Center For Visual Music’s “Essential Visual Music: Rare Classics”

I’ve shouted at length here before about Oskar Fischinger, MOCA’s Visual Music exhibition, and the occasional program from the Center For Visual Music. CVM shows are kinda rare and extremely worthy. Well worth the effort to attend.

Here are a couple of highlights from tonight’s “Essential Visual Music: Rare Classics” show at the Hammer.

Muntz TV Commercial, Oskar Fischinger, 1952

Mood Contrasts, Mary Ellen Bute, 1953

Cibernetik 5.3, John Stehura, 1960-1965

Greetings From Big Letters, USA

Greetings From Rice, California - big letter post card It’s that postcard over there on the right that started it all. A dead town east of Joshua Tree that wasn’t even that much of a town before it died. However, someone thought enough of it to commission up a “Greetings From” postcard for the soldiers who were passing through town on their way to North Africa with Patton.Some twenty-five years later I’ve got a small collection of so-called “large letter” postcards and there’s enough of us online to support the inevitable Flickr group. looks back at the history of the Teich company who basically created the large letter style.

My Bruce Sterling moment…

Smoke from Griffith Park fire…going to a lecture about futurist city design and architecture inside a re-purposed wind tunnel owned by an art school while a brush fire threatens to burn the city down.

Yet another good BLDGBLOG event though I wish there was more time to lift it out of the show-and-tell blitzkrieg. The one question I wanted to ask the panel was if they considered and/or incorporated the temporal nature of city evolution. As a sci-fi artist for movies, it seems the tendency would be to tilt toward ground-up master planning, but cities aren’t hegemonic areas, they grow, go broke, get blighted, get hit by deorbiting star destroyers, get rebuilt, attacked by Godzilla, new stuff built on top of old stuff, etc.

The last couple of Star Wars movies hinted at that evolution, but not nearly as thorough as portrayed in Blade Runner or perhaps A.I.

Futurists Gone Wild: The Fiat rooftop test track

It’s one of those pieces of cultural knowledge that I could kick myself for not knowing already (there’s a lot: case in point, I hadn’t seen Rebel Without A Cause until a couple months ago), especially since it’s on top of the intersection of three lines of CKB-bait: machine age art movements, architecture, and automobiles.

In 1921 the Fiat company built a new factory in Lingotto, Turin, and to maintain compatibility with the proper Italian-futurist manifestos of the time, a test track was built on the roof…

Fiat Works test track

(photo from the New York Times Archive obviously)

Raw materials for cars would enter on the first floor with the assembly line continuing upwards in a spiral until the finished Fiats exited on the roof where the test track was. Reminds me of Steve Jobs’ dream factory: a beachfront site that would process the sand into silicon and output fully-formed PCs at the other end.

After reading about the factory in Banham’s Theory And Design In The First Machine Age, I concluded that there was just no way something so awesomely absurd could still exist. Bzzt! The Lingotto factory is still around and was repurposed into a conference and sports center complete with a swank hotel. (Google map link)


Pop-art-snarkster Banksy hit town over the weekend and kicked over the anthill of LA hipsterati. Chaos ensues, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. For all of the verbage expended on the health and well-being of the elephant (the elephant was fine), no one cared about the poor cockroaches stuck in the case with the Paris Hilton CDs.

I liked these two:



(Pictures from Supertouch Blog)

I wasn’t cool enough to get into the Thursday night opening like Supertouch was, but in the interest of adding to the inevitable Defamer Privacy Watch posting, I did see Kate Flannery (Meredith from The Office) there.

Op-Art Enlightenment via album covers

spectrum-howyousatisfyme.gifBack when it was still fashionable to have band stickers on the back of your car I home-brewed up a Spectrum sticker using the back design of the “How You Satisfy Me” single. It’s a cool op-art design and later Sonic printed up a t-shirt with it for the 2002 tour.

I always figured that the origin of it was some sort of “generic” op-art design from the sixties and sure enough, while hopping around on eBay I noticed this.
mindgames.jpg So it dates back to at least 1973. I’m sure that it’s something/someone famous that I should already be aware of but the archeology continues…

Things I Like – “I Skipped February & March” April 2006 doubleplusgood edition

1. The online collection of the journal Design from 1965 through 1974.



2. Ansel Adams’ photos of Los Angeles.

In any case I was running a search in the Los Angeles Public Library’s immense online collection of photographs when something in a record caught my eye, the name “Ansel Adams.” The image attached to this record was of a parking lot with a cars jumbled together around a prominent No Parking sign. I don’t normally associate Ansel Adams with ironic snapshots of parking lots or small format urban photography at all. Like you, a photograph by Adams means the classic evocation of the great American wilderness. It never crossed my mind that he had photographed any of the cities of men, much less Los Angeles. But there it was. Maybe, I thought, there were more.

See the Flickr set for these.

3. The Day Britain Stopped. Another in a series of BBC’s “documentary futures” programs, this one covering the domino effects generated by an overloaded and overworked transportation network.

4. Igor Oleynikov’s blog. I’ve hit link fatigue with many of the illustration blogs lately – too much similar work that’s all above-average, but Olejnikov’s work continually gives my retinas a much-needed recalibration.


5. Nils Olav. A King Penguin who lives in the Edinburgh Zoo, Scotland, Nils was recently promoted to Colonel-in-Chief of the Norwegian Royal Guards.