Designer Profile: HERVE VAN DER STRAETEN

The designer’s aesthetic from interiors to jewels, is simply stunning: Sculptural, modern, and completely original…  At any scale, his work is both revolutionary and inspirational.

The Semi-Secret World of: STEAMPUNK JEWELRY DESIGN

A few things about Steampunk…

It’s described as literary genre (science fiction or fantasy) that includes social or technological aspects of the 19th century.

It has an influence of the Victorian era, with an adventurous-industrial twist.

You may recognize the style in graphic novels such as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and movies like Sherlock Holmes.

“To me, it’s essentially the intersection of technology and romance.” – Jake von Slatt

Those drawn to this style have handcrafted everything from jewelry to cars and much more following the same design aesthetic characteristics:  Using materials like Brass, copper, glass and polished wood; and engraving, etching, and adding details over more detail. Sometimes it features anachronistic innovations; like the use of antique, or obsolete artifacts.  Such pieces bring to mind the worlds of authors such as H.G. Wells and Jules Verne.

“Steampunk simply embodies a time and a place. The time… the late 19th century. The place… a steam powered world, where air travel by fantastical dirigibles is as common as traveling by train or boat (or submarine). A place where national interests are vastly different than our own version of history. A place where the elegant and refined are as likely to get pulled into a grand adventure, as the workers, ruffians, and lower classes. A place where the idea of space travel is not so far fetched. A place where lost civilizations are found and lost again. A place where anything is possible, and science can be twisted to meet ones own ends.”

Joshua A. Pfeiffer 

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

Quotable Thursday: RALPH WALDO EMERSON

“Be not the slave of your own past –
plunge into the sublime seas,
dive deep, and swim far,
so you shall come back
with self-respect,
with new power,
with an advanced experience,
that shall explain
and overlook the old.”
                                                                                                     –  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Image Source, RexWallpapers

A Love of Japanese Gardens

Nothing in a Japanese Garden is left to nature or chance.  Every piece is carefully selected and placed in a specific way to create a series of vignettes or moments of interest throughout the garden.  

The Japanese garden is a miniature representation of a picturesque world.  Techniques used vary and designers often play with proportion to create the illusion of depth, and utilize smaller scale items such as rocks and water features as symbols of land and sea.  Items outside the garden such as temples or rolling hills are incorporated into the landscape to make the spaces seem much more expansive.  Balance is also incredibly important, but not necessarily symmetry.  The spaces and pathways are meant to be soothing and welcoming to its visitors; but also provoke moments of curiosity by concealing elements from certain angles, encouraging further exploration.

Some traditional elements found in a traditional Japanese Garden:
Rocks, Sand, Bridges, Stone Lanterns, Water Basins, Fences, Gates, Trees, Flowers


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