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MATTEmatters: Mint Julep Testosterone

By Marcela Filomena

Well, readers, you must have noticed my absence last week.  The explanation is simple- from here on out, the blog will be bi-weekly in order to maintain a high standard for the content.  It was a very productive week off for me: I watched a couple of gory Asian horror films, marathoned through Orange is the New Black, and found the most bizarre and disturbing film I've ever seen.  Also discovered Sandra Backlund and Paolo Troilo, two breathtaking artists who transform their respective mediums  into something completely different. 

art - Prepare yourself for absolute amazement.  Remember fingerpainting?  Well, you've never seen anything like this in your life.  After leaving a super-successful, award-winning career as an advertising creative director, Paolo Troilo entered the next phase of his life.  A self-taught, Milan-based artist, he makes the most amazing, hyper-realistic human portraits with mind-blowing skill, using only his fingers and black or ivory paint.  It all started in 2004, when he forgot to by brushes!  It's hard to believe, but true.  See for yourself after the jump.

design - Meet Sandra Backlund, Swedish knitwear designer extraordinaire. She started her own fashion label in 2004, the year she graduated from Beckman's College of Design in Stockholm.  She's won a ridiculous amount of prestigious awards; including the Swedish Elle award & the NewGen sponsorship from the British Fashion Council, not to mention her collaborations with Louis Vuitton and Emilio Pucci, as well as being selected as a protege for the 2008 Italian Vogue Protege project, and again in 2009 for the Cittadellarte Fashion B.E.S.T. project.  Backlund works with knits and creates wearable sculptures that are so far removed from grandma's knitted scarves and mittens, they might as well not be on the same planet.  Indeed, she doesn't limit herself to wool, incorporating paper, wooden pegs, metal yarn and hair.  Her approach to design has an organic feel, preferring to work out her garments whilst knitting them, instead of pattern-making beforehand.  The resulting garments are dynamic & sci-fi: basically three-dimensional collages you can wear- and anything that features crazy awesome Tilda Swinton as a model has my official seal of approval! Truly amazing, totally wearable art.

filmThe Act of Killing.  It's difficult to know how or where to start discussing this Danish-British-Norwegian documentary, which cleverly blurs the line between actual violence and its representation.  The film follows a group of Indonesian gangsters (their own word) in their quest to make a movie about the atrocities they committed during the 1965-66 communist purge.  They get to choose whichever genre they wish to stage different acts of violence, the classic Western being a particular standout- playing a John Wayne-esque cowboy justifies their need to be seen as justice fighters in service of a righteous ideology.  Each "gangster" deals with the horror they committed in different ways- through delusion or justification, often mentioning but rarely exhibiting remorse.  The result is satirical at times, mostly terrifying, always disturbing: in representations of violence, even through the abstraction of fictionalization, the act itself is never truly apprehensible.

music - Isn't it the worst when you can't get a song out of your head?  And it just keeps playing on repeat, over and over ad infinitum?  Phoenix does exactly that.  They are pure, unfiltered pop perfection; from verse to bridge to pre-chorus to chorus to re-intro to verse and finally to outro, their quintessentially French brand of rock is elegant, stylish, and meticulously constructed piece by piece.  With 2009's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, their twenty-year climb to the top was rewarded with international success.  Their new synth-heavy album Bankrupt! won them headliners at Coachella and Glastonbury this year, as well as plum slots at Lollapalooza and Primavera Sound.  Phoenix's commitment to glossy glamour is absolute- and it pays off in tracks like Trying to Be Cool, with the amazing accompanying video authored by directing team CANADA and produced by The Creator's Project.  It starts out as a fairly straightforward live-in-studio shot but makes a bizarre right-turn from the baboon in an office chair onwards.  The whole thing was filmed by two film crews frantically scrambling around, swapping shots every 25 seconds, culminating in a performance with a big synchronized dance piece.  Also check out their stripped-down homemade performance video for Entertainment.  I mean, seriously, could these Gallic hipsters be more cool?

item - The Padintosh has to be the geekiest thing I've ever featured.  Most of you young'uns out there certainly don't remember the original Apple Macintosh personal computer, launched in 1984 with the famous $900,000 Ridley Scott commercial during the Superbowl.  It sold for $2,495, had 128k of memory and a 9-inch screen, not to mention the handy carrying handle at the top.  For mac-geeks suffering from severe 80's nostalgia, the Apple is back! - as an iPad case, no less.  It's compatible with Smart Covers, and fits iPad 2 or 3.