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Archive for October 10th, 2016

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by Sam Juliano

There can be nothing more disconcerting to a young child than finding out that their latest book find is well beyond their sphere of negotiation.  The exasperated yellow duckling with the pink beak in veteran artist Sergio Ruzzier’s latest innovative creation, This is Not a Picture Book is initially ecstatic when he comes upon a book with a bright red cover.  Soon enough the anticipated eye candy is exposed as a tome, one indecipherable to an ankle-biter, whose sphere of enlightenment has up until now been in the most stringent visual terms.  Gloriously framing this pained encounter between this impressionable tyke and the latest step in learning are the first set of end papers that reveal that words by themselves are indecipherable at the earliest stage, in fact they project to said prospective reader the futility of a foreign language.  After the exclamatory titular pronouncement on the double page spread that sets off the deceit with Duck Amuck bravado our offended protagonist rejects his latest acquisition, rethinks his action, and finally atones in a series of delightful vignettes that make striking use of white space.  The duckling picks up the book again and is approached by a cricket who asks “What is that?”  The duckling repeats the central dilemma, and the cricket deems it “Wacky” and asks if his new friend is able to read it.  Surprisingly the duckling doesn’t rule out the possibility just before the book enters a new dimension.

Ruzzier, the Italian born classicist who is unwaveringly in the Caldecott hunt for the fourth consecutive year has produced what is probably his picture book masterpiece, and by any artistic and conceptual barometer of measurement one of the finest works of 2016.  Like all the best creations, This is Not A Picture Book is thought-provoking, elegant, and invested with the most vital, if rudimentary measure of advocacy for our youngest readers.  The book celebrates the power of reading and the unlimited boundaries of the imagination. Once again Ruzzier’s colorful and sumptuous otherworldly tapestries evoke a European sensibility and some of his eccentric carnival scenes envision the surrealist cinema master Alejandro Jodorowsky, though framing the art as Felliniesque seems just as appropriate.   (more…)

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Kino Welt am Draht

by Bob Clark

There’s an interior-decorating philosophy that espouses the idea of using mirrors to make a small room look bigger. I don’t know if it’s related to fung shui, or perhaps just a very basic recognition of the power of duplicated imagery, but there’s something about it that can work rather well, and at times even do wonders. With one mirror, the horizon of a single room can extend just a little farther, and open things up just enough to stave off unconscious feelings of claustrophobia in the mind’s eye, if not in the actual ones for very long. Place another one in the room with it at an angle, and things open up even more, allowing you to curve space subtly with reflected reflections, building a new and artificial kind of architecture through the location’s subliminal atmosphere. Finally, put a pair of mirrors directly across from one another and you have that classic barber-shop parlour trick of infinitely extending reflections receding into both directions, that little feat of magic that Orson Welles put to such good use near the end of Citizen Kane and Carl Sagan used to similarly impressive import in one of the later episodes ofCosmos, expressing the inherently evasive concept of eternity itself.

Plenty of filmmakers and artists have exploited this potential for mirrors as instruments of mind-bending challenges of time, space and pure mathematics– some ten years ago I can remember a recreation of a Yayoi Kusama installation, full of polka-dotted rock formations extended in all directions by an entirely mirrored room, while strolling through a retrospective of her work at the Museum of Modern Art. Recently I had another encounter with the mirrored-lens visions of uber-reflective expression at MoMA while catching a rare screening of a newly remasteredWorld on a Wire by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, a work which has long gone unseen since its original broadcast as a two-part miniseries for German television in 1973, and expands the famously bold director’s body of work to include science-fiction alongside all the old familiar places of Douglas Sirk melodrama and World War II era expressionist musicals. But not only does this film show Fassbinder’s take on sci-fi– it also manages to tell one of the first cinematic depictions of virtual-reality, long before the likes of Tron, The Matrix or Inception, and with a surprisingly dexterous hand, especially when it comes to presenting various layers of simulations. (more…)

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