Thursday, 25 June 2009

Polish Animation

Just finished watching a great collection of Polish animation by the likes of Jan Lenica, Walerian Borowczyk and Piotr Dumala that was put out recently by PWA. There are 28 films over two discs, made between 1958 and 2005. Best of all is Lenica's Labirynt, in which a surreal totalitarian state is conjured out of found elements, sort of Kafka by way of Max Ernst. Go see.

I was also impressed by Witold Giersz's The Red and the Black and The Horse, which were made with thick wet paint on celluloid, an idea which very much appeals.

Sunday, 21 June 2009


There's an extraordinary collection of weird and wonderful "visual materia obscura" of all ages on this blog, with found illustrations of everything from sea urchins to Islamic architecture to jousting knights. There are so many strange and fascinating and unexpected works that you can (and I did) lose hours there. Click the images for links.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Nicholas Gurewitch

Nicholas Gurewitch is new to me, and he's a funny guy.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Buildings as logos

There's a programme by the very excellent Jonathan Meades on the "regeneration" industry in Manchester, Liverpool and Bilbao here ("Heseltine put two and two together: planting flowers would occasion the Scouse economic miracle").

And from an article here:

"Urbanism, if it signifies anything other than what used to be called town planning, is an ill-defined pseudo-discipline that covers research into the economic, infrastructural and demographic ingredients of cities and supposedly draws upon such research in the creation of schemes to improve cities. Such schemes usually mean, in practice, building. Hence the construction industry's conversion to urbanism. There no longer exists such a thing as a builder. That man in the Day-Glo hard hat wolf-whistling is now an urban regenerator and the tempting cleft peeping from his waistband announces his urban regenerator's bum."

Tuesday, 16 June 2009


This is a strange one, even by Japanese standards. Not to be confused with Hiyao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke, this anime involves a mysterious medicine seller wandering around and destroying a variety of spirit/monster-type things called Mononoke, which are, according to Wikipedia, "a type of ayakashi, unnatural spirits that linger in the human world." The artwork is unbelievably detailed, with a strong Ukiyo-e (Floating World) influence. Found here.

Hsueh Shao-Tang

Chinese artist (and chef) who made images out of cut-up stamps. As you do. More info here, and nowhere else, it seems. Apparently it took him about a month to make each image, and 1500-10,000 stamps.

On the same (excellent) blog, look out for Tomi Ungerer and The Paper Architecture of Brodsky & Utkin (below).

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Second Run

As noted here, Second Run are doing a pretty good job of breaking with the tradition of making DVD packaging as ugly as possible. The typography is understated and in some cases they've even commissioned illustrations rather than using stills. Even when they do just use a still it's clearly more thoughtful and elegant than the usual standards.

I've often wondered why DVD covers are generally so awful. Is it just cost-cutting? Unlike books, they do have a readymade visual identity, but that doesn't always translate to still imagery. It's understandable why mainstream films don't deviate from the mass-market norms, but I'm sure the more 'alternative' ones could afford to be more adventurous. They might even sell a few more copies. Both The Cremator and Valerie and her Week of Wonders are, by the way, truly original and essential viewing.

On the subject of DVDs, this caught my eye recently - the design's by Franciszek Starowieyski, and although I've never heard of the film or the director, it made me want to find out more (see?).

Friday, 12 June 2009

The Music Library

Recently got hold of Trunk Records' book of library music lp covers from the 60s and 70s. Library music was (and still is) music created for use in film, TV, radio and adverts by various studios, and because it was never commercially available, the musicians could frequently be as experimental as they liked. The same goes for the artwork. There's some wonderful and bizarre stuff here - some of it's so bad it's good, and some of it's so bad it's just terrible, but there's some genuinely strong design there. There's a few examples here.

Not in the book but also on Trunk is the reissue of Basil Kirchin's Abstractions of the Industrial North from 1966. Great music, great cover.