Sunday, December 23, 2018

Ratatat, One-Line Drawings & 306 Hollywood

Weekly Update 2018-51: Driven, perky riffs from Ratatat, the utilitarianism of one-line drawings and a look at the life of a woman through the objects she left behind in 306 Hollywood.

Music: Ratatat
It's wonderful to watch a band develop over the years, while still remaining true to their branded sound. For Ratatat, it's driven, perky guitar riffs against wonked-out synth lines. Brooklyn-hailing electronic duo Evan Mast and Mike Stroud are the creators behind this fun, upbeat and bubbly music that feels like it should be part of next year's best breakout indie video game.

Their discography is seamless; listen in any order you please. I started with 2015's Magnifique and worked backwards.

Well, it was something of a stressful time to find the right gift for my Secret Santa this year. Mine was the person who is arguably the most difficult to shop for in our entire friend group, but I think I did ok. Enjoy your fish flask, Adrian!

Finally, this week was it! After weeks of practice, I managed not to make too much of a fool of myself while drumming in the band at our office holiday party. It was a surefire way to get everyone in a 250-person company to know my name.

And to top it all off, I finally went skating at the rink near my house. It's a cute little rink without too many people on a Tuesday evening, so it was the perfect place to pick up my skating skills a little. I can't believe how much my attitude toward skating has changed in the past two years, many thanks to my friends who decided skating was cool because of the television show Yuri on Ice.

The Sid Smith Artificial Ice Rink in Christie Pits Park.

I'm trying to get all my winter activities in while it's still unseasonably warm. I know the perma-snow is on the way and my biking days are numbered (though I've already passed my 2017 record of December 15). So on Friday December 21 I will be attending the Kensington Market Winter Solstice Parade (with three pairs of socks on). There will be all the fun things about Kensington Market street festivals plus a cool burning effigy and a non-denominational ritual to welcome the winter season and celebrate the longest night of the year.

I am also coming up on a lot of free time around the holidays. It's great to hang out with friends I don't see often but realistically a lot of people are away and I want to use the time productively. I have a few activities/things planned and some cooking to do! I realized I also have some vouchers for TIFF that expire at the end of the year (next week). 

Random Thought: One Line Drawings
I have noticed a really lovely art style popping up in the past while - drawing a face or figure without picking up your pen.

Work by Toronto Graffiti Artist Anser.

Now, of course everything old becomes new again, and I know I have seen this technique in Picasso's work.

Head of a Woman from the War and Peace series (1950s).

Line drawing is definitely making a resurgence in this sort of portraiture style. I've been seeing it graffitied on walls as I walk down the street, in jewelry, and even as a brand for English electronic music duo Disclosure.

There are so many of these on Etsy and AliExpress alike.

Not quite a one-liner, but close.

I think this visual style is beautiful and intriguing, a visual sum of its parts. But the most interesting aspect of it isn't the visual output, it's the process. Spray-paint graffiti is generally easier to do in one fell stroke, since stopping and starting in the same position and distance is more challenging than with pen and paper. And so, this one-line style is well-suited to the process of spray paint, and it becomes prevalent in the graffiti scene. Same goes for making earrings from bent wire - no welding is necessary and waste is reduced. 

The one-liner style is utilitarianism at its finest, and its intriguing visual style is the cherry on top.

Inspiration: 306 Hollywood
Bloor Cinema literally always has an interesting story to tell, and their December 2018 run of 306 Hollywood was no exception. A short synopsis from the movie's website:
When siblings Elan and Jonathan Bogarín undertake an archaeological excavation of their late grandmother's house, they embark on a magical-realist journey in search of what life remains in the objects we leave behind. 306 HOLLYWOOD transforms the dusty fragments of an unassuming life into an epic metaphor for the nature of memory, time, and history. 
I have always been a fan of the stories we tell about our lives through the possessions we collect, and this film did exactly that. Especially for a person who's lived a very long life, the possessions found in the house of a recently-deceased loved one cannot be thrown aside. They are the only remains of that person's life, their actions and experiences. I see this firsthand when my father runs estate sales for his friends' passed parents.

The film does a great job of exploring the story of a woman from the time period beginning just after her death. From the quantitative side of things, Elan and Johnathan organized their late grandparents' belongings in artful and meticulous layouts, shown below.

Why does one person own so many toothbrushes?

Qualitatively, the film gradually breaks from its grounding in reality and toward something of a dreamlike state of genre: magical realism. I truly appreciated the contrast in tone and pacing from the start to the end, and felt it reflected something of the human approach to death: mysterious, unsettled, ethereal.

Check out the trailer below and go see the movie if you can.

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