Monday, June 30, 2008

Stunning Opening Credits

The Kite Runner (2007) is one of the great movies I watched recently. Like Persepolis (2007), it is also based on a bestselling book. Both films recall childhood memories and reveal the political horrors. From a design perspective, what impressed me most about The Kite Runner are the opening credits: a beautiful and dynamic fusion of the Arabic and English characters.

It reminds me of another wonderful film, The Namesake (2006), whose opening credits is similarly stunning. The letters transform from Bengali into English with abstract paintings in the background. The blending of the two languages reflects the notion of cutural transition in the movie.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Chasing through a Favela

The Incredible Hulk is just another blockbuster movie. One thing that caught my attention is the mountain favela of Rio de Janiero in the opening sequence. The apartments are so densely packed together like piles and piles of containers. The place just looks UNREAL! I can’t imagine how people could live in such density with minimum room for trees and natural light. Apparently such a site is exotic enough for a Hollywood chase scene: the connected up-and-down rooftops, the dark and narrow alleys….

It’s not surprising that Hollywood action movies are exploring some of the poorest areas in Africa, Asia and South Africa, just to offer the viewers a fresh and different look. It instantly raises the controversial question between tourism and poorism. As a matter of fact, the favela shown in Hulk has been a tourist spot for 16 years. Is it really exciting to watch a chase in a favela like this? Will the movie bring more tourists to the slums? Or will it bring some positive attention or changes to the living environment of the residents?

Here's a related article Slum visits: Tourism or voyeurism?

Home Cherry-picking

It's the cherry harvesting time in my backyard. We got more cherries this year and they are sweet!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

GTF on Show

I learned about GTF (Graphic Thought Facility) from Metropolis magazine earlier this year and fell in love with their innovative and playful design. I just found out their works are on show at the Art Institute of Chicago until Aug 17!

Graphic Thought Facility: Resourceful Design
March 27–August 17, 2008Gallery 24

Overview: Graphic Thought Facility (GTF) is the first exhibition at the Art Institute devoted solely to graphic design. Established in 1990, the studio led by Huw Morgan, Paul Neale, and Andy Stevens has emerged as one of the most progressive and creative design firms working in both two and three dimensions. The firm is well known in Britain for creating the brand identities of some of the bastions of British design, including Habitat, a furnishings and interior design retailer launched in 1964 by Terence Conran; the Design Museum in London; and Frieze, London’s major annual contemporary art fair. Also active in book design, GTF designed monographs on the work of Ron Arad and Tord Boonjte as well as the exhibition catalogue for the 54th Carnegie International in 2003, all of which are presented in the exhibition.

Friday, June 6, 2008

2 Great Art TV Series

I recently watched Simon Schama’s The Power of Art. It’s an excellent TV series on 8 genius artists in history, written and presented by Prof. Schama. I have to admit that BBC makes the most refined educational documentaries, since the quality of storytelling, photography, music and visual effects are almost perfect. The story of each painter is told in an adequately visual way: the important events and characters are acted out, others are illustrated with metaphorical images. The part of storytelling, painting presentation and Schama’s insightful comments are well integrated.

At a few times, a painting made me cry. I would not have been so touched without the profound background and analysis given by Schama. I gained a much more comprehensive knowledge about those artists. For instance, I knew Turner as merely a romantic landscape painter before. After watching the show, I realized I overlooked the most powerful aspect of his works - those depict the devastating disasters in human history, esp. Slave Ship as an emotional representation of the shockingly inhumane event happened in 1781.

Compared to the high-cost BBC series, PBS makes intriguing and informative documentaries at low budgets. A good TV series I watched recently is Art:21 which offers a great introduction into contemporary visual art. The show covers 72 influential artists living is US, including my familiar ones like James Turrell, Richard Sara, Cai Guoqiang, Maya Lin and Krzysztof Wodiczko, as well as many others I didn’t know of. The best part is seeing the work process of each artist, accompanied with the artist’s own interpretation. Each episode presents a theme by introducing 4 related artists. I can understand the advantages of doing that. But often times I found the artists’ works don’t fit into just one category. By sorting them out, it simplifies the broadness and complexity of the artist’s approach. That’s my only criticism of the show.