Monday, January 17, 2011

Norman Cavazzana Fashion Videography

Officially so now, fashion has become a recurring topic here at the Operable Window.  This is for a few reasons outside of the fact that it is simply a creative endeavor.

Fashion holds and interesting place in the creative world.  Particularly in the world of Design, fashion falls in a space that seems somehow outside of the bounds of other design fields.  Architecture, Industrial Design, and Graphic design (I know those are not all of the fields of design), all seem to occupy intermingling ideals.  It is not odd to find designers that jump between these field at the drop of a hat or even within single projects.  In some cases there is even argument about where a project should be categorized.

With Fashion though, most designers of any persuasion would not think to jump into it from one of the other fields.  There is something very special about it.  Perhaps because of how close it deals with the human body.  Industrial Design deals with things that the body might us, Graphics what is seen, and Architecture the space the body occupies, but with Fashion the only concern is the human body itself (and sometimes little dogs).

Another interesting aspect of any field of design is its means of representation in the absence of its physical presence.   With Architecture, photography holds almost a complete monopoly on the representation of built projects.  Film has started to creep its way into this job recently as well.  Graphic design does not have this issue as when you see it, you are seeing IT.  Industrial Design also relies heavily on photography, but also finds it representation through the use of graphics.  It is not uncommon to know an object by its silhouette graphically represented.

In the case of its representation Fashion finds a commonality to these other fields, as it is almost exclusively represented through photography.  With this said, no photographer would ever venture to say that Architectural photography and Fashion photography share a great deal, at least as far as technique is concerned.  Product photography might share more, but it is still a long way off.

Also like Architecture, Fashion now finds itself in a position of being represented more often with Video.  With the prolification of online video and multimedia outlets this is no surprise.  This brings us to the namesake of this post.

Creative Agency Norman Cavazzana, among other things, has produced a handful of amazingly beautiful Fashion shorts.  Unlike many fashion videos that are simply filming of fashion shows or of photo shoots, these videos stand on their own as beautiful representations of the designs.  Norman Cavazzana is not a single person but rather a Swedish/Italian duo.  Outside of their videography their photography is also stunning and unique, and they are also releasing a line of jewelry.

Here are a few of their shorts.  Take the time to check out their other pieces here on Vimeo.  You are going to want to full screen these.  The first might be NSFW.

Black Widow by Norman Cavazzana from Creative Agency Norman Cavazzana on Vimeo.

Norman Cavazzana Editorial Film no.1 from Creative Agency Norman Cavazzana on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sonic Iceland

I recently came upon a very interesting website (webbook?).  Sonic Iceland is a web site that is something of a virtual book.  Its was designed with the end goal of it becoming a print book at some point.  The site has chapters that follow two travelers on a journey through Iceland exploring the people, culture and music.  As you read through the site you can listen to Icelandic music and look at some really great photography.

Having visited Iceland on a few occasions myself, I am thankful that someone took the time to produce a work like this.  Iceland is one of the most enigmatic places I have ever been.  It is almost impossible to describe, even with my long winded accounts the place.

I have not read through the entire site, but I plan to very soon.  Check it out here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What is art, what makes an artist?

I have been thinking a lot about what art is and what makes an artist an artist lately.  In my first year of college a few years back I was asked in my first art survey class the question: "what is art, what makes an artist?"

I remember very few things about that class.  A lot of photos of Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty (which emerged from the water due to drought in 2004, when I took the class, and just by coincidence, it has only just emerged again and is walkable at this moment), a professor who was clearly obsessed with China, and for whatever reason, I remember with clarity this question and my answer.

So what is art?  There is, of course, no correct answer to this question.  I have thought about this compound question a lot over the years and my answer slowly evolves but at the moment I would answer it as follows.  "Art is in the eye of the beholder, art is not necessarily man made, art can be kinetic or static, and may only exist for an instant."  So all in all, art is everything, which justifies all art.  Some people may find Piet Mondrian's work boring and simple, where others may spend hours standing in front of a single piece and lose themselves in the color fields.  What is publicly accepted as art changes over time as well.  Excellent craftsmanship becomes art and falls out of vogue to more idea driven art and so on.

So the question remains half unanswered.  What makes an artist?  Now while my answer to the first part of the question evolves over time, my answer to this stays the same.  I have no way of comparing this to the views of others but I feel my answer may be somewhat unique here. "An artist is an individual who pursues perfection in a craft."  So in this answer there is a disjoint; while artists make art, not all art is made by artists.  Any person who crawls slowly toward the boundaries of their craft is in my eyes a true artist.  If you find a niche and settle in and refuse to adapt, to advance... are you an artist? Or simply a craftsman who specializes in something?

In my definition anyone can be an artist, a painter, a photographer, an architect, a chemist, a driver, a farmer, a door man... It simply matters that while in pursuit of anything, you drive to be better at it, and you do your best to do it well.

So here are some examples of art, they may be varied, but in my eyes they are all valid pieces of art.

A lunar calendar for 2011

This is Killian Martin again, the video is the piece, while both the videographer, Brett Novak and the skater are artists in their own right.

To tie into the previous post, a contemporary ski jump by Zaha Hadid's firm.

I could go on forever, and the format of a blog makes it tough for me to share music, spacial, science, and other art.  This will have to do for now.  How would you answer the question?  What is art, what makes an artist?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Temporary Ski Jumps

We have all been driving down the highway and gazed at a curved surface jutting away from the earth.  Wondered what it felt like to tip down from the top of one of those giant ski jumps to be thrust off a huge drop back to earth.  I've always found them particularly beautiful.  Here are some images of temporary ski jumps I ran across today.

Empire Stadium in Vancouver was home to this towering wonder in 1954.

Here is another wonderfully constructed specimen at Multnomah Civic Stadium in Oregon.

Here is on built in the Dodger's stadium in 1963.

Lastly two from Chicago, the first erected 1954 in Soldier Field.

The second from a bit earlier, in 1937, also in Soldier Field.

Another view, documented for the Timber Engineering Company, who erected the jump.  Here is more information about this one.

I am amazed by these old photos, such temporary wonders of engineering, and on such a huge scale.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hedrich Blessing Starts Selling Prints

Acclaimed Chicago based architectural photography firm Hedrich Blessing has recently started selling Prints on their website of some of their vanguard shots.  Sold as either Classic images (1929-1979) or Contemporary (1980-present) there are many familiar shots to choose from and many more beautiful images, in particular of Chicago.  Prices are reasonable ranging from $150 to $450.

As the shots are all copy right protected I can't share them in this post.  If you are unfamiliar with Hedrich Blessing's work just think, Fallingwater, Mies, and more recently Aqua Tower.  Now you remember those images!

Check more out here.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Branding itself as a Webzine for savvy young designers Archilepsy has released its 'issueZero'. Something of a sneek-peek of what is to come, this first issue outlines the periodicals goals, views and future plans. Its stated place is somewhere in the gray quasi-professional/academic world that so many designers have found themselves in this time of economic struggle.  Looks interesting and a  monthly subscription is the best kind...Free.

in their own words...
"ARCHILEPSY is a webzine for savvy designers. Tired of the glossy snapshots dwelling next to the checkout counter at Whole Foods and the uninspiring design industry magazines that fill our mailboxes each month, ARCHILEPSY Magazine seeks to offer an alternative that is smart, relevant, critical and, of course, fun. It is a mix of features on the work of great architects and designers, informative how-to's, theoretical essays, poignant interviews, witty comic strips, and more!"

Friday, January 7, 2011

Vivian Maier, Chicago Street Photographer, Discovered Work

 Imagine being at an auction, checking out a bin from a repossessed storage locker and finding that the bin contains 30,000 negatives from chicago in the mid twentieth century.  Now imagine those negatives have never been seen before and are from an absolutly amazing street photographer who never showed her work.

That's exactly what happened here in Chicago.  A show containing 80 images opens today at the chicago cultural center.  (about 100,000 negatives have been turned up at this point and still only a fraction have been sorted through)

This woman made what looks like hundreds of absolutly soulfull, breathtaking images in and around Chicago.  She was a live in nanny on the north shore here in Chicago.  On her day off she would put her rolleiflex around her neck and set off to the city.

Here is the video telling much more of the story, introducing the 26 year old who bought the work, and giving us some images and history of the photographer herself.

Kilian Martin

The beautiful thing about this blog, the reason I contribute to it, the reason that I read it and perhaps the reason you do as well, is that while it is not highly specific in it's intent, like many blogs are, it is somehow one big cohesive whole.

Slices of hip hop, perspective, concrete, photography, painting, architecture, space (both terrestrial spaces and outer space itself), come together to form this savory pie called The Operable Window.  One thing I'd like to do more of this year is bring content to this blog.  So for whatever reason, I think this very thin slice of skateboarding will find itself at home here.

This is Kilian Martin, a "freestyle" skateboard rider.  The things he does are a dance really.  The way it is shot suits the style of the rider.  Delicately composed, bending some rules and all together just slick from the first second to the last.

The fellow who makes the video goes by the name of Brett Novak, his video work ranges from this great, natural light, single location, one afternoon of Skate Boarding, to videos for Little Wayne, to BMW commercials, to videos about graffiti.  Street art, hip hop, video... did I just tie it all back together?

I'll leave it there.  Here we go 2011.  Lets grow this blog.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Year in Photos

This short film is comprised of nearly every single photo that my friend Ian took in 2010.  In the 5614 photos we are taken to 5 countries and a slew of interesting spaces and places.  Check it out, if only for the good music.

A Year In Photographs from Ian Thomas on Vimeo.