Wrapped In Fantastic
Know what music was playing on Laura Palmer’s headphones when they found her? Wasn’t Ice-T, nor NWA. What do you think it was? (Get back to me on that ) Aside from the sound, the memorable bit about her being so dramatically discovered on that spooky Twin Peaks riverbed, was the drawled revelation… ‘she’s wr-a-p-ped in plastic’. Another long-time ponderer of the mysteries implicit with such hidden shapes /forms (aside from the donut chomping David Lynch) is of course Christo, wrapper of large scale land-forms and buildings and renowned large scale environmental artist – or kookbag – depending on your take.
Sydney’s Little Bay met Christo in 1968-69 – when he produced ‘Wrapped Coast’ – completely covering a cliff-lined shore area approximately 2.4 kilometers christo_coaster.jpglong, 46 to 244 metres wide, 26 meters high at the northern cliffs, and at sea level at the southern sandy beach – with a cloth fabric!! It was all paid for – like all of his works – by Christo & his partner Jean Claude who pay for all of their multi-million dollar projects through the sale of related artwork and preliminary sketches etc. There’s more than a good dozen of these crazy projects under their belt now, with the next planned for New York’s Central Park in 2005 ( see www.thegateswork.com if you are interested in applying for a temporary job working on it ).
There’s more to these projects than meets the bemused eye, when say looking at a Miami island surrounded by kilometres of pink fabric – and friends and film-makers Albert & David Maysles have been capturing some of the fascinating processes involved with these projects for over 30 years. The fruits of this extensive documentary making are now available in a collection of films across 3 DVDs on the quite cool plexifilm.com DVD label ( distro-ed in oz thru stomp.com.au ) and include a video interview with the Christo & Jeanne-Claude, an 82 page booklet with essays, project histories and exclusive photos and a lot of behind the scenery stuff : where the real merits of the projects shine – the ways they manage to engage, provoke and interconnect communities, the ways they manage to navigate the endless bureaucracies of ze modern world to complete their projects and of course the sheer scale and spectacle of the works themselves. In the midst of passionately debating the artistic merits of the very bridge (just wrapped ) they are standing on, one Frenchmen brings a pause when he says:
“If this bridge wasn’t wrapped, we would never have spoken to each other, ever.”
Graphic Agitation 2:
Social & Political Graphics in the Digital Age
Hair is often described as our ‘cosmic antennae’ – while this doesn’t explain much about the ebb and flow contemporary hair fashions amidst saturated airwaves and people going wireless bananas, it’s a cute idea. Similarly cute is the idea that the ‘Digital Age’ somehow finds us more politicised, more able to voice our concerns, more able to express our views, more able to mobilise communities and more able to organise and interconnect alternatives to events, decisions or power structures we may not like. I like that cute idea, but whether it is making a difference is another whole… on second thought of course it is. Liz McQuiston has just released a huge compilation through Phaidon ( in oz thru bookwise.com.au ) of the changing nature of political and social graphics as we sink into interface world a little more. Think adbusters, reclaim the streets, warstopping, animal lib, more vegans than you can poke a stick at, graffiti, schnews, mclibel, the united colors of benetton etc etc and tis easy to imagine flipping thru the 236 large full-colour pages of activist-porn.
Chapters lead us with text and themes from the last 3 decades of protest graphics, to ‘eco-wars and resistance to capitalism’, ‘satire, subversion & subvertising’, ‘perceptions of war’ and ‘fighting for human rights’. It’s a powerful read, and almost heartening to look at so many people striving for a better world – though plenty of the gags reasonably just rely on taking the piss. The title is a little misleading though, for despite all of the cleverly / kookily photoshopped posters snapped on the streets, there’s little coverage of the vast body of electronic artists who aren’t using the print medium. Plenty of history and context surround most pictures and campaigns though, and so aside from finding a large picture of Hilary Clinton in bondage gear on page 99, or Marlboro man worrying about chemotherapy, or other gags, there’s much to be chewed on when you find yourself nestling in a certain couple of pages. It’s a gorgeous design book too, so if peeps be browsing through the likes of this for inspiration, the more the merrier.
Arnie Quote of the week:
Fresh from persuading US voters to re-elect Bush, Arnie took time out to send Technoscape this Rolling Stone Magazine interview snippet from his bodybuilder days:
“I feel you only can have a few leaders,’ [Arnold] says in a guttural, confident voice, ‘and then the rest is followers. I feel that I am the born leader and that I’ve always impressed with being the leader. I hate to be the follower. When I was a little boy’. I didn’t think about money. I thought about the fame, about just being the greatest. I was dreaming about being some dictator of a country or some savior like Jesus . . .”