Tuesday, May 6, 2014


This humoristic cartoon depicts a pretty young grandfather and two of his grandsons. The children are sitting on a boat called "Believin' in America", while their grandfather is on the Cayman Islands, and has just finished digging a hole to bury all of his money. The grandfather in question here is Mitt Romney, the Republican party's candidate for the 2012 presidential election in the USA, which he lost to Barack Obama. At the time, and still now, he's very criticized because of all of his somehow "illicit" activities involving financial havens. The cartoons shows in the background other financial havens than the Cayman Islands, such as Switzerland or the Bermuda islands. It conveys a deeply ironic message. The fact that the boat is called "Believin' in America" while Romney is explaining the difference between "outsourcing" and "offshoring", both ways of taking a country's money to other locations makes this pretty clear.
This cartoon tackles the topic of Spaces & Exchanges: money can be exchanged in many different ways, and can travel through very different hands. Money also goes through very different spaces and depends on these spaces (banks, financial havens...).

This humoristic cartoon called "Simply Explained - Part 10: Offshoring" shows the business men's point of view of Offshoring: two middle-aged men, one of them in a shirt and tie are complaining about their employees in "another country", declaring that it's unbelievable that they want to be paid and that therefore, their company should move to another country. It explains boldly why rich companies offshore to other countries: simply because it reduces costs drastically and because it allows them to employ people in the worst conditions possible. Clearly, the author wishes to denounce the occidental world's attitude and haughtiness towards the working population of poor countries such as Vietnam, Laos or Bangladesh, where horrible accidents occur every year due to the terrible conditions the workers have to endure just so that the company saves some money.
Indeed, this cartoon deals with the notion of Spaces & Exchanges: Offshoring is a way of exchanging safe working conditions for more money and benefits. It also creates two spaces: the company's headquarters in a rich country and the different factories around the world, all located in very poor countries.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014



R.E.M was formed in Athens, Georgia, in 1980, Mike Mills (born December 17, 1958) and Bill Berry (born July 31, 1958) were the only Southerners in the group. It marked the point when post-punk turned into alternative rock. When their first single, "Radio Free Europe," was released in 1981, it sparked a back-to-the-garage movement in the American underground. While there were a number of hardcore and punk bands in the U.S. during the early '80s, R.E.M. brought guitar pop back into the underground lexicon. It did take R.E.M. several years to break into the top of the charts, but they had a cult following the release of their debut EP, Chronic Town, in 1982. Chronic Town established the haunting folk and garage rock that became the band's signature sound, and over the next five years, they continued to expand their music with a series of critically acclaimed albums.
In October of 1997, R.E.M. shocked fans and the media with the announcement that Berry was amicably exiting the group to retire to life on his farm; the remaining members continued on as a three-piece, soon convening in Hawaii to begin preliminary work on their next LP. Replacing Berry with a drum machine, the sessions resulted in 1998's Up, widely touted as R.E.M.'s most experimental recording in years. It was only a brief change of direction, since the band's next album, 2001's Reveal, marked a return to their classic sound.
 Unexpectedly, in September 2011, the band announced its amicable breakup after 31 years together. Immediately after the split, the band issued a double disc compilation entitled, Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage: 1982-2011, covering both their years at IRS and Warner.

(From All music Guide)


Righting themselves via their long-awaited return to rock AccelerateR.E.M. regrouped and rediscovered their core strengths as a band, strengths they build upon on its 2011 sequel, Collapse into Now. Cautiously moving forward fromAccelerate’s Life's Rich Pageant blueprint, R.E.M. steer themselves toward the pastoral, acoustic moments of Out of Time and Automatic for the People without quite leaving behind the tight, punchy rockers that fueled Accelerate’s race to the end zone. This broadening of the palette is as deliberate as Accelerate’s reduction of R.E.M. to ringing Rickenbackers, and while it occasionally feels as if the bandmembers sifted through their past to find appropriate blueprints for new songs, there is merit to their madness. R.E.M. embrace their past to the extent that they disdain the modern, reveling in their comfortable middle age even if they sometimes slip into geezerhood, with Michael Stipespending more than one song wondering about kids these days. He’s not griping; he’s merely accepting his age, which is kind of what R.E.M. do as a band here, too. Over a tight 41 minutes, they touch upon all the hallmarks from when Bill Berry still anchored the band, perhaps easing up on the jangle but devoting plenty of space to rough-hewn acoustics and mandolin, rushing rock & roll, and wide-open, eerie mood pieces that sound like rewrites of “E-Bow the Letter.” Any slight element of recycling is offset by craft so skilled it almost seems casual. This may impart a lack of urgency to Collapse into Now but it also means that it delivers R.E.M. sounding like R.E.M., something that has been in short supply since the departure of Berry.


I personally believe that this song is very meaningful. The music is very soft, almost like a lullaby, with a very sweet melody. Although it may seem repetitive or too simple, I think it is made on purpose: the music becomes quite catchy and easy to learn, just like a child's song! On the other hand, it gives a stronger place to the lyrics, which I consider to be the most important part of the song. 
Moreover, the singer's voice is particularly loving, as if he was singing specially for every one of us. In fact, the title says it all: "Every day is yours to win". The band is using this song to convey a message, to clearly say something to the public, something that everyone can understand and sing along to. This is the reason why the lyrics are so simple: it makes the song catchier and shows that they are adressing a large number of people all over the world, with a very powerful message.
On the whole, even though the song may seem excessively simple and childish, I think that it is precisely what makes it special and stresses the band's intentions: to reach deeply into everyone of us.


My personal opinion would be that this song deals with insecurity, and the power that everyone of us have, but that we might not be conscious of. It's very strong in its message, because it urges people to do what they love, and to open their perception: we all have a "road ahead of [us]". It constitutes a realistic version of life, since it admits that "it's not all cherry pie", but it still stays positive and offers a bridge to all of those who would like to cross it. The message conveyed here is about personal realization, about not loosing hope, and always fighting for yourself. For R.E.M, heroes are not superheroes, or firemen, or celebrities, but each and everyone of us, for being exactly who are and doing exactly what we love: Anyone can be a hero, you just need to make the best of each day. It can certainly remind us of Carpe Diem!

Moreover, the video clearly states the same ideas. It has a "homemade" appearance, that is not really an appearance, but the truth! Apparently, the band asked people from all over the world, to make videos of what they liked to do, no matter how simple or stupid it might look. The video is not "fake" but real. All the characters that appear in it look like normal people: no make-up, no heels, no tuxedos...Just humans, of every age and gender.
I also believe that the fact that the video is confusing at times is actually to reflect the feeling we might get facing everyday life sometimes: so many events, people, and days go by, sometimes we all feel a bit lost and confused. This feeling of loneliness is stressed by the fact that all the people in the video are alone. But in fact, are they really? If they're using a webcam, they are talking to someone else, so indeed, they are not alone. It is one of the implicit messages of the video: we are never alone, and there is always a bridge for us to cross; we can always move forward.
Finally, I think that what the song and video want to transmit is that nobody is really alone, and that anybody can become anything they wish. Do what you love, live by the day, and make every day yours to win! It is the only way of becoming a true hero...

Monday, December 9, 2013


The movie Into the Wild could strongly represent the notion of Myths & Heroes. Indeed, a young man breaking free from today's society with its' rules, and therefore accomplishing his dream of living in a wild and free world shows that the young man could be considered a hero. You need bravery, intelligence and very strong convictions to be able to free yourself from all the comfort society offers. The movie also conveys the idea of the noble savage's myth. According to the french philosopher from the XVIII century Rousseau, society has corrupted Man's innocence and it's the people called "savages" who, living in the wild, end up being more innocent and kind-hearted than any civilized man.

Into the Wild could also convey the notion of Progress. The movie shows that progress doesn't only consist of new technologies or advanced civilizations. The young man feels that he is moving forward, progressing, by regressing into a "wild" way of life, where money has no value and where feelings and freedom are all that matter. Progress can sometimes mean to regress to another more simple and pure reality.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Anish Kapoor.

His name may ring a bell or not, but he's certainly one of the most influent artists of the era! 

Anish Kapoor was born in 1954, in Mumbai, India. His family is originally from Irak, but they moved to India during Anish's early years, being part of the jewish community of Mumbai. Like many artists these days, Anish started studying something he didn't really like, in this case Electrical Engineering. He had trouble with all the mathematics involved and ended quitting after 6 months. He then moved to Israel and decided that he wanted to become an artist. In 1973, he left Israel for England, where he studied Fine Arts in the Hornsey College of Art and in the Chelsea School of Art and Design. After his studied he moved to London and has been living and working in the city from the 1970's. 

He has won many prizes such as the Turner award and he even received the knighthood in 2013 for his services to visual arts. 

What I wanted to show you is his works: many may find them too over the top, or lacking meaning, but I find them outstanding from an aesthetic point of view and very deep in meaning. 

His early works are pretty simple: geomtric forms, with very bright colours. 

1000 Names (1979-1980)

 "While making the pigment pieces, it occurred to me that they all form themselves out of each other. So I decided to give them a generic title, A Thousand Names, implying infinity, a thousand being a symbolic number. The powder works sat on the floor or projected from the wall. The powder on the floor defines the surface of the floor and the objects appear to be partially submerged, like icebergs. That seems to fit inside the idea of something being partially there."

To Reflect an Intimate Part of the Red (1981)

He then started explorimg surfaces that evoked the "void". He states that these sculptures are a way of creating something that in fact represents nothing. It is up to viewer to fill the empty space before him, and well, get lost into the void!
Void (1989)

Here's project called "No place" that fits with the idea of void
He uses a special painting technique that allows him to create that feeling of an "infinite void".

After his obsession with void, Anish Kapoor started working on stainless steel. One of his most well-known pieces fits this period: 

It is placed in the Millenium Park in Chicago. 

Sky mirror (2001)
                                                        He has declared to want to turn the world upside down! 

He has also used red wax to create his sculptures, most of the time using it to evoke flesh and blood... 
Imagine blue (2003) 
My Red Homeland (2003)
Rooms (2005) 

As you can see, he is a very very prolific artist, working with many types of techniques that allow him to maginify his creating span. This is what makes him one of my favourite artists! He works on a theme, but he also evolves towards new meanings and techniques.
You might know this particular piece, which was presented in the Grand Palais of Paris, in 2011: 

Leviathan (2011)
And here's what he's currently working on! 
Ascension (2010) 


He posts regularly an album called "studio" in his website where he shows pictures of his studio, to give us a hint of what he's doing! Here's the link: http://anishkapoor.com/915/Studio.html


I hope you like Anish's work and you feel as curious as I do to know what he's gonna do next! 

Friday, November 8, 2013

POST 8 : The Wire (2002 -2008)

Here's a trailer for The Wire series:

The show deals with many of Baltimore's city (Washington, USA) problems. It is related to the notion of power in many ways. First of all, and from my point of view, the power of gangs.

Baltimore city is a pretty chaotic place to live in. It has a wide number of african american population, but most of it lives in the most dangerous and troubled neighbourhoods of Baltimore. Indeed, the gangs are in their territory, and they use these neighbourhoods as "marketplaces" for their drug dealing and other illegal activities. The series shows how powerful can gangs be, even if they are in one if the most developed countries in the world: The USA. All through the episodes we can see how the police are powerless before the gangs' actions. Indeed, there is no easy way of stopping them. They enjoy of a great influence in the political spheres, allowing them to get away from many things. Also, a lot of their gangsters start dealing drugs and running errands for them at a very young age, which makes it very hard to catch them for two main reasons: one of them being the fact that since they are mere children they can easily hide in crowds and the other being that children cannot be prosecuted for their crimes until they're16/17 years old (depending on the crime).

The show also reveals the power of drugs, in a very disturbing way. During the show, we see different caracters fall into misery because of them. Indeed, it conveys a sad reality: teenagers living in that kind of neighbourhoods need to face the only reality they live: the drug world. Some of them decide to become drug dealers, employed by rich and powerful gansgters, and accepting that they will die sooner rather than later. On the other hand, some of them, with no parents to take care of their child, fall gradually into drugs, misery and addiction. One of the main characters of the show, a young boy no older than any high schooler, bright, merciful and brilliant, ends up being addicted to drugs, sharing needles with homeless people and living under bridges or such. Unfortunately, drugs do have the power to destroy a person, even a teenager, and lead them into a dark world, from which it is almost impossible to escape.

I personally believe that the most implicit form of power is the power of money. Indeed, one of the policeman shown in the trailer states it: "Follow the money, and you will have everything". The series shows that money drives everything: drug dealers murder and create life dramas for the money, politicians look the other way or make personal favours for the money, and ultimately, it's money what stops the police corps of being more efficient. At one point of the show, the police corps experience budget cutbacks, and since they cannot repair the cars, or pay for the extra hours they would need to investigate on the drug dealers, they are powerless before the cruel war going on between gangs in their own city.

On the whole, the shows deals with many forms of power, mainly the power of gangs, drugs and finally money. It conveys the sad reality we live in, and that unfortunately, much like drugs, seems to not have a way out.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


The movie Redacted by the prestigeous film director Brian de Palma deals with many burning issues. It vividly shows the Iraqi war, and the conduct some of the US soldiers had during that time. It tackles the subject of the denigrating acts the US soldiers comitted against the Iraqi people, even to women and children. Indeed, the movie shows situations of shocking violence, and the desperation of the innocent people in Iraq. In addition to this, the film demonstrates how hard it is for the soldiers who lived such suffering and atrocities to come back to their homes in the USA. 
Another thing that makes the movie particularly efficient in its task of shocking the general public and raise awareness about the subject is the fact that the movie seems uncanningly real: all the scenes seem to be shot by an "amateur" and the atmosphere of the Iraqi cities is extremely realistic and faithful to reality. 
 Moreover, the film is clearly critical and denounces the multiple abuses the US army comitted during the war. 

This movie can be related to the notion of Power because of multiple issues it raises: 
On the one hand, the movie obviously questions the North American power in today's world. It is not the shining beacon of freedom that it pretends to be, and it definitely does not bring peace to the countries in which it "intervenes". But it also shows what the US is capable of...Indeed, they were able to start a war, and to finance it, and for now, getting away with the abuses comitted by their soldiers during that period. 
On the other hand, the film is a clear way of Brian de Palma to try to raise awareness about the subject, to draw attention to the fact that many have gone unpunished, and that world should not be allowing such a thing. Actually, this movie could be related to the power of knowledge and culture. Can a movie change the world? The power of the cultural industry against the political power of the states of the world. 

Here's a review by Mick LaSalle, published in the San Francisco Gate newspaper: 

Fictional documentary. Starring Izzy DiazDaniel Stewart Sherman,Patrick CarrollMike Figueroa and Ty Jones. Directed by Brian De Palma(R. 90 minutes. At Bay Area theaters.)
The standard line on anti-war movies is that Hollywood starts making them six or seven years after a war, never during one. "Redacted," the latest from director Brian De Palma, not only goes against that pattern but also is a new type of anti-war film, one that could have been made only during wartime. It isn't elegiac, but enraged. It doesn't look back with sorrow, but forward in dread. And it's made with a clear intention - to stop the Iraq war.
Its historical significance can be summed up in a sentence: "Redacted" is the angriest, most vehemently pacifist film ever made by a major American filmmaker in a time of war. It's a movie devoid of any reflexive sentimentality about the troops or the mission, and it doesn't even bother pretending. If a foreign filmmaker made it, it would seem an unpleasant provocation. But coming from the man who made "Carrie," "Scarface," "The Untouchables" and "Carlito's Way," it has to go down as one of the bravest and most unambiguous cinematic statements of the decade.
De Palma was able to make the movie because he could make it on the cheap, on digital video. And then he turned around and made a virtue of necessity, using various kinds of video and video techniques to tell his story with a maximum of immediacy and innovation. Sometimes we watch the soldiers filming themselves. Sometimes we see surveillance footage or video put out on the Web. Hidden cameras record conversations in some scenes. In others we see footage from a French documentary about Iraq.
All of it is fictional and created by De Palma, who won a completely deserved Silver Lion for best director at the Venice Film Festival this year. The characters are fictional as well. But the events depicted are based on truth, including the film's central incident, in which American soldiers rape a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, murder her family, shoot her in the face and then set her body on fire.
Video, with its present-tense feel, creates the sense of being there. Sweat trickles down soldiers' faces as they stand at a checkpoint, and the audience waits for disaster - a sniper, a car bomb. The movie conveys the hellish boredom and terror of the front lines and shows the toll they take, and yet it never absolves the characters of moral responsibility. Some would never lose their humanity under pressure, some do, and some use the war as a pretext to be as cruel and demented as they've always wanted to be. The troops are not a monolith, but people of varying strengths and weaknesses.
The flavor of barracks life is presented through footage shot by a character named Salazar (Izzy Diaz), who hopes to get into film school on the strength of an Iraq documentary. The soldier banter is the film's most erratic element. Sometimes it rings true, as when a soldier reacts to the killing of a pregnant woman at a checkpoint by saying, "You can't afford remorse. You get remorse, you get weak; you get weak, you die." It sounds like exactly the kind of mantra that a stupid young man might offer as wisdom. Yet the movie veers into obviousness with the character of Flake (Patrick Carroll), a dead-eyed psychopath who seems to revel calmly in having killed the pregnant woman. He's a character set up for us to hate.
Still, even at its most blatantly manipulative, "Redacted" provokes a response of rage, disgust and anger. De Palma strives to ignite passion, and while some of that passion may end up directed at the film itself, "Redacted" is an antidote to apathy. It's not the easiest movie to sit through, but who said movies are supposed to be easy to sit through? De Palma must have been absent the day they taught that in film school.
Rather than create a perfect, contained whole, De Palma has created a film that finds its meaning in the outside world, in the effect he hopes it will have. His movie is naked and obvious and sizable enough to hate or love, kind of like Charlie Chaplin's speech at the end of "The Great Dictator." Sometimes the world intrudes. Sometimes issues are so big that there's really no point in being elegant.