Behold the Original Deck of Oblique Strategies Cards, Handwritten by Brian Eno Himself

"Honor thy error as a hidden intention." "Work at a different speed." "Try faking it!" These suggestions will sound familiar to everyone who's ever flipped through the deck of cards known as Oblique Strategies. You can now do that digitally, of course, but Oblique Strategies remains an essentially physical experience, one whose shuffling and drawing reminds the user that they're drawing from the well of chance for a way to break them through a creative impasse or just rethink part of a project. It also began as thoroughly a physical experience, invented by producer-artist-ambient musician Brian Eno and painter Peter Schmidt, who first came up with them in the pre-digital days of 1974.

Back then, writes Dangerous Minds' Martin Schneider, the concept for Eno and Schmidt's "set of 115 cards with elliptical imperatives designed to spark in the user creative connections unobtainable through regular modes of work" emerged as a form of "radical intervention with roots in Eastern philosophy."




Having first come on the market in the 1970s, Oblique Strategies has gone through several different production runs, usually packaged in handsome boxes with the deck's name emblazoned in gold. "The first four editions are out of print and collector’s items (and priced to match). The 5th edition is currently available from Eno’s website for £30 (about $50). In 2013 a limited 6th edition of 500 numbered sets were available but quickly sold out."

But it seems that the very first set of Oblique Strategies, featured in Schneider's post, is unavailable at any price. Written in Eno's own hand, sometimes cursive and sometimes block, on cards with a wooden-looking texture and without the rounded corners that characterize the commercial version, these first Oblique Strategies include "Don't be frightened to display your talents," "If a thing can be said, it can be said simply," and "Do we need holes?" Those who have followed Eno's work will surely appreciate in particular the card that says to "use non-musicians," "non-musician" being one of Eno's preferred titles for himself, especially when working in a musical capacity. The total package of Oblique Strategies may have grown more refined over the years, but this handmade first set does have a certain immediacy, and also, in a sense, the imprimatur of history: after all, they worked for Brian Eno.

via Dangerous Minds

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Classic Radiohead Songs Re-Imagined as a Sci-Fi Book, Pulp Fiction Magazine & Other Nostalgic Artifacts

When we first checked in with artist and screenwriter Todd Alcott, he was immortalizing the work of stars who hit their stride in the 70s and 80s, as highly convincing pulp novel and magazine covers inspired by their most famous songs and lyrics. David Bowie’s “Young Americans” yields an East of Eden-like blonde couple reclining in the grass. Talking Heads’ “Life During Wartime” becomes an erotically violent, or violently erotic, magazine that ain’t fooling around.

Next, we took a look at Alcott’s series of pulp covers drawn from the work of Mr. Bob Dylan, bona fide godfather of classic rock, a period that gets a lion’s share of covers in Alcott’s imaginative Etsy rack, alongside other new wave and punk bands like The Clash, The Smiths, and Joy Division. Looking at these devoted tributes to musical giants of yore, rendered in adoring tributes to an even earlier era’s aesthetic, produces the kind of “of course!” reaction that makes Alcott’s work so enjoyable.

After all, pulp magazines and books are perhaps as responsible for the counterculture as LSD, with their proudly sexy poses, overheated teen fantasies, and bondage gear. (Prince gets his own series, a true joy.) But Alcott has moved on to a crop of artists who first appeared in the 90s class of alternative bands—from PJ Harvey, to Fiona Apple, to Nirvana, to Neutral Milk Hotel, to, as you can see here, Radiohead, the most long-lived and innovative stars of the era.

How well does Alcott's approach work with artists who hit the scene when pulp fiction turned into Pulp Fiction, appropriated in a winking, expletive-filled splatter-fest that didn’t, technically, require its audience to know anything about pulp fiction? You'll notice that Alcott has taken a novel approach to the concept in many cases (reimagining PJ Harvey’s “This is Love!” as a 50s grindhouse flick, another genre that has been heavily Tarantino-ized).

He converts Radiohead’s “Kid A” into that most treasured publication for futon-surfing hipsters circa 2000, the IKEA catalog. “Videotape” manifests in literal fashion as one of the oughties’ many objects of consumer electronics nostalgia, the 120-minute VHS. And “Myxomatosis,” from 2003’s Hail to the Thief, appears as a 1970s cat book, an artifact many Radiohead fans at the turn of the millennium might treasure as both an ironic Tumblr goof and a poignant reminder of childhood.

The Radiohead series does not fully abandon the pulp look—“Karma Police,” for example, gets the detective magazine treatment. But it does lean more heavily on later-20th century productions, like the 70s sci-fi cover of “Paranoid Android,” clearly inspired by Michael Crichton’s Westworld. Moon-Shaped Pool’s “Burn the Witch,” on the other hand, looks like a classic 50s Hammer Horror poster, but with a nod to Robin Hardy’s 1973 Wicker Man. (Both Crichton and Hardy have likewise been re-imagined for audiences who may never have seen the originals.)

Perhaps the least interesting of Alcott’s riffs on the Radiohead catalog, “Jigsaw Falling into Place,” goes right for the obvious, though its idyllic, Bob Ross-like scene strikes a dissonant chord in illustrating a song that references closed circuit cameras and sawn-off shotguns. Speaking of obvious, maybe it seemed too on the nose to turn “Creep” into creepy pulp erotica. Still, I wonder how Alcott resisted. View and purchase in handmade print form all of Alcott’s songs-as-book covers, etc. at Etsy.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Hear How Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” Would Sound If Sung by Johnny Cash, David Bowie, Janis Joplin, Frank Sinatra & 38 Other Artists

I consider Freddy Mercury and Michael Jackson as the greatest performers of all time. Their vocal abilities are what I look up to as a vocalist.  - Anthony Vincent

Anthony Vincent, the creator of Ten Second Songs, has a flowing mane, a lean physique, and the cocksure manner of a 20th century rock god.

He also spends hours in his home studio, peering at a computer monitor through reading glasses.

His latest effort, above, Queen’s "Bohemian Rhapsody" in the style of 42 other artists, could seem like a gimmick at first glance.

Consider, however, all the research, time, and musicianship that went into it.




The YouTube star disappeared from the internet for a month in order to tackle the beast that fans had long been begging him for.

He emerged from this self-imposed sabbatical refreshed, recommending that perhaps “everyone should start producing songs in multiple styles just so they too could take a vacation from social media.”

Good idea, though I doubt many of us can mimic the wide range of vocal styles the largely self taught Vincent does, from  Muse’s lead singer Matt Belamy’s fabled high notes to the late Joe Strummer’s extremely English punk attitude to Janis Joplin at her most unfettered.

He also displays an impressive facility with a variety of arrangements and instruments, though a couple of off-handed comments in the Making Of video, below, may not endear him to drummers, despite his obvious respect for the essential role percussion plays in structuring his projects.

Various elements suggested which artist to pair with each bite-sized section of "Bohemian Rhapsody," including similarity of lyrics, notes, and arrangements. ("Mama mia" was a no brainer…as was “Mama, didn’t mean to make you cry.”)

By definition, the multi-style "Bohemian Rhapsody" required him to look beyond his own personal favorites for artists to highlight, a process he applies to all of his mash ups. As he said in a 2015 interview with Radio Metal:

Obviously I don’t listen to Enya in my free time, I don’t go and put on a Gregorian chant and listen to it to relax. If I’m going to put an artist in there, it’s because I have some kind of respect for them in some way… At first my intention was to promote my business and now my intentions are to show that there are different ways that a song can be heard and that there’s nothing wrong with liking different things. You shouldn’t be afraid of what you don’t understand. Just because someone is growling doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s just a way of expressing a song, there is really nothing else to it.

His "Bohemian Rhapsody" tribute is comprised of over 1800 carefully labelled tracks, an inspiring display of digital organization as well as technical prowess.

While some of Vincent’s chosen 42—David Bowie, Dream Theater—did cover "Bohemian Rhapsody" in its entirety, an unfortunate side effect of his impersonations are the way they whet our appetite for full covers we’ll never get to enjoy from the likes of Johnny Cash, Prince, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin….

Ultimately, no one can hold a candle to the original, but there’s no harm in trying.

Readers, do you have a favorite from the line up below? Anyone you wish you could add to the list?

01. Queen

02. Me

03. The Chordettes

04. Johnny Cash

05. David Bowie

06. Ozzy Osbourne

07. Frank Sinatra

08. Sam Cooke

09. Boyz II Men

10. Daft Punk

11. Janis Joplin

12. Scott Joplin (King Of Ragtime)

13. Skrillex

14. Hendrix (Michael Winslow Version)

15. Kenny G

16. Bobby McFerrin

17. Star Wars

18. N.W.A.

19. Kendrick Lamar

20. System Of A Down

21. Elvis Presley

22. BOLLYWOOD

23. Bad Religion

24. Bruno Mars

25. Death Grips

26. Chuck Berry

27. Michael jackson

28. The Clash

29. Ray Charles

30. Aretha Franklin

31. Soggy Bottom Boys

32. Death

33. ABBA

34. Ghost

35. Muse

36. Vitas

37. Medieval Music

38. Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

39. Tool

40. Prince

41. Nirvana

42. Dream Theater

via Consequence of Sound

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, November 12 for another monthly installment of her book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

36 Artists Give Advice to Young Creators: Wim Wenders, Jonathan Franzen, Lydia Davis, Patti Smith, David Byrne, Umberto Eco & More

"Whatever you do, nobody else can do that better than you. You have to find what you can do better than anyone else, what you have in yourself that nobody else has in them. Don't do anything that you know, deep in your heart, that somebody else can do better, but do what nobody else can do except for you." That sounds like fine advice, but when receiving advice we should always consider the source. In this case we could hardly do better: the source is Wim Wenders, director of Alice in the CitiesParis, TexasWings of Desire, and many other films besides, an auteur seldom accused of making movies anyone else could make.

Wenders' interview clip and the others here come from "Advice to the Young," a video series created by the Louisiana Museum in Denmark (which has quite an impressive gift shop, incidentally, if you happen to need advice on gift-shopping). Jonathan Franzen, author of novels like The CorrectionsFreedom, and Purity, admits to feeling embarrassment about "giving advice to the young writer," but he still has valuable words for creators in any domain: "The most important advice I have is to have fun, to try to create something that is fun to work on."




And by fun he means fun like you have on a tennis court, where "you're not just messing around, you're not just hitting the ball wherever you want — you are focused on having a game, and once you are in it you are having fun. That's the kind of focused fun I'm talking about, and if you are having that kind of focused fun, there's a good chance that the reader will too."

The range of writers from which Louisiana Museum has sought advice also includes Lydia Davis, whose sensibility may differ from Franzen's but who has garnered an equal (or even greater) degree of respect from her readership. "You learn from models and you analyze them, you study them, you analyze them very closely, one thing at a time," she says, beginning her more expansive advice based on her own method. "You don't just sort of read the paragraph and say, 'Oh, that really flows, you know? That's good.' You say, 'What kind of adjectives? How many? What kind of nouns? How long are the sentences? What's the rhythm?' You know, you pick it apart, and that's very helpful." Her other suggestions include to "be very patient, even patient with chaos" and to keep a notebook ("it takes some of the tension and the worry away, because if you write it down, it may just be a note. It doesn't have to be the beginning of anything").

"Do what you want to do," Davis concludes, "and don't worry if it's a little odd or doesn't fit the market." That bit of guidance seems to have worked for her, and in the great variety of forms it can take seems to have worked for seemingly every other artist. Take Ed Ruscha, for instance, whose canvasses of gas stations, corporate signage, and other icons of American blankness must hardly have seemed geared toward any particular "market" when first he painted them. For the young he has only one piece of advice, received second-hand and briefly delivered: "No one could ever beat this thing that Max Ernst said. They asked him what a young artist should do, and he said, 'cut off an ear.' That's good advice to follow. You can't beat that."

Other artists featured in the video playlist include Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Umberto Eco, Patti Smith & more.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Behold Kurt Vonnegut’s Drawings: Writing is Hard. Art is Pure Pleasure.

I see hints of blueprints, tile work, leaded-glass windows, William Blake, Paul Klee, Saul Steinberg, Al Hirschfeld, Edward Gorey, my mother’s wasp waist, cats and dogs. I see my father, at age four, forty, and eighty-four, doodling his heart out.

—Nanette Vonnegut

Cartoonist, educator, and neurology buff Lynda Barry believes that doodling is good for the creative brain.

In support of that theory, we submit author Kurt Vonnegut, a very convincing case.

His daughter, Nanette, notes that he was drawn by the human face—his own and those of others.

Portraits include one of his best-known fictional characters, the unsuccessful science fiction author Kilgore Trout. It’s a revelation, especially to those of us who imagined Trout as something  closer to veteran character actor Seymour Cassel.

In addition to his humorous doodles, Vonnegut was known to chisel out a sculpture or two on the kitchen counter.




As a Cape Cod year-rounder, he painted seascapes.

He had a one-man show of his felt tip drawings in Greenwich Village in 1980 ("not because my pictures were any good but because people had heard of me").

But the doodles are what captured the public's imagination, from the illustrations of Breakfast of Champions to his numerous self portraits.

The son and grandson of architects, Vonnegut preferred to think of himself less as an artist than as a "picture designer." Working on a novel was a “nightmare,” but drawing was pure pleasure.

Perfection was not the goal. Vonnegut realized a sympathetic community would spring up around an artist struggling within his limitations, and acted accordingly.

To that end, he recommended that people practice art “no matter how badly because it’s known to make a soul grow.”

 

See a book of 145 Vonnegut drawings curated by his daughter, Nanette Vonnegut here.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, October 15 for another monthly installment of her book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Designer Creates a 3D-Printed Stamp That Replaces Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 Bill

Above we have a very short video of a hand stamping the face of freedom fighter and abolitionist Harriet Tubman, aka Araminta Ross, over the stony mug of Andrew Jackson, aka Old Hickory, “Indian Killer,” and slaveholding seventh president of the United States who presided over the Indian Removal Act that inaugurated the Trail of Tears with a speech to Congress in which he concluded the only alternative to forcing native people off their land might be “utter annihilation.”

Hero to America Firsters, Jackson has featured on the U.S. twenty-dollar bill since 1928. Ironically, he was bestowed this honor under Calvin Coolidge, a progressive Republican president when it came to Civil Rights, who in 1924 signed the Indian Citizenship Act into law, granting all Indigenous people dual tribal and U.S. citizenship.




Anyway, you’ll recall that in 2016, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced “the most sweeping and historically symbolic makeover of the American currency in a century,” as The New York Times reported, “proposing to replace the slaveholding Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman.”

Furthermore, Lew planned to add historic feminist and Civil Rights figures to the five and ten dollar bills, an idea that did not come to fruition. But as we awaited the replacement of Jackson with Tubman, well… you know what happened. Andrew Jackson again became a figurehead of American racism and violence, and the brutal new administration walked back the new twenty. So designer Dano Wall decided to take matters into his own hands with the creation of the 3D-printed Tubman stamp. As he shows in the short clip above, the transformed bills still spend when loaded into vending and smart card machines.

Of course you might never do such a thing (maybe you just want to print Harriet Tubman faces on plain paper at home?), but you could, if you downloaded the print files from Thingiverse and made your own Tubman stamp. Wall refers to an extensive argument for the legality of making Tubman twenties. It perhaps holds water, though the Treasury Department may see things differently. In the British Museum “Curator’s Corner” video above, numismatist Tom Hockenhull shows us a precedent for defacing currency from shortly before World War I, when British suffragists used a hammer and die to stamp “Votes for Women” over the face of Edward VII.

The “deliberate targeting of the king,” writes the British Museum Blog, “could be likened to iconoclasm, a direct assault on the male authority figures that were perceived to be upholding the laws of the country.” It’s a practice supposedly derived from an even earlier act of vandalism in which anarchists stamped “Vive l’Anarchie” on coins. The process would have been difficult and time-consuming, “probably carried out by a single person using just one set of individual alphabet stamps.” Thus it is unlikely that many of these coins were made, though historians have no idea how many.

But the symbolic protest did not stand alone. The defaced currency spread the message of a broad egalitarian movement. The ease of making Tubman twenties could spread a contemporary message even farther.

via Kottke

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The Hieronymus Bosch Demon Bird Was Spotted Riding the New York City Subway the Other Day…

To me, the great promise of homeschooling is that one day your child might, on their own initiative, ride the New York City subways dressed in a homemade, needlefelted costume modeled on the ice-skating bird messenger from Hieronymus Bosch’s The Temptation of St. Anthony.

Rae Stimson, aka Rae Swon, a Brooklyn-based artist who did just that a little over a week ago, describes her upbringing thusly:

Growing up I was home schooled in the countryside by my mom who is a sculptor and my dad who is an oil painter, carpenter, and many other things. Most of my days were spent drawing and observing nature rather than doing normal school work. Learning traditional art techniques had always been very important to me so that I can play a role in keeping these beautiful methods alive during this contemporary trend of digital, nonrepresentational, and conceptual art. I make traditional artwork in a wide variety of mediums, including woodcarving, oil painting, etching, needle felting, and alternative process photography.

Not every homeschooler, or, for that matter, Waldorf student, is into needle felting. It only seems that way when you compare the numbers to their counterparts in more traditional school settings…

Even the tiniest creature produced by this method is a labor intensive proposition, wherein loose woolen fibers are soaked, soaped, and jabbed with a needle until they come together in a rough mat, suitable for shaping into the whimsical—or demonic—figure of its creator’s choosing.

Stimson matched her full-head bird mask to the one in the painting by equipping it with gloves, a blanket cloak, long velvet ears, and a leafless twig emerging from the spout of its hand-painted funnel hat.

An accomplished milliner, Stimson was drawn to her subject’s unusual headgear, telling HuffPo’s Priscilla Frank how she wished she could ask Bosch about the various elements of his “beautiful demon-bird” and “what, if any, symbolic significance they hold.”

The answer lies in art history writer Stanley Meisler’s Smithsonian magazine article, "The World of Bosch":

…a monster on ice skates approaches three fiends who are hiding under a bridge across which pious men are helping an unconscious Saint Anthony. The monster, wearing a badge that Bax says can be recognized as the emblem of a messenger, bears a letter that is supposedly a protest of Saint Anthony's treatment. But the letter, according to (Bosch scholar and author Dirk) Bax, is in mirror writing, a sure sign that the monster and the fiends are mocking the saint. The monster wears a funnel that symbolizes intemperance and wastefulness, sports a dry twig and a ball that signify licentious merrymaking, and has lopping ears that show its foolishness. All this might have been obvious to the artist's contemporaries when the work was created, but the average modern viewer can only hope to understand the overall intent of a Bosch painting, while regarding the scores of bizarre monsters and demons as a kind of dark and cruel comic relief.

A field guide to Bosch’s bizarre images in the same article gives viewers leave to interpret any and all funnels in his work as a coded reference to deceit and intemperance... perhaps at the hands of a false doctor or alchemist!

Not every subway rider caught the arty reference. Unsurprisingly, some even refused to acknowledge the strange being in their midst. Those folks must not share Stimson’s dedication to examining “that which is unfamiliar, seeking out all that is yet unknown to you in both art and life.”

Within 24 hours of its Metropolitan Transit Authority adventure, the one-of-a-kind demon-bird costume was sold on Etsy.

(Holler if you wish Stimson had kept it around long enough to take a spin on the ice at Rockefeller Center or Bryant Park, where the majority of patrons would no doubt be gliding around in ignorance that, as per Meisler, Bosch equated skates with folly.)

See more of Rae Stimson’s needle-felted creations, including a full-body alien robot costume and a sculpture of author Joyce Carol Oates with her pet chicken in her Etsy shop.

via Hyperallergic

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Ayun Halliday is a New York City-based homeschooler, author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her at The Tank NYC on Monday, September 24 for another monthly installment of her book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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