1. The Culture of Counterfeit
Shanzhai refers to the massive counterfeit market in China, encompassing everything from imitation smartphones and sneakers to bootleg shampoo and Coca-Cola. With the sustained rise in consumer culture in China, along with the confluence of globalization and the internet, Shanzhai has recently begun to transcend commerce into its own culture—and even a form of art. In Chinese culture, copying is considered a form of endearing admiration of one's work as this in-depth piece points out. Despite its roots in commerce, the pirate practice continues to blur lines as counterfeit-themed artists like Shanzai Biennial go mainstream at major galleries and art fairs, and blatantly bootlegged apparel becomes high fashion, making Shanzhai a force to be recognized and considered in a global context.
2. Don't Hug Me I'm Scared: A Lesson About Time
By way of an incredibly bonkers new musical short film, award-winning comedy duo Becky&Joe are seeking to educate viewers on the concept of time. This Dazed Digital exclusive follows a singing and dancing clock along with a gaggle of puppets as they transcend space and time. One step beyond a mind trip and dripping with nonsense and color, the video does shed some light on how time works—with a morbid twist.
3. Capturing the Polar Vortex
Unless you were able to experience it in person, it's tough to describe what it feels like to be trapped in a weather system that broke free of the Arctic. But these 14 photographs just about do the trick. Whether of a Spiderman-clad runner jogging in polar vortex temperatures or of arctic sea smoke rising off of Chicago's Lake Michigan, the images captured effectively drive the senses to absolute frigidity.
4. The Simpsons Lego Set
The most famous family on television has been lovingly immortalized by legendary toymakers, Lego. The set comes complete with the entire five-character Simpson family, their neighbor Ned Flanders, their brick home (made of 2,000+ pieces), their signature pink car and more. Expect to see the set in stores worldwide next month, where it will sell for $200.
5. Pretty Faces
Celebrating the exciting lives of an adventurous group of women, "Pretty Faces" aims to become the first crowd-funded, female-focused ski film. Not only will the narrative follow an inspiring group of professional athletes, but the film's campaign also encourages women from around the world to submit their own footage to be included in a group montage midway through the documentary. With four days left, there's still time to support the film now on Kickstarter.
6. Mandela's Lithographs
"That window, you know, was actually a window to the world, because I could see quite a lot. I could see my mental horizons expand." So explained Nelson Mandela to two British curators, who met with the utterly prolific world leader after he completed a series of colorful lithographs depicting his time spent imprisoned on Robben Island. Mandela's surprising series of sketches, which include unseen pictorials of his cell, the lighthouse, the church, the guard towers and more, are now on view at London's Belgravia Gallery alongside photographs of him captured by Jurgen Schadeberg. The exhibition runs through the month of January 2014.
7. T Burnett's Analog Aspirations
With 50 years of professional experience and 13 Grammy awards (among countless others) on his shelf, T Burnett knows a thing or two about producing music. His recent collaboration, composing the soundtrack for the Coen brothers' film "Inside Llewyn Davis," has once again put him in the limelight and in an interview with Variety, the creative force speaks about the "sonic realities of the day" and his analog aspirations with his new imprint, Electromagnetic Records (which will have one of our indie favorites, Mini Mansions, on its roster). Regaling readers with the nuances of his accomplishments, he explains his main recording objective is to always make hearable the singer's soul, while adapting to the realities of the way the audio world changes.
8. London's SkyCycle Concept
Over the past decade, cycling has exploded in popularity in London. Despite the city's best efforts to allocate a safe space for bikers on crowded roads, accidents persist at staggering rates with 14 riders killed in 2013. British architect Norman Foster proposed a "cycle utopia" concept this week, dubbed SkyCycle. The lofty idea places 10 cycle routes above the city's expansive train system with over 200 entrance points for easy access, allowing for vastly increased safety and efficiency for bikers in the Big Smoke with elevated pathways offering both a cost and space effective solution.
9. Vibrating Panties
In the 2009 flick "The Ugly Truth," Katherine Heigl's character (unintentionally) reenacts her own "When Harry Met Sally" scene when her vibrating panties go off during a business dinner. Sex toy company OhMiBod has made this high-tech lingerie into a mainstream reality by releasing the blueMotion massager, a panty-liner vibrator that connects to your (or your partner's) smartphone via Bluetooth—allowing for hands-free fun. Retailing at $129, this is one piece of wearable tech that will probably get more regular usage than smart watches and glasses when it releases this March.
10. Illustrator Dan Woodger
With a style reminiscent of The Simpsons and Where's Waldo, young British illustrator Dan Woodger has become a real shining talent since graduating from the University of Brighton a few years ago. The Fox is Black recently interviewed Woodger, who explains how he developed his signature style and learned the ropes of a freelance lifestyle, as well as what's next on the horizon for the talented up-and-comer.
11. Secret Singles
One of the most successful alternative charity events is Secret 7"—the organization has used music and art to raise money for different charities each year since 2011. Seven tracks from seven well-known musicians are pressed 100 times to 7" vinyl through The Vinyl Factory. Selected musicians for the 2014 Secret 7" include Massive Attack, Black Sabbath, Lorde, Roxy Music and more. Each is housed in one-off, specially designed artwork from both high-profile artists and those just starting out (anyone can submit to the open call), meaning there will be 700 unique vinyl covers—and the beauty is that both the track and the artwork's creator remain a "secret" until it's been purchased. While the price (£45, or roughly $74) is a bit steep for a 7", you're not only purchasing two works of art (song and sleeve) but also supporting children affected by armed conflict; all profits this year will go to War Child. On Record Store Day (19 April), one lucky buyer will discover they've brought home a one-of-a-kind original from Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja, who will also be designing a sleeve.
12. Hong Kong Film Pioneer Passes at 106
Run Run Shaw was born to work in the movie business. From a young age the Chinese-born mogul and his brother began producing and directing movies as well as operating an empire of cinemas throughout Asia. Subsequently, his passing this week at the ripe age of 106 is mourned by fans and the worldwide show business community alike. Shaw and his brother had their hand in the production of some 800+ films throughout their storied career and are considered to be the godfathers of the kung fu genre, as well as horror and science fiction in Asia.
13. Discovering A Time Capsule Apartment
Fleeing Paris for the south of France in 1942, French socialite Madame de Florian had no idea if she would ever return to her glorious apartment near the Opéra Garnier. She never did go back and, because of that, her recently rediscovered apartment was left preserved as a true testament to its time. Entirely untouched and now showing half a century's worth of dust, the space contains brilliant period furniture, taxidermy and even a Giovanni Boldini portrait of the Madame which has just sold for €2.1 million.
14. Rethinking Chopsticks
While chopsticks have remained relatively the same for centuries, Japanese design firm Nendo (founded and led by Chief Designer Oki Sato) has been exploring ways to make them even more comfortable and functional. Finding round chopsticks slippery to hold and overly square ones uncomfortable, Sato and his team have created several new designs that are as practical as they are visually intriguing. The Hanataba chopsticks are ridged with each tip (when viewed from above) appearing as a five-petal flower, while the Kamiai design snaps together using tiny magnets. If Sato has his way, you may never look at chopsticks the same again.
15. Uncovering Khonso Em Heb's Tomb
Japanese archeologists in Egypt uncovered the tomb of Khonso Em Heb last week. Aside from the fact that he lived 3,200 years ago during the pharaonic period, he was actually one of ancient Egypt's most famous and respected beer-makers. Even more astounding, perhaps, is that the site was discovered by mistake while the team was doing "a routine cleanup of King Tut’s grandfather’s burial plot." The tomb's walls are painted with remarkably well-preserved imagery depicting everything from the fermentation process to serving the brews.
16. Burning Memories
Experimental cultural festival Burning Man is a week-long event that encourages creative freedom, self-expression, self-reliance and community building in radical ways—but to achieve this, one must often find peace within oneself. This poignant video short from Already Alive captures the essence of the Temple, one of the community structures that is built (and burned) annually, and is sure to change the minds of those who view the festival as "simply a party in the desert."
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