Tag Archives: Sean Michael Nelson

The Ongoing Adventures of Dash Fantastico and the Blazing Buckaroos….Episode 21: The ¡FNARG! Pit

By Sean Michael Nelson | Cover Art by Rhys Edwards

Rhys Edwards, Dash Fantastico Episode 21 Cover

When we last left our daring hero, Dash Fantastico, he was venturing deep into the headquarters of the dreaded Scarlet Syndicate to prevent the firing of the evil Chairman Grop’Th’Tul Chang’s Neutron Death Ray at the intergalactic capital of Von Braun City on Earth’s artificial moon Nova Luna.

Who knows what dangers await Dash as he courageously makes his way through the maze-like corridors of Chang’s bureaucratic barracks…
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“Following the Sound of the West Wind Down”: Some Notes on the Moral Character of a Concrete Poet

by Sean Michael Nelson

As well as the work of Michael Morris, the recent exhibit Letters: Michael Morris and Concrete Poetry at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery also featured the work of a number of other poets who worked in the field of concrete poetry. Among them was bpNichol.

bpNichol’s Blues. Image source <bpNichol.ca> retrieved May 9, 2012

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Camera Absentia: B/I

by Sean Michael Nelson

Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida

How does one express the grief over the loss of a loved one? Roland Barthes wrote several works in the wake of his mother’s death, among them Camera Lucida, a personal reflection on the essence of photography. In it, Barthes notes that the “photograph does not necessarily say what is no longer, but only and for certain what has been.” Ishiuchi Miyako’s (石内 都) photographic series Mother’s (2000 – 2005) is one instance where photographs say what-is-no-longer through what-has-been. Continue reading

Marx Goes “Borrowing”: The Secret World of Miyazaki

By Sean Michael Nelson

For K.

As animator Hayao Miyazaki ages, his films’ scales become increasingly intimate. 1997’s Princess Mononoke is 135 minutes long and set across the countryside of Warring States era Japan. 2008’s Ponyo is a half-hour shorter and seen occurring around a small oceanside village. The Secret World of Arrietty, which Miyazaki co-wrote and planned, is just over 90 minutes in length and is confined to a single household. Though “smaller,” the film, adapted from Mary Norton’s novel The Borrowers, still has a large-scale message for its audience about Miyazaki’s ideals.

Princess Mononoke, 1997One of Mononoke’s many grand vistas

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Libido Machine

By Sean Michael Nelson

Sometimes fetishes can be rather extreme. In David Cronenberg’s Crash (1996), based on the J.G. Ballard novel, a film producer named James Ballard develops a sexual fetish around car wrecks after being in one and witnessing a woman trying to free herself from her vehicle. The film features numerous scenes of vehicular carnage often shot from low angles, which convey the speed, intensity, and violence of these moments. Freedom Machine, a work of footage appropriated by artist Jordy Hamilton, can be seen operating in a similar manner. Freedom Machine features a 10 minute video (shot from a relatively low stand) and series of 4×6” colour prints documenting an event occurring near the artist’s family home near Niagara with the Welland County Motorcycle Club’s annual barbecue and skeet shoot competition, wherein picknickers shoot at a revving motorcycle parked in a field until it bursts into flames.

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This is a Mirror, You are in the Cellar

by Sean Michael Nelson

“This is a Mirror, You are a Written Sentence” by Luis Camitzer

The 1976 film The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane features a prime example of how to induce terror. The titular girl, played by Jodie Foster, lives in a house, seemingly by herself, and is one day intruded upon by the building’s landlord. Having already been refused access to it the day earlier, the landlord insists on retrieving her jelly glasses from the cellar, and proceeds to enter against the girl’s protests, screaming at what she sees down there and meeting her end in an accident trying to exit. The film never reveals just what it was that was seen in the cellar: by allowing the audience to imagine what was in there, they become complicit in and authors of the scene’s horror.

A Scene from The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane

Though he dislikes the imposing nature of video and film, Luis Camnitzer’s works function in a similar way to this scene. Take Camnitzer’s polystyrene sign which reads “THIS IS A MIRROR / YOU ARE A WRITTEN SENTENCE.” For the piece to produce any affect, the viewer will have to work with the piece.
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Red Squares in Space

By Sean Michael Nelson

Damian Moppett’s print Red Studio Squares, part of the recent Not Photographs exhibit at Satellite, is just one of many instances of the red square in visual art. Another is the cover of seminal New Wave band Talking Heads’ first album, Talking Heads: 77. Informed by notions of the death of painting at the time, many artists and art students, members of the band among them, took an interest in conceptual art. Designed by guitarist/vocalist David Byrne with assistance from keyboardist Jerry Harrison, the cover of Talking Heads: 77 features the album’s title in gold on a solid red background, reflecting the band’s preference for the minimal-conceptual.

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