Sunday, September 05, 2004

Recently I was reminded about a notion I had of exploring the threads of connected films. Sort of "six degrees of Six Degrees of Separation". It began after watching The Seven Samurai, by master director, Akira Kurosawa. Knowing that the film had inspired The Magnificent Seven, and Western film makers such as Sergio Leone, and Sam Peckinpah I decided to revisit the classic and rented the DVD. While listening to the special features commentary, I was surprised to hear Michael Jeck remark that Kurosawa had been greatly influenced by John Ford's western Stagecoach. Essentially, Seven Samurai was Kurosawa's Japanese take on the American Western genre. It was a Christmas week gorging of videos when I had watched "Samurai", and as a gift I had received A Bug's Life which I proceeded to watch. To my surprise, I watched Bug's Life with newly opened eyes. I was essentially watching "Seven Samurai as Ants". A desparate village, convince a group of seven outsiders to protect them from a marauding gang of thugs. I mean, that's the description of "Seven Samurai", "The Magnificent Seven" and "A Bug's Life" isn't it? One fine point is that in A Bug's Life there are actually nine outsiders, yet "Tuck and Roll" are really one character and "Manny and Gypsy" are the sort of spiritual character divided into a husband and wife magic act. Andrew Stanton of Pixar claims the film began as a take on the old ant and the grasshopper fable. That may be, but the movie certainly ends up being much closer to The Magnificent Seven/Seven Samurai tale. There also may be a connection to be made between the sequences where the 'Flik' character wanders amazed into the city and the 1941 Fleischer Studios feature Mr. Bug Goes to Town in which a community of bugs are threatened by construction and must leave their home before it's too late, but that's another paper all together.

Monday, August 23, 2004

The seemingly defunct magazine U&lc - Upper & Lower Case published by the type foundry, ITC, maintains a life online. This series of articles is about the past and present of each letter in the English Alphabet. Typographers and type setters are often such zealots that their knowledge of the printed letter can often be overwhelming and embarrassing to even the most experienced designers. Be less embarrassed and read these concise and informative articles. Despite the zeal for type design, the folks at ITC look like they really haven't embraced the Internet as they haven't changed their web site since the late ninties when they first shifted the magazine's format from print to HTML. The site itself looks like an ode to dial-up sites, and has an oddly amateur feel to it. Still, it's worth the trip to enjoy the well organized and well written articles.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Color in Motion is a Flash-based "Interactive Experience of Color Communication and Color Symbolism".

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

30 Danish furniture designers, each assigned two cabinetmakers, were asked to create a piece of furniture from a single hardwood plank. See the resulting exhibit, Walk the Plank and be inspired or pisssed that you didn't think of it yourself. Each design is credited to the team of designer and cabinetmakers, illustrating just how collaborative a process design can be.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Sisters are doin' it for themselves. Yesterday Zaha Hadid was announced as the first female recipient of the Priztker Architecture Prize. Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi born British citizen has been rumoured to take the prestigious prize for some time. Hopefully, Ms Hadid will not be the lone female laureate, and that in the future, other talented female architects will be recognized. Up 'til now, the Priztker club had been a decidedly male dominated group. The prize was first awarded in 1979 to Philip Johnson.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

The Oscar for Best Animated Short is arguably one of the biggest acheivements an independent animator can hope for. Certainly, it's the most well known. A nomination garners attention and winning can be a spring board to more funding or bigger projects. Recently, studios such as Pixar have created shorts for theatrical release but for the most part these films are the orphans of the film world. The tradition of cartoons before features is long gone as such a film would eat into the vendors confection sales or their advertising time. Too short even for Teletoon or the Cartoon Network, these films can only hope to be picked up to play in a festival or added to a compilation such as Spike and Mike's Festival of Animation. CBC's late night youth oriented arts showcase, Zed, has been one of the few places experimental short films can be seen in this country. Thank goodness then for Animation World Network's Oscar showcase. Watch clips of this and previous year's nominees in both the Short and Feature Length categories, and check out the winning short, "Harvie Krumpet".

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The most entertaining, intelligent, and important program yet created in this, the first (perhaps only) century of television is, of course, The Simpsons. If McLuhan had lived long enough I'm sure he would have been a fan. The quintessential Modern comedy, The Simpsons have drawn together, young and old alike. It's been the ultimate pop culture common denominator for over a decade. While the Official Simpsons site is good - it just doesn't have everything that the fan site has. Like lyrics to all those great Simpsons songs. And everybody knows, fan sites were why the Web was invented in the first place.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

It's actually been an interesting day for design nerds like myself here in Toronto.
Third Uncle's renovation and addition to The Drake Hotel on Queen is finished. The Hotel's unique combination of salon, gallery, hotel and lounge have been eagerly awaited by the local bohemes and the curious alike. Construction has been going on for some time, stalled variously by budgets and blackouts. For awhile, my streetcar diverted along Queen and I was able to follow their progress daily. Today, by coincidence, I took the Queen street car and snapped this very blurry pictureas we passed by. See better shots on Third Uncle's site.

Also, today DaimlerChrysler announced in time for this year's Toronto Auto Show that they will be bringing their infectiously cute SmartCar to the Canadian market for the fall of 2004. Fully two years in advance of their previous estimate for bringing this car to the North American market. The frame is manufactured by the Magna plant in France.Who knows? At the estimated $16,500 - $18,000 CDN price tag, maybe dreams can come true.
One more design note is that the Independent reported today that "Jonathan Ive, the designer of the iPod, the iMac and
the iBook, has been recognised by being voted top of a list of Britain's 50 most influential cultural figures. The list, compiled by leading figures in the worlds of fashion, the arts, media and design, has been compiled for the first birthday of BBC3." 

Monday, February 09, 2004

Another day, another Web site appears on the ever expanding net. Bellamachina.com is launched and taken her maiden voyage. The site is a repository [suppository?] for the many works of art and design, environments and images that enrich and denegrate our lives.