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Animation History Music

A Short Film Collages Chicago’s Past and Present in a Profound Look at the City’s History of Activism

April 19, 2022

Grace Ebert

A palimpsest of history, politics, and art, a short film by Lisbon-based director João Pombeiro is an ode to the Midwest’s largest city and its people. “Chicago” travels across time periods and neighborhoods in a poetic collage of community and culture: cutout photographs of children sit in front of reconstructed streetscapes, animated snippets depict cars from today and decades earlier driving next to each other, and the El runs through the background.

Created as a music video for Lance Skiiiwalker, the layered imagery mirrors the composition, which infuses audio clips from civil rights-era speeches, police sirens, and news broadcasts into Skiiwalker’s otherwise soft, jazzy track. Opening on the South Side and traveling downtown, “Chicago” is a profound, nostalgic consideration of the activism, pride, and compassion that have shaped the city.

Pombeiro frequently works in this style that melds analog and digital, and you can watch more of his films on Vimeo.

 

 

 

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Art Music

In ‘No Strings,’ Willie Cole Transforms Instruments into Abstract Animals and Figurative Sculptures

March 17, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Piano Bird” (2021), piano legs, keys, and wiring, 34 x 32 1/2 x 42 inches. Photo by Joerg Lohse. All images courtesy of Alexander and Bonin, New York, shared with permission

Artist Willie Cole is known for transforming discarded materials into sculptures with a tenor of interrogation. Much of his three-dimensional work revolves around found objects like high-heels, plastic bottles, or ironing boards that he turns into pieces of cultural commentary, addressing issues of mass production, historical legacies, and identity. The items tend to guide the formation of his assemblages, he says, sharing that, “the objects that I use I see as them finding me, more so than me finding them… I see an object and suddenly I recognize what I can do with the object. So in that sense, there is an energy or spirit connection to the object. I am exploring the possibilities of these objects.”

Cole’s solo show No Strings, which opens this April at Alexander and Bonin in New York, exemplifies this approach. The artist, who’s currently living and working in New Jersey, recovered guitars, saxophones, and pianos from Yamaha’s recycling program and through his usual alchemy, has created anthropomorphic creatures and abstracted figures from their parts: he converts hammers into tail feathers and spliced acoustic bodies into dogs and anonymous musicians. The pieces are expressive and tied to the endurance of America’s past, particularly drawing a connection between the guitar’s shape and the yokes forced on people who were enslaved.

In addition to the upcoming No Strings show, you can see a few of Cole’s sculptures in the ongoing Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room at The Met, and explore more of his works on his site and Instagram.

 

“Yamaha Dog 1” (2021), Yamaha 3/4 size acoustic guitar parts, 23 1/2 x 12 x 29 inches. Photo by Joy Whalen

“Two-Faced Blues” (2021), Yamaha acoustic-electric guitar parts, 23 x 29 x 15 1/2 inches. Photo by Joy Whalen

“Yamaha Dog 2” (2021), Yamaha 3/4 size acoustic guitar parts, 18 5/8 x 11 x 27 inches. Photo by Joy Whalen

“Picker” (2022), Yamaha 3/4 size acoustic guitar parts, 27 x 15 x 15 inches. Photo by Joy Whalen

“Joy” (2021), Yamaha 3/4 size acoustic guitar parts, 44 1/2 x 22 x 7 1/2 inches. Photo by Joerg Lohse

“Strummer” (2022), Yamaha 3/4 size acoustic guitar parts, 28 x 16 1/2 x 15 inches. Photo by Joy Whalen

 

 



Music Science

Ice Crystallizes Into Radial Stars in a Hypnotic Short Film Directed by Thomas Blanchard

March 8, 2022

Grace Ebert

Peering through a macro lens, French video artist Thomas Blanchard has cultivated the ability to transform common scientific occurances into mesmerizing, and often otherworldly, tableaus. His recent project is a collaboration with musician Sébastien Guérive, whose quiet, beat-heavy track “Bellatrix” overlays Blanchard’s experimental film.

Shot in 8K against a black backdrop, the video documents a chemical dropped into hot water and then subsequently cooled. The plunge in temperature causes the substance to become unstable, activating crystallization and sending fringed spikes of ice splaying outward from a central point. Similar to his previous projects—watch more of Blanchard’s works on Vimeo and Instagram— “Bellatrix” is an abstract and illuminating consideration of nature’s unruly and incredibly meticulous processes.

 

 

 



Illustration Music

Musicians Harmonize with Plants and Birds in Gaspart’s Soothing Digital Illustrations

February 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Gaspart, shared with permission

Twined with leafy vines, Gaspart’s series of digital illustrations titled Birds, Plants & Music emits the calming, lyrical presence we need right now. The collection, which was inspired by research detailing the effects of melodies and other audible compositions on vegetation, centers on lone instrumentalists with exaggerated limbs and gargantuan feet. Each casually sits on the ground or curls forward in a crouch to pluck the strings of an upright bass and buzz into a trumpet.

In a note to Colossal, Gaspart shares that he begins with a preliminary sketch that he then recreates with shapes in complementary palettes. Shades of purple are prominent in the violinist’s garments and backdrop, for example, while bright, brassy orange dominates the image of the saxophonist. As a follow-up to the illustrations shown here, Gaspart also collaborated with motion designer Bogdan Dumitriu, the sound design studio Ronroco Audio, and musicians Pablo Jivotovschii and Jake Fridkis to animate three of the compositions.

Gaspart, who lives in Maisons-Laffitte just outside of Paris, shares details about his process, in addition to similarly tranquil renderings, on Behance and Instagram.

 

 

 



Music Photography

In ‘Architecture in Music,’ Striking Photos Reveal the Hidden Structures of Instruments

January 26, 2022

Grace Ebert

1780 Lockey Hill Cello. All images © Charles Brooks, shared with permission

A cellist since childhood, Auckland-based photographer Charles Brooks spent twenty years performing with orchestras around the world, an experience that incited curiosity about the inner workings of the instruments surrounding him. “I never really knew what was going on inside. That was a realm reserved for the luthier. Occasionally, when an instrument was being repaired, you’d get a rare glimpse inside, which was always a thrilling experience,” he shares with Colossal.

This interest culminates in Brooks’s ongoing Architecture in Music series, which peers inside pianos, winds, brass, and strings to unveil their hidden anatomies. Structural and often flanked by repeating elements, the composite images frame the shadows cast by a cello’s F holes, the seemingly endless rungs of a flute’s sound chamber, and a piano’s row of hammers, all of which appear more like buildings or public infrastructure than musical components. “I was always interested in the psychology of how our mind interprets scale in a two-dimensional image. I’d been fascinated by the tilt-shift effect, which made big things look small by blurring part of the image, and I wanted to know if I could make small things look big by keeping everything sharp,” he says.

 

Fazioli Grand Piano

In order to preserve each instrument while photographing, Brooks used a probe lens with a “minimum aperture of just f/14, which means you need a tremendous amount of light. It also has a very shallow depth of field at that aperture, less than a centimeter when you’re focusing close to the lens.” Each foray into an instruments’ body revealed a similarity between brands—the Steinway and Fazioli grand pianos were nearly identical—and many contained markings and residue from repairs that dated back centuries. “Some instruments really surprised me,” he shares. “I’d never thought to look inside a Didgeridoo before and was astonished to find out that it was carved by termites, rather than by hand!”

Prints of Architecture in Music are available in Brooks’s shop, and you can find much more of his work on Instagram. (via swissmiss)

 

Steinway Model D Grand Piano

14K Gold Flute

Fazioli Grand Piano

Steinway Model D Grand Piano

Steinway Model D Grand Piano

Didgeridoo by Trevor Gillespie Peckham (Bungerroo) Australia

2021 Selmer Saxophone

 

 



Animation Music

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year: A Stop-Motion Music Video Tells the Warm and Fuzzy Story of Woodland Friends

December 23, 2021

Grace Ebert

Illustrator Phoebe Wahl and animator Andrea Love teamed up to gift us with a delightful stop-motion short full of cozy felted sweaters, wooly swirls of steam puffing from teacups, and (too much) snow just in time for the holidays. The whimsical animation is the music video for “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year,” a duet between Ingrid Michaelson and Zooey Deschanel, that tells the sweet story of Bunny, Rabbit, and their needle-felted friends as they prepare for the holidays. Watch the heartfelt film above, and go behind-the-scenes with Wahl and Love, who also collaborated on an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s Thumbelina, on Hello Hornet. (via The Kids Should See This)