Category Archives: Popular Culture

Allegories of Occupation

Our Lady of Liberty Park.  Molly Crabapple.  2012-13. "Occupy Wall Street. An anatomy of Zuccotti park, from the free cigarette table to the obnoxious drum circle to the people's library, with appearances by Tim Pool, Shamar Thomas and Tony Bologna. All signage is authentic, especially 'Shit is Fucked up and bullshit'." --Crabapple
Our Lady of Liberty Park. Molly Crabapple. 2012-13.
“Occupy Wall Street. An anatomy of Zuccotti park, from the free cigarette table to the obnoxious drum circle to the people’s library, with appearances by Tim Pool, Shamar Thomas and Tony Bologna. All signage is authentic, especially ‘Shit is Fucked up and bullshit’.” –Crabapple

To celebrate May Day, New-York-based artist and illustrator Molly Crabapple released hi-res images of her recent collection, Shell Game, on Creative Commons. I have posted five images here; the rest can be found on Crabapple’s website.

The project takes the form of nine 6’x4′ paintings and one 3’x3′ painting, all of which depict and comment upon the various crises, occupations, protests, and revolutions that happened throughout 2011. Check out some of my favourites, after the jump. Continue reading Allegories of Occupation


When He’s Not Stomping Tokyo . . .

Of all the Japanese movie monsters, Godzilla isn’t only the most famous, he’s the smoothest, most fun-lovin’ mutha of them all!

He’s a real old-fashioned gentleman . . .

. . . yet he has a smouldering desire that cannot be quenched.

His background in music-theatre really made him a triple threat in the swingin’ sixties . . .

. . . at least until that Kaiju-Blue Hawaii project tanked and almost brought Toho Co., Ltd. down with it.

True, he does have bit of a taste for the sake . . .

. . . but he always comes through for the kids.

And when its all over . . .


The Death of the Reader

Cover for The Diamond Club.
The Diamond Club is a “fake” erotic fiction book that broke into the top five on iTunes paid ebooks in a matter of days. The authors, comic podcasters Brian Brushwood and Justin Young, noticed that iTunes top ten is dominated by erotic fiction, following on the success of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades trilogy, which currently takes position in the top three. Wondering how easily and quickly they could capitalize on the moment, the two crowdsourced material from their fanbase and cobbled together a novel, the only consistency of which lies in the names of its main characters and an abundance of sex. With a 99-cent price tag and a convincing Fifty-Shades-ish cover, Brushwood and Young have roundly trolled James’ books and, at the same time, delivered a pitch-perfect illustration for any undergraduate professor teaching Roland Barthes.

In the final paragraph of “The Death of the Author,” Barthes writes that the “total existence of writing,” the very ontology of literature, is essentially a crowdsourced effort: “a text is made of multiple writings, drawn from many cultures and entering into mutual relations of dialogue, parody, contestation, but there is one place where this multiplicity is focused and that place is the reader, not, as was hitherto said, the author. The reader is the space on which all the quotations that make up a writing are inscribed without any of them being lost; a text’s unity lies not in its origin but in its destination.” With this in mind, he declares that “the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author.”

While the The Diamond Club may be indicative of this post-authorial scene of literature to an almost painfully obvious degree, I wonder if it is also indicative of the reader’s death.

In that same final paragraph, Barthes writes that the reader, as the destination of the text, “cannot any longer be personal: the reader is without history, biography, psychology; he is simply that someone who holds together in a single field all the traces by which the written text is constituted. Which is why it is derisory to condemn the new writing in the name of a humanism hypocritically turned champion of the reader’s rights.” This anti-humanist sentiment certainly rang with a revolutionary tone for Barthes, promising a fully democratized or socialized literature. Today, however, it seems to me to point to something potentially much more cynical: that there may no longer be a “reader” who unifies, “in a single field,” the “tissue of quotations” that constitute any particular text. Instead, there may only be that distracted someone, identified as a series of overlapping demographic markets, whose increasingly fragmented field of attention is bought and sold by trolls of all sorts.

Failed Sorcery at Menlo Park

Sam Van Olffen, Eve Future.  Many of Van Olffen’s images have become synonymous with steampunk and dieselpunk.  See more of his work at Blogspot.

The description that the fictionalized Thomas Edison gives, in Villers’ L’Eve Future, of the inner workings of the android Hadaly is entirely fabricated. It is a brilliantly imaginative bricolage of extrapolations based on Edison’s productions up to the early-to-mid 1880s (the novel was initially published in 1886).  The centerpiece of Hadaly’s design is a twin set of golden phonograph records that house the sum of her physiological and conversational behaviour.  In the novel, Edison is of course rather vague on the finer points of how this set up works in practice, at times suggesting that Hadaly would be able to respond appropriately to particular gestures and queries put to her, while at others he appears more modest in his claims, implying that her activities would run on a set schedule to which one would more or less become accustomed. Continue reading Failed Sorcery at Menlo Park

Children: The Ancient Dream of Artificial Life

Why are humans so obsessed with recreating themselves? . . . Children have always been excluded from the customary standards of human behavior, if you define humans as beings who possess a conventional identity and act out of free will. Then what are children who endure in the chaos preceding maturity? They differ profoundly from ‘humans,’ but they obviously have human form. The dolls that little girls mother are not surrogates for real babies. Little girls aren’t so much imitating child rearing as they are experiencing something deeply akin to child rearing. . . . Raising children is the simplest way to achieve the ancient dream of artificial life. At least, that’s my hypothesis.

Forensic Analyst Haraway
Mamoru Oshii, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, Production I.G., 2004.

The Erotics of Anatomy

I have always been fascinated by the culture of anatomy: by the practice of dissection, by anatomical illustrations, anatomical models.  As a child I always coveted the Incredible Visible Man and Visible Woman toys, though I can’t remember where or how I found out about these things.

Visible Man and Visible Woman model kits. The Man and Woman had clear plastic “skin” that you would fill with the organs and skeleton. Sort of like Mr Potato Head turned inside-out.

In recent days, I have found circulating around the web a number of digitally manipulated photographs by Dutch artist, Koen Hauser.  The series is called Modische Atlas der Anatomie (Fashionable, Trendy, or Stylish Atlas of Anatomy), and deliberately confuses fashion models with anatomical models. Continue reading The Erotics of Anatomy