An Arthur Russell tribute, 10 techno records from female producers, Emile Haynie joined by Brian Wilson and more in the music we tweeted this week
by CH Editors in Listen Up on 19 October 2014
Sage Caswell: Buyerside (Archie Pelago Overdub)
Archie Pelago, a Brooklyn-based trio that merges improvisational jazz with experimental electronic music, play their instruments (cello, sax and trumpet) as well as they do mixer knobs and effects pedals. Their twist on skate video director-turned-dance music producer Sage Caswell's "Buyerside" is an intense flash of reeds and synth chords over electronic beats, for a brief track you'd only play at the peak hour of the party. No one is immune to this feverish release of energy. Caswell's upcoming EP Good to See You/To Be Continued will be released through Archie Pelago Music on 3 November 2014.
Master Mix: Red Hot + Arthur Russell
Cellist Arthur Russell passed away from AIDS at 40 years old, performing and composing until his illness would no longer allow him to. The critically acclaimed, beloved and highly influential (if not entirely well-known) artist left behind a catalog of experimental pop disco that sounds equally relevant in today's music landscape as it did when it was released in the mid '80s. Master Mix sees a wide variety of recognizable artists from Robyn to Hot Chip to José González pay tribute to the late Russell to benefit the Red Hot Organization's ongoing battle against AIDS. For fans of Russell, the nearly two-hour mix of covers and reworks is an essential listen, while for others, a sure introduction to Russell's complex, beautiful work.
Ada's Top 10 Techno Records
In honor of Ada Lovelace Day, which highlights achievements by women all over the world in the STEM fields, the Vinyl Factory tapped German techno queen (coincidentally also named) Ada to share her top 10 techno records from female producers. (Fittingly, Ada has already written a song about the historic figure, titled "Lovelace.") Choice selections range from the simple but grooving 2003 track "River" from Berlin-based M.I.A. (Michaela or Mia Grobelny, lest you confuse it for the equally empowering female rapper) to the darker and aggressive "Actio Reactio" from festival favorite Helena Hauff.
Emile Haynie: Falling Apart (feat. Andrew Wyatt and Brian Wilson)
With a beautiful, eerie Canon in D vibe and something loosely resembling strung out Beach Boy harmonies (as the song features none other than Brian Wilson), Emile Haynie's Falling Apart delivers layer upon layer of the unexpected. It churns forward, full and playful, while tackling pretty tragic lyrics for such a soaring pop track. Haynie, a Grammy Award winner for his work on Eminem's Recovery, most recently topped the charts with Lana Del Rey's album Born to Die, which he produced. But here, he truly demonstrates his diverse talents as a songsmith in his own right.
Henry Hall: Watery Deep
Showing brilliant promise as a demo, "Watery Deep" from up-and-comer Henry Hall feels like the musical love child of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" and Donnie and Joe Emerson's "Baby." Hall's lucid vocals lend sincerity to the emotional pull, making it feel at once melancholic and uplifting. His equally romantic song "Talk" recently set the mood for filmmaker Casey Neistat's five-minute short, "A Love Story"—a beautiful montage-like video tribute to his wife and their relationship over eight years.
ListenUp is a Cool Hunting series published every Sunday that takes a deeper look at the music we Tweeted throughout the week. Often we'll include a musician or notable fan's personal favorite in a song or album dubbed #PrivateJam. Hear them all in our ListenUp playlist on Spotify.
Skateboarding Helsinki airport, picking Jeff Koons' brain, JetBlue stocks cricket bars and more in our weekly look at the web
by CH Editors in Link About It on 18 October 2014
1. The Disaster Issue
The witty DIS Magazine, subverting the hierarchy and language of over-styled fashion and art magazines, ignites an atypically hopeful discussion on the "unpleasant and unattractive subject" of ecology from the perspective of art and culture. This "disaster" issue features interviews with Christian environmental groups, reporting from the People's Climate Change March, a "music for plants" mix and more—and it's probably unlike any climate change-related coverage you've ever read.
2. From Jack-o’-Lantern to Pumpkinstein
California farmer Tony Dighera is giving the traditional Jack-o’-Lantern a run for its money by bringing "Pumpkinstein" to life. Dighera grew over 5,000 Frankenstein-faced pumpkins in his first year, which he created by growing the pumpkins in a plastic mold that he designed. The entire crop of monstrous squash has already been sold, at $75 a head.
3. Working Around the World: In Photos
The work day is different for everyone and the results from the 2014 Urban Photographer of the Year competition beautifully, emotionally and informatively illustrate the vast range of working experiences across the world. The contest's theme, "Cities at Work," drew over 11,500 submissions covering a wide spectrum of jobs in urban areas. The meticulous arrangement of a display window in Germany sits in jarring contrast alongside a sewer worker in the sprawling Indian city of Kolkata. In light of the wide spectrum of diversity and inequity of working conditions around the world, the result is a collection that captures the unfailing spirit of unification among those of us who clock in each morning—whatever our role.
4. Underwater Dreamworlds
In her newest project SOUNDSCAPES, visual artist Susi Sie of Berlin uses ink on water to generate an undulating monochromatic atmosphere that threatens to hypnotize the viewer. Using a 100mm macro lens and her own experimental techniques, Sie needs no extra special effects to capture the surreal visualizations that materialize naturally. The video is appropriately accompanied with equally transfixing music by Banabila & Machinefabriek.
5. A Planetary Font
Design duo Benedikt Groß and Joey Lee are on a new mission: to build a font, dubbed Aerial Bold, from satellite imagery of architectural and infrastructural letterforms across Earth. It's nothing short of a planetary typeface, but their ambition doesn't stop there. They're hoping to develop a set of tools for non-domain experts (regular folks) to explore geographic data and use it in new, imaginative ways. The project is now live on Kickstarter.
6. Nancy Fouts' Surreal Artwork
When artist Nancy Fouts moved from Kentucky to the UK in the '60s as a debutante, no one could have predicted she would go on to cofound Shirt Sleeve Studio—a prolific design company that would take on everything from album covers to advertising clients. Or, that she would produce years worth of striking surrealist art. In a new candid interview, Fouts talks shop, discusses her humorous labeling of Salvadore Dalí as "a prick" and the very nature of artist ego.
7. The Hedonism of Northern Soul
While fashion photographer Elaine Constantine would achieve great acclaim, she'd never lose love for her northern England roots—and the wild Northern Soul music scene she was a part of. In her first-ever feature film, Constantine revisits the underground movement, centered around the obsessive discovery and celebration of rare soul records from psychedelic '60s America—not to mention plenty of drugs and dance parties. The film, a labor of love, captures the subversive movement in a way few others could.
8. Helsinki Airport Becomes a Skatepark
Rebellious by nature, skateboarders dream of a carefree session in the most off-limits spots—malls, art museums and government buildings just to name a few. Longtime skateboarding legend Arto Saari made this dream a reality with an unlikely shoutout from Finnair to turn the Helsinki Airport into a skatepark. Saari invited a few of his favorite skaters to wreak havoc on the runways, baggage claim and anywhere their imaginations would take them. A noted photographer in his own right (and in a partnership with Leica), Saari talks about the "Match Made in HEL" project, skate culture and photography in this recent Highsnobiety interview. The insights of the interview aside, the surreal shots of skaters tailsliding the baggage claim carousels and boosting airs on the jetway with planes in the background are definitely worth a look.
9. Nightmare on Elm St: Inspired by a True Story?
Apparently Wes Craven wasn't totally making things up when he introduced Freddie Kruger to the newly-terrified world. According to a new video, Wes Craven got his inspiration from a reported trend of healthy Southeast Asian immigrants unexpectedly dying in their sleep. While the connection to nightmares hasn't been proven—it's obviously pretty hard to ask a dead person about their experience—some researchers suggest that simply believing that nightmares can kill can turn night terrors deadly.
10. Brain-picking Jeff Koons
Four of i-D magazine's favorite (which for them, is admittedly synonymous with avant-garde) fashion designers—Gareth Pugh, Walter Van Beirendonck, Bernhard Willhelm and Jeremy Scott—confronted artist Jeff Koons with questions of their choice. Learn Koons' preferred museum, what song he wants played at his funeral, his favorite work by another artist, why he's so obsessed with balloons (and shiny things)—and who he's got his money on in a hypothetical wrestling match between Duchamp and Warhol.
11. JetBlue Swaps Peanuts for Crickets
Airplane cuisine has a bad reputation—and for good reason. The dubious dinners served at cruising altitude are rarely appetizing and almost never healthy. As of late, airlines have began to step up their game by offering higher quality dining options and more nutritious snacks. This week JetBlue announced it would be offering a healthy snack box for Mint and Core passengers on JFK to LAX routes—and we're not just talking granola bars. The box contains EXO bars, a cricket flour-based protein bar sure to spark more than a few conversations (i.e. Tweets) when the new food options debut next year.
12. Dirty Furniture
New bi-annual publication Dirty Furniture aims to explore the "relationship between people and the things they live with." They've planned just six issues and will end in 2017, with each focusing on a different piece of furniture. The launch issue covers all things couches—from the "female in repose" trope throughout art history, what American artist Bryan Christiansen discovered underneath abandoned sofas, analyzing the current vogue for untidy living rooms and interestingly, surveying whether couch designers take home the very object they created. And if not, whose couch do they have in their living room? Lounge furniture has never seemed so relevant and we're already looking forward to Issue 3, "Toilet."
Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily on Twitter and published weekly every Saturday morning.
Mapping neural patterns of artists to open doors toward better treatment for psychiatric disorders
by Gabriella Garcia in Culture on 17 October 2014
Our contemporary creative world is peppered with scientific and technological influences—exhibitions that feature stylized data mapping, molecular gastronomy, Maker Faire's everlasting dedication to the nerdy artist—it's truly a tradition that traces at least as far back as da Vinci. But how often do the tables turn and allow creativity to influence scientific inquiry? According to NYC-based radical neuroscientist Tricia MacKenzie, PhD, the answer to that question is definitely not enough.
Working out of Inter Space, her independently run lab and gallery, MacKenzie is using her expertise to find new ways to better understand the neurological basis of creativity. MacKenzie started this current investigation in collaboration with Brooklyn-based artist Dean Cercone, by recording his neural activity while he created numerous pieces of work. This, she hopes, will allow her to track exactly where creative practice manifests in the brain—thus opening doors toward better treatment for certain psychiatric disorders. By collaborating with artists, MacKenzie's research defies the concept that science and art are divided paths of study—in doing so, she seeks to obliterate the institutional limitations currently set upon the scientific community at large. MacKenzie opened the doors to her lab to the public on 17 October, exhibiting the resulting pieces Cercone made while acting as MacKenzie's first test subject. The exhibit, titled "illuminated dissolved humanity cortex manifestations," will run through 30 November 2014.
Tell us about the process of the experiment. What are you trying to achieve with this research?
I am trying to understand the brain areas artists use when they are creating work. I am operating under the hypothesis that art is an example of heterozygous advantage, meaning that the same processes that allow artists to create beautiful works also puts them at genetic risk for themselves or their children developing a neuropsychiatric disorder. Many artists decline traditional treatments for potentially lethal neuropsychiatric disorders because drugs interfere with their creative process. I am starting by recording brain activity in artists, in this case Dean Cercone, while they are creating work using an Emotiv EEG (electroencephalography) device. I would like to understand how artists make art so that we can develop treatments that truly help them.
What have you learned so far?
I only have one test subject, so it is difficult to make any firm conclusions. However, I learned that gamma oscillatory activity in prefrontal cortex and an absence of cortical activity in the occipital lobe (visual area) is an important part of Dean Cercone's creative process.
Why did you choose Dean Cercone as a test subject for this particular project?
While Dean Cercone is approaching his work from a very different direction, we are very similar artists dealing with the same concepts and obsessions. Dean also has a natural talent for biology and while he was technically my test subject, our work together was more of a collaboration and I feel very privileged to have been able to work with him on this project. I also of course absolutely love his paintings and think he is one of the most talented young artists in New York.
Are you working with other artists as well?
I love working with the artistic community and I will be working with many, many artist-test subjects this year in the space. In addition to working with test subjects, I am working on translating the data I am collecting into data-based art pieces. Hopefully Dean Cercone will continue to pioneer new techniques and research directions with me.
You completely entrench your research within a creative atmosphere, as indicated by the fact that your lab is now also acting as a gallery. Why did you choose this approach?
It is acutely important for the future of humanity and our planet that cultural influencers and scientists work together. In the same way artists ultimately often have to make a living working for the advertising companies that perpetuate the dominance of the corporations that are polluting our planet, biologists work primarily for an accolade-based system defined by our government and the pharmaceutical industry. I would like to provide a space where scientists and artists can learn how to work closely together so that we can create a sustainable environment for all beings. I feel that studying creativity and influence is a good starting point for bringing artists into the lab and scientists into active spaces.
You say you’re the “Resident Scientist” at DIY collective Silent Barn. What exactly does that mean?
I believe that scientists should explore innovative and creative projects in the same way that artists and musicians do. Silent Barn provided me with the space to develop my project outside of the restrictions of a traditional academic institution. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to exist alongside such amazing people. I consider the friends I made at Silent Barn to be lifelong.
Where do you want to go next with your research?
For the next show, I am moving onto recording brain activity in conjunction with a technique—which I made this past year as part of my residency at the Silent Barn—that allows me to track how visual influence is translated into art in a quantitative way. If I receive enough funding, I will be able to sequence the genomes of artists and start looking for specific gene variants that are present in creative people that may also be risk factors for various disorders.
I would of course like to repeat the experiments I performed on Dean on many test subjects and start sequencing artists so that I can find gene variants associated with creativity. I envision a future where this project is not just about my research; I would like to see many, many young people taking advantage of cheaper technologies and starting their own independent labs. The average scientist does not start their own research lab until their mid to late 30s, if at all, and I think our planet cannot wait this long.
illuminated dissolved humanity cortex manifestations runs 16 October—30 November at Inter Space (137 W 14th St, NYC).
Images courtesy of Winston Struye