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

 

Dead Oceans' Sun Airway, comprised of Philadelphia's Jon Barthmus and Patrick Marsceill, is are not only indie pop extraordinaires, but are musicians with an understanding of aural-visual relationships. The choices they make in selecting collaborators result in visuals richly sympathetic to their musical output and evoke the same sense of wonder and romance that their music does. The album cover for Sun Airway's 2012 release, Soft Fall, is adorned with a beautiful woman caught beneath a stringed web of falling flowers, porcelain china, and fine silver. It was painstakingly crafted by Japanese art collective NAM. In the bi-lingual Japanese and English interview and feature below, Barthmus and NAM's art director and designer Takayuki Nakazawa offer their perspectives on the creative process, as we further explore the work of both parties.
JAPANESE TO ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS BY MORGAN HARKNESS Takayuki Nakazawa (NAM): Our aim was to perfectly match the world of Sun Airway's music and take that world of sound and enlarge its image visually. I believe that the music and the cover visuals that go with the creation of an album have an extremely intimate relationship. Music and visuals have the power to overcome country and language to convey a message. Creating something so intimate between the US and Japan was an incredible experience, and most of all it was fun! We would like to take this opportunity to extend our appreciation to Jon Barthmus for inviting us to this wonderful project. 私達が今回目指したのはSun Airwayの音楽の世界と完全にマッチし、さらに音の世界をビジュアルによってイメージの視覚的拡大をする事でした。アルバム制作における音楽とカバービジュアルは本来とても密接な関係性をもっているものだと思います。音楽やビジュアルは言語や国境を超えて伝達していく力があり、今回、日本とアメリカの間で密な相互関係をもって制作が行われた事は、私達にとって大変良い経験で、なによりも楽しかった!このような素敵なプロジェクトに私達を誘ってくれたJon Barthmusさんに、この場をお借りして感謝をしたいと思います。

 

Multi-faceted director Ryan Staake of Pomp&Clout has created a music video this year that arguably blows his previous ones out of the water. Using dance as its centerpiece, Staake's video for Diplo's "Set It Off" focuses on the glam element in the art of striptease. Hyperreal, high-resolution camera footage blends with fantastical, over-the-top elements to create a vertically unraveling video that recalls space travel as much as it does a dingy club. In the conversational back-and-forth between Staake and his producers T.S. Pfeffer and Robert McHugh, readers will gain an understanding of the physical, technological, and artistic scale of this project, along with the process behind its shiny, mirrored infinitude. And before you jump in, keep "cocaine-Vegas" and "infinite stripper pole" in mind as buzz words, for they are perhaps the most accurate descriptions possible.
"I've always been into creating videos which appear seamless, with little to no sense of edits... Several months before the request to make a video for “Set It Off” came through, I’d shot some test footage of a friend pole dancing, and loved the look of it... there was definite sexiness to it, but the potential to add a bit of class to the depiction of beautiful, strong women showing off their skills." -- Ryan Staake, Director

 

"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of pop music highlights across a selection of styles. Brooklyn sister duo Prince Rama return with one of their boldest and most well-formulated conceptual spins on their own music yet with their latest record, Top Ten Hits Of The End Of The World. This post samples some tracks and goes into details about the bands and backstories they've invented, their Kickstarter-funded DIY film, their "So Destroyed" dance contest, and a shared recording with Sun Araw. SEE: FULL POST + ALL TOP POP COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS

 

Top Ten Hits For The End Of The World Tracks & Backstories

Prince Rama have long been about chasing the conceptual with their multimedia-encompassing theatrics, but their latest idea, Top Ten Hits For The End Of The World, takes our collective 2012 fascination with the apocalypse and turns it into a most playful collection of pop hits. In my opinion, this record, which is comprised of ten tracks from ten fictional bands -- all of which have extensive back stories crafted by the girls themselves -- is the duo's strongest to date. With Ariel Pink lo-fi vibes but with collation of genres both fictional and invented ("cosmic disco", "motorcycle rock", and "ghost-modern glam", to name a few), the model of Top Ten Hits... frees the girls from the binds of expectation and allows the to run free on all fronts. Rage Peace - "So Destroyed" (as channeled by Prince Rama) For the album's first single, Prince Rama took on the nihilistic protest band Rage Peace's violent-turned-pop songs. According to the press release, "Rage Peace formed as a small protest band in the early 90s and before they knew it they were the Bob Dylans of a whole generation of angry youth. They became founding members of the Rage Peace movement, based on the principle of nihilism as the only true order, and wrote songs with violent messages placed in seemingly saccharine pop structures. The band was notorious for staging organized acts of violence and destruction, burning cars and sometimes buildings in the name of chaos. When the end came, their bodies were found locked inside a limousine they had set on fire. The license plate read 'HEY U'."

 

If you live in NYC or are visiting it soon, get to New Museum by the end of the month if you know what's good for ya! Closing January 2nd is this amazing, amazing enveloping psychedelic sculptural Experience, presented by Germany's Carsten Höller (now living and working in Sweden). Where else will you see giant life-size multi-colored hippos? Nowhere. Where else will you be presented with giant tri-shroom composites? Nowhere.
new museum carsten holler This is, according to the New Museum website, "the most comprehensive US exhibition to date of the artist’s engaging work." They continue by saying:
"The current show gathers together a number of the artist’s signature works in an arrangement that transforms the viewer’s experience of time and space. Originally trained as a scientist, Höller is frequently inspired by research and experiments from scientific history and deploys these studies in works that alter the audience’s physical and psychological sensations, inspiring doubt and uncertainty about the world around them. His work often draws on social spaces outside of the museum such as the amusement park, zoo, or playground, but the experiences they provide are always far from our usual expectations of these activities. Höller’s art takes the form of proposals for radical, new ways of living by creating sculptures and diagrams for visionary architecture as well as transportation alternatives, such as his renowned slide installations. These concepts may seem impossible in the present day, but suggest new models for the future."

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame Directed by Tsui Hark and starring Andy Lau, Li BingBing, Carina Lau China, 2010 Loosely based on the adventures of historical figure Di Renjie, Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame is a fun and fantastical mystery/thriller...

This is an oldie but goodie from our back catalog. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE THESE IMAGES IN PRINT. Collages are a dime a dozen these days, with both digital collages and paper collages being artforms with teeny tiny learning curves. It seems that almost anyone can create...

Flatcolor Gallery does an ace thing once again, with Obsessive Repulsive, curated by Ryan Bubnis! Bubnis, alongside Jesse Reno and Skinner, will be displaying new works that are simultaneously adorable and depressing/brutal, and the freedom each of them has when creating new forms is evident....

[caption id="attachment_614" align="aligncenter" width="419" caption="From http://orionsaint.tumblr.com/"][/caption] Make no bones about it, TRON: Legacy is not a good film. It’s not even that entertaining of a movie. But it’s hard to pinpoint just exactly why there’s such disappointment with this franchise cash-in. There have been worse, less...