Thursday, 15 April 2010

Maru the cat

My favourite internet celebrity is Maru the cat from Japan. He's the biggest cat I've ever seen, aside from the cat at my place of work -- I think they're each other's long lost brothers, they're so enormous. Maru is a Scottish Fold cat, the cutest breed of cat in my book (then again I love animals without pronounced ears, like meerkats and, uhm, seals).

Maru and my cat Ellie couldn't be more different; Ellie is teeny tiny and hates being brushed, whereas it looks like Maru relishes it:

Ellie does love having her belly rubbed (hence her Elliebelly nickname) and has a love for bags instead of Maru's well-documented love affair with boxes.

I'm glad my Ellie's tiny, though, she likes to sleep on my lower back when I sleep on my stomach and if she were Maru-sized, she might do me an injury.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Bert Monroy

A twist on my favourite art movement, photorealism, Bert Monroy specialises in digital photorealism.

"Red Truck" 2004

"Peter's Ice Cream" 1991 (!!)

"Oakland" 2004

"Oakland" 2004 (detail)

"As a photo-realist painter, I have often been asked why I don’t just take a photograph. Good question, when you consider my paintings look like photographs. Well, for one thing, I’m not a photographer. To me, it is not the destination that is important—it is the journey.
The incredible challenge of recreating reality is my motivation." -- Bert Monroy

"Lunch In Tiburon" (date?)

"The Sidelines" 1999

Monroy started out in a career in advertising and since 1984 has been making what he calls "digital paintings". They're really quite something, and his website allows you to zoom in on some details and the thought that the image isn't actually there, it's all made up of random shapes and shadows, it's a trip.

"Damen" 2006

"Damen" 2006 (detail)

Here are some statistics for graphic design nerds like me:

"This is my latest and most ambitious digital painting of a Chicago scene unveiled at Photoshop World in Miami on March 22, 2006.
It is a panorama of the Damen Station on the Blue Line of the Chicago Transit Authority.
Adobe Illustrator was used for generating the majority of the basic shapes as well as all the buildings in the Chicago skyline.
The rest was created in Photoshop.
• The image size is 40 inches by 120 inches.
• The flattened file weighs in at 1.7 Gigabytes.
• It took eleven months (close to 2,000 hours) to create.
• The painting is comprised of close to fifty individual Photoshop files.
• Taking a cumulative total of all the files, the overall image contains over 15,000 layers.
• Over 500 alpha channels were used for various effects.
• Over 250,000 paths make up the multitude of shapes throughout the scene.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Serge Gainsbourg -- 'Vie Héroïque'

My love for Serge Gainsbourg has been pretty well-documented on the internet so far; since 2006 it's pretty much been SergeSergeSerge all over, but I can't help but love and admire the man. I'd been waiting for Vie Héroïque since May 2008, and I was finally able to catch it this morning and it did not disappoint in the slightest.

Gainsbourg was a very complex figure and writer-director Joann Sfar did a great job of trying to bring all those nuances to the screen. Originally a comic book writer, Joann Sfar did quite an amazing job bringing all sorts of different media to the screen. Puppets, cartoons, they all help bring Gainsbourg's character to life in a way that few biopics do.

With all of his famous relationships with gorgeous women, Vie Héroïque could easily have turned into a complete raunchfest, but luckily it doesn't (Serge was rather "pudique", after all). Brigitte, Jane and Bambou are put on little pedestals, just like Serge put them on pedestals. As far as I could tell, the whole film was very much in Serge's spirit; the puppets and cartoons would have been misplaced in any other biopic, but since Gainsbourg often talked of himself (or parts of his personality) in third person (Gainsbarre was his mischievous alter ego), it only helps to accentuate his character.

Sfar did a good job on the script, going from Gainsbourg just before the Second World War started to Gainsbourg at the end of the 1980s, handling all the major events, but I found it contained a few too many "warnings"; whenever something big was going to happen (writing for France Gall, writing 'Je T'Aime..', meeting Jane) the scene before holds a few too many hints as to what's going to happen. Maybe it's less annoying when you're not a complete nut and haven't read all kinds of biographies on him, though.

Eric Elmosnino is otherworldly as Serge; give that man a César already! To play someone as a stumbling 20-something, to an artist at the top of his game, to a man completely ravaged by alcohol and cigarettes without it ever becoming a caricature, it's amazing. When you watch interviews with Gainsbourg, you immediately notice his little physical quirks; the way he holds his head and the particular gestures he makes with his hands -- Elmosnino incorporates it all into his performance without it coming off unnatural.