An Artist's HD Vision of Life Above the Clouds
Conceived from an ongoing fascination with the motions and textures of clouds, this short film by Carsten Nicolai is the result of 12 years of footage taken during commercial flights. During this period he has taken over 3,000 photographs and created original compositions to accompany the images. “One of my biggest inspirations is nature,” says Nicolai. “I am very interested in natural science and models that try to help us understand what we are surrounded by.” Originally trained as a landscape architect, the Berlin-based artist’s creative process evolved to involve science, technology and sound, and has seen him exhibit in the likes of Pace and MoMA, as well as become a legend among techno-heads under his alias Alvo Noto and as part of the maverick electronic duo Diamond Version with Byetone. Today’s short inspired Skywalk, the first Closed capsule collection from conceptual designer, Kostas Murkudis. As Nicolai’s large-scale film project forms part of this week’s Art Basel film program, we asked him to sit down with fellow Berliner Murkudis to talk synesthesia, nature and flight tags.
Carsten Nicolai: We have known and followed each other’s work for quite some time now. If there are options to connect our work, we take chances and try to emphasize each other’s work but at the same time mark our close relation.
Kostas Murkudis: We talk a lot about concepts and how we see the development of the world around us. It’s this mix of things, the serious and the jovial, which leads to results.
CN: Exactly. More than ten years ago I started to engage myself with micro and macro structures and their visual manifestations. I had already used a ready-made object called cloud chamber for an exhibition in Tokyo and I looked for a macroscopic equivalent. During this period I experienced a very homogeneous cloud 'landscape' during a flight to Italy and I photographed it. This series of photographs was the starting point of a long and continuous project of filming and taking photos of these kinds of stratus clouds.
KM: You want to create a context. This context exists prior to the creation of clothes as much as in their presentation. I often have ideas for projects I want to conduct outside fashion and more and more so, I am able to do this, so I also create my own context. This is really wonderful. What science is to you, the raw, initial material is to me. We have a similar sensuality; our approach to the essence of our respective discipline is similar. Your work, like mine, is reduced to the necessary and yet complex. Sometimes we just joke around, we find things on the street or in a magazine, which we pick at random and use: once it was a number on a flight tag.
Texas' Soulful Guitar Man Takes The Blues Into the 21st Century
“I can't feel a thing,” sings Gary Clark Jr. in “Numb,” a track taken from his lauded first major label studio album Blak and Blu, but the Texan guitarist, singer and songwriter’s gritty, powerful riffs are about as passionate as they come. The 29-year-old Austin native counts the likes of Eric Clapton and Barack Obama among his fans—the President notoriously dubbed him the “future” of the blues—and has shared the stage with Alicia Keys, Dave Matthews Band and The Rolling Stones. Clark’s soulful approach to genre-splicing channels the best of rock, R&B, jazz and hip-hop heritage, mashing up Jimi Hendrix’s intensity with The Beatles’ timelessness and vocals reminiscent of lo-fi act The Black Keys, updated with a contemporary hard edge. With his most recent LP ranked among Rolling Stone magazine’s 50 Best Albums of the year, Clark is also growing into something of an accidental style icon: rarely photographed without his signature brimmed hat, he can now add modelling for John Varvatos alongside Led Zeppelin guitar hero Jimmy Page to his reputation for following in the footsteps of greats.
The Model Steps Forward as the Roguish Heroine of a Surreal Desert Tableau
Sauntering down a desolate highway in opaline pasties and pink latex knickers, an otherworldly Erin Wasson enacts an unexpected domesticity in this short by filmmaker Columbine Goldsmith, shot in California’s Mojave Desert. Wearing spring/summer 2013 looks from the likes of Fendi, Bottega Veneta, Chanel and Alexander Wang, Wasson walks the line between the real and the extraterrestrial as an apathetic housewife tending to a fantastical plot of American soil. “The landscape doesn’t reveal time or place, so I wanted to imbue the protagonist with a more defined character: an old-fashioned housewife in 60s and 70s silhouettes who also has something discernibly futuristic about her,” says Goldsmith. Referencing the bleak landscapes of Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura and the humanoid alien of The Man Who Fell To Earth, the film’s title comes from a serendipitous moment: during the shoot at Joshua Tree National Park, Goldsmith noticed a plaque on a nearby boulder that read “La Intrusa Piedra” (The Intruder Rock), an unexpected and welcome nod to Wasson’s outsider status in the film. Below, the Texan supermodel, veteran of the pages of Vogue and the runways of Balenciaga, Gucci and Lagerfeld, and muse to the likes of Ellen von Unwerth, steps out of the sand to reveal her chill-out preferences.