Thursday, December 27, 2007

Tibetan Mandala

When watching the documentary 10 Questions for Dalai Lama, the making of a Tibetan Mandala aroused my interest. Using colored sand, the monks make intricate patterns out of colored sand, which represents a microcosm of the divine powers at work. What impressed me is not just the beautiful patterns they created, but rather the way they deal with the finished piece: instead of hanging it on the wall of the temple, they place the artwork in a river and let it decompose with the flowing water. This sense of temporality is key to the Buddhist belief. An immediate association is the artworks of Andy Goldsworthy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Blade Runner 25 Years

Blade Runner final cut will be in Drexel early next year. Made 25 years ago, Blade Runner remains my all-time favorite sci-fi because of its imagination on future city and architecture, prevision on environmental problem and globalization, reflections on life and humanity and extraordinary cinematography.

I've watched both original version and director's cut on DVD. After searching online, I found that the final cut is very similar to the director's cut. Ridley Scott didn't have full control of the so-called director's cut, so this final cut is said to be the real director's cut. I wonder if there will be another version in 10 years. Anyway I'm tempted to watch this masterpiece on big screen for a better sight and sound experience.

Blade Runner Final Cut trailer

Libeskind in Cincinnati

Cincinnati is an amazing city in terms of architecture. Besides Zaha's CAC and several cool buildings at UC, there's one more exciting piece being added in the greater Cinci area: The Ascent Riverfront Condo by Daniel Libeskind, located just south of the Ohio River and Cincy in Covington, KY. The building will be in use next month.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Michel Gondry's trick

Learned about this cool video from a Michel Gondry forum: Michel Gondry solves Rubik's cube with his feet.

If you can't figure it out, like me, here's the solution -

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The World of Andy Goldsworthy

I’m a big fan of Andy Goldsworthy. Then I found this documentrary Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy working with time in the library. After watching it, I realized that his works have to be appreciated in real time. Although photos did capture some powerful moments, his sculptures are truly 4-dimensional. He is more like a film director, and nature plays a starring role. He has the vision to discover the best actors in nature, and put together a scenario under the best natural light and timing, then let these characters improvise. Using nature as raw material, Andy superimposes something on nature which feels just proper and perfect. This way nature is elevated, for the sense of divinity and temporality is fully revealed. His works only made me realize that nature by itself is not enough.

Both the creation and destruction of his works happen so naturally, that you enjoy the whole process just like appreciating the peaking and fading of fall foliages. The death/birth dichotomy is a repetitive theme of his work, such as his interpretation of a black hole. This also explains his obsession with rivers and tides, the beauty within natural cycles. It’s a deeper understanding of the essence of nature and the essence of life.

The movie is quite a success. With frequent use of long takes and track shots, it brings us so close to Andy’s works and mind. It’s a mesmerizing experience, both cinematic and artistic.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Boy with A Balloon

I chose to watch two movies with similar themes the other day, The Red Balloon and Little Fugitive . They both tell a story about a little boy, and both were made in the 50’s. The Red Balloon presents us a poetic passage through the old Paris; while Little Fugitive offers a joyful tour of New York's Coney Island.

The Red Balloon is a French film telling a simple and magical story between a little boy and a red balloon he picks up one day. With no dialogue, we enter a visual world by following the boy through many streets of old Paris. We cannot hold our eyes back from the delightfully bright red balloon against the grey cityscape. Hope and warmth rises as all the balloons in Paris fly to the boy after his red balloon is killed by naughty boys.

Little Fugitive doesn’t look like an American movie, for its noticeable European artistic and subtle style. This time, we follow a little boy Joey to Coney Island, the closest fantasy land for New Yorkers. Interesting enough, Little Fugitive has a scene where Joey is holding a balloon in his hand. Thus these two films are linked by a common image: a little boy with a balloon.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Inland Empire

Inland Empire, Lynch’s lastest film, runs exactly 180min. I sat through the credits and was completely overwhelmed. God, it’s wild and brilliant! Compared with Lost Highway and Mulholland Dr, Inland Empire is the wildest with a more complicated storyline and more creepy and hallucinatory atmosphere. Wonder what Zizek would say on this one. Lynch also got more experimental this time: the film was shot in DV, also without a complete script.

Lynch is perhaps the best filmmaker who can visualize our unconsciousness, making dream and desire as alive as reality. I can see a lot of patterns from these three movies, but I definitely need to watch Inland Empire again to clarify my thoughts and catch more details. The movie has been haunting me since I watched it. As someone who can make such films, Lynch is absolutely CRAZY – and thank him for driving me crazy!

Happy Birthday, DEGINE!

DEGINE is 1 year old today! There were 114 posts in the past year, not too bad, right? Knowing I'm not a very persistent person, keeping this blog is a real challenge. I noticed my categories keep expanding, from the original design field to almost anything that interests me. I like this transition since the world of design is a living and integrated sphere. So don't be surprised to find DEGINE grow into a hybrid monster in the future!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Arup Lighting

Arup is no doubt the world's leading design consulting firm. Besides their innovation in structural engineering and sustainable design, their lighting design is also outstanding. After reading a Metropolis article, I found out that many of my favorite buildings couldn't have been so great without Arup's lighting design. Rogier van der Heide, the 37-year-old director of Arup Lighting, is the leading guy on the following famous projects -

Galleria Department Store, UN Studio

Hotel Castell, UN Studio
De Young Museum, H & de M

Prada, H & de M

Webb Bridge, Denton Corker Marshall and Robert Owen

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The One-Man Band

Orson Welles: The One-Man Band is an awesome documentary on Orson Welles’ unfinished projects during the last 20 years of his life. Surprisingly, the opening scene shows Welles performing as a professional magician. Later I understood the purpose of this: it’s not merely a demonstration of his versatileness, although we know he did have great talent in so many things: directing, acting, writing, editing, producing…Metaphorically, his fascination with magic also refers to his self image, as pointed out in the film that one of Orson Welles’s most famous tricks is his silhouette: a disguise, an abstraction of his self, or simply a game.

Renowned for his early career fame such as his 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds and films like Citizen Kane, Welles is taken by the critics as a burned-out genius who had done nothing during his late years. However, this film shows us some “behind the scene” of Welles’s unknown life and works, offering more understanding to the tricks he played. Oja Kodar, his long-time companion, also the leading actress in his independent film projects, takes us through these precious footages and sketches by Welles. I’m so impressed with the amount of works he had accomplished during those years, although they never got finished due to mostly financial problems. He worked so independently that he did scripting, shooting, acting, set design and editing all by himself.

Among all the footages shown, two of his films particularly aroused my interest. F for Fake, a Criterion Collection release, seems to be very clever and satirical. His 1972 unreleased film The Other Side of the Wind, probably his most experimental film, is another one I’m highly anticipating. It’s said to be released late next year. His superb acting in many of these films also completely conquered me - There is something deep inside him that feels much more sublime and moving than Citizen Kane or The Third Man.

The One-Man Band is a short movie in which he played several different characters. As he joked: I, myself, have always been the “one-man band”. Despite constant financial problems and rejections from mainstream, he never gave up his dream. He used money from acting and commercials to fund his own projects, one after another. Like he said to the audience when receiving Lifetime Achievement Award from AFI in 1975, “I use my own work to subsidize my work. In other words, I’m crazy. But not crazy enough to pretend to be free.”

Welles’s struggling life is a typical one for any real artist. Fortunately, his voice always sounded loud and calm, as if saying he is UNBEATABLE. His life and works, like his signature silhouette, always remains an icon and a legend in cinema.