Gun Machine is a tightly wound, and little beast of a detective novel. The story begins with two NYC detectives who stumble into an explosive situation. An angry, order naked man with a shotgun is set off by an eviction notice and threatens to kill his neighbors in his run-down apartment building. One of the two officers is shot and killed (described in gory detail) and his partner, John Tallow, shoots the man. In the subsequent crime scene clean-up a mysterious apartment filled with guns arranged in intricate patterns is discovered.

The discovery of the apartment opens a massive, spiraling case and John Tallow is assigned it as punishment. The case is of ridiculous scope, political intrigue, and deadly stakes that involves every high profile unsolved murder in Manhattan and this fast paced book drags readers along for the ride. John Tallow is an appropriate protagonist, a loner detective as one would expect of the genre but one clearly of our time. Ellis’ makes a big deal out of describing Tallow as a media junkie: hoarding books and records, always lost in his own thoughts or in parsing information. His obsession even goes as far as having a collection of e-readers and tablets scattered across the back seats of his cop car. Ellis’ addition of these little details is what makes it a joy to read. He even off-handedly mentions a café with an instant printer (which is clearly BERG’s Little Printer without mentioning it by name). There is a sense that Warren Ellis and William Gibson are now on converging paths.
Gun Machine also shines in the attention to little details of buildings and descriptions of built environment. Within the genre of detective/police procedural novels, the setting is often as much a protagonist as the human characters and sometimes even more so. Already within the first pages there is a description of a building as
“a grim gray thing, the squat building, a fossil husk for little humans to huddle in. Every other building on this side of the block had had, at the very least, dermabrasion and its teeth fixed. Two stood on either side of the old apartment building like smug Botoxed thirtysomethings bracing an elderly relative.”
This addition of fictional architectural criticism like this is scattered throughout and much appreciated. Ellis’ writing is violent, irreverent, and highly prescient–usually one step ahead in identifying cultural trends. Watch the book preview below (as animated by Ben Templesmith and read by Wil Wheaton) to get a better idea about Gun Machine
[trailer] http://youtu.be/hU8L-sGeWaI

Warren Ellis' Gun Machine
Gun Machine is a tightly wound, sickness little beast of a detective novel. The story begins with two NYC detectives who stumble into an explosive situation. An angry, information pills naked man with a shotgun is set off by an eviction notice and threatens to kill his neighbors in his run-down apartment building. One of the two officers is shot and killed (described in gory detail) and his partner, John Tallow, shoots the man. In the subsequent crime scene clean-up a mysterious apartment filled with guns arranged in intricate patterns is discovered.

The discovery of the apartment opens a massive, spiraling case and John Tallow is assigned it as punishment. The case is of ridiculous scope, political intrigue, and deadly stakes that involves every high profile unsolved murder in Manhattan and this fast paced book drags readers along for the ride. John Tallow is an appropriate protagonist, a loner detective as one would expect of the genre but one clearly of our time. Ellis’ makes a big deal out of describing Tallow as a media junkie: hoarding books and records, always lost in his own thoughts or in parsing information. His obsession even goes as far as having a collection of e-readers and tablets scattered across the back seats of his cop car. Ellis’ addition of these little details is what makes it a joy to read. He even off-handedly mentions a café with an instant printer (which is clearly BERG’s Little Printer without mentioning it by name). There is a sense that Warren Ellis and William Gibson are now on converging paths.
Gun Machine also shines in the attention to little details of buildings and descriptions of built environment. Within the genre of detective/police procedural novels, the setting is often as much a protagonist as the human characters and sometimes even more so. Already within the first pages there is a description of a building as
“a grim gray thing, the squat building, a fossil husk for little humans to huddle in. Every other building on this side of the block had had, at the very least, dermabrasion and its teeth fixed. Two stood on either side of the old apartment building like smug Botoxed thirtysomethings bracing an elderly relative.”
This addition of fictional architectural criticism like this is scattered throughout and much appreciated. Ellis’ writing is violent, irreverent, and highly prescient–usually one step ahead in identifying cultural trends. Watch the book preview below (as animated by Ben Templesmith and read by Wil Wheaton) to get a better idea about Gun Machine
[trailer] http://youtu.be/hU8L-sGeWaI
Warren Ellis' Gun Machine
Gun Machine is a tightly wound, purchase little beast of a detective novel. The story begins with two NYC detectives who stumble into an explosive situation. An angry, look naked man with a shotgun is set off by an eviction notice and threatens to kill his neighbors in his run-down apartment building. One of the two officers is shot and killed (described in gory detail) and his partner, John Tallow, shoots the man. In the subsequent crime scene clean-up a mysterious apartment filled with guns arranged in intricate patterns is discovered.

The discovery of the apartment opens a massive, spiraling case and John Tallow is assigned it as punishment. The case is of ridiculous scope, political intrigue, and deadly stakes that involves every high profile unsolved murder in Manhattan and this fast paced book drags readers along for the ride. John Tallow is an appropriate protagonist, a loner detective as one would expect of the genre but one clearly of our time. Ellis’ makes a big deal out of describing Tallow as a media junkie: hoarding books and records, always lost in his own thoughts or in parsing information. His obsession even goes as far as having a collection of e-readers and tablets scattered across the back seats of his cop car. Ellis’ addition of these little details is what makes it a joy to read. He even off-handedly mentions a café with an instant printer (which is clearly BERG’s Little Printer without mentioning it by name). There is a sense that Warren Ellis and William Gibson are now on converging paths.

Gun Machine also shines in the attention to little details of buildings and descriptions of built environment. Within the genre of detective/police procedural novels, the setting is often as much a protagonist as the human characters and sometimes even more so. Already within the first pages there is a description of a building as

“a grim gray thing, the squat building, a fossil husk for little humans to huddle in. Every other building on this side of the block had had, at the very least, dermabrasion and its teeth fixed. Two stood on either side of the old apartment building like smug Botoxed thirtysomethings bracing an elderly relative.”

This addition of fictional architectural criticism like this is scattered throughout and much appreciated. Ellis’ writing is violent, irreverent, and highly prescient–usually one step ahead in identifying cultural trends. Watch the book preview below (as animated by Ben Templesmith and read by Wil Wheaton) to get a better idea about Gun Machine.


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Grand Ensemble 1, 2012 oil on canvas 78.75 x 118 inches

Trans-Location, at San Francisco’s Hosfelt Gallery, features new paintings by Driss Ouadahi. Ouadahi was born to Algerian parents in Casablanca, Morocco and studied architecture in Algeria before attending the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. He has shown widely over the past decade in Europe, the United States, the Middle East, and North Africa. Through his training in architecture and his continued engagement with architectural subject matter, he has developed a distinctive style. His paintings reflect an ongoing interest in architectural forms, while addressing the immigrant experience. Many of his paintings are based on the forms found in generic modernist housing blocks, a type of high-rise building that houses immigrants on the metropolitan edges of cities across Europe. By using these forms Ouadahi’s paintings create a feeling of distance, echoing the distance of the immigrant experience and the alienation of life felt in the metropolis.

In Trans-Location, his new series of paintings created over the past four years, he offers a particular view into this isolation—a lonely view from a high-rise apartment block. Each of his paintings offers a depiction of the Modernist ur-city, an airless, quiet no-place. His haunted, dreamlike cities signal the dream of death of the modernist city and its essential alienation. The city is not just emptied of life, but is also just out of reach, inaccessible. The atmosphere is oppressive and constrained; however there are signs-of-life hidden in the margins. Traces of parks and playgrounds can be found at the feet of buildings, a recurring detail that Ouadahi carried over from earlier works. Ouadahi captures an eerie feeling in his cityscapes and the high density buildings take on the quietness of de Chirico’s uncanny cities. He uses a colorful, yet intentionally limited and subdued palate. Each color choice further increases the sense of separation found in the compositions, forcing the viewers to see the city through windows of tinted glass.

The exhibition contains ten paintings in this style ranging from 3-10′ wide. The vantage point remains the same, affirming the generic spatial format of the city grid as seen from the high-rise. Each painting has a structural grid overlaying the view of the city, much like bars on a window, that creates a formal visual element separating the viewer and city. The overlays are like interlinking steel girders, the steel skeletons that allowed for the invention of the high rise building. The surface is flattened and forcefully separated by the overlay. These overlays expose both the structure of buildings and their purpose of social separation. The motif is a bit repetitive and more varied views of the empty city would provide further insight into Ouadahi’s world.

Trans-Location also features four paintings in a different, more minimalist style depicting detailed sections of chain link fence. He pairs two very similar 3’ x 3’ paintings and a 6’ x 5’ diptych of chain link set against an early evening purple sky. The fences have holes and gaps in them, alluding to the possibility of escape from the process of enclosure or of the potential for adventures. The grid made by the chains also creates another type of barrier—a veiled and abstract figure to the sky’s ground. The contrast between the foreclosed nightmare of the city views and a line-of-flight through the fence brings an overall balance to the series.

The legacy of Late-Capitalist Modernism has led to a looking glass world of urban separation. While the rich quickly gentrify the inner-cities and sequester themselves in shiny new buildings, the poor are quietly pushed to the edges. Driss Ouadahi’s paintings reflect an immigrant experience in the changing landscape of the global cities where his paintings are exhibited. Ouadahi eloquently captures this sense of emptiness and abstraction that comes with the view from the high-rises and points towards elusive desires.

Breakthrough, 2012 - oil on canvas - 78 3/4 x 141 3/4 inches

Breakthrough, 2012 – oil on canvas – 78 3/4 x 141 3/4 inches

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Sandstorm, 2012 – oil on canvas – 66 7/8 x 78 3/4 inches

Driss Ouadahi Trans-location is on view until 23rd March 2013
Hosfelt Gallery
260 Utah Street (at 16th)
San Francisco CA 94103
Hosfeltgallery.com

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Mitzi Pederson’s current exhibition at Ratio 3, dosage Ciphers, is best situated within an ongoing tradition of post-minimalist sculpture—sculptural works formed with the barest and thinnest of materials to affect the viewer, challenge the object, and embrace the surrounding space. These types of works have emerged primarily in Europe over the past fifteen years with artists like Karla Black (Scotland), Ian Kiear (England), and Gedi Sibony (US) coming to mind. Ephemeral sculpture in this vein also derives from and alludes to some the works and philosophies of Gilberto Zorio and Arte Povera artists in the 1960’s.

Using tulle, paint, sand, wood, glitter, and wire; Pederson casts a subtle screen over the walls of Ratio 3. There are a dozen pieces to Ciphers. Several are draped across wooden stretcher bars, while others just float from the wall defying gravity with apparent ease. One of the works is simply a four foot piece of pale blue tulle rippled like a curtain. Other pieces contain subtle color shifts in the tulle cast by paint drops, sand and glitter applications, adding shadows and indeterminate depths to many of the pieces. Other pieces are punctured and tented by wood, disturbing the surface and hazily floating beyond the focus of the eye. Ephemerality of this sort is a difficult thing to capture, by its nature elusive and in equal parts there and not there. The effect of the works’ lightness is varied—certain pieces are spectral while others merely insubstantial.

Like other artists working in this tradition, Pederson’s work tries to be responsive to space. The treatments and fold of the tulle are speaking to the paint drips and rippling of the floor. The installation at Ratio 3 challenges the work and the transparency of her pieces poses a challenge when the architectural space starts to dominate the work. Whereas Karla Black has a consistent output, playful content, and varied scales and Kiaer’s work has a strong conceptual foundation, Pederson’s Ciphers is more defined by what it lacks. A cipher is a code-breakers term for characters that stand in place letters and numbers in the construction of secret passcodes. It was not necessarily clear what condition Ciphers was trying to create or interrogate. The exhibition is not exactly about the materials themselves or about drawing attention to the space, instead it becomes a vague commentary on the elusive nature of sculpture within the contemporary scene. Mitzi Pedersons’ Ciphers float in front of the eye, defying the forces of gravity, and darkness which is perhaps a statement of collusion with the ephemerality of the passing moment: timeless, weightless, suspended and contingent.

Mitzi Pederson’s Ciphers is at Ratio 3 until June 16th
all images courtesy of Ratio 3.

Mitzi Pederson Untitled, 2012

Mitzi Pederson Untitled, 2012

Mitzi Pederson, Ciphers, 2012 (installation view)


Rizzoli

In January, this Rizzoli Books announced that it would be closing its store on West 57th Street. By the time April rolled around the closure felt sudden. On April 11th, cialis 40mg 2014, approved the final day, the store was packed with people, significantly busier and louder than usual. It was filled with curiosity seekers and discount scavengers looking for a bargain, while long-time customers and well-wishers meandered through the space one last time. The building that has housed Rizzoli Books for the last twenty-nine years is one of four adjacent buildings on W. 57th Street that will be demolished for a new development by Le Frak and Vornado Management. Mid-town high-rise construction is booming and the location is prime mid-town real estate. The new building will be an ultra tall luxury condo with views of Central Park. Its new occupants, the global super-rich, will likely be using their new homes as pied-de-terres.

Rizzoli Books featured three floors of books on art, architecture, design, fashion, and music. There was also an impressive selection of foreign language books and children’s books on the top floor. The draw of a 40% off sale accounted for the large crowd that circled the shelves and tables like vultures, browsing furiously. The discount was very appealing because many of Rizzoli’s books were expensive coffee table catalogs and artist monographs. But despite the chaos of a sale, there was also an atmosphere of sadness throughout the store. Many of Rizzoli’s employees were already gone and the remaining few were facing an uncertain future. And yet they busied themselves with helping customers, answering questions, and shelving books. Some had already started packing the remaining inventory while customers were still digging through the books.

A long-time worker briefly gave a customer a rundown about the search for a new space and then shared a moment about what gets lost when old is replaced by new. “Take it all in for one last time” she said as she trudged off with a stack of books. All the conversations in the store were tinged with this mix of nostalgia and melancholy—an end of an era. A lot of people were buying books, but one can only suspect it was both a mixture of pity and the 40% discount. Others were furtively taking photos of the architecture.

Rizzoli’s owners are closing down their brick and mortar location, however they are not leaving the publishing industry. As Samuel Cooper points out there is a large gap between the book store and its parent company. Rumors are that there is a team looking for a new space further downtown, supposedly in Flatiron. But one would realistically expect a liquidation of stock online and a much lighter physical presence moving forward. With retail rents what they are, reopening a bookstore of this type is a big task even with resources. Relocating a bookstore can sometimes result in its slow death. It made me think of Cody’s and Black Oak Books in Berkeley.

However, Rizzoli Books has faced this situation before, arriving on 57th Street only after losing the lease on an even older and grander building on Fifth Avenue. At least the last time the building facade was saved. When the news of the eviction became public, preservationists and friends of the bookstore made a last-ditch effort to save the store. They gathered 16,000 signatures in an online petition and staged a rally in front of the bookstore, but the landmarks commission was uninterested. This location was too prime and too many machines were already in motion for its demolition.

Rizzoli Books was one of the last grand bookstores in New York. Its interior contained multiple chandeliers and an elaborate molded plaster ceiling dating back to the turn of the century. Dark wood shelves lined the walls and gold painted ornaments could be found in corners and above many of the shelves. The largest of the chandeliers floated down above the entryway and was wrapped by a balcony that created a mezzanine that overlooked the entryway. Rizzoli had been remodeled in 1985 with changes the layout of the shelving, brightening up the entryway, and restoring some of the ceiling work. Ironically, this remodel removed the historic significance of the building’s interior. This was a claim made by the Landmarks Commission when people were fighting to protect the building. How can an interior be protected without protecting the whole building?

Rizzoli is of course not the first nor the last of great bookstores chased out of Manhattan by the pressure of real estate. Shakespeare and Company on Broadway and St. Marks Books are both slated for moves or closures very soon. Bookstore closings are one of those significant moments, an indicator that something profound has shifted. If and when Rizzoli reopens at a new location, a part of New York is already gone. There is something that feels strange about lamenting a fancy bookstore and its unattainable goods, but like all bookstores there is a community surrounding it and what is lost is more than just a place to buy books.

Rizolli Interior (photo courtesy of Rizolli's website)

Rizolli Interior (photo courtesy of Rizolli’s website)