It’s tempting to think of SXSW Eco as the weird hippie brother of the massive music-film-interactive-free-vodka-was-that-Bill-Murray-and-RZA? festival. In reality, SXSW Eco is South By Southwest’s chic sister, just back from Les Ateliers and looking for ways to change the world while classing the joint up a bit. The conference, now...

Album Covers of the Year 2014
In contrast to modern patterns in music consumption comes our annual Album Covers of the Year feature, where, instead of forgetting album artwork even exists, we hyperextend ourselves to assert that it is an artform that is vitally connected to the spirit of the music. This feature, which is divided at times into thematic elements and at times into artistic medium, incorporates interviews with not only musicians, but also artists involved throughout the artistic process. We pride this list in being diverse and multi-faceted, as well as philosophically exploratory. See all of our entries from previous years or get started by choosing a category below. Happy travels through the artistic universe we've crafted for you.
A sense of psychogeography hums underneath the surface of a lot of music. Yet in Glasser's new album, Interiors, it is not just present, but a part of the thematic foundation. Not too long after Glasser's Cameron Mesirow released her debut album, Ring, in 2010, she moved from her horizon-stretching home state of California to the vertically-crammed spaces of New York. In a city where space is premium, "space" would become a fixation for Interiors, a guiding concept for a collection of textured electronic songs that are both dense enough with ideas to fittingly reflecting the physical environment that they were nurtured in, as well as sonically expansive enough to stretch and breathe unconfined.
Glasser Band Interview Feature Text by Ian King; Original Interview by Ingmar Carlson
To express questions of context, displacement and fragmented identity, what better medium could there be than the nature of assemblage in collage? Image artifacts are laid bare while hypothetical situations construct parallel universes. The familiar falls in rhythm with the bizarre. Framed in conscious composition, such vivid and dreamlike landscapes are manipulated at the hands of North Carolina-based collage artist Bryan Olson. Bryan Olson Collage Artist InterviewBryan Olson Collage Artist Interview Olson interprets the remains of vintage magazines and other paper paraphernalia to illustrate a recreated mythology. Exaggerated idols can be found in the most unassuming of inanimate objects, as in the towering pink liquids of Delicious Land; humans are translated into curious anomalies within environments never to be encountered. Even the simplest geometric shapes are given new context. The glory that saturates symbolism in his ordered universe recalls, with little effort, the naivety of space exploration and human pursuit of knowledge. Every image by Olson is characterized by the familiar presence of the Earth or objects of earthly origin, yet deliberate fragmentation makes them feel extraterrestrial. In further emphasis to this refrain, overt images of astronomy intensify Olson's dialogues with people, places and structures. Yet, by maintaining a rooted sense of natural flow within his collage, Bryan Olson engages with the absurdity of human behavior and the scope of the massive cosmic entities without, on the most part, seeming psychedelic.
There is no romance as elusive and magnetic as that between body and space. The pursuit of distinctive identity, formulaic functions and ideal wholeness between the human self and environment (naturally encountered or human-created) has impressed upon every aesthetic expression. Vedas, a collaborative photographic project between Nicholas Alan Cope and Dustin Edward Arnold, continues this dialogue in a language of human anonymity and geometric presence. Chambers, hallways and corners resonate with sensuality; architectural elements take on a humanized significance within their space. Textures are explored in fine detail -- but it is really light that has the most mass in Cope’s photography. We are challenged with the spectacle of geometry and light as identities within space, not as places or unintentional frameworks.
“Thanks to the mutual enlivening of body and landscape, a place constantly overflows its own boundaries. Uncontainable on its near edge, it flows back into the body that subtends it; uncontainable on its far side, it flows outward into the circumambient world.” – Edward S. Casey
Los Angeles-based artist Rob Sato is more than a painter of fantastical watercolor dreamscapes. Challenging his own magnificent talent as a masterful visual creator, Sato is also a prolific consumer of culture. Profoundly influenced by historical events, dynamic music, and piles of life-changing books, he is able to channel many diverse creative explorations into colorfully horrific and disarmingly beautiful works of art; his work is an intriguing amalgam of childhood fantasies and literary consequence, adeptly bridging the gap between fantasy and reality.
"Writing feels like it comes from a separate part of the brain than where imagery generates from, so when I'm having trouble on a painting, I can turn to the writing to think about things from a different angle." -- Rob Sato

 

Cyclopean Cyclopean Mute Records / Spoon Records (2013) Named after an ancient construction style involving stacks of irregularly-shaped rocks, Cyclopean is an instrumental quartet comprised of Burnt Friedman, Jono Podmore, and two founding members of Can, Jaki Liebezeit and Irmin Schmidt. In line with their namesake, Cyclopean piece together disjointed building blocks to form sonic megaliths, as if to stress not just the importance of an impressive final form, but of minute attention to detail as well. Repetition and minimalism go hand-in-hand on Cyclopean; finely-tuned percussive components and well-placed electronic drones, noises, and theremin textures comprise the foundation of the record. Though the EP initially weighs heavy, it grows increasingly airy as it progresses. By its end, it has been loosened from its restrictive ground tethers, ready to float off like a castle in the sky.

 

In this back-to-back exploration of animal portraiture, the bleak reality of unwanted shelter dogs contrasts sharply against the vividness of exotic animals set against brilliant backdrops. Ultimately, both celebrate life and humanity's relationship to the animal kingdom, though in vastly different ways. The full post includes personal summaries on what each artist hopes to accomplish with the series. (12 IMAGES TOTAL)

 

Karen Knorr

In Karen Knorr's India Song series, she digitally inserts rare and wild animals, from cranes and tigers to elephants, in ornate north Indian buildings. Where Yun-Fei Tou's appeal to human nature is more obvious (below), Knorr's is more veiled and steeped in cultural knowledge. According to her website, "The photographic series considers men's space (mardana) and women's space (zanana) in Mughal and Rajput palace architecture, havelis and mausoleums through large format digital photography."
The Queen's Room, Zanana, Udaipur City Palace

Yun-Fei Tou

For his Memento Mori series, Taiwanese photographer Yun-Fei Tou has taken over 40,000 portraits of dogs just hours away from euthanization. By seating the dogs in upright, human-like positions, they become almost human-like, giving viewers more to relate to. "I believe something should not be told but should be felt," says Tou, in an interview with Huffington Post. "And I hope these images will arouse the viewers to contemplate and feel for these unfortunate lives, and understand the inhumanity we the society are putting them through."
12:09PM, 10/24/2011, Taiwanese Public Animal Shelter, Time until Euthanized: 1.9 Hours