Video Artist: JEFF DESOM

Luxembourg filmmaker Jeff Desom graduated from the Bournemouth Arts Institute in 2007. His senior project featured the experimental pianist Volker Bertelmann, a.k.a. Hauskchka. Morgenrot is an animated short film about a composer who’s plagued by writer’s block. Desom uses the image of a burning piano dropping off a building to serve as a recurring dream of the composer. The animation is reconfigured from early twentieth century photographs from the vast collection of the Library of Congress and old postcards of New York purchased at a Parisian flea market. “The grainy, smoky, memory-laden and exquisite short film unveils evocative, slightly ominous imagery of Manhattan. It breathes with an air of poetic déjà vu, like a dream you’ve just been jarred awake from and, even though you know you’ve just experienced it, you can’t quite remember the outcome.”

 

Another brilliant piece of storytelling by Jeff Desom is the short film The Key. It’s been nearly three years since Jeff Desom’s video for Morgenrot by Hauschka – aka German pianist Volker Bertelmann – left a lasting impression. The burning upright piano falling continuously from the top of a skyscraper in sepia-tinged Depression-era Manhattan remains a powerful image and Morgenrot went on to win awards and a UK MVA nomination.

Now comes the director and musician’s latest collaboration – and that upright piano is back. There’s also that distinctly between-the-wars period feel, but that’s where the similarities with the VFX-fuelled minimalism of Morgenrot ends. This is a wonderful, beautifully-made comedy-drama, driven by an almost-Chaplinesque performance by its principle performer, Summer Shapiro (who in my opinion bears an uncanny resemblance to Lady Gaga, sans masks and costumes).

Despite being an unaccompanied female without a functioning vehicle, she manages to transport the piano all over some breathtaking landscapes in Luxembourg – Jeff’s homeland. And as he explains, his familiarity with the settings helped him to get great production value with very limited resources.

And it will ultimately become clear why he called his charming story The Key, even though the track is Children, from Hauschka’s latest album Foreign Landscapes.

Title: Hauschka “The Key”
Track: Children (Fat Cat)
With: Summer Shapiro
Director: Jeff Desom
DoP: Jean-Louis Schuller
Steadicam: Olivier Koos, Raoul Henri
Editor: Chris Coupland
Costume: Carole Pochard
Location: Luxembourg

 

Jeff Desom on making The Key

“We shot during four days pretty much all over Luxembourg. It’s kind of a small place, you don’t have to drive for more than an hour to get anywhere. And since there wasn’t much time to prepare, it helped to know all these locations around my hometown.

“Summer Shapiro (the piano mover) and I met through Hauschka – she’s a physical comedian from San Fransisco,” he continues. “The idea of moving a piano seemed to lend itself to that genre. She was touring Europe at the time so we decided to go for it. I gutted an old piano and put a set of serious wheels on it.

“To keep things flexible, fast and cheap, crew was reduced to a bare minimum. We were like a bunch of bank robbers wherever we went. Get the piano out of the van, shoot and be gone long before anyone could call the cops. Summer was a true sport, the piano was still quite heavy and she took away more than one scar.”

Jeff Desom created a visual installation based on footage from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954). This is what happens when you extract all of the film’s footage shot from Jimmy Stewart’s point of view, stitch together and reconstruct the pieces and place them on a single plane.

 

“I dissected all of Hitchcock’s Rear Window and stiched it back together in After Effects. I stabilized all the shots with camera movement in them. Since everything was filmed from pretty much the same angle I was able to match them into a single panoramic view of the entire backyard without any greater distortions. The order of events stays true to the movie’s plot.” – Jeff Desom

 

Click here to visit the official website of Jeff Desom

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New Music Tuesday: WILD NOTHING

Artist: Wild Nothing

Album: Gemini

Release Date: May 25, 2010

Record Label: Captured Tracks

 

Wild Nothing is the solo-project of Jack Tatum, whose music is inspired by a longtime love affair with nostalgia. His debut full length album, Gemini, released through Captured Tracks, is full of dreamy, carefree synth-pop songs that linger with an inexplicable sense of regret.

Prior to embarking on this recent solo-project, Tatum sang and played guitar with the Abe Vigodaish, tropical punk band Facepaint and the singer/songwriter project Jack and The Whale. In the summer of 2009, the Virginia tech-college student decided to embark on his first creative-solo project playing bass, guitar, synthesizer and drums while recording in his home-studio. He soon emerged with a unique brand of dreamy pop-songs influenced by bands like My Bloody Valentine, Shop Assistants, Go-Betweens and Cocteau Twins. In 2009 he delivered a memorable cover of the Kate Bush song Cloudbusting, making it clear that Wild Nothing transcended the lo-fi pop-mold.

On his debut album, Gemini, Tatumʼs frail vocals come warped in an oozing neon haze. Carefully orchestrated synth-pop arrangements, trebly guitar riffs and tattered drum machines blend together to create an intriguing,texturally rich glo-pop album that could come only from the young at heart.

The official video for the single Chinatown gathers footage from a 1969 short film called Clown, from director Richard Balducci. The result is a re-contextualization that’s striking and surprisingly apt: Guy Suzuki’s cinematography shifts the focus from Chinatown to the terraces of Montmartre in Paris. The song’s smeared sunlight pairs with the yellowed clips perfectly, resulting in a nostalgic and beautiful video that evokes memories of childhood.

“One of a kind
I need to keep you here
I need to picture you still
I need to clear the fog”  – Chinatown by Wild Nothing

 

New Music Tuesday: NIKI & THE DOVE

Artist: Niki & The Dove

Album: Instinct

Release Date: May 14, 2012

Record Label: Sub Pop Records

Niki & The Dove is a band from Stockholm, Sweden with two members, Malin Dahlström and Gustaf Karlöf. Getting together in February 2010, Malin and Gustaf have spent the time since writing together, figuring out just how pop music works and then discovering new ways to break it.

Their first single “DJ, Ease My Mind” b/w “Under the Bridges” released on leading UK independent Moshi Moshi, was one of the most striking debuts of the year, catching the attention of everyone from Artrocker and NME through to The Sunday Times who declared the single could “be the two greatest alt-pop songs of 2010.” And if “DJ, Ease My Mind,” revealed a band with a precociously fully-formed sound, their self-released follow up “Mother Protect” shows that Niki & The Dove are truly poised for great things. A riotous collision of barely constrained electronic pop overlaid with Malin’s distinctive, glacial vocals, “Mother Protect” confirmed Niki & The Dove as a truly unique talent and ones to watch.

Despite being only available through the band’s website, “Mother Protect” was heavily supported by the likes of John Kennedy on XFM, Radio 1’s Annie Mac (who played the track during both her specialist evening and daytime shows), NME, The Observer and The Independent who said the track “grows brilliantly into a low-key epic.”

Niki & The Dove’s songs are full of magic and light but with an unsettling darkness hidden beneath the surface. It’s pop music but a world away from the production line aesthetics of much modern chart music.

Not just a great studio act though, Malin and Gustaf’s background working with theater and dance productions means that playing live is integral to the band. Drawing upon their wide circle of talented friends and collaborators, no two Niki & The Dove shows are the same, but they are always a spectacle as a sold-out North London crowd discovered last November on their UK live debut.

With their first-ever full UK tour in May expect the band to cement their place as one of the most exciting new bands around. As The Sunday Times said Niki & The Dove is a “…band who you felt could knock off a chart-pop stunner with ease if only they could be bothered. Luckily for us, they clearly can’t.”

With alternative trance-pop bands like M83 and Gotye experiencing recent success in mainstream music, Niki & The Dove have the stage set to become the next big thing in pop music. After signing with Sub Pop record label, the original home of groundbreaking alternative bands, Niki and The Dove have readied their debut album Instinct, due out later this year on May 14.

The video for their single The Fox from Instinct was edited and shot in an atmospheric animation style, with reality and fantasy blurring throughout the visuals. An animal-human hybrid base-jumps into spectacular transformations. The Fox merges fantasy, sci-fi and slippery synth-pop into a rewarding head-trip. Fans attuned to Bjork’s synesthetic explorations should feel right at home with the Stockholm-based duo’s mood music and this CGI translation, directed by the self-described creative content engineers at Wintr.

While they might be just a duo, their background in theatrical and dance productions promises to flesh out their synthetic soundtracking with flair. Screen the video below and let us know in the comments section if you think The Fox is sly in the right places.

 

 

“I want to see what the sky looks like… from your view.”  –  Niki & The Dove, The Fox


Instinct will see daylight on 5/14.

Catch Niki & The Dove on tour this summer.

Source: Sub Pop Records

The Blue Revolution: YVES KLEIN

Visionary. Provocateur. Daring. Ahead of his time. One of the most influential yet under-known artists of the 20th century, Yves Klein virtually reinvented contemporary art in the 1950s with his embrace of space and fascination with the immaterial. From signing the sky and creating his own blue pigment that represented it to painting with fire and flesh, Klein paved the way for the conceptual, minimal, and performance art movements that followed. He made monochromatic paintings and sculptures, constructed a gallery exhibition out of nothing, threw the value of a work of art into a river, used nude bodies like brushes to apply paint to paper, let the wind and rain shape his canvases, and took a monumental leap into the void.

 

A Rosicrucian and martial arts master, Klein had an intellectual and spiritual relationship with art that went beyond what most artists ever consider. From his first public gesture, a publication of his monochromatic paintings in 1954, to his premature death in 1962, he experimented with a wide variety of avant-garde media including silent symphonies, faux newspapers, and air architecture. When he made his famous leap into the void, he stated, “to paint space, I must be in position. I must be in space.” Declared at the time when the US and Russia were first sending astronauts in the outer atmosphere, Klein’s claim to a realm beyond the world we inhabit is still his to hold.

 

The hypnotizing, intensely saturated and undeniably beautiful deep blue hue patented as International Klein Blue (IKB), was developed by French artist Yves Klein as part of his search for colors which best represented the concepts he wished to convey as an artist. IKB’s visual impact comes from its heavy reliance on Ultramarine, as well as Klein’s often thick and textured application of paint to canvas. IKB was developed by Klein and chemists to have the same color brightness and intensity as dry pigments, which it achieves by suspending dry pigment in polyvinyl acetate, a synthetic resin marketed in France as Rhodopas M or M60A by the firm Rhône Poulenc.

 

Although Klein had worked with blue extensively in his earlier career, it was not until 1958 that he used it as the central component of a piece (the color effectively becoming the art). Klein embarked on a series of monochromatic works using IKB as the central theme. These included performance art, where Klein painted models’ naked bodies and had them walk, roll and sprawl upon blank canvases as well as more conventional single-color canvases.

 

Sources: Yves Klein Archives & 5election – The International Coolhunting Magazine

Maker of Modern Fantasy: JAIME HAYON

Spanish artist-designer Jaime Hayon pushes the boundaries of design in striking form. Hayon was born in Madrid in 1974 and spent his University years studying industrial design in both his hometown and Paris. Although Hayon excelled in his studies, he never felt too connected to the traditional and logical design curriculum. Rather than subscribing to a specific category, Hayon felt compelled to lend his designs a unique touch and take risks.

Times magazine has included Hayon as one of the 100 most relevant creators of our times and Wallpaper magazine has listed him as one of the most influential creators of the last decade. With offices in Italy, Spain and UK, Hayon’s main interest is to find challenges and new perspectives. His vision blurs the lines between art, decoration and design bringing back a renaissance in finely-crafted, intricate objects within the context of contemporary design culture: creating furniture, product, interiors, sculptures and art Installations.

His unique style was first fully exposed in ‘Mediterranean Digital Baroque’ at London’s David Gill Gallery, followed by many exhibitions and installations set up in major galleries and museums worldwide. His concern for the conservation of craft skills and his way of challenging design has led him to develop renowned work for Baccarat, Fritz Hansen, The Groninger Museum, Bisazza, Bosa, La Terraza del Casino de Madrid, Lladró, MagisEstablished & Sons and Fabergé among many others. Hayon has also collaborated with such reputable names as Benetton, Metalarte, Coca-Cola, Adidas, and Camper. He continues to keep busy pushing limits of design well into his career as has from the start. With the definition of design in a constant flux, Hayon excels in the void. “Today I don’t know my definition of design, but I do know it’s a very interesting moment for design, because there is more acceptance, it’s more hybrid.”

Hayon explains, “At a certain moment I was absolutely not interested in [traditional design], so I went through a different road. I was more interested in underground art, it opened my mind to see things differently.” This urge to create holds deep roots in his adolescence spent in Madrid where he immersed himself in skateboard and graffiti cultures, expanding the already whimsical imagination that is ever-present in his work today.

Sources: Hayon Studio & Cool Hunting

All sketches in this post: Copyright © Jaime Hayon

New Music Tuesday: WASHED OUT

Artist: Washed Out

Album: Within and Without

Record Label: Domino

Graphic Designers: Ernest Greene and Jeff Kleinsmith

 

Within and Without is the debut album by 28 year-old Atlanta-based songwriter and producer Ernest Greene, AKA Washed Out. Long adored and critically lauded in the blog world, Greene first came to prominence in the summer of 2009 after unassumingly posting a handful of bedroom-recorded tracks to his Myspace page from his family home in the seclusion of the tiny rural city of Perry, Georgia. “I’d been writing music on my own for three or four years previous to that,” Greene explains, “mostly as a way to experiment with songwriting processes. Those were just the first I ever shared.”

Despite such modest intentions however, those first songs (many of which would appear on the acclaimed Life of Leisure EP of later that year) were about as complete an opening statement from an artist as imaginable. A heady, psychedelic concoction of what Pitchfork’s Mark Hogan termed “romantic nostalgia and homespun textures,” songs such as “Belong” and “Feel It All Around”—Greene’s biggest hit to date—artfully match the glossy melody of ’80s synth pop, the widescreen scope of early ’90s Balearic dance music and the slowed, heavy bounce of southern Hip Hop production to gorgeously wistful vocals with results as undeniably idiosyncratic and original as they are deeply accessible.

Within and Without is a summer record to span the seasons; a collection of songs as comfortable sound-tracking moments of peaceful relaxation as they are lighting up a party, and a strikingly mature next step from a uniquely focused, sincere artist.

Source: Sub Pop Records

Details are everything: BOOKMATCHED STONE SURFACES

Bookmatching is the practice of matching two or more surfaces, resulting in adjoining surfaces that mirror each other in appearance, giving the impression of an opened book. This unique installation technique is primarily used for marble, onyx, quartzite, alabaster and granite slabs. These stones share the common characteristic of having strong veins and lines that, when bookmatched, create very geometric patterns that make your floor, walls or countertops much more interesting. The symmetry and balance in the resulting patterns are undeniably beautiful. These surfaces perform like singular fingerprints for the home, and like everything found in nature; no pattern repeats itself twice.