Saturday, May 19, 2012


Modularz is one of the few recently born north american labels serving quality and powerful techno. It was created in 2010 by Los Angeles artist Developer . You might know him by his great work in Semantica nr. 39 and his mix for Resident Advisor podcast in March.

In Europe, the distribution comes from Word & Sound in Hamburg, Germany.

This label releases vinyl and digital with artists and remixers like Silent Servant, Oliver Ho-Raudive, Audio Injection, Truncate, Fanon Flowers and Eduardo de la Calle. And the last two releases (Modularz 8.1 and 8.2), the releases that made me feel the obligation to post this entry, are just amazing... can't wait to put my hands on this:

Modularz 8.1_ Developer + Truncate + Jonas Kopp + Markus Suckut by Modularz

Modularz 8.2_ Developer + Shifted + Stanislav Tolkachev by Modularz

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tim Burton: L’exposition

We have something to celebrate at home. Tim Burton has always been a great source of inspiration for everybody in the family and we all felt a bit sad when they announced that the only place to see Tim Burton's exposition was NYC and the MOMA... but well, it looks like, finally, we're lucky enough and Burton's exposition is going to be hosted in some closer venues so... Paris, here we go!

The Tim Burton event at La Cinémathèque française is not only a wonderful opportunity to see all of his films (including very limited-distribution short films) but also, thanks to the major exhibition designed by the New York MoMA in 2009 and shown here this spring, an opportunity to discover Burton’s talents as a draftsman, painter, video director, photographer and inventor of colorful, amazing sculptures.

Eccentricities and visual reveries.

The exhibition shows original works that are conscious mixtures of pop, Goth and surrealism – a creative hybridization claimed by the artist, who enjoys mixing and subverting genres. Some are from his youth and are pure visual reveries imagined for projects that remained in the planning stage: "I was making a drawing when all of a sudden, I said to myself: What difference dœs it make if I know how to draw or not? What's important is that I like it. From that moment on, I didn't worry about trying to reproduce a human body or whether people cared for my drawings or not." In contrast, others are recent working prototypes whose artistic value is nonetheless incontestable. Their spatial arrangement makes visitors feel as if they are entering the laboratory of this modern Dr. Frankenstein, the creator of a cosmogony where the macabre and the comic join together rather than in opposition. It is a place where the filmmaker's intimate work (sketchbooks, amateur films) is shown next to legendary cinema productions, such as Edward Scissorhands or Sleepy Hollow, whose hidden side is revealed here for the first time.

Born in 1958, Tim Burton is one of those filmmakers who have always maintained a link to their childhood and who have known how to make this link the magic lever for creating a world with which the public immediately identifies. This eccentric cinematographic world subverts the principles of conceptual staging and heads in the direction of a work based on images, where emotion is the key factor. Burton says this himself when he talks about preparing his films, using a drawing rather than a storyboard (too arithmetic). "The more I make films, the less I use a storyboard. Now, I make little sketches." He believes in the spontaneous gesture, scribbled zealously on paper at the limits of the subconscious, and in making dissident films, without compromises, within an economic framework that is nonetheless the one of Hollywood blockbusters. Tim Burton is most certainly the last great Hollywood craftsman. It's not by accident that in 1994 he made a film on Ed Wood, the king of American low-budget movies, a sort of premonitory alter-ego. The two men share the fact that they have made freedom the cornerstone of their ethic. However, unlike Ed Wood, who was always broke, Burton represents the majestic and powerful side of the emancipated cinema that is fascinated by science fiction, melodrama and everything grotesque. In this biopic, Burton makes Ed Wood (interpreted by Johnny Depp, his alter-ego in eight feature films since 1990) a less desperate character than he actually was and, above all, a mirror of Burton's own personality, with a story that subtly draws out the bits and pieces of a profession of faith. Wood made Bride of the Monster in 1955. Burton would make Corpse Bride in 2005, going even further in the exploration of the Otherworld without second-degree kitsch. Burton has a sincere tenderness for freaks of all types and has addressed this subject since his childhood. As if to protect them, he wraps his "monsters" in a pœtic scenario and a particularly sophisticated plastic approach that revives stopmotion, an old animation method that confers unequaled virtuosity and simplicity to his films.

Movies as escape.

Burton is a filmmaker whose precocious love of films nourished the development of his own characters. The little extraterrestrials in Mars Attacks! (The exhibition shows the film's entire development, from the first drawings to the original mock-ups in resin that were made for filming) are not unrelated to Planet 9 (1959) by Ed Wood. Young Burton discovered this film when he lived in Burbank, a residential suburb of Los Angeles, bathed in sunlight and totally boring: "a world without a history, without culture, without passion." It is also the outpost of the Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros. For Tim, movies were never very far away and were, from his childhood on, his main means of escape ("I've always loved monster films. They never scared me. They all had something I enjoyed tremendously.") With his overflowing imagination, this introverted adolescent succeeded in breaking free of the oppression he felt in this Puritanical environment by drawing and making short films that are shown here in exclusivity (Prehistoric Cavemen, Houdini, Tim's Dreams). In the most accessible types of spectacles, such as carnival attractions and ritual celebrations, Burton found the subjects that he explored in his first works. "For me, Halloween was always the most wonderful night of the year. There were no longer any rules to follow and I could be whatever I wanted." Although he was not a particularly good student, his talent brought him a number of prizes in municipal contests (in 1975, he created 1975 an anti-litter poster that is one of the exhibition gems). When he was eighteen, he entered the prestigious California Institute of the Arts, founded by Walt Disney to train his future artists.

After two years at the Institute, Tim Burton presented his end-of-studies project in 1979, which earned him a place in the Disney Studios animation department. He stayed there for four years as an animator and artistdesigner on The Black Cauldron. Since his proposals were not used in the final version of this animated film, the future filmmaker concentrated his attention on more personal projects (Luau, a short film in the form of a hilarious Hawaiian parade) and met people who would accompany him throughout his career. "The artistic director Rick Heinrichs1 is so closely associated to my world that we make up a film couple comparable to Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. He was able to materialize in 3D all the strange drawings I made." A certain number of Burton's characteristic stylistic traits emerged during this period, as well as his use of bodily transformations. With the help of two friends from the studio, Vincent and Frankenweenie (1982) were made, although the studio did not encourage their distribution because they were thought to be too morbid. Effectively enough, his preparatory drawings were made with a dark and melancholy line that conveys this feeling.

Vincent Price, who was Burton's idol to such an extent that the artist made his portrait at the age of twenty (also shown in the exhibition), accepted to be the narrator of Vincent. Later, in 1990, Price would interpret the father-figure inventor of young Edward Scissorhands in two flash-back scenes (which was his farewell to the movies). The question of parent-child relationships is at the heart of Burton's kingdom. To film this youth that fascinates him, Burton chooses choreographies where both the grace and awkwardness of his characters is expressed. Thus, we see Kim (Winona Ryder) dancing in the snow, in symbiosis with the art of Edward, who carves ice sculptures (the teenager's sexual energy makes the camera turn in circles on its axis); Lydia (Winona Ryder once again), weaving as she levitates in a little plaid dress in Beetlejuice; a melodious whirlwind drawing Victor, the young virgin of Corpse Bride, away to a jam session at the moment he encounters the Corpse Bride in the after-life; and the colorful dance of the Oompa Loompas propelling poor Charlie's childhood (and the chocolate factory) toward the discovery of the real world.

A question of filiation

For Burton's adult herœs, the question of their filiation is nonetheless unresolved. It is at the heart of a knot of suffering, as materialized in the traumatic memories of Wonka, repudiated by his father (brilliant choice of Christopher Lee as the vampire-father), the Sweeney Todd barber's attachment, in spite of himself, to his daughter Johanna (driving even his bloody vengeance), or the tall tales of Ed Bloom in Big Fish, which were for years an obstacle to his son's love. These impossible or tortured relationships are shown in the mask motif that haunts a great many of Burton's drawings (his Clowns and Boys series in the nineties), as well as his two adaptations of Batman. The rigid, painted face, while hiding facial deformities, provokes dread because it disavows the passing of time. Batman is an orphan, who is driven to find his parents' assassin, just like his enemy, the Penguin, who was abandoned at birth. These two ageless beings without a genealogy engage in a battle refereed by Catwoman, sheathed in latex and the embodiment of absolute, feral and seductive femininity, like a Hitchcock heroine. In the film, Burton pays tribute to Hitchcock, his tutelary spirit, but in a more grotesque way (the shot where Batman almost falls into the void recalls the shot of James Stewart at the beginning of Vertigo). "I love these characters, their duels, the fact that they are haunted by darkness and a desire for light." Burton likes the intermediate zone. Twilight. Somewhere between the indie move and the blockbuster.

The most European of American filmmakers ?

The exhibition provides an opportunity to see Burton's work from past to present and to reveal elements stemming from his latest films, Dark Shadows and Frankenweenie, which will be released in 2012. The latter film is a stop-motion remake that tells the same story as the 1982 version, although the action takes place in an imaginary European country named New Holland. Following Mars Attacks!, a science-fiction satire of an America that is ready to explode (populated by shady promoters, New Age adepts and fascist military men), and starting with Sleepy Holllow, which is set in a community of Dutch immigrants recently arrived in the New World, Burton refocused his work on a new geography. He decided to come closer physically and aesthetically to Europe. London very much in the time of Jack the Ripper provides the background for Sweeney Todd; there are English references to Roald Dahl (Charlie) and Lewis Carroll (Alice). What dœs this shift of a center of gravity mean? Burton's own identity has been subject to metamorphoses like those undergone by the characters of his Divine Comedy: the polymorphic herœs of Trick or Treat (1980), immortalized with colored pencils. Is Burton the most European of American filmmakers? Is he the most modern of a long line of illusionist directors who invented enchantment and fear along with cinematography? "Films knock at the door of our dreams and our subconscious. Although this reality varies depending on the generation, films have a therapeutic impact – just like fairy tales used to have."

Matthieu Orléan

All quotes by Tim Burton come from Tim Burton, Interviews with Mark Salisbury, Sonatine Editions, 2009.
This text is based on an excerpt from Burton on Burton, by Mark Salisbury, Faber and Faber, London, 1995

More info:

Exposition Tim Burton à la Cinémathèque... por lacinematheque