Showing posts with label Art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Art. Show all posts

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Trick of the Eye by Silke Vry

Rating: WORTHY!

There's not much to say about this book with a poetic title except that it's an awesome example of illusion and inventive art. Subtitled 'Art and Illusion', the book demonstrates handsomely that deceptive imagery in art is not anything new: it's been done for years - centuries, even.

This book has some eighty pages of examples from works by people like Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Robert Campin, Salvador Dali, MC Escher, Hubert and Jan van Eyck, Lucas Furtenagel, Vince van Gogh, Hans Holbein, Samuel van Hoogstraten, René Magritte, Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Andrea Pozzo, George Seurat, Jan Vermeer, Paolo Veronese, and Leonardo da Vinci as well as a host of more modern artists, including Banksy.

It covers not only works of art, but also objects, including the Acropolis of Athens, and offers some do-it-yourself illusions in the end pages. I recommend this for anyone who enjoys illusions and art

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Art of Atari by Tim Lapetino

Rating: WORTHY!

I was really pleased with this book, for which advance review copy, I thank the publisher!

I don't see this as being widely or wildly popular, but it will definitely appeal to anyone who's ever had an interest in Atari. I never owned one of their gaming boxes, but I am familiar with their computers, particularly the 520 ST which was quite the sensation in some computer circles, although the sensation quickly died.

I found it odd that this computer was not featured in the book, but the book focused nearly exclusively on games and on Artari's heyday, and in particular on the artwork accompanying the games, featured either on the box or in the manual. The artwork on the computer screen was abysmal by today's standards, but it was successful in its time because no-one knew any better, and it was the best that computers could do until Commodore came along with its wildly successful 64.

The artwork on the boxes and manuals though, was another world. It served the purpose of course, of firing up the imagination of kids (young and old) who evidently didn't care about the huge discrepancy between the resolution of the art on the box and the blocky 8-bit game that came inside! That discrepancy isn't mentioned in the book, but the art is given the adulation it deserves. There are interviews with the people who did the work, along with a potted history of Atari and the company's spectacular growth and subsequent fall into financial difficulties and obscurity even as the distinctive logo lived on.

The artist profiles include such names as Marc Erikson, Rick Guidice, Steve Hendricks, Terry Hoff, James Kelly, and Cliff Spohn. Usually in something like this it seems to be all white guys, but that wasn't the case here, interestingly enough. There were guys of Asian ancestry such as Hiro Kimura, and Warren Chang, and also several girls involved in these various enterprises, including one who was an engineer. Go engineering girls! Names such as Sharon Ashton, Susan Jaekel and Evelyn Seto are deservedly celebrated along with the unnamed woman who banned a highly questionable illustration for Atari's Haunted House Game!

As for the artwork itself, it's remarkable in how consistently strong it is, as well as consistently varied! I loved it and envied it. I think this book works as a trip down memory lane, as a coffee table art book, and as a history of a corporation that really brought a change to people's lives in the field of leisure activity as well as in corporate culture. It may surprise you to learn that Steve Jobs once worked at Atari. No kidding!

And what of the games? There are too many to list, but all the old favorites are here: Air-Sea battle, Breakout, Centipede, Donkey Kong, E.T., Food Fight, Galaga, Home Run, Indy 500, Joust, Krull, Mario Brothers, Night Driver, Oscar's Trash Race, Pac-Man, Qix, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Space invaders, Tetris, Ultra PONG,Video Pinball, Wizards, and Yars' Revenge, along with mentions of some unreleased games such as Dukes of Hazzard. One thing which particularly interested me was the story of the Atari burial at Alamogordo. I'd seen a documentary about this ( Atari: Game Over.), and it was fun to read the article.

I really liked this book, and I recommend it. It comes with a foreword, an afterword, end notes, and an extensive index. There's an article here (or at least there was when I first blogged this!) which will give you a feel for the work. Game on!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Evo by Jurian Moller

Rating: WARTY!

Evo is one continuous page, concertina folded, depicting the path of life from the earliest wiggling notochord through to modern humans. It's very expensive and teaches nothing, but if you like dramatic works of art, then this one is for you, I guess! You can get a sneak peek at I can't recommend this unless you have to have everything to do with evolution or unless you really like expensive coffee table books!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Leonardo da Vinci 14 Classic Images in 3-D

Title: Leonardo da Vinci 14 Classic Images in 3-D
Rating: WORTHY!

  • A skull from Anatomical Manuscipt B
  • A rib cage from Anatomical Studies of the Human Skeleton
  • Arm musculature form Studies of the Arm
  • Vitruvian Man
  • Sketches for detail from an altar piece for the Florentine Church
  • Portait of Lisa del Giacondo
  • The Last Supper
  • The Virgin and Child with St Anne
  • Cecilia Gallerani (Lady With an Ermine)
  • Treadwheel with Four Crossbows
  • Vertically Standing Bird's Winged Flying Machine
  • Giant Crossbow and War Machine
  • Studies for a Building on a Centralized Plan
  • Archimedes Screw and Water Wheel

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Art of 5TH Cell by Joe Tringal and Edison Yan

Title: The Art of 5TH Cell
Artist: Joe Tringali
Artist: Edison Yan
Publisher: Udon Entertainment
Rating: WORTHY!

DISCLOSURE: Unlike the majority of reviews in this blog, I've neither bought this book nor borrowed it from the library. This is a "galley" copy ebook, supplied by Net Galley. I'm not receiving (nor will I expect to receive or accept) remuneration for this review. The chance to read a new book is often reward aplenty!

In my sweet innocence, I was totally unaware of what this actually was when I requested to read what I thought was a graphic novel - maybe about graffiti artists(!). I didn't know that it was merely artwork from a video game developer named 5th Cell! Oops! My kids, of course, immediately related to it and enjoyed the sample images I showed them (which appear in my blog). At least one of them would probably be happy as a lark were he to end up in a career like the one which Joe Tringal or Edison Yan made for themselves!

5th cell is a decade-old company which has developed games like Mini Poccha, SEAL Team 6 (which actually doesn't exist in real life!) and Siege, working under license, but which then moved on to developing their own games, including the innovative Drawn to Life which is a game where the player can draw their own hero and world on the Nintendo DS touch-pad.

This book is a sampler of the artwork which 5th Cell created for their games - from characters to environments to weapons, to animals, and so on, and while I can appreciate the artwork, for me it wasn't enough. Whether you like it, hate it or adore it, the artwork is static and flat. What I would have liked to have seen, and what I had hoped for (once I realized what this was!), was some text to go along with the art: maybe some details - even brief ones - about how this art was translated into a dynamic video game. How they created their games, how they got the ideas, There is none of that. All we get is page after page after page of these characters in rank and file, and scenes, and oodles of weapons, which really isn't that interesting after the first few pages! Not to me anyway.

If you're a die-hard fan of 5th Cell's art and/or their video games, then this might well be your dream graphic book, but I see no enduring value to it otherwise, not as it is, and I can't recommend this as a worthy read since there's really nothing to read, and honestly not all that much to look at.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Drawing Amanda by Stephanie Feuer

Title: Drawing Amanda
Author: Stephanie Feuer
Publisher: Hipsomedia
Rating: WORTHY!

Ably illustrated by SY Lee

I like that the title of the novel has two meanings here. It reminds me of my own novel Tears in Time, which can be understood in two different ways.

Michael 'Inky' Kahn missed a chance at art school, where all his friends went, because he became a chronic slacker after his father died. Now he has a chance to sign-up with a video-game start-up and get in on the ground floor designing a new online game. The interface is creepy, but Inky is young, naïve, and foolish, and still grieving over the death of his father eighteen months before. He doesn’t think twice. He doesn’t even think once.

Inky has a best friend still remaining at the New York international school which he attends, but his friend simply doesn't work for me. "Rungs" (an abbreviation of his long Thai family name) is too much. I found myself asking why didn’t this author make the Asian the main character instead of the trope YAWASP which we get - a trope augmented by a clichéd 'foreign' and 'cool' friend? The sad attempt to have Rungs speak in hip abbreviations is a fail, too, especially since each time he uses one, it’s followed by an immediate translation which is just an admission that this isn't working. It looks stupid and amateur.

That aside, the plot was different. The online game is, of course a complete fraud. It's merely a front for a psycho to get his hands on teen-aged girls, but I don’t get why he chooses online gaming, which is typically not the purview of young girls. Yes, they do play games, but they tend not to favor the same games which boys do, and this premise is that the game is in development - it’s not actually up and running - so why would teenage girls (as opposed to boys) flock to this site? It makes no sense.

Having said that, the story and writing in general wasn't too bad at all, and the female love interest here, Amanda Valdez Bates, who is also disaffected, but for reasons different from Inky's, does show up at this site and starts interacting with the psycho guy. She also begins interacting with Inky at school, so the story was quite nicely woven at this point. Inky starts sending sketches to the guy "Woody" behind the Megaland game, and one of these is of Amanda. Inky doesn't realize that he's putting his new acquaintance directly into harm's way by using her as his muse.

That's all I'm telling you! I liked this despite those issues I described, because it was in general, well written, it contained a scattering of artwork to fit the story (this is not a graphic novel, just a novel with some graphics!), which was unusual and appreciated, and apart from the ridiculous best friend which Inky had, the characters were decently fleshed out and believable. I liked the premise and the novel overall, so I recommend this one.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Ink by Amanda Sun

Title: Ink
Author: Amanda Sun
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Rating: WARTY!

DISCLOSURE: Unlike the majority of reviews in this blog, I have neither bought this book nor borrowed it from the library. This is a "galley" ebook, supplied by Net Galley! I will be reviewing others of this nature in future and will note which ones those are in the review.

Please note that I am not receiving (nor will I expect to receive or accept) remuneration of any kind for this review. Since this is a new novel, I don't feel comfortable going into anywhere near as much detail over it as I have with the older books I've been reviewing, so this is shorter, but most probably still be more detailed than you'll usually find elsewhere!

Yes, I'm reading a Harlequin book! The shame! The book looked really interesting from the information on Netgalley. I guess I learned my lesson! I should have been suspicious when I saw that the illustration on the cover looks suspiciously like the author! Oh, and good luck (or look, maybe in this case?) trying to find this novel on the Harlequin Teen web site. I don't know if they're embarrassed by this novel, or if they simply have the worst search engine ever, but this book isn't to be found on their web site, and neither is Amanda Sun, so what she's gushing thanks to them for is somewhat of a mystery. And if anyone can explain what "...the incredible detail they've paid to INK." means exactly, I'd appreciate it. Is that a direct translation from the Japanese?!

That's not the only time that the English language runs away with her. Check out these examples:

"He rested a hand on my shoulder and it sent a jolt through my body to feel his fingers closing around me, to feel the warmth of the pads of his fingertips." The warmth of the pads of his fingertips?

At one point after Katie and Tomo are rescued, having been kidnapped by the Yakuza and rescued by a Kami employing ink snakes, Katie is concerned about the propriety of closing the doors to the castle in the park?! Honestly?

Here's a classic: "We lay there clinging to each other, knowing the world would tilt if we let go, that without each other, everything would fall out of balance." (Drama llama much, Katie?!)

What? Yes, I'm snarky! Amanda Sun had done everything right: she'd taken the story out of the USA and set it in Japan and she'd introduced a supernatural mystery. It’s always a fun thing to bring in new culture, and new experiences, but then after all of this, she had to invite along the standard bad-boy-hot-guy, whose hair is seriously in danger of impaling his eyeballs, and have him clashing with the fem protag from the off?

Why start this out in such a great way only to bury it under a liberal slathering of Trope du Ya (which is ironically and poetically reminiscent of the liters of ink in which Yuu Tomohito's himself seems to be drowning!)? Here's a sample: "He looked over at me and grinned, the breeze twisting his spiky hair in and out of his deep brown eyes. I almost melted on the spot." I detest book burning, but honestly if the books were like this, I could actually understand the Nazi passion for immolating them.

I'm really hoping right now that we can get a decent story out of this. The premise was great. I even put up with the absurdly overdone drama of the magical cherry blossom picnic, but to have Katie Greene, the sixteen-year-old fem pro act like an airhead, limp rag, thirteen-year-old was too much. Has she no self-respect? And what’s with the melodramatic agonizing over how her life is so tragic because of this horrible pressure which she apparently suffers from living in a great foreign nation layered in history, learning a new and fascinating culture, along with a new, sweet, and elegant language? It's a bit much, frankly, and Will Smith's son already did it in The Karate Kid. but at least I learned a few things from this novel. There's a glossary in the back which taught me that Che Guevara, in Japan, would be known as Dammit Guevara! That's worth knowing, but I was disturbed by the similarity of Suki, which means "I like you" and Tsuki, which means a hit to the throat. There's too much room for confusion there!

But back to our story in progress. For Katie to obsess over this Tomo guy to the point of quite literally stalking him when everything she knows about him is bad, and not just bad, but abusively bad (even as she contemplates how shallow she is!) endeared me neither to the tale nor to her! Tomo-Boy has cruelly ditched his girlfriend, he's apparently got another girl pregnant, he badly cut-up his best friend several years ago and then fled to avoid punishment, and he's a bully.

Whether all these things turned out to be exactly what they immediately appeared to be or not, is immaterial: the fact is that this is what she knows about him at that point, yet she's still stupid enough to follow him around, trilling like a love-struck guinea pig. If we had a male protag tailing a girl around like that, spying on her, it would rightly be perceived as creepy at best and threatening at worst, so why is it perfectly permissible for a female to act like this? Has she no decency Ms. Sun? Has she at last, no sense of decency?

I had an early wish that the supernatural aspects of Ink would rescue the unnatural aspects! It was the only reason I was pressing on with this, but it got no better. It wasn't all as bad as the lack of continuity between page 98 where her aunt needed the bike (which she had loaned to Katie so she could stalk the bad guy into the worst areas of the town) for Monday, but on Monday on page 99, Katie still has the bike! So was her aunt taken for a ride, or was Katie just recycling?!

Katie uses the bike on more than one occasion to stalk Tomohito, and into some dangerous locales in the town (that's where she sees him bullying another guy on behalf of his friend, so naturally she falls in love with him). What a blind, clueless, loser Katie is! She has no (intelligent) reason whatsoever for liking him (especially not with those grotesque spikes of hair sticking painfully in his eyeballs like cocktail sticks into silverskin onions...). Since she's seen drawings done by him actually move on the page (and off it!), she has to know that there's something distinctly weird going on with him, or there's something distinctly delusional going on with her, which means she should definitely not be making potentially dangerous decisions about whom she should hang with! But he's hot and has spikes of hair in his eyeballs, so what's not to like?!

So finally milady doth stalk too much methinks and ends up being abducted (that is, having her abs re-routed through a system of ducts, along with the rest of her body) to a Yakuza hang-out, where, of course, the Yakuza hang out. Is 'Yakuza' like sheep - both the singular and the plural? I'd ask them but I'm a bit sheepish. I think it's a verb: Ya, Yak, Yaku, Yakuz, Yakuza, Yowzer! Anyway, they fail, of course, to abduct her phone from her, and she calls a friend to help, but wouldn't you know it, she accidentally calls the other guy in her triangle (and you thought it was her five! Wrong! It's always a three in YA), who Juns to her aid revealing that he is also a Kami (with the emphasis on khasi), and he busts her loose before loosening her bust no doubt. I must admit, this little twist did pick things up a bit, but I fear this story is too far gone for a rescue of this nature to save it.

In the end I did make it to the end, but it was nothing but an annoying pain in the neck and I'm now officially and permanently done with this series of paper novels. Life is too short to waste it on this limp of an effort. If you feel you must pursue this novel yourself, you do it at your own risk!

One thing you might do to entertain yourself (if you get bored with the number of times she talks about Tomo's hair banging into his eyes), is to consider how many times Sun uses keitai (which is nothing but the Japanese word for cell phone!) in place of simply using 'cell phone'. She behaves as though keitai is something fundamentally different or magically special, but there's no intelligent or logical reason to use it. If there's no English equivalent for the word then by all means use it, but to employ it for pretentious reasons only, is a big turn off to me.

You can survive the excruciation of reading this if you imagine keitai to be a euphemism for something sexual. This made the novel far more entertaining, and was the only reason I got through the last one hundred pages! Here are some examples:

  • When my keitai chimed, I grabbed for it gratefully.
  • In my bathroom, I took out my keitai…
  • I’d forgotten to put my keitai in manner mode…
  • I closed my keitai and shoved it back in my bag.
  • He pulled out his keitai…
  • His palm opened slowly and the keitai dropped to the floor...
  • Then his keitai rang again, spewing rainbow colors across the floor.
  • Okay, I said, pulling out my keitai…
  • My keitai beeped with his info.
  • A buzzing noise sounded in my purse. My keitai.
  • I sat down with a bowl of shrimp chips and flipped open my keitai.
  • You could try his keitai.
  • The sound of my keitai beeping woke me the next morning. I rubbed my eyes until they turned red.
  • …although he hadn't tried my keitai yet…
  • I screamed at my brain to think. My keitai.
  • The ink and blood dripped off my wrist and onto my keitai.
  • Tomo, I said, flipping my keitai open and closed again…
  • I grabbed the keitai putting it beside his face, then breathed out in relief.
  • I lifted the keitai out of my pocked and saw him hunched over in the dim light.
  • Are you okay, he said, and my keitai blinked out.
  • My keitai went off in the middle of the night.
  • How phallic is this: Then he pulled out his keitai, the little kendo warrior swinging back and forth on his phone strap!