Archive for the ‘bizarroART’ Category

bizarroART: half baked! – a cake. me: a culpa

Friday, December 21st, 2012

half baked!   – a cake.  me: a culpa


I have been a fan of those popular baking-themed reality shows for a while now.

(I, myself, subscribe more to the Duff Goldman/ Ace Of Cakes school of jocular gastronomic philosophy rather than that of yeasty wiseguy Cake Boss Buddy Valastro)

So, today, I foolishly supposed that I too might just be accomplished enough to attempt the seemingly simple task of baking a birthday cake for My Old Lady.

Yet, as you can see from this photographic evidence, the only accomplishment I achieved today was degenerating the art and craft of baking back by 2,000 years.

Despite painstaking measurement and the cautious following of straightforward instructions, somewhere, somehow, more than likely in part to my amateurish impatience on a overconfident homestretch, things went horribly wrong.


The only surviving parts of this entire calamity, ironically the project’s most intentional, most detailed, and smugly incisive features, were the misspelt fondant inscription and whimsical decorations.

Yet within minutes of the cake’s completion, even these deft yet superficial touches succumbed, and melted off the cake faster than the Nazis at the end of Raider Of The Lost Ark, in so adding one final tragic chapter to what had now become more cautionary tale than sugary culinary treat.


I shudder unspeakably as I write this, at the mere thought of not only having to eat this myself, but also allowing others; other more innocent, god-fearing people than I, everyday people with small children, volatile pets or sensitive temperaments, ordinary  people with mortgages, responsibilities and true selfless purpose, the common folk  filled passionately with life’s verve and a taste for the finer things of the world, to partake of this monstrosity, as hesitant hostages of my home economical megalomania.

The horror, the horror, and mortal terror of even considering, willingly conceiving and thoughtlessly continuing to concoct such a hideously baked beast to full-blown fruition is something that was never covered by Chefs Goldman and Valastro, and my memory of this venture, these sickly saccharine scars against the palettes and glimpses of humanity, will no doubt trouble me for the rest of my days.

What remains are these photos, which are for insurance purposes.

It’s a chocolate cake with caramel filling, by the way.

“It’s not the end of the world,” she said.



bizarroART: Marilyn’s Last Sitting

Saturday, August 4th, 2012


Marilyn Monroe’s

final photo session

I admit it: I have a bit of a thing for Marilyn Monroe. Not the kind of obsession that some people have with her life and, weirdly, her mysterious death. I have never been an avid fan of her films: she was a great character actor, whose ability was criminally underused by most of her directors. I never had that classic pouting headshot as a poster on my wall as a kid. I just think she was a great looking woman, indicative of an era that still manages to captivate.

She, and her legacy, has managed to stand out as a timeless pop culture icon, when these days anyone with a cell phone camera and a duck face is considered glamourous  and indeed as a sex symbol in her own time that seemed puritan by today’s standards.

In my life, particularly during my burgeoning adolescence, her most defining contribution to my appreciation of beauty, was her Last Sitting photo session, with photographer Bert Stern for Vogue magazine. The session was done six weeks before her untimely death on 5 August 1962, and the fruits of the Last Sitting set were some of Marilyn’s most evocative, most honest and, without doubt, her sexiest, photos.

Taken in context, the images – shot brightly in soft focus with simple white backgrounds in typically (for the time) glamourous fashion – are tragic, and in some photos, Marilyn does look older than she was: lost, tired, seemingly giving up on life while putting on a brave face. Yet there is something so naturally sexy about this vulnerability she shows in the pictures. Even more attractive though, particularly in the many nude and semi-nude shots, complete with blemishes, make-up smudges around an unsure mouth, and the start of wrinkles around her tired eyes, is a complete open honesty that makes  the fifty years of glamour photography ever since seem just a little too perfect.

Of all the photos of Marilyn, and there are many, these Last Sitting pictures encapsulate her at the most imperfect, the most vulnerable. A natural beauty, lost girl-child, a burgeoning older woman and sad, sex goddess, all in one space.

A couple of years ago, Stern returned to this iconic setting, with a nostalgic cover version of the Last session featuring “actress” Lindsay Lohan – whose own life and career has mirrored that of Monroe’s, though with much more public glare and altogether more tastelessness. While Lohan is a good looking woman, in a sort of So-Cal surfer girl with bleach issues kind of way, the Lohan photos are a little too stylised, and have none of the spontaneity of the originals.

As the world remembers the death of Marilyn Monroe, fifty years ago, and celebrate her beauty and life through her films, her voice, her humour and her classic glamourous sexiness that has somehow been lost along the way by thousands of over saturated, over scrubbed and overPhotoshopped imitations, let’s have another look at her Last Sitting and realise that the gods don’t make em like they used to.

bizarroART- Hipgnotic…

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Hipgnotic: The Album Art of Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis

Before the advent of music as a digitised intangible, music was a very real, physical artefact, and one of its most dynamic elements, besides the music, naturally, were the visuals of the album artwork. While it still plays an important role in the marketing of music today, during the classic era of the gatefold vinyl album cover, the 1960s through to the 1980s, album art was considered a significant movement in modern pop art development, and no graphic design group defined this more than the Hipgnosis group, led by photographer Storm Thorgerson.

Combining the talents of some of the most vital artists and photographers of post-war Britain, including George Hardie and Aubrey Powell, Hipgnosis created distinctive and memorable icons for some of rock’s timeless names, including Led Zeppelin, The Who and Peter Gabriel. Their most important, and most recognised work, was through their long relationship with Pink Floyd, defining the group’s visual style that captured and enhanced the ideas within the band’s music and lyrics. Their Dark Side of the Moon cover is considered the most iconic album cover of all time, epitomising the album’s themes of fragmentation and otherworldly auditory strangeness. Designing and defining the Pink Floyd image, including music videos and live show stage design, made Hipgnosis as distinctive and important to rock music history as the band itself.

Although the Hipgnosis group dissolved during the late 1980s, Thorgerson’s photography and album art is still being commissioned by some of today’s important bands, including Biffy Clyro, Audioslave and Muse. He also continues to exhibit the group’s original pieces in shows across the world, including a recent showing in Cape Town that coincided with the release of local rock band Machineri’s debut album, for which Thorgerson exclusively designed a jarring, but beautiful cover image.

The Hipgnosis aesthetic is rooted in photography, although more conventional graphic design ideas also feature in the pieces. The group innovated a truly advanced visual style and technique , using elements of surreal photograph manipulation, dark room decolourisation, layered exposures, early use of airbrushing and a primitive form of avant garde cut and paste methods. Thorgerson’s own style is idiosyncratic for photographing everything, even the most bizarre object or scene, in-frame, with little or no post-production manipulation, quoted in an article for Music Box website in 2004, saying, “I like to mess with reality (with photography)…to bend reality. Some of my works beg the question of is it real or not?”

Essentially, the Hipgnosis group created a graphic design template that is still used by artists and designers today, and techniques seen in the world’s top digital photography software, like Photoshop and the Instamatic app. Apart from their design innovation, the Hipgnosis ethos also contains an element of fun, using visual puns and juxtaposed imagery to amuse and confound, as seen in their designs for the later Led Zeppelin albums. Above all, the album art told a story of the musical works held within, making it a primitive, but effective multimedia experience for the listener.

For more information, and stories behind the hundreds of iconic designs throughout Hipgnosis history, check out these sites:    and

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