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 

Quotable Thursdays: FRANK O’HARA

You may recognize this poem from the movie, Beastly. Poet Frank O’Hara was born on June 27, 1926.  In the video above he reads “Having a Coke with You.”


HAVING A COKE WITH YOU

is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles

and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them

I look at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully
as the horse

it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I am telling you about it

—Frank O’Hara

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

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

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