Meditations: Judging by the Cover

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Badlove (1999)

If you were an album sitting in a record store up until about 1995, the only thing that got you out of the door and into the hands of some bell-bottom wearing teenager that wasn’t the quality music, but whatever the hell was displayed on your cover. Didn’t matter if you were the Rolling Stones or Engelbert Humperdinck; all were at the mercy of whatever the hell the artist had decided they wanted their potential customers to see decorating their records.

Still, dozens of artists broke this rule like it was going out of style, and you can find about a million awful covers with a quick google search. While taking a deep dive into that rabbit hole of awful fringe album covers would truly be magical, I’d actually like to look at a few records that I think are great as far as the music is concerned, but leave a few metric tons to be desired as far as the visuals are concerned.

But before diving into this, what qualifies as a “good” album cover? Some of you might respond by saying that “all art is subjective and up to interpretation”. Some of you are stupid.

Continue reading “Meditations: Judging by the Cover”

The Daily Blend’s October Top Ten 2017

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Hey everyone! My name’s Sam, and welcome to my blog! I will be doing this blog once a month along with my show, The Daily Blend, which is every Monday at 4 PM. So first, introductions. I am a first-year student from Rockford, IL, which is like two (ish) hours north of here. I went to a high school with a performing arts program, which I was heavily involved in! I have also been a dancer for the past 14 years. When not doing my show or homework, I play for UIC’s rugby team and play and write music with some friends (not that it’s actually going anywhere…). I love all different styles of music, although I tend to favorite anything with guitars and drums over other music genres (oops). On my show, I play so much different music to give everyone something diverse to listen to, because let’s be honest, no one listens to only one style of music their entire life. Continue reading “The Daily Blend’s October Top Ten 2017”

Dally Auston drops “99¢”

c1bkdynuaaawoxqChicago has been put in the spotlight for many years to work from city natives Twista, Common, Kanye West, and more recently: Chance The Rapper. For years, social media has been exploding over good friends of Chance and affiliates of the “Savemoney army”. Talent in this super-group are Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa, Joey Purp, RnB artist Brill, Towkio and more. Although all of these are artists have developed over the past few years, they still give back to Chicago and often host concerts and secret parties for their most loyal fans.

In the month of January, fans have expressed their excitement for one of the member’s new projects: Dally Auston. It is his first project in about 3 years and everyone is very eager to jam on his latest work. On January 20th at 3pm (CT), Dally released his latest project, titled “99¢”. Check it out and let us know what you think!

Dally will be live on UIC Radio’s Thumpin’ Thursdays show on Feb 2nd at 3:30pm (CT)

Make sure you follow us on Instagram:
@CeaseDays @DjSoundUTB @LiveLenora @ThumpinThursdays
And tune in Thursdays from 2-7pm (CT)

Rad Radar: The Sympathetic Imagination

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It’s no surprise technology has influenced everything around us. Machines have most certainly affected art: we can design graphics, alter photos, record works on video, and edit visuals to look even more magnificent. We have evolved into a society that preserves the physical into digital.Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MCA) newest installation, The Sympathetic Imagination by Diana Thater, merges tech with the most organic physical of all, nature.

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“…continuous disruptions of the American landscape document my refusal to see the land as backdrop for man’s heroic conquering of the wild; instead I see it as a foreground, a subject to be contemplated for itself and for which wilderness is a state of grace.” Abyss of Light (1993)

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“…when viewers walking into the projections, they penetrate the bee space; the one picture breaks into five, and the surrounding bees become and vision of chaos.” Knots + Surfaces (2001)

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“Framed by the moon and the sun, this work makes reference to the Egyptian falcon god, Horus, whose eyes were said to represent the two celestial bodies… Here we see beings who cannot look back at us – that is, until the final subject of the film appears… evoking the unanswered questions: ‘ What do I see when I look at the other, and what does it see when it looks back at me?'” A Cast of Falcons (2000)

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“…there are three kinds of bodies in space: dolphins moving through volumetric space; the sun spinning in a vacuum of black space; and then the  viewer, moving through ‘real’ space made volumetric by the artificial magenta light” Delphine (1999)

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“…the forests of Michoacan, Mexico, become the overwinter home for tens of millions of monarch butterflies… This broken video wall focuses on one butterfly slowly flapping its wings” Untitled Videowall (Butterflies) (2008)

“At the heart of Thater’s work is the tension between the natural environment and mediated reality and, by extension, between the domesticated and wild, the scientific and the fantastical or magical… Thater layers imagery onto architectural surroundings to create complex relationships between time and space.”

The accompanying pamphlet sets the concept as an intimate experience with scenes of the wild we wouldn’t normally experience if it weren’t for technology. The set up of projectors reflecting on the blank walls of the gallery create a situation where, no matter what, you are bound to cast your shadow on the film. This is a nod to Thater’s want to have the viewer interact with the outdoors. Monitors displaying parts of a butterfly are arranged in a floral way, while others show tinted versions of our planet Earth. Creamy lights of neon and pastel mingle with the projections to be a reminder that though you are connecting with nature, it is all but a virtual encounter.

If you want to get immersed in an ambient wilderness or just love magnificent visuals, take a trip to Thater’s exhibit. The Sympathetic Imagination is stationed in the MCA till January 8, 2017.

Work Cited:

Thater, D. (2016). The Sympathetic Imagination [Brochure].

Chicago, IL: Museum of Contemporary Art.

Aleksandar Zhitmirsky

What a mouthful. And what an exhibit!

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Joseph Goebbels (Head of Nazi Propaganda) and a Hollywood Producer in the 40s-50s

 

Humanism + Dynamite at the Art Institute is the most shocking exhibit I’ve seen there in ages. Brilliant prints of India ink and original editions of propaganda magazines showing off the decades-long career of Zhitmirsky, a Soviet propaganda artist.

His job was to turn the German soldiers against their leaders in WWII. And then, he was tasked with turning the American people against our capitalist leaders throughout the Cold War.

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“The War Drummer”

Hundreds of prints depict controversial leaders, from Goebbels to Truman, akin to apes, fat cats, Hitler, and nuclear missiles. In his work, Zhitmirsky always appeals to the disenfranchised individual, whether it’s a German soldier fed up with his duties, or a poor American, feeling that the economy is unfair. He speaks to “you” in his illustrations, while depicting incredibly intimate and personal situations to strike a certain chord among his viewers.

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“American Foreign Policy”

Zhitmirsky’s most incredible feat is his ability to get you to examine yourself. Sure, Soviet propaganda isn’t a reliable method for basing judgement about the character of a country, but an exhibit like this reminds one to keep a skeptical eye, and that there is power in questioning authority. Doubt is a sign of intelligence, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t study for your exams.

Have a Scien-tastic day!

 

That New New

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November: a period of time when all sun-toned leaves end up on the ground, we start packing on the layers, some people stop shaving, and we start to see turkeys and cornucopias every where. It also is the last month of Autumn.

As this cozy season is ending, I wanted to start my opening month as a official blogger with a focus on the concept of new. My weekly posts for November will be interviews with fresh faced creatives or first time events. From internet-aesthetic art shows to learning about a cosmetic craft, I’ll be coming at you with alternative, current posts.

But since this month has just begun, I’m currently setting those interviews and sorting out plans. For now,here are three new things that I have discovered in the past week.

1. Ridin Round- Kali Uchis FT. Tory Lanez (Oshi Remix)

Thanks to my friend Clara, I started getting into Kali Uchis over the summer. After a hearing a quick snippet of Uchi’s “Loner,” I showed her the song and, being a music producer, she already knew about her album. She introduced me to the soulful, poppy R&B “Ridin Round” and it got a place on my summer sixteen playlist. Fast forward to fall, I had Kali’s Soundcloud on a endless run when this gem comes on. Oshi’s remix churns the single into a super cute flavor with hard trap undertones. This beat would’ve been more appropriate in the eighty degrees with a slight breeze, but I’m still blasting this as I chill in the fifties.

2. Joan Cornellà

(Warning: Slight blood)

Until Joan Cornellà, I haven’t seen an illustrator as impactful and unlike any other since Banksy. Last Thursday night I had the satisfaction of turning in my last midterm on Blackboard. It was 2AM, I had no school the next day, so naturally I turned on Solange’s magnificent album, A Seat at The Table, and started scrolling through an art blog on Tumblr. There I found  Cornellà’s Gangsta Grandma, which highlights police brutality and racism. The illustrator’s theme is definitely bright in visuals, yet definitely dark in topics and philosophies. His absurdist, surrealist comics and animations are a reflection of today’s societal norms, pressures, and issues. His work is certainly becoming iconic.

3. bopNgrill

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Last Friday night I ventured to The New 400 Theater’s annual Scarefest to view Takashi Shimizu’s The Grudge. Sweating while you scream your head off can burn calories – not that I did any of those things – and my group were hungry for munchies. It was my second time attending the event, but it was only this year that I noticed bopNgrill a block away. The Korean and pub-food place features “Bop Plates,” meal sets where the customer can choose a main dish that will be accompanied by rice, salad, and kimchi, and signature or customizable burgers. Being a progressing vegan, I ordered a tofu and kimchi Bop Plate with a request to use vegetable oil to sauté the kimchi. The serving was huge and the flavor had a great impact as well. The tofu was a savory umami, kimchi provided a crisp tang, and the sides were great pallet mellowers. If you are around Loyola campus or off the CTA Belmont stop, I would highly recommend giving this fusion restaurant a try!

Next Wednesday look out for the first of five in my November New series!

Stumbling Into Fashion Week

I don’t think I’ve ever seen more pairs of Stan Smiths in one place. I’d just walked into the backstage area of the 3rd annual Chicago Street Style Fashion Week show put on by PROjectUS, and was greeted by pounding music and a flurry of frantic preparation. I would guess there were around 100 designers, models and makeup artists from 16 brands scurrying around the repurposed Bridgeport warehouse. Tonight was the culmination of a lot of young artists work: there were an expected 400 guests in attendance, and all involved wanted to make sure things went perfectly. It was about 4:30 PM, an hour and a half until showtime, and most designers I talked to seemed to be in a head space of equal parts anxiety and excitement.

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I’d ended up here after doing some visual work for a a friends brand, Aqraba. Technically, I was here to model, but more than anything I just wanted to see how the show would go down. I quickly realized that my story of essentially stumbling into the event wasn’t typical. Everyone in the room seemed to go way back in one way or another, most conversations I heard started with clarification on where they had seen each other’s face before. Generally, people knew each other from a prior event, program, or just through mutual friends. I felt as though I’d stepped into a very defined subculture that was unique from anything else I’d seen so far in this city. I’d always heard that in Chicago, everyone’s grandma knows each other, but that never really made sense till I’d seen the dynamic in that fifth floor warehouse.

Something else I couldn’t help but notice in the backstage area was the duality of the calculated, sophisticated vibe you would expect from a runway show, and the kind of raw energy that’s more characteristic of a concert or house party. There were immaculately dressed designers calmly fitting their models 50 feet away from shirtless dudes doing push-ups and chugging Hennessy. The merging of these two typically separate environments created a lively and unique atmosphere that really reflected the diversity of designers and styles represented.

30 minutes to showtime. It was like a switch went off in the heads of all of the people backstage. All of the sudden it felt like Everyone was running in circles, trying to track down models, and making last minute outfit adjustments. Hell, even the guys who had been drinking since 3 were getting their stuff together. This pace continued for the next two hours of the show, which absolutely flew by. I wasn’t able to watch the majority of the lines walk because I was either helping prep backstage or walking myself. Though, if the constant applause from the audience was any indicator, just about every line killed it. There was something immensely satisfying about watching the models and designers walk out of the curtain looking nervous, and come back smiling and cheering like they’d won the lottery. The energy was great: as the show winded down bottles were getting popped, the music was getting louder, and everyone was celebrating in a way they only could if they were really proud of what they’d done.

Photos by Juan Anthony and Brody Ford.

To read more about PROjectUS and style bias, check out their website here.

 

 

Thirteen Laughing At Each Other

Ever walk through a museum and feel like the figures in the exhibits are the ones watching you?

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Photo courtesy of The Juan Munoz Estate, The Marian Goodman Gallery, and the Art Institue of Chicago

Spanish sculptor Juan Muñoz has based his 2001 piece on this very sensation. When you walk through his exhibit in the Bluhm Family Terrace at the Art Institute, you won’t be looking at sculptures; they’ll be looking at you. Muñoz is a “storyteller,” who “writes the viewer into the drama.”

Thirteen bronze figures decorate four bleacher stands surrounding the terrace. The figures seem delighted with your presence and appearance, as their mouths open into wide grins, their hands and feet lift and stomp, and their eyes squint shut as their heads tilt back.

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Photo courtesy of The Juan Munoz Estate, The Marian Goodman Gallery, and the Art Institute of Chicago

You become the “unwitting subject” in this artwork, feeling the pressure of being the center of (perhaps unfriendly) attention. You become engaged with this art in a way very unique to Muñoz. And, as he puts it, you begin to feel that something is wrong. Something is odd about the way you’re being regarded, but there’s no hope of asking your bronze viewers just what exactly they find so funny.

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Photo courtesy of The Juan Munoz Estate, The Marian Goodman Gallery, and the Art Institute of Chicago

By adding the height, depth, and an effective frame with the bleachers, Muñoz’ design is able to incorporate a sense of architecture, unlike sculptors who focus solely on the figures. These are the elements that change the elevation of the display and convey the sense that you’re physically diminished in their eyes. Because, well, you are. If only we were allowed to climb up those bronze bleachers and see ourselves from their perspective…

This beautiful exhibit will be on display at the Institute until October 5th! Hurry out and see it this weekend, before it gets packed up or before it starts snowing!
Even more detail can be found here, at the website for the Art Institute.

Have a Scien-tastic day!

The 5ound of Art!…

Greetings!

It’s the 0cto5quid! Chillin in the pool! This time we have very special guests we are going to cover from last week’s show!

We were joined by artists Joe Horejs and Carlos Flores as well as their friend Tom (shouts to Tom). Joe is a fresh sound artist and we showed listened to his two works.

They came and demonstrated their sound art. They did all sort of weird sound experiments involving a microphone, microwave, popcorn, a random rapping, a fan and various other “tools” used in instruments.

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Listen to the interview here!

“Didn’t He Cut An Ear Off?” And Other Thoughts on Van Gogh

I had the humbling experience of wandering through the special Van Gogh exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago, and the first thing I wanted to do was write about it.

Van Gogh’s Bedrooms // Through May 10th // General Admission + $5 or $15 on Free Thursday Nights for Illinois Residents

Tiny background:

The Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh was born in the 1800’s and died in the 1800’s. He moved around and switched jobs in the Netherlands, then moved around and switched jobs in France, then in England, and then back to France. You probably know him as the crazy dude who cut off his ear, and you’re somewhat right. The ear thing is, unfortunately, true.

Van Gogh suffered with severe personality disorders including being bi-polar and having depression and anxiety, as well as other potential problems we don’t know about. This affected his ability to hold a job and form lasting relationships and friendships, which ultimately kept him from settling anywhere or feeling at home. In his 37 years on this planet, he lived in 37 places.

This brings us to the bedrooms.

The famous paintings featured above may look familiar. They’re called The Artist’s Bedroom, and are a series of three paintings he did of (no prizes for guessing) his bedroom in Arles, France. The three studies look essentially the same, except for small differences. They were all done at different points in his life. The Art Institute’s exhibit features close-ups of the same area on each painting to let you see the minute changes, because they are important. One usually resides in Amsterdam, one in France, and one permanently in Chicago.

Van Gogh has also created notable works painting the outside of the Arles house where he was a tenant. It’s called The Yellow House, and is featured below. The idea of a home was very seductive to him; he wanted one desperately. But despite his attempts to physically recreate a home-y space on canvas, his illnesses prevented him from achieving one in reality.

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The Yellow House in Arles, France. 1888

I was disappointed the Art Institute didn’t include this. They referenced his hospital and asylum stays underneath paintings created at those times, without actually mentioning any of his illnesses. I didn’t like their choice to omit this information; that made these issues seem like they needed to be kept a secret. Perhaps they assumed we all know he had his problems and wanted to leave it at that.

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Entrance to the Public Garden at Arles, 1888.

Still, his ability to visibly communicate abstract emotion is legendary. His unique style probably makes his paintings easiest to recognize of all impressionism artists: heavy paint blobs, bright colors, defined strokes, and fragmented compositions filled with jots and dashes comprise his style. Saying he defied artistic tradition is an understatement. The painting above is The Entrance to the Public Garden at Arles. Notice how heavy the sky looks—it looks heavier and denser than the ground! Van Gogh rejected the general consensus that skies should be airy and light, preferring instead to personify his anxiety in the form of an overbearing sky. It’s a brilliant piece that makes the viewer see what the artist feels; even in a peaceful garden, anxiety persists.

I sincerely hope you’ll visit this exhibit.  It sounds crazy that the Institute has dedicated an entire wing to an exhibit advertising three paintings of the exact same thing. But the depth and integrity they use in the analysis is meaningful and fascinating. Well worth the trip (I’m planning my second one in two weeks)!