Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The designs on cigarette packages are some of my favorite things ever. The use of color, the easy stylishness- everything about them is appealing. I don't smoke myself, but I come from a family of smokers, so I guess I sort of associate cigarettes with home and people I love. I'm kind of too timid to start smoking in earnest but I dislike the judgmental tone of anti-smoking ads. I figure people should do what they like, and too much of anything will kill you anyway.

The Lucky Strike design is largely the same today, except its white instead of dark green. I sort of prefer the green, though. It almost looks homemade, and less like the Pepsi logo.

In a way it kind of makes me sad that cigarette ads aren't like this anymore. I think to be fair, tobacco companies should be allowed to advertise as vigorously as the "truth" commercials. I think it'd be funny, anyway.

The movie Thank You For Smoking used elements of these designs really well in its opening credits sequence. The interesting thing about that movie is they never actually show a single person smoking.

It's sad now that movies get a more "adult" rating if they feature smoking. It can bump a PG-13 to R, which seems to me like overreacting. The whole ratings system is messed up anyway. It's not like kids are gonna go, "Oh my god, Benjamin Button is smoking, I can't wait to get my hands on a pack!"

Monday, February 9, 2009

Here's some of the photo studies for my set I did over the weekend. I'm still working on the final painting. I think I'm going to use the ones with less total objects in them. I also want to use some bright colors, but still try to give it a less bright kind of feeling.

I'm also gonna do a couple more posts tonight and tomorrow to make up for the lack of it over the weekend.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Here are some of the images I've been looking at in preparation for my final.

I kind of want to do the "people in a room" thing again, because to be totally honest, Heesung's painting of my set is kind of an inspiration too. I really liked her rendition. It's sort of what I see in my head when I think about what kind of paintings I would like to make. So I'm going to try to do something like that, I think. I bought some small dollhouse furnishings and some real Sculpey instead of modeling clay. I have some ideas of what kind of setup I want- definitely more than one person, definitely more bright. We'll see what I come up with.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Night of the Hunter is one of my favorite movies. Partly because it has sentimental value for me, as I was named after one of the characters. And partly because its easily one of the best movies ever made, ever.

I could probably write a whole essay about this movie. Others have probably written much better essays about it then I could ever write. Because this is kind of an "art blog" I'll talk about the visuals mostly. But the story is just as good. Whenever I watch it I find it hard to stop. Some older movies are difficult to get into, no matter how good they are, but this one is really engaging to me, and sort of surprisingly complex. Here are a few images from the film. Keep in mind that this is a Hollywood movie made in 1955, half a decade before the French New Wave.

And probably the most famous shot, of Shelley Winters after her car has been pushed into a lake:

Pretty much everything about this movie is perfect, but it's also exciting to watch because you can see where all the things we find fresh and exciting about movies today got their start. The Coen Brothers probably would be accountants or something if this movie never existed. It used to be on Hulu but it doesn't seem to be available anymore, but its definitely worth the cost of a rental.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Irina's post about the mummified mermaid reminded me of a friend of mine, who mummified her pet rat a few years ago. Here's a few pictures she took of the process-

You can read the whole thing here, although its pretty long. I skipped a lot of the steps, also because they involve taking guts out and stuff. It's sort of gross, so view with caution. But it's also pretty cool. I might be weirded out if she did this with ALL her pets, but she doesn't. I think it was mostly done to see if she could follow the same process the Egyptians used, not because she wanted to preserve the rat forever or something.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm still thinking about a response post, I'll have one finished by tonight.
Until then, here's another clip from a movie that uses an elaborate constructed set- Francis Ford Coppola's One From The Heart. It's kind of an infamous flop, and for good reason- the following clip is the first five minutes of the movie, and it's basically the best part of the whole thing.

The movie is set in Las Vegas, but it was shot entirely in the studio, with miniature versions of famous parts of the city. An airport and life-sized jet were even built for one of the scenes. It cost so much to put together that it completely bankrupted Coppola.

The script and the characters are pretty terrible. I watched this because I'm a big Tom Waits fan, and he wrote and performed the soundtrack for this movie (which is pretty great, and one of my favorite albums). When I saw those first five minutes, with those songs over the stylized Vegas lights and casinos, I was totally mesmerized. I thought the dialogue would have to be really, really awful to completely offset how great the music and sets were. Turns out, it was! But I still think its worth watching, because the look of the movie is so unique.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thoughts on Coney Island

I'm thinking about what I want to do for the next set I build. I have one idea but it might take too long to get the materials I need. Another idea I have is to do sort of a rebuild of Coney Island's Luna Park (which would also take a lot of materials-gathering, but I have better ideas of how to do it). I could go to the museum and find a painting I like, and sort of incorporate the setting into it, maybe.

My thoughts on how to do that would be to use a sort of backlit background image, and then something like christmas lights around the buildings. Maybe they could illuminate some lone figures. I don't want it to be full of people, I'd like it to be more like the ghost of Coney Island. I grew up very near to it and it sort of figures very strongly in my mind.

Here are some of my favorite images of old Coney Island, mostly from postcards:

I would also like to use elephants in some way, because I always think of the elephant, Topsy, that they executed there in 1903. The elephant had killed three people- one was her somewhat abusive handler, but the other two were just people visiting the circus. To me, that event sort of captures the strange sadness that I feel when I think about Coney Island. There's a very famous thirty second clip of the actual event, filmed by Thomas Edison. They electrocute it, so its not actually gory or anything, but it's still an elephant dying, so don't watch it if you don't feel like seeing that.

Sorry to post such a downer of a video, but in a weird way its one of my favorite short films. I'm not happy that this animal died, obviously. I don't think it's "cool" or anything. I just think that from purely an aesthetic point of view, its kind of poetic and beautiful, especially because it's totally silent. It's also bizarre to me that this event would not only be filmed, but withstand the test of time and become moderately infamous. The issue of animal rights doesn't seem that pressing to me as long as human rights are being violated, but I can still recognize that this is animal cruelty, and that it's a kind of tragedy. I have no doubt that this event is probably part of what inspired the mother character in the movie Dumbo.

Anyway, I'm still working on my preparation sketches, but that's what's going through my head right now.