Music October 29, 2009 By Timothy Gunatilaka

filler6 The xx: Live at the Mercury Lounge

thexx cover The xx: Live at the Mercury Lounge
Photography by Owen Richards

filler6 The xx: Live at the Mercury Loungethexx title The xx: Live at the Mercury Lounge

The buzz bandwagon hit NYC last week along with the 2009 CMJ Music Marathon — and this precocious London quartet did not disappoint. With the exception of guilefully covering Womack & Womack’s ’80s R&B hit “Teardrops”, the xx’s setlist stuck chiefly to their self-titled debut. The reverb-heavy interplay of guitars and harmonies between Romy Madley Croft’s smoldering siren’s call and Oliver Sim’s disaffected croon wonderfully recalled Interpol and Pixies at both bands’ most intimate moments. And while Sim’s bass proved too much to handle at times for the usually solid-sounding Mercury Lounge, the live drums added a greater gravitas to the basic digitized beats pervading the record’s gothic lullabies. All things considered, it was a stellar performance by these dark stars in waiting.

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Art, Books October 28, 2009 By Jennifer Pappas
samwebercover Sam Weber
Lord of the Flies cover and illustrations by Sam Weber.

samwebertitle Sam Weber

“Maybe there is a beast…maybe it’s only us.” First published in 1954, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies became an instant classic for its unrelenting, often horrifying portrayal of human nature, primitive instinct, and the disintegration of civilization. This winter, The Folio Society breathes fresh life into the polemical novel with a cloth-bound illustrated edition that both art fans and bibliophiles will appreciate. The project was truly a dream job for Alaskan-born illustrator Sam Weber whose visceral imagery lends the fable a contemporary level of pathos not yet explored in previous illustrated editions. At once understated and formidable, each painting is a reminder of how fragile the infrastructure of society can be in the midst of true evil. Sam Weber was kind enough to offer PLANET a few moments of his time for this exclusive interview. 

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Art, Fashion October 27, 2009 By Catherine Blair Pfander
dysfashional cover Dysfashional
View of the Dysfashional exposition, Luxembourg 2007. Photography courtesy of André Morin.

dysfashional title Dysfashional

One could hardly be blamed for expecting to see a few garments at an art exhibit purportedly about style, but you won’t find a single couture-swathed mannequin at Dyfashional, the daring new project that’s causing fashionistas — even after the conclusion of their busiest season — to board one final airplane in the name of global fashion.  Rather than present the clothing and trends typical of a fashion-oriented showcase, Dysfashional fancies itself an expansive investigation into the materials and mechanisms that inform style as a vehicle of self-expression. After two wildly successful tours — the first in Luxembourg to celebrate the European Capital of Culture in 2007, and the second at Mudac, Musée du Design et des Arts Appliqués Contemporains de Lausanne in 2008 — the exhibit will show its new and improved edition on October 30th at Paris’ Passage du Désir.
     “Dyfashional was conceived as a site where the exhibition space becomes an experimentation space, an exploration ground for both the artists and visitors,” says curator Luca Marchetti. “As a fashion exhibition which does not exhibit clothing, Dysfashional shows that fashion is, beyond the objects that materialize it, an unstable state of sensibility.”

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Architecture, Books, Greenspace October 26, 2009 By Ryan Grim

facelifts title Build On

The next time you’re in Luckenwalde, Germany (population 21,000) make sure to visit the local library. It’s weird-looking. The town’s former train station was rehabilitated and repurposed by the firm FF-Architeckten. The children’s section is housed in a modern addition: a tilted rectangle covered in gold scales. The scales are supposedly meant to resemble dragon skin — the same dragons chasing around maidens and knights in the fairytales kids are reading inside. The old train station is plain and traditional; the new wing is anything but. So does it jive? Sure! It’s saying, “This new shiny area is for children. That old gray building is for grandpa.” And any addition with a clever message is good enough for us. It was also good enough for editors Robert Klanten and Lukas Feireiss, who chose it for their book, Build-On: Converted Architecture and Transformed Buildings (Gestalten; $75). Considering that a modern addition on a beloved older building is one thing that will get the average person really pissed at (or at least talking about) architecture, it’s a subject worth exploring and cataloging.

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Art October 23, 2009 By Jenna Martin
whitenight cover2 White Nights

whitenites title White Nights

Dutch photographer Scarlett Hooft Graafland transforms inhospitable terrain into new surreal spaces. For My White Night, Graafland’s canvas is the vast white space of Igloolik, a tiny Inuit village in Nunavut, Canada. Mixing elements of photography, performance, and sculpture, the work addresses topics such as climate change and generational gaps. Allowing the landscape to “dictate the work,” Graafland creates “visual question marks without giving answers.” Inspired to work in such remote conditions because of her “nostalgia for regions that are still completely natural,” Graafland chose Igloolik because of its “traditional Inuit life and cultural activities.” What she found, however, was a land “captured between traditional life and westernized equipment.”
     With over half of the population under the age of 16, most of the youth know nothing of the traditional ways of Inuit life and are completely Westernized — “going to school, learning how to use the computer, consuming Western food and drinks like soda and juices.” Addressing this disconnect is “Lemonade Igloo”. For it, Graafland fashioned lemonade ice blocks out of water and lemonade powder, and then had the elderly Inuit men use the blocks to build an igloo. When it was all finished, Graafland invited the Inuit children inside to drink orange juice.
     Other works illustrate the vastly differing seasonal weather conditions characteristic of arctic environments, as well as the devastating effects of climate change.

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Design, Greenspace October 22, 2009 By Hannah Bergqvist
urnatur cover3 Uratur
Photography by Ulrika Krynitz

filler5 Uratururnatur title Uratur

It’s been great to see a growing number of eco-lodges offering a more sustainable holiday alternative surface over the last years. As much as they all deserve recognition for their environmental awareness it’s hard not to get excited when stumbling upon one with that little bit of extra. One like The Wood Hermitage, located in the leafy Holaved forest in the south of Sweden. The Hermitage — surrounded by lakes and the mountain Omberg — has welcomed guests to its spartan facilities since May 2007. Offering simple luxury, the lodge mixes traditional Swedish craftsmanship with Japanese-influenced interior design. The small handcrafted wooden huts and cabins — some of them with grass covered roofs — work in harmony with the surrounding environment. All houses except for the main cabin were built using trees felled by the storms Gudrun and Per in 2005 and 2006. The use of electricity is sparse — there is only enough for running a single 15W light bulb in the kitchen and the solar panel in the bathing house. Both the sauna and the wooden bathtub are wood-fired. On top of such a cozy living space, The Wood Hermitage also embraces the local food trend, with all the food coming from their own garden or nearby farmers.

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Music October 21, 2009 By Todd Rosenberg
fbuttons tarot sport coverart hi res1 Fuck Buttons: Tarot Sport
ATP Recordings

fuckbuttons title Fuck Buttons: Tarot Sport

I’m not sure any record review can do more justice to Fuck Buttons’ music than the description on their MySpace page: “sounds like: the universe.” The Bristol duo’s second album, Tarot Sport, could easily be the evidence and result of “close encounters”: an alien creation that seems beyond human description or control. Even the song titles make it clear we’re beyond the earth’s atmosphere from “Surf Solar” to “Space Mountain”. In this realm, noise and non-musical sounds have as much value as instrumentation, reminiscent of ’90s Aphex Twin, and no doubt owing to the production of stalwart DJ Andrew Weatherall. “Phantom Limb” sounds like what would happen if ecstacy was distributed at the Star Wars cantina. “Surf Solar” (streamed below) deconstructs the vocals with a strobing effect, where something’s being said but it’s not clear what language or life form it’s coming from. But it’s the 9-plus-minute closer “Flight of the Feathered Serpent” that really captures the imagination: a Martian fertility dance of tribal percussion and expansive guitar work that recalls the Edge. There are possibly only two things that underlie Fuck Buttons’ musical intent — the attempt to put you in a trance and, in doing so, transporting you to somewhere otherworldly.

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Design, Greenspace October 20, 2009 By Jenna Martin

fillter1 PUMApuma cover2 PUMAfillter1 PUMApuma title PUMA

For those looking for an eco-friendly way to get around the city, without actually having to exert extra energy en route, there’s P.U.M.A. Designed by Segway — the company who developed the Segway— and General Motors, P.U.M.A., which stands for Personal Urban Mobility & Accessibility, may just be the solution for eco-conscious urbanites everywhere. Like the Segway, the P.U.M.A. features advanced sensing and dynamic stabilization with a zero turning radius. Unlike its older brother, it includes a domed weatherproof roof and seating for two. Suitable for both city roads and bike lanes, the P.U.M.A. can travel between 25 and 35 mph for twenty-five to thirty-five miles on a single battery charge — which take five to eight hours — making it an ideal vehicle for short commutes. Costing, approximately sixty cents in electricity per charge, and estimated to cost less than most current small cars, the P.U.M.A. is also highly cost-effective. With only one prototype in existence, and no plans to start selling the P.U.M.A. anytime soon, our hopes of owning the perfect clean transportation vehicle will just have to wait. In the meantime, you could always get a bike. We still think those are awesome.

Art October 19, 2009 By Editors

fillter Earth by Chris Scarborough

chrisscarborough title Earth by Chris Scarborough

Chris Scarborough is an artist known for his preoccupation with mixing, morphing, and combining things in improbable ways. And he always does so with impeccable drafting precision, so that the finished works, while unusual and often surreal, appear to have an element of truth to them, as though they are right in some unknown way — even though the objects and figures he creates don’t look that way in the “real” world. An artist with such tendencies seemed like a good choice to provide an EARTH BY image, and his contribution (no. 24 in our ongoing series) is every bit as enigmatic and thought provoking as we would have imagined. “It explores an environment,” he says, “that exists after some global event — the big bang if you will. But we are not sure what kind of bang it was, and the world we now experience is similar to the one we knew, but some things are now askew.” Having received his BFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2000, Scarborough is off to an impressive start in his art career. He has been included in New American Paintings and covered in ArtPapers Magazine, High Fructose, and PLANET among others. He exhibited at Foley Gallery in New York City in 2008 and has an upcoming show in December at Marcia Wood Gallery in Atlanta. He currently lives and works in Nashville, Tennessee.

Fashion October 16, 2009 By Catherine Blair Pfander

northcircular cover North Circularnorthcircular title North Circular

In the immortal words of Albert Einstein, “in order to be an immaculate member of a flock of sheep, one must above all be a sheep oneself.” We’re not too keen on blindly assembling into anybody’s fashion flock, but in the case of the North Circular Knitwear Company, the English woolies brand “knit by grannies and supported by supermodels,” we could be persuaded to wear a bit of sheep, if not become one ourselves.
     At the end of October, North Circular will launch a collection of handmade knits fashioned entirely of rescued Wensleydale wool, available on a made-to-order basis via their website, where not only can you meet the handsome Wensleydale flock, but select the color, size and style of your lovingly woven garment. The Wensleydale sheep — along with the entire British wool industry — have fallen on hard times as of late, and brand founders Lily Cole, Katherine Poulton, Alice Ashby, and Isobel Davies made the downtrodden breed’s improved well-being the main concern of their stylish business venture.

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