Immaterials: Light painting an invisible landscape

There are invisible landscapes all around us. Every day we live among them, pass through them, we utilize them, yet they remain completely undetected by our naked eye. Timo Arnall, Jørn Knutsen and Einar Sneve Martinussen have ingeniously devised a method to visualize these concealed network within physical space. They built a light stick that responds to Wi-Fi signal strength, walked it through the city revealing with time lapse photography the changes in the transparent atmosphere. I won’t go into detail on how they created the device, you can read all the specifics here. I just love how they found a simple and visually beautiful way to open our eyes to what we cannot see. Makes me wonder what other forces are fluctuating around us that we are unable to detect, and who will come along and reveal them to us.


Invisible Children: The Protection Plan

I’m not sure I’ll ever understand human nature. A complex matrix of good and sometimes not so good intentions, capable of an equally mind blowing range of actions. And with any system of nature there are outliers. Such is the case here. An extreme evil has been at work in Africa for the past 25 years, routinely abducting children from their families for the purpose of replenishing their army. Teaching them to use weapons, forcing themselves on young girls to create yet more future child soldiers. Something it seems the human mind should not be capable of rationalizing. Thankfully, though, there are outliers on the opposite side of spectrum doing their best to put an end to this. Invisible Children is an organization that works towards ending Africa’s longest running war, and focuses on the rescue and rehabilitation for child soldiers. I’ve had the pleasure of working with them on a couple fund raising projects now and they are good people with huge hearts. Always looking for new ways to help, they’ve started a program called The Protection Plan that aims to fund community projects that will help villages protect themselves against the LRA and care for those that escape.

Please take a few minutes and watch the video above, it does a much better job of explaining the situation than I can.

I’ve pledged to raise $25 for the protection plan and will be going silent on April 25th for 25 hours to help raise awareness for the program. Please consider helping me reach my goal by visiting my fund raising page here. Or join me in silence.

We were all children once.


Fairy tale illustrations of Jaroslav Serych

I stumbled across these illustrations by Jaroslav Serych for the 1979 children book called Contes d’Indonesie (Tales of Indonesia) while browsing the bizarre kid’s books section of A Journey Round My Skull‘s flickr page. From what I’ve been able to dig up, they illustrate the adventures of Kanchil, an Asian animal of sorts, who likes to torment other creatures with mischief. But don’t quote me on that.

What I absolutely love about these are how gorgeous and imaginative they are. It’s as if early Kandinsky and later Dali collaborated to blow some kid’s minds, tapping into some otherworldly inspiration. When I have a child these are the kind of books I’ll be reading them… to a soundtrack of Lisa Gerrard or Loreena McKennitt. I imagine a child’s mind to know no limits until taught, so when it comes to opening up their imagination I’ll be aiding how ever I’m able. Which means they’ll likely be hearing some strange stories along with a healthy dose of Dr. Seuss. I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg of bizarre kid’s books too.

Any particular favorites that stood out to you as a child?


The Curve of Forgotten Things (Elle Fanning: Rodarte’s Muse)

Rodarte is a fashion company started 6 years ago by two friends who went to UC Berkley together. One studied art history while the other focused on literature and the Modern novel. But I don’t know them as a fashion line, they’ve created much more than just clothing. I’ve come to know them for their gorgeously produced short films such this one, and the previous Todd Cole collab film, 2010: A Space Odyssey, which I also highly recommend. I truly think that not having gone to school for fashion or marketing has allowed them to create a unique vision for themselves without constraint of the way things “should” be. I love that you can watch this short for it’s aesthetic beauty and not once feel like someone is pushing clothing. You come away with a warm feeling of wonder and not a sales pitch or tag line, which only makes me want something even more.

As for the story behind the film, it takes you on a brief journey of discovery through the historic Baldwin House set in the oil fields of Baldwin Hills. Here, Elle Fanning’s dress becomes chameleon and takes on the atmosphere of each new room. Thoughtful inspection of each new space leads her into the garage of the estate where she encounters a sun-like orb. Basking in its glow and warmth, she offers herself to it. The storytelling is very loose, and with the addition of an ambient score provided by Deerhunter, you feel like the whole thing is a lucid dream.

Read more and watch it larger on Nowness.


Free Music Collection: February 2011

2011 is already off to a good start. This month we have some mixes that may have slipped through the cracks last month as well as a handful of music from artists’ archives that are new to the rest of us. Star Slinger dropped an ep of “beats that were gathering dust” and Mux Mool put together an ep of beats made on a plane while touring last year. One of my personal favorites though, is the Clive Tanaka y su orquestra album that was recently made available for free. I love it so much I bought the 12,” its sea foam green and sounds just as lush. I hope you find something in this months collection you enjoy enough to help support the artist’s next endeavor.

This is where I usually add… If you need new music daily rather than monthly, follow me on twitter @thinkorsmile. I typically post links there as they are discovered. Or you can follow my twitter list of music bloggers who are doing the dirty work of digging these artists up. Happy exploring.

Think or Smile | Free Music Collection: February 2011

Support music you love, see artists live, buy their albums if you can. Show ‘em some love.


Think or Smile | Nathaniel Whitcomb © 2011