Yellow Magic Orchestra are less known than their German contemporaries Kraftwerk, but they were no less important in shaping the synthpop of the eighties and in turn electronic music as we know it today. Rydeen is one of the highlights from their second album, Solid State Survivor, mixing disco with eastern musical elements. It’s an energetic and uptempo tune, which also showcases their pioneering use of synthesizers, sequencers and drum machines. Although the music video may look simple to our modern eyes, it must have been pretty advanced for it’s time.
Betty Boop was created by animator and director Max Fleischer, who somehow came in the shadow of his contemporary Walt Disney. But he was no less important in shaping the animation history of the 20th century. In addition to creating Betty Boop and bringing Popeye and Superman to the movie screen, he was the inventor of the rotoscoping technique, where stills from live action movies are traced to create animation frames. It is still a widely used thechique. In this movie, Koko the Clown, Betty Boop and Bimbo come to town to sell magic medicine, causing wild exitement and havoc among the public.
The Earthship is a genius concept, which turns the home into an independent ecosystem. It takes no electricity from the power grid, and does not rely on public sewage service. It is built from used car tires, bottles and cans along with natural building materials. The outer walls are made with earth-filled tires, using thermal mass construction to naturally regulate indoor temperature. Electricity is harvested from sun and wind, while rain is collected for drinking water. A greenhouse for growing herbs and vegetables all year is an integrated part of every building. Earthship Biotecture was founded by Mike Reynolds in New Mexico the 1970s, and since then the organization have built their visionary homes across the United States. Since the 2000s, many earthships have also been built in Europe, Australia, Latin America and Africa. Garbage Warrior, a documentary about Mike Reynolds and Earthships, made in 2007, can be viewed in full here.
I like the building style, which seems to be inspired by the fantastic architecture of Antonio Gaudi:
Moustapha Alassane was born in Niger in 1942. Originally a mechanic, he discovered the art of animation on a trip to Canada, sponsored by French filmmaker Jean Rouch. His animation style is uniquely African, mostly starring naively drawn frog characters and commenting on the (then) newly independent African nations with surrealistic satire. He draws directly on the film roll, cleverly avoiding the trouble of transferring the animation from paper.
I really like Japanese illustrator Shusei Nagaoka’s artwork from the 70s and 80s. It’s full of neon glowing space ships in distant galaxies and shiny naked women encountering strange looking martians. Among his greatest achievements are his album art for bands such as Electric Light Orchestra and Earth Wind and Fire. It’s kitschy and over the top, but so much more exiting than the mostly boring album art (and music) of our era.
3D Animation didn’t really take off until the mid nineties – the real breaktrhough came with Toy Story in 1995, which was the first feature lenght computer animated movie. This movie clip, created by 3d animation pioneer Robert Abel in 1981 is surprisingly elegant and advanced, considering it was made almost fifteen years earlier. I love the placid and slightly mystical feel of this movie, enhanced by the VHS quality and the airy soundtrack.
American artist Kevin Cyr plays around with concepts of mobile living, bringing to life great prototypes such as his Bike Camper. Personally I think this could become more than just a concept – it brings to my mind the millions of people sleeping on cardboard sheets on the hard pavement in cities such as Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro, and all the slum dwellers who get their shacks bulldozed with no compensation and no place to go. A micro mobile home like this could dramatically improve the living standards of a homeless person in the mega metropolis of the third world. Via Weburbanist.