Saturday, April 30, 2011

Two View Movie Review: The Diving Bell & the Butterfly

Jean-Dominque Bauby was a well known author, journalist & editor for the French edition of Elle magazine, but at the age of 43, he suffered a stroke that left him completely paralyzed except for his left eye. The condition is called lock-in syndrome, which means the mind is fully intake & awake, but the body is immobile. Hope is not lost for Bauby, as therapists give him a way to communicate by blinking his left eye when the alphabet is dictated to him, allowing him to spell messages, one letter at a time. Bauby eventually finds solace when he decides to write a memoir on his experience.
This unique biopic is inspired by Bauby's memoir of the same name & screenwriter Ronald Harwood translated it for the screen brillantly. There are many key moment in the film that are frustrating, humorous & moving. Notable scenes include Bauby's ex-wife translating Bauby's eye blinks for the girlfriend he left his wife for; or Bauby talking with his father, who is also locked-in, as he is too frail to leave his apartment. Director Julian Schnabel & cinematographer Janusz Kaminiski create dazzling effects & beautiful shots thoughtout the film to capture a picture inside Bauby's imagination. The film is often put in Bauby's point-of-view which leaves the viewer feeling hindered, uncomfortable & claustrophobic. This is an inspiring biopic about the power of the human mind with an art-house sensibility.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day!

Just wanted to remind everyone that today is Earth Day, a day for everyone out there to start making more of an effort to lower your carbon footprint: turn out lights, TV's, & other appliances when they are not in use; use the car only when needed & when you do, carpool; recycle what you can, but also make sure you follow the rules for your recycling pick-up (taking labels & lids off containers, following the plastic code, etc.) But, most importantly, take in the glory of nature & bask in all the wonders that nature grants you & think about what you can grant it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


A couple of weeks ago, I talked about the graphic novel Scarlet Traces & it's ties with steampunk, which I explained briefly. I'll discuss more about this retro-futuristic art movement. Steampunk is heavily influenced on the culture & fashion of Victorian Era Britain & the steam-powered technology of the Industrial Revolution. Many works of Steampunk are considered science fiction, with the technology featured being anachronistic technology & modern-day inventions imagined as the Victorians would design them, like airplanes, elevators, or computers.
The Nautilus from Jules Verne's
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

A steampunk-altered laptop computer.
Steampunk artists & designers originally got their inspiration from science fiction novels of the Victoria Era, most notibly from works by H.G. Wells & Jules Vern, along with the scientific romance novels from the likes of Mark Twain & Mary Shelley. The term Steampunk was coined in the late 1980's as an alternate version to cyberpunk, an art influence focusing on futuristic, high technology & low life. Since then, steampunk has been seen in fiction (The Wicked Gentleman,) comic books (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,) films (The Prestige,) television (Wild, Wild West,) video games (Final Fantasy VI,) music (Panic! at the Disco's music video for "Ballad of Mona Lisa,") & performance art (The League of STEAM.)

Here at the Jaffe Center, we don't have any steampunk-influenced books, but if you know any steampunk-influenced artist, send us some info. At the bottom, I've posted a short animated film, The Mysterious Exploration of Jasper Morello.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Looky Lookie: Gay Myths

Gay Myths by Edward H. Hutchins is a catalog of misconceptions about gay people. The book contains twenty-four photocopied pages with four foldouts. It is hand-stitched with a black faux leather paper cover with a white title and pink triangle pasted on the front. The message is pretty simple: everyone in the LGBT community has heard these hurtful phrases. And I mean everyone. The phrases are juxtaposed with black and white images to emphasize the text. The gay myths are:

1. We deserve AIDS.
2. We molest children.
3. We hate straights.
4. God doesn't love us.
5. Equal rights are special rights.
6. We're not fit to serve.
7. It's just about sex.
8. It's just a phase.
9. You can pick us out.
10. We hate the opposite sex.
11. You don't know a gay person.
12. We all love opera.
13. We have no history.
14. We don't make good parents.
15. We all know one another.
16. We recruit.
17. It's our parents' fault.
18. We're not fit to teach.
19. We all have good taste.
20. We're "butch" or "femme."
21. We're not happy.
22. We want to change.
23. Our unions aren't sacred.
24. We're going to give up.
25. Bigotry doesn't hurt.

In the colophon, Hutchins states, "For all the marchers missed when the park service ran out of fingers & toes." This is a reference to the March on Washington, 1993, where organizers estimated in attendance  one million while the National Park Service estimated three hundred thousand.

Gay Myths is part of the copier art movement. JCBA has a huge number of copier art books, including the complete run of the International Society of Copier Artists Quarterlies. To read more about ISCA and copier art, click here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gina Lotta Post Artistamp Museum

I wanted to give a blog shout out to the Gina Lotta Post Artistamp Museum. Artists who work in the postage-stamp format will create either full sheets or Cinderellas, a single stamp. Artist Ginny Lloyd is collecting these stamps & posting them on the blog to create a virtual museum. The stamps can be humorous or erotic & feature satire or irony. Some artists even go to the lengths to create stamps that look official in order to fool the postal authorities, but most artist use the artistamp as a form of artists' mail. Artists can send their artistamp to Ginny to get published or you can just check out the Museum & gander at this creative medium.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Graphic Novel of the Month: Scarlet Traces

Scarlet Traces (written by Ian Edginton & illustrated by D'Israeli) takes place 10 years after the events of H.G. Well's The War of the Worlds & Martian technology exists side-by-side with Victorian era Britain. Because of reverse engineering, the British Empire covers two-thirds of the world. Hansom cabs in London now operate with robotic crab legs, & the government has the power of heat-rays on their side. Still, things aren't so sunny for the British Empire, as bodies of women start washing up in the Thames River, with blood drained from them. The public fears it may be a vampire, but adventurer Captain Robert Autumn & his manservant, Archie Currie, think otherwise & investigate the situation.

If you're a fan of steampunk, this is the graphic novel for you. For those who do not know what steampunk is, it is a subgenre of science fiction that creates an alternate history, usually in the 19th Century or Victorian Era Britain. There is an emphasis on overly mechanical, impossible steam-powered machines, & Scarlet Traces is no different.  D'Israeli has created a world where old meets the unearthly. His technological designs are intricate & require a second look, while his styling of characters, locations & events are distinct, vibrant & sometimes frightening.

Edginton definitely cares about the source material & reuses many of the themes from W.o.t.W. Edginton's script makes a commentary about quick advancement in technology & the price of these advancements. The story makes note of the reversal for Britain. While Britain was being eliminated & colonized by Mars in W.o.t.W., in Scarlet Traces, Britain has total control over a majority of the world. Who is to say that Britain's globalization attempts will not result as it did for the Martians? Although lessons in colonization is less of an issue this day & age, Scarlet Traces is a lesson in disregarding the caution signs of history.