Sunday, December 27, 2009

Are HP Computers Racist?

Any thoughts on why this is?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hip Hoppin' Toddler

Okay, this is not about hardcore politics or anything, but the tiny tot is definitely representin'.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Teacher's Day (Cuba) - Yismari Ramos Tellez

As a dance enthusiast, I am grateful that I have amazing instructors enhancing my love of this art form. On top of this list is my Salsa teacher, Yismari Ramos Tellez. Yismari studied at the National School of Art in Havana, Cuba with emphasis on modern and Afro-Cuban folkloric dance. Her career includes dancing with the Tony Menedez Dance Company, the Ballet de la Television, and with Lady Salsa, an internationally renowned group, performing Cuban Son, Mambo, Cha-Cha-Cha, and Salsa.

Yismari has toured internationally in countries such as: Italy, Russia, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Ecuador, Canada and Panama. Now, aside from teaching at OCD and Dance Mission in San Francisco, The Beat in Berkeley, Gold's Gym and Club One in Oakland, and other venues, you can also catch her sing and dance in the Bay Area as member of the band Saoco. Lastly, she's currently the Artistic Director and Soloist with Las Que Son Son.

So, on Cuba's National Teacher's Day, I want to extend my appreciation for Yismari's amazing dancing skills and dedication to her students. Below is a pix of her teaching salsa class on this special day. She had just finished working our butts off on a completely challenging routine, thus the sweaty bunch. Yimari is in the middle with the yellow tank and big smile.

More pix some dancers in our class

Friday, December 18, 2009

Robot Invasion on Shoestring Budget - Fede Alvarez's "Ataque de Panico"

Something amazing has happened in Uruguay. Producer, Fede Alvarez, created a goose bump inducing short about giant robots and streams of spacecrafts invading the capital of Montevideo. Alvarez created the four-minute short, "Ataque de Panico" (Panic Attack) on a mere 300 USD budget. This little investment wielded him an increase by 100,000 fold when Ghost House Pictures (The Grudge, Boogeyman, Legend of the Seeker....) offered him a 30 million deal to create a feature film in the same vein as his short. Watch his initial endeavor below.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cutest Kid Covering "I'm Your's"

Watch this amazing kid attempt one of my favorite song's this year, Jason's Mraz's "I'm Yours."

Jason's Mraz's acoustic version

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Kim Hiorthoy - Hip Iconoclast

Internationally respected graphic artist, filmmaker and electronic musician, Kim Hiorthoy, is producing some amazing music with captivating accompanying visuals. Born in Trondheim, Norway, he studied at this city's Academy of Fine Arts before continuing on at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen and School of Visual Arts in New York. See the graphic to his "My Last Day" LP to the left.

Even with this impressive training, he insists he's an amateur. In a 2004 interview, he elaborated, "I definitely believe in working with an attitude of knowing as little as possible about what you are about to do in order to not be constrained by efforts to 'prove' anything and also to be as open as possible to whatever it is you are about to do. To approach things without the limitations of professionalism." Check out "Alt MÃ¥ste Bli Anorlunda" below.

It is this free attitude that makes his creations so damn good. I'm really grooving on his music at the moment. He's made an astonishing 17 LPs (most are not full length), so there's lots of music to choose from. I'm particularly fond of "Goodbye to Song," with its scratchy background and abrupt stops that nonetheless doesn't disrupt the amazing beats. "This Record Can Not Set," not only has a wonderful toe tapping sound, it also has this amusing manipulated addition mimicking what I perceive as vocals. The cleverly titled, "I thought We Could Eat Friends," is a full on fun dance song that I dare anyone to sit still for.

He brings much of his skills together in his live performances where music and visuals collide. See below.

This multi-talented musician and artist impresses me greatly and I hope you'll give him a try. Check out some of his music on myspace and amazon.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Post War Japanese Photography - Rough, Blurred, out of Focus

Post War Japan marked a major shift in Japanese society. This included (re)defining Japan in the midst of reconstruction and heavy American presence. Young men who lived through the devastation and re-emergence of Japan began recording their surroundings with cameras and coined their approach, “Are, Bure, Boke“-style (rough, blurred, out of focus). Lasting mostly through the 60s and 70s, some of the more well-known images were published in the avant garde photography magazine, Provoke.

San Francisco Modern Art Museum has been collecting this important body of work since the 1970s. A compilation of their holdings appear in their current exhibit, The Provoke Era: Postwar Japanese Photography. Running through to December 20, 2009, this is a must see show!

From the first exhibit image of Moriyama Daido's "Stray Dog" (image above), you get a sense of the grittiness ahead. Indeed, these talented photographers managed to capture the every day in its rawest form. This is seen quite clearly with Yoshiyuki Kohei's "Park" series. Using infra-red, he took pictures of lovers and their voyeristic audience, including himself.
On the other spectrum of the long gaze appears the work of Hosoe Eikoh. His art comes from lighting and the ability to capture the split second the action takes place. "Kamaitachi #31" appears as an image seen behind the human eyes. We know it's fleeting but it is also all at once frozen for all time.

What I truly enjoy about this style of photography is its archival nature. Photographers like Shomei Tomatsu documented the heavy U.S. military presence three decades after occupation. The disdainful look on the soldiers face speaks to an unease experienced by both sides (image below).

With U.S. presence, the Provoke movement also showcased how the Japanese mimicked U.S. pop culture and in some ways making it their own. Watanabe Katsumi's image of three men in sharp suits, cigarettes in hand walking down the red light district mirrors the street life in the U.S. at the time (image below).

Getting the gritty images of Japanese life offers diversity and an alternative to the perfectly stylized images of geishas the west is accustomed to. This comes out in Moriyama's "Eros" series where he takes photos of women in the "love hotels" of Tokyo (image below). The out of focus images offer an erotic glimpse into the sexual practices of urbanites, greatly contradicting images of chaste Japanese ladies.

"Provoke Era" creations are awe inspiring. Aside from the rawness, the beauty of the photography is its archival nature. Photographers simply took a camera with them on their daily walks to capture their surroundings. Sometimes they shot photos while in motion, simulating how our eyes scan images in quick movements. See below Moriyama's city walk.

The success of any exhibit for me is if I feel like creating right as I get home. Though I already carry a point-and-shoot with me everywhere, serving as my own historian, I am now more confident that all my images, however imperfect, has value. So, the exhibit was a huge success for me. Don't miss it!