite covers in a companion post on But Does it Float.

The YUGODROM Tumblr is a treasure trove of beautiful covers, adverts, logos, typography and fashion from the former Yugoslav republics. In addition to much of the retro sci-fi goodness, there is some sexy (sometimes in a creepy way) photography mixed in.

Vinicius Quesada’s “Blood Piss Blues” Series


“telemptyness”

Vinicius Quesada is a collage/street artist from São Paulo, Brazil. In 2010, he created a series of dystopian images titled Blood Piss Blues, “with real blood.

The images suggest a world in which the peak oil crisis has occurred, where children play in dismantled subway cars and where dense, polluted cities house homeless refugeessword-wielding geisha and… psychedelic cats. At least that’s one interpretation.

The paintings appear to be large and incredibly detailed; here is one tiny detail of the mega-cityscape, and another photo of one of the images wheat-pasted on Quesada’s wall. More images after the jump, and even more on Flickr. [via Surrogate Self]


“little kids playing on the subway”

The Tokyo that Tumblr Forgot

When I saw this striking image of Tokyo while riffling through my RSS feeds, my heart stopped. Supposedly, it’s a still from a forgotten video game made in 1995.

There’s something about this cityscape. I’ve been coming back to stare at the large version of it for two days now, marveling at all the details: that puffy-cheeked man and that lobster, the people on the streets, the density of the buildings, the beautiful pixel weave that makes up the clouds, and that ominous yellow moon. I want to know the story of this game world and its makers. If it’s a still from a mid-90s video game, very few people would have considered that art at the time. Now, in the world we live in, I could easily see this image selling at an art opening. If it turned out that this image was done by a contemporary pop artist, emulating/exaggerating the aesthetics of retro games, I would not be surprised. However, this image feels even more compelling to me precisely because it’s not that, but a forgotten relic, a lost gem, a genuine artifact.

Tumblr tells me (for once) that this striking image is from a video game called “Power Slave,” produced by Jellyfish Software in 1995. I’m not sure if I believe that; the only game titled Power Slave game I could find was this first-person shooter set in Egypt, released by Lobotomy Soft in 1997. Nothing in the game descriptions suggested the appearance of this scene. I checked out a couple of Power Slave playthroughs - not all 17 levels, but enough, including the intro and end, to be fairly sure that this scene was never among them. And the only Jellyfish Soft release that came up in my searches was Aerokid, an aviation game for kids, released in 1998. But then I read somewhere that on the Saturn conversion of PowerSlave included a hidden game. After some Googling, I found that name: Death Tank Zwei. With a name like that, I thought it sounded promising. But after looking through the entire game thanks to some guy’s research video for a Port-to-PC project on YouTube, I came to the conclusion that this game wasn’t the source of the image, either.

And that’s where the trail grew cold. Maybe I missed something. Maybe it’s just another beautiful Tumblr scrap I’ll never find the source of. Anyone have a clue?

Update: mystery solved, thanks to Coilhouse reader Fmtownsmarty. It’s Power Slave, a hentai first-person adventure/strategy game from Japan. “Tetsuya is a rather ordinary Japanese teenager, who prefers hanging out with his sweetheart Rika than going to school. His passion are 3D video games. The newest game machine which allows the player to completely submerge into the virtual world, modeled according to his desires, has captured his heart. But one thing is strange: lately, Tetsuya keeps seeing himself as a killer and rapist. Dreams begin to haunt him. Is this just a side-effect of the game, or does he have a dark side he knows nothing about?” Oh, Japan, don’t you ever change. <3

Ready Player One

Earlier this year, Patton Oswalt wrote an essay for Wired entitled “Wake Up, Geek Culture. Time to Die.” In it, Oswalt warns that the world is on the brink of “Etewaf: Everything That Ever Was—Available Forever.” Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is a daring young-adult fiction book about what might happen in such a world.

The year is 2044, and the world is ravaged by economic collapse. The peak oil crisis has occurred, unemployment is at an all-time high (with a two-year wait for jobs in the fast food industry), global warming has destroyed the climate, and people live in abject poverty. Our protagonist, 18-year-old Wade Watts, lives with sixteen other people inside a trailer. The trailer is part of “the stacks” – a new type of ghetto on the outskirts of major cities in which trailers, RVs and shipping containers are stacked one on top of another, creating tall, precarious towers.

On the bright side, a nerd “über-deity”/computer genius named James Halliday has crafted the ultimate MMO: a haptic virtual world akin to the Stephenson’s metaverse, Gibson’s cyberspace, and World of Warcraft. The immersive environment, called OASIS, is accessed by everyone with a computer, and most people spend every waking second in it. In this world, education is free, space is nearly infinite, and every type of diversion exists to distract people away from their daily life.

One the day after James Halliday (born: 1979) dies, a recorded invitation gets sent to every player in OASIS. While Oingo Boingo’s “Dead Man’s Party” plays in the background, a recording of Halliday, digitally inserted into a scene of a John Hughes film, informs OASIS users that he has hidden an easter egg somewhere in the game. And that whoever finds it will inherit Halliday’s entire fortune of billions, his assets, his company, and rulership of OASIS.

The hunt is on. Teenagers race against an evil corporation to find the egg. In their search for clues, a new generation discovers the 80s culture that Halliday loved, the culture that inspired him to build his all-encompassing virtual world. From Blade Runner to Ultraman to the Commodore 64 to Dungeons and Dragons to Devo to Adventure and beyond, Halliday’s challenge produces an otaku culture the likes of which the world has never seen. But as the stakes get higher and people begin to die not only in OASIS but also in real life, it becomes clear that it’s not just a game, and that the future of civilization depends on the outcome.

It’s a wonderful book. Everyone should read it. Check out the excerpts on Ernest Cline’s site, where you can also purchase the book or e-book. The audiobook version is narrated by none other than “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Geek” author Wil Wheaton. A perfect match.

[via @nicoles]

Gorgeous, Fascinating “Blade Runner” Con Reel

Apparently, this reel has not been shown anywhere since it ran the con circuit in 1982; not in screenings, not on any of the DVDs.* And… it’s… guh… braingasm.


*I’ve been informed it is, in fact, included on a recent Blu-Ray/DVD edition.

“One of the Blade Runner Convention Reels featuring interviews with Ridley Scott, Syd Mead and Douglas Trumbull about making Blade Runner universe. This 16 mm featurette, made by M. K. Productions in 1982, is specifically designed to circulate through the country’s various horror, fantasy and science fiction conventions. ”

Via Ed Brubaker.

Dial-up Modem Sound Slowed Down 700% Using Paulstretch

Dial-up modem sound slowed 700% by Darkfalky, using PaulStretch. Eerie, sinister, incredibly beautiful.


via Ariana Osborne

Also see:

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]

Poésie Noire: “Tragedy”

Let Poésie Noire transport you to a simpler time, when goths were GOTHS, and donning black lipstick ‘n’ goggles to shoot one’s darque synthpop music video in a desolate industrial setting wasn’t enough; only by dancing spasmodically atop slanting planks with newspaper stuffed down one’s pants could one convey true angst.


Best comment on teh YooToobz: “You gotta love the eighties videos. ‘I will stand here and look like a mysterious complex individual that has secrets that don’t exist and I still want you to figure out what I’m thinking about right now.’ Long live alternative music!” ~Mannchild11

The only thing that could potentially improve the “Tragedy” viewing experience would be inclusion of footage of lead singer Johan Casters (aka “La Bête Noire” – “The Black/Dark Beast”) actually “climb[ing] to ze top of ze tree” in that getup.

But seriously, these wacky Belgians made some great tunes, and paved the way for fellow dark synth countrymen Front 242 and Neon Judgment. So good on ‘em and their neo-Victorian inflatables!

Other tidbits of possible interest:


via DJ Dead Billy