Mixed Media

Say It Isn't So: No, It's NoSo

| Wed Mar. 21, 2007 8:44 PM EDT

noso.gifWhether it's the ultimate reaction to Web 2.0 or a hypocritical, post-modern, flash mob-inspired game penned as art, NoSo is yet another trendy, techy art project. But this doesn't mean that it isn't intriguing, fun, and hopelessly ironic in true hipster form. NoSo is a response to the ubiquity of online social networking produced by Christina Ray of Glowlab. It's about the ironies of connecting on the social web and the way there isn't always much social in this web. According to official project language, "NOSO offers a moment of relief to the technology wearied." But, ironically, being predominantly a web-based project, it is still tech-centric.

Last Friday marked the project's opening event at Southern Exposure gallery in San Francisco at which there were a few ground rules: "no networking, no texting, no cellphone use, no laptop use, no downloading, no blogging, no vlogging…etc." Yet the project is about networking. You can set up a user profile on the NoSo site where you get to choose an online ID and trendy silhouette reminiscent of those made popular by Apple's iPod ads to represent your online personality. To complete your NoSo profile, the site provides prompts like "Where I do NOt live" and "NOt my favorite music."

Only one portion of the project actually takes place in cyberspace. The part that is concretely grounded on real turf sounds a lot like flash mobs (maybe flash NObs?). The NoSo site publishes information about the time and location of said anti-socializing meet-ups, which consist of a few people walking into a pre-determined location such as a cafe or park, snapping a few photos on a digital camera, then uploading them to flickr tagged as "nosoproject." If this isn't an act of participating in the social web, I don't know what is. But at least the project makes us think about what it means to live in this age of ubiquitous internet technology.

—Rose Miller

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Radical Knitters Stitch for the Senate to Bring Our Troops Home

| Wed Mar. 21, 2007 3:58 PM EDT

helmets2.jpgCharitable knitting during wartime is an American tradition the art project Stitch for Senate is carrying on in an effort that combines art, patriotism, and resistance. The project that was launched this week, on the four year anniversary of the Iraq war, was organized by professor and electronic artist Catherine Mazza. It encourages knitters to create helmet liners for every US senator, as a call to support the troops by bringing them home. Mazza would like to encourage more dialogue about the war, and since the knitting circle has a history as a site of discussion, she chose a knitting-based project, as she explains this article. The collaborative nature of the project means that you, too, can participate.

—Rose Miller

"The Unit": Nearly as Violent as "24"

| Wed Mar. 21, 2007 12:47 PM EDT

unit.jpgIt occurred to me last night while desperately trying to find something besides "The Unit" on TV: "24" has taken a lot of heat for the violent tactics of its agents, but no one is talking about "The Unit." Why just last week, the black ops unit that gives the show its name rescued a young woman from a cult, and took her sister along to help. When they found the young woman in bed with the cult's leader, the sister killed him in a fit of rage. The unit concealed her crime to protect their cover, even lying to the local police officer who investigated. My best guess as to why the show doesn't get more attention is that it's incredibly boring, and sexist to boot. (The show spends half its time focusing on the wives, who talk almost exclusively about how important their husband's work is.)

"Captivity" Campaign is Nobody's Fault

| Tue Mar. 20, 2007 5:05 PM EDT

mojo-photo-captivity.jpgLos Angeles area residents were not amused this week after billboards went up around the city featuring a young woman pictured in various unsavory scenarios including "Abduction," "Torture" and "Termination." The icky ads were part of a campaign for an upcoming horror flick called "Captivity," but, garsh, turns out it was all a horrible mistake! The production company, After Dark Films, said that the "wrong files" were sent to the printer, who then apparently went ahead and just made a bunch of billboards without asking anybody, and besides, we were all in Las Vegas when it happened! After Dark CEO Courtney Solomon went so far as to issue a statement saying that he, personally, "wasn't going to go with this campaign," since it was "OTP," which is Hollywood-speak for "over the top," I can't believe you didn't already know that.

Anyone who's ever worked at even the lowliest ad agency, production house, or print shop knows there is no possible way anything ever gets done without about 10,000 proofs, endless back-and-forths, and everyone from the board to the receptionist signing off. Whether they knew the campaign would immediately be taken down, or were just completely clueless, it's hard to fathom how it could have actually been a mistake.

But, hooray! It turns out everyone, everywhere is wrong about everything: Solomon says that, sure, the movie has a woman in a cage, but really, it's "about female empowerment." So, parents everywhere, get your young daughters to LA, quick, so they can be empowered by the billboards before they're taken down this afternoon!

Neato Viddys on the Intertubes

| Mon Mar. 19, 2007 9:36 PM EDT

There'll be no Viacom product on the YouTube these days, for sure, but that doesn't make no nevermind. We can still, er, dance if we want to. Or at least stave off the Monday blahs with some music videos. Here's five I like:

Oh, Goodie, Another Bad Review for Black Snake Moan

| Mon Mar. 19, 2007 6:33 PM EDT


I blogged a while back about the surprisingly positive reviews the repulsively salacious film Black Snake Moan was getting, with the only exception being the New York Times (that's why I still defend the Times, mostly). The Nation calls attention to yet another hypersexual version of the sexual-abuse victim the movie sets the viewer up to rape all over again:

The icing on this particular cake is a PR campaign featuring a barely clad Ricci...kneeling at Samuel Jackson's feet, accompanied by the soft-porn slogan "Everything Is Hotter Down South."

And, like the New York Times, The Nation takes issue with the particular mix of race and gender in the movie. First of all, let's remember that the hot young thing is chained to the radiator to cure her of nymphomania—which doesn't actually exist, and certainly doesn't cause sweats and chills of oh-so-hot-it-looks-like-an-orgasm kind Christina Ricci's character suffers in the film.

But I digress. Here's The Nation:

The two most powerful symbols of slavery in Black Snake Moan are writ large on Rae's body: the chains around her waist and the rebel flag on her T-shirt. These images evoke the specter of white wrongdoing but also reframe her enslavement--which is supposed to be OK because Lazarus is black and Rae is white…What makes the movie truly offensive is that it employs race to peddle its brand of misogyny....

Misogyny, you ask? Really? Yeah, really. Here are two reviewers' actual edited reviews, published on actual newsprint stolen from some trees in Oregon:

Brewer's camera leaves the viewer free to savor the bared body of a victim of sexual abuse and rape tied to a radiator. And savor the male critics did. "All this envelope-pushing misogyny goes down relatively easily," claims New York Post's Lou Lumenick, who could "practically smell the sex and sweat" in what he dubs a "not insignificant contribution to global warming." Todd McCarthy of Variety predicts that the movie "will find its most eager audience among college-age guys hot to ogle the young star in some very raw action."

So the film's claim to cure the woman of her nymphomania is an excuse for men to eroticize a young someone who's been so abused she no longer has any meaningful form of consent to give. Who has the problem, again?

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Fratellis Release Single on USB Stick

| Mon Mar. 19, 2007 5:04 PM EDT

mojo-photo-usb.jpgUK trio the Fratellis have released their new single, "Baby Fratelli," on cute little USB memory sticks today, reports NME. 7000 of the things were made and sent around to HMV stores in the UK. In this era of digital downloads, any physical manifestation of a single seems oddly regressive, especially for a band whose main American claim to fame is being on an iPod commercial. But those little USB drives are so cute and teensy, and so fast with the up- and downloading and all. The drives are not, however, eligible for inclusion in the top 40 charts. Apparently UK band Keane have also put out a limited-edition USB drive release. Whether artists releasing USB singles are required to be derivative and boring has not yet been determined.

Moscow's New Mall Elicits Communist Nostalgia

| Sat Mar. 17, 2007 10:22 PM EDT

UK architect Norman Foster's design for a complex overlooking Red Square in Moscow gets a bit of a slam in Thursday's NY Times, unless "glorified mall" is a compliment. The massive project will be the biggest development in the Russian capital since the fall of the Soviet Union, and departs from Foster's usual ground-breaking designs, settling on a kind of neo-classical cheese. What's interesting is the building it will replace: the legendary Hotel Rossiya.

Party Ben's Top 10 Stuff 'n' Things: 3/16/07

| Fri Mar. 16, 2007 8:45 PM EDT

Everybody loves top ten lists, right? No? Well, I do, and I figure what better place than the Riff for a weekly Top 10 list of stuff I like, which will probably be mostly music, but might also include TV shows, or books, or even snacks. Let's get stupid, I mean outrageous:

Attention: Head Cases, Golden State Geeks, and Book Club Mavens...

| Thu Mar. 15, 2007 12:41 AM EDT

Dennis Cass, MoJo contributor and author of Head Case: How I Almost Lost My Mind Trying to Understand My Brain will be reading Thursday night (March 15th) at 7:30 pm, at Books Inc., in Mountain View, CA. Riffer DJ Party Ben and I (aka, the rest of the Carleton mafia) will be there.

Dennis is a funny, funny man, and oh so multimedia. You can get a preview here.

Read Dennis' take down of pop neuroscience in MoJo here, and for some classic Cass—a humor piece on book clubs—go here. Cass on Bush's Whoopers of Mass Destruction is here.

To check out subsequent Cass book tour dates in NYC, DC, and Mpls., or to read his blog, go denniscass.com.