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the premiere…


UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING” has it’s U.S. Premiere this Saturday 9.22.12 in 3D at FANTASTIC FEST, Austin, TX… 

it will also be screening at the TORONTO AFTER DARK FILM FESTIVAL in October and opening in theaters 11.30.12…

UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING”  2012  directed by John Hyams; written by John Hyams & Doug Magnuson and Jon Greenhalgh; starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Scott Adkins, Andrei Arlovski, and Mariah Bonner

and look for the Blu-ray release 1.22.13 including the documentary “DAYS OF RECKONING: THE MAKING OF US4“…




“Safe Haven” by Jocko Weyland

photographs by JOCKO WEYLAND 2012

also check out DETROIT




“La Grande Bouffe” and “Tales of Ordinary Madness”…


Anecdotal evidence that arises in the wake of notorious films measures their impact in an incomplete, specious manner. Marco Ferreri’s La Grande Bouffe and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom are two such infamous films that carry a history of scandal that clouds their actual import. Both darkly satirized the appetites of the ruling class and were emblematic of the taboo-shattering international film trend that appeared in the ‘70s, which was also the decade that gave birth to Star Wars and the production excesses of the modern blockbuster era.

To review the spectrum of negative effects represented:  The Star Wars series eventually lost fans’ goodwill and dispensable income, La Grande Bouffe made Ingrid Bergman vomit at Cannes, and the outrage over Salò is said to have led to the murder of Pasolini. Each cinematic transgression has its conveniently scaled outcome, in degrees bitter and tragic, but none more pronounced and sobering than the loss of Pasolini.

To watch the new DVD release of La Grande Bouffe a few decades after its original release is to experience a fulcrum point in shock cinema. Never does it reach the nihilistic depths and explicit corporal destruction of Salò (few movies do), but the film remains absorbing in its unique way.

Ferreri’s most enduring and successful choices in the film have little to do with the mere existence of onscreen debauchery, which generated the original controversy but has lost its shock over time. A contemporary viewing reveals that the ensemble of bona fide legends, the visual design of the film, and a purposefully ambiguous moral stance have much to do with its staying power.

Philippe (Noiret) is a judge, Michel (Piccoli) is a television host, Ugo (Tognazzi) is a chef, and Marcello (Mastroianni) is a pilot. The four men gather at an expansive house to have what they refer to as a “gastronomic seminar”. The introduction is a rather soft sell, establishing each character’s comfortable wealth and refinement but also hinting at mysterious quirks.

The rest of the film takes place beyond the boundaries of social norms and within the walled-city of the villa, as the men accept a massive delivery of meat and other food and invite prostitutes and a mysterious schoolteacher to eat from a “Whore Menu”. Over time, the audience realizes that the men’s goal is to eat themselves to death.

In an early indication of the where the plot will lead, the four men look at vintage erotica as they competitively slurp oysters and try to offset their baseness with sophisticated references to art and culture. As they plot their own destruction through consumption of flesh, they are careful to feed the turkeys “chocolate, nuts, and cognac” to perfect the flavor.

The audience senses that they want to take in the full sensual pleasure of their demise. But when desires multiply and Marcello suggests they add women to their vacation menu, the pretense begins to drop and various “epiphenomena” appear, each with its root in the men’s shared suicide pact.

Ferreri and co-writer Rafael Azcona use the women as a catalyst to develop each character’s unique psychology through individual behaviors. Fastidious Michel practices ballet and rehearses a simple song on the piano—a song he can never get quite right. Boorish Ugo plans the meals and becomes an increasingly dominant chef, force-feeding Michel to cure him of his gas. Narcissistic Marcello obsesses over a car he’s rebuilding in the garage and seems to tie his personal virility to the vehicle, at one point pleasuring his whore with the manifold.

Finally, Philippe resists the whores to keep a promise he made to his nurse and is only able to perform sexually with schoolteacher Andréa (Ferreol) on the condition that she agree to marry him. As each man dives further into his obsession, he is weighed down by the constant eating. Each point of no return connects the endless buffet to the insatiable adjacent fixation.

Interestingly, it is the prostitutes that cannot bear the purposelessness of the gorging. Despite their occupational self-destruction—an empty reciprocation of an act of desire—they cannot withstand an act that cannot be reasonably explained and yields no benefit. The whore’s life is, after all, at least a ritual with clear rates and returns.

Their departure from the house leaves only Andréa, whose presence is as nurturing as it is destructive. The most interesting dramatic situation of La Grande Bouffe is how all of the men share Andréa and the effect it has on them. I’ll resist spoiling the order and specific manner of deaths here, but the film really hits its stride when the ideal “domestic fairy” (as Andréa calls herself) proves to be every bit as destructive to these men as their excessive eating.

She fully enables the gastronomic suicide, creating an air of paranoia by accommodating everything for everyone. Having promised her hand to Ugo only to placate his need for domesticity (itself rooted in a twisted mother/wet nurse fantasy), she is happy not only to share their meals, but also to be shared among them.

The actors are fully committed to the material, and their investment is critical to the profundity of La Grande Bouffe. As cinematic legends playing irresponsible (possibly insane) man-children, each actor is at his best when he risks the most. The ensemble functions as a cross-section of the vanities of men with power, and there is an unmistakable sense throughout the film that the actors are playing skewed versions of their popular personas (the characters even take the names of the actors that play them).

This is a film largely unconcerned with emotional and spiritual development, but the actors manifest these qualities despite the dominant satirical tone. Only this cast could find grace notes in a film where scatological explosions accompany or replace moments of pathos. As Philippe, Noiret is at his hangdog best, and the film delays his demise in the hope that he can escape the hell of domesticity, but that is precisely his weapon of choice and the prologue tells us as much. So Philippe’s final scene in the garden is Ferreri’s punch line to a two-hour dirty joke, but Noiret makes it unshakably sentimental.

The visual design of the film is also striking as it preserves a proscenium view of the action. At first, this approach foregrounds the strong ensemble, but as the film develops the wide compositions communicate the growing dysfunction and codependency of the characters. The first death is directly preceded by the characters’ decision to live communally by sleeping in the same bed. This contrast—between the vast living spaces of the enormous house and the men’s self-imposed, miserable, excremental confinement—is a vital part of Ferreri’s sardonic look at the culture of consumption.

Another benefit of the reliance on the master shot is that the film ages quite well visually. In fact, a similar “hedonism weekend” film such as William Marsh’s Dead Babies already feels significantly more dated because its visual aesthetic is so hopelessly tied to the trends of its release year (2000). The exception to his standard wide compositions—and one could hardly call this a crack in his design, as it is a conscious choice—is Ferreri’s use of intermittent close-ups that distort the wide interior view and frustrate the spectator’s ability to take in the full ensemble and environment. The audience has become so accustomed to self-directing its attention that when Ferreri fragments the space, via a tragicomic close shot of Philippe’s face, a soft lens close-up of Marcello that actually calls attention to his age, and several close shots of Andréa’s beautiful/dangerous visage, the audience experiences the previously noted creeping of sentiment into satire.

Ferreri is to be praised for not prescribing a desired response to his film, which despite being about the limits of flesh and the inescapability of death, is not classically tragic. These characters aren’t forced to come to terms with their decay. Instead, they willingly accelerate death, perhaps because of a world gone to hell or perhaps because they are past their prime and cannot face a downhill slide. Their welcoming of an exterminating angel is part of the director’s conflicted presentation of the feminine ideal and woman’s culpability in man’s mollification and destruction.

Tales of Ordinary Madness, the other Ferreri film given the re-release treatment, is a far leaner and possibly more successful examination of hell on earth, the voraciousness of man, and the ephemeral nature of sexual satisfaction and romantic salvation. Based on Charles Bukowski’s Erections, Ejaculations, Exhibitions, and General Tales of Ordinary Madness, the film presents a version of Bukowski (here called Charles Serking) as he wanders the darker corners of Los Angeles and connects with the “defeated, the demented and the damned”.

In a bravura performance, Ben Gazzara plays Serking more like a force of nature than a human being. The raw propulsion of his anti-heroism recalls Lee Marvin’s Walker from Point Blank. There’s no logical reason that these men are still up and walking, but the other characters and the audience quickly learn not to question why.

Ferreri maintains his master shot technique, again to great effect here. Employed for social realism rather than satire, its impact is even more meaningful because it allows the spectator to take in the broad hopelessness of the locations and characters. One could argue that this vista keeps at a distance the milieu that was so necessary to Bukowski’s writing, but the tour he gives us has weight because the characters hold nothing back.

The plot is not intensely eventful, as it roughly concerns the impact of Serking’s alcoholism on his career and relationships. There is no grand arc, and a development late in the film that appears to give the writer a chance to clean up and be professional rings false. Perhaps Ferreri intends for it to, as Serking pokes fun at the straight world the entire time he’s in it (which is only a few minutes within the film).

Nevertheless, the film’s overall development is measured by Serking’s encounters with six women, each one representing a distinct desire and unique set of complications. These characters include a runaway thief (Wendy Welles), an ex-wife (Tanya Lopert), a widow (Judith Drake), an unhinged seductress (Susan Tyrrell), a damaged prostitute (Ornella Muti), and an angelic teenager (Katya Berger).

Tales of Ordinary Madness presents a man so insecure with the world around him that he can never be without the chaos of his drink and these romantic and sexual relationships. As in La Grande Bouffe, codependency abounds. Serking and his women role-play and justify aberrant behaviors because it is easier to do so than to face recovery. The meaning of the film is found in the order of the women he encounters and the growing intensity of effect each one has on him.

The runaway just tempts and robs him, the ex-wife berates him but enables his irresponsibility, and the seductress betrays him by having him arrested after she has her way with him. There are moments of dark humor in each of these encounters, most notably with Vera, the seductress, of whom Serking says in voice-over:  “Her brand of psychodrama could make a man a little paranoid”.

But something altogether more serious happens when Serking interacts with the other women. His time with the widow, whom he meets on a lark, leads to perhaps the strongest moment of realization in the film. Ferreri is again careful not to wallow in the misfortune of the character, but his strategic close-up is put to use here and it provides insight into the source of Serking’s torment.

In Cass, the prostitute, Serking finds a figure he wants to protect and to save. His altruism is mixed with lust, but as the relationship deepens and Cass proves to be an even more disturbed character than Serking himself, his interest in her transforms into a rescue mission. There are shades of Taxi Driver in this part of the film. Serking talks a hopeless game, but he has to believe for the good of the world around him that Cass is both worth saving and capable of being saved. To say that her problems have no simple solution is an understatement, and Serking’s undoing is the result of the vulnerability that Cass opens up within him.

The coda of the film, far removed from the grimy streets that define Serking’s world, hints at the possibility of the tortured writer’s deliverance but also introduces yet another object of desire—a naked teenage girl on the beach. Serking clings to her like she alone prevents his world from ending.

La Grande Bouffe and Tales of Ordinary Madness are products of a dark worldview. Neither film assigns origins for the spiritual crises it explores or any direct solutions about how to improve a disintegrating society. Ferreri’s approach allows such a wide range of readings that one could see in his films a straightforward embrace of self-indulgence, a condemnation of worldly desires, or something in between.

What is lasting about the films is their timelessness and lack of causal specificity, which make it nearly impossible for spectators to look at the screen and think, “that could never be me”. When the audience engages with the material in an honest way, these films become interactive tragedies. As one of the prostitutes says in La Grande Bouffe: “Why do you eat if you’re not hungry? It can’t be hunger”. Ferreri sets up the question. The audience is responsible for the answer. Ferreri’s work boldly encourages his audience to consider its own struggles and appetites and in doing so uses the onscreen suffering to create recognition within the audience, even if the characters continue to waste away in ignorance.

The release of these films on DVD should rightfully renew interest in Ferreri’s work. Although the transfers are a bit grainy, the image quality is a significant improvement over previous VHS releases. One major oversight is the failure to include substantial bonus features. Each DVD carries only a sloppily extracted excerpt from Marco Ferreri:  The Director Who Came from the Future. Films this historically important, controversial and open to critical discussion are deserving of a feature commentary at the very least.

(POP MATTERS  5.28.09)

“LA GRANDE BOUFFE” 1973 and “TALES OF ORDINARY MADNESS” 1981 directed by Marco Ferreri




revisited by Frank Stella…


The Philip Johnson Glass House Oral History Project records the memories and reflections of some the worlds most important architects, artists and scholars about one of the 20th Century’s most influential architects and design legacies — Philip Johnson, the Glass House and Modernism & Leadership more broadly. The Glass House offers a unique context for eliciting memories from people who were Philip Johnson’s friends, students, associates and collaborators.

The first phase of this project, completed in July, 2009, resulted in two short films. Frank Stella: Return to the Glass House, features artist Frank Stella as he explores the grounds and shares his memories while he revisits his work installed throughout the site.

(MUTUAL ART  1.20.12)




winner of this year’s Pritzker Prize

Ceramic House © Lv Hengzhong, Courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio


, Chinese architect and founder of Amateur Architecture Studio, has been just announced as the recipient of the 2012 Pritzker Prize.

The ’s purpose is “to honor a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision, and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture”.

In my opinion Wang Shu’s architecture presents a contemporary and progressive approach that acknowledges the rich tradition of Chinese architecture. As the future generations of Chinese architects are influenced by his architecture, a generation that will be an active part of China’s growth, he will indirectly improve how millions will live in the next few years.

He calls his office Amateur Architecture Studio, but the work is that of a virtuoso in full command of the instruments of architecture — form, scale, material, space and light 

– Karen Stein, Pritzker Prize jury.

Wang Shu, a 48 year old architect whose architectural practice is based in Hangzhou, The People’s Republic of China, will be the recipient of the 2012 Pritzker Architecture Prize, it was announced today by Thomas J. Pritzker, chairman of The Hyatt Foundation which sponsors the prize. The formal ceremony for what has come to be known throughout the world as architecture’s highest honor will be in Beijing on May 25.

In announcing the jury’s choice, Pritzker elaborated, “The fact that an architect from China has been selected by the jury, represents a significant step in acknowledging the role that China will play in the development of architectural ideals. In addition, over the coming decades China’s success at urbanization will be important to China and to the world. This urbanization, like urbanization around the world, needs to be in harmony with local needs and culture. China’s unprecedented opportunities for urban planning and design will want to be in harmony with both its long and unique traditions of the past and with its future needs for sustainable development.”

Ningbo History Museum © Lv Hengzhong, Courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio

The purpose of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, which was founded in 1979 by the late Jay A. Pritzker and his wife, Cindy, is to honor annually a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture. The laureates receive a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion.

Pritzker Prize jury chairman, The Lord Palumbo, spoke from his home in the United Kingdom, quoting from the jury citation that focuses on the reasons for this year’s choice: “The question of the proper relation of present to past is particularly timely, for the recent process of urbanization in China invites debate as to whether architecture should be anchored in tradition or should look only toward the future. As with any great architecture, Wang Shu ́s work is able to transcend that debate, producing an architecture that is timeless, deeply rooted in its context and yet universal.”

Wang earned his first degree in architecture at the Nanjing Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture in 1985. Three years later, he received his Masters Degree at the same institute. When he first graduated from school, he went to work for the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou doing research on the environment and architecture in relation to the renovation of old buildings. Nearly a year later, he was at work on his first architectural project – the design of a 3600 square meter Youth Center for the small town of Haining (near Hangzhou). It was completed in 1990.

For nearly all of the next ten years, he worked with craftsmen to gain experience at actual building and have no responsibility for design. In 1997, Wang Shu and his wife, Lu Wenyu, founded their professional practice in Hangzhou, naming it “Amateur Architecture Studio.” He explains the name, “For myself, being an artisan or a craftsman, is an amateur or almost the same thing.” His interpretation of the word is relatively close to one of the unabridged dictionary’s definitions: “a person who engages in a study, sport or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit or professional reasons”. In Wang Shu’s interpretaion, the word “pleasure” might well be replaced by “love of the work”.

© Iwan Baan

By the year 2000, he had completed his first major project, the Library of Wenzheng College at Suzhou University. In keeping with his philosophy of paying scrupulous attention to the environment, and with careful consideration of traditions of Suzhou gardening which suggests that buildings located between water and mountains should not be prominent, he designed the library with nearly half of the building underground. Also, four additional buildings are much smaller than the main body. In 2004, the library received the Architecture Art Award of China.

His other major projects completed, all in China, include in 2005, the Ningbo Contemporary Art Museum and five scattered houses in Ningbo which received acknowledgment from the Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction in the Asia Pacific. In that same city, he completed the Ningbo History Museum in 2008. In his native city of Hangzhou, he did the first phase of the Xingshan Campus of the China Academy of Art in 2004, and then completed phase two of the same campus in 2007.

True to his methods of the economy of materials, he salvaged over two million tiles from demolished traditional houses to cover the roofs of the campus buildings. That same year in Hangzhou, he built the Vertical Courtyard Apartments, consisting of six 26-storey towers, which was nominated in 2008 for the German based International High-Rise Award. Also finished in 2009 in Hangzhou, was the Exhibition Hall of the Imperial Street of Southern Song Dynasty. In 2006, he completed the Ceramic House in Jinhua.

Other international recognition includes the French Gold Medal from the Academy of Architecture in 2011. The year before, both he and his wife, Lu Wenyu, were awarded the German Schelling Architecture Prize.

Since 2000, Wang Shu has been the head of the Architecture Department of the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, the institution where he did research on the environment and architecture when he first graduated from school. Last year, he became the first Chinese architect to hold the position of “Kenzo Tange Visiting Professor” at Harvard Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is also a frequent visiting lecturer at many universities around the world, including in the United States: UCLA, Harvard, University of Texas, University of Pennsylvania, He has participated in a number of major international exhibitions in Venice, Hong Kong, Brussels, Berlin and Paris.

Ningbo Contemporary Art Museum © Lv Hengzhong, Courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio

Upon learning that he was being honored, Wang Shu had this reaction: “This is really a big surprise. I am tremendously honored to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize. I suddenly realized that I’ve done many things over the last decade. It proves that earnest hard work and persistence lead to positive outcomes.”

The distinguished jury that selected the 2012 Pritzker Laureate consists of its chairman, The Lord Palumbo, internationally known architectural patron of London, chairman of the trustees, Serpentine Gallery, former chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain, former chairman of the Tate Gallery Foundation, and former trustee of the Mies van der Rohe Archive at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and alphabetically: Alejandro Aravena, architect and executive director of Elemental in Santiago, Chile; Stephen Breyer, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Washington, D.C.; Yung Ho Chang, architect and educator, Beijing, The People’s Republic of China; Zaha Hadid, architect and 2004 Pritzker Laureate; Glenn Murcutt, architect and 2002 Pritzker Laureate of Sydney, Australia; Juhani Pallasmaa, architect, professor and author of Helsinki, Finland; and Karen Stein, writer, editor and architectural consultant in New York. Martha Thorne, associate dean for external relations, IE School of Architecture, Madrid, Spain, is the executive director of the prize.

(ARCH DAILY  2.27.12)

more projects by Wang Shu, Amateur Architecture Studio here




an interview with Markus Kayser…


Sweat and Sahara sand had forced my eyes closed so that, even as I stood in front of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, I saw nothing. My eyelids were a back-lit sandy-orange in the sun’s glare. I pried them open and squinted up at the shapes the pharaohs and their slaves had conjured out of the desert 4500 years ago. The Great Pyramid of Cheops towered over the camels and tour buses on the outskirts of Cairo.  It was a sight I will never forget and yet in the beginning I saw nothing.

Visitors often see the desert in this way, as an endless stretch of sun and sand and nothing.  But when German-born 3D Designer Markus Kayser first set his eyes upon the Egyptian desert, he saw possibilities. He imagined harnessing the resources which existed in great abundance here, sunlight and sand. And here he talks with Green Prophet about his 3D printer that runs on sun and sand.

Markus Kayser didn’t need tens of thousands of slaves to conjure something out of the desert. He used his own ingenuity to design and build a machine called a Solar Sinter. This machine uses photovoltaic panels to power a computer and the electromechanical workings of a 3D printer.

The print head holds a lens which concentrates sunlight from a larger Fresnel lens onto a tray of sand. This focused beam reaches temperatures of over 1400°C which sinters (melts) the sand to form a glass or ceramic object. The idea isn’t entirely new.  In the June, 1933 issue of Modern Mechanix, W.W. Beach envisioned giant lenses burning roads and canals into the desert.  Markus Kayser took the first steps towards making this dream possible.
Markus earned a BA in 3D Design from London Metropolitan University and a MA in Design Products at the Royal College of Art in London. He is busy with the next phase of his project but he was kind enough to allow me to interview him for Green Prophet.

Green Prophet: What changes would you like to see in the way products are manufactured and consumed?

Markus Kayser: The Solar Sinter project is all about a potential which questions current manufacturing in a positive way.  I would like to see changes in the way energy is used which in this case means to use the immense power of the sun in a more direct way than just the conversion to electricity.  I think there is a basic logic, which is that sunlight is ‘powering’ this earth as a whole and that this energy can also be used to produce the products or even buildings.

GP: Given your imagination, sunlight, sand and enough financial resources– how would you improve the environment in the Mideast?

MK: I would try to develop the material to be able to replace concrete as a building material.  I would concentrate on architecture and water distribution as well as sanitary products.

GP: Note that the production of concrete releases large amounts of CO2, consumes fossil fuels and requires large amounts of water. Solar sintered sand does not. Do you ever see a mass-produced product and say to yourself, “I could make that out of sand and sunlight?“

MK: I think there are plenty of glass and ceramic objects which could be produced with the Solar Sinter. Of course, the Solar Sinter as it is now is not developed into a manufacturing process but is a prototype for industry to get inspired to look in that direction. I also see a great potential in architecture and infrastructure (sanitary, water canals) for the process.

GP: Your project shows potential for desert manufacturing and architecture.  Can it scale or should it always remain a small scale project for producing unique art?

MK: Yes I think it can be scaled given enough funds to experiment on a large scale. I think it has already moved out of the ‘unique art’ context even though that’s what it is producing today.  I hope that it influence on industry will show in the future.  At the moment I’m sponsored by a big ceramic manufacturer (KOHLER) who are interested and supportive of the process as they see its potential for the future manufacturing.  I think that’s a small start in involving industry to really start thinking in this direction.

GP: What were the practical problems you encountered? Was it difficult to find the right kind of sand? Was it difficult to keep the sand from clogging the machine?

MK:  The problem with the first Solar Sinter was that there was very little time to experiment in the desert – only about two weeks.  So to get it working in that timescale was a challenge, which thankfully just worked out. Heat is of course one of the biggest problems with electronics involved.  Finding the right sand was not an issue as desert sand in Egypt and Morocco worked without previous tests.  I have build the machine fairly robust but lightweight for traveling and the mechanics are designed slightly oversized so that the sand cannot do any damage.

GP: How will 3D printing change the relationship between consumers, manufacturers and the environment?

MK: 3D printing is moving in two directions – desktop DIY printers and prints on demand for so called ‘mass-customization’ of products.  I think both will have a great impact in how products are consumed as well as on manufacturing. If for instance I can modify the product to my personal needs before I buy it, it might have an impact on the way I feel about the product, its usability and I might think twice before throwing it away as I was part of its ‘creation’.  This again could lead to less consumption.  Also the way in which DIY 3D printers are looking at recycling the printed products, reusing the once printed but now unwanted products to make new ones at home.

GP: How will 3D printing change architecture?

MK: In a way architecture has changed already through 3D printing as models of buildings are churned out by the hour in large architectural practices. This means a building can be analyzed very quickly.  3D printed full scale architecture is just emerging with works by Fosters+Partners and Enrico Dini (among others) and it could bring about more ‘intelligent’ materials, which include walls with cavities for all wiring etc. as well as materials with insulating thermal properties with possibly ever changing qualities copied from natural processes. (see Neri Oxman, MIT)

GP: What will you do next?

MK: At the moment I’m working on a new improved prototype as the first Solar Sinter is on exhibition tour.  I will be traveling to the desert again in March to produce new work with the Solar Sinter.

Many thanks to Markus Kayser for helping us see the resources of the desert with new eyes. 

Photos by Amos Field.

(GREEN PROPHET  2.20.12)




an interview with monster of rock — Timo..!


This Thursday, Spacehog fans fortunate enough to be at New York’s Rockwood Music Hall, will not only be amongst the first to hear live performances of tunes from the upcoming new album, but they will also be there for the debut of Spacehog’s new guitarist Timo Ellis. “Wait, what???,” you might be saying. That’s okay. Take a minute, I’ll wait.

Yessssss, you did read that correctly. There is a new album, As It Is On Earth, due out this May, and joining Royston, Jonny, and Rich, is The Netherlands’ Timo Ellis, who has stepped in on guitar and vocals for Antony, as Antony pursues fame and fortune in film on the west coast.

For those who may be wondering about this fresh face in the band, Timo was kind enough to allow me an interview.

Charlotte: Jonny Cragg once mentioned jamming with you and Sean Lennon back in the summer of 1994. Was this when you first met? What was your impression of the Spacehog guys at that time?

Timo: ..I just remember initially thinking that they were sweet and totally hilarious (and then not too much later that they were making a really great record!!)

C: On your website you list yourself as performer, producer, tv/film composer, arranger, drummer, guitarist, bassist, singer, songwriter, ukulele-r, programmer, visual artist, and graphic designer from New York City, and on your Facebook band page under genre you list that you do it all. Is it fair to ask if there is an instrument, a role in the music world, and/or a specific type of genre that you like best or is that too much like asking a parent which kid they like best?

T: I’m a drummer first but I’ve been playing guitar and bass for almost as recent years I’ve done a lot more composing/ recording/ producing stuff as distinct from really becoming more virtuosic on any one instrument…+ “genre-wise” on a professional level it would probably help me if I really aesthetically refined/ simplified my “brand”, so to speak, but well, I don’t really feel like doing that, frankly!

C: Bands that you are currently in are The Netherlands, Miho Hatori, Cibo Matto, and of course Spacehog. How do you balance your time between various bands and any other projects that you may have in the works?

T: I work at least 12 hours a day, every day IE I don’t have a lot of “balance”. C’est la vie tho, ya know?

C: Thursday, February 16th, you play with both Spacehog and The Netherlands. Is that as exhausting as it sounds?

T: Not in the slightest! It’s gonna be wicked!!!

C: Is it true that you’ve released over 25 EP’s and Albums, including your first solo EP, The Enchanted Forest of Timo Ellis in 2001? What is it that inspires you?

T: I wouldn’t say I’m inspired really; obsessed is more like it

C: How long have you been working with Spacehog? You may be considered by fans to be “the new guy” but in eyeballing your accomplishments, your projects, and collaborations, some with names that have also been associated with other members of Spacehog, is “the new guy” an unfair or inaccurate assessment of your relationship with Spacehog?

T: I’ve only been playing with these guys this year..+ I am the “new guy” so I don’t mind being called that (+ doesn’t it connote being young, or “fresh” or something?)

C: After waiting over ten years, long time Spacehog fans finally got the news they wanted to hear last month, that the 4th album is to be released this spring. The website was revamped and a brand new Spacehog tune and video was premiered. Then holy moley, there was a bit of a shock, as fans realized that Antony Langdon was not in this line up. As Ant’s presence in the band has always been a strong one, there may be some fans who find the idea of someone, anyone, stepping in on guitar and vocals for him to be a bit disconcerting. Does knowing this affect you going on stage, particularly for the upcoming shows, where some fans may still not be aware of the change?

T: yeah…I’m not even caught up in any of that; hopefully people won’t be put off by it fer very long, if at all

C: You provide lead vocals in some of your other projects, will you share in the lead vocal duties with Roy for Spacehog? If so, would this be for some of the new songs, their old songs, or both?

T: yes, both! ..mad fun, it is!

C: The list of other musicians that you’ve collaborated with is quite extensive. So a fun question…. with no limits what so ever, even if a time machine were required, who or what band would you love to perform with?

T: Spacehog in 1996 (+ I was skinnier back then…)

C: What are your interests aside from music?

T: ..the arts!!! food, film, design, politics, history, philosophy…ya know, the humanities/ the usual left-wing stuff

Here’s sending huge amounts of gratitude to Timo for taking time out of his insanely busy schedule to answer my nosy questions! And for those reading this, quick, quick… turn up the volume and click the links below to hear and see the talented Mr. Ellis’s other projects…



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