Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared

Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, by London-based art collective This Is It, at first seems like a bizarro children’s television from an alternate dimension. Looking at the modern, television landscape, however, it would seem that much of the programming for neonates is comprised of educational material wrapped in visuals that would make the Surrealists weep with joy. If anything, this is just taking the concept to its logical, if unsettling, conclusion.

The Splendiferous Barfing Cup

A protracted moment of emetic zen:

via JWZ

This one goes out to all of the members of our beloved Coilhouse Magazine staff who’ve been relentlessly toiling over final Issue Six revisions, all the while wondering “HEUGH GAAAHHHHD, when will it END?!!”

Bless you, thank you, and whatever you do, don’t try the Soup of the Day.

Help Fund “The Cicada Princess”

This looks incredible:

An overview of the project, courtesy of creator Mauricio Baiocchi’s website:

Cicada Princess is a short film based on a children’s book by the same title, both written and produced by Mauricio Baiocchi with illustrations and character designs by Steve Ferrera.

The book is a series of images based on miniatures and sculptures that follow the life cycle of the Cicadas and the party they attend at the end of their lives. When the idea to expand it to moving pictures came about, it was decided the best way to move forward would be through live action puppetry. Steve and Mauricio have worked on numerous creative projects over the years in different mediums and were very intrigued by the possibility of merging current imaging technology with strings and springs.

The film will run approximately five minutes, and is being shot in IMAX format, slated to be completed in 2011. As an independent production, both the film and the studio are self financed.

As of today, they’re already almost halfway to their ambitious (by Kickstarter standards) goal of raising 40K, with about a month to go. Got five bucks to spare? Ten? Twenty? An independent, handcrafted stop-motion pictures of this caliber seems well worth subsidizing! The Kickstarter page is here.

Paper Theatre Brought to Life with Light: The Ice Book

The Ice Book (HD) from Davy and Kristin McGuire on Vimeo.

If one were to combine the magic of pre-cinematic optical illusions, the childlike wonder associated with vintage pop-up books and the aesthetic sense of both Russian fairy tales and eerie German Expressionist films, one might hit upon the luminous production that is husband and wife team Davy and Kristin’s McGuire’s The Ice Book.

Blending elements of film, animation, theater, puppetry, installation art and “good old-fashioned illusions”, The Ice Book is described by its creators as a “… miniature theatre show made of paper and light… An exquisite experience of fragile paper cutouts and video projections that sweep you right into the heart of a fantasy world. It is an intimate and immersive experience of animation, book art and performance.”

Says Davy:

“We created the show during a four month artist residency at the Kuenstlerdorf Schoeppingen in Germany. All we had was a 5D Mark ii, an old Macbook with After Effects, some builders lights and a green cloth that we improvised as a makeshift green-screen. Before we started we had no idea how to make pop-up books let alone how we could combine them with projections. With a lot of care, love and arguing the idea eventually came to life.

The idea for the Icebook was to create a miniature maquette for this dream – a demonstration model to show to producers and other funders in the hope that they would give us some money to make the full scale show. (And we still hope that this will come true one day!) The Icebook has since however, grown its own legs and turned into a miniature show all by itself. An intimate performance for small audiences.

We love the old pre-cinematic optical illusions, such as zoetropes and magic lanterns, and the magical way in which they can mesmerise audiences through basic mechanics. Rather than simply projecting images onto a screen, we wanted to create an object with a life of its own – a tangible and magical “thing” for an audience to experience.”

Check below the cut for various haunting vignettes clipped from the production, as well as a beautifully illuminating “before and after” montage which briefly highlights the steps taken to achieve the  icy, ethereal effects viewed in the final production. For more behind the scenes peeks, as well as touring information, see the following links:

Suspended Disbelief: A TED Presentation by the Handspring Puppet Company

“Puppets always have to try to be alive. It’s their kind of Ur-Story on stage– that desperation to live.” ~Adrian Kohler

“[…] It only lives because you make it. An actor struggles to die onstage, but a puppet has to struggle to live, and in a way, that’s a metaphor for life.”  ~Basil Jones

In 1981, partners Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler co-founded the Handspring Puppet Company in Cape Town, South Africa, with two other graduates of the Michaelis School of Fine Art. Thirty years later, the two of them continue to run the company, staging theatrical collaborations in theaters worldwide with a cadre of downright empathic puppeteers.

The concerted group effort that goes into designing, building and performing these puppets ensures that they do live. In fact, the illusion is so complete at times, it would be almost frightening, were the creatures not presented so lovingly.

Via Lara Miranda, thanks!

The Handspring Puppet Co.’s inspiring TED talk brings “the emotional complexity of animals to the stage with their life-size puppets.” Their horse, in particular, is a miracle of engineering, art, and soulful expression.

The company’s latest production, War Horse, opened in New York at Lincoln Center last week. Are any of our New York readers going to go see it? Please, by all means, report back in comments!

Orson Welles and Jim Henson and Frank Oz Share a Too-WTF-For-TV Moment


“Things take an unpleasant turn at the end of Orson Welles’ interview with Jim Henson and Frank Oz… and stay tuned for Miss Angie Dickinson!”

Not really sure what’s happening, here, or whether this footage –all presumably taken from the unaired pilot for Orson Welles’ prospective 1978 talk show– has been doctored or edited in any way. (Does anyone who’s seen the bootleg have more info on it?) Whatever’s going on, though, watching these three geniuses sharing such a sublimely awkward moment has gotta be the best thing since sliced bread frozen peas.

[Via Jim Sclavunos, thanks!]

BTC: Cigareets and Whusky

The world is extra scary/sad right now. This morning, the coffee at Chez Coilhouse is decidedly Irish. We’re mixin’ it up with Princess Nicotine, Peter Sellers, some muppets, and few different iterations of a crusty ol’ preachment, if you’d care to partake:

Cheers, Goo.

Please consider clicking here to donate to the Red Cross.

Process: Marionettes With Geahk Burchill

Etsy presents a profile of Geahk Burchill of The Castiron Carousel Marionette Troupe in Portland, cialis Oregon, case showing some of the intricate work that goes into creating the miniature, string-bound characters that populate their bizarre worlds.

Via The Automata / Automaton Blog

Hilum By Patrick Sims

What better day than Thursday for some marionette flavored nightmare fuel? Behold the mad weirdness of Patrick Sims and Les Antliaclastes’ Hilum. I’m at a loss to properly describe this one, but fortunately the London International Mime Festival website described it thus:

A micro comic-tragedy based on the cycles of the washing machine and set in the basement of a rundown museum of natural history. Orphaned and cut off from the ordered kingdom of curiosities upstairs, the cast of nursery rhyme characters, cartoon images, and mischievous urchins turn playtime into a theatre of cruelty. Whites mix with colours, delicates get hot washed, and a monstrous big toe devours holes in the socks.

So there is that. I’m not sure if that is really very helpful at all. Two minutes, really, is all you need to decide if this is up your alley or not.

Via Wurzeltod : The Medium Of…

Yotsuya Simon, Hans Bellmer’s Japanese Heir

Here’s a widely unknown, but interesting example of intercultural influence exchange: Hans Bellmer can be easily called the godfather of Japan’s thriving puppet scene. In fact, the majority of currently active Japanese doll designers graduated from the famous Ecole de Simon. Its founder, Yotsuya Simon, was the originator of the now thriving dollmaking scene.

In 1965, a young artist nicknamed Simon (because of his love for jazz, especially Nina Simone) learned about surrealism and avant-garde theater, which would influence him for the rest of his life. Soon after, he became a member of Jokyo Gekijo (Situation Theatre), which was considered one of the most progressive art movements in Japan at that time. Simultaneously, fascinated by Bellmer, Simon began to create his own ball-jointed dolls.

His most famous works – the Narcissisme and Pygmalionisme series – appear to be studies on the ambiguities of the human body. The life-like, waifish, pale bodies, surgically opened and exposed to the spectator’s eye, bear a mark of complete sadness, leaving the observer with a feeling of acute unease. One might raise the subject of ambivalent eroticism here: it’s remarkable that one of Yotsuya’s past exhibitions was named Dolls of Innocence.