Blade Runner Sequel with Female Protagonist Announced!


Candice Guttmann at Tokyo Blade Runner. Photo by Gabi Porter.

Today, Ridley Scott announced that his upcoming Blade Runner film will be a sequel, with original screenwriter Hampton Fancher joining the project. The storyline is shrouded in secrecy: “the filmmakers would reveal only that the new story will take place some years after the first film concluded,” a press release stated today. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Scott announced that the film will “definitely” feature a female protagonist.

Best, the best. There is nothing else to say! . Since we opened our doors in 2004, our shop has filled over 5 million discount prescription orders through our Canadian pharmacy.


Dances of Vice: Tokyo Blade Runner New York Comic Con Afterparty 2011 from Nishell Falcone on Vimeo.

It’s likely that filming won’t begin until 2013, so in the meantime, check out this montage from the Dances of Vice Tokyo Blade Runner party, which took place in New York last fall. The future-noir burlesque performances and fashion show are so ornate and inspired, you’d think you were getting a sneak peek of the sequel’s trailer.

Previously on Coilhouse:

“A Homogenous, Cancerous, Rhizomatic Junkspace”


Map of the Online Communities by XKCD, 2007. Larger version.

J.G. Ballard one said that his biggest fear was that the future would be boring. He feared the future would be “a vast, conforming suburb of the soul.” The notion, as applied to the Internet, was recently explored in two pieces on the changing face of internet culture.

Both are wonderfully-written, playful and full of insight. The first of these The Death of the Cyberflâneur, an opinion piece penned by Evgeny Morozov for the New York Times.

Thanks to the French poet Charles Baudelaire and the German critic Walter Benjamin, both of whom viewed the flâneur as an emblem of modernity, his figure (and it was predominantly a “he”) is now firmly associated with 19th-century Paris. The flâneur would leisurely stroll through its streets and especially its arcades — those stylish, lively and bustling rows of shops covered by glass roofs — to cultivate what Honoré de Balzac called “the gastronomy of the eye.” … it’s easy to see, then, why cyberflânerie seemed such an appealing notion in the early days of the Web. The idea of exploring cyberspace as virgin territory, not yet colonized by governments and corporations, was romantic; that romanticism was even reflected in the names of early browsers (“Internet Explorer,” “Netscape Navigator”). …

In the second half of the 19th century, Paris was experiencing rapid and profound change. The architectural and city planning reforms advanced by Baron Haussmann during the rule of Napoleon III were particularly consequential: the demolition of small medieval streets, the numbering of buildings for administrative purposes, the establishment of wide, open, transparent boulevards … But if today’s Internet has a Baron Haussmann, it is Facebook. Everything that makes cyberflânerie possible — solitude and individuality, anonymity and opacity, mystery and ambivalence, curiosity and risk-taking — is under assault by that company. It’s easy to blame Facebook’s business model (e.g., the loss of online anonymity allows it to make more money from advertising), but the problem resides much deeper. Facebook seems to believe that the quirky ingredients that make flânerie possible need to go. “We want everything to be social,” Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said on “Charlie Rose” a few months ago.


Updated Map of the Online Communities by XKCD, 2010. Larger version here.

In response, Jesse Darling has penned a brilliant response essay titled Arcades, Mall Rats, and Tumblr Thugs over at The New Inquiry:

Evgeny Morozov writes from Palo Alto, a Californian charter city established by the founding father of Stanford University, at which Morozov is a visiting fellow. Palo Alto, nestled in a dewy corner of Silicon Valley, has been at various times home to Google, Paypal, Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard: a prime piece of sun-drenched, Nor-Cal sprawl. Social media is to the Read/Write Web what sprawl is to the metropolis of modernity: a homogenous, cancerous, rhizomatic junkspace that expands exponentially outward on a sludgy wave of strip malls and sponsored links, greed and induced demand. This ruthless modernization produces miles of “junkspace” — a term coined by the architect Rem Koolhaas, who wrote that “more and more, more is more. Junkspace is overripe and undernourishing at the same time, a colossal security blanket that covers the earth in a stranglehold of seduction…

Junkspace is like being condemned to a perpetual Jacuzzi with millions of your best friends. Seemingly an apotheosis, spatially grandiose, the effect of its richness is a terminal hollowness, a vicious parody of ambition that systematically erodes the credibility of building, possibly forever.” Koolhaas was referring to the airport and the strip-mall and the single-zone sprawl, but he could have been talking about Facebook…. If space is a practiced place, then collective navigation produces the commons. Like mall rats flipping tricks in a parking lot, users exhibit a feral fluency in the use (and transgression, as it is reimagined daily) of this common timespace: we tune out the ads and get on with the serious business of flirting, hustling, hanging out and talking shit. We know that this serious business is affective labor which produces capital for the custodians of netspace; indeed, meme culture (including but not limited to YouTube parody, stock photo art, cut-ups and image macros) can be seen as the user asserting a subjectivity that exists and thrives despite (and beyond) her status as targeted marketing demographic. Like the Occupy movement, these activities amount to a kind of politics of the public (virtual) body in (virtual) space. We may never own the means of production as such, but will continue to assert, pervert and subvert the commons anyway: a gesture of post-corporeal territorial pissing which necessitates neither phallus nor spray-can nor html.

The Internet: Serious Business. Well-played.

On a tangentially related note:

BTC: Future World Orchestra


Hooray for flarpy synths and dubious Danish E.T. impressions!

This cover of John Williams’ E.T. theme was recorded in 1983 by two yacht-rockin’ electropoppets known as the Future World Orchestra. It is, IMHO, so utterly beyond happystupidwonderful, some of you may have trouble restraining yourself from spasmodic flailing or propulsive flatulence.

Behold, below, as the space-age lotharios radiate raw moustachioed magnetism while performing their hit single “Desire” on the Italian music show Discoring:


Via Dirk Janssen, with thanks!

Here is the amazeballs cover of their 1982 album, Mission Completed:

And this, comrades, is the last offical Better Than Coffee of 2011. If the FWO ain’t afraid of the future, then let us not be, either. Onward and upward and o’er we go!

Have you called the White House yet?


Tom the Dancing Bug, via BoingBoing.

Plenty of websites have been reporting/debating/parsing the National Defense Authorization Act controversy for weeks now. In a nutshell, the NDAA contains provisions that have been worded so broadly, they’ll give any future president the power to imprison American citizens and legal residents of the U.S. indefinitely and without trial on the basis of accusation (even without proof) of a “belligerent act”.

Indefinitely. Without trial. This situation is not merely about politics; it’s about our most basic and precious civil rights.

If you can find a minute in the next 24 hours to call (202) 456-1414 to ask President Obama to change his mind, he still has until tomorrow (Dec 26th) to veto the bill.

It’s worth a shot.

[EDIT: Sunday, Dec 25. Apologies, folks. Looks like the office is closed until Tuesday. But, by all means, write a letter (even if it's too late): http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/write-or-call#write ]

In Defense of H&M’s Fembots

Fashion retailer H&M recently got called out for using computer-generated bodies in their online catalogue.

The company has admitted that the bodies are “completely virtual,” with faces of real models pasted in. “This is a technique that is not new, it is available within the industry today,” said an H&M spokesperson. “The virtual mannequins are used in the same way as we use mannequins in our stores for ladies wear and menswear.”

Bloggers have responded with appropriate criticism. Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation spokesman Helle Vaagland said, “this illustrates very well the sky-high aesthetic demands placed on the female body.” Blogger T.M. Gaouette writes, “I’m confused! If the intention is to just show the items of clothing, then why put real heads on fake bodies? Why not just put a fake head on the fake body? Is the real head needed so that we can relate to the models as human beings? But how is that possible when we are faced with a perfect body to which no one can relate?”

On Facebook, a couple of friends expressed concern that this trend will decrease the number of jobs available to working models. Another issue is the creepiness factor: “Man,” writes Jenna Sauer at Jezebel, “isn’t looking at the four identical bodies with different heads so uncanny?”

With that in mind, there are a few beautiful and amazing things going on here. First of all, there’s the unintentional modern art: this catalogue has brought us the haunting, Ringu-esque Model Without a Face. Also, this foray into the uncanny valley brings us one step closer to the age of the idoru. With teenage pop idol Aimi Eguchi, whose face is a composite of six different singers, and vocaloids (singing synthesizers) such as pigtailed holographic superstar Hatsune Miku, we’re almost there. And even though H&M’s online catalogue conforms to the same beauty standard as any other big fashion retailer, this technology actually has the potential to subvert the paradigm altogether.

Imagine an online shop where your preferred weight/height/measurements are used to generate 3D models of the bodies that you want to see. Imagine if there was an API for this that could be used across all online clothing stores you visit, so that no matter what site you were looking at, the models appeared the way that you wanted them to. Standardized beauty ideals would become less relevant, because people would have greater control over their exposure to them.

In the short term, it may seem like computer-generated models reinforce a homogenous beauty standard. In the long term, this technology may pave the way towards greater body diversity and inclusiveness.

EDIT: After some wonderful discussion in the comments, I’m appending my responses to the post:

Some of you have pointed out that advertisers aren’t known for championing body diversity. It’s true. Perfume companies hire leggy, angular supermodels to to sell you a lifestyle. Some female-targeted TV commercials begrudgingly include the token African-American women (especially, for some reason, when selling yogurt, cleaning products and tampons), but it’s rare to see them go beyond that. If you read Sociological Images, you know how often advertisers and companies create ads that are super-racist, sexist or classicist even in this day and age.

The reason why I think this has a chance of succeeding is that the advertising and retail branches (or outsourced teams) of a company have totally different goals. The goal of advertising is to make you aware of the brand, and to associate that brand with glamour, mystique, etc. That’s why fashion and editorial models are very tall and have exotic, alien features – Andrej Pejic, Alek Wek, etc. On the other hand, catalog models tend to look “wholesome” and just slightly more attractive than average. Your mileage may vary – the Victoria’s Secret catalog models will look more glamorous than the ones from Gap, and these H&M girls are on the more glamorous side – but generally, catalog models are supposed to be a very standard type of “pretty” that’s not supposed to make people insecure, because they want you to feel happy when you make the purchasing decision. Here are a few models from the Macy’s catalog… I think they’re pretty, but I don’t think that they’re “impossibly” pretty. They look like women I see every day:

Advertising makes people feel insecure, like they’re lacking something, with the implicit message that buying this brand will make them somehow more attractive or fulfilled. But that’s not the goal of a product shot. The goal of the product shot is to make the average consumer feel like the item is right for them. Consider the difference between the Levi Jeans ad campaign and the completely neutral, non-threatening, disembodied product photo on their website:

Calvin Klein Ad:

Calvin Klein Product shot:

It’s true that almost all models presented in catalogs are still uniformly size small. That’s because they are often modeling samples, before the full line of clothing is produced. Samples are manufactured in size small because that’s always been the industry standard. Most of that is for practical reasons: size small clothing is faster and cheaper to produce, because it requires less fabric and time. But with advanced 3D modeling, that convention may go out the window as far as online catalog photos go. (I’m sure it’ll remain as a standard in the fashion world for a long time). There’s already a company called http://fits.me/ that’s working on this. It’s not as advanced as H&M’s one-size-fits-all fitting room interface, but hopefully it’ll evolve in that direction.

H&M doesn’t deserve TOO much praise because they didn’t really step outside the status quo with their use of digital models, but I don’t think they should be criticized, either. Their fake-bodied models were no skinnier than any real models that they would’ve used otherwise. I worry that if the blogosphere crucifies them, and so far that’s what has happened, then other fashion retailers will get discouraged from trying this type of technology in the future because they’ll think that people are just uncomfortable with it, and that it doesn’t test well. Ms. Magazine wrote in an op-ed about this, “Sign here to urge H&M to use real women to model its clothes.” If H&M does that, then it definitely won’t make any lasting change, because they’d just go back to using real Size 2 models. However with digital imaging, we can end up with a catalog that lets you change the size and shape of the clothing, looking something like this, only with more variations:

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”

“Hall of Thirty-Three Bays” by Hiroshi Sugimoto

A captivatingly atemporal silver gelatin print from 1995:


“Hall of Thirty-Three Bays” by Hiroshi Sugimoto

(Our 400px column width definitely ain’t doing the composition any favors; it’s worth taking the time to view this stunning image as large as possible.)

The work of Tokyo/NYC-based artist and photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto reflects a lifelong fascination with infinity and eternity. He has “spoken of his work as an expression of ‘time exposed’, or photographs serving as a time capsule for a series of events in time. His work also focuses on transience of life, and the conflict between life and death.” (via)

The story behind this particular image: these are the fiercely protected, rarely viewed 1001 statues of the Sanjusangendo, a 390-foot-long wooden temple in Kyoto containing thirty-three bays, also known as Sea of Buddha. Sugimoto was determined to show the statues as they were meant to be viewed during the Heian Perod (794-1185). It took seven years for Sugimoto to get permission to enter the “Hall of Thirty-Three Bays” with his camera equipment and capture the eight-hundred-year-old Armed Merciful Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara figures just as the early morning sunlight hit them, simultaneously illuminating one-thousand-and-one haloes. The resulting imagery is both ancient and somehow futuristic, infinite and immediate.

More beauty from Sugimoto:

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

Occupy Everywhere: An Introduction

EDITOR’S NOTE– This is our friend Kim Boekbinder:


Photo by Marianne Bijou.

A musician, artist, and writer, Kim is currently venturing across the United States on her crowd-sourced, pre-sold Impossible Girl Tour. Over the next few weeks, Kim will also attend several Occupy Wall Street demonstrations taking place in various cities that she’s traveling to, and document her experiences on Coilhouse. What follows is her first installment: an introduction, and a call to join the conversation. Thank you, Kim.  ~Mer

_________________________________________________________

On the subway I saw a girl and boy, ages 13 or 14, talking about whether or not to go to the protest.

“It won’t make a difference.” The girl said, “We’ll never change anything.”

“I used to believe like you,” said the boy, “But you always gotta believe that you can make a difference in the world.”

They spoke about the movement and what it means, the First and Second Amendments, how many people lived in their homes, the color of different dog breeds, and dancing the Macarena, before getting off the subway at Fulton St – the stop closest to Liberty Square.

Occupy Wall Street has started a conversation. And right now a lot of that conversation is about the conversation itself.

While exploring the culture of Liberty Square today, I was randomly interviewed four times in the space of one hour, each time by a citizen journalist. One man wanted to make a video for his Facebook page to spread the word. Two young women were collecting interviews for their college newspaper; they weren’t working in any official capacity; they just knew that they needed to get this information back to their school and hoped the paper would publish it. These people came out with cameras, iPads, and pocket audio recorders, to learn why they were here and to share that with the world. And each time I was interviewed, I then interviewed them in return, and we would laugh together at the absurdity of this. We are all amateurs here. We are all experts.

People around America are confused, interested, annoyed, supportive, angry, joyous. But no one seems quite sure what Occupy Wall Street is.

“It’s like the 1960s.”

“It’s the democratic answer to the Tea Party.”

“It’s just dirty hippies.”

There are as many explanations for what Occupy Wall Street is as there are people involved in it.

The energy here is electrifying. We can all feel that something important is happening. And we’re all looking for why or how or who or what it is exactly. But the movement is young, and plastic, it is changing and growing quickly. Politicians who want to co-opt it are not sure what that means. Seasoned journalists are confounded as to how to report this to the world. The minute you think you have it figured out, it slips away and changes, reconfigures itself into something exactly like, but also exactly unlike what you were just looking at.

The power of this movement right now is its openness, its caring organization. There is information everywhere. People who are unsure of whether or not they support the movement are openly invited to engage in the conversation at the info booth. There is a feeling of immediate inclusion, if you want it. Passive observation is also welcomed. Tourists wave as their tour buses pass by. Skeptics dig for signs of failure. Journalists interview each other. Wall Street workers can be seen moving through the crowd, investigating this occupation of their hallowed ground.

Accountability, transparency, communication, nonviolence, and compassion are not just fetishes or dogma here: they are the foundation on which everything that happens next is being built. We have the technology now to ensure instant accountability, transparency, and communication. And we have a history of highly successful compassionate and nonviolent movements to draw from.

So while the movement figures out what it is and how to communicate that to the world, it is also constantly checking itself, holding itself accountable, sloughing off anything that deviates from the message it is still forming. It is no small feat– amazing to watch, even more amazing to be a part of. There is no such thing as a neutral observer here, because each person here is recognized as a vital part of the process.

I’ve been gathering samples of the movement for days: observing, recording, asking, listening to speeches, interviewing people, singing along to songs, wiggling my fingers to express my consent or dissent. I am both passive observer and passionate activist. I know exactly what is going on here, and I don’t know how to tell you. You must read, watch, hear, experience as much of it as you can. You must agree and disagree for yourself.

The conversation is yours, we cannot have it without you.


Liberty Square, October, 2011. Photo by Kim Boekbinder.

In the following days and weeks I will be exploring OWS and other Occupations around America as I tour: NYC, San Francisco, Portland, New Orleans, Boston.

There is continual coverage from many good media sites. My favorites for today:

“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” (Goodbye, Steve Jobs.)

“I find it rather fascinating how respected Steve Jobs was by corporate capitalist bigwigs and art freak anarchists alike.” – @colinaut. “Steve Jobs dies. Protesters being beaten on Wall Street. Custom stem-cell cloning achieved. Hell of a night. Rest easy.” – @warrenellis. “Man, I’m really, really sad. I always wanted to meet Jobs, always wanted to thank him for basically inventing my world.” – @jzellis “Overheard from one of the nearby reporters [at the SF Apple Store]: ‘I’ll keep looking, but nobody here is crying yet.'” – @DocPop. “Gone way too soon. Thanks for everything Steve.” – @zoecello. “Wow, even my retired dad is sending me RIP Steve Jobs emails – from his iPad.” – @claytoncubitt “If you want to honor Steve, don’t mourn. Do your best work every day. Live your life to the fullest. Never settle. His spirit lives on.” – @sdw “iRIP, Steve Jobs. Thank you for making incredible things, so we can live in the future.” – @wilw

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Steve Jobs,
(February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011)