Please Say Something

Amazing short film

March 14th, 2009


It has been a long time that any design struck me. "Please Say Something" by David O'Reilly did. The animation is about a troubled relationship between a cat and mouse set in the distant future. It won the Golden Bear for best short film at the 2009 Berlinale. From Motionographer: "Doing what other people don't is how O'Reilly rolls. Narrative risk-taking, boldness in aesthetic simplification, and self-imposed creative rules lead to epic creation. PSS is strange, insanely original, and some of the most authentic storytelling you'll ever see." I couldn't agree more.

[ Catalysts ]

The Frightening Beauty of Bunkers

by Paul Virilio

February 9th, 2009


During my years at university we spent a few days at the stormy coast of the North Sea studying and drawing bunkers. Today a post at the, always inspiring, Design Observer evoked some of those long forgotten memories. From The Morning News: "Approximately 1.500 bunkers were built during World War II along the French shores to forestall an Allied landing - 'the Atlantic Wall'. Decommissioned after the Allied invasion of Normandy, this elaborate defense system now lies abandoned. At the age of 25, Paul Virilio stumbled upon these relics with his camera and began a study that would continue for 30 years. His 1975 book, Bunker Archeology, has recently been translated into English and reprinted by Princeton Architectural Press: an inquiry of war and its structures and a personal memoir of exploration, merging technical analysis with philosophical questioning." Also, go and check out the images.

[ Catalysts ]

The Quantified Self

Kevin Kelly

February 4th, 2009


From The Quantified Self blog by Kevin Kelly: "The central question of the coming century is Who Are We? What is a human? What does it mean to be a person? Is human nature fixed? Sacred? Infinitely expandable? And in the meantime, how do I get through all my email? Or live to be 100. We believe that the answers to these cosmic questions will be found in the personal. Real change will happen in individuals as they work through self-knowledge. Self-knowledge of one's body, mind and spirit. Many seek this self-knowledge and we embrace all paths to it."


[ Catalysts ]

Nothing is original

Five rules for directing
January 26th, 2009

Jim Jarmusch: "Rule #5: Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don't bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: It’s not where you take things from - it's where you take them to."

Thank you, Eric Baker!

[ Catalysts ]


Unique Bird Photography

January 25th, 2009


From Rick Lieder's website: "An ordinary bird feeder, an ordinary day: and the ordinary, beautiful, eternal ballet of survival, flight, and falling, the aerial acrobats forever in motion, a rush of speed and feathers past the wondering human eye."


[ Catalysts ]

Heiner Müller (1929 - 1995)

Die Hamletmaschine / The Hamletmachine (1977)

January 10th, 2009




Tiefsee. Ophelia im Rollstuhl. Fische Trümmer Leichen und Leichenteile treiben vorbei.


Während zwei Männer in Arztkitteln sie und den Rollstuhl von unten nach oben in Mullbinden schnüren.

Hier spricht Elektra. Im Herzen der Finsternis. Unter der Sonne der Folter. An die Metropolen der Welt. Im Namen der Opfer. Ich stoße allen Samen aus, den ich empfangen habe. Ich verwandle die Milch meiner Brüste in tödliches Gift. Ich nehme die Welt zurück, die ich geboren habe. Ich ersticke die Welt, die ich geboren habe, zwischen meinen Schenkeln. Ich begrabe sie in meiner Scham. Nieder mit dem Glück der Unterwerfung. Es lebe der Haß, die Verachtung, der Aufstand, der Tod. Wenn sie mit Fleischermessern durch eure Schlafzimmer geht, werdet ihr die Wahrheit wissen.

Männer ab. Ophelia bleibt auf der Bühne, reglos in der weißen Verpackung. 




Deep sea. Ophelia in wheelchair. Fish wreckage corpses and body-parts stream past. 


While two men in doctor’s smocks wrap her from top to bottom in white bandages. 

Here speaks Electra. In the Heart of Darkness. Under the Sun of Torture. To the Metropolises of the World. In the Names of the Victims. I expel all the semen which I have received. I transform the milk of my breasts into deadly poison. I suffocate the world which I gave birth to, between my thighs. I bury it in my crotch. Down with the joy of oppression. Long live hate, loathing, rebellion, death. When she walks through your bedroom with butcher’s knives, you’ll know the truth. 

Exit men. Ophelia remains on the stage, motionless in the white packaging.

[ Catalysts ]

Mister Lonely

by Harmony Korine

December 28th, 2008


Harmony Korine's debut film Gummo had a huge influence on design back in 1997. Still love the title sequence. I saw his second movie Julien Donkey Boy at the Berlinale in 1999 and was struck by Werner Herzog's performance and deeply disturbed by the experience Korine provided. Today I watched his latest work Mister Lonely (2007) and a rather weird chain of associations let my back to another mind-blowing cinematic discovery: anthropologist and filmmaker Jean Rouch - more precisely his film Moi, un Noir (Me, a Black). He is considered as one of the pioneers of Nouvelle Vague, of visual anthropology and the father of ethnofiction. And obviously he remains a huge influence on contemporary filmmakers. Rouch is a giant and Korine still worth checking out.

[ Catalysts ]

The art of research

Eric Baker's "Today!"
December 16th, 2008

Received another unexpected and inspiring mail - this time from Eric Baker. "Eric Baker Design Associates is a Manhattan-based design firm established in 1986. Eric teaches the history of graphic design and corporate identity at the School of Visual Arts, and has twice received National Endowment for the Arts Grants for independent design history projects. He is inveterate collector of books and ephemera."

Each morning, before starting work, Eric spends 30 minutes looking for images that are beautiful, funny, absurd and inspiring. And he then sends them to interested people in an email. Thank you, Eric, for your outstanding research and for putting me on to that mailing list!

[ Catalysts ]

Words don't come easy

Ed Ruscha
December 14th, 2008

Via Wikipedia: "In the 1970s, Ruscha, with Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer, among others, began using entire phrases in their works, thereby making it a distinctive characteristic of the post-Pop Art generation. During the mid-1970s, he made a series of drawings in pastel using pithy phrases against a field of colour. In the early 1980s he produced a series of paintings of words over sunsets, night skies and wheat fields. In the photo-realist painting Brave Men Run In My Family (1988), part of the artist's Dysfuntional Family series, Ruscha runs the text over the silhouetted image of a great, listing tall ship; the piece was a collaboration with fellow Los Angeles artist Nancy Reese (she did the painting, he the lettering). In a series of insidious small abstract paintings from 1994–95, words forming threats are rendered as blank widths of contrasting color like Morse code. Later, words appeared on a photorealist mountain-range series which Ruscha started producing in 1998. For these acrylic-on-canvas works, Ruscha pulled his mountain images either from photographs, commercial logos, or from his imagination.

From 1980, Ruscha started using an all-caps typeface of his own invention named Boy Scout Utility Modern in which curved letter forms are squared-off (as in the Hollywood Sign). This simple font which is radically different from the style he used in works such as Honk (1962). Beginning in the mid-1980s, in many of his paintings black or white ‘blanks’ or ‘censor strips’ are included, to suggest where the ‘missing’ words would have been placed. The ‘blanks’ would also feature in his series of Silhouette, Cityscapes or ‘censored’ word works, often made in bleach on canvas, rayon or linen."

[ Catalysts ]

More final words

from The Perfect Human
December 10th, 2008

Lars von Trier's favourite film is Jørgen Leth's The Perfect Human (1967), it ends with the words "Today, too, I experienced something I hope to understand in a few days".

Von Trier gave Leth the task of remaking this short film five times, each time with a different obstruction given by Von Trier. By now I don't remember how many times I have seen the superior documentary The Five Obstructions which resulted from this provocation. It is an all time favourite of mine because every time I watch it new insights emerge - on fandom, failure, freedom, depression, competition, role models, rules, expectation, challenge, subjectivity, vodka before noon, and so much more.

Via Wikipedia: "The obstructions:

1. Leth must remake the film in Cuba, with no set, and with no shot lasting longer than twelve frames, and he must answer the questions posed in the original film; Leth successfully completes this task.

2. Leth must remake the film in the worst place in the world but not show that place onscreen; additionally, Leth must himself play the role of "the man." The meal must be included, but the woman is not to be included. Leth remakes the film in the red light district of Mumbai, only partially hiding it behind a translucent screen.

3. Because Leth failed to complete the second task perfectly, von Trier punishes him, telling him to either remake the film in any way he chooses, or else to repeat it again with the second obstruction in Mumbai. Leth chooses the first option and remakes the film in Brussels, using split-screen effects.

4. Leth must remake the film as a cartoon. He does so with the aid of Bob Sabiston, a specialist in rotoscoping, who creates animated versions of shots from the previous films. As such the final product is technically an animation but not a cartoon. Nevertheless, von Trier considers the task to be completed successfully.

5. The fifth obstruction is that von Trier has already made the fifth version, but it must be credited as Leth's, and Leth must read a voice-over narration, ostensibly from his own perspective but in fact one written by von Trier."

[ Catalysts ]