In its second year, the spectacular three-day celebration becomes the Czech Republic's most well-attended cultural event
by Gabriella Garcia in Culture on 24 October 2014
With Prague's incredible collection of pristine architecture, it's hard to imagine it possible to make this former Bohemian capital even more beautiful. The SIGNAL Light Festival however succeeds in doing just that. Wrapping up its second year this past weekend, SIGNAL transforms Prague into an immersive visual art gallery with installations created by teams of light designers, architects, engineers and hackers. The festival, founded by Martin Posta, strives to revive both well-known and hidden, mysterious places throughout the city while celebrating an emergence of creativity driven by innovative technology. "I personally love the contrast of the new technology and the beauty of the magical and classical Prague," Posta tells CH. "It is some form of symbiosis in contrast and it works amazingly well."
Posta, who partnered with Amar Mulabegović of video mapping team The Macula, says that SIGNAL was conceptualized while the artists were on a business trip. "It crossed our minds that it would be cool to pull off something crazy, such as a huge open city light festival," Posta explains. The thought came after he joined The Macula to design a video mapping project for the 600th anniversary of the Prague clock tower, an event that captured global attention. "I honestly think the guys were thinking of something more intimate, maybe community oriented," Posta says, "but I knew it would be nearly impossible to raise funds for a small type of event."
After three years of planning, SIGNAL launched in 2013 and immediately became the Czech Republic's most-attended cultural event, attracting 250,000 people its first year. Though down from last year's 35—by choice—this year's SIGNAL featured 21 installations (ten of which premiered at the festival), all free and open to the public. "We decided to focus on the more complex and complicated installations," Posta explains. Selected artists were a mix of those approached by SIGNAL and entrants from the festival's open call. "Response to our open call was extreme," Posta says. "We received over 450 projects from all over the world," from which only six were eventually chosen.
While video mapping projections—such as Maxin10sity's hypnotizing show on Kinsky Palace—tend to steal the show due to their scale and use of some of Prague's most prestigious landmarks, SIGNAL offers a broad spectrum of light experimentation, from performances to interactive pieces that guests could touch and manipulate. Cyclique, a kinetic installation by Maxime Houot and Nohista of Collectif Coin, used 256 helium-filled balloons lit by LEDs to create a magical light show. Posta notes that he was "pleasantly surprised" by a piece called Zona by Petr Nikl & David Vrbík, which mixed an impish performance by Nikl (who donned a huge light-up dunce hat) with a reflective pool that the audience could play with. Ultimately, Posta says, "We are seeking beauty, innovative use of technology in art and extreme creativity."
While this year's festival has drawn to a close, there is no end in sight for Posta's work on SIGNAL. "We are immediately starting to work on fundraising for the next edition," he says. "We will be starting an open call for 2015 in a couple of days and we are really looking forward to the projects that we receive." SIGNAL will also be transporting ten installations throughout the country as part of a tour called Czech the Light, and will be presenting a new series of art pieces in Pilsen as part of the European Capital of Culture project in February of 2015. Most exciting is Posta's plan to establish the SIGNAL Lab, an institution for developing new interdisciplinary projects. "We will be expanding," Posta says. "A bright future awaits us."
Images courtesy of SIGNAL, video courtesy of Maxin10sity.
Zimbabwean designer Vayshalee Naran gives the classic bracelet an anatomical twist
by Natasha Tauber in Style on 24 October 2014
Designer Vayshalee Naran's Bone Collection has made a potentially grim object—the rib bone—into a beautiful bracelet that weighs with meaning. As the delicate rib cage literally protects the heart (and lungs), Naran's elegant bangle signifies love and protection. Anatomy has held a particular fascination for Naran, a third generation Zimbabwean of Indian descent. As someone who collected skeletons as a child growing up in Africa, Naran considered RISD's famed Nature Lab an important reference library while studying jewelry and metalsmithing at the famed institution.
Upon graduation from RISD, Naran received a scholarship to attend the Richemont Group's luxury design school in Milan. She worked on projects for esteemed houses such as Van Cleef & Arpels (the masterminds behind the solar system watch), Shanghai Tang and Alfred Dunhill before taking a design position in Paris with leather and accessories label Lancel. Naran was never far from what she describes as her obsession: making regular "pilgrimages" to the houses of taxidermy and natural curiosities, Deyrolle and Design et Nature on rue d'Aboukir. She's now been able to transform her fascination of nature and the animal form into tangible objects through her new offering.
Naran felt a growing imperative to invest in culturally rich Zimbabwe, where she makes the bangles herself. Her belief is that luxury is, "something to help elevate the local artisans and their work to a global level." It's a mission aligned with Maison Malabar, the new retailer founded by Melanie Masarin (who calls it an "online bazaar"), a former investment banker who left Goldman Sachs' natural resources desk in favor of working directly with those artisans. Like Naran, Masarin considers a fair wage for stonecutters and safe mining conditions integral components of luxury.
For Masarin—who taught herself English in order to travel from a small village outside Lyon, France to study economics at Brown University—Maison Malabar presents a sort of homecoming. "Malabar" not only references the southern coast of India, but the further treasure to be unearthed from the Malabar Princess plane wreckage in the French Alps, and the bubble gum brand Masarin sold as a girl of 14. Masarin works with those flexible in finding conscious design solutions that help underserved markets achieve global access. To that end, she's established a burgeoning staple of sustainably-sourced artisan brands that resurrect cultural heritage and contribute to their local communities, while working nimbly and transparently with designers around the globe.
Images courtesy of Atelier Vayshalee Naran
The iconic rocker on picking up women in daylight, his greatest moments and his new clothing collaboration with Sailor Jerry
by David Graver in Culture on 24 October 2014
No musician ushered in the punk rock movement with as much fervor and chaos as Iggy Pop. He defined the times. He defied expectation. He rocked out, collaborating with and inspiring the best. His live shows would fill arenas and his tracks would define crucial moments in cinema. And over time, he became a household name. On a recent trip to Miami, we met with the icon to discuss music, mayhem and his just released apparel collaboration with Sailor Jerry. The The Flash Collection is limited to two main pieces: a signed "Death Shall Triumph" denim vest (in an edition of 50) and a belt (edition of 100).
How did your clothing collaboration with Sailor Jerry happen?
They had a lawyer who apparently went to junior high with me, named Dean. Dean knew a guy named Matt who was the drummer in Guns and Roses, and then Velvet Revolver. Matt knows me. Matt emailed me "There's some guys looking for you." They emailed and basically said they wanted to do an ad using T.V. Eye. I love T.V. Eye. It developed out of that.
Basically, they wanted to do a collab. It didn't sound like it was going to tease my brain desperately. They gave me a bunch of material on Norman "Sailor Jerry" Collins. I had a friend in New York named Jonathan Shaw who was one of the great illegal tattoo artists (he had something called Fun City in the '80s and into the '90s). He had taught me some of the old school tattoo lore. Through him I met some of the [Hell's] Angels in NY. There's a very good visual artist Steve Bonge, who is also an Angel. I admired their aesthetic. Also, I love old Honolulu. I spent some time in Hawaii and I was married to a Japanese woman for many years. I understand Spam with your rice. Mix and match. I've always liked pinups. I've worked about half of my life in places where the cocktails aren't necessarily legal and you're not more than a block from a brothel. You know a guy who knows a guy who is a bad guy. I thought, well, that's great. I like these images and it's a good gig.
Did you expect to be designing clothes?
Well, no. I am combining elements of clothing that everyone knows. That's all. The only thing I regret is that originally I wanted to do a line of boxer shorts with it. We mocked them up and they looked great. I had pinup girls right on the dick. It was beautiful. Then I realized, if these are released, there's going to be pressure on me to model them. You know, I would actually rather flash my penis than model a pair of boxer shorts. That's just not cool. So I said the boxer shorts are out. I went with the vest. It's nice denim. It's not true blue. It's unisex. A guy can wear it. A chick can wear it. And they can use the patches. They're numbered and signed. They have artifact value to someone, or maybe not. I don't know.
Most of the iconic imagery depicting you, has you barely clothed. How does that coincide with your entry into apparel?
I don't wear a lot of clothes, no. This is not a lot of clothes. Some people hide behind their clothes. Other people, clothes get in the way—but the way I was dressing when I was starting out, I would just do it over and over so finally there would be spots on the shirt and holes in the pants. I wouldn't bother repairing them. My sneakers would get dirty. You just take something nice and casual, that shows you're not fucking corny. And it's not armor. And you just let it slide. Once in a while, I like to throw in some women's clothing. A little glitter, some spray on. I can rock a dress. I can.
You describe your aesthetic as good simple negative energy. Can you explain that?
I can feed off that when it's happening. A steady diet of that will fuck you up. But you hear that, for instance, you listen to Black Lips' "Bad Kids" and they're trying for that. Or like Harmony Korine's early work. In my case, there was quite a bit of that in the Raw Power era Stooges. Just a nasty little delinquent who practiced guitar all his life. There were two messages. The slower songs were: "You better watch out because I am going to fucking get you." The faster songs were: "It's on and I am kicking your ass and it's fun." That's exciting because unfortunately, it's just easier than developing positive energy.
What's inspiring to you? How does that fuel your creative process?
Some of the most inspiring things I've seen recently: I was being driven home after a day's work to get home early and go to bed early—because when you're 67 and your career didn't really heat up till you were 50 something, you need to get your sleep. I was driving home and it was dusk. There was a long line of scantily clad, over-accessorized, over-made up, ADD-ridden youth. All [waiting] in a line, still in daylight, looking raw. So I knew something was going on. Find out who's playing there tonight. I wanted to know. The kids were something outlandish. That inspires me.
I am what I am. My body has been through a lot. I have to get my din-din and my sleep. To be glorious and flamboyant and all those things in public involves being insensitive to the pain of others. It's a drag for others but it's fine for the person. Now, I've become more responsible. I don't want to hurt anybody. So that's kind of a drag.
In a lifetime of groundbreaking moments, and music changing moments, what do you think has been your most important?
There were a couple. When I did the studio vocals for "I Wanna Be Your Dog," the studio vocals for "Search and Destroy," and the studio vocals for "The Passenger." Those three. On each occasion, I was starting to get very excited and nervous. "Oh my God, we've got a good idea. I've got it. We've got it." You spit it out and you hear it back and you know this is high art. I didn't pay any attention to the money, but I knew I could RIP. The live shit is numerous. There were different times. The personal shit is mostly what I did for recreation, all my life, is walk around a lot day and night, especially during the days, of the capital cities of the world. Usually I always like to pick up chicks in the daylight. It's a lot better in certain ways. You meet a better class of people and you get a closer look at what you're dealing with. I've never been a deep night crawler. I've had my phases when it has been this way.
What music are you listening to?
For my own pleasure, it would be blues and jazz of the '30s through the '60s. Miles Davis, Bukka White, John Coltrane, Sun Ra and all that stuff. When I want to listen for like, you know, slightly newer stuff, I enjoy G.O.A.T., Ice Age, Black Lips, Sleigh Bells. I don't rush out to hear what Julian Casablancas has just done, but if I run into it, I want to listen. He's a really good singer.
Flash Collection images courtesy of Mick Rock, event images courtesy of Nate "Igor" Smith