Self Absorb

I can’t help but admire Ian Obermuller’s whacked-out Self Absorb Awash in a sea of near future cautionary tales and space-marines, paranoid psychothrillers and myriad different flavors of “-punk” appendaged sub-genres, there seems to be less and less work being produced that features the truly alien. Self Absorb tells the story of a young man who awakens in an alien jungle with no memory of how he arrived there. He eventually finds himself in the presence of one Dr. Trellis, a “metaphysicist” who counts among his assistants two individuals whose consciousnesses he has transferred into his pet cats. Yeah, it’s that kind of story. As far as animation goes, it is, perhaps, not the most jaw-dropping display you will ever see, but it does a wonderful job of creating a sense of place. Regardless of its art direction, its embrace of the bizarre has me interested in seeing what comes next.

Audrey Penven: Dancing with Invisible Light

Model: Trista

“She shimmered, and Laney could detect just immediately below the threshold of consciousness a flow of data….” – William Gibson, Idoru

This Friday in the Bay Area, photographer Audrey Penven‘s first solo show, Dancing with Invisible Light, opens at the Pictopia Gallery. These futuristic images were created by exploiting a property of the Microsoft Kinect game controller. Mike Estee, who modelled and assisted in the shoot, explains the process behind these images on his blog:

The controller uses a computer graphics technique called “Structured Light” to build a depth map of the field of view. This allows the Xbox Kinect camera to discern shapes and ultimately build a skeletal model of the person standing in front of it. It does this by projecting a grid of tiny infrared dots across the room, and reading the position of those dots with another camera. Those infrared dots show up really well on an IR camera as they’re quite bright. Projected against a person, they create interesting contours and patterns.

A community of Bay Area artists, models and makers came together to pose for this series, working together in pitch darkness to craft these images. Penven describes the experience:

As a photographer I am most interested in the nature and quality of light: how light behaves in the physical world, and how it interacts with and affects the subjects that it illuminates. For this shoot my models and I were essentially working blind, with the results visible only after each image was captured. Together, we explored the unique physicality of structured light, finding our way in the darkness by touch and intuition. Dancing with invisible light.

Prior to releasing this shoot, Penven posted some early experiments combining the IR camera and the Kinect. The haunting early sketches have the air of sci-fi surveillance footage, and are just as fascinating as the final product.

Model: Mike Estee

More images after the jump, and many more in large format on Audrey’s Flickr page. The opening reception at Pictopia is on April 1st from 6-11pm, and will feature a musical performance by Doctor Popular and vegan cupcakes by Idle Hands Baking. See you there!

Model: KC

Niche Market

It’s hard to imagine who the intended audience was for the “Stuffed” Girl’s Heads* from Honor House Products Corp. Certainly, there was and, no doubt, still is a well entrenched consumer base comprised of misogynists who would perhaps guffaw at the site of such an item or nod sagely, in possession of the belief that women are, indeed, nothing more than trophies. Despite this unfortunate reality, I have a hard time believing that anyone would actually buy something like this. No, this strikes me as the perfect gift for the laziest of movie serial killers; the star of some Grunge-era slasher film in which the villain is too stoned and jaded to actually get up off the couch in his parents’s basement to slay a cheerleader.

Regardless, for the low price of $3.35 you get the complete array of hair colors, those being blond, brunette, and redhead, affixed to a genuine mahogany base (notice no quotation marks there, so you know that shit is real.) The downer here, of course, is that the head is only 3/4 scale which may not completely sate your blood lust unless you have a Beetlejuice inspired fetish to go along with the murderous psychopathy. It also has the unfortunate side effect of putting a damper on the “realism” touted so often in the copy. That said, as the article suggests, it would no doubt be a conversation starter, though that conversation may take the form of a hushed exchange with authorities over the phone while the owner is in the other room.

Via Vintage Ads

*Also, who decided on the placement of those quotation marks. I mean, “Stuffed”? Shouldn’t they be around “Girl’s Head”? Shouldn’t the implication be that the head in question is not a real goddamn head and not that it isn’t actually stuffed? Maybe I’m over-thinking this.

The Installations Of Myeombeom Kim

Combining man-made and natural objects Korean artist Myeombeom Kim’s installations portray scenes and objects of surreal beauty. My favorite may be the stag pictured above, it’s antlers sprouting into expansive tree branches, giving the impression that the animal is rooted to the ground, the tree having tunneled its way up, through the deer’s body. Likewise, his light bulbs are just as clever, their filaments having been replaced with flowers and twigs, turning them into miniature, hanging terrariums; disparate objects suspended in a state of tranquil co-existence.

PDF Back Issues of Coilhouse Magazine ON SALE NOW

Today’s a big day! Coilhouse’s newest media experiment is ready for your delectation and appraisal.

From now through April 21, anyone, anywhere in the world with reasonable internet bandwidth will be able purchase DRM-free, high quality PDFs from the Coilhouse web store. This is the first time back issues of the magazine have been available in a digital format. Here it is: our brand-new PDF Shop.

For $5 USD a pop, you can download And Other Curiosities (01), Beauty Is A Choice (02), The “Hold My Gold” Issue (03), Onaim, Perantes, Rasonastos (04), and Let All the Children Boogie (05) as individual digital issues, or at a discount price of twenty bucks for all five. Also, should ye be feelin’ flush and generous, you’ll have the option to pay a bit more, because this is an important fund raising push for us.

Some thoughts:

As paper gourmands who have been touting the Magazine-As-Art-Object aspects of our production from the get-go, we know there’s nothing quite as scrumptious as holding a tangible, finite paper edition of Coilhouse in your hands.  We also realize that as we’ve continued to grow and evolve from a teeny wee indie publication to a somewhat less teeny (but still wee!) indie publication, there has consistently been more demand than supply of our limited run print issues as well as other merchandise, leaving a lot of forlorn readers crying out, “What do you mean it’s sold out ALREADY?!” And we must acknowledge, with regret, that our as-of-yet limited overseas distribution, combined with high international shipping costs, has made it prohibitively expensive for much of our global readership to afford copies of the Coilhouse print issues. We’re still working out these kinks as we go along. Thank you, comrades, for your continued understanding and kind suggestions on how we can improve.

Rest assured that we remain, first and foremost, resolutely committed to producing high quality print editions. But with your feedback, we’ve ascertained that high res PDFs are the best, most affordable solution we have currently for giving an ever-increasing readership access to our past print content. Depending on the success of this trial run digital sale, we may go in any number of directions: offering perennial PDF downloads, developing multimedia applications for smartphones and iPads, maybe even creating snazzy limited edition print digests for fellow diehard bibliophiles. Full disclosure: in recent weeks, we’ve been in multiple meetings with trusted mentors, friends, and publishers, discussing all of these possibilities, and more. SO EXCITING.

All proceeds from this initial three-week PDF sale will go directly back into the Coilhouse coffer. As previously mentioned, you’ll have the choice to purchase them at five bucks a pop, twenty for all five, or more if you can afford to and would like to further support our business. Every dollar you spend on them will help ensure that our upcoming Issue Six (currently being designed) is Coilhouse’s most lustrous, densely-packed and gorgeous production yet. Please know how grateful we are for the unflagging support of our beautiful and vibrant grassroots community. We’re still here, and still growing, because of you.

Once more, repeated for emphasis: this initial foray into PDF sales is a limited-time fund raising effort, so if you’re interested, don’t delay! GO GIT ‘EM.

Special thanks to art star Courtney Riot for designing the new shop, and Nicole, Ian, Jacquie, Whittles, Nyx, Steph, Slim and Audrey for countless hours of testing/support.

Auction: Coilhouse Care Package for Japan

Image by SHOHEI

We love Japan. A lot. So much that our “Japan” tag contains 77 items. This morning, help we are auctioning off a special merch package fror Japan on Ebay. The package includes the coveted, remedy ultra-soft Coilhouse Inform/Inspire/Infect unisex hoodie, decease available in S, M, L or XL (you specify  the size you want when you win the auction). Also included in this auction: nine Coilhouse buttons, an I/I/I mug, and a mint-condition copy of Issue 05. All proceeds from this auction will go to the Red Cross to support disaster relief efforts to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific. Click on the images to bid!

More images of the items, after the jump. Many thanks to our Grettkins for coming up with snapshots of the Japan care package on such short notice.

Stay tuned today for more big news.

Company’s Eloquent Response to Homophobic Gripes

So, Someone on the Internet recently got upset about the gay romance in the new Dragon Age 2 game released by BioWare. So threatened was this person that he felt the need to post a long, butthurt rant on the BioWare forums titled “Bioware Neglected Their Main Demographic: The Straight Male Gamer.” The disgruntled fan writes, “in every previous BioWare game, I always felt that almost every companion in the game was designed for the male gamer in mind.” In Dragon Age 2, however, “it makes things very awkward when your male companions keep making passes at you. The fact that a “No Homosexuality” option, which could have been easily implemented, is omitted just proves my point.” He complains that the straight love interests are too “exotic,” and is disappointed that instead of having more heterosexual romances to choose from, the game instead has a gay romance. ” The best part is when he says, “it’s ridiculous that I even have to use a term like Straight Male Gamer, when in the past I would only have to say fans.” Boo fucking hoo.

The response from David Gaider, a Senior Writer at BioWare, was elegant, incisive, and generally spot-on:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again– perhaps a bit more eloquently, since it’s apparently of dire concern to some.

The romances in the game are not for “the straight male gamer”. They’re for everyone. We have a lot of fans, many of whom are neither straight nor male, and they deserve no less attention. We have good numbers, after all, on the number of people who actually used similar sorts of content in DAO and thus don’t need to resort to anecdotal evidence to support our idea that their numbers are not insignificant… and that’s ignoring the idea that they don’t have just as much right to play the kind of game they wish as anyone else. The “rights” of anyone with regards to a game are murky at best, but anyone who takes that stance must apply it equally to both the minority as well as the majority. The majority has no inherent “right” to get more options than anyone else.

More than that, I would question anyone deciding they speak for “the straight male gamer” just as much as someone claiming they speak for “all RPG fans”, “all female fans” or even “all gay fans”. You don’t. If you wish to express your personal desires, then do so. I have no doubt that any opinion expressed on these forums is shared by many others, but since none of them have elected a spokesperson you’re better off not trying to be one. If your attempt is to convince BioWare developers, I can tell you that you do in fact make your opinion less convincing by doing so.

And if there is any doubt why such an opinion might be met with hostility, it has to do with privilege. You can write it off as “political correctness” if you wish, but the truth is that privilege always lies with the majority. They’re so used to being catered to that they see the lack of catering as an imbalance. They don’t see anything wrong with having things set up to suit them, what’s everyone’s fuss all about? That’s the way it should be, any everyone else should be used to not getting what they want… The very best we can do is give everyone a little bit of choice, and that’s what we tried here. And the person who says that the only way to please them is to restrict options for others is, if you ask me, the one who deserves it least.

It goes on, but you get the gist. It’s rare that you see a big company so clearly defining privilege. Good on them.  [via Slim]

BTC: Big Freedia, “Y’all Get Back Now”

Good morning, lovelies. A beautiful, larger-than-life, booty-clappin’ sissy bounce Queen Diva badass who goes by the name of Big Freedia has got some important questions for you in this glorious AM:

Directed by Bob Weisz and Josh Ente, produced by Michael Gottwald and Casey Coleman. BIG ol’ limerence for everyone who was involved in making this insanity happen.

“Where that uptown at? Where that downtown at? Where that west bank at?” And, most importantly, “who has the back to make the beat go BOOM?”

Could it beeeee….. YOU?

How to Make Love to a Trans Person

A breathtaking poem by Gabe Moses:

How to Make Love to a Trans Person

Forget the images you’ve learned to attach
To words like cock and clit, nurse
Chest and breasts.
Break those words open
Like a paramedic cracking ribs
To pump blood through a failing heart.
Push your hands inside.
Get them messy.
Scratch new definitions on the bones.

Get rid of the old words altogether.
Make up new words.
Call it a click or a ditto.
Call it the sound he makes
When you brush your hand against it through his jeans, salve
When you can hear his heart knocking on the back of his teeth
And every cell in his body is breathing.
Make the arch of her back a language
Name the hollows of each of her vertebrae
When they catch pools of sweat
Like rainwater in a row of paper cups
Align your teeth with this alphabet of her spine
So every word is weighted with the salt of her.

When you peel layers of clothing from his skin
Do not act as though you are changing dressings on a trauma patient
Even though it’s highly likely that you are.
Do not ask if she’s “had the surgery.”
Do not tell him that the needlepoint bruises on his thighs look like they hurt
If you are being offered a body
That has already been laid upon an altar of surgical steel
A sacrifice to whatever gods govern bodies
That come with some assembly required
Whatever you do, cialis
Do not say that the carefully sculpted landscape
Bordered by rocky ridges of scar tissue
Looks almost natural.

If she offers you breastbone
Aching to carve soft fruit from its branches
Though there may be more tissue in the lining of her bra
Than the flesh that rises to meet it, Let her ripen in your hands.
Imagine if she’d lost those swells to cancer,
A car accident instead of an accident of genetics
Would you think of her as less a woman then?
Then think of her as no less one now.

If he offers you a thumb-sized sprout of muscle
Reaching toward you when you kiss him
Like it wants to go deep enough inside you
To scratch his name on the bottom of your heart
Hold it as if it can-
In your hand, in your mouth
Inside the nest of your pelvic bones.
Though his skin may hardly do more than brush yours,
You will feel him deeper than you think.

Realize that bodies are only a fraction of who we are
They’re just oddly-shaped vessels for hearts
And honestly, they can barely contain us
We strain at their seams with every breath we take
We are all pulse and sweat,
Tissue and nerve ending
We are programmed to grope and fumble until we get it right.
Bodies have been learning each other forever.
It’s what bodies do.
They are grab bags of parts
And half the fun is figuring out
All the different ways we can fit them together;
All the different uses for hipbones and hands,
Tongues and teeth;
All the ways to car-crash our bodies beautiful.
But we could never forget how to use our hearts
Even if we tried.
That’s the important part.
Don’t worry about the bodies.
They’ve got this.

Gabe Moses is “a poet, author, performance artist, dogwalker, and accomplished floor-sock-glider who does most of his best writing in the bathtub. You can find his work in lots of cool places, but that kid singing James Brown on YouTube is not him.”

(Via Whittles, via Sarah Dopp, with thanks.)

The FAM: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring

It’s that time again, dear readers. Time for another episode of the internet’s most popular movie segment. (Editor’s Note: That is a lie. You, sir, are a liar.) Today, for your navel-gazing pleasure, we present Korean director Kim Ki Duk’s 2003 meditation, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring.

Taking place in and around a small temple, floating upon a remote mountain lake, it tells the story of a Buddhist monk and his young protege, neither of whom are ever named. Told in five vignettes, each corresponding to a season, we watch the cycle of these two lives, one enveloped in spiritual discipline, the other consumed by selfishness. The actors here give wonderfully understated performances, though the real star is no doubt the scenery in which they perform. Kim had the set built on Jusan Pond, a 200 year-old artificial pond in Cheongsong County, North Kyungsang Province in South Korea and it makes for a striking backdrop.

Critics have suggested that Kim made Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring to distance himself from a body of work that features extreme violence, animal cruelty, and heaping helpings of misogyny. In all fairness, his preoccupation with sex and violence are still present, though mostly off-screen. The arc of the boy’s life, beginning with his torture of animals and continuing through the murder of his adulterous wife, are tried and true territory for Kim, but here they enjoy a degree of subtlety. The cruelty to animals is still in full view, however, and while it serves a central purpose it may upset some viewers, so please be warned.

I’m a very big fan of Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring, however I know people who absolutely despise it, mostly for it’s snail-like pace and a feeling that the film is aware that it is Important Art. The former is most certainly true. It is a slow movie. The camera seems to linger, perhaps a little too long, on every scene but, of course, that is the point. That leads directly to the accusation of being too self-aware, and on that count I disagree. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring has big, sweeping things to say about life, but it arrives at those ideas as simplistically as possible, gilding itself in plainness. What emerges is a story honed imperceptibly by degrees, a sum of surprising and seemingly incongruous parts. It may be in that way that it best embodies the Buddhist traditions it so beautifully portrays.