A while back we did a tribute shirt to one of my favorite bands Bad Brains. They have been a constant staple on my playlist as long as I can remember. Not only were they one of the first African American punk bands to become well known, but they were also one of the most influential bands in the last 40 years, inspiring everyone from Janes Addiction to In Living Color to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. There’s something about the stripped down energy and versatile range that I always found refreshing in a sea of bands that sounded and looked alike.
Bad Brains never got the recognition that they truly deserved. Especially since they influenced many bands that have gone on to become some of the biggest acts today. Since I’m such a fan of the underdog, I thought I’d share the following mini documentaries and music videos with you in hopes of reminding those of you who are fans, and those of you who have not heard of them, about how ground breaking this little band from Washington DC really was. PMA!
Once again, Björk has blown our minds. In her newest music video, Mouth Mantra, Björk teamed up with Jesse Kanda (known for his epic collaborations with artists FKA twigs and Arca) to create something truly unique, psychedelic, and well, frankly, a bit horrifying. The concept behind the video is quite literally being inside of Björk’s mouth. While being given a 3D scanned inside look of Björk’s molars, gums, and tongue, the picture plane twists and twirls, distorting the viewers concept of space and reality, ultimately creating something that is outstandingly awesome, yet simultaneously a little hard to stomach. In an interview with Dazed, Kanda explains, “if there’s one thing I’d like for people to take away from this video, it’s the power of vulnerability.” The push and pull in and out of various modes of discomfort and emotional states gets straight to the heart of Björk‘s new album, Vulnicura (meaning “cure for wounds”). Many of the artist’s songs and lyrics tend to do with more open ended and abstract modes of conceptual thinking, however, this album is much more emotionally driven as it is in reaction to her divorce with artist Matthew Barney. There is, along with her other videos released from this album, a true emotional rawness and purity that cannot be denied. Kanda further explains,
“it’s about having the courage to express yourself and seeing yourself in that mirror. Doing something that scares the shit out of you and sharing it, growing from it, spreading love and courage to others and making the world a warmer place to be and relate to each other.”
The intimacy of this work is something to be in awe of. Björk, a master at shock and obscurity, uses each video to take the viewer into her strange yet beautiful and clever world. The intensity of her heart wrenching vocals paired with a montage of visual distress and alien like images mimics a sense of anxiety, confusion, and isolation. Despite her bizarre take on expression, the artist, who is undoubtedly one of a kind, always perfectly gets her point across clearly and profoundly.
Kanda thanks Prettybird UK, Dentsu Lab Tokyo, Rhizomatiks Research, and One Little Indian for helping out with developing the technology used to create the video. He and Björk plan to release a 360º version. (via The Creators Project)
We have featured the work of Chicago based Steve Seeley (here) in the past. He continues to combine pop culture elements (super-heroes, celebrities, and wrestlers) with classical depictions of nature and animals. His exploration of disruption and serenity have led him to a series of Heavy Metal animal paintings. We see the famous logos of Danzig, Motörhead, and Slayer spliced with animals to form new beasts. Another piece features a wolf and monkey with “corpse paint” commonly seen on Norweigan Black Metal musicians. The paintings comment on the “darker” side of nature as well as our cultural impact on the natural world.
Roland Topor (1938–1997) was a French illustrator, painter, writer, filmmaker, actor and whatnot mostly known for his macabre and surreal cartoons. His illustrated book “Les Masochistes” was first published in 1960 and features a number of absurdly humorous masochistic actions that people perform on themselves.
The grotesque situations depicted in “Les Masochistes” perfectly convey Topor’s artistic style and approach towards the world. He infuses the grim reality of Nazi dictatorship (Topor and his family were Polish refugees of Jewish origin) with humor which was probably the best coping mechanism at that time. As described by Bernard Vehmeyer, a quote from Topor’s novel “The Tenant” perfectly sums up his world view:
He was perfectly conscious of the absurdity of his behavior, but he was incapable of changing it. This absurdity was an essential part of him. It was probably the most basic element of his personality.
Most often, Topor’s illustrations were based on surreal scenarios with deeper allusions to sex, erotica, rotting mankind and such. According to closer friends, artist had repetitive periods of extreme depression where he would balance on the verge of death and it reflects in his work.
New York-based artist Marco Gallotta uses paper cutting as a way to create intricate portraits that “portray people in their natural state.” A combination of linocuts, watercolor, and collages, the multilayered images feature frontal views of people who have decorative shapes masking their faces. Patterned flourishes, water-esque ripples, and clashing swirls appear front and center as they obscure any sort of realism and transform it into an abstract work of art.
Despite these different techniques and media, Gallotta brings them together in a harmonious way. Here, each layer seems to tell a different story. There’s often a photo beneath the artist’s hand cut work, but it’s what’s above it provides a conceptual look at who the subject is. It’s their essence, and these decorative adornments speaks to the complexities of who someone is – their perceived versus actual identity. (Via Lustik)
Portlander Kyle Jorgensen combines ethereal, cosmic subject matter with explicitly tactile media selections, and it really works. In the age of Photoshop, a lot of this type of imagery is often generated through digital means. It’s really nice to see a guy just go all out homegrown. Great palette here as well. Click past the jump, and then check out his blog for more.