Photo by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre
Last weekend we celebrated the glorious sixth anniversary of our site, and today we present the glorious 100th edition of THAT’S METAL! We’re really covered in glory this month. I didn’t realize the stuff was so sticky. I feel like I need a shower even though a whole week hasn’t passed since the last one.
In celebration of this sticky event I thought about searching back through the previous 99 editions of the series, beginning with the first one back in January 2010, to compile a “best of” collection of items featured over the last six years. I then realized how much work that would be, so that ain’t happening. Instead I’ve got ten new items for you — all of them things I think are metal even though they’re not (metal) music. [I had to insert “(metal)” before “music” because a couple of today’s items do include music.]
However, I must give credit where credit is due: The first edition of this series was inspired by New Zealand blogger Steff Metal — and the image at the top of this post from a series of photos of abandoned buildings in Detroit was lifted from her blog in that first edition. When I wrote it, I didn’t call it “No. 1”, because I had no plan to make it a continuing series. Steff, of course, is innocent of all crimes committed in the next 99 installments. I’ll also repeat the preamble I wrote for that first installment:
“We metalheads call things ‘metal’ even when what we’re talking about isn’t music. Most of the time, it’s meant as a compliment (the ultimate compliment). Sometimes it’s just a description. In either case, I don’t think I could come up with a definition of what “metal” means when it’s used this way. It’s kind of like what Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said about porn in Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964):
“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it . . . .”
Our first item is a video depicting an installation created by acclaimed digital artist Miguel Chevalier for an event last month in the chapel of King’s College at Cambridge University. It was the first time the University had ever invited an artist to create a work of art inside the chapel after its construction in the 16th century.
The occasion was a fundraising campaign organized by the University in the chapel on October 17, 2015. The projections he created accompanied speeches by renowned professors and alumni including Sir Ian McKellen, Professor Chistopher Dobson, Professor Carol Brayne, and Sir David Attenborough, and it concluded with an unannounced appearance by physicist Stephen Hawking (which explains the appearance of thousands of constellations in Chevalier’s projections).
The scenes of the inside of the chapel itself — including the cathedral’s Gothic “fan vaults” in the ceiling — took my breath away even before the installation made its appearance in this video. And the installation itself, in this setting, is wondrous.
Miguel Chevalier’s web site is here.
(via Curiosites de Titam)
Miguel CHEVALIER Dear World… Yours, Cambridge from Claude Mossessian on Vimeo.
What you’re looking at now is a device entitled “Self Organization” created by Oakland artist Courtney Brown as part of the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art’s annual California Sculpture SLAM. Not surprisingly, it won first place in the exhibition. The site where I found this included these words:
Brown used a 1938 Underwood typewriter affixed with sculpted bronze tentacles. We can’t wait to read its first book.
Yeah, I can’t either. I’m guessing it will have a Lovecraftian atmosphere.
Below you’ll find a couple more photos as well as a video showing other interesting pieces at this exhibition, which sadly ended on November 15.
3rd California Sculpture SLAM from Reel Story Media on Vimeo.
Not all sculptural works of art were created as works of art. Some of them were created to operate as nuclear power plants and then abandoned before completion. Take, for example, the Satsop nuclear facility near the town of Elma in western Washington State.
The story behind this facility is the tale of a clusterfuck of historic proportions; it was still the subject of ongoing litigation when I moved to Seattle 20 years ago. Here’s a summary I found at this site:
In the 1970’s, the Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS, aka “whoops“) began the largest nuclear power plant construction project in U.S. history: reactors 1, 2, and 4 at Hanford, and reactors 3 and 5 at Satsop, west of Olympia.
As the budget swelled to $25 billion, and public opinion turned against nuclear power (particularly after Three-Mile Island), the project was cancelled. This resulted in WPPSS defaulting on $2.25 billion worth of municipal bonds sold to finance the project, one of the largest municipal bond defaults in U.S. history. Ultimately only one plant was completed: Washington Nuclear Power Unit 2 (now known as the Columbia Generating Station), located on the Hanford Reservation.
At Satsop, construction was well along, and plant number 3 was about 76% complete, with the reactor installed. Cooling towers, 480 feet tall – which had never produced a breath of steam – were left in place, while all hardware related to power generation was removed. The site has since been transformed into a unique business/technology park.
I was reminded of these events by the following video called “Atomic Ruin” by Andrew Walker, whose site (here) includes some other great time lapse videos. This one is really strange and creepy. I expected an alien (or at least a facehugger) to leap at the cameramen at any moment.
Atomic Ruin from Andrew Walker on Vimeo.
In most of these editions of THAT’S METAL! I have a habit of including photos or videos of creatures from the natural world that are either nauseating or terrifying in their appearance, or both. Because, of course, some of the best metal is disgusting and/or horrifying. But today I’ve chosen a creature that, although bizarre, is beautiful.
This creature is variously called the blue dragon, the blue sea slug, or by its proper name Glaucus atlanticus. It’s only about an inch or two in length, which turns out to be a good thing. Read this info from this source:
They spend their lives upside down, attached to the surface of the water and floating along at the mercy of the winds and ocean currents. Blue in color, they blend in with the water in order to camouflage themselves within their environment.
And though petit, these baby dragons are also dangerous: they predate on venomous cnidarians, such as the Portuguese man o’war. They store the stings cells collected from these cnidarians within their own tissues, and use them as a defence on anything that bothers them. Handling a little blue dragon could result in a painful, and possibly dangerous, sting.
Sightings of the blue dragon are rare occurrences, but one of them was caught on film after washing ashore in Queensland, Australia, last week.
[fbvideo link=”https://www.facebook.com/lucinda.fry.5/videos/10154519728738018/” width=”640″ height=”360″ onlyvideo=”1″]
So much… BLOOD.
Actually, there’s no blood in that photo — just a lot of red yarn and a multitude of keys. But it sure as fuck looks like a fountain of blood, doesn’t it?
This is an installation called “The Key in the Hand” by Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota. It was created for the 2015 Venice Art Biennale using a complex web of thread and more than 50,000 keys collected from people all over the world. The intricate interlacing of yarn and metal appears to explode from two rustic boats and spread throughout the entire site.
The artist explained the concept: “Keys are familiar and very valuable things that protect important people and spaces in our lives. They also inspire us to open the door to unknown worlds.” More info and photos can be found here, and at the artists’ web site. Do watch the video below as well; it really makes this come alive:
This next item is a bit of a diversion. I guess it could be justified as something that belongs in this post, but mainly I’m hoping that grateful readers of our site will pool their funds and buy this watch for me (here). Y’know, because we’re getting close to the annual frenzy of gift-giving, and this gift would put me in a frenzy.
The name of the watch is the Hourstriker and it’s made by the Swiss watch company Ulysse Nardin. The case, crown, pushers, and band clasp are made from 18 kt rose gold. The face is made with white and blue mother of pearl. The wrist strap is made from alligator leather. It has an automatic movement, and it strikes the hours and half hours. It costs $120,000.
In a nice touch, it’s water resistant up to 30m or 99ft, because of course the first thing you want to do after buying a $120,000 watch is to go diving with it.
But I’ve saved the best for last:
Our next item was written by NCS contributor Grant Skelton:
In my late childhood, my love for horror fiction began with an Edgar Allan Poe anthology that a relative bought me for Christmas. Around that same time, I discovered Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark. I recall many a dark-and-stormy night that I spent with my face buried in these annals of macabre folklore.
And if the stories themselves weren’t terrifying enough, then one need look no further than the grotesque and surreal artwork by Stephen Gammell. Gammell’s art, which would have made him a perfect candidate for metal album covers, added to the series’ notoriety. According to the American Library Association’s official website, Schwartz’s collection was the most challenged book series between 1990 and 1999.
In 2011, Harper-Collins reissued the series featuring new illustrations. The originals are now out of print. Since metal and horror fans alike appreciate all things kvlt, I thought this would make a fitting entry in our THAT’S METAL! feature.
Below is a trailer for an upcoming documentary on Alvin Schwartz’s book series. Scary Stories: A Documentary does not have an official release date yet. But according to the documentary’s official site, producer/director Cody Merrick wrote:
Just so you know, the next few months after Halloween there may not be a ton of new news here. That doesn’t mean things aren’t developing and the documentary isn’t moving forward full steam. It really just means that a lot of plans and preparations are being made. I expect you’ll be hearing a lot from us in the spring.
Find out more information at http://www.scarystoriesdoc.com/.
Find out more information at http://www.scarystoriesdoc.com/.
For our next item, we have an example of life imitating art, with the art being Frankenstein.
According to this article in The Independent, Italian surgeon Sergio Canavero will lead a team of largely Chinese surgeons in the first attempt to cut off one man’s head and put it on another man’s body. The procedure is expected to take place in China by the end of 2017. More info:
Russian Valery Spiridonov has already been selected as the recipient of the new body. He suffers from the rare, genetic Werdnig-Hoffmann disease, which gradually wastes away his muscles.
During the procedure, the donor and patient will each have their head sliced off their body in a super-fast procedure. The transplanted parts will then be stuck together with glue and stitches.
Spiridinov will then be placed in a month-long coma and injected with drugs intended to stop the body and head from rejecting each other.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “They must have gotten the body donor really high in order to convince him to let his head be cut off”. Well, the speculation is that the body donor will be a prisoner scheduled for execution.
It’s not 100% certain that this will happen. The article states: “Ren Xiaoping, who will work with Canavero to try and attempt the procedure in the next two years, said that the team will only attempt it if research and tests show that it is likely to be successful.”
What research? What tests? Who cares! This is so fucking cool! Isn’t it? No?
From the movie:
Victor Moritz: You’re crazy!
Henry Frankenstein: Crazy, am I? We’ll see whether I’m crazy or not!
(Credit to JC for this tip.)
As foreshadowed in the intro to this post, my next and final two items do involve music. They’re not exactly metal music, but they’re still metal.
Some things you see, and even though you think they’re cool, you have no fucking idea how or why they were conceived. That was pretty much my reaction to an installation by French visual artist and musician Céleste Boursier – Mougenot at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, a video of which you’re about to see.
It was created using 70 Zebra finches (native to Australia), 10 Gibson Les Paul electric guitars, and four Gibson Thunderbird electric basses. We know that finches sing. Now we know they can shred, too. Sort of.
[fbvideo link=”https://www.facebook.com/RadioCanadaArtsetdivertissement/videos/1117461624944956/” width=”640″ height=”360″ onlyvideo=”1″]
(via ICI Radio-Canada)
The last item in this post features a dude from the town of Albany in Western Australia named Mitchell Cullen. He goes by the nickname “Fingers“. He plays some mean guitar. He also plays the didgeridoo. And he plays them together.
The video below is a performance of a piece called “Steam Roller” that he gave in 2012, when he was 18, at Denmark Markets in Australia. I thought it was so cool when I saw it yesterday, and so “metal”, that I had to include it in this edition of the series. Cullen, by the way, has recorded albums, and you can find out more about those via the links below.
And that’s it for this glorious centennial edition of THAT’S METAL!. As usual, enjoy the rest of your fucking day.
Those finches play better than I do.
Looking at that artwork of the boats and blood net of thread with keys all I can think is – holy fuck that must have taken a long time to make! From the video you really get the feeling it would be surreal in person.
Also that typewriter is great! And fingers mitchell has some interesting beats going on. I can’t get the nuclear plant videos to work, not in Firefox or Chrome for me. But it seems completely fitting: like a backwards version of “The Ring”, it’s so fucked and destined to failure that even video footage of it doesn’t go 😉
Happy centenary TM BTNM!
an excellent 100th edition of an extremely entertaining series, thank you for keeping this one going 🙂
Stephen Gammell actually visited my elementary school and signed the Scary Story books for us kids!