Since the dawn of mankind, art – to a great extent – has been influenced by the external world. At some level artistic expression can be defined as the result of the mingling or rather clashing of the internal with the external. Events across the world and international politics are therefore muses for several artists. Street art and graffiti probably illustrate this phenomenon the best. In the recent past, an unusual muse has emerged for artists across the globe – Julian Assange.
From a coloring book to full-fledged tribute art – the art world seems to be at the awe of the silver haired Australian. The founder of the whistleblower website WikiLeaks is easily one of the most spoken about and debated about personality in the world. Assange’s efforts to bring out the secrets that the authorities want to push under the rug have shaken the world order. A hero to many, villain to few – artistic tributes to the controversial man is now popping up in every street corner, as well as on the world of internet.
Dubbing Assange the “new folk hero”, a post on Brooklyn Street Art observed,”Pre-dating the modern ‘Street Art’ movement, the street has traditionally been an outlet for the voice of the people and social movements have almost always gained purchase there.
“Posters of underground heroes are as old as ‘Wanted: Billy the Kid’ nail-ups that people used to rip down and take home. The amount of politically motivated Street Art you see or even themes surrounding social issues seem to ebb and flow in quantity, but they are ever present. Villain to some and emerging folk hero to others, Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, has already inspired a comic book in addition to some pieces on the street.”
At the fun end of the spectrum, a website simply called Julian Assange Colouring Book allows users to enjoy the relaxing benefits of “Coloring in” ready made outlines of the gifted computer hacker/journalist/founder and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks.
“‘Collateral murder’, ‘Cablegate’, sexual misconduct charges against Julian in Sweden, calls for his assassination by the CIA, intrigue, suspense, and conspiracy theories – it all makes for pretty serious stuff.
“So where does the Julian Assange Coloring Book fit in? Well, simply put, it’s not “serious stuff”. It’s a coloring book about Julian Assange (with the occasional WikiLeaks page for good measure),” reads the website’s about section.
But the frivolity – so to speak – ends there as the versatility of the tribute art dedicated to Assange does not fail to awe. A point that needs to be stressed here is the fact that the pieces of reverence towards Assange come from all corners of the world. Amorfart, Hungarian street art site, showcased the making of a five layer stencil on a vinyl album, while the street art from Melbourne has been displayed for the world to see on the photo-sharing website Flickr by Regan Tamanui.
But the best of the lot comes from a French artist called Thierry Ehrmann. Ehrmann is quite a controversial figure. The artist born in Lyon is the founder and current chairman of the Serveur Group, a company that manages databases of art auction quotations through ArtPrice website. Ehrmann sparked off a row in connection with the decoration of his house, the Abode of Chaos. The house located in the peaceful village stick outs as the artist turned it into a replica war zone. Ehrmann is fighting a legal battle to sustain his house in which lives over 2,500 artworks from different artists.
Ehrmann’s photostream on Flickr contains an impressive collection of Assange-inspired art. The first of the three portraits of Julian Assange at the Abode of Chaos has been painted by an artist called Thomas Foucher. The second one has been posted on the occasion of Assange’s arrest, while the third and the most impressive one by Ehrmann has been posted to celebrate Assange being named the Man of the Year by Le Monde. The third portrait of Assange incorporates the fictitious cult-rebel hero ‘V for Vendetta’. While the right half of the portrait is that of Assange, the Guy Fawkes mask that ‘V’ wears forms the left half. This portrayal is extremely striking due to the parallel drawn between the man who fought against the totalitarian government in the Graphic-Novel series by Alan Moore and the man who is fighting against the tightlipped and seemingly scheming leaders and authoritative bodies in a world – present and real – plagued by many miseries.
The Valentine’s Day just got special for music lovers in LA as the ‘Sweet and Low’ rockers Augustana will be performing alongside Lucinda Williams at Bardot on February 14.
Announcing this on Facebook, Augustana wrote, “Hey LA friends, we’re going to be joining the incredibly talented Lucinda Williams for It’s A School Night at Bardot on February 14th (Valentine’s Day)! You can RSVP on their website… See you then!”.
Those interested in attending can RSVP on It’s A School Night website.
Augustana has over 170,000 fans on Facebook.
While the gig comes as a great news for the Augustana and Lucinda Williams’ fans in LA, most of the comments on the social networking site were from the disappointed ones.
“GRRRR! I live on the east coast but would be there in a heartbeat if I could! That would be my dream valentine’s day!!” wrote Emily Tennant.
Korey Vallance wrote, “Yet another reason I wish I lived in LA.”
However, one question in the comments threads that did strike us was from Todd Zilla, who asked, “new record any time soon?”
We hope Augustana would heal the thousands of aching hearts who have missed all the recent shows and the one coming up on Valentine’s Day by just releasing a new album.
While Kim Kardashian blazed the red carpet in Marchesa at the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) Awards in Los Angeles, the internet was set on fire by the nude photos of the actress/socialite as she posed for the W Magazine late last year. Google Trends has been volcanic with related search terms.
Kim Kardashian went bare for W Magazine’s ‘Art Issue’. On the cover shot, Kardashian’s assets are covered by strategically placed text bars. In the feature within the magazine, the bombshell is covered with absolutely nothing but silver paint.
If you are wondering how the magazine shots taken last year has yet again made it back to the spotlight, it is all thanks to the show Kourtney and Kim Take New York on E!.
The photos were mentioned on the last night’s episode of the show. The mention seems to serve two purposes. For one, it revived the interest in the ‘W’ photos, which back when released caused quiet a lot of commotion coupled with the Playboy photos. On the other hand, the nudity was hoped at also reviving the show, which seems to be losing popularity without Khloe.
Nothing sells like sex!!
In yet another one of the unusual eBay Auctions, the ‘Identity of Banksy’ has gone on sale.
As of 8:53 Tuesday (GMT); the highest bid stands one dollar short of a million dollars at US $999,999.00. A total of 38 bids have been made in the auction, which is scheduled to end on Jan 19, 201107:22:22 PST.
The description from the seller reads, “If you win this auction I will mail you a piece of paper revealing the true identity of ‘Banksy’.
“I have uncovered his identity by matching up the prices of his sold pieces to corresponding tax records. I will reveal no more details.
“The winner of this auction is the only person I will ever share this information with. The piece of paper will say his name, nothing more.
“I give you 100% assurance that it is most certainly the full name of the street artist known as “Banksy”.
“Ebay previously ended this auction because I was selling something that was not “tangible”. It is now tangible.”
Banksy is the elusive street artist whose identity remains a huge mystery. The British graffiti artist, political activist and painter is known for his thought-provoking and subversive street art.
Most recently Banksy made news in October 2010 when he directed an opening sequence for The Simpsons.
History has seen several assassinations, including the recent killing of a Governor in Pakistan for opposing the archaic Muslim blasphemy law. The latest assassination attempt of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, however, stands different as the world has been given a chance to actually enter the mind of the suspected gunman.
22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner was held immediately after the shooting at a political meeting held by Democratic Representative Giffords in a supermarket parking lot in Tucson, Arizona. Media reports that five people died in the shooting including a 9-year-old girl, Christina Taylor Green, while Giffords is battling for her life in a hospital.
Just hours after the arrest, the suspect’s internet presence has been dug into. While the feds are taking a look into Loughner’s “rambling Internet manifesto” accusing the government of mind control and demanding a new currency, every person across the globe with an internet connection can get into the head of the gunman through his YouTube and MySpace channels.
On YouTube account of ‘Classitup10’, the youngster wrote sometimes baffling and sometimes nonsensical tirades against the government. He describes himself as a “conscience dreamer” speaking against the American government’s alleged mind control tactics and brain washing.
The youngster, who lists Animal Farm, Brave New World, The Wizard Of OZ, Aesop Fables, The Odyssey, Alice Adventures Into Wonderland, Fahrenheit 451, Peter Pan, To Kill A Mockingbird, We The Living, Phantom Toll Booth, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Pulp,Through The Looking Glass, The Communist Manifesto, Siddhartha, The Old Man And The Sea, Gulliver’s Travels, Mein Kampf, The Republic, and Meno as his favorite books, studied grammar. He urges people to get grammar “literate”.
“Secondly, my hope – is for you to be literate! If you’re literate in English grammar, then you comprehend English grammar. The majority of people, who reside in District 8, are illiterate — hilarious. I don’t control your English grammar structure, but you control your English grammar structure,” he writes white on black in video titled ‘Hello’.
“You don’t allow the government to control your grammar structure, listener?” he says in ‘My Final Thoughts’.
While his accounts provide a passage into his mind, Twitter users are using the microblogging site to vent out frustrations and share what ever information they can. Users are uploading Twitpics [See: Jared Lee Loughner/ Giffords] – giving a sense of proximity to the whole incident to anyone reading about the shooting from anywhere on the planet. Incidentally, the Congresswoman had also tweeted just before the meet inviting everyone to take part and to give feedback later through tweets.
Our hearts have sunk, the violence has rendered us speechless. We just wanted to share our observation of how internet has changed the way he get to interact with reality, no matter what the distances. The suspect’s manifesto gives us a peek into his mind. At the same time, we can gauge the responses of the people through sites like Twitter.
The following are the YouTube videos of Loughner
Contrary to Apple Inc.’s claim that the iPhone alarm problem would be fixed by January 3, the glitch persisted even on Monday causing scores of users to oversleep, again. While iPhone users have yet again taken to Twitter to vent out their frustration, Apple CEO has also resorted to the microblogging site for some damage control.
“iPhone alarm clock bug most definitely not fixed. Grrr,” posted a user, ewanmcintosh.
“Today the alarm on my #iphone should be working according to #apple then why did I wake up at 08:30 instead of the time on my alarm 07:35!” questioned bianc1208.
Some sought to look at the brighter side of things. jlemm tweeted, “A pleasant start for the week: oversleeping thanks to the annual iPhone alarm clock issue.”
Others tried to read into the signs, apa02 posted, “Interesting problem with that iPhone alarm. I thought Mayas’ end of the world was coming 2012.”
Twitter has been flooded by Apple iPhone alarm problems related posts since the beginning of the new year as the alarm on the phone has not been working since Jan 1, 2011.
The company had earlier confirmed the iOS bug that causes one off alarms to not function properly on iPhone and iPod touch devices and promised “all alarms will work properly beginning January 3”.
Apple had also said that the users can set recurrant alarms to avoid any troublem as the glitch affected only the one-off alarm. However, several latest tweets suggest that even this solution did not help much.
Now, Apple CEO, Steve Jobs has jumped into the rescue.
“Until Apple issues an official fix for the iPhone alarm glitch, please do not open your iPhone’s clock app. Doing so may void the warranty,” he tweeted.
His earlier tweet read: “Sorry about the iPhone alarm glitch. We had absolutely no way to prepare for 2011.”
Considering that this is the second time in two months that Apple iPhones have let people sleep in late and face consequences for that, it would be better for the users to rely on something else.
Here are some apps that may be used as alarm on iPhone:
Facebook’s new profile page, unveiled in the first week of December, seems to have sparked off creativity and inspired several users into experimental photography and photo-manipulation.
“And since there’s often no better way to learn about a person than through photos, the profile now includes a row of recently tagged photos of you,” Josh Wiseman, a Facebook engineer, wrote on the official blog on December 5, explaining the new features on the revamped profile page.
He was commenting specifically on an interesting aspect of the redesign was a row of five recently tagged photos of the user nestled horizontally after the profile picture.
It was incorporated immediately under the basic information, another new feature, described as “a quick overview of basic information such as where you’re from, where you went to school, and where you work—the kinds of conversation starters you share with people you’ve just met or exchange with old friends as you get reacquainted.”
Several other aspects were also introduced such as featured friends to allow users to chose or feature selected friends or family members, as well as the feature enabling users to showcase their interests, hobbies, even projects worked on.
However, it is the addition of the five berths for photographs that seems to have impressed and inspired many to unleash creativity.
‘Creative Uses of New Facebook Profile’
The ‘Creative Uses of the New Facebook Profile’ were brought together by a tech blog called Mashable on Dec 14. Exactly ten days later on Dec 24, the site published second edition to the report ‘More Creative Uses of the New Facebook Profile’ from their readership, who either shared their own profiles or ones they have highlighted as particularly impressive.
These double-ten doses of creativity struck us very interesting as they reflected a distinct sense of photography and precise photo-manipulation.
Mashable identified French artist Alexandre Oudin as the creator of the craze, and reported that these designs were emerging in number.
“People have been playing around with their profile pics since Facebook first launched, but the new redesign allows for some inspired fun including clever animations, typography and photography magic.”
Even though the craze started in one artist’s head, the each of the picked profiles stood on its own. From Oudrin’s depiction of his face in six pictures on his profile page, the experiments took it to newer spaces. A moment between a father and a daughter, the suspension in air with a basket ball reaching out to the ring, playful depiction of rescue from a shark, decorating the Christmas tree – each of the selection was intriguing in its own way.
We spoke to the people behind the social media art….
“We focus a lot less on how ‘good’ we look and a lot more on what we can do with our surroundings. I think” we’ve come a long way from the “camera and the bathroom mirror shots from the Myspace days.
I hope this is the start of a string of much more creative ways to express oneself on social media! I really think it is, and I think this a great start,” said Luke Kingma, whose basic information reads “Worked at Camp Iroquois Springs (Videographer, Cabin Specialist); Studied Business Administration & Film at University of Pittsburgh; Born on October 22, 1987.”
Luke’s experiment with what has come to be known as “new Facebook profile pic hacks” was him decorating a luminescent Christmas Tree. His profile picture was him with his arm (until his wrist) stretched out. What followed it in the five photo spaces was his arm from wrist on putting an adornment on a whimsical Christmas Tree.
“Since it was so close to Christmas, I just immediately thought of a Christmas tree as being something distinguishable that would be perfect for the row of 5 photos. I wanted to do something really different than the ones I had already seen (didn’t want to just do my face) so I chose a Christmas theme,” he told LexicalPixies.
But this was not his original planned. Revealing what he originally conceptualized, he said, Originally, I wanted the 5 photos to be presents under a tree, then a picture of me reaching for one of them, but when I started photographing my tree, I realized this would be a lot cooler.”
Taking what was inspired by the new profile page layout, Prashish Rajbhandari “wowed” with an entire album hack.
“I don’t really think facebook is changing the way we photograph ourselves or things till now. I reckon only 3 to 5 percent of the facebook users would actually consider to photograph themselves particularly for their facebook page. The rest would just take a photo from their album stock and use it,” he said when asked if Facebook is changing the way we photograph ourselves or things.
We asked both of them about what effects they thought social media was having on photography and arts. Prashish, who is a founder of and admin of a student-created blog aimed at providing information flow with high quality posts, Fortystones, said that these platforms provided grounds to display and appreciate creativity and imagination.
“As you can see many creative facebook pages have been appearing in the last few days. Even the creator of the ‘row of five photos’ in facebook would have been amazed of the creative flow of art or photography by facebook users. Its very early to say if social media is affecting photography or art but yes, we can see the imagination and creativity of people in such a small platform.”
Luke, who essentially works with film, video and photography, thought that social media was bringing art and photography into the mainstream.
“Social media is allowing us to show off our creativity to a much broader audience than before (when we typically are constrained to photo sharing sites or niche audiences on niche websites and venues). It is also allowing us to view ourselves in new ways, and allowing us to show others how creative we really are, not just how creative we say we are in our ‘bios’ or whatever. The more advanced social media gets, the closer we get to really seeing who other people are online. Used in the right ways, I think that can be a very good thing.”
When we came across these profiles we were struck by the amount of creativity and imagination that is out there. Internet as we know it has been stretching its temptations into almost all aspects of our lives. So art followed. Internet art was first born from the need to escape dominance of the gallery and museum system, delivering aesthetic experiences. It gave artists, big and small, a little space to experiment. With the social media also delivering the same joy, the adventure has just began for those with their heads brimming with ideas.
The Facebook profile experimenters, we believe, have created a new sensibility into aesthetics.
And so Prashish, here is what we have to say about your remark – “I hope to see one day ‘Amazing collection of facebook profile pages'” : “The day is here and the time is now”.
It is beyond doubt that true artists live forever. But, reminding us yet again that it is the true fans and followers who consecrate immortality on to the artists, the crowd-sourced Johnny Cash video has grabbed a spot on this year’s Grammy Nominations.
‘The Man in Black’ has been resurrected by the The Johnny Cash Project, which gave Cash’s final studio recording, ‘Ain’t No Grave’, with a nothing-like-anything-before video. It is a collective, or crowd-sourced, music video put together using the drawings submitted by the denizens of the web.
Now, ‘Ain’t No Grave / The Johnny Cash Project’ figures on the list of nominees for 53rd annual Grammy Awards under the category Best Short Form Music Video, alongside tracks like Eminem & Rihanna’s ‘Love The Way You Lie’ (Explicit Version), ‘Stylo’ of Gorillaz, Mos Def & Bobby Womack, Cee Lo Green’s ‘F*** You’ and Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’.
The Johnny Cash project does face a huge competition. Take for instance the YouTube views of the other contenders, ‘Bad Romance’ has more than 300 million views, ‘F**k You’ has attracted 32 million views while ‘Love The Way You Lie’ has pocketed around 200 million on the video sharing website.
Nevertheless, the Cash nomination stands class apart. For one, the artist’s work has been featured seven years after his death in 2003. The video is created by fans across the world and refreshes itself with every new contribution.
The Johnny Cash Project:
Video director Chris Milk is the man behind the commendable project, produced by Radical Media.
Speaking about how the project was born in Portugal at an art and technology conference back in 2009, where he met Aaron Koblin, who now heads up Google Creative Lab’s Data Arts Team, is quoted as saying in Mashable, “We knew that we would need an artist that had a certain level of universal love for them already existing, and that’s a difficult thing on the Internet nowadays because you only have to go a couple of pages deep to find millions of haters of everything.”
The Johnny Cash Project has a dedicated website, where fans can use a specialized drawing tool to contribute a frame or frames to the video.
“A UNIQUE COMMUNAL WORK, A LIVING PORTRAIT OF THE MAN IN BLACK” – reads the website.
“Through this interactive website, participants may draw their own portrait of Johnny Cash to be integrated into a collective whole. As people all over the world contribute, the project will continue to evolve and grow, one frame at a time.”
According to the video [Watch Official Video], “To date, over 250,000 people from 172 countries have participated in an online video to construct Johnny Cash’s final music video.”
We continue to love how internet is changing how the world works in almost every way possible. The medium has not only provided the true blue Johnny Cash fans an opportunity to be part of the brilliant musician’s legacy, but has also, consequently, brought him back to life to give the “stars” of the day a run for their money.
Our digital artist is current trying hand on the Johnny Cash Project. If we get our frames up there, we will surely share it with you all. In case, you have already got your art featured or are trying to, share your story with us – tell us about your inspiration and love for ‘The Man in Black’.
Google is back again to awe us all with its ever amazing doodles. The internet giant treated those less fortunate ones, who are spending the holiday season in front of the computer for what ever reasons, with an elaborate doodle.
Google’s logo on the homepage has been replaced by a gallery of 17 interactive holiday scenes from around the world.
Even though the tradition of Google doodle began about a decade ago with simple additions or rather adornments to the logo featured on the search page, the art has evolved over the years into an interactive pleasure. The first such interactive doodle that took the world by a storm was that of Buckyball in September 2010.
As has been the case with all the interactive logos, hovering your mouse over the holiday doodle will bring the 17 depictions to life. While hovering the over the piece enlarges the art, clicking on it would open up a search page with the links about the piece.
The 17 scenes include:
- St. Basil’s Cathedral
- Buche de Noel (a traditional dessert served during Christmas season)
- Acropolis of Athens
- Pierogi (boiled, baked or fried dumplings stuffed with varying ingredients across different cuisines)
- Mt. Fuji
- Great Wall of China
- Sahara desert
- Indian dance styles
- Oud (a pear-shaped stringed instrument commonly used in Middle Eastern music)
- Chili Pepper
- Sydney Harbour
- Venice gondolas
- Chilean vineyards
- African kanga (a colorful wrap around garment)
- Up on the housetop (Christmas song)
- Henna lamp (from Morocco)
The doodle went live at 9 am Eastern Time on December 23, 2010, on the eve of Christmas eve. As per reports, the holiday logo, which took a team of five artists under the chief doodler Micheal Lopez about 250 hours of work, will remain up until the Christmas holiday is over.
We have always been loyal observers of the Google Doodle. Never has the search engine giant failed to awe us. This holiday season just got more special with this great piece of digital art on our browsers to relieve us while we continue to slog through the holidays.
All those who missed the only lunar eclipse of the year, which also happened to be the first since 1638 to coincide with the winter solstice, fret not! Not only are the spectacular pictures of the eclipse taken by professional photographers for various media organisations now available, the users of the microblogging site Twitter also took the opportunity to capture the celestial event and share it with the world.
Hundreds of Twitpic users posted photos of the lunar eclipse as seen from their respective locations spanning across the globe.
One among the brilliant photographs was that of a Twitter user called isardasorensen. Inga Sarda-Sorensen, who describes herself as “New York City enthusiast, passionate photog, consummate optimist, equality advocate, plus lots more!”, captured the “beautiful red-hued lunar eclipse” from her Manhattan terrace.
As the lunar eclipse went on for three-and-half hours, another user iambetocuevas posted a picture of the eclipse in progress, describing it “Sigue el eclipse lunar / the lunar eclipse continues”.
Igordphoto also posted a photo of the eclipse in progress, showing the darkness eating into the round moon.
Not owning a high-end camera did not seem to stop those enthusiastic to share their view of the eclipse. TridentTweet posted a picture of the moon in a “perfectly clear sky” taken from “only from Blackberry”.
Another user Blishy posted a picture of the moon, with the comment “The Full Moon looks AMAZING tonight! Not a bad pic from a cell phone, eh?”
Marcello_Moraes posted a Twitpic of the moon hidden by clouds to share with the world that he will “have to see the #LunarEclipse NASA on UStream for the sky outside is cloudy and I can not see!”
All the photos posted can be tracked with the hashtag – #lunar eclipse.
Besides this, a twitpic post by NASAJPL with an infographic on the Lunar Eclipse phases saw comments from users “reporting” on the progress of the eclipse from their homelands.
Over the past few days, lunar eclipse has been among the trending topics on Twitter.
A popular tech blog, Mashable wrote, “You know that old cliche about how we’re all under the same sky? Well, during last night’s lunar eclipse, old sayings became truth as people nearly all across the world shared pictures of the phenomenon via Twitter.”
“As the months speed by, more and more historical events are being documented via Twitter (Twitter) and social networks — from The New York City Marathon to earthquakes to meteors,” added the report that put together some of the best Twitpics of the lunar eclipse.
Twitter has changed the way reporting and media functions. The microblogging site allows everyone with internet access to turn into a reporter. This not only allows for a diverse range of inputs on a particular occurrence or event, but is also faster than the traditional media, albeit the credibility factor takes a hit due to the lack of editorial processes.
Nevertheless, we love Twitter for the providing the grounds for such a seamless global communication at people-level.
If you are not satisfied with the Twitpics, check out some of the awe-inspiring images on National Geographic.
So what if the TIME magazine chose to snub WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for the ‘Person of the Year’ title, the Rolling Stone magazine crowned the silver-haired whistle blower the ‘Rockstar of the Year’ for 2010.
The Italian edition of the US-based magazine made thousands of WikiLeaks worshipers happy on this week by naming the 39-year-old controversial Australian the ‘Rockstar of 2010’.
There is no doubt that majority of the rock fans out there agree with the magazine’s contention that even though Assange is not a musician he “is the person who best embodied a rock’n’roll behaviour” this year.
“Assange is an icon like Che Guevara on T-shirts or Mao for Andy Warhol. He is the pop leader of the end of diplomacy and imperial security. Assange is the true rock&roll; star of the Three Thousand years,” said the magazine devoted to music, politics, and popular culture.
‘The Man Who Fell (From The Web) to Earth’ – reads the cover of the magazine, which features a “bare-chested” Assange – a detail that hit the headlines across the globe.
According to the magazine, the decision to publish tens of thousands of leaked US diplomatic cables made him a cross between a James Bond baddy, a Marvel comics superhero and a character from The Matrix films.
With the tag line ‘The Man Who Fell (From The Web) to Earth, the magazine also drew comparisons between Assange and David Bowie’s character in the 1976 movie ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth,’ in which Bowie plays a humanoid alien who is sent to Earth to secure water for his dying planet.
Besides praising him as “the exterminator of secrets held by the world’s great powers”, the magazine described him as “the popleader of the end of diplomacy and imperial security”.
WikiLeaks’ recent ‘Cablegate’ exposed confidential communications between 274 embassies in countries across the globe as well as the US State Department. Besides the latest and the massive Nov 2010 leak, WikiLeaks has a long list of achievements to show for the year, including the Iraq Apache helicopter attack, Guantanamo Bay procedures, Scientology, Climate Reasearch e-mail leaks, leaks from Sarah Palin’s e-mail account, and 9/11 pager data.
However, Assange follows another non-rockstar in winning the title. The Italian edition of Rolling Stone had in 2009 named the sex scandal-tainted Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi its ‘Rockstar of the Year’ for his “lifestyle worthy of the greatest rock star.”
Nevertheless, the 2010 selection of the Rolling Stone deserves a huge applause, especially after TIME disappointed with its selection of Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerburg for its ‘Person of the Year’ title despite Assange winning a whooping 382026 votes from the public to head the list of the contenders for the year. [Time Public Voting Poll Results]
Julian Assange and his army at WikiLeaks are doing what legendary rockstars sang or rather screamed about. The whistle blower’s actions and the effects its having not only on the US government but also on authorities across the globe reflect the political angst of the likes of Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine, who has authored songs like ‘Peace Sells’; and that of Rage Against The Machine’s provocative lines from songs like ‘Killing in the name of’.
So hats off to Rolling stone for acknowledging the real rockstar of the day – the man who shook up the planet with the truth.
As the year winds out, the world is looking forward to the promises of tomorrow. Well, rather interestingly the future holds great nostalgia for Facebook users as the legendary British comedy troupe Monty Python is working alongside game developers Zattikka to take its surreal humour and psychedelic art into the realm of social gaming.
The Ministry of Silly Games, which will include eight free games, is slated to be released on the social networking site in 2011.
Based on some of Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin’s most popular skits, the games are set to “bring Monty Python characters and scenes to life like never before”, Gamespy reported, quoting Terry Jones, the ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ star.
While the Pythonesque virtual world is set to provide the Facebook users with farcical diversions with Monty Python’s surreal brand of humor, an exciting aspect of the games for observers of art would be that the sketches and imagery from the films and show will be incorporated into the games.
The TV series Monty Python’s Flying Circus that ran from 1969 to 1974 had animations between sketches and the opening credits. Original Python and film director Terry Gilliam was the man behind these pieces.
Anarchy was embodied by twist of famous works of art such as Botticelli’s ‘Venus’, which was animated to senseless dancing for comic effect. At the same time, Gilliam, whose film directing credits also include Twelve Monkeys, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, worked on a surreal level of art.
The giant foot descending from the sky to squash the figures below, bulbous comic-book like characters, a man’s teeth turning into piano keys, the old woman walking a pram with a granny-gobbling monster, human figures or body parts grafted onto the bodies of animals, a couch potato with his eyes sucked out by the TV are some of the popular and memorable examples.
While promoting the The Ministry of Silly Games, both Gilliam and Python Terry Jones are quoted in several media reports as explaining that art not only influenced the animations but also the content of many of their acts.
“Both of us are huge Bruegel and Bosch fans. (It’s a) kind of a medievalist view of the world which seems to me to be a lot more alive and interesting than most of the iconography of our modern world,” Gilliam is quoted as saying.
Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c.1525 -1569), sometimes referred to as Peasant Bruegel, was a Flemish Renaissance artist known for his landscapes and peasant scenes. He is known to have created some of the early images of acute social protest in art history such as The Fight Between Carnival and Lent, which some believe is a satire of the conflicts of the Reformation. (See: Bruegel Gallery)
Hieronymus Bosch (c.1450 -1516) was an early Netherlandish painter, known for his use of fantastic imagery to illustrate moral and religious concepts and narratives, such as Garden of Earthly Delights (Ecclesia’s paradise), The Last Judgement, and The Temptation of St Anthony. His far-fetched depictions even earned him the reputation of being heretical. (See: Bosch gallery)
So, now we know that the comic yet didactic style of Monty Python art was derived from Bruegel, while Bosch provided the inspiration for fantastical or surreal imagery.
Even though Bruegel and Bosch were very early painters, surreal art comes from a comparatively recent movement in 1920s. Surreal art can best be seen as distortion of the world as we know it or see it. The works hold an element of surprise with absurdity and juxtapositions. Surreal or Psychedelic art has been one of the most intriguing, meaning-ladden genres of art, and is capable of rendering multiple and varying interpretations.
However, Gilliam does not seem to be too happy with the way violence takes over aesthetic in video games made these days.
“I mean, we created interesting worlds full of odd, bizarre, surprising elements and I think that’s what gamers seem to want.”
“I don’t know, most games I look at it seem to be incredibly violent. Our violence was much funnier — bloodier — but funnier,” he opined.
Speaking specifically on the upcoming Facebook games, he said, “I guess my visuals have always been a bit videogamey. So it’s brilliant seeing them actually in games at last. The Ministry of Silly Games looks like what was inside my head when I was creating all that iconic imagery.”
The games, which are slated to be unveiled in first quarter of 2011, will include:
– King Arthur’s Knight Fight: A slice-’em-up games, featuring the Black Knight, The Killer Rabbit, Tim the Enchanter, the Holy Hand Grenade and God.
– Monty Python’s Scratch ‘N Sniff: Observation game with Zattikka’s original Flash Scratchcard mechanic.
– Camelot Smashalot: The goals of this game would be to catapult livestock, Holy Hand Grenades and Trojan rabbits at the fiendish French fortresses.
– Twit Russian Roulette: The player has to keep an upper-class twit alive for as long as possible in this wacky game of Russian Roulette.
– Mr. Creosote: In this one-button reaction game, the player has to feed Mr Creosote his favorite nosh but avoid the wafer thin mints.
– Gumby Flower Arranging: The player has to help the Gumby match three flowers of the same kind. The consequence otherwise would be he will hit himself with bricks.
– Gillaxian: This arcade-style shooter is also a tribute to a great game by Namco and a great artist.
– Aerial Antics: This is a puzzler in which the player has to balance the TV aerial on household objects to tune in.
Beta sign-ups are open.
The triple delight of gaming, art and comedy prompted us to sit up and take notice. We have already registered to participate in the Monty Python closed beta. As soon as we have something to share on the outcome of this interesting development, we’ll be back to blog. However, be warned that our love for psychedelia is probably going to affect our views.
What we would also love to see is a game based on Gilliam’s other masterpiece – The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.