Monday, October 09, 2006

Limbo: The Game

(Click for larger version)

(Click for larger version)

I'm not really in the habit of posting about videogame art (just art inspired by videogames,) but every once in a while, something comes along that grabs my attention. Limbo is one of those. You can tell from the above screenshots that the game is highly stylised - My impression that that you, as the small Boy in Silhouette, have to run around a forest and an industrial factory and avoid being smushed by falling boxes and impaled by spikey trees. The 2-dimensional, sidescrolling aspect of the game reminds me of classics like "Out Of This World" and "Flashback" (both by Delphine Software), but the fact that the designers of Limbo have chosen to present the game not only entirely in black and white but also almost exclusively in silhouette appeals to me.

The website is perversely void of information about this game - how far along it is, when it might be released, even information on the storyline - but what is there is more than enough to pique anyone's interest. If anyone knows anything more, feel free to email me.

Friday, September 29, 2006


. Tony Millionaire, comique artiste extraordinaire, has just released Der Strewwelmaakies, his third Maakies collection (and the followup to When We Were Maakies and The House at Maakies Corner.) If you've never opened your town's local independent-press news-rag and have thus deprived yourself of the chance to experience that which is Maakies, you could do worse than to pick up a copy. Unless you have an aversion to drunkenness, bodily excretions and the nautical life, that is.

. Electric Tiki is releasing a limited-edition 3-D sculpture (a full dimension higher than the two you are currently experiencing reading this!) of Ragnar's "The Maltese Chimp" - in four delicious flavours, no less. There's nothing like a drunk monkey harrassing a hot skeptical chick to liven up your work-station. You lily-liver.

. Displaying depths of hitherto-unknown hipness, "Weird" Al Yankovic has hired a number of very cool animators to create videos
for many of the original songs on his recently-released album, Straight Outta Lynwood: Bill Plimpton tackles "Don't Download This Song", John Kricfalusi and Katie Rice accomplish the astonishingly unlikely and "sex up" Weird Al in the video for "Close But No Cigar", and the kids behind Robot Chicken try their hand at "Weasel Stomping Day". All of these videos (and more!) are available on the DualDisc edition of the album currently for sale on Amazon, along with a Dolby 5.1 mix of the entire album. Sweet, sweet parody never looked, or sounded, better.

Remixing The Magic

Greg Simkins
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Rich Tuzon
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Jose Emroca Flores
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Joe Ledbetter
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Ryan Bubnis
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Alex Kirwan
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Last February, Los Angeles-based Gallery Nineteen Eighty-Eight opened their "Remixing the Magic: 50 Artists Reinterpret Disney Classics" exhibit (photos courtesy of Vinyl Pulse,) another entry in their series of themed group exhibits. It is, in a word, awesome. The list of contributors is comprised of an equal mix of underground pop artists (Jose Emroca Flores, Luke Chueh, Tim Biskup) and contemporary animation artists (Katie Rice, Alex Kirwan.) I'm particularly fond of Kirwan's homage to Ub Iwerks and his classic dancing-skeleton cartoons (pictured above,) and Greg Simkins' deliciously malevolent, yet somehow spot-on, tributes to Pinocchio and Disney's golden age.

While I'm hoping that "Remixing the Magic" gets the same treatment as their "I AM 8-BIT" group exhibit and is eventually released in book form, I'm not altogether optimistic, primarily because Disney has a virtual copyright stranglehold on their mascots. If the collection is ever published, chances are Disney will want to be involved in everything from layout design to distribution, and while this may result in wider availability and greater exposure for many of these artists (which would be far from awful,) it would also mean that Gallery Nineteen Eighty-Eight would play a much-reduced role and may in fact be cut out of the process altogether. It has been pointed out elsewhere that these artists are reclaiming what essentially, these days, amount to corporate logos, but which were once symbolic of the wonderful, whimsical power of the animation of our childhoods.

It's a ballsy move, especially in a cultural environment where copyright law has been so blown out of proportion that accidental violators are dragged into court and sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars. And it brings up the question, "Does an artist's visual style constitute parody in and of itself, thereby freeing it from litigation under the fair use doctrine? Or is any drawing of Mickey Mouse a potential infringement?"

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I AM 8-BIT, pt. II

Back in April, I wrote about the I AM 8-BIT group exhibit at Gallery Nineteen Eighty-Eight (who, incidentally, with their recent Disney-themed "Remixing the Magic" group exhibit - expect an update on that sometime this week - along with I AM 8-BIT, are rapidly becoming one of my favorite L.A. pop art gallery.)

Today I finally received my copy of "I AM 8-BIT: Art Inspired By Classic Videogames of the 80s" from Amazon, and... wow. Considering the remarkably low price ($15 plus shipping,) I was not expecting it to be even half as lovely as it actually is. Every one of its 156 pages reproduces a glossy, full-colour print that was featured in the show, and although it doesn't provide complete coverage - there are a few works from the exhibit that are nowhere to be found here, and a few that I suspect were actually done after the show, specifically for inclusion in the book - it is certainly a comprehensive look at 8-bit videogame-inspired art.

There are art books and there are art books. This is the sort of book you actually want on your coffee table: anyone under the age of 30 is going to freak right out when they see it. Forget "Historic Barns of Minnesota" - Do yourself a favour and order this book right now. Or wait for the second volume to come out (no guarantees, of course, but they've had at least two seperate I AM 8-BIT shows, so Gallery 1988 has no shortage of material) and order them together. You won't regret it.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Femke Hiemstra

Cheery Cooky


Lucky the Cat

Dutch artist and designer Femke Hiemstra has an incredibly unique and quirky Lowbrow style that evokes the work of Mark Ryden, Robert Williams, and Gary Taxali. I'm quite fond of her cheerful, cartoonish characters and innovative concepts, and I find her to be considerably less cynical than the artists mentioned above (who, as much as I love them, all tend to be rather consistently creepy in their work.) On her website Femtasia, Hiemstra sells prints, shirts and buttons, and while it all looks to be of excellent quality, I'm most impressed with the button designs. Unlike some artists, Hiemstra seems deeply unpretentious and down-to-earth, recognising the convoluted, interwoven relationship between art and commerce, and the fact that she is willing to translate her art into merchandise and sell it to, well, anyone (and not just the people who can afford five hundred bucks for a print) is refreshingly egalitarian. I highly, highly recommend ordering a handful of her buttons or a couple of patches (which she has awesomely dubbed "Gewgaws") or even a Giclée print, which are a veritable steal at 145 Euros each. Prints can be ordered through her website, and buttons, Gewgaws and shirts can be ordered either directly from her or via Buzzworks.

Femke Hiemstra will also be participating in the international "Ladies Only" show at Vancouver's own Tart Gallery, March 8th and 9th. Since it's in my hometown, I'll be making a point of checking it out, and I encourage anyone in the area to do so as well.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Cartoon Skeletons

"Hello Kitty", Michael Paulus

"Betty Boop", Michael Paulus

"Marvin the Martian", Michael Paulus

"B11 (Mus Animatus)", Hyungkoo Lee

"Geococcyx Animatus", Hyungkoo Lee

"Anas Animatus", Hyungkoo Lee

Michael Paulus' "Skeletal Systems" figure study of 22 cartoon characters has been around for a while - since 1998, in fact - and I've always considered it one of the, if not the, coolest and most novel take on the concept of anatomical analysis I've ever seen. Along with the characters pictured above, the series includes dissections of Pikachu, Charlie Brown, and the Powerpuff Girls - all of them, I might add, conforming to the precise anatomical requirements of their owners. On top of the tremendous novelty factor already present in this concept, I also find it highly amusing that Paulus has chosen to present his work in the way that he has, with semi-transparent overlays on top of parchment paper, in the style of a 19th C. medical textbook insert. Seriously, how cool is that?

Taking a cue from Paulus, Korean artist Hyungkoo Lee goes a step further with the concept of "cartoon skeleton" and actually builds the damn things, out of resin and aluminum. His series, called "Animatus", is currently featured in installation at the Arario Gallery in Seoul until October 8th, but luckily for anyone not currently living in Korea, the gallery has put up an in-depth video (Quicktime) taking a look not only at the installation itself, but also at Lee's process in designing and constructing the skeletons, apparently working from his lab\studio housed within the gallery itself.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Greg Broadmore and Weta Workshop

"Act Now!" Poster
(Click for Larger Version)

Manmelter 3600ZX
Sub-Atomic Disintegrator Pistol
(Click for Larger Version)

Goliathon 83
Infinity Beam Projector
(Click for Larger Version)

FMOM Industries
Wave Disrupter Gun
(Click for Larger Version)

Introducing Dr. Grordbert's Infallible Aether Oscillators, for all your pachyderm-vaporising and martian-defying needs! Designed by Greg Broadmore at the Weta Workshops (the same guys who did all the creature effects and design for the Lord of the Rings and Narnia films,) these alternate-history rayguns are absolutely crammed full of steampunk goodness. They don't appear to have been released to the general public yet, but once they are, you'd better believe I'm going to be doing whatever it takes to get my hands on them.

Really detailed and inventive prop design is an art-form unto itself. While I must admit that I have a bit of a weakness for functional art and Broadmore's rayguns are pretty much the anti-thesis of "functional" (...unless they aren't, in which case I'm definitely buying them,) this is some of the best prop work I've ever seen - which should come as absolutely no surprise, considering the source. While effects houses like Industrial Light + Magic are known for the sheer overwhelming bombast of their mostly-CG design, Weta stands head and shoulders above anyone else working in the industry on the combined basis of realism and imagination: they don't just design a sword, they design a sword with bits of rust flake on the hilt and chips and cracks in the blade and possibly weathered fabric from an old tunic wrapped around the handle. There's a lot of enthusiasm and care put into everything they produce, and I can't help but admire them for it.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ron Mück

Ron Mück, who previously did special effects work for film, particularly the Henson Company's classic "Labyrinth" (in which he also contribued the voice of Ludo,) creates these incredibly detailed and realistic sculptures of people along a wide range of scales - some are merely a foot and a half tall, while others, such as the jolly bald fellow above, sit upwards of seven feet tall. (For more examples of Mück's work in context, see here, here and here.) The surreal atmospheres of his installations are fascinating in and of themselves - it's like walking into a large room populated by mostly-naked giants and pixies who glare at you, unmoving, out of the corners of their eyes, if they deem to notice you at all. Despite the painstaking attention to detail, however, there is a slightly surreal and even numinous quality to his sculptures, particularly in the context of a gallery showing. Mück is one of those artists whose work speaks for itself, but if viewed in relation to their environs gain an additional level of impact. A sculpture of a gigantic naked man sitting on a fluted marble pedestal is one thing, but when it is leaning against the gallery wall looking slightly perturbed in the direction of the viewers, it becomes something else completely.

For more of Ron Mück's work, see the James Cohen Gallery entry here and the Wikipedia entry here.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Matthew Barney

From the "Cremaster" Cycle.

From "Drawing Restraint 9".

From the "Cremaster" Cycle.

Matthew Barney has a new film coming out, "Drawing Restraint 9", and while the style appears to be inimitably his, it also seems to be operating on a grander and simultaneously less contrived scale - it has something to do with Shinto, Japanese whalers, and a lot of blood, water and petroleum. I've always had a very ambivalent reaction towards Barney - I find his visuals remarkable and inspiring beyond words, but at the same time, sitting through the entire 400-minute run of the "Cremaster" cycle is simply interminable.

Which is why I'm excited about "Drawing Restraint 9". At 2-and-a-quarter hours in length, you won't end up falling asleep, and the collaborative influence of Barney's wife Björk (she composed the soundtrack and is prominently featured in the film) seems to have forced Barney out of his prior self-indulgence to some extent. While the "Cremaster" cycle was about digitally capturing performance art in motion, "Drawing Restraint 9" incorporates far more filmic techniques. If you're bound and determined to see at least part of the "Cremaster" cycle, take a look at the 30-minute excerpt "The Order", from "Cremaster 3" - it's currently the only part of the cycle available on DVD, and it gives a fairly good impression of the overall nature of the five films. Even more highly recommended, however, is the "Cremaster" book, currently available only in hardcover. It's a beautiful edition with a bevy of incredible photos and stills by Barney and Nancy Spector.

"Drawing Restraint 9" trailer (
youtube) (Quicktime)
"Cremaster" site (

Saturday, June 24, 2006


"Metrohm-Peak Poster"



kozyndan are a pair of artists out of L.A. who should be well-known to anyone who's ever read an issue of Giant Robot - "Uprisings", one of their most renowned pieces, was the cover of GR 28, and if there's a singular theme to their work, it would bean exploration of Asian pop culture. That and bunnies. And cute cartoon animals having sex.

I first discovered kozyndan's work while paying a visit to Blue C Sushi in the Fremont district of Seattle. They have at least two kozyndan prints on display there - "Uprisings", and "Portraits From The (Off) Center Of The Universe", a panoramic view of Fremont itself (as a side note, Blue C Sushi is probably the coolest sushi joint ever, and if you ever visit Seattle and don't take the opportunity to eat there, you've missed out.) They've also done cover art for two Postal Service EPs and a Japanese import-only Weezer EP, amongst other things.

Weird, wide-angle perspectives and an almost obscene attention to detail are kozyndan's forte. They're massively talented artists, but there's a slightly shaky, line-art quality to their work as well, which lends their paintings and sketches a moment-in-time, amateur-Polaroid quality. Most importantly, though, is that they obviously love what they do, and have immense fun just making art. Whenever I come across one of kozyndan's distinctive illustrations, I'm reminded of a quote by Neil Gaiman: "You mean I get to make stuff up and get paid for it too?"

kozyndan have a website and they also have a livejournal.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Nathan Jurevicius



"9 Lives\Fuji Film"

Australian artist Nathan Jurevicius is cool beyond words. Despite the fact that his website is teensy, he is nevertheless a profound and blinding talent. Juxtapoz magazine has a nice little feature on him in their latest issue, and I heartily recommend picking up a copy. Jurevicius is also a noted toy designer, and though his junk is notoriously hard to find nowadays, arguably he works better in three dimensions than two (and that is saying something.)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Kris Lewis

Kris Lewis, "Promise Broken"

I admit it: I am a truly terrible blogger. In my defense, I offer the meagre excuse that although I believed school started two weeks ago, it in fact started THREE weeks ago, so my time has been spent madly catching up on all my courses - and unfortunately, in the process, neglecting the Cabinet.

To make up for it, today I give you the artwork of Kris Lewis. His work tends to feature elongated, willowy women with massive Margaret-Keane-ish eyes who are simultaneously beautiful and alien - although, if pressed to explain exactly what makes them seem so unnatural, I would mumble something incoherent about proportions and the law of thirds and finally admit that they aren't so much unreal as they are imbued with a quality only rarely seen in the natural world. In the words of the artist himself, "Artwork is love made visible", and it's obvious that he has a deep affection for the women he paints (not to mention, ironically enough, the truly odd-looking musical personalities he has captured.)

In regards to regular updates, I'd like to re-affirm that I'll update it 2-3 times a week - but you know what they say about wishes and fishes, and I'm simply under such enormous time constraints for the next month or so that posts will have to trickle through when I can find a few minutes to spare here and there. However! I'd like to extend the invitation to any literate-minded readers with an interest in pop art who might like to come on-board and fill in the gaps. Send me an email at quixote23 (at) gmail (dot) com if you're interested!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Kentucky Art*O*Mat Machine
designed by Laurie Russell

First up, a shout out to For Crumb's Sake, my esteemed roommate's blog. Tim blogs about indie music, hipster culture, local politics, and self-drawn comics starring anthropomorphic turtles. Tim claims that For Crumb's Sake is "1 & 1/8 more fun than a shovel museum," but I've been in shovel museums, and I think he's underestimating their ability to entertain and, might I add, to educate. I'd put the ratio at closer to 1.09:1, myself.

I don't know much about David Normal, but "The Bicycle Ride", his short animation paying tribute to the very first acid trip, is hilarious, disturbing, and about as close to an authentic bad trip as you're going to get short of renting "Faces of Death 8" and dropping a postage-stamp-sized tab of blotter.

Art*O*Mat is a clever public-installation\kitsch-art\commentary on our culture of instant gratification, comprised of a group of artists who obtain dozens of old cigarette machines, modify them to distribute small works of art rather than cancer sticks, and then re-distribute them in art galleries, public libraries, coffeeshops, and museums. You can check this list to see if there's an Art*O*Mat near you - sadly, the closest one to me is in Tacoma, and I NEVER go to Tacoma. But maybe I'll have to start, now.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Jim Woodring

I apologise for the lack of updates over the last week or two, and I have no excuse other than the fact that I've been very busy and very disorganised. With luck (and maybe some concentrated application on my part) I'll be able to stick to my 2-3 posts-per-week schedule, because God knows, there's enough going on to justify it.

Pictured above are forthcoming figures from Press Pop, based of course on Jim Woodring's Frank, Pushpaw and Pupshaw from his long-running and wonderfully weird "Frank" comic. I first encountered Frank about ten years ago, when a girlfriend who was taking a course in Comics As Literature lent me her "textbooks". I remember spending hours sitting in a park on a warm May morning, endlessly fascinated by Woodring's wordless, Dali-meets-Felix-The-Cat illustrations. Even now, I can't help but be amused by Frank's constant hand-to-the-mouth shock as he encounters a parade of bizarre entities, whose occasionally bad-acid-trip appearances run perpendicular to their oftentimes friendly temperaments.

The figures above will be available in June, and while colour versions are currently available via the Press Pop website, I think I'll hold out for the monochromatic ones. After all, the comic is published in black and white, so why should the figures be anything other than that?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Cheap Paper Art


"Not All Your Ideas Are Good"

"It's Okay, He's Canadian"

"Time To Do Something Stupid"

"Dying Is Awesome"

Over at Wonderland, Alice has posted a nice little review of the work of one Kelli Nelson, and, given the connection between her work and my last post on 8-bit art, I thought I'd pony up with my two cents. Kelli has a unique artistic style and a quirky sense of humour, which in my books is an unbeatable combination. She is also responsible for a number of self-published comics which are available for purchase via her website, and not a few mini-comics and weekly comics, all of which can be viewed and appreciated online for the low, low price of free.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Sean Clarity, Peter Gronquist, Gabe Swarr
(click image for full-sized version)

Another day, another reason to move to Los Angeles. Gallery Nineteen Eighty-Eight, located at 7020 Melrose Ave. in L.A., is hosting the second annual I AM 8-BIT exhibition, and... wow. The first series was pretty neat, but this new one is amazing. So much videogame love.

Michael Gagne, Martin Ontiveros
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The list of contributors is a veritable who's-who of the contemporary pop surrealism scene: Tim Biskup, Steve Purcell, Jim Mahfood, Luke Chueh, Gary Baseman, Brandon Bird, and dozens more. Who knew that Nintendo was so universal and profoundly influential? Most works draw their inspiration either from the NES roster (Super Mario Bros, Megaman, Metroid) or from the earlier Atari era (Pacman, Asteroids, Donkey Kong,) with few if any references beyond the late '80s. A handful even comment on the nature of videogaming itself.

Jose Emroca Flores, Love Ablan, Yosuke Ueno
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If you live in or near L.A., you could do worse than to plan a visit to Nineteen Eighty-Eight this weekend. If you don't, you're still in luck. The first I AM 8-BIT collection has been collected and recently published by Chronicle Books, and is readily available at At under $15 USD, the book is stupidly affordable and you really owe it to yourself to add it to your own library.

Link: I AM 8-BIT website.
Link: Gallery Nineteen Eighty-Eight.
Link: I AM 8-BIT: Art Inspired by Classic Videogames of the '80s at Amazon.

(note: All above photos were originally posted at Vinyl Pulse, an art blog which I heartily endorse and recommend. I cropped them and did some other minor tweaks for presentation's sake but all credit goes to Vinyl Pulse and the original photographer.)

Friday, April 21, 2006

Mark Ryden

The Creatrix

Chances are this will be merely the first of many entries about Mark Ryden - along with Camille Rose Garcia and Tim Biskup, Ryden was one of the first artists to introduce me to pop surrealist art, and there's something about his style - the attention to detail, maybe, or perhaps the fact that his figures tend to resemble a cross between dolls and Christina Ricci - that I find endlessly appealing. I could spend (and in fact have spent) hours staring at his artwork.

Ryden's recent hardcover book "Fushigi Circus" (aka "Mysterious Circus") is up for sale at Last Gasp (incidentally, an excellent, reliable and highly professional source for all your art book and print needs) for the insanely low price of $35.00 USD, so I recommend you take advantage of this and order your copy while supplies last. Even in the highly unlikely case that you've never heard of Mark Ryden, you won't be disappointed.

"Fushigi Circus" Cover

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Sarina J. Brewer and the Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermy


Mummified Chupacabra

Winged Cat

I have a confession to make: I have a huge schoolboy crush on Sarina J. Brewer, the talented (and immensely hot) artist currently staging a one-woman taxidermy-as-art revival. Okay, so that part isn't strictly true... But she is the co-founder of the Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermy, a cadre of individuals dedicated to advocating "the showmanship of oddities, espousing the belief in natural adaptation and mutation, and encouraging the desire to create displays of curiosity," a cause which I obviously consider more than worthy.

Brewer's works fall into a number of categories: traditional pieces; novelties; "gaffs" (or fantastic creatures); carcass sculpture (it's about as grisly as it sounds); preserved specimens, and so forth. I myself am particularly partial to the Griffin and the surprisingly angelic and lovely Capricorn... and of course, who doesn't love a little Jackalope? And then there are the functional pieces, like the Squirrel Decanter and Squirrel Lamp. I dream of a day when every item in my apartment is made from the corpse of an animal, and I owe that dream to Sarina J. Brewer.

(M.A.R.T. co-founder Robert Marbury's Urban Beast Project is worth checking out as well; his animals seem to fall somewhere between adorably fluffy pets and creepy plush toys come to life. You gotta respect any taxidermist who takes a cue from Jorge Luis Borges.)