Forward-thinking and striking to behold, Danish design is known around the world for its clean lines, simple shapes, and its refined attention to experimentation. With such ideas naturally engrained into the cultural identity of the country, it seems only natural that photographers like Denmark's Torkil Gudnason, now a transplant to New York City, would extend such aesthetic qualities into his portrait and still life photography, which explores the many contours and colors of human and floral forms."America is an artistic playground for the world," says Gudnason, who relocated to the United States in 1978 and describes the Danish style as "very ascetic and minimal". In his photography, Gudnason loosens his grip on that style by turning a colorful eye away from the dark Scandinavian winters but never quite forgetting about them. "When I came here, everything was new, but somehow [I found] déjà vu through various media. My work is still quite minimal, even in the more complex images. It's more a way of reduction than addition."
From Gudnason's Body Vase Series, which is inspired by "The need to work on a form that gives birth to the continuation of mankind. A fascination of how close the feminine body is to nature."

"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of indie pop highlights across a selection of styles, updated every month to keep you on your wiggly toes.
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Death Vessel - "Mercury Dime"

The type of song that just demands to be adored, Death Vessel's "Mercury Dime" flies through all jingle-jangling worlds of sonic pleasure, using titillating adjectives like "mercurily blue" to paint a scene that relates human forms to nature. Androgynously-voiced frontman Joel Thibodeau confounds and entices simultaneously on the band's forthcoming full-length album, Island Intervals, which comes out February 25th, 2014 on Sub Pop Records. This is just to wet your appetite for this neo-folk ambiance; catch them on tour this March.  

Efterklang's latest album, Piramida, is more than just an exercise in songwriting; it is an attempt to connect the creation of an album with a specific location. The site where the band chose to record is a veritable ghost town, an abandoned coal-mining colony still controlled by the Russian company that left it behind in 1998. Situated between the Arctic Circle and the North Pole, the place is empty, bitter cold, and only reachable by boat. Piramida shares its name with this strange place, and the eerie and wonderful sounds collected there ultimately comprised the album's distinctive structural elements.
"You can for sure say that the context directs the music in a certain direction. Songs written on guitars come out different than songs written on pianos. A ghost town is quiet and a perfect place to make recordings. It is a brilliant setting for recording sound." - Rasmus Stolbreg of Efterklang
 

There is an inherent danger with really diving full-force into a film festival that has a scope as large as the Seattle International Film Festival. Often, the movies are top notch, well-selected and well-curated, and fit perfectly within the framework of that section of the festival. Other times, after sitting through self-indulgent artsy dribble that someone, somewhere, found interesting enough to greenlight with millions of dollars, you realize sadly that two or more hours of your life will never return. Now that we're through SIFF 2013, we've decided to give the rundown of what we appreciate and what we will never need to watch again.

The African Cypher (South Africa)

Directed by Bryan Little * TOP PICK * Films like The African Cypher showcase what is so great about festivals like SIFF. This documentary takes a long, sweeping look at the different street dance styles across South Africa, where dancing isn't just something people to do for fun, but something people to do to live. Director Bryan Little takes a backseat and lets his story tell itself through captivating dance sequences and enlightening interviews, as his subjects go from the confines of their neighborhoods to compete with the best at the "Big Dance Competition". Although The African Cypher's run has already passed at SIFF, mark it down as a film to place on hold at the library in the near future -- if anything, for the jaw-dropping dance sequences Little captured forever on film. - Peter Woodburn
 

Michael Noer is a gritty realist, concerned with the unstoppable inertia of the city. Crossing back and forth between documentary and fiction, Noer sees no line between the constructed plots of his films and the real-life social fissures in Danish society. His depictions of the malfunctioning systems that entrap youth into a life of crime and poverty are starkly grounded in reality, which makes the characters in his films all the more believable and tragic.

 

Due the unfortunate fact that we are merely human and Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) is just beginning its three-week film rampage, we've sifted through the Festival's gigantic catalog to come up with the best films of the bunch -- or so we suspect. SIFF is annually guaranteed to have a mixture of some of the best and worst films that one can see -- and these film recommendations come from the minds of three REDEFINE writers with good intentions. Yet at best, these selections are our most educated hypotheses, determined from a mixture of film industry knowledge and intuitions based on trailers. Below, we've grouped our selections for 2013 by world region. Stay tuned in the weeks to come, as we offer updates throughout the festival's progression, with general thumbs up and thumbs down summaries of the films we will painfully and enjoyably slog and float through, as well as one-off full-length reviews. Happy SIFFing!

The Portland International Film Festival (PIFF) is upon us again, and we have whittled down their list of 100+ international shorts and full-length films to summarize the most interesting, socially-conscious, and boundary-pushing of the bunch. This year's festival runs from February 7th through the 23rd, beginning with an Opening Night celebration featuring Blancanieves, a silent Spanish reworking of Snow White. Purchase tickets and find out more. Our festival preview begins below with this year's top five picks, followed by the rest in alphabetical order.

Beyond The Hills Directed by Cristian Mungiu (Romania) Based on the novels of Tatiana Niculescu Bran, which are real-life documents of demonic possession, Beyond The Hills is a bleak and stark religious drama set an Orthodox monastery in Moldovia. Though Alina (Cirstina Flutur) heads to the monastery to convince her friend Voichita (Cosmina Stratan) to leave and return to Germany, Alina finds herself sucked more and more into the environment and its callings. Flutur and Stratan both shared the Best Actress Prize at Cannes Film Festival for these performances.          Sat, Feb 9, 2013 at 8:30 PM (Whitsell Auditorium)          Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 7:30 PM (Regal Lloyd Center 4)
Hannah Arendt Directed by Margarethe von Trotta (Germany) Based on the life of German philosopher and writer Hannah Arendt, Hannah Arendt chronicles her writings for The New Yorker on the 1961 war crimes trial of Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann covered a scenario that was not black and white but veiled in greys, causing great conflict and protest amongst an American public and the publication's editing staff. Hannah Arendt is a drama about journalism, and the social duty of reporting as one sees as truthful, rather than as it is idealized or pressured to be.          Sat, Feb 16, 2013 at 8:45 PM (Whitsell Auditorium)          Mon, Feb 18, 2013 at 5:15 PM (Regal Lloyd Center 4)
Laurence Anyways Directed by Xavier Dolan (Canada) Despite being happy and in love, high school teacher Laurence finally reveals to his girlfriend Fred his long-standing desire to become a woman. Fred agrees to support him on his quest, though once the transformations begin, social complications begin to pressure, ostracize, and place fear into the hearts of the couple. Through it all, Laurence Anyways is a tale of love and the ability to weather storms for it.          Sat, Feb 16, 2013 at 8 PM (Cinema 21)          Wed, Feb 20, 2013 at 7 PM (Regal Lloyd Center 10)
Leviathan Directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Véréna Paravel (United States) Leviathan presents experimental filmmaking at its finest or its worst, depending on your opinion of macro-view, immersive documentary art. The New York Film Festival describes Leviathan as "a hallucinatory sensory experience quite unlike any other", and the trailer is seems to assert this with views of commercial fishing, as presented with only abstract sounds and imagery.          Sat, Feb 9, 2013 at 3:15 PM (Whitsell Auditorium)          Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 6 PM (Cinemagic)
Lore Directed by Cate Shortland (Australia) After World War II and the death of Adolf Hitler, five young children are left to fend for themselves when their Nazi SS parents are captured. In an attempt to reach their grandparents in Hamburg, they traverse 500 miles of changing landscapes, meeting unfortunate families along the way and finding a savior in a young Jewish man whose kindness goes against all of their programmed teachings.          Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 7:30 PM (Whitsell Auditorium)          Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 5:45 PM (Regal Lloyd Center 10)

 

Voyeuristic eyes take one through sexually deviant territories in the Thee Oh Sees' "Lupine Dominus" and Kasper Bjørke's "Bohemian Soul". Both music videos contain similar themes and color palettes, but one is reminiscent of methy eye bags and Vegas Old Strip-style filthiness; the other travels halfway across the world to offer a beatific view of Thai ladyboys. See the full post to view both music videos and to hear additional tracks from both artists.

Thee Oh Sees - "Lupine Dominus" Music Video

Kasper Bjørke - "Bohemian Soul" Music Video

 

Remix City Sifting through mountains of remix trash so you don't have to, in an attempt to find the ones that contribute to their originals. Here we feature a group of amazing remixes from the likes of Poolside, FaltyDL and Planningtorock.

 

When Saints Go Machine

The originally haunting and brilliant track from When Saints Go Machine, "Mannequin", was one of their best and most accessible works to date. The Copenhagen-based group have worked with Planningtorock in the past, remixing her single "Living it Out" from last year's spectacular W. With "Mannequin," Planningtorock does some of her most devilish production, warping and distorting the original vocals into something even more powerful than they were on the original. Much like the rest of her catalogue, the remix is atmospheric and thundering, the kind of music that can't be turned up loud enough. The smash of drums and synths between each verse is not only mesmerizing, but the sinking of the music to a quiet tone during each verse makes each round even more powerful than the last. When Saints Go Machine - "Mannequin" (Planningtorock Remix) When Saints Go Machine - "Mannequin" (Original)