Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Love Ovation TV!

Besides my favorite discovery-natured channels such as Discovery, History, National Geography, Travel and Animal Planet, and my two favorite movie channels IFC and Sundance, now I'm adding one more to my all-time favorite TV channel list - Ovation TV. That's the only channel dedicated to art, performance, music and film. It introduces to me unique artists of all kinds and musicians of various genres. The film part is also exciting: it presents in-depth profiles of great filmmakers as well as masterpieces from Janus Films!

Life After People

Last night I watched the trailer of an upcoming show called Life After People on History channel. It depicts to us a world after all humans disappear where plants and animals take control again. The images remind me of some scenes from sci-fi movies like 12 Monkeys and Children of Men. I also wonder how much it is based on Alan Weisman's book The World Without Us. It seems to be a very fascinating and thought-provoking show.

This show will be on History channel on Jan 21. I will miss it due to my trip, but hopefully can catch up later!
more info:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Carl Warner's Foodscapes

How can you resist the broccoli forest, bread moutains, fruit balloons and smoked salmon sea? These amazing Foodscapes were created by London based artist Carl Warner. I wanna live in such delicious and healthy wonderlands!!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Georges Schwizgebel

I recently discovered this Swiss animation film director. His works are very sensitive in terms of form, space and movement, thus pretty architectural. The graphic reminds of me so many painters, esp. Chirico, Escher, Hopper and Matisse. It is like a merge of all these masters’ works and made 4-dimensional. There are noticeable repetitive themes in his animations, including the 9-second(from figure 11 to 3) countdown, pause in the middle of movement, quick rewind at the end, long shadows, linear forms, images of staircases, ripples and windows (as a vent, an interface, a threshold in space). The art of morphing is palpably presented through the interchangeability in shape and scale and constantly shifting perspectives.

Many of his works can be found on YouTube. My top favorites include Fugue (1998) and the following L'Hommes sans ombre (2004).

L'Hommes sans ombre (The Man With No Shadow)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

from American History X to American Pictures

I watched two great movies related to racism in America: American History X and 25th Hour, both starring the great actor Edward Norton who first impressed me with Fight Club. In American History X, we confront the extreme brutality in racism, climaxed in the ruthless murders. In 25th Hour, Norton's hatred towards all the minorities in NYC (and ultimately everyone and himself) is hilariously expressed in his “fuck all” rant in front of the restroom mirror. (see clip below)

The name American History X reminds me of the book American Pictures by anti-racism photographer
Jacob Holdt. During his 5-year sojourn at over 400 underclass homes, Holdt captured the true life stories composed of despair, hunger and poverty. He made a presentation of his photos in a movie which can be viewed on his website:

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Two Distorted Faces

I became interested in Czech surrealist filmmaker Jan Švankmajer's works recently. Tma/Svetlo/Tma is a genius short animation which displays how a human body is reconstructed by himself in a small and enclosed room.

The following still presents one of the most emotional moments in the film, a moment of both self-construction and self-destruction. It also recalls Edvard Munch's famous painting The Scream. The former distorted face is self-contained which let us reflect on our own forces affecting the shape of our body, ultimately the shape of our mind; the latter distorted face, together with the landscape, represents an inner fear or anxiety totally played inside out and remains mysterious. The figures in both images are tortured, either in a highly confined space or a vast open space.

Dimensions of Dialogue, my most favorite one, also exemplifies Jan Švankmajer's obssession with human body and his distinctive use of clay.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Food Memories of Tokyo

This past weekend was filled with deliscious food. My parents made my favorite dumplings: lamb+wintermelon! I made sushi, although the simplest type :) Sushi actually originated as a method of preserving fish in China and Southeast Asia. It was introduced to Japan in the 7th century and transformed into the Japanese style which is as known to the world.

I can't helping recalling the wonderful food experiences in Tokyo. You can complain how expensive things are in Japan, but NOT food! We tried food at different places, ranging from 500 - 3500 Yen per person: from take-out restaurants, fast-food places to fancy restaurants, from the traditional snack stands at Asakusa market (浅草市場) to the amazing sushi bar at Tsukiji Fish Market (築地市場) - none of them let me down!

The everyday fast-food sushi would be the conveyor belt sushi (回転寿司, kaiten-zushi). It's fast, inexpensive and fun.

There's a sushi street at the famous Tsukiji Fish Market. We tried 大和寿司, recommended by locals. It had the longest line in the front and we waited for nearly an hour to get in.

We ordered sushi combination since we were still confused with all the different names. The sushi tasted extremely fresh, tender, with a slightly sweet flavor, definitely my BEST sushi experience!!

I'm also impressed with Japanese desserts. They are not too sweet or too thick, just perfect. The super tasty green tea cake, grean tea cream puff and fried ice-cream I had in Tokyo even topped my all-time favorites such as Tiramisu, Crème brûlée and Yule Log cake!

Japanese cuisine does not have as many flavors or styles as Chinese cuisine, however, the look of the food together with its serving wares, displays a deeper sense of design. Although Japan is an economically rich country, people there eat less and faster which reflects the very Japanese notion of efficiency and no-waste.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Hitchcock's Psycho Traier

There's a short clip of Hitchcock's Psycho trailer in The Pervert's Guide To Cinema, in which Hitchcock gives the viewers a tour of the Bates Motel and Mother's house with some hints on the plot. I found the complete trailer on YouTube -

Compared to a conventional trailer which presents a collage of the actual scenes, the Hitchcockian one is pretty clever and playful, though a bit too long. So the question is: Why does a movie trailer have to contain actual movie? Why can't we have something more creative??

Friday, January 4, 2008

Slavoj Zizek Does Not Exist

Slavoj Zizek Does Not Exist, installation, photography and concept by Rudjer Kunaver and Miran Mohar, 2005

Saw this photo on the back cover of Zizek's The Parallex View. I found it interesting since the title immediately recalls Lacan's famous argument "The Woman Does Not Exist" which is frequently cited by Zizek. The image also perfectly represents the miraculous existence of Zizek, on both theoretical and personal level, as if his physical appearance is only some sort of reflection of our unconsciousness. In a sense, he can never be fully grasped.

BTW, I finally watched The Pervert's Guide to Cinema. The 2.5-hour was an exhilariting experience since it recalled so many Zizek's brilliant comments on movies from his books. By posing himself in the actual filmming locations, Zizek seemed to be LOST in the movies. His ideas were effectively presented thru. this integration.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Chairman Meow/Mao

Cats rule in the upcoming Rat year!!
image from

from One Columbus to Another

Columbus IN, a city with a population of less than 40,000, ranks No.6 in terms of architectural innovation and design in US by AIA. I finally made it there right before the new year. It was quite a dramatic journey from one Columbus to another! The arch tour covered buildings by starchitects such as Eliel Saarinen, Eero Saarinen, I. M. Pei, César Pelli, Richard Meier. The following three Saarinen buildings are my favorites -

First Christian Church, Eliel Saarinen 1942

North Christian Church, Eero Saarinen 1964

Irwin Union Bank, Eero Saarinen 1954

"Pop-art" building that looks better on photo -

AT&T/SBC Switching Center, Paul Kennon 1978

Design is everywhere in Columbus IN: from architecture to bridge, from sculpture to landscape. Modern landscape design master Dan Kiley did over 30 projects in Columbus.

2nd Street Bridge, J. Muller International

Large Arch, Henry Moore

Birds of Fire, Ted Sitting Crow Garner

Bartholomew County Veterans Memorial

Besides the numerous sculptures in the city, the trees are also very sculptural, esp. in winter when all that's left is the skeleton. You can’t help imagining how gorgeous they will turn out in spring, summer and fall time.