Saturday, 16 August 2014

KIN by Seb and Ben McKinnon

KIN by Seb and Ben McKinnon is a beautiful short film inspired by Scottish folk history.

Although influenced by their trip to Scotland, it was actually shot around Montreal. I love the desaturated shots of bleak landscape and the epic proportions with which they imbue the knight. The latter is acheiveed with some wonderful slow motion and some great natural lighting.

A month ago the pair uploaded a teaser for the sequel to KIN called Salvage.


KIN from KIN on Vimeo.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Back to The Smoke

Here are some snaps of bits of London I have been to over the past couple of months...

The Olympic park is a rather awesome development. I had just left the city by the time the London Olympics kicked-off, so never saw it 'in action'. Now the stadia are open to the public they tend to dwarf the reduced crowds. The elegantly landscaped park has a slightly Ballardian quality. If feels somehow over-designed next to the more higgledy piggledy spaces of the old city.

This is a view up one of the waterways on the South Bank, near to Tower Bridge. These buildings were derelict right up until the 90s and the flats now cost in excess of £400k. Good evidence for their previous state can be found in films like Jubilee by Derek Jarman and Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket. Both directors shot in the disused, decaying waterfront of the 80s. I think I prefer it that way.

I went to the London ComiCon last month, and had to escape after less than an hour due to my brain overloading. I discovered that Brompton Cemetery is right next to Earl's Court and had a wander through the Victorian burial ground. I realised I had seen the long, colonnaded walk in various films, including the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movie. The place has an amazing collection of 19th century funerary architecture.

I've been reading a bit about Chinese migration to UK cities so I visited the London Chinatown. I was really fascinated by the fusion of Asian design with the Victorian and Georgian architecture of the neighborhood. I particularly wanted to wander down the back alleys, where the application of design is far less considered. There were some wonderful little Victorian barred windows and bricked up alcoves in the surfaces, while the Chinese influence was far less bombastic.

This is the Paolozzi bronze of Newton outside the British Library. He is probably the best bit of the campus, which I otherwise don't care for much.

I usually do edits in Photoshop, but used Picasa this time as it's just quicker. The 'Holga' filter is a one-button click and produces OK results I think. Alas there still appears to be no control over the watermark text settings, hence the rather clunky results here.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Comics Unmasked at the British Library

This weekend I went to Comics Unmasked at the British Library. Since the institution's move to its new premises from its old location at the British Museum it has put on some great 'blockbuster' public shows bringing it well-deserved acclaim. Unmasked is no exception, and, despite some faults, is a great exhibition fit for fans of the genre and art historians alike.

Unmasked charts the history of British comics and the preoccupations of their authors and artists. Like many shows these days, it's arranged thematically rather than chronologically and tackles a number of subjects which are at the forefront of comic culture in this country. Antecedents like medival pamplets, political posters and satires, Punch and Victorial penny dreadfulls are presented as progentiors to the nation's twentieth century comics dealing with polictics, race, sexuality and the British obsession with the anti-hero. Highlights include original drawings and paste-ups of V for Vendetta, the actual models made by Dave McKean for The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch and samples of Alan Moore's original notes. The final section explores the connection between comics and mysticism and I was transfixed by the hand-written notebooks belonging to Aliester Crowley and John Dee.

Alas the show is marred by a couple of things. Its physical design is slightly grim as visitors are forced to 'conveyor-belt' around the walls at the pace of the slowest soldier. The tactility of the medium is completely ignored with tokenistic gestures of some iPads for actual browsing. While there is a flicking projection screen overhead, much the wallspace is left blank and leads to a rather sterile atmosphere. I understand the need not to distract from the originals on show, but it would have been so much more engaging had they enlgarged at least a few prints or character sketches. Plus it was bloody freezing!

These gripes aside, its an amazing show and I urge anyone interested to visit before it closes later this month. And remember to bring a jacket to keep you warm.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Mad Max: Road Fury ComiCon trailer

This looks utterly awesome.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Beacon by Monothetic

A quick post to say I am loving the WIP images coming from developer Monothetic for their new 'Roguelike' game Beacon. The concept art has a wonderful early-80s vibe and I definitely want a copy of Freja's jacket.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus

Some late night insomnia lead me to watch the excuisite documentary Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus. It was first broadcast in 2004 and is an exploration of the music and religion of the poor, white South by musician Jim White. At the outset, White hires a very broken car from a wary owner, then buys a four-foot statue of Jesus as a kind of oversized dashboard memento to accompany him on his drive across the American south. En route he meets all manner of swamp dwellers, bikers, woodsmen and tele-evangelists.

What binds these people together is their choice of where they sit on a very stark divide. On one side is a perilous life of crime, hedonism and alcohol often resulting in prison or death. The others choose god and, while their lives are no less punishing, they are completely convinced of the rewards they will receive in the hereafter. Thus the small towns tend to have two neighborhoods - that of the brothels and bars, and that of ramshackle churches.

The lyrical speech of the subjects is mirrored by the photography of the documentary. In this respect Wrong-Eyed Jesus reminds me of the excellent 1999 Wisconsin Death Trip. Long tracking shots describe the rugged, jumbled landscape while interviewees tell weird and depressing tales of their youth. The effect is utterly brilliant and provides a fascinating window into how capitalism and western values can fail miserably and how humans have the capacity to comprehend and choose between instant or deferred gratification.

Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus is currently on BBC iPlayer.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Very dirty LEGO

I've been working on this project for years - in fact, over two. That's not to say it took me the full duration, but I rather lost steam along the way and it's been an effort to bring it to fruition.

Having seen one or two examples of painted LEGO amongst the wonderful stuff on the web, I decided to experiment with heavy weathering on a mech. I deliberately chose materials that could be washed off to leave the bricks as-new if I decide to break him up. I think I used chalk and ground pastels for the bulk of it, which (I hope) will clean off easily. The build itself was a great learning experience. I am not experienced at creating from scratch with LEGO and I can tell you it's super-hard to end up with anything that looks remotely coherent!

I stumbled a bit when it came to presentation. I went round the houses on a graphic design scheme, and what you see here is rather a pale expression of the grandeur I had planned. I experimented a lot with Russian criminal tattoo designs, but nothing ended up working in the end. I chose the painting in the end as its hues matched those of the model, and the combination of the image and the text drew the associations I wanted for this mech.

I firmly believe there is no such thing as wasted work though, and I think the tattoo research will be very handy for something I am brooding over right now.