New Sirens From Kate O’Brien

Coilhouse Issue 02 alum Kate O’Brien just finished a Tom Banwell-and-Bioshock-inspired shoot, and a few dreamy images have trickled out into her Flickr stream over the past 24 hours.

Model: Isabelle, photo/styling/editing :Kate O’Brien

I remember her uploading a bunch of in-progress photos of the helmet featured in these shots, and me being verrry curious about the forthcoming images. Kate pours a massive amount of time, money, and energy into building her own props and sets, often documenting the process in her blog. You can read all about this gold leather helmet here.

Apologies for the black bars, but we’ve had a few complaints about posting teh n00dz on the front page before, so please click the jump for bar-free pretties.

Laurie Lipton’s “Machine Punk” Series


In a new series titled Machine Punk, artist Laurie Lipton (previously on Coilhouse, with a cameo appearance by Caryn Drexl) skillfully renders a series of cumbersome, beautifully sprawling machines whose tangled wires and polluted textures conspire to create a sense of unease. Lipton states that the series was inspired by steampunk, but notes that the machines in her images run on “madness and electricity” rather than steam. “I was vacuuming one day, and noticed the amount of plugs and cables on the floor… a veritable wasp’s nest of wires and sockets connecting a hoard of gadgets and doo-dads intertwining around the house and my life. I was trapped like a fly in an electrical web. What had happened? Were these things making my life easier or more complex?” The resulting series features contraptions ranging from rickety flying machines to torturous exercise equipment, and critiques – among other things – CCTV surveillance, a broken recycling system, and the empty thought-calories of spending too much time online. Most of the images in this series are best enjoyed at a larger size, so click here to see them all.

Machine Punk will be on display at La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles from November 5 – 28th in Gallery 1, side-by-side with artist and Coilhouse collaborator Jessica Joslin in Gallery 2. Also, if you’re a fan of Laurie Lipton’s ghostly older work, it’s worth mentioning that she recently collaborated with clothing company AllSaints to produce a line of t-shirts featuring the wraiths and skeletons of her previous work, and that some of these shirts are now on sale. [Many thanks to the awesome Coilhouse reader who sent this in – I received your submission a while ago, but can’t find it now to credit you! Was it via Twitter?]

The Fates

Stephane Halleux’s First Film, Monsieur Hublot

French sculptor and Coilhouse Issue 02 featured artist Stéphane Halleux is trying his hand at a new medium – animation. In response to countless questions, pleas, and threats he’s created a digital character after one of his leather and scrap metal sculptures, Monsieur Hublot. There is no word yet on the release date of the eponymous, seven-minute short, but we do know that Mr. Hublot [named thusly as a nod to Jacques Tati’s tragically inept Monsieur Hulot] is a bachelor accountant suffering from a host of obsessive-compulsive ailments. He lives in a small, gadget-packed  apartment with his robotic dog, loves his leather trench coat  and despises noise.

Together with Zelit Productions, Stéphane hopes to eventually develop the project into a feature-length film. Meanwhile, a frame-sponsoring system is in place, allowing interested fans to take part in the short’s development at up to 9EU per frame. From the Monsieur Hublot website:

In exchange, among other things and depending on the amount of images sponsored, they will get updates on the film’s production, a print of one of their sponsored images signed by Stéphane Halleux, the opportunity to appear in the the credits, etc. As for ourselves, this quid pro quo will enable us to complete the financing of the short film and to prepare the release of the feature film.

I love this idea!

Two charming animation tests from Monsieur Hublot have been released into the wild, so far. Watch below as the character gets his bearings and faces off with a light switch, then check out his outfit in more detail.

“The Puppet Makers” Print Giveaway!

“Versailles, 1685. France has industrialized centuries before her neighbors but focuses on creating exquisitely ornate robotic shells for the aristocracy called, DOLLIES. Towering, lavishly expensive, [they] run on electricity provided by damming the Seine. Only the court elite wears DOLLIES, but their upkeep is beginning to bankrupt France. During the king’s birthday party, his Dolly explodes but is found to be empty…”

Artist Molly Crabapple (look for her illustrations in #05!) and author John Leavitt have been creating lots of buzz in recent weeks with The Puppet Makers, their gorgeous “rococo steampunk murder mystery” set in Versailles, 1685.  DC Comics’ online imprint, Zuda, has been publishing it in page-by-page increments each Wednesday. A stunning new page went up this morning.

Molly –generous and supportive friend to Coilhouse that she is– would like to give away a signed, limited edition print of one of The Puppet Makers’ pages to the Coilhouse reader with the “best guess as to where the king is”. Read up, then leave your deduction in comments for a chance to win!

The Friday Afternoon Movie: The Anachronism

Brevity is the word of the day both in regards to this post and the film it features. Matthew Gordon Long’s The Anachronism tells the story of Katie and Sebastian, two Victorian era, aspiring naturalists who while on expedition one summer day discover a mechanical squid on a rocky beach. What secrets does this mysterious cephalopod hold?

The Anachronism wears its steampunk aesthetic on its sleeve, from the squid’s nod to Jules Verne’ 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to Katie’s parasol and Sebastian’s pith helmet and butterfly net. It’s a nice, well told little tale, with a surprisingly sinister ending. What it really comes down to is this: mechanical squid. Like you’re going to pass that by.

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

The 10th Annual Edwardian Ball of San Francisco

Lee Evil and Dougy Gyro
Lee Evil and Dougy Gyro in his “Nautilus” costume.

The tenth Edwardian Ball crept up upon us unawares, while we were still sleepy from holiday overeating and adjusting to our regular work schedules again. All of a sudden everyone seemed to say “This weekend? But I haven’t a costume!” And thus began the yearly scramble, with last-minute runs to the fabric store and safety pins carefully tucked away inside as-yet unfinished garments. The Edwardian Ball is one of those rare events where everyone–not just the performers and regulars–dons a costume. For some of us this means little more than our everyday wear, while others brainstorm for weeks.

A contact juggler amongst the revelers.



Yes, yes. You’ve already seen blurbs about Machinarium all over the friggin’ bloggitysphere. But when a game this scrappy and adorable and smart and just painfully lovely pops up, we can’t not archive it here.

Amanita Design is the Czech indie game studio who brought the ‘wub those delightful point-and-click adventures, Samorost and Samorost 2. Aesthetically, their latest creation follows somewhat in Samorost‘s footsteps, but delves far deeper. For all its gorgeous visuals, ambiance, clever puzzles, and creaking, rusty robot action, what sets Machinarium apart and above other point-and-click games is its surprising depth. Such tenderness and subtlety, humor and intelligence!

machinarium1 copy

This is worldbuilding of the highest caliber, with a compelling narrative that slowly unfolds as you play through, bringing Wall-E, Perdido Street Station and The City of Lost Children to mind in equal measure. No spoilers. Just click here, try out the demo, and you’ll understand why it might just be the best 17 bucks you spend all month.

The Great Handcar Regatta of 2009

Three cheers for Oakland-based photographer Neil Girling! Longtime readers may recall his beautiful work from this 2007 post about California’s thriving underground circus scene. More recently, Neil braved scorching temperatures and hoards of cheerfully chafing, corseted quaintrelles to bring Coilhouse the following photo essay about the second annual Handcar Regatta. A tip o’ the topper to you, good sir, and thanks again. ~Mer

The Screaming Vortex races down the track.

September 27th saw the second installment of the Great Handcar Regatta, an afternoon of nonsensical anachronism, whimsy and ingenuity in Santa Rosa, CA. Though temperatures burned hot in the triple-digits, many thousands of spectators and participants flooded the Railroad Square historic park, perusing vendors, sipping refreshments, seeing live music, and — of course — watching the races.

Rock*N*Roll Sunday School Fixed Gear, powered solely by running, crosses the finish line.

Official MC Les Claypool provided commentary to the thronging crowds, which were said to have reached nearly 10,000 (a keen-eyed friend said Tom Waits was among them), many of whom were dressed appropriately old-timey for the occasion.

[Scads more photos after the jump.]

Electro-Plasmic Hydrocephalic Fiction Generator

We can’t all be Cherie Priest on the first try. But if the storyline of your latest dystopian/retro-futuristic tour-de-force has got you stumped, insert one thrupenny bit into the Electro-Plasmic Hydrocephalic Genre-Fiction Generator 2000, and watch inspiration emerge from the æther. Three early attempts the got me the following tales:

Your title is: “The Blackpunks”
In a leather-clad set from Road Warrior, a young brooding loner stumbles across an exiled angel which spurs him into conflict with computer viruses made real, with the help of a sarcastic female techno-geek and her closet full of assault rifles, culminating in a heroic sacrifice that no one will ever remember.

Your title is: “The Chronotrons”
In a VR-simulated Victorian Britain, a young student of metaphysics stumbles across a magic diadem which spurs him into conflict with a profit-obsessed corporation, with the help of a tomboyish female mechanic and her welding gear, culminating in a philosophical argument punctuated by violence.

Your title is: “The Cybermancers”
In a neo-noir one-way spaceflight, a young farm boy with dreams stumbles across an encrypted data feed which spurs him into conflict with murderous robots, with the help of a shape-shifting female assassin and her wacky pet, culminating in authorial preaching through the mouths of the characters.

If you wish to see the guts of the machine, there’s an attractive diagram – the Wondermark Fiction Generator – on which the above engine is based. Written/designed by the super-talented David Malki, and coded by Liam Cooke.

Gorgeous design (reminds me of the Dollar Dreadful), and a fun way to get the gears turning when it comes to new fiction, despite (or because of?) the obvious critique that’s going on here.  [Via Milly, thanks!]