Music December 6, 2012 By Lily Moayeri

skycover SKYEskye header SKYE
Skye will always be associated with her original group, Morcheeba, even if she is on her third solo record, Back To Now. When she originally broke out on her own, Skye embarked on the singer/songwriter path with her voice as the central focus and guitars and piano playing background roles. On her latest, Skye returns to the Morcheeba style of doing things with beats and manufactured loops backing her instantly recognizable honeyed vocals. No matter what accompanies her, it is Skye’s distinct silky voice that is her calling card. Back To Now is driven by dark electronics, which in turn bring out a moodiness to Skye’s normally sweet tones. The dance-lite “Featherlight” broaches pop territory and the spitting chorus of “Every Little Lie” helps make it stickable. Despite these effort, Back To Now is missing the immediate trip-hop pop that the Morcheeba combination brought so easily out of Skye. After a six-year break from Morcheeba, Skye is back to her day job with that group, so those hits are impending.
filler29 SKYE

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Architecture, Book December 5, 2012 By Nalina Moses

Trollstigen National Tourist Route Project, Trollstigen - Møre and Romsdal, Norway, 2005-2012.  By Reiulf Ramstad Architects.

Trollstigen National Tourist Route Project, Trollstigen - Møre and Romsdal, Norway, 2005-2012. By Reiulf Ramstad Architects.

We tend to travel in one of two ways: to a city to dive into its rhythms and culture, or to some out-of-the-way place to abandon ourselves to the landscape. It’s this second kind of adventure that’s the focus of Once in a Lifetime: Travel and Leisure Redefined. The book showcases new international lodges, campsites, retreats and lookouts that lure guests to a quiet, secluded place.

Instead of high thread count sheets and Michelin-star restaurants, what these places offer is private, uninterrupted access to a special landscape. So it’s regions with extreme, picturesque geographies, especially those in less-traveled corners of the globe, that offer some of the finest destinations. The book takes us to the backwaters of Cambodia, forests in the Alps, and the deserts of Namibia and Tanzania. These lodges and the amenities they offer are modest compared to typical full-service resorts. Instead they break down the routines of sleeping, bathing and dining into clarifying essentials, pursuing sensuality over opulence.

The architecture of these retreats sits restfully within the surroundings and opens itself radically to the outside. Sometimes the experience stimulates, like the otherworldly forest views that pour through wraparound picture windows at the Juvet Landscape Hotel in Norway.


Art December 3, 2012 By Aiya Ono

© Misha Taylor

© Misha Taylor

gunboysheader GUN BOYS
Most may be familiar with Misha Taylor as a fashion and portrait photographer whose undeniably seductive and grappling work has graced the pages of magazines such as V Man. In a rare instance, today, Taylor shares with PLANET a very special personal project he has been working on.

Taken in Durban, South Africa, these images reveal a reality that often goes unrecognized in mainstream media– the effects of Chinese trade agreements on the youth of Africa. Ice cream vendors on the beach fronts of Durban sell 9mm replica pistols that shoot plastic BB guns made in China to young children. Regulations in China forbid the sale of such items within its own country’s borders, subsequently forcing exports to countries like Durban, where a less controlled government sees them sold, not only without regulation, but to those as young as six years old. On the one hand, Misha tells PLANET, “what is happening isn’t all bad”– indeed, Africa needs investment that can boost education and development and China needs Africa’s natural resources. However the emerging economic and political power of China on Africa has been a dual dance of good and bad.


Art, Events, Greenspace November 21, 2012 By Jordan Sayle

Doug Aitken, Altered Earth,  2012. Commissioned and produced by the LUMA foundation, photo © Robert Leslie.

Doug Aitken, Altered Earth, 2012. Commissioned and produced by the LUMA foundation, photo © Robert Leslie.

aitkenheader Doug Aitken’s Altered Earth
The gallery walls came tumbling down in the 60’s and 70’s when a generation of land artists stepped outdoors and used nature as their canvas. For Robert Smithson, the doyen of the Earthworks movement, whose “Spiral Jetty” still protrudes from the shore of the Great Salt Lake, art was meant to engage with the outside world in a way that it couldn’t when cooped up inside. “A work of art when placed in a gallery loses its charge,” he stated in that earlier era.

It’s a shame Smithson couldn’t be there for Doug Aitken’s projection of movie images on the façade of New York’s MoMA for 2007’s “Sleepwalkers.” It was a case of art finding its way outside the museum’s walls but with the added twist of actually becoming the museum’s walls. Delineations between inside and out, real world and representation, never felt so fluid.

As a multimedia innovator, Aitken has built a reputation for reimagining time and space. Few artists come better equipped to capture the kaleidoscopic fever dream we know as life in the present day. With his latest installation, “Altered Earth,” he sets about creating what’s being billed as land art for the electronic age, and in 21st Century fashion, the results are disorienting and overwhelming.

Book, Features, Greenspace, film November 15, 2012 By Jordan Sayle

<em>The Dust Bowl: An Illustrated History</em>/Chronicle Books/Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, TX

The Dust Bowl: An Illustrated History/Chronicle Books. Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, TX.

dustbowlheader The Dust Bowl
The southern portion of the Great Plains was especially hard-hit during the Great Depression. Along with financial hardship, an environmental catastrophe of biblical proportions hung like a black cloud over the region. Severe drought in areas where the farmland had been overextended led in many cases to the drying up of an entire way of life and every conceivable thing around it. The Dust Bowl now gets the Ken Burns treatment with a new PBS documentary and an accompanying book. Burns and his collaborator, the producer and writer Dayton Duncan, consider this seminal event to be “the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history.” At a time when numerous other events are giving the Dust Bowl a run for its money in that distinction, Mr. Duncan spoke to PLANET about the lessons worth learning from this chapter in our past.
Can you describe your working relationship with Ken Burns and how you arrive upon chapters in American history that you decide to explore?

We’re both drawn to topics that are uniquely or quintessentially American. I have the best job in the world, because the films that I write and produce are about topics that I’ve suggested, from The West and Lewis and Clark to The National Parks and The Dust Bowl. I have a great interest in the connection between our land and our people, and how that interplay has affected our nation’s history.

film November 13, 2012 By Chloe Eichler

postop115 DOC NYCdocnyc header DOC NYC
Now in its third year, the IFC Center’s DOC NYC is one of the most consistently absorbing and downright important showcases for documentary film. The buzziest entries this year are The Central Park Five, Ken Burns’ look at the 1989 “crime of the century” rape, and Alison Klayman’s portrait of Ai Weiwei, which PLANET profiled here. But the best thing about DOC NYC is its knack for finding lesser-known gems. The festival ends this Thursday, but there are still five standout films that are screening—some more than once—over the next few days.

Architecture, Book November 6, 2012 By Nalina Moses

Garden and house, Tokyo, Japan, 2011. Office of Ryue Nishizawa.

Garden and house, Tokyo, Japan, 2011. Office of Ryue Nishizawa.

skysheader The Skys the Limit
If there’s any rule at all governing architecture today, it’s that anything goes. Advanced computer-assisted modeling and fabrication techniques make it possible to build highly complex shapes. Emerging economies and burgeoning cities demand super-sized structures. And there’s no lingua franca for architects working around the world: just about anything each one of them draws can be built. A new book, The Sky’s the Limit: Applying Radical Architecture, takes a closer look at some prominent avant-garde buildings from around the world and tries to puts a finger on what’s really going on. It’s no easy task.

This book classifies buildings according to their physical character: organic, sharp-edged, pixellated, interior, and outward-looking. While radially different from one another, each of these approaches can be understood as a form of resistance to the generic, commercial glass-box buildings that have come to populate our cities. There’s a movement towards gently swollen and rounded forms, expressed in a language similar to Zaha Hadid’s Acquatics Center for the 2012 London Olympics. There’s also a movement for modulated structures that have been broken into an array of smaller parts, like Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Both these types of buildings reflect a yearning for more varied, surprising and sensual forms. In that sense they’re opposed to orthodox twentieth-century modernism.


Art October 30, 2012 By Sarah Coleman

From <em>Out My Window</em> by Gail Albert Halaban, published by powerHouse Books

From Out My Window by Gail Albert Halaban, published by powerHouse Books

outmywindow1 OUT MY WINDOW
If you live in a city, in a place where you can look into other people’s windows through your own, it may be irresistible to indulge your voyeuristic impulses. We all love mysteries, and what could be more mysterious than a parallel life witnessed in glimpses through glass? Just ask Jeff Jeffries, the character played by James Stewart in Hitchcock’s masterful Rear Window. Laid up at home with a broken leg, Jeffries gets so involved with his Greenwich Village neighbors that he gives them inventive nicknames like “Miss Torso.”

With its crowded-together buildings and social diversity, New York City is the perfect locus for a film like Rear Window, or the similarly voyeuristic Dirty Windows, photographer Merry Alpern’s 1995 book of images secretly shot through the window of a low-rent sex club. But not everything going on through those neighboring windows is tacky or suspicious. Witness Gail Albert Halaban’s beautiful new book Out My Window (powerHouse), a warm and lyrical study of New Yorkers and their windowscapes.


Greenspace October 26, 2012 By Jordan Sayle

Solar Water Pump Testing Site in Safford, AZ/SunPumps

Solar Water Pump Testing Site in Safford, AZ/SunPumps

powerlessnomoretitle1 Powerless No More
Tech aficionados will be queuing up this holiday season to score the latest, hottest gadget ever invented. That’s become the standard during these glory years of the plugged-in generation. And while communication is now possible across a broader geographic and social range than might ever have been imagined, it’s remarkable in this time of hyper-connectivity that nearly 1.5 billion people around the world, approximately 20% of the global population, are still living in the dark. Not only do these people lack the ability to charge a cellular phone or connect to the Internet, they’re without basic lighting and the economic opportunities that come with it. Raising the living standard in the world’s poorest communities will not take electrical power alone, but the expansion of access is seen as a key element in realizing the UN’s Millennium Development Goals and finally bringing everyone into the 21st Century.

The challenges are significant, but there’s an important role to be played by sustainable energy resources in addressing the problem. The topic of how renewables can alleviate energy poverty is sure to be among those discussed when the Alliance for Rural Electrification and its partners gather in Accra next week for the first International Off-Grid Renewable Energy Conference.

Art October 22, 2012 By Aiya Ono

© Ariko Inaoka

© Ariko Inaoka

header3 Ariko Inaoka
Ariko Inaoka is a photographer from Kyoto, who only shoots film to this day and has her own color dark room. PLANET is pleased to present Ariko Inaoka’s beautiful world full of light and wonder.