вівторок, 17 жовтня 2017 р.

Jake the snake roberts vs rick martell blindfold match

Oh, wrestling. Is there any stupid idea impossible to you? Gimmick matches are probably one of those things where the conceptual art side of wrestling takes overs and weirdness ensues. It ranscends beyond to the parts unknown and hangs ariund because nothibg else to do. It throws suspension of disbelief out in the window and just goes on pure stoic irony.

Jake the snake roberts vs rick martell at wrestlemania is a match where both workers performed with their heads covered by bags because It doesnt matter! Or probably reasons apparently. At least it is unusual. It is like g-rated version of japanese hardcore match. Tough bizarre.

Roberts martell blindfold match is one of those things that makes you apprecuate the ludixrous nature of wrestling and dig out artistic spark. It is metal gear solid level tonal shift within wrestlemania card. It makes not a lot of sense even within the narrative of the feyd. It just exists for whatever reason and its glorious. You cant make somethibg like this up.

Obe of the most fascinating thibgs abiut this match is how natural it seems. It mindbogglingly stupid and pointless - but it is two tough guys who can kick so hard hair cganges colors and ounch building to death. But both roberts and martell sell it as a legitimately the only way to get things done. Talk about craft. It is by no means a techinical clinic but there

The match itseld is unbelievably clumsy ( like any gimmick matches) and apparently ratger dangeroys sinxe both dont have clear sight and so can legit hurt each other. But there is something charming in this mess. It is different.

субота, 14 жовтня 2017 р.

MFT: Poetry Threats - NSA Magnet Words Poems

Poetry Threats was a site where you could make some fancy poems out of strange and terrible and probably dangerous keywords previously courtesy of NSA. It was programmed by Tim Grover, true patriot of his country with some elaborate swagger and definitely some mousse moose style. The story goes like that: following the fallout of "that Snowden thing" Department of Homeland Security (who seemed like legit Men in Black at that point) was forced to release a list of so-called "Threat words" keywords that they were using in monitoring of social media activity. 

The said list was long and winding and unintentionally rather awkwardly poetic - not by design but because of lack of context. You need to understand the significance of the event. Giving up your set of keywords is one of the harshest things to do if you are in SEO-SMM business - it is like shooting yourself in the foot. But down is the new up - they feel much better now. And we have their old list of keywords.

Tim Grover decided to make it work the other way around. Thus Poetry Threats was brought in this pitiful world of pain and misery. Grover repurposed that dank list of threatworks and incorporated it into a site where you can turn those sad and stubborn word structures into works of hapless poetry. Why? Because why not. Harry Crosby used Wall Street reports and Tom Lehrer was singing out periodic table. Keywords are no different. The question lies in the execution.

Poetry Threats was designed as a simple magnet word table. Because that makes the whole thing even more ridiculous. The whole concept of magnet word poetry is counterintuitive and incredibly addictive. The process of making a poem is very simple. You have random generated sequence from of the list of "threat words". You can drag the ones you like to the white board. There is set of supplementary words and symbols to make the text more coherent. You can overly parts of words with one another to make some modifications of plain gibberish. Number of words is extremely limited but that isn't much of the problem. Bizarre nature of words and its combinations are making up any vocabulary limits. You can't make "nice" poem out of Poetry Threats. You can make dank monstrocity that will die moments later simply because it is not really capable of existing. Kinda like transporter accident from "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" just with words.

Here's a video demonstration of Poetry Threats in action by Tim Grover himself: 

One of the first things you realize while using Poetry Threats is that it is actually completely useless as a tool for composing poetry. There is just not enough space for plausible maneauvres. There are not enough words and you are unable to make slight changes to fit the sentences. Because of that you can only move into rather abstract and utterly inept realm where sense is usually banished just for fun. For some reason that actually manages to bring some truly apocalyptic imagery - "emergency! blizzard tsunami typhoon storm tornado outbreak", "earthquake mexico standoff", "brown out - black out - closure - burst - tremor". The more you try the funnier it gets.

I once managed to get this gem. It was actually managed to turn up in a major literary magazine:

Sadly Poetry Threats is gone and forgotten. The site is dead. But you can access fully functional archival copy of the site via Wayback Machine. 

Collaboration: Volodymyr Bilyk / Sam Roxas-Chua Onomatopoeia deathmatch

Earlier this day i've uploaded several new pieces to FB-Group "Vispo!". It was nothing really special scanographies made with some old typographic prints (dating back to 2014). Post was moderately succesful. But then one unexpected thing happened. It was because of description. I wrote: "how about some scanography romp-pom-pomp?" - this description sparked a little skirmish between me and Sam Roxas-Chua. Here is how it went:

Volodymyr Bilyk: romp-pom-pomp?
Sam Roxas-Chua: Pomp!
VB: Bomp!
SRC: Clomp!
VB: Plonk!
SRC: Flomp!
VB: Whomp
SRC: Weeeeeeeee-blomp!
VB: Whud ka-chooo
SRC: Ker-plonk!
VB: Vavoooom wah
SRC: Badomp-domp-ching!
VB: Chop zooom zap
SRC: Book-Bok-Bok!
VB: Ook! Ook, ook.
SRC: Paddy-Fat-Cat!
VB: Tofu sap pad
SRC: Choo-Loop-Flooky!
VB: Doo bop laffy taffy
SRC: This End Up!
VB: Non! Shah baa bae boo! Sha beh da bae boo! ... Ok.
I think it was fun.

MFT: Grim Fandango - Blue Casket Club Open Mic Poetry Slam

Believe it or not - poetry is not well represented in video games. I'm not talking about those throwaway "nothing special" "nice things" usually called poetry. I'm talking about those damn chunks of text that evoke something completely different - like "waiting" "rooms" and "ticket" "lines", saliva bullet suicides and Messianen' ocean tides and rash rolling cussing rye and those vavoom and vroooms and other forms boredom. There is no such thing in video games. Not even a bit. Sure, you can argue that english translations of japanese games are filled, even littered, with poetry ("All your base are belong to us", etc.) but that doesn't count. "LSD Dream Emulator" also doesn't count. Gimmick art game also don't count. Aside from neat references to the classic works of literature here and there - poetry is almost nowhere to be found in video games.

I guess it is fair to say that near non-existence of poetry in video games is justified. It is weird but you can understand why - you can't really implement it into the gameplay, it does not make much sense in terms of game mechanics in any coherent way. What function poetry will serve inside the game? Tip? Special feature? Easter egg? There is no real need to add poetry to the mix. And it is fine.

But there is one game that not only has some poetry in it - it also manages to incorporate it into narrative. Even more - it allows you to make your own.

I'm talking about one and only "Grim Fandango". (Thunderous applause ensues)

пʼятниця, 13 жовтня 2017 р.

My Favorite Things: PetitTube / Underviewed

PetitTube is the best thing ever happened to YouTube since Filthy Frank. The same can be said about Underviewed. Seriously, i don't remember another occasion when i had a binge moment like that. What is PetitTube? As it says on the tin - it's the least interesting videos of YouTube carefully packaged to you at random. Underviewed is a bit different - it is all about videos with generic titles.
Because every video deserves to be viewed!

PetitTube algoritm is flatline simple - it searches for videos with minimal amount of views, collects them to the database and then plays at random through the PetitTube page. You can't do much on PetitTube site aside from watching videos. The only other options you have is to click whether you liked or disliked the video. And that's about it. You can refresh the page to eternity and then to oblivion and then to infinity and beyond and get another unseen video that will be either weird, boring or pointless - but will definitely provide you with favorite thought fodder - sacramental "why am i doing this?" (cue "Security of the first world").  

Underviewed uses different method - it searches for videos with generic default titles from cameras and mobile devices. All those "GOPR34534.MP4" and "IMG_3524.MOV" and of course "VID 10203406 211994". What are the contents of such videos? Mostly random stuff uploaded for a one-off purpose - to share a moment with your friend or record something that is important for the job.

Both PetitTube and Underviewed deliver on unexpected and unseen. But that's not all they've got.

PetitTube and Underviewed are not only extremely effective as morbid curiousity time terminator. It is also invaluable engine for inspiration. At least for me. As an artist i'm always looking for something different. PetitTube and Underviewed gave me an opportunity to get something completely unpredictable and completely alien for me. This is very inspiring in a variety of ways. 

Here's how it works. There is a narrative exercise i was taught in university - it is called apophenic sketching or as i like to call it "Kint Method". As you remember - "The Usual Suspects" is built around a "anything works" AKA "bullshit" story that was made on the fly by Verbal Kint. Apophenic Sketching is essentially this. You get whole lotta random material and need to tie it all together to a certain degree of cohesiveness in any form it works best - it can be a raw-meat collage or squeaky-mean rewrite. It needs to comprehensible though - that's the rule. This exercise really helps to get a grasp on improvisational creativity - understand the ways you can connect, explain or describe things and make sequences of seemingly unrelated things according to a specific logic. It prepares you for a moment when you need to do the thing right here right now and you have nothing to back you up and so you go berserk without such stupid things as inspiration or productive working environment (because who needs this shit anyway? It is useful because such things happen on permanent basis. 

PetitTube and Underviewed are perfectly designed for apophenic sketching. You can see so many different things for no particular reason - you will unintentionally start to see some kind of pattern. For example, I once wrote a joke outline for a short film in Ukrainian Poetic Cinema style using only PetitTube. I've sent it to my film director friend and he actually thought it was for real and wanted to produce it. Even though it was basically a non-sequitir cutaway bish-bosh mambo. I've spent more time convincing him it was a joke than i spent writing that thing. Happens. On other occasion i just recapped several videos i watched on underserved and edited it into a poem. It was very popular with editors (don't tell anybody).

Anyway - if you need a thing that will keep your mind cautious and meandering - watch PetitTube and Underviewed. Because any video can give you an idea for something. Especially when you have no idea what it is.

четвер, 12 жовтня 2017 р.

BSPH: Аквариум - Тибетское Танго

"Tibetan Tango" is a song by seminal russian rock band Aquarium. It was released in 1983 on the album "Radio Africa". Curiously it segues from the band most famous song "Rock And Roll is Dead" but it can't be more different. As for me - it is the best track of entire album (because i'm a smart-ass *ding). It was written by the great late Sergey Kuryokhin AKA russian equivalent of Frank Zappa. That's why it is unlike anything else you can hear on an album. 

Stylistically it is a combination of three things. First of all - it is fine showcase of Kuryokhin' composing method - which is basically "just do it". He mashes together dissonant elements into one cohesive composition effortlessly - just because. Then it is a neat throwback to the bands wilderness years of the 70's when they experimented with primitive recording technology (stuff like "Music of Public Toilets" in particular). And finally it is a warped variation of jazzy funky doo-wop dada cabaret composition styled after Talking Heads. 

The arrangement is relatively straightforward. The drums are doing solid four by four backbeat accompanied by snappy bass-line. It is extremely ambiguous. It is a little bit marching and then a little bit swinging. You can never say what it is at the moment. But it can go on forever (and would not be out of place on some Can record). 

Vocal parts are derived from tibetan chants as seen by DADAists circa Cabaret Voltaire. But there is also slight nod towards doo-wop styled vocalizes. It repeats short sound poem several times. Here's how it goes:
Om, ho-hom'.
Om, ho-hom'.
Om, ho-hom'.
Om, ho-hom'.

Cuckoo-coom, hee-hee
Cuckoo-coom, hee-hee
Cuckoo-coom, hee-hee

Om, ho-hom'.
Om, ho-hom'.
Om, ho-hom'.
Om, ho-hom'.

Cuckoo-coo, hee-hee
Cuckoo-coo, hee-hee
Cuckoo-coo, hee-hee

(and so on)

Another notable thing is how disengaged and stoic is the vocal part from the rest of a composition. It goes on its own barely regarding anything that goes on in the music as if it was taped onto instrumentals after the fact. But nevertheless it feels as natural part of the song. That's a sign of a mastery of the craft. 

After the first round of chants - nonchalant piano joins in and adds some cool. It has this drunken sway freewheeling "huzzah!" attitude. Kuryokhin plays around the bass riff but turns it upside down, makes a poker face and thousand yard stare and adds tongue-in-cheek stilted "duh" side melody. It starts to feel rather warped from that point. Apparently the melody is based on old Odessa outlaw folk song "На Дерибасовской открылася пивная" (A pub had opened on the Derybasovska).

And then Igor Butman' sax comes in and things jump into overkill mode. At first Butman simply overplays the piano melody but gradually he starts to dance around it and adds some turns and twists. Finally he double tracks himselft and delivers discordant hysteric performance that starts to push out of composition everything else. But it fades out right before things go completely out of control. 

"Tibetan Tango" is a testament of adventurous nature of underground soviet rock music of the 1980s. Aquarium was never afraid to go boldy where no one thought to go because it seemed to be  way too ridiculous. And they always managed to deliver something really special. Too bad they ran out of steam shortly afterwards. Anyway. Listen to this song and this song only and feel its off-kilter magic bounce.

середа, 11 жовтня 2017 р.

BSPH: We Have Band - Watertight

"Watertight" is a song by Manchester new rave disco-rock-trio We Have Band. It was released in 2012 on their second album titled "Ternion". It is cautious and timid fast-moving, drama-filled song about faith and devotion that swells and tinges with its shadow. The narrative of "Watertight" is built like a arcade platformer. The arrangement of "Watertight" is akin to video-game sound design. Main building blocks of the song - guitar-bass-drums are littered with myriad of little sounds. That adds dynamics and progression to the song.

The male-led verses of "Watertight" are disorientingly repetitive as if the protagonist is in the hurry running towards something trying to stay focused all while avoiding edges and traps. But he reaches the breaking point which accentuated by the breakneck pace of the song - he can't go on like that for too long. Then comes female-led chorus which brings some sort of a balance. All the while the sounds around are pass-by in a kaleidoscopic manner - barely scratching the surface. And then comes a short pause and the song shifts into another gear. It sweeps away everything - back to the starting point - as if the protagonist was caught in the trap and respawned with a reversal of all the progress already made. The songs starts all over again but with acknowledgement of this failure. The tone is a bit more somber than previously. Ending chorus is presented like a distant dream - impossible to reach. The song ends with prolonged reverberation that evokes emptiness felt by the protagonist.

It's hard to talk about the bands like We Have Band because it is something you need to hear first - you will recognize the parts but overall impression will be thoroughly unique. You need to experience that first-hand in order to understand the significance of the band. We Have Band combines DIY-aesthetic with strict and crisp electro / disco rhythms packaged around tender, sensual songs. It's like disco-days Arthur Russell with a fair share of Fischerspooner and The Rapture peppered here and there. The songs and arrangement seems to be dissonant to one another - something like putting souls into the body (pardon for clumsy analogy).

But flashy arrangements are not all that We Have Band have to offer. Their songs can without them. Here's an acoustic version of "Watertight". It is stripped down but delivers the same exact emotional punch:

One of the defining features of We Have Band is focus. Structure-wise their songs don't mess around, there are no spare or repeated bits. Every verse and every chorus brings new colors and shades. And they tend to put a twist into song that puts turns it inside out or upside down. They try to do something different with every song and this results in very unusual ways of arrangement and song structure. You can listen to their songs purely to explore entanglements of arrangement.

However - despite being actually very good - We Have Band still verge in-between underground and mainstream with minimal attention from music press. I guess because "we don't need no unique music". It is unfair - because the band presents unique style that is worth exploring. We Have Band seem to take off where Fischerspooner and The Rapture once left off and over time they evolved way beyond boundaries of style. They transcended into something of their own.

Jake the snake roberts vs rick martell blindfold match

Oh, wrestling. Is there any stupid idea impossible to you? Gimmick matches are probably one of those things where the conceptual art side of...