17 December 2006

Considerations over a birthday party

It's my birthday today. I'm 32. I had a very nice party yesterday at my home, it was supposed to be under the sign of the "Zen", meaning informal as we face the nightmare before xmas of stress, pressure, winter blues and other new year's considerations of the year that passed and the hopes for the year to come. The party started with nice delicacies I got from the Lafayette Gourmet with few people discussing over foie gras and bottles of Coteaux du Layon and as more people joined after their own dinners, the mood shifted to dance craving. We ended up dancing and provocating our neighboors with an unplanned disco playlist, 8 of us left until shortly before 4am, with Anne teaching us the Madison on Just an Illusion by Imagination. I guess I needed something like that and my friends too.
Maybe it's the party aftermath of drinking and sleep depravation, or just the b-day effect, but I feel now a bit melancholic. Many of my friends are facing difficult times, due mostly to serious sickness in their families, some could not attend the party yesterday because of that, others came anyway to be distracted and it brings me down to see them suffering so much. I also just finished to read "Everyman" by Philip Roth whose story about death, illness and aging is quite disturbing all the more because it's told with great beauty and subtlety.
I feel priviledged to be able to write about these feelings in this tribune and I look forward to be more challenged as life goes on to maintain the right balance between superficiality and depth.


20 November 2006

The streets of Paris are full of Air

Within about 2 weeks, I met by chance the 2 members of the French band Air. First, it was Jean-Benoit Dunckel (aka the tall, red haired one) at the Dan Flavin's exhibition of the Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris, then Nicolas Gaudin (aka the cute one) as he was getting inside his building.
I like that kind of unusual coincidences. So much that I felt like sharing it. It's like a dream you wake-up from early in the morning and you wonder whether it has a meaning that is escaping you. Maybe it makes sense that I cross path with Air because I finally like one of their songs, Cherry Blossom Girl and it means I should be more open minded and make peace with my past and my radical opinions.
And after all between air and superficiality, all you need is lightness.

-- Joelle.

03 November 2006


Osaka is very different from Tokyo. Same busy-ness but you feel immediately another sense of energy. Almost an hysterical one. While Tokyo is more self-controlled, Osaka people are loud, outgoing and very communicative. Once you pass the surprise of the contrast with Tokyo, you're actually completely trapped into that wild flow. It's radically attractive.
I stayed in the Hotel Chuo, advised in my friend Madjid's site on travel tips to Japan (in french). The hotel is located in what is known as a rather sketchy area. But with the sense of safety at work in Japan, it really doesn't matter. At 2500 Yen a night (20 euros) for a comfy room with TV and of course free Internet access, 2 metro stops away from the trendy shopping district, the wildlife world of Osaka is yours to be drown into.
Hopefully for my savings account, I had to move to Kyoto soon after to start working intensively on shooting gardens.
Just half-an-hour away from Osaka by local train, Kyoto welcomes you with an energy again strikingly different.
It's not quite the quiet town with only traditional houses you imagine but it's seductive all the same. It's much more laid-back, rythmically spread into calm upper residential districts, temples touristic zones and arty-bars-shopping areas. Kyoto is a city much like Paris in some way, more conservative and traditional culture-oriented. And I understand now why so many french people have decided to settle here. It's home to the famous artist-in-residence Villa Kujoyama that I'd like to apply for - again.
I got the chance to visit it through Fabrice Planquette, a sound composer, friend of Etienne, who's in residence there at the moment. The building of the villa is a wonderful concrete modern architecture, unusual for the area. The artist studio is so well designed and thought for - mixing concrete material and the surrounding nature. The grant is worth getting if only just for working in the building itself.
Then, the people of Kyoto make the other reason why I think it's important not only to travel there but to spend some time of your life in this place where you learn every second about humanity.

-- Joëlle.

30 October 2006


Imagine Tokyo or Osaka downtowns' streets at any time of day and night: busy people commuting, shopping, walking at high speed up and down arcades full of neon signs, and noise screaming from the Pachinko parlours and advertising posts. You're going with the flow, kidnapped by this high energy tempo and everything looks so alive. Now, imagine you have to wait for something, someone, maybe with a couple of hours to kill, your home is too far and you feel sleepy... You want to relax but a cafe is not the right place: you won't feel quiet enough. What you need is to be alone, to get some intimacy.
Well, pragmatic as it is, the Japanese society has the answer: a place where you can sleep, read mangas, eat, smoke, watch TV, DVDs, use the Internet, play videogames.. sometimes even take a shower.. and... it's not a hotel. It's a space that has not a particular name, a place exclusively japanese. I haven't seen that anywhere else in the world, yet have desired it so much. I would call it the most ultimate transitional urban space. It generally signals itself as a Manga and Internet Cafe. Open around the clock, it offers the customer for around 500 Yen/hour (3,5 euros) a private booth with a computer inside. The chair is always comfortable and depending on the sophistication of the place, you can also get a sofa, a massage chair or a sleeping chair (it's a bit more expensive then). There's usually background music, classical or new-age to help you relax. You have a pair of headphones if you want to listen to your own stuff. Consequently, you can't make noise and therefore you're asked to turn off phone calls!
Japanese cities have many transitional urban spaces: a wide diversity from the Pachinko parlours where you can play all day and night long the same game (dropping tiny balls into a tiny hole)to Love hotels where you can rent a room by the hour.
But the Manga reading place fits my needs perfectly. I'm currently writing this blog from the most sophisticated one I've come across, in the heart of busy downtown Kyoto. It's the "FUJIYAMA CAFE Relaxing", worth a visit if you come here...


25 October 2006

Tokyo notes

After a couple of days and just as my jet-lag fades off, the sun makes thankfully the brightest of appearance to accompany my steps into my first visit to a Japanese garden during this trip, Rikugien. It is actually my first experience of a Japanese garden with the awareness of meaning, context and history as I researched them over last year.
It was lovely and something of an explorative adventure. This Edo-period garden has its contemplative moments but it's not a Zen garden at all, it's rather playful with its hidden or dark corners, climbing spots and bridges to cross. What was also fun was to actually observe the people observing the garden. A note I should keep in mind for my 'Abstract' project.
Apart from that, coming back to Tokyo is much easier than I thought at first. It's the same practical city, where the fact that you don't understand a word has absolutely no importance (except maybe if you want to avoid specific food in restaurant). Like a fish in the water as we say in french, I feel like Tokyo is going to be one of those cities where I'll always end up coming back, like London and New-York.


10 October 2006

My World Is Empty Without You

On Sunday afternoon, I woke-up from my Nuit Blanche with a plaintive male voice in my head singing the words 'My world is empty without you'. This line comes back to my mind every now and then and I wanted to check in my music collection who it was from. But I just couldn't find it. It was driving me mad that I had no idea who was singing it, all the while the song kept playing in my head. My only clue was a 60's type of arrangement.
Obsessively, I searched the web but no names that came up were matching my idea. 'The Supremes' were mostly associated with the title song but I couldn't imagine them singing it. Yet, as I finally heard a sample, I realised it was the same song. Further along, I discovered a version from José Feliciano whom I never heard of before and I was relieved to see that it was the very object of my quest. But how and when and where I came across it in the first place, I've no idea. I'm surprised it stuck in my mind so strongly as well without listening to it regularly, if not at all. I'm even more surprised I never heard until now The Supremes' original version which is a total masterpiece and probably their best song. Both versions are completely different but equally seductive.
It's another signature from the magic Motown trio of authors Holland-Dozier-Holland.
In the same line of the Sixties sensual atmosphere but on the other side of the Atlantic, I discovered an Italian song, thanks to Salvatore, whose main phrase "Tu me faí girar come fossi une bambola" doesn't leave your mind quiet.
YouTube comes again to the rescue, offering us two TV treasures of the Sixties, a time when funky hairdos and kinky boots were made for singing. You can guess that they've been playing in loop on my computer for the last 3 days.

28 September 2006

Stronger than Biometrics

Regularly, I get invited to join a new online network and it seems like the trend's not going to stop anytime soon. It's like the last network to join would be the most indispensable tool to keep in touch with colleagues, friends, past friends, future friends, future employers, future employees, current communities of interests..
Last I joined was LinkedIn, invited by Guillaume that I get to be in touch with more online than in town, although we live in the same town. But I don't really mind that. It's just another way to enjoy a friendship. Like with those friends who read my blog and post comments directly to my mailbox or on instant messenging rather than in here.
So my entire life is now diversely online and whoever can get to know what I did when, with whom and where. The CIA doesn't need my passport biometrics or my octo-lovo vegetarian lunch menu on my last trip with Air France to know exactly what they need to know. They just have to cross the info posted on this blog, or on Orkut, Friendster, Delicious, Flickr, MySpace, LinkedIn, Viaduc, Rhizome, my photographic work and get in touch with me or my friends on iChat (I seemed to remember I have also an account on ICQ and MSN but I have no clue whatsoever about what my logins are). For most of the network sites, I end up copy-pasting my favorite authors and cinema directors and interests in architecture and design. I think I also put some of my education info in some reunion high school site and another one that opened recently to put in touch travelers from different cities. But those ones I kinda gave-up. To round-up my listing of online identities, I should mention that I also have my usual email address but it wouldn't be complete with 2 other email accounts on Gmail of course. Ah, and also, I have more or less running email accounts from my previous jobs, and a Yahoo ID in case it's not just enough. Lastly, I reopened an Hotmail account to play with anonymity again. Let me tell you it's a hell to play with all the logins and passwords. And since I've a bad memory I've to try many combinations to sign in in various forums, ACM, Apple or Adobe accounts.
Thankfully, I'm pretty sure of who I am and after all, one can say that telling what your last killer design job with the Louvre was or that Fitzgerald is one kinky of an author and The Beatles is the best band in the world and Italian pasta is a hell of a food (especially when the sauce is cooked with caramelized red onions) is not so revolutionary and pretty superficial.
God, what one would do to promote their super online experimental net-art open plaform...


24 September 2006

Oops, I did it again

Ok, I had a profile on Flickr for a while but never had actually any pictures in it..
So now, I uploaded all my phone pictures which seemed to me like a good start because they're not coming from my usual camera. And I've been wanting for a while to get them out of my phone cos I've no room anymore so it seems that Flickr is really convenient to share those very inspiring snapshots...
Maybe I'll get inspired furthermore to dig into my old collection of pictures and make some interesting sets.
This whole thing is getting so visual... RAW makes even more sense to me nowadays because the key word for me henceforth is : "selective". A best-of of my life as a photographer is on the way.
But in the meantime, I give you the 26 photos that I took with my phone and kept since I got it from Raphael around about last year.

-- Joëlle

18 September 2006


It took me about a week to recover from my trip in Israel then 2 more weeks to find the time to put my photographs together. Not just my recent vacations' pictures but this past year's ones as well...
I selected some of them and displayed them in 2 different albums - the whole set is called "Summer to Summer", that is summer 2005 to summer 2006. I thought I hadn't traveled much in that timeframe but those picts show something different. Many travels, although not quite with the same mood as the one from the year before. In the second half of 2005 I was still digesting my drastic change of life, from the closure to the lab to my decision to remain in Paris for a while. The first half of 2006 opened with a new take on my surrounding world, a growing unstable excitement at my new life.
And now that I'm on the edge of jumping into new adventures again, I thought it was time for a quick look back.
I leave you those pictures without much comments, hoping they can speak for themselves:
Summer to Summer - Part 1
Summer to Summer - Part 2

-- Joëlle

17 August 2006

I'm only sleeping

Somehow in my lethargic permanent state, I find the time to think about the places I'd like to visit while I'm here. Turns out there are still so many locations I haven't seen yet in my 20 visits or more in Israel. Well, true enough, I didn't do much as a kid on holidays here. Sticking around, reading, looking at the ceiling. Nothing much different than now. Except this time I don't resent it so much.
Anyway, since I now like Tel-Aviv for being such a cool city with its art, its architecture, its bars, its food, etc, I feel there's almost too much to experience, and not enough time (I mean I still have to hit the beach every morning and then nap in the afternoon while it's too hot outside).
Well, I guess next time, I'll plan hardcore tourist holidays. Those are more like being stoned, hippie 60's style, psychedelic, the bed is the place to be kind of holidays - except I don't even need to smoke, cos I'm so tired.


14 August 2006

Tel-Aviv on Monday

After 3 days in town, it seems like I already settled in pleasing habits: beach in the morning after waking-up and a slight breakfast, then lunch, then rest and then hitting town for a stroll that might include shopping...
Yesterday though after the beach my brother drove me south along with my nephews Ishay and Anaer to visit another nephew, Emmanuel who's doing his military service and who's currently based in the Negev desert. It was so nice to see him, after 2 years.. And obviously he looked really happy to see us paying him a visit and bringing with us plenty of junk food and candies as a treat ;-)
We also got to steal him in the car for a quick lunch in the nearby town.
And that was just nice to look at him, his glorious smile.

-- Joëlle.

13 July 2006


I finally took the time to compress a sample of my collage I Want You (But I Can't) so I could put it online.
I had the choice of a long sample with a bad quality or a short sample with an OK quality. And I chose the latter.
It's approx. the first 2 minutes of the movie which lasts 27mns in total - so only 2 movies (hence 2 masculine icons + 1 who's singing) are featured here.
Not sure it makes sense to have it this way - I think it's really made to be seen in its full duration and preferably with a good sound quality + full screen but hopefully, it's interesting enough it would make you want to see a bit more of it.
The texts in the collage are usually short sentences punctuating the cuts - I chose some times to express myself in English, and other times in French. So I left the French texts in the sample. Hopefully they are brief enough that they can be understood anyway.

-- Joëlle

08 July 2006

Just a picture

While browsing on the web, I came across this picture and I just love it. The person at the front is Tony Alva, huge figure of the skateboarding history. I rented recently the movie "Lords of Dogtown" which tells his story and that of his friends in the late 70s. It's quite entertaining and well directed. Among the lead characters, I recognized 2 young actors I've seen more or less recently in marking movies. Tony Alva is actually played by Victor Rasuk, who was brilliant in the refreshingly anti-Larry Clark feature, "Raising Victor Vargas" and Stacy Peralta is played by John Robinson, the blondest hair since Jean Harlow, from "Elephant".
This picture is fascinating because it shows a certain essence of the punk surf californian attitude.

-- Joëlle.

05 July 2006

Why Wait?

Ever wondered why wait? Was ever this question an issue addressed in your work one way or the other? Would you want to bring to the community your inner thoughts on the matter that you kept to yourself until now?

Well maybe this workshop on ‘Waiting’ is for you then: It’s happening the 27th and the 28th of July, in London at the Bartlett School of Architecture. The organizers are looking for people who would be interested in taking part.
Information can be found at: inbetweeness.org

Here is a little abstract:


Waiting is part of everyday life in urban environments. We wait at the bus stop, we wait to see the doctor, we wait in a queue at the ATM, we wait for the concert to begin... Technology often tries to eliminate the act of waiting but do we lose something by this? Why are speed and efficiency valued more than waiting?

This workshop will explore the experience of waiting and consider how waiting is shaped by cultural practices, values, and attitudes. Designers, architects, artists, computer and social scientists are invited to undertake an active investigation into how technology can enrich or subvert the experience of waiting.

The subject is very "modern" and quite inspiring (I always thought of waiting as somewhat of a potentially dangerous situation for the mind). Plus, Arianna Bassoli, Johanna Brewer and Karen Martin are the organizers and for knowing them well and having worked with them, I can assure you London on the 27th and 28th of July is the place to be!

-- Joëlle.

Do you know "how-to"?

On the Google homepage you make your own, all kind of news, along with the last items from your Gmail inbox, can welcome your visit to the search engine service. Mine for instance features selected headlines from the BBC, the New York Times, Wired and Slashdot. The most recent feature I discovered though is as playful as informative (in french, "un bon passe-temps"): it's the wikihow.
So regularly, I check the couple how-tos of the day: "how to retire in your 30s", "how to survive in the woods for 3 days", "how to clean a laptop screen with household products", or even "how to do nothing" and many other useful tips like this.
The how-to of today found a resonance in me because it's the ultimate phobia (up there with being cast away in a deserted island or taken hostage by not so kind people): the prison. In their tips about "how to deal with being in prison", I particularly appreciate this note: "Avoid drug use in prison. Drugs use while providing a temporary escape will lead to other problems."
So wise, so true.

-- Joëlle.

02 July 2006

A taste of 1998

Ah Paris, when it gets crazy, people screaming, traffic jammed with cars honking, their passengers half outside, sitting on the open windows, carrying french flags, shaking pedestrians hands as they pass along... It's 1am, and it's going to last long into the night. Also because it's Saturday.
Paris, when people bond spontaneously over a soccer victory, well not any kind of victory. The victory of the challenger over the favorite, the one no one hoped for anymore, in a country going nowhere. Foreigners should understand that the stake is not just a sport one. After the "No" to the European referundum, the loss of the Olympics game, and a series of governmental pathetic public displays of disaffection and confusion, everybody was like, we're the losers of the world.
So like in 1998, if France wins the world cup, the "black-blanc-beur" national pride will be praised again, and we might even get optimism again in the air.
Last time, it lasted until 2002, until we woke-up one day with the National Front party in the 2nd round of the elections and we had to cope with another 5 years of Chirac. This time, the elections are coming up quickly - campaigns have already started - in this competition, I will too support the social-democrate challenger against the policeman favorite.

-- Joëlle.

29 June 2006

This is a Mac's world

In March 2003, while working at the Media Lab, I got a laptop from the brand new generation of PowerBook G4 Titanium - it was a cute 12'', 867Mhz.
I think I had to replace the battery fairly quickly, maybe one month after I started using it.
Later, another problem started, the screen would stop working, randomly. I would use the computer and then oops, total black screen as it was shut down, except the computer was on..
I never got to send it to repair for that problem until months later (the admin staff never saw it happen) when the DVD drive wouldn't eject a Friends DVD I rented (and of course there was no emergency eject function on the 12''). So, the computer is sent away and returned to me with a new drive. But they didn't fix the screen problem.
Few months later, the plug got dysfunctional and had to be replaced. The screen problem got worse to the point that the screen would not "light up" when started. I had to try few times. I sent it again to repair. And still, they couldn't fix it. Still didn't see the problem happen. I was like somebody must not take me seriously around here.
The lab closed down on January 2005 and I bought the computer back from them for 550 euros. Why?? some would ask - well, with all the problems, I still needed a laptop - and I didn't want to buy a new one right away. So in the meantime, I kept this one. But of course not without purchasing yet again a new battery.
A year and a half later, I probably have to try starting my computer 5 to 6 times on average (up to 10/11 once or twice) before I can get the screen. A friend recommend a good repair service near Paris, quick, with honest prices and friendly.
Went there this morning. In about half an hour, the guy figured out that it was the memory stick (the 256mb original one) that was causing the problem. It was faulted.
So it made me think that out of the original PowerBook I got, within 3 years I had to replace: the battery (twice), the DVD drive, the plug and now the memory stick. Basically, I got the crapiest computer that came out of their factory ever.
Cos believe me, I do take care of my stuff - it's not like I took the computer with me on a merry-go-round and crashed it under a wooden horse.
So now I'm thinking next year I'll need a new laptop for sure. But I'm wondering how Apple with its super crap iMovie/iLife whatever software, its iTunes proprietary music formats, its "mug me I have an iPod" campaigns, its "my designs will always be better than your user-experiences" statements is going to convince me to get on board with the MacBook pro. I mean, haven't they realised that at this stage it's because Windows is worse and not because they're better that they can get on like that?

-- Joëlle.

28 June 2006

The force of the typography

Many forces are with us these days, so let's enjoy it while it lasts. If you're in Amsterdam this week, don't miss the exhibition at De Ateliers of the students' works from the Arnhem Werkplaats Typographie. Because among the students you have my super talented friend Enrico Bravi. It's on Friday, the 30th (12am - 7pm).

-- Joëlle.

25 June 2006

La force de l'illustration

In the massive exhibition "La Force de l'Art", that just ended at Le Grand Palais in Paris, you could embrace in 15 differently curated displays the contemporary creation in France. Destined to become a regular event (like the Whitney biennale in NY), it's meant to introduce or re-introduce the French public with "its" art. Apparently, it's mostly about paintings, sculptures and installations. There was a pinch of photography and video. Nothing new media or interactive. Some of the installations were refreshing and playful. And in general, with the sculptures, they were much more compelling than the paintings. My favorite curations were Dominique Marchès' "Neuf à 12", Nathalie Ergino's "Glissades" and Xavier Veilhan's "Le Baron de Triqueti". Yet, my real discovery happened in a somewhat curiously but thankfully misplaced section on graphic design curated by Catherine de Smet. Apart from the video stuff I'm more familiar with (with Gondry and Fleix creations for instance) and the M/M liquid floral design you see everywhere, a whole wall was hanged with CDs, books and Magazine covers whose publishing houses I never heard of.
One of them, "De Vive Voix", publishes audio CD's about history, science and litterature. So you can learn about galaxies, the goulag or hear actors read Maupassant texts about chance or hunting. Each CD cover is designed by the illustrator Paul Cox who also illustrates books for children and paints. Each design is clever, witty and right to the point. I bought a CD on cosmology at the bookstore, mainly for the design and hopefully about the content as well that I look forward to hear.
Here are some of my favorite covers:

-- Joëlle

18 June 2006

When I'm 64

What happens when you wrote a masterpiece at 25 about when you're 64 and you actually get there?
When you think about it, it feels like when you listen to a Beatles song: always the same vertigo that takes you between an intense sensation of a tragedy happening and a bellyache of growing excitment and pleasure.
Well, dunno if the cottage in the Isle of Wight is rented, but I bet Macca is getting at least thousands of "Valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine". He deserves it. I'm just grateful for the music and in particular that bridge in A Day In The Life.
So yeah, happy birthday.

-- Joëlle.

16 June 2006

Cut Out

I'm finally done with the video "I Want You (But I Can't)" that had to be ready in time for the exhibition "Ithyphallique" that took place last week at the Cinema Le Barbizon in Paris.
When Stéphane offered me to participate to the project last November, I had no idea I would spend the month of May almost reclused from the society in order to finish the montage (worse part of all, curse of all curses). Now that it's over, the pain is forgotten and all I remember is the fun going back in time and through the lists of movies I was compiling in my teenage years, the pleasure to see all those movies again, and the excitement of selecting the sequences and the music. This collage shows movies that have fixated in my adolescence the image of the ideal man and have conditioned my desire and libido.
I think my selections managed to be quite truthful to the teenage girl I was but for various reasons (sources, costs, duration of video, narration..), some sequences were dropped or some movies were just not in the "priority list".
So as a late addition, here's a mention of performances I chose to cut out:

Gregory Peck in Duel in the Sun or in Roman Holidays
No Gregory Peck in my final collage which means it's definitely faulted - but it couldn't be perfect right?

James Stewart in The Shop Around the Corner or in It's a Wonderful Life
I think there's no James Stewart because he touches me more than he is really sexy - but he's surely in my imaginary world of cool people.

Gary Cooper in The Fountainhead
Can't remember when I saw the movie the 1st time. I was maybe 14, 15. I got into Frank Lloyd Wright right after. And into Individualism. Apparently the book is much more aggressive.

Cary Grant in Notorious
Really this one is because I couldn't fit it in. I had no time left. But boy, do I love him in this movie.

Sam Shepard in The Right Stuff
This one also almost made the cut. Chuck Yeager and the wall of sound? Yeah, baby.

Tom Courtenay in King and Country
The DVD is out of stock - one of the best anti-war movie ever.

Dennis Quaid in Flesh and Bones
Huge on-screen chemistry with his partner and wife at the time, Meg Ryan.

Fred Astaire in The Bandwagon
This one was a tough one. I had to reduce the video's duration and had to make a sorry choice between Astaire in Top Hat and Astaire in The Bandwagon. Talk about *the* impossible choice. Top Hat is not a masterpiece which The Bandwagon is but the Top Hat scene I selected simply fitted better with the rest of the movie.

Michael Keaton in Batman Returns
Encoding problem. The only one.

Jean-Pierre Cassel in L'Ours et la Poupée
Poor quality of source.

The Beatles (more specifically George Harrison) in A Hard Day's Night
I used their music instead of their image, the message is almost the same.

Christopher Walken in The Deer Hunter, Stewart Granger in Scaramouche, Frank Sinatra in Pal Joey, Matt Dillon in Drugstore Cowboy
Ran out of time to process the movies

- More performances from my early list:
Henry Fonda in 12 Angry Men
Hugh Grant in Maurice
Dennis Quaid in The Right Stuff
Christopher Walken in King of New-York
John Cassavetes in Love Streams
Daniel Day-Lewis in My Beautiful Laundrette
Stewart Granger in Moonfleet
Steve McQueen in The Magnificent Seven
Yul Brynner in The King and I
James Spader in Sex, Lies and Videotape
David Niven in A Matter of Life and Death

- Actors who made it to the final collage but not in these movies:
Errol Flynn in Gentleman Jim
Harrison Ford in Working Girl
Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller's Day Off and in Torch Song Trilogy
Gary Oldman in Dracula
Peter O'Toole in How To Steal A Million
Clark Gable in It Happened One Night
Pierre Fresnay in La Grande Illusion

-- Joëlle

28 May 2006

Can you feel it?

Today, the secretary of the French Socialist Party (PS) announced that the party reached the historic number of 200 000 members thanks to a well managed Internet subscription campaign. I got caught in the wave and did subscribe about 3 weeks ago (so I can design the presidential candidate I prefer within the party). I've always voted for the socialist candidates in elections so nothing changed in my life in particular except that I finally accept to be affiliated to a group. Really it's a revolution (that's what my friend Madjid would say). As the New Kids on the Block used to say, step by step, I guess I got to enjoy the idea of communities of interests. There is still some relunctancy but I've come a long way baby. At 14, there was the Club du Sergeant Pepper but I guess it doesn't really count because I hardly met anyone there - it was all letters and minitel exchanges. More significantly, at 19, there was Spont'Ex - we were 6 elite and only members - which got me to drop slowly my individualistic watch. The years after were essentially about to discover the pleasures of group meetings.
Now, the PS is back on track to elect a woman president, there is disco music in the world again (well, at least on French prime time TV), we just need a bit more sun, and then can you feel it? It's coming back..

-- Joëlle

21 May 2006

Pulp Action

Do you believe in reincarnation before death? Since the spirit of thankfully well alive Jarvis Cocker has landed on the french version of American Idol, I must say I have to believe in some sort of magic fluid connecting gifted people. Christophe Willem is currently competing to be "la nouvelle star" (the new star) on the real-TV program and he's the hot topic of Parisian dinner parties, the hip talk of town since his very first song on the show, a cover of Sunny by Boney M.
His ultra long skinny silhouette mixed with his clear humble enthusiasm to sing and this type of sexually-appealing voice got me hooked just like everybody else who heard him sing and got me to blog about him just like everybody else who... To my knowledge, I don't think this kind of phenomenon (reaching to the typical real TV audience as well as to the adversaries of it or to people like me who don't give a damn anyway) has ever been heard of so far, at least in France. I was able to catch up on all his performances thanks to a compilation on youtube. There are hits and misses but even the misses are charming. Watch in particular for the covers of Stayin' Alive, New-York-New-York or I am what I am.

-- Joëlle.

30 April 2006

Is the world saved ?

String Republic summer collection 2006 seems to think it can be saved by merging graphic design and fashion accessories. Designer Stéphane BUCCO, aka SOCKHO has revived the beach shoe "espadrille" and asked several international designers to join him in his mission.

28 April 2006

Coke goes White

An amazing TV ad by Coca-Cola featuring "Love is the Truth" a song by Jack White (of the White Stripes) is available for a "limited time" on their british website. The song was written especially for the ad out of an obsession White has for the colors of Coca-Cola. At its turn, the ad gets its inspiration from the lyrics of the song and puts the colors (black, red and white) forward in a beautiful Muybridge/Marey motion study-like narrative, except it's actually in motion. The ad is not really due to air on TV which is a shame, but that's what Internet is for: surfacing the hidden.

-- Joëlle.

02 April 2006

Sharing tunes

There is more than one way to share your music, mine is through Last.fm, as you can now check on the right column of this blog.

24 March 2006

Brief Encounter or The Art of Title

Finding a title for a project is often the most gratifying and empowering part of the creative process. It's setting somehow its identity, its tonality - this pop-song-like element that people will remember. Book authors are really good at it (think "a catcher in the rye", "me talk pretty one day", "io non ho paura" - books that I'd buy if it was just for the sound of their titles). When you give a title to an artwork, it's when you start to have a distance, to see it shaped. Somehow it's the beginning of the end, the reward before letting it go.
For my own work, I usually like 1-word titles ("superficiel", "kindergarten", "passages", "raw", "palpitations"...) but for my current project, I'm stuck.
I was offered few months ago to propose a project for a collective exhibition around the theme "ithyphallic" (= related to / or / presenting a phallus in erection). After working on it for a while, I feel it's now time to find the perfect title. Problem is my raw material for the project is movies, which each already bear very intimidating titles ("brief encounter", "prick up your ears', "parting glances", "i know where i'm going"...)
I must say that I'd hate being referential - using the easy way out with a pop culture expression that's been recycled over and over again. Not that I dislike them. But it seems that art and design these days can't not be but over referential. They're not creating their own trends but rather using/altering/diverting past ones to be validated. Pop is really by now eating itself. And I'm its reluctant prisoner. Which is why I'm fighting the temptation to use titles such as "dreams are my reality" (something French people can get), "i was the dreamweaver but now.." (something Macromedia already stole from John Lennon), "imitation of life" (no way i can pull a Douglas Sirk like that).
Maybe it's just my ego making me think that I can think of something so original, so exceptional that just like a pop song, it would infiltrate someone's brain, sucking all its concentration skills, growing slowly in the memory area so that ultimately, some day it'll come out in the idea-finder area, masked under a brand new persona and making think the brain holder that he's a genius... What's under the sun, again?

-- Joëlle.

12 March 2006

No breakfast on Saturday

I didn't want to give in to the pessimism that is seizing the cinema world in France about the financing and distribution of independant and authors' movies. I thought in all honesty that there was enough room for everybody, and in particular in Paris which is the city in the world with the highest number of cinema theaters.
Well, until yesterday. When I felt like seeing "Breakfast on Pluto" by Neil Jordan and I was shocked to realize it was no longer on screen. Just after 1 WEEK of release. I blame Pathé and Gaumont in charge for their super lousy distribution job. Congratulations! Next time please give us the week notice...
And in general, if I can add a friendly note, this type of strategy will SO help fighting illegal downloading... Just the right way to go!

-- Joëlle.

06 March 2006

Official opening of the Travelling Season 2006

The past week I was first in Dublin and then in Scotland (Inverness and Kirkwall on the Orkney Islands).
It's been about a year since I moved from Dublin. I indulged myself a very nostalgic week-end with fellow former Dubliners: Marije, Ari, Karen, Vale, Matt, Dave... and MLE honorary members by way of flatmateship, Edson and Phil... and friends still in town, and new friends who have more recently joined the circle...
First striking thing: how the little things of everyday (the 123 bus, the roads to MLE, the sound from the traffic light...) resonate like present threads into a past which realness I'm sometimes doubting.
Also stunning was the easyness we all felt getting back together into our old habits of being together, drinking - a lot - and dining - a lot -, laughing and telling our hearts.
Apart from that, I'm still convinced of the waste that is the closure of MLE. Such a diversity of people coming from all kinds of backgrounds and cultures with knowledge to share, to expand and to build and create upon. In the HC group alone, we were italian, dutch, american, irish, spanish, british, french, japanese, german. Where else can you see that? The other time in my life I encountered such a melting-pot was at Nofrontiere in Vienna (although I didn't live there as long and the mix was less intense). I think I miss being in an environment where not only I am a foreigner but everybody around me or almost is as well. The community of exiled ones celebrating life in a very intellectual and physical way...

My second trip shortly after was a business one in the very north of Scotland, in the Orkney islands. I traveled to Scotland a few times last year, to meet different actors in the Cultural/HCI research field, each time in a different location (Inverness, Cairngorm Mountain, Western Isles, Shetland). Like always, I feel I don't have enough times to enjoy the place. Landscapes are often amazing and I was happy to take many pictures, including those you can see here. Orkney's cultural world is very close to the Scandinavian's and it's an interesting mix with the more traditional Scottish aspects. I should go back there soon, therefore with more opportunities to immerse myself in the local feel. (Incidentally, I had in the Kirkwall hotel the best crab cakes ever).

It's nice to travel again after a 5-months break (except for 1 or 2 short trips in France). As many other travels are on the stove being prepared (Montreal, London, Berlin among others), I feel it's this time of year again, transport hunting has begun...

-- Joëlle

11 February 2006

Stimorol Superstar

Waking-up from the Beatlemania, John Lennon said "We're more popular than Jesus, now". "We", as in the Beatles, of course. If you take the entire quote, Lennon was convinced that "Christianity will go. It will shrink and vanish.". He didn't give a timeline though. The hateful reaction to those words published in March 1966 didn't kick before July of the same year in the Bible belt. Seems like religious sensitive people are always slow to get started.
I remember a scene in Witness, that I saw again recently, where Harrison Ford is dancing in the barn with Kelly McGillis on Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World". They are happy and laughing and enjoying life and then suddenly, the Mormon's father shows up, rather angry and shouts at her daughter for listening to music.
When I grew-up, I wasn't quite the Mormon's daughter, and I wasn't living in a reclused area. My parents home is in the very center of Paris and I was attending public school, open to all kinds of cultural winds. Yet, I could clearly see a difference between "the outside" and "the home". At home, I lived in a Jewish world, no doubt about it, and it was not even orthodox, far from it. Most of the time, I really think it was tolerant and fun but as I was getting older, and with new desires for my life, it became constraining in so many ways. To get away from all this, waiting for my adult time to come, I was listening to music and to the Beatles, I was reading all sorts of books until my eyes would close, and I projected myself on hundreds different lives that would unfold in hundreds different movies. Nothing special here for a teenager, I agree.
Except, I could do it because I was born in France, a democracy. I could find without much difficulties the ways to free myself from religious dogma. Music, Art, Cinema, Litterature, Comics ARE subversive. Integrists and fascists of all kinds are right to be scared of them. When they burn books, they know where their enemies are.
If needed, it becomes clearer to me that "laïcité" - the political concept on which the separation of Church and the State is based in France - is never to take for granted, but a victory to fight for permanently. Religious say and censorship has no legitimacy here, whatsoever.
At the risk of passing for a Ferris Bueller, I'll quote Lennon again in his song God: "I don't believe in Jesus (...) I don't believe in Buddha (...) I don't believe in Yoga (...) I don't believe in Kings (...) I don't believe in Beatles, I just believe in me...and that reality".
And THIS is already a full time job, so...

-- Joëlle.

10 February 2006

Bowling for Nostradamus

Hey, Nostradamus! , Douglas Coupland's last book to be translated in French, is probably his most powerful and evocative since the wonderful Microserfs and Generation X. Starting from a Colombine-like massacre in a Vancouver college, Coupland gives us a brilliant story about the both destructive and redemptive power of religious feelings. A book full of compassion and humanity.
Only in America can we see something like this ?

31 January 2006

A personal message to Steven Spielberg

Dear Steven (may I call you Steven?),

I recently read in an interview you gave to the French magazine Télérama that one of your futur side project is to exchange cultural perspectives between Israeli and Palestinian kids by way of having them showing their daily lives to each other.
What a coincidence! It just so happens that not such a long time ago, I did a project called RAW which was actually about cultural exchanges and audio/photographic impressions of daily lives (as a way to apprehend stereotypes). We carried the heart of this project in Mali and it was an amazing experience for all the people involved.
I cannot but imagine how this project could be of an interest to you and I'd be happy to tell you more about it. Especially because I had once the plan to do a RAW workshop with Israeli and Palestinian people as well.
So Steven, I'd love you to call me. And in case you happen not to read this blog regularly (I don't see how it can be but one never knows), would the readers of this blog who have access to Steven S. pass on the message?
That'd be swell,
Thank you,


30 January 2006

Nam June Paik

Video Art central figure is dead.
In direct lignage towards contemporary digital and electronic arts, his bright, colourful, and lively environment is a delight to dive in.


27 January 2006

Around the world, around the world...

Just how unified Europe really is in musical tastes?

here is a sample of the #1s of european charts this week :

Germany : Mattafix's Big City Life (a very well crafted song, i have to say), Italy : Madonna's Hung Up (what a surprise.. btw she's number one also in Spain), in Belgium James Blunt is on top, while in Denmark Katie Melua is the queen.
UK remains the rock nation with the Artic Monkey on #1, while in France the r'n'b french singer Amine beats everyone else (maybe thanks to his Fred Perry tops?).
Seems like there's some work left for us europeans..

17 January 2006

Véja Vu ?

Veja, the "fair trade sneaker", is Sébastien Kopp et François-Ghislain Morillon's answer to the question :

is another world possible ?

Those sneakers are made from bio/fair trade coton and rubber from the nordeste of Bresil and the production is tied up to local cooperatives. Read more on the website (in French, though). A very nice concept and business that tries to make a difference and has already seduced several rockheads from the UK! And if it's brit, you know it's hip!

Wanna buy ?

- Kiliwatch, 64 rue Tiquetone, 75002
- Palais de Tokyo, 13 avenue du Président Wilson, 75016
and other places like Citadium...

- Alice Gallery, 182 rue Antoine Dansaert, Bruxelles
- Own, 17 rue de la Casquette, Liege

- Best Shop, Alte Schönhauser Str. 6, Mitte, Berlin
- Sokkers, Kyffhäuser Strasse 37, Cologne

- Freeshop, 50 Voukourestiou Str.Kolonaki, Athens

- Yoi, Krugerplein 14C, Amsterdam

- E35, via S. Eufemia 37, Modena

ps: hey, what does our park ranger friend from Richmond, Virgina think of those ? let me know...

11 January 2006

Winter is a Blonde

Recently, I was browsing the magazines section of the WHSmith store in Paris (under the arcades of rue de Rivoli, few steps from la place de la Concorde). Suddenly, I had a moment of awareness of what was in my scope: 4, maybe 5 feminine magazines covers aligned next to each other in a perfect ensemble. All the women posing were blonde, young and belonging to the new generation of hip actresses. It was like all the editors converged to provide a sample of the essence of the who's who in Hollywood these days. A bit overwhelming, overall.
I thought I should reproduce as much as I could the experience for you. (I added the covers of Vanity Fair and Interview who were not exactly right next to the other ones but not at a far stretch).

-- Joëlle

09 January 2006

The letters that matter

A glimpse at the "24" website to check when the 5th season starts (actually next sunday night) - and I couldn't help but copy/paste a post from the message board featured on the homepage: "You know you're obsessed with 24 when... you try to get into California Tech University just so you can say "I'm associated with CTU".


06 January 2006

The Copy Left

Sunday, it'll be ten years that François Mitterand is dead. Ten years since I bid my farewell to this man that I truly and profundly admired and cherished for the change he brought to France. The evening of his death, I went with Renaud to the Place de la Bastille, a traditional meeting place for socialist celebrations and queued under the rain to enter one of the many white tents available where you could write some words in the notebooks on display. I don't remember what I wrote, to be honest. But strangely enough, I remember what Renaud wrote down in his own particular humorous and sharp style: "Say hi to Jaurès!".
I think I probably wrote something about the night of his 1st election in 1981. I was only 6 but I knew that something important had happened. I was with my parents at my aunt's apartment in the very bourgeois 6th district. And as the image of our new president appeared on TV, the air got filled with joy and laughter.
In 1988, the day after he got elected again, a classmate carried a poster from his campaign in school, in victory. Of course, the headmaster asked him quickly to put it down because political signs are forbidden in school but I do remember the uncontrollable smile on his face as if the day could allow to be slightly permissive.
Despite the huge criticism, sometimes highly justified, that followed his 2 terms, I remain strongly attached to our former president, and maybe nostalgic. It's always with sorrow that I watch images from him: much to my embarrassment, I can't help but cry when I see a documentary about him.
I grew-up with him in the background, in a very culturally creative environment that got possible only because he was in power. If you're not familiar with contemporary french history, you should just know that there was a France before and after 1981. Before 1981, it was daddys' owned companies, with women - when they would work - bringing coffees to their patriarcal bosses, it was 3 state-owned TV channels, it was death penalty, it was bourgeoisie values carried by the government. After 1981, it was Europe, it was Grace Jones and Jean-Paul Goude, it was free radio, it was a series of strong social actions, it was gay-friendly and cosmopolitan.
Today, by the way, you can feel only but a strong regression in France: the right wing is in power since 4 years and I've the impression that if they could make us more forget that there had ever been a left-wing at the head of the state one day, they would. The air is filled with fear of the other, good old secure values like marriage, family, bio food and career, and growing gaps between people who watch TV and people who dream to be on it.
What a shame Mary Jane.

-- Joëlle.

02 January 2006

Girls just want to have tools...

Did you think that the words "pink" and "hammer" don't get along so well ?
Well they may not rime so good, but it was time for a little change in the
DIY department, and in 2006 the ladies are taking things in hand with this wonderful, useful (and pretty, of course) Pink Toolbox.

Happy new year !