Friday, December 30, 2011

Book Review - Just My Type (Simon Garfield)



Life changing stuff.

For a graphic designer and a typeface-manic, I couldn't have picked a better book. This book changed my attitude towards any font that is non-Helvetica.

In the beginning there was only Helvetica, for me. Now, thanks to this book there is Frutiger, there is Underground, there is Gill Sans, there is Interstate. Now I can walk the street and look at every letter around me and feel like I am seeing stars (as opposed to looking for only Helvetica and Futura before reading this book).

The only qualm I would have with this book is that the writer's (or designer's) choice of fonts for the cover is a bit too flambuoyant. I almost didn't pick the book up seeing it on the rack. If the cover had the titles on simple Gill Sans or Futura or even Frutiger (or, need I mention, in Helvetica), it would have been perfect.

Also, the writer sounds a bit pretentious sometimes. But then, excuse the fellow, he is only a writer of books and not a type designer or even a graphic designer. I have to applaud him for even writing such a book.

I felt sad when I finished the book. I wished there was more.. Where do I go from there?

Well, wikipedia, here I come.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Branding - Margaret Howell




I've seen a lot of Margaret Howell on magazines and style blogs and I always think about how I like the understated style they all show.

Margaret Howell is a British designer who has been in the scene for a while, and that shows too, in the confidence that her branding stance takes. Nothing New Yorky about it. Just stylish; English almost traditional.

But her website isn't all patterns and wooden beams. I really like the branding. (Picture on top)

One of the few times that Gill Sans MT looks nice, really nice. I've never used Gill Sans because the 'R' and 'M' look a bit not so friendly. But this here is great.

Howell also use only black and white photographs.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Majestic - What The Doctor Said About Christmas



This is a free supplement work book for the series of 'What The Doctor Said About Christmas' for December 2011 at Majestic Church, Christchurch (NZ).

Monday, November 28, 2011

Type Review - Univers

They say Univers is an alternative to Helvetica - the omnipotent, omnipresent type. It looks a lot lot like it too. Most of the markings I've done on the image on top points out the differences as I know it.

As they say, Univers is probably the best alternative to Helvy, if you're not wanting to use Helvy but still want your type to look the same - though sometimes I just wonder why bother going through all the pain of making a type that looks just like another popular one when you can use the better original one. I don't know the origin of Univers, but normally, alternative fonts (or duplicates, like Arial) are made when a company cannot afford to buy originals so they try and make something that looks closest to the original without compromising and having to end up paying millions of dollars for abridging copyrights.

The only thing about Univers is that the slant on top of small 't' is not too sure what it is doing with itself right there. It doesn't seem to have any partner or relationship to any elements in other characters. It is not part of a series of slants to be seen anywhere else at all.

The condensed form is awesome. I love the capital R too.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Few Things I've Learnt As A Designer

(I've read articles telling me the exact same thing, but these are things I've learnt first hand. They are not my original ideas or thoughts.)

1. Don't be quick to pass judgment on a design idea or a concept. Don't be quick to trash a particular typeface calling it rubbish (though you might be right with 90% of fonts). Don't be quick to say that I'd never do a design like this or that.

2. Good design is not equal to 'cool' all the time. Good design is simply communication. You do it in a 'cool' way or 'uncool' way, if you're not communicating or your design is not functional in a real world situation, you're not doing the job.

3. Design is not equal to art. Art is personal. Design is functional. It depends on whose butt is going to sit on the chair you've designed - not on what you were feeling when you pencilled the idea. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Film Review - HAMRAAZ

What makes me happy are very simple things. One of them happens to be a good 60's film watched with expectations met.

And there's nothing like a good story backing up as to how the films end up in my possession. For example, Masculin Feminin was sold to me at Borders Riccarton for $5 instead of the marketed $35. The guy at the counter told me, You're lucky, this one is going for $5. How overjoyed I was.

Sure enough, Masculin Feminin ended up being one of my favourites. Stories behind the acquisition adds to the magic..

Yesterday, I went to the Indian supermarket just to have a look. I ended up buying some chips and Haldirams, and a set of 3 movies from the 60s. When I went up to the counter to pay, the man there (who was probably in his late 40s) said to me," Are these movies for you?" (Because clearly I didn't look like the Hindi movie type.) So I said, "Its for my flatmate." (Most times I just never mention that I am from India, not because I am not proud to be one, but because I don't want to go through the ordeal of explaining how I become to be Indian, and how 'my people' are Indian and yet not very 'Indian' and how I can still speak and understand Hindi.) So I lied, "My flatmate loves these movies..." The shopkeeper said, "Well, hats off to your friend. No one watches these movies these days. These are great great films! I take my hat off to your friend!" Not only was I overjoyed to know that they were great movies to watch, but I was glad that the shopkeeper, who obviously knew his films (being a middle aged man from India), took my hat off to the flatmate - which of course was me.

Hamraaz is one of the 3 set DVD that I bought. 

If I am to sum this film up in a sentence, I'd say - Hamraaz is a whirlwind of twist and turns that only Bollywood can offer of its best kind, from Darjeeling to Bombay to Ooty, from Raj Kumar to Sunil Dutt to Vimi to Mumtaaz.

I really really enjoyed it. There was class. There was music which resonated nostalgia when it was necessary, and caper thriller when it needed it. A hope-less love story turned into a thrilling drama of a murder case... You are taken from Darjeeling with its magnificent backdrop of Mount Kangchendjonga to Bombay's theatrical sets to cool serene Ooty. It was a joy watching Raj Kumar with his nonchalant army officer suave entrance Vimi, the pretty and demure one, who in turn, got Sunil Dutt, with his worldly look and feel, madly in love with her, and then finally Mumtaaz, the good hearted stage actress who remained in the background and still looked beautiful enough to steal the hero's heart at the end.

I'm really glad I bought Hamraaz.

The other two films in the set are Dhund (starring Zeenat Aman and Danny Denzongpa) and Waqt (also starring Raj Kapur, Sunil Dutt, Sharmila Tagore and others). Can't wait to watch them.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Book Review - The Catcher In The Rye


The Catcher In The Rye is a funny and at the same time sad book to read. It is something in the lines and legacy of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer except this one goes deeper than the surface and is not so idealistic as the Mark Twain's classics. It tells things for what it is, as seen through the eyes of this guy from Pencey (a school) who has just been given the can. 


Not to be let down, he decides to embark on this glorious adventure of liberation and freedom for a few days in New York on his own. He would get drunk, visit women, take it easy, rule the night away. Perfect beatdom in theory. But this is still a young guy and still under the bonds of the limitation and guidelines of his own making as well as of the society. He outsmarts everyone that tells him that he has screwed up his life and is heading for doom (right from the very first chapter to the final episode). But then one can never outsmart oneself and in time he comes to face up with reality and the starkness of his own situation.


The only person that he genuinely cares for is his sister. And it is through his sister that he comes to terms with himself. It wasn't salvation. It wasn't anything miraculous. Just a genuine affection, love for another person despite his messed up outlook of life.


It is hilarious in most pages. I laughed out loud many times. I think it was the honesty and bluntness. Well deservedly one of the best hundred books of all time. 


But if you ask me (say, books are paintings), if Wuthering Heights is a stately painting of Queen Elizabeth, The Catcher In The Rye is more like a street graffitti that city officials wish they can get rid of but instead have turned it into heritage/literature to dissect it and study it so much that all life is sucked out of it. The honesty in the way it is written has turned to a 'style' of literature. The heroical ideas of liberation, turned into a 'phase' of literature. 


Anyway. Great book. A book lover needs to read this atleast once in his life time. Might not be everyone's cup of tea but well worth a try.

Monday, October 3, 2011

"Take care, be cool, relax, enjoy the blessing of God."
Papa
-
Haha isn't that the best advice ever?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Excited!

I'm actually very excited about a film shooting project that I just talked about with a friend today.

This might be one of the many projects that amount to nothing. But still then, whatever happens, I am glad that I am taking whatever wish I only wished for (which by the way is making a movie) closer to reality.

Writing begins tonight. My friend says, You'll do good. You write well.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Book Review - The Remains Of The Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

I've just finished reading the book - it has been a long time coming, especially after all my hype for Never Let Me Go by the same writer - tonight. I am not sure now, which I would consider is better, Never Let Me Go or Remains Of The Day. Ishiguro himself says it, that he is a very normal writer. He writes about life, people, nothing spectacular (to be fair, the characters in Never Let Me Go were very normal too, despite the fact they had abnormalities).

This really isn't a review about the book. Somehow I find the feeling and the emotions that a reader finds himself/herself after reading a book more important than the actual contents and the technicalities of the book. In other words, the how's and why's rather than the what's.

There would be a significant amount of whats to discuss about this book. One, that this is very conventionally written. There is no drama and gimmick to draw a reader in. It is, to be blunt, very bland. In fact a few pages in, I was almost tempted to stop reading. But how could I? I knew what I felt about Never Let Me Go. I knew that reading Nocturnes (a series of short stories that I many times during the past few months go to the bookstore and read, one short after the other) was always a life-giving experience for me. I believed in Ishiguro and I endured.

Butler Stevens is the protagonist and if you excuse him rambling about his job and why he finds that doing what he does with dignity is so important for the first few pages, then you will grow to love him and become sympathetic, even empathetic to his thoughts, aspirations and later, his regrets. Stevens is a loveable fellow - passionate about his job (being the butler at Darlington Hall). He comes to believe that through being a dignified and efficient butler of that great house, a great venue of many a bureaucratic and international conferences, he has made a difference and impact even on far fetched things like the international affairs indirectly.

He gets a few days off from work and embarks on a car road trip through England's deep countryside.

A particular scene here interests me. On recommendation from a local, he climbs a small hill and finds himself looking at a beautiful view of the English countryside, of farms and tree dotted rolling hills.. And he remarks on the ordinariness of it all - which he says makes Britain the Great Britain. As he says greatness does not impose itself. It is not demanding and loud. It does not command awe in obvious manners. He compares it to the Grand Canyon and the many other remarkable scenes from around the world but says that the beauty of England is of a quiet restraint. Almost like, a confidence that does not need to shout itself - to announce itself.

I love that thought. That becomes the idea of greatness to butler Stevens. Though he doesn't name it per se, that becomes the underlying aspiration of all that he considers is greatness.

---

I think I am betraying the greatness of this book by even trying to talk about it. If you want to see for yourself, you can read it too. I don't think I can do it justice by writing a review.

So, thats it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

LUCY



Short graphic story about a character called Lucy.

Book Review - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


There are a few reasons why I decided to write this review of this book ASAP. 

1. As all books/stories normally do, the magic fades away the longer you leave to memory.. The more you think about it, the lesser you think about it, if you know what I mean. What sounded so amazing sounds less amazing after three days. Your goosebumps and adrenaline fades to nominal patterns after a short while. 
2. I was starting to find out too many things about this book, and they were starting to spoil it for me. For instance, I went to the book store to find the second book and try as much as I did, I could not find it in Fiction section. Could it be? No it couldn't be! But oh wow - no, nah.. Yeah there it was - in the Young Adults section. Was I gutted that I was raving on and on about this new book that I discovered and then find out its just a young adult fiction? Heck yea. So before I discover more blog posts about teenage girls drooling over ideas of being Katniss (I was starting to, when I begun this post) and kissing Peeta (spoiler alert! Too late) I have decided to get this done and over it.

Well here is the review.

I really enjoyed it. It begun with a bang. A mere 5 pages in, I was hooked. Here was a new world, an imaginative and lush new setting that seemed realistic enough but had its good share of fantasy in it. Here was a believable country and its districts and the human, and whatever creatures teemed in it, conditions. A game to be played that involved killing. A sure action spinner. 

The story progression is quite seamless. It is a real page turner.

The only thing that let it down were (spoiler alert) the cave scenes. I felt that it took too long and draggy. I felt it was forced. Like Suzanne Collins decided she wanted some intimate scenes in it, "Just so there is a bit of feelings into it," she must have been thinking... Like the forced romance between Katniss and Peeta, the whole thing felt very forced. It was a pain to read the accounts of pain and injury after Katniss was hurt. I felt very apathetical to her dragging herself and just keeping alive. I think it became too dreary in a not clever way. I am sure there could have been more imagination in the way these parts were written. Sure she went through hard times, but that doesn't mean the readers also get to go through the hard times, hard in its own rights. It was just hard to keep going on reading.

The gaming sequences were engaging and great read. Her account of her emotions for her family were also very well done, I thought. Her love for her sister, family, home and Gale were convincing. Of course I couldn't stand Peeta as a character. I think he had the Jacob spin to it, as opposed to Gale and Edward Cullen.... Just saying...

Finally, I can't wait to see the movie. Though I know this movie will be the nail that seals this coffin for me. A young adult fiction movie that has just been made a movie and strikes a heart with a million other teenage girls around the world don't sound like my type of party.

My plan of action - Knock these three books off quickly and then quietly wait for the movies to come out.

Friday, September 23, 2011

From Elijah Emory blog - At The Town

Melody wanted to go to town. Its always her that instigates these sort of trips. We met Deirdre at Aunty Corner on her own. I’m still mad at Tenzin. She went over the line yesterday telling me what to do with my exam study schedule, and then got mad because I didn’t do it. She probably thinks she is under-appreciated. Funny.

It is a great warm afternoon. The mountains are clear. Not a cloud in sight. I know we don’t always live in the constant awareness of them – we wake up, we go to school, we eat, play and sleep and the mountains are always there. Sometimes we don’t even notice it. But a day like today makes you step back and look at it. You can almost hear them humming with authority and power.

Got to follow Melody around, she wants to buy some fruits from New Market and hints that she needs help tugging the bags of shopping. I think I’d rather escape to a tea shop behind Onesius and waste the day away before it is time to catch the bus again.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Burning Tires

The smell of burning tires
On the grey heated highway
The glare of the horizon
And the mirage of
What looks like the ocean far ahead
As empty as the haze
That rise from the concrete road

The sunlight stings my eye
The darkened lens
Aren't helping
Against the fury of the
Great highway summer

The only way is forward
The only way is to keep driving
I stop to get a bottle of drink
That feels warm and luke
How disappointingly
But only quickly is that stop

I like the feeling
Of liberation
Of being on the road
Somehow the security of the insecurity
Of living a motel after the other
Uncertain about the next town
The next city

My settlement is as settled
As a bottle of drink
On a balmy evening
On a balcony of a stranger's house
A stranger that I have called family
If only for a week or two
As settled as a bed of rented blanket
As settled as a temporary affection
For a town a person a house

When I sit in routine
I start to imagine the smell
Of buring tires again
And start to see the summer's haze
And I wish for that uncertainty
That forward motion
On the road
To a destination
In mind and out of mind

Bucket List - Directing a film

Directing A Film
How easy is it? How hard is it? How possible is it? How impossible is it to direct a film?

If there is a bucket list for me, directing a film is one of them.

When I watch Wong Kar Wai, Yasujiro Ozu, (and most recently) Sofia Coppola, something inside me stirs. In the same way that reading Ruskin Bond does. In the same way that thinking about places does. In the same way that writing Sirion Diaries does to me.

And if ever, it would be nice to be recognized and acknowledged by people who matter in the film world. But at the end of the day I want to create worlds and capture a magic that life is and put it within frames.

At the most, make someone's day.

After all, nothing makes my day more than chancing upon a film (or a story) that moves and inspires me.

Directing - What's Not Cool?
Certain things about directing puts me off:
For example, raising my voice and ordering people around. Telling everyone what to do, and being an ass of a dictator. As much as I don't want to work under people like that, I don't want to be one. Maybe I will be too laid back that I wouldn't go beyond the first few shots and takes, and 'trust' the actors and the scenario and serendipity to work its 'magic'. Maybe I will be that type? Maybe I will not succeed if my main hero is 'chance'?

Maybe I will be that type of director who knows nothing and so excuses his lack of knowledge away by using airy-fairy words that only gets acknowledged (if ever!) in the creative appreciation classroom?

Maybe's
Maybe its just insecurity?

Maybe I wouldn't give a damn about what the right film should be used and whether it should be a Canon or a Nikon or a damn Fujifilm or Apple or what not? Maybe because I didn't care about these, I would never excel? Maybe I would never be that polished a director?

Maybe I will just let my affections and my intuition take over? Maybe if my film turns out pixelated and gets rejected from the imaginary film competition (that I hate the idea of, by the way, all the idea of competition, lets see who does the best job, lets give him a car!), I will thank God for its serendipitious effects that add character to the film? Maybe I will do it all on my own, strip it right back, enjoy beauty in its barest, take away all the unnecessaries, a camera on hand and the other empty handed...

Will there be audience? What, really, is the point of a film without the audience?

Or maybe I am overthinking?

Maybe I should just give it a shot?

I am not so young anymore. Am I not meant to know what I want to do by now, with a concrete resolution? I still have too many ideas and thoughts. Should I be grateful or panicked? Shouldn't I be starting to narrow in, to focus in to that one thing that I should devote my life into? That one craft? That one career? 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Last Year

I was going through some posts I wrote last year this time round. I was in different sphere. Another dimension.

Now

I think I am happy.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Amelie (Film Review)

Watched Amelie for the second time tonight. After my first watch I don't remember being so impressed by it. I liked it. But this time round I am impressed to even write a review.

There are probably thousands of reviews already written about this film, since it is so popular, one of the alternative art films that have been well received by the mainstream viewers. But even then, here is my version.

Amelie is a warm, witty and cleverly made story. Audrey Tautou is doubtlessly the star of the film.

But what won this over for me, especially on the second watch, are the few rare montage-type shots that capture nostalgia, joy and warmth so well.

The fast forward shots of the scooter ride at the end achieved the same effect as the final shots for Happy Together did for me. Ending notes are so so important. It was the same with the novel Never Let Me Go. Same with Happy Together. And same with Amelie. It makes me wonder even if I had hated the entire movie, if the ending was strong, emotive and capturing, would I forget it all and walk out of the movie content?

It was an area that The Deathly Hallows Part 2 perhaps failed in. The ending failed disappointingly. But again, thats another story.

What I didn't like about Amelie would have to be the overload of colour. It was meant to be aesthetic delight sort of attempt - I can see that, and even acknowledge it. So, is it just personal preference then, when I say that the colours here are overdone?

The drama took a bit too long to unfold with Amelie. Midway I almost got bored.

But again, I think this film is a very important one because it must have been part of some Post French New Wave style - a further development from Godard and so on.

Also, on a side note - widescreen shots became a bit painful. Some shots in the movie were 4:3 format and gave a breather while they lasted.

Bottomline, what a beautiful work.

Starbucks Bounces Back? - New Campaign

I knew Starbucks would bounce back.

A big brand like that being under the radar for so long couldn't possibly stay there too long. Recently Starbucks launched a whole new campaign that reflects their outlook and the way they will be perceived to people again.

I don't claim to be an expert but let me try and explain.

Starbucks was on the line of fire after books like No Logo came out. Popular post modern socialism found a strong foothold among the American (and Europeans, and Kiwis) twenty-somethings who were getting distressed about their country's way of aggressive capitalist push forward. Here were young people with buying power (and a significant amount at that) who were getting all moral and conscientious furoring against ideas of multinational brands, cheap labour and international chain stores dominating over small local run enterprises.

Starbucks became the symbol of the anti-down-your-street-local-coffee-store. The faceless, heartless demon that would eat up anything on its way. And plus, the coffee they serve were pungent.

Any other cool boutique coffee house became that anti-starbucks place. Only teenagers in their lack of knowledge of coffeedom went there (S) and even balked about it.

Now this campaign.

I know this is an attempt to restore the genuine-ness of the brand. The leather. The shot composition, the almost obscured inclusion of the Starbucks takeaway cup. No sign of the logo. All implying on the human element, the warm intimate ideas that they now want to be associated with (and for good reason!). With this they are saying - we aren't all about taking over the world, we are about you having a good genuine time, forming genuine human relationships.

I am a creature of aesthetics and am easily befuddled by what I see. And I have to say this is a great ad! And almost convinces me to go to Starbucks. Almost.


Look at the tone and pace of this shot. S has taken a different turn. Suddenly it is no longer the plastic multi chain company that suffocates you - now it is donning this new look and saying in its American Seattle accent, "Come, you can have a really good time.. We want to hear your stories and meet you.."

I have a feeling very soon the change will start to reflect even in the S stores in Australasia too. Its high time they replaced their Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald to something more less-conventional. Come on, those are so outdated!

I applaud Starbucks' move in this. It is a smart move. It is the only right move it can take.

I knew it would come and it is kind of predictable. But in saying that, this is all the most they can do.

At the end of the day, no matter what their brand identity is, they are what they are. American capitalistic multi national chain of leisure and lifestyle choice service brand - A chugging train, bounding down the track at top speed. It doesn't matter that they are playing soft music making you think they aren't as aggressive as they are. 



It will be interesting to see how they will fare with the blossoming hipster/organic spirits among the 20 somethings of late.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

NOTHING DANDY

Spotted this person while boarding the bus. I enjoy the bus though sometimes it is a hassle to have to wait for the bus, walk to the stop and pay and so on. But you get to see a fair bit of interesting people. 

First I thought this woman was a tourist (now that Rugby World Cup is on, you see more of them) because her style looked a bit different. What I found most interesting about what she was wearing was her almost unflattering pants - almost like gym/jogging pants and the combo of cheap work shoes.

And the jacket she was wearing was a leathery grey fitting one with the pashmina sort of purple scarf wrapped against the cold biting wind that Christchurch was starting to whip up.
On closer inspection, however, I realised she must work for the hospital. The blue lining on her top with her work shoes and the flared pants made sense. It looked more like a nurse's uniform. And the bus stop was right next to the hospital. Made sense.

Now did that revelation that this was just a nurse's uniform spoil the sense of interest and rubbed out my curiosity? I don't think so. In fact I found it more interesting. 

I'd rather look at what people do with their everyday items, their everyday work and see how they make them into good design and style. I can't stand looking at designs on the ramp. Models skimpy and loaded stomping down the runway don't fancy me at all.

I find people like these (including a lot more, that I think will upload up here one at a time) inspire me so much more.

Here was a person off from work - 'making do' with the 'work clothes' trying to compensate with a purple scarf that she probably hopes will distract attention from her work pants that are nothing fancy and dandy.

She must have just finished work and was waiting for the bus home.
Now, the models on the ramp don't tell a story like the people in their daily lives do.
-
Don't get me wrong. I see people everyday that I find fascinating. Sometimes I wish I run a blog like the Sartorialist that I can full time devote to people that I think are fascinating. And again, what's stopping me from doing that?
My point is, I see people everyday. I know people who are interesting (and cool, though the word is overused to the point of being irrecognizable). If I were to devote time to draw and describe every one of them (though I wish I could) it would be insane. 
In saying that, I want to. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Georgia And Some Fonts

Georgia the font. 

I found this link to apparel industry in India and Bangladesh - and found the simplicity of the page (The Hindu - Business Line site) so inviting to read!

I had thoughts to converting this blog (ohbenning.blogspot.com) to Helvetica or Courier New or even Arial. But none of them are as simple ad straightforward and beautiful as Georgia. I feel that for content, Georgia is even better than Bodoni in terms of readability. Better than Helvetica in some ways - Helvy is a bit too 'yo, I'm a designer, I'm cool I use Helvy'. Courier New is one of my favourites but readability is an issue and I want my blog to be quite readable.

Anyway look at how beautiful this page is:


Another font I really enjoy is Lucida Console. But used most sparingly.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Nadia Reid's EP Press Release Art


Did this press release design for Nadia Reid's Debut EP Letters I Wrote And Never Sent out on 27 October 2011 on Gold Sounds Records. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bamfylde Road? How much?

I remember how the clouds glowed pink
Like with fire
Aloof from the town's skyline
Aloof from my business
From fears

I could smell the burning oil
The sound of the frying pan
In that tea shop
I used to wish I was a million miles away
And pretend like I was

I had just enough money for a taxi ride
Home
And I was happy
Though I didn't tell myself that
I couldn't. I don't think I knew

And the summer evening would wane
Gracefully
Under my watch
The clouds would slowly burn out
Leaving a grey dull residue
And I would know
It was time to hail a taxi
Reciting those well rehearsed lines -

Bamfylde Road? How much?

Source Code & Adjustment Bureau

Today was my day off. I still did some emails and some uploading that were work related. But on a scale of a biscuit to a ten course meal (where a work day is a ten course meal), today was a nibble on a good old English Marie biscuit.

I watched Source Code and The Adjustment Bureau with my cousin Sing. Without much expectations.

SOURCE CODE
This is about a man who is part of this covert/new innovative crime fighting experiment where they send the mind of one of their agent into a situation/disaster that has happened already to relive the moments through the source code of a brain cell of a victim, so that they can observe situations unfold and spot the cause.

I know that doesn't make much sense. Even after watching the movie itself, it almost didn't make sense. But it does.

I think the whole movie could be shortened by a significant degree. But it was enjoyable. It makes you appreciate life and the very fact of existence. How fickle life is.

If this was a tennis game, I would complain about exchange of ball back and forth that went on too long - unnecessarily long. But all in all, I would say it has been a good game.

It also makes you wonder about the multi-verse, multi-plane existence. That the arrow of time is not the absolute. What if there is another dimension travelling in a different direction/plane. Or a dimension that has no passage?

THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU
Fedora hats. Suited men. English girl. Matt Damon. Urban everyday New York, not overplayed as in all H'wood movies. A movie adaptation of a book.

Nice.

I didn't know all that when I decided to see it. I thought it was just another Matt Damon flick - like Green Zone, or Bourne Trilogy, amazing as they are.

This is nothing like that. The pace is slow. The story is interesting - not at all action packed.

And no, I wasn't disappointed. I mean it sounds like a terrible letdown. But TAB is a great movie. Probably not appreciated as much as it deserves.

Tell me, what movie can convert a NY hater like me to wanting to see Brooklyn's high buildings gleaming in the late sun, or the Manhattan bridge emerging from the skyline, or the yellow taxis creeping like short tropical caterpillars on grey concrete street?

Ten points to this. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Aesthetically Industrial - Christchurch

This is a part of Christchurch I rarely talk about - The industrial district. 

The industrial aesthetic and landscape is a new area of fascination and interest for me. My fascination for the English architecture and township goes beyond speaking. From when I was young I had always loved the cosiness of the rural/town/English/bohemian/homely sort of environment. That was a reason why I came to Christchurch - "The England minus the attitude".

In time, though, I came to realise that Christchurch has its fair share of industrial district. And now that my work office has shifted from the uptown high street CBD to Addington/Moorhouse Avenue stark concrete area, I'd better learn to live with it or suffer the agony of existing in a mismatched aesthetic environment!

I took a walk today around the area armed with my crappy mobile phone camera (which I love, though, by the way). Here are a few of my selected shots. 





I have come to appreciate the landscape such as this. The starkness and the functional. Nothing pretty about it. Nothing celebratory about it. Just real. And straight. Bold.

I also find that it compliments the Christchurch's open skies very well. 

And now that I was looking for it, I also found interesting typographic works and signage. A series visual delights made up by Kiwi entrepreneurs attempting to capture your attention in the most interesting manner possible, as you're driving by obediently at a 50k per hour. 

Beautiful is not the right word. The place isn't beautiful. 

I don't know. What's the word? 

Negative spaced?

Spacey?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Music and Design

Lately I've been so busy it isn't funny. Two weeks spun in a state of disarrayed vertigo. I am thankful they passed though it had doubtlessly been quite fun too, now that I think about it.

This week is busy too. But brushing up on lingering projects and looking forward to a few weeks of just normal work days. And snuck in there a night of good film. And book. And Sirion Diaries.

Everyday I think about Helvetica. And why it is so special. Why it is such a recurring phenomena.

I see places where it has been used sooooo much in ways that seem unappealing as hell. I also see places where it has been used sooooo much in ways that are beautiful - beautiful - beautiful - making Helvy look like it is fresh air - the very element of nature, in its purest form.

Here is an example of Helvetica well used - ISABEL MARANT

I discovered a church called Church On The Move in USA who are considered the cutting edge creative church. In an attempt to sound considerate - I find the stuff they do staggering. I feel gagged, to be blunt, however. The metallic website, the moving AfterEffects type content - all disconcerting - reeking of professionalism and technicalities.

Maybe this is because of my weakness when it comes to technical issues, but I feel that the more technical you get the farther you go from being human.

But again - again - technique sometimes can produce the right design (and so, the right communication).

Anyway COTM isn't the issue. Its probably me.

And my fascination (and hatred) for Helvetica probably also stems from this issue I have with technicalities. I am not against technique. I think I have my own technique that I work with.

But I get spun out by technicalities.

Weakness.

Listening to Suck It And See by Arctic Monkeys.

There is something about Arctic Monkeys - their philosophy about their craft... When you listen to them, they are full of technique and technicality yes, but what shines through is their creativity, their fluidity, their coolness - humane stuff that technicality does not offer.

--

Well there you go. A bit of a Thursday night rambling.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

‎"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." (Robert Heinlein)

Friday, August 19, 2011

On Helvetica - One Size Fits All

I eat my words all the time. This time too I think I might have to.

Well, not really.

I don't know.

I wrote a fast paced, melodramatic and charismatic article called When In Doubt Turn To Jesus And Helvetica in Salt Book last year (August 2010). The story is about how Christian arts and design (read church ~) have lost all sense of relevance today. The design and creativity are stale and drained of all originality. So instead of trying to blatantly copy what they are seeing around them, turn to Jesus (as Christians should in all cases anyway *cringeworthy cheesiness*) and stick to using Helvetica (not Papyrus please, thank you - yes, I know it looks like a font Jesus would use, but that is because Jesus lived in Israel and in the turn of BC and AD, which we don't. This is 21st Century.)

That was my ideal back then.

As you do. You learn. You research more. You study into things. You understand. You.. Grow up.

Now I have to say Use Of Helvetica Incessantly Without Imagination Means Lack Of Originality.

The thing I can't stand about Helvetica is the One Size Fits All way it offers itself to every designer (or non-designers). But at the same time it is that same reason why I love it.

--

I shall continue on this essay/idea/writing/article soon.

Now I have work to do.

And no, I am not using Helvetica. At all.

--

Last words - Helvetica is a bit like Converse Chuck Taylor. There's something about it special though its the most ordinary damn thing! Maybe thats why we all love it. Maybe thats also why we all hate it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Awesome Review of Doordarshan - According To Samosapedia

Writer and blogger Kuzhali Manickavel suggested we look at everything Doordarshan did as "experimental". It's brilliant, because only then do we realise how extreme those guys were.


Think about it. Weeknight programming featuring a man in a loincloth pushing rubber tubing up his nose and pulling it out of his mouth. Two cloudy spermatozoa circling each other to the soundtrack of a wailing dirge, before coalescing into a shimmering oneness. 


Deeply strange German competition called Telematch that stopped just short of dwarf tossing. Russian wolf saying, "I'll get you, rabbit." Excellent (and I mean it) animation about national unity featuring squirrels and butterflies. 


Music programming where the camera always focuses on the muscian who *isn't* performing at that moment, and is usually picking his/her nose or brushing away sweat from brow.


"I went to the MOMA finally."
"How was it?"
"Doordarshan was better."

Monday, August 15, 2011

OH-BEN.COM

So, my new site is up OH-BEN.COM

Its a pretty simple site. Just to document what I do and to direct people who want to see my work to proper places, since my social media presence is a bit too all over the place.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Majestic Youth Album Design

The album design for Majestic Youth is ALmOST ALMOST done... And I am getting carried away by the experience - and since no one is here to talk to, I thought I'd ramble on this blog.

This album, first to familiarize a person who have no idea what I am talking about, is a music record produced by Majestic Church. What sort of music is it? Well I am happy to say that our church music sounds different from all church music that I have ever heard. When the path and vision was first struck, we wanted to steer away from all stereotypes, much as they work and they serve their purposes. We thought there are many people who connect to music that are rock and roll. There are also people who connect to new music, electronic, electronically alternative music (and a lot of pop too). So we thought we want to do that. So I'd genre the album - Electronic, dance, hip hop, world and easy listening (some songs atleast).

Well, designwise, I am the Creative Director so I have the liberty to take this anywhere. I thought the design should also be different and almost jagged. Not polished like Michael Buble, not cheesy like Beiber, not grungy like Foo, not alternative like (I don't know), not too dancey like Black Eyed Peas, not indie like the underground bands. But I have borrowed elements from all of these. Except Beiber - there's nothing to borrow there.

The whole concept started from the Comme-des Garcons branding. They are my inspiration.

Then came Japanese-English typography. Then came a bit of Linkin Park. Then came Wong Kar Wai's films. Then came a lot of design posts on Tumblr. If I were to name the biggest source of inspiration for this its Tumblr.

Don't get me wrong.  I am only rambling at 11:13pm. Physically wanting sleep, but mentally and willingly wanting more design.

OK, lets get this work done.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Buildtech Animation


An animation film I did for Buildtech Holdings Christchurch. It was really fun and pressing at the same time. Thoroughly enjoyed it!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Three Years in Christchurch

Today, 4 August 2011, marks the three years in Christchurch. I feel like it has been ten years in every good possible way. Here's a blog post from my first week here. Reeks of nostalgia.

I was so lost back then. A lone character in a country and city so alien to him, as I keep saying, a place so polarly opposite to where I am from.

But I have to say, God's been good. Things have been great. Things have worked out way better than I would have imagined. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Exam time?

I feel like its exam time all over again - lack of sleep, deadline. Its been such a while, I will crash after this weekend is through.

Well I have this submission to do tomorrow for Buildtech Logistics - the animation job I've been working on.

And if it all goes well, heading to the mountains on Saturday to see the snow again. Got to love it.

I just realised halfway through the night, we ran out of sugar - and I was banking on surviving the night with coffee and tea! Oh well. I suppose I will have to keep it real - without the sugar and the milk.

Things have been great. Couldn't be better.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Black Swan Film Review - A Lot Of Tchaikovsky, But That's About As Ballet As It Gets

Black Swan (2010) is a film about the black and white in a personality. There is not a shade of grey in this one. Harshness meets head on with gentle. Black comes head to head with white. You’re left holding on to the edge of your seat (or the bean bag, in my case) with its stunning sound and cinematography, putting a true meaning to grit.
First, I have to say that the true hero/ine of this film is the storytelling. 

Natalie Portman was stunning in her role and performance - but its not what one would call ‘perfection’. The story however was so well written, Nina (Portman) was right when she concludes with “perfect” at the end of the film/performance.

Irony andParadoxes
Ridden with irony and paradoxes, Black Swan says that perfection is acheived by much sacrifice, surprise, terror and intuition. Not rules, routine and order. The painful ordeal that Nina goes through throughout the film was the purging - the weaning - of her own self. Natural law says that a gold piece is gleaned and hammered and passed through the furnace so that the beautiful end product emerges. Nina was weaned carved and chiselled in much pain from start to end - and we watch the process - and being so well photographed, we wince along with her, almost feel her pain, share her shocks and demons, pleasure and pain - everything.


Cinematography/Photography
This was the highlight for me with Black Swan; Use of mirrors and reflections to portray multiple personalities, and, Close hand held camera to acheive close proximity with character. The camera in most cases was so close to the character that you could hear her even just breathing throughout the movie. The movement was free and unrestrained. 


Characterization
Natalie Portman deserved her Oscar award for this one. But on a slightly critical note, I thought the character was overplayed - which again, would have been what the script probably demanded of her. About ten years from now Nina possibly might not seem very believable as a real life character. Yes, the acting and the writing might be acclaimed forever as a feat. But the practicality of the character won’t be as long lived as the hype over its film making. You know, there is a difference between a good story and a good movie story. This is a terrific movie story. It is just not real life enough.
It is a bit like Slumdog Millionaire. It is a great great story. You hit the spot with making a stunning work with it. But it is not real - not even close to it. 
Of course. Film making is not real life story telling. It is entertainment. It is enthralling audiences. Black Swan damn well enthralled all.

Appropriate? R18?
There are a few scenes that you might want to block your eyes to, if you’re easily disturbed. You won’t watch this with your family. It is not tastefully done either, if you’re curious about the ‘tastefulness’ of the ‘inappropriate’ scenes. This isn’t James Bond. I guess all I’d say is: Pick this film in your tougher days, when you feel like you can take on anything. Expect blood. Gritty stuff. 
I was stunned by the end. 

Conclusion
No, this is not your typical ballet tip toeing film. A lot of Tchaikovsky but that’s about as ballet as it gets. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter - The End

So finally I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 yesterday. That was it. The end of this long wonderful journey of magic and imagination. Yesterday I was in sombre mood all day. I took a nap in the afternoon and I dreamt, not about Harry Potter, but something related to it. Something more in the lines of friendship and family.

And that is just what I want to point out here - That I haven't seen a movie or read a book that stresses so much on friendship and family for a really long time. No one talks about them these days. These days it has all become about bringing the revolution, or about sex or about being smart to out-talk your enemy. When I saw the film yesterday I realised what I'd been missing and hadn't even known all along. Nobility is no longer a topic anymore, and I will miss that the most when this hype with the Potter final film is done and gone by and entertainment will only become entertainment. Even in the near future, this whole Potter merchandise will become only a marketed phenomena at the Florida Harry Potter world.

There is a lot of talk about the devilishness of Harry Potter and the books. People may be right in saying that. They could be wrong. But what I know is that, at the end of this phenomena (if indeed this has to end here) I will walk away with that thought in my head. What good is imagination and art if it only lives to point out how smart and witty and entertaining I can be to others? What sort of message are you giving to people who watch what you do? Is your art and works pointing to a greater something that just you and you alone?

Harry Potter wasn't just a self-conscious exploration of her own personality for J.K. Rowling. It wasn't just art for art's sake. It wasn't experimental for experimentalism sake. Rowling wanted a message out - something that she believes is a good message - and that was the importance of family and friendship and courage and all that.

She wasn't pointing the limelight on herself and how smart she could be. Yes it was very personal to her. But that didn't mean it got in the way.

I hope there will be more art and films and books written in this similar fashion and thought now that this era is over. I hope there will be more wonderful imaginative worlds to be created where the next generation can grow and be fashioned in. I hope there will be more artists who are willing to step a little beyond who they are and produce art works that speak more than just self-glorification.

I tell myself that.

Nobility. Family. Friendship. Message.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Just.. An update

So, its that sort of a day, when you wake up and feel like writing. Not on book and paper, but more in your blog. At the moment my life has gone digital. I don't know if it is a good thing or not. Last night I wrote some stuff down in my 365 Kikki.K book (not a diary). And I couldn't write more than a paragraph. I just ended up putting down the barest essentials. Half of the blame goes to the Bic pen that I was using. Rubbish stuff. What I mean is that, most of my writing has gone into the computer. Into blogs, emails, updates on work.. All that.

Atleast I am still writing.

I suppose this is just one of those updates that you see in this blog. Just to put down on words what has been happening so far.

Buildtech Project
Its a saturday, and I have work to do. Particularly a major work to get sorted. It is an animation job for Buildtech.co.nz. Buildtech is a 6 months old building company that grew because of the building opportunities that the earthquake left the city with. I need to make an animation that is only one and a half seconds long. But the catch is that I need to do it in Flash. And I can't say that I have had all the experience in the program. Not yet. So this saturday is dedicated to learning Flash and getting used to it. Exploring.

India
I am going to India on January 2012. I. Can. Not. Wait.

I've got a million plans lined up. Mainly, travelling to Varanasi to Delhi to Mussoorie. Secondly, going to Bangalore and then where else from there, who knows.

So many plans.

Work
Work is going awesome. By now I have gathered about four younger designers to 'intern' or 'volunteer' and help me out with certain design projects. Majestic will be moving in to Moorhouse Avenue by 17 July. IT will be awesome to have office again. But I will also miss the freedom that working from home has afforded me with.

But point is, I love my work.

I also work at Patch Print as their social media administrator and web developer. So I am a professional Twitter-er and blogger. Pretty sweet.

Music?
Listening to The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, Kings of Leon (Come Round Sundown), Mumford & Sons, Michael Jackson, Muhammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Led Zeppelin, The Last Shadow Puppets, Hans Zimmer for Inception, Daftpunk for TRON and The Doors.

Particularly trending are: The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys' new album (so smartly done), few songs in KoL new album and The Last Shadow Puppets.

Art
I have been busy with the Wacom that Barry got for Majestic Design. Its really really good. Been experimenting with it for work as well as some random drawings. You can look at some of my recent works in my Tumblr portfolio.

Many more projects at hand, that I can't reveal for now..

So, thats it for now. Hope your life's going great too.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Luxury of Work

Not many people have the luxury of waking up everyday and having work or having something to look forward to something new day by day.

Sometimes we dread work more than we really should.

But only when that work is taken away from us will we really realise how much of a blessing and luxury it had been to have it.

Be grateful while you still have the day and the occupation so that you can still live and have your being.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June 2011 Quake Christchurch


Grand Chancellor leans even more now. It had been leaning since February quake, making the surrounding area danger zone. Now it's worse.



If you look up the street (this used to be Manchester Street), you can see Majestic House, the white stone building on the centre right of the frame.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

50 Reasons To Not Date A Designer, Apparently. I've Bolded mine.

1. They are very weird people.
2. There are billions of them in the world, like colors on the screen of your computer.
3. They will analyse conversations in layers.
4. You will spend the day assembling furniture from IKEA.
5. They drink and eat all kinds of weird shit just because they like the packaging.
6. They hate each other.
7. You’ll come out the last out of the movies because you have to see the full list of credits.
8. They cant change a light bulb or without making a sketch.

9. They fuck up all the tables with their cutters.
10. They rather study the paisley pattern on your outfit than listen to what you have to say.
11. They will fill your house with magazines.

12. You never know if it is really an original or a copy.
13. They make collages with your photos.
14. They do not know how to add and subtract, they just understand letters.
15. They idolize people who nobody knows and speak of them as if they were his colleagues.
16. They take pictures almost daily and all are cut in weird shapes.
17. They ask your opinion about everything but  they do whatever they want.
18. Everything is left justified, right or center unless they arrive late.
19. They hate Comic Sans with the same passion they love Helvetica.
20. They use iPhone for everything, because everyone has one.
21. You can not decorate the house without consulting them.
22. They steal street signs.
23. Always carry their hands painted with something.
24. They buy dolls unfinished for them to paint.
25. Everything becomes something other than what it really is: cards as tickets, cards as …
26. When arguing, you will be nicknamed like the OSX spinning wheel (not affectionately)
27. Do not know how to dress without consulting the Pantone book.
28. They hate Excel.
29. They read comics.
30. They want to save the world only with a poster.

31. You will spend the day brainstorming.
32. On vacation they will take you to countries that you do not know exist and have no beach.
33. Museums are their second home.
34. They know more positions than the Kamasutra.
35. They can’t go to a restaurant without secretly critiquing the menu design.
36. They listen to music you have never heard of.
37. They can´t cook a normal dish, they always have to experiment with new ingredients.
38. They read rare books: stories of children, Semiotics …
39. When you are going to tell you something, everyone has read it in their facebook and twitter.
40. They have own iPods before you knew they existed.
41. The orgasm they remember is when they heard that Adobe was acquiring Macromedia.
42. They have their own shops just for them and there are the most expensive in the city.
43. They want to spend all the money in the Apple Store.
44. You will never understand their gifts.
45. They see ordinary objects and laugh.

46. You wake up in the middle of the night hearim them screaming “When is the deadline?”
47. They see CMYK and RGB like Neo sees the Matrix.
48. They dream of the day nobody will make a single change to their designs.
49. They rather pay for a font than for a special birthday gift.
50. They are always sleepy because they work 24/7.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Hateful Green Shadowed Water Called The Visa Application

So the time has come once again to lodge my application for renewed visa. How I hate it. I hate all the paper work. And this time round it is worse because I am running it all by myself. And you can imagine how that will work... Well it just doesn't work.

I had been putting off getting onto the website and downloading the forms and starting to read them, process by process, step by step.. Painful.

I procrastinated til last night.

Last night I woke up in a fearful fit after a strange nightmare I had just had. It didn't make any sense, and that was why it felt scariest.

So in that raw fearful moment the starkness of my visa situation dawned on me: That if I didn't get on to that as soon as possible, my real life would become something like a nightmare!

I made a vow then, right there to jump on to it the moment I wake up this morning.

So far, been good.

Still doesn't mean I enjoy it. I dread every single step. Right now, heaven sounds like a free residence to NZ to me. Not that I fawn for NZ that much, but just so I don't have to go through this ordeal.

Here goes. I plunge. Into that hateful green shadowed water.

*splash!*