This cosmic 7UP Commercial from the '70s will take you on a dreamy trip through outer space as you drift past glowing dancers, and ethereal butterfly-people. The last destination on the magical trip is a case of 7UP, the "UnCola", underneath an electric rainbow. It's so mesmerizing that I watched it three times, and I wish it went on for longer! This is likely the most far out commercial I've ever seen. I adore the music in the video, but can't find the name of the band. It sounds like the Enoch Light singers, but if you know, please let me know in the comments.
Last year, I found a retro Game Boy Camera and printer attachment. These products debuted in 1998, and I love to use them to take and print photos. The Game Boy Camera (GBC) plugs into the top of the handheld Game Boy console. The camera can shoot grayscale photos and has a feature to edit them. The lens has a 180° swivel range that allows users to take selfies or front-facing photos.
The Pocket Printer uses thermal technology to print out the photos (no ink required). They come out on what looks like a miniature roll of receipt paper. The printer uses six AA batteries and will fit 38 mm wide thermal paper. Originally, the thermal paper sold for the Pocket printer came with adhesive backing and could be purchased in red, white, yellow, or blue. For my printer, I just purchased a standard roll of thermal paper and cut it to size, which worked fine.
I've been addicted to these awesome gadgets ever since I discovered them, and I'm not alone. There's an active subculture that keeps this obscure tech alive. Here are some cool Instagram accounts that showcase photos taken and printed with the GBC and Pocket Printer: gameboycamerabrasil and thegameboycamera.
The grainy, low fi quality of the photos is a huge part of what attracts me to them. If you'd like to take photos that resemble the ones created with the Game Boy Camera but don't want to buy the parts, there's a web-based Game Boy Camera that works on smartphones and web browsers.
The Maze(1953) by William Kurelek (March 3, 1927 – November 3, 1977) is one of my favorite paintings. I discovered it inside of a fascinating book called The Mind from Life Science Library, written by John Rowan Wilson in 1964. The Mind covers everything from psychoanalytic theory to optical illusions to various mental disorders. Kurelek's painting is expressive of his struggle with his mental illness, which is why it was included in The Mind.
The sectioned-off scenes in this painting, which Kurelek described as "a painting of the inside of my skull," work in unison to depict a non-linear narrative about Kurelek's torment and suffering. One part of this work that deeply saddens me is the image of all of the people wearing bright clothing and dancing together, surrounded by all of the other scenes depicting the darkness, suffering, and cruelty that Kurelek faced in his life. It feels like this scene is being looked at through the eyes of an outsider, who is stuck in the darkness of the other scenes which surround that particular image.
From the description in the book about Kurelek and The Maze:
The grotesque painting … reminiscent of Heironumus Bosch's art, was made by a 26-year-old schizophrenic artist. Raised on a prairie farm in midwestern Canada, he had experienced such a brutal childhood that he had become extremely withdrawn, eventually retiring into a private world of weird fantasies. In one of these, he imagined that if he cut the flesh off his arm (lower right chamber) he would be shocked back into human feelings. When he actually made some cuts on his arm, he was admitted to a hospital for psychiatric treatment. Here he set to work on the painting he called The Maze. He had great difficulty talking to people. Yet when he began to paint, the images of his torment poured out with remarkable clarity. He portrayed himself lying in an open field, his skull cut open to reveal the painful memories of his past and the morbid fantasies of his present state. Once the imagery of his illness emerged, the artist could step back from the canvas and talk to his doctor about his torment. In time he recovered and married. He still paints, although with a less morbid outlook.
I'm mesmerized by the unique expression of sadness and beauty within Kurelek's work, and I feel very grateful for artists such as Kurelek who are brave and vulnerable enough to put such deep emotions into their work. You can see more of Kurelek's paintings here.
Beware: If you smoke pot, you might become flat (literally), like Sarah, the girl in this Anti-Pot video! The video was made by Above The Influence, in an attempt to inform teens about the effects of marijuana. (Above the Influence was a program of the not-for-profit Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, which received millions of dollars in funding from booze and tobacco companies. They hate competition).
In the video, Sarah's friend wants to know why she isn't responding to him, and just laying there on the couch, in a flattened-out state. Sarah's other friend in the room goes on to explain that Sarah's marijuana usage is the reason she won't respond. I'm surprised that this Above The Influence video didn't elaborate something along the lines of: "She won't answer you because she is immersed in contemplating the nature of cosmos, gaining insights that will immeasurably improve the quality of her life and make her a more compassionate human."
When I was 5 years old I watched Bimbo's Initiation, and its psychedelic brilliance had an ever-lasting impression on me.
The animated short starring Bimbo the dog was made in 1931 by Fleischer Studios and depicts an early version of Betty Boop; Betty is part animal, with dog ears and a dog nose.
The story begins when Bimbo the dog is walking down the street and falls through a manhole. He finds himself in a strange underground house, where he's faced with a secret society of masked people who ask him repeatedly "Want to be a member? Want to be a member?"
In order to escape them, Bimbo has to navigate a house that has come alive with many nightmarish, funhouse-like traps. A knife with a chomping mouth full of teeth pokes out of the wall as the floor begins moving Bimbo closer to it like a conveyor belt, he gets swallowed by a tunnel after getting to the last door in a set of doors that are inside of each other like Russian nesting dolls, and his own shadow gets decapitated.
I'm always impressed by the psychedelic nature of this cartoon, as it was made decades before the psychedelic revolution. I credit this cartoon for inspiring the weirdness within my personal artwork and my interest in surrealism.
Super Pixel Quest is a 164-page, digital webcomic by French artist Emmanuel Espinasse. He created the comic in 2014 but it has the feel of a 1980s HyperCard game with its black and white, pixelated design.
Through animated GIFS, Super Pixel Quest tells the story of a little creature navigating an eerie mansion. The creature must escape an evil gnome as it wanders through dark tunnels, cobwebs, pits of skeletons, and other nooks and crannies full of creepy surprises.
Super Pixel Quest exists somewhere in between a comic and a video game. It has no instructions. The images change with each click of the mouse and you never really know what's coming next.
Espinasse says about the comic:
"I wanted to recreate the feeling you have when you've just finished reading a comic page, panel by panel, and finally see it like a whole entity, with its own structure, rhythm, and graphic vibe. My comic is definitely supposed to be read on-screen, but it also borrows a lot from paper comics."
Super Pixel Quest is brilliantly unique, and clicking through it made my day.
The Emergency Alert System (EAS), was introduced on January 1, 1997 as a replacement for the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS). Before EBS, an emergency broadcasting system called CONELRAD existed. The EAS is a warning system in the United States which enables the president to broadcast an alert through all radio and television stations, in the case of a national emergency.
Due to widespread news coverage of emergencies, The EAS and its predecessors have never actually been used for a national emergency; "In practice, it is more commonly used to distribute information regarding imminent threats to public safety, such as severe weather situations (including flash floods and tornadoes), AMBER Alerts of child abductions, and other civil emergencies." [Wikipedia]
Many countries have their own emergency broadcasting system. This video includes recordings of emergency broadcasting systems from the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, Israel, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia. All of these would be pretty eerie to hear in the middle of the night. I find the one from New Zealand to be especially nerve-wracking because there is so much happening at once in it…I would probably curl up into a fetal position if I heard those noises coming out of my phone.
Steve Speer, the creator of some very out-there, psychedelic animations from the early 1990s, brings us the magical CoronaTarot. Speer collaborated with occultist Ami Lahoff and Pantheist Lena Strayhorn to create this one-of-a-kind deck.
Images relating to the current politics, media, and memes of the pandemic-era make up the 78 unique illustrations; A masked person looking nervously into the mirror with a reflection of a skeleton staring back (Lovers), a naked woman crouching over a river, with a giant virus glistening in the sky above her (Star), and many other grim yet fitting images.
The Death card creeps me out the most. It depicts a person wearing a Hazmat suit and bringing a corpse through a field of bodies:
From the online description:
The CoronaTarot is an encapsulation of the zeitgeist, channeled to offer guidance and consolation through this wondrous and bizarre period of transition. The CoronaTarot deck is a unique and powerful oracular device for navigating the META AEON."
Both mystical and satirical, the CoronaTarot is the "pandemic in a box."
Here's a link to purchase your own deck and enter your esoteric phase of the Pandemic.
Browse through photos of never-before-seen art at This Artwork Does Not Exist. The site was created by Philip Wang, and uses a generative adversarial network (GAN) to create images of artwork that don't actually exist.
Generative Adversarial Networks, which were invented by Ian Goodfellow and his colleagues in 2014, use machine learning to produce content. GANs have the potential to create a realistic-looking version of almost anything. To see a new image of non-existent artwork, just refresh the page. The results are never-ending.
All of the images I came across on the site are non-representational and pretty similar in their use of shapes and their color palette. I find the images to be pretty monotonous after a while of refreshing the page (they could all be mediocre café wall-art), but the technology excites me because I imagine that as the AIs get more sophisticated, we'll see more variety and more representational artworks as well.
This technology's ability to instantaneously generate an image that could easily be a human-made abstract painting, makes me ponder the age-old question "what is art?"
Almost 20 years ago, Aphex Twin's Monkey Drummerwas born. It's one of my all-time favorite music videos and never fails to transport me to another dimension.
Video artist Chris Cunningmham is the mastermind behind this unforgettable video of a robot-monkey banging on the drums with 6 arms plus a drumstick attached to its mechanical crotch. Although the head and core of the creature are made from mechanical parts, its arms and legs appear to be human appendages made out of flesh-and-blood. The movements of the creature's arms and legs are fluid and organic while the monkeys' head and metal arms move mechanically and precisely, making it feel very uncanny-valleylike.
Cunningham said the idea for the eerie cyborg "came from those little mechanical windup monkeys from the last century, the ones with the red faces. [I] thought it would be really amazing to see a 21st century one that was drumming to something ridiculously insane like a really fast Aphex Twin track."
The song featured in the video is "Mt Saint Michel + Saint Michaels Mount," the 10th track on Aphex Twin's 2001 album Drukqs.
This little boy looks overjoyed to be meeting Mickey and Minnie at a Mickey Mouse Club event in the 1930s. Before the television show existed, The Mickey Mouse Club was introduced as a real-life club at the Fox Dome Theatre on the Ocean Park Pier in Santa Monica, California, on January 11th, 1930.
In order to watch the on-stage show, one had to become a club member. By 1932, the theatrical club had around one million members but was canceled in 1935. Although the club was short-lived, it was succeeded by an even more popular television version of The Mickey Mouse Club which aired intermittently from 1955 to 1996.
P.S. I think I found my halloween costume for next year!
This friendly clown is thrilled to be eating a bowl of Sugar Rice Krinkles in this 1956 commercial. The video begins when Krinkles the clown pops his head out of a miniature house with a rooster on it. He then explains the joy of Sugar Rice Krinkles cereal and looks like he's having the time of his life — I need to try some too now!
I'm always on the hunt for books and zines of obscure, free-associative imagery. I got my hands on a copy of Glenn Bray's Scrap Book this week and its contents exceed everything I could have hoped for in a book full of found content. Bray is a collector and archivist of underground comix, low and high art, and the creator of the critically acclaimed books The Blighted Eye and To Laugh That We May Not Weep: The Life and Art of Art Young.
Scrap Book is a 508-page collection of found imagery, arranged thoughtfully across two-page spreads that form a conversation with one another.
As Bray describes it, "By turns darkly funny, apocalyptic and blissful, Scrap Book is a subconscious flow of words and pictures that no one was supposed to save or revere. You'll see some famous names in the art and cartooning world here alongside anonymous tabloid clippings, forgotten advertisements and bizarre things that somehow wandered into the mainstream."
Scrap Book took my psyche on a fascinating trip through the many different flavors of life's weirdness, and I know I'll be coming back to these images often for inspiration. You can order Scrap Bookhere.
From the description:
Xeroxed office humor to elegant works of full-color art, SCRAP BOOK is full of zany inspiration, moments of meditation and a constant reminder of its motto: "No Sense Makes Sense." Befuddle your brain and slap your subconscious silly with this guided tour through the madness mankind has wrought.
Build a digital hotdog at Freaky Franks. To make a Freaky Frank's hotdog, select a dry topping, a wet topping, and then click the "Build it!" button. Your delicious meal will then appear on the screen. I can't decide on my favorite — it's a tie between the Spaghetti-O's/Barbie Doll head hotdog, and the Peanut butter/Fruit Stripe gum hotdog.
I came across this awesome Historical Gallery and Archive of MacPaint art from the '80s. I love the old-school digital aesthetic to these images, and feel inspired to play around on MacPaint myself after looking through the archive.
Bill Atkinson's MacPaint was developed by Apple Computer and released in 1984 with The original Macintosh personal computer. It was sold as a package for $195 with its counterpart, MacWrite.
Before the invention of the Mac, it wasn't easy to create digital art and graphics due to the equipment required and the low screen resolution of previous computers. What made MacPaint special was its ability to create professional-looking graphics that were compatible with other applications. I'm a huge fan of retro MacPaint art, so I was very pleased to find this little collection of it.
If you're curious about how to use Mac Paint today, check out this link.
[Image: "Time 'n Space- Cover of M-Aura 10/1987" by Jim Leftwich]