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  • “Science, Fiction” is the latest show of video artist Diana Thater on view at David Zwirner’s 533 West 19th street space. Thater who is one of the most influential artists working in film, video and installation today, has transformed the Zwirner gallery into a multimedia experience. Drawing on Thater’s larger body of work which explores the interplay between mediated experiences and the natural world, “Science, Fiction” offers a fresh take on this subject matter.

    Thater who is no stranger to the art world, earned her BFA in Art History from New York University. She would go onto pursue an M.F.A at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. This is her eighth solo exhibition at Zwirner and her work as also been shown internationally. In the fall of 2015, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will be hosting a mid career survey of Thater’s work.

    The show consists of two video pieces and an installation which take over the second half of the Zwirner gallery space. As you enter the space, The Starry Messenger and Sidereus Nuncius are shown on two large flat screen video pieces facing one another against opposite walls and give way to Thater’s installation in the larger gallery space. The video work as well as the installation explore tension between the natural and constructed world.

    Thater’s installation conjures up elements of sculptor Dan Flavin’s work through her use of light boxes in various colors ranging from blue to green in the installation. The installation uses various lights in different colors throughout the four corners of the gallery. This is reflected in the subject matter of this installation which explores the navigation system of the Dung beetle. Within the center of the white space stands a smaller structure that features four walls standing roughly 6’x4′ high. Projected from the center of the box like structure is a video of dung beetles. The video focuses on the dung beetle and it’s “intricate navigation system which it deploys in disposing balls of animal excrement, it’s main source of nutrition.”

    As the press release notes, within recent studies done by scientist the dung beetle is the only known insect which uses the Milky Way to orientate itself at night. In one experiment “the beetles were placed on an outdoor table, they were only able to navigate in their usual straight line with an open view of the nocturnal sky—when their overhead vision was blocked, their movements became erratic and slowed drastically.” The next phase of the experiment was to complete the same action with the beetles but this time in a planetarium. Here the beetle’s access to the Milky Way was turned on and off which resulted in the insects’ path being straighter and faster when they were able to navigate using the planetary system. The footage of the beetle’s navigation becomes abstracted over time. As they move through the soil and animal excrement, the video begins to take on different forms. The different paths that the beetles create become memorizing and at times the insects seem to disappear and reappear at random times.

    Within The Starry Messenger and Sidereus Nuncius, Thater shot footage of the Milky Way at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles where she “positioned her camera beneath the Zeiss star projector.” Amidst the cobalt blue of the sky, Thater was able to capture the voyage of a space ship traveling through the Milky Way. Over time the video footage becomes increasingly more abstract given the speed that the space ship is traveling at, light pollution and other factors that make it harder to view. The link between “Science, Fiction” lies in Thater’s broader investigation of the Milky Way and the different forms in takes inside and outside of natural settings. The exhibition is thought provoking, interesting and calls attention to natural occurring phenomenons that are sometimes overlooked.

    “Science, Fiction” is on view through February 21, 2015 at David Zwirner’s 519 West 19th Gallery. The Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 6 pm. To learn more about the artist’s work check out her website.

    –Anni Irish

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    Hailing from the westside of Los Angeles, painter Buddy Miano, 30, would like to say she is totally fashionable and cutting edge, “but I dont have the ego or money for that.” Ms. Miano tries to wear what she feels comfortable in and what is appropriate for the activities she will be doing that day. “Being from L.A., weather hasn’t really been much of a factor, she says. “I usually get away with black leggings or dark denim with a mix of patterns.”

    For Buddy, the more it doesn’t go together the more likely she is going to wear it. And just like her vibrant paintings, filled with clashing, maddening colors, Buddy’s wardrobe also consists of crazy hues and patterns. “My family often says I look like I got dressed in the dark, she says.


    I caught up with Buddy to watch the sunset at Dockweiler Beach in west L.A. Our chat centered on her new life in the San Francisco-bay area, and her sudden need for socks on account of the Bay’s cooler climes. “That’s new for me!” Discover more about Buddy’s favorite personal fashion possessions after the jump. Then check out where you can see her works here:

    Jacqueline Colette Prosper, @yummicoco

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  • Yes, we’re almost two weeks into 2015, so please forgive the lateness of this list—we’re just now recovering from a great New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day spent with the Bunker and 718 Sessions crews. But it’s never too late to support the home team, right? In the underground-clubbing realm, the fact that there’s been so much great music created by Gotham artists and/or released on local labels over the past twelve months is another sign of the scene’s strength—and really, we would could have made this a Forty Fave NYC Tracks list without breaking a sweat. But, for now, let’s go with the five below—click on the images to hear the tracks. Enjoy!

    There’s a windswept feel to “Gauntlet, ”the long-awaited first fruits of a studio partnership between Metro Area’s Darshan Jesrani and the Disques Sinthomme label’s Dennis Kane. It might be the majestic guitar chords, or the wailing vocals (from Apollo Heights’ Daniel Chavis), or the cut’s spacious arrangement and willingness to take its time to get wherever it’s going. Whatever it is, the song is something of an overlooked modern classic. And holy crap, does that pumping bassline hit the spot! There’s a fine remix from London groove machine Ray Mang that tightens up the song’s feel a bit—he basically houses it up, toughening up the rhythm and accentuating the acid bleep, giving it an added sense of urgency. But for our money, the sprawling original does the trick just fine.


    New York Endless
    “Benefits Arrive (Life Goes On)”
    Golf Channel Recordings

    NewYorkEndless_Strategies_Final_cover_web We first reviewed the debut EP from New York Endless, otherwise known as the veteran DJ and Acute Records ruler Dan Selzer, back in September. Months later, we’re still in love with all three of the release’s beautiful tunes, all imbued with gently percolating synths, rich melodies and moody vibe. But the cut that’s stuck with us the most is the 16-minute ““Benefits Arrive (Life Goes On),” a song that conveys a cascading array of emotions—heartache, delight and all the rest—via a gentle house groove and gorgeous, ever-shifting arrangement. Click  on the EP cover’s image to check out the sumptuous song.


    Frank & Tony featuring DJ Sprinkles
    Scissor & Thread
    A song off of Francis Harris and Anthony Collins’s You EP—itself a part of the duo’s larger You Go Girl project, which is well worth owning—“Companion” is as beautiful and heartfelt any deep house we heard in 2014. Teaming up with the veteran producer and gender-politics theoretician (for reals) Terre “DJ Sprinkles” Thaemlitz, “Companion” works its magic through plaintive sampled-vocal coos floating within a warm sea of muted aurals, held together by a barely-there percussive throb. A stunner.

    The Bunker New York
    NYC techno institution the Bunker’s new label capped off a fabulous first year with the release of The Periodic Table, an album from electronic-music lifers Move D and Jonah Sharp, together known as Reagenz. In truth, we could have included the whole of the LP on this list. Not only is it breathtaking from start to finish—an analog reverie of dubbed-out techno emerging from pulsating washes of ambience—but the album is essentially one long track, recorded live and divided into six cuts for the sake of concision. If we’ve gotta choose one of those tracks, though, we’ll go with the final segment, “Db”—it’s one of the most enchanting ten minutes of blips and bleeps that we’ve come across in ages.

  • Beloved Sisters-1

    Courtesy of Music Box Films

    For some of us, historical dramas – when done well – are endlessly fascinating, both educational and escapist. Part of the allure is the seductive aspect of losing oneself in another time (and often, place), complete with noble sentiments, picturesque settings and lush period costumes that were undoubtedly uncomfortable as hell but look fabulous on screen. Bringing history and historical figures to life is no easy feat – how to create a compelling and (yes) entertaining film without completely distorting the facts? Throw in a passionate romance and it can all easily become overblown.

    Prolific German film and television director Dominik Graf has done a very good job with Beloved Sisters (Die geliebten Schwestern), which uses both fact and liberal conjecture to tell the story of celebrated German poet/playwright/philosopher Friedrich Schiller (Florian Stetter) and his relationship with the film’s titular siblings, Caroline von Beulwitz (Hannah Herszsprung) and Charlotte von Lengefeld (Henriette Confurius). Along with the evolution of the trio’s complicated ménage a trois, the film depicts an era when poets like Schiller (and his pal Goethe) were the equivalent of critically-acclaimed, convention-flouting rock stars; at a time when flouting convention was truly scandalous. From the moment the penniless Schiller meets shy, intelligent Charlotte and, a bit later, outgoing, equally astute Caroline, he is smitten – as are they – both physically and intellectually. The aristocratic sisters are also financially strapped, with Caroline stuck in an unhappy marriage of convenience (her wealthy husband supports both her sister and their mother). She eventually convinces Schiller to marry Charlotte, so that the three could “live the dream” of being together. Needless to say, things don’t work out all that smoothly.

    Courtesy of Music Box Films

    Courtesy of Music Box Films

    The 170-minute film, which covers the period between the late 1780s through the early 1800s, is briskly and beautifully shot, with both interiors and scenes of the gorgeous Thuringian countryside suffused with natural light. The dialogue, witty and playful, seems modern without sounding anachronistic; and the acting is naturalistic and solid all around, especially Herszsprung as the frustrated, fiery Caroline. Even the near-hysterical outbursts of the girls’ ambitious mama Louise (Claudia Messner) come off as believable, perhaps because, like all Graf’s characters, she is multidimensional. The invigorating era of post-Enlightenment Weimar, along with reports of the simultaneous French Revolution, provide a fascinating backdrop, especially for those (like myself), who may not be so familiar with 18th-century German culture and history. One of the film’s several striking set pieces shows Schiller’s first lecture at the University of Jena, where he is greeted with a standing O. Also welcome are scenes of Caroline’s struggles as an author in her own right, at a time when respectable women published anonymously. With its grand, sometimes overwrought emotions, Beloved Sisters may get a bit sudsy at times, but it’s good, substantial soap; never cheap or lightweight.


    Courtesy of IFC Films

    On the other end of the cinematic spectrum is The Search for General Tso, Ian Cheney’s short (71-minute) documentary about the ubiquitous Chinese chicken dish of the film’s title. Humorous and whimsical in tone, the film travels to China to uncover the origins of the actual (19th century, Hunan) general and his relationship to the deep-fried, spicy-sweet entrée. A true link between them is not found, but what we get is way more interesting: a brief history of the plight of Chinese immigrants in America and the adaptation of Chinese cuisine to American regional tastes, from early (pre-McDonald’s) fried chicken nuggets in the Midwest to Szechuan alligator (!) in New Orleans. Cheney includes interviews with elderly chefs and restaurateurs, several of whom experienced discrimination in the early days of their business, only to later become beloved community fixtures as Chinese restaurants became a source of comfort food for Americans.

    Eventually, we do learn the origins of General Tso’s Chicken, but it’s almost secondary to the bigger story of an immigrant group’s adaptation and how ethnic food shapes our culture and perceptions. That subject requires a much more in-depth investigation, but meanwhile The Search for General Tso serves as an enjoyable, at times poignant, appetizer.

    Beloved Sisters is opening tomorrow at Landmark Sunshine Cinema, 143 E. Houston Street, NYC.

    The Search for General Tso is playing at IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue, and is available on demand.

    Marina Zogbi

  • Singer-songwriter Nick Santino has blossomed into quite the solo artist since leaving A Rocket to the Moon in 2013. Where his former band had only hints of the midwest and barely a twinge of country to it, his newest EP is decidedly country. It bears more resemblance to Santino’s short lived sort-of-solo act Nick Santino & The Northern Wind. Under that moniker, Santino released Going Home EP and The Ones You Meet Along the Way: A Collection of Stories from the Road EP in 2013. The records are more electric than his newest EP, but they provide a good transition between his career as a frontman to his career as a solo musician.

    Compared to his past alt rock efforts, Savannah is completely stripped back, populated by little more than Santino’s slow strum. The EP is built almost entirely by acoustic guitar and gentle piano, a backdrop which fits Santino’s voice perfectly. Savannah sounds like Santino has cemented himself in whatever sub-genre of country he’s cornering. It isn’t anything like what Brad Paisley or Luke Bryan play, but rather something resembling an acoustic session. The slide guitar and various other instruments of Santino’s 2014 release Big Skies are nowhere to be found. Instead these six quick tracks, which follow up Live in Sao Paulo, a split EP he recorded with The Maine, make a science out simplicity.

    The opening track “Rio” is a bright point. The storyline is sweet. Santino paints a picture of eating breakfast in bed and running away to Mexico that puts a smile on any listeners face. It’s a genuine and gentle song that outlines the escapist nature of young love. If Say Anything’s “I Want To Know Your Plans” had a xylophone and a southwestern twinge the two songs could be siblings.

    The softness continues for “Madeline,” but by that point the love has died. Sorry for the spoiler. Santino swoons and sadly sings about Madeline in this something of a cookie cutter love song. His rhymes at times are clever, but there isn’t anything strikingly original about the track. Compared to the rest of the EP, there’s a swell of many stringed things and perhaps the odd woodwind that gives the song a much larger presence, but that’s the only thing worth noting. The next song “I Just Wanted You to Know” simplifies the formula again. It continues on the somewhat uninspired break-up song trend. The lyric “I said I was doing fine, but we both know that’s a lie” is a moment in the song when the sentiment is concisely conveyed, but the listener (or at least this listener) wants to be shown not told.

    There’s a shift for the second half of the EP. Beginning with “How to Live With a Ghost” Santino really starts to shine. The last few songs shows Santino’s skills as a storyteller in a way the somewhat first few failed to do. “How to Live With a Ghost” impresses more in one song than he has in three. Half a love story, half a ghost story, the track is both touching and heartbreaking. The simple strikes of the piano pair perfectly with the rhyme-heavy lyrics. Where he missed with “Madeline” Santino hits the mark here. It’s pretty clear that the song is about the ghosts of girlfriends past, but Santino managed to take fairly cliched imagery and make it new. Lines like “There’s a ghost in this house / she’s the creak in the floor / she’s the breath on my neck / that I’ve come to ignore” feel more potent than those in “I Just Wanted You to Know.” Later on the repetition of “No, you can’t go away now” has almost this haunted, howling quality as if Santino, not his lost love, is the specter.

    Record out December 19th

    Record out December 19th

    There something similarly cliche, but renewed about “That Old Corolla.” At first the song feels a little blasé, with its sorrowful lines about growing up, driving around, stealing liquor and feeling “forever young.” However, Santino crafts his thoughts on the loss of youth into stronger sentiments. It isn’t as successful as “How to Live with a Ghost,” but Santino manages to really tap into the foolishness and carefree attitude of youth. He channels it for lines like “we held the summer sun just like a water gun / taking aim at shooting stars” in a way that made yet another song about growing up feel inventive.

    Santino ends strong with “Savannah.” The song bares some resemblance to tracks like “Dakota,” “Annabelle” and “Like We Used To” from the A Rocket To The Moon songbook. Over the course of his career, Santino has penned quite a few break-up songs and each feels like the latest version of the last one. “Savannah” is the newest in the line and perhaps the best. Santino carves out the feelings of moving on and getting back to yourself in the simple, but accurate lines, “went for a ride / never felt so alive / for a moment I forgot about time” and “I was waiting to feel your embrace / oh savannah / why did you push me away?” This kind of writing is what has earned Santino his following as he’s strayed further away from his pop rock roots. If he wanders further down the dusty road of country and keeps writing songs like “Savannah” and “How to Live With a Ghost” he’ll have no problem getting people to continue to listen.

    -Zoe Marquedant