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Design

A Canadian Company Upcycles Millions of Disposable Chopsticks into Sleek Furniture and Home Goods

March 9, 2021

Grace Ebert

On a global scale, we collectively consume a staggering number of chopsticks each year—80 billion pairs to be exact—many of which end up discarded in landfills and other waste sites. Since 2016, though, a Vancouver-based company has been upcycling the disposable utensils into a modern, minimal line of furniture and home goods.

A new video from Business Insider goes behind-the-scenes with ChopValue to chronicle the entire production process, which starts with collecting the free, raw material from about 300 restaurants around the British Columbian city. When they’re brought back to the plant, the utensils are sorted, coated in a water-based resin, and baked in a 200-degree oven for five hours to kill all germs. They’re then broken down and loaded into a massive hydraulic machine that compresses the individual sticks into a composite board, which finally is sanded and fashioned into countertops, tiles, and dominos, among a variety of other products. Since its inception, the company has saved nearly 33 million pairs of chopsticks from entering a landfill.

With three microfactories in Canada and retailers across North America, ChopValue’s footprint is growing, and the company is currently offering opportunities for franchises. Shop coasters, shelving, and other goods on the site, and follow product launches on Twitter and Instagram. (via The Kids Should See This)

 

 

 



Animation

A Stop-Motion Animation Full of Inappropriate Office Behavior Questions the Professional Impact of Motherhood

March 8, 2021

Grace Ebert

What poses the biggest threat to women’s careers? That’s the question behind a new animation by Swedish director Anna Mantzaris (previously) that follows a mischievous character through a series of wildly inappropriate misdeeds and poor office etiquette. Created collaboratively by Passion Pictures and Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand, the lighthearted-turned-sincere short film compares snipping off a coworker’s tie or wreaking workplace havoc to the unfair penalties of being a parent.

Coinciding with International Women’s Day, the stop-motion animation marks the launch of a new Global Women campaign that advocates for an end to the motherhood penalty, or the systemic setbacks women face in the workforce after having children. These disadvantages include everything from “earning an average of 12.5% less across a working lifetime despite working comparable hours to male and non-parent counterparts in their working lifetimes, through to being passed up for promotions and opportunities for advancement simply for being a mother,” the New Zealand-based organization says in a statement.

Mantzaris is known for her distinct style of humor and animations laden with office hijinks, which you can watch on her Vimeo and Instagram. (via Creative Boom)

 

 

 



Art

Banksy Creates Bob Ross Narrated Process Video of New Work Depicting Oscar Wilde Escaping Prison

March 4, 2021

Christopher Jobson

What begins as a soft-spoken clip of America’s most iconic TV painting instructor, Bob Ross from his Joy of Painting show, suddenly shifts into a frenetic and extremely rare behind-the-scenes video of Banksy creating his latest work in Reading, Berkshire. Titled “Create Escape,” the clip was just posted to the artist’s social media channels and depicts the real-time creation of a stenciled artwork of a prisoner escaping the high, red brick walls of HM Prison Reading (formerly known as Reading Gaol). Unlike the bright studio lights that illuminated Ross’s bucolic landscapes, “Create Escape” captures the frantic yet precise execution of a work done in near darkness by an artist completely governed by police response time.

The expansive and unblemished prison wall was a daring and perfect spot for a Banksy piece. It’s best known for its most famous inmate: Oscar Wilde served two years in the prison from 1895-1897 for the charge of “gross indecency” for being gay. The work is clearly a tribute to the poet, as the escape mechanism appears to be a long strand of paper emerging from a typewriter in place of the usual bed sheets. Wilde recounted aspects of his imprisonment in the poem “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” which centers largely on the execution of Charles Thomas Wooldridge.

 

Still from “Create Escape”

Still from “Create Escape”

Still from “Create Escape”

Still from “Create Escape”

 

 



Photography

Hilarity Ensues as Everything Goes Catastrophically Wrong in an Ad for Etisalat

February 22, 2021

Grace Ebert

Strap on a helmet and fasten your kneepads before watching this ad for international telecommunications giant, Etisalat. Nalle Sjoblad’s “Moonwalk” uses brutal Home Alone-esque sequences of poor planning, office rage, and failure to appreciate even basic spatial relationships in order to remind us that the most uncomfortable, humiliating scenarios only last for a moment. Based in Helsinki, Sjoblad approaches a variety of commercial and personal projects with his distinct style of humor, many of which you can watch on Vimeo.

 

 

 



Art Documentary History

'Black Art: In the Absence of Light,' a New Documentary, Celebrates the Rich Legacy of Black Art

February 17, 2021

Grace Ebert

“I saw the need to build cultural awareness by helping to revise and redefine American art,” says the renowned professor, artist, and curator David Driskell in Black Art: In the Absence of Light. His words echo throughout the new HBO documentary—which was directed by Sam Pollard, with executive producers Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Jacqueline Glover—that uncovers the rich and underappreciated lineage of Black art.

Structured chronologically, the feature-length film was released earlier this month and stems from Driskell’s revolutionary exhibition Two Centuries of Black American Art, which opened in 1979 at LACMA and surveyed more than 200 works dating back to 1750 from 63 artists. The formative show went on to major museums in Dallas, Atlanta, and Brooklyn, breaking attendance records despite its unenthusiastic response from some critics and institutions, including two in Chicago and Detroit that rejected its visit entirely.

 

David Driskell in his studio

Two Centuries of Black American Art, though, had a widespread and profound impact, which the documentary explores through interviews with artists working today. Many conversations begin with Driskell, who died last April from the coronavirus before Black Art‘s release. The film probes a vast archive from Chicago artists like Kerry James Marshall (previously) and Theaster Gates (previously), alongside Amy Sherald (previously), Kehinde Wiley (previously), and Jordan Casteel, among others.

Through a multi-generational lens, the documentary examines the nuanced effects of these figures’ contributions to the broader field of contemporary American art as it shares footage of their practices and reactions to their works. For example, Fred Wilson unveils what’s hidden within museum collections, while Wiley and Sherald both comment on the profound experience of painting the Obamas’ official portraits. Additional insights from Studio Museum director and chief curator Thelma Golden, who also is a consulting producer, are woven throughout the film.

 

Amy Sherald working on Michelle Obama’s portrait

Beyond galleries and museums, much of Black Art centers on the value of representation and unearthing a narrative that’s been obscured or outright dismissed. In particular, it considers the role of collectives like Sprial, which was founded in 1963 by Romare Bearden and Norman Lewis in order to highlight the work generated by Black artists in the Civil Rights Movement. While Sprial drew attention to otherwise ignored projects, it was largely dominated by men, a problem Faith Ringgold speaks to as she describes being rejected from the group. Sprial only admitted one woman, Emma Amos.

The final segment focuses on the importance of collectors investing in Black artists, in addition to the long history of spaces like Studio Museum and historically Black colleges and universities. These institutions continue to foster communities that honor the legacy of those who’ve come before while backing those forging new ground, prompting questions like this one from Theaster Gates: “We are part of a continued renaissance—it’s been happening. What I’m most excited about is, do we have the capacity to be great makers in the absence of light?”

Black Art is streaming on HBO Max through March 17. Educators also can download a coinciding curriculum with research tools and discussion prompts, in addition to another filled with activities designed to spur creativity.

 

Kerry James Marshall in his studio

 

 



Animation Music

A Jazz Band Improvises an Entire Track in One Take for an Animated Music Video Honoring the Brushstroke

February 8, 2021

Grace Ebert

The process behind most music videos begins with an audio track that an artist reacts to and pairs with a corresponding visual, an undertaking Vincent de Boer knows well. The Netherlands-based artist has been working with the jazz quartet Ill Considered since 2017, listening to the band’s largely improvised melodies and creating abstract animations, alongside stills for its 11 album covers, to match.

But for their most recent collaboration, “The Stroke,” the group flipped the traditional workflow.  With the help of his creative partner Hans Schuttenbeld, de Boer hand-drew 4,056 frames that range from dark, geometric shapes to gangly creatures to scenes that morph from one trippy composition to the next. Honoring the simple, unpretentious lines of each sweeping mark, the artist bills the completed animation as “the story of a brushstroke: a trace of a movement performed by the artist with his instrument, the paintbrush,” he said in a statement.

Once complete, de Boer shared the project with Ill Considered, who recorded an entirely improvised track on its first viewing. The resulting music video matches the jazzy riffs with de Boer’s shapeshifting sequences in a cohesive conversation between the two artforms.

You can purchase an LP of “The Stroke,” which is packaged with 12 of de Boer’s original artworks on the cover and inside, on Bandcamp, and see the full process behind the animation, including the painstaking drawing process and actual recording session, in the video below. Keep up with de Boer’s latest projects on Instagram and Vimeo.