Category Archives: Design

Ready Player One – Official Trailer 1

The official trailer for Ready Player One, Steven Spielberg’s film version of the Ernest Cline’s novel of the same name, hit the Net today.

Here’s what I wrote about Ready Player One last summer, when an earlier version of the trailer played at Comic-Con:


Ernest Cline’s science-fiction novel, Ready Player One was the fanboy must-read book of 2011. It’s set in the unhappy and decaying United States of 2044, when a decades-long recession, a trashed environment, and the general collapse of civil society have driven many people to spend much of their time hooked into a virtual reality universe called the OASIS. When there’s a two-year waiting list for jobs at Burger King, escapism is a logical choice.

As our hero and narrator, Wade Watts, known in the OASIS as “Parzival,” points out:

“Now that I was eighteen, I could vote, in both the OASIS elections and the elections for U.S. government officials. I didn’t bother with the latter, because I didn’t see the point. The once-great country into which I’d been born now resembled its former self in name only. It didn’t matter who was in charge. Those people were rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and everyone knew it. Besides, now that everyone could vote from home, via the OASIS, the only people who could get elected were movie stars, reality TV personalities, or radical televangelists.”

[Keep repeating, “It’s only a movie. It’s only a movie. It’s only a movie.”]

Anyhow, the now-dead creator of the OASIS was a man named James Halliday who, not unlike many of the readers of this book, was a 1980s obsessive. You know, the kind of person who goes nuts over spotting the 80s allusions in Stranger Things….

OASIS made Halliday very, very rich. When his will was read, it revealed that he’d hidden three “keys” in OASIS and that the first person to find them, and solve the puzzles linked to them, would be the sole inheritor of OASIS and of Halliday’s massive fortune. All that would be required to solve the puzzles was an encyclopedic knowledge of the movies, music, video games, and TV shows of the 1980s.

Enter Parzival.

I liked the book, but didn’t love it. It’s a fast, easy, enjoyable read, full of Easter eggs for those of us who have, well, “an encyclopedic knowledge of the movies, music, video games, and TV shows of the 1980s,” but it was definitely light reading, without much depth or meaning. It’s a book that’s the perfect source for a big spring/summer movie.

Steven Spielberg (who else?) is directing. The film is scheduled to be released on 30 March 2018.


The fanboys are already salivating over this one. Ready Player One might be the first blockbuster of 2018. It’s certainly one of the most anticipated movies of the new year.

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“Kingdom of Colors” — The View from the Floor

Here’s some video I shot during a daytime visit to ARTECHOUSE’s “Kingdom of Colors” installation, which I wrote about yesterday.

Because it was shot in a darkened room, the video quality is poor, and the sharp and saturated colours of the projection are blurred and murky, but this should give you some idea of how it felt to experience the show. Watch it on full screen for best results.

What an intoxicating afternoon I had!


2018 New Year’s Resolution Number 1

Since I’m going to post videos, I’ll spend a couple of days learning about video editing and use of editing features. Simply slapping together random strings of raw footage might be good enough for Michael Bay and Uwe Boll, but my viewers deserve better.

“Kingdom of Colors” — Psychedelia at My New Favourite DC Art Space

For maximum effect, enbiggen the video to full screen. Then imagine it covering 270° of the walls in a darkened room three or four stories high.

That’s what you experience at “Kingdom of Colors”, the current art installation at ARTECHOUSE in Washington. It’s the creation of French filmmaker Thomas Blanchard—who was on site when I visited—and artist Oilhack, with a soundtrack by Lyon-based composer Leonardo Villiger.

It’s like being surrounded by a high-tech, high-def, 21st-century version of a classic psychedelic light show.

And it’s absolutely phenomenal!*

ARTECHOUSE–that’s “ART-TECH-HOUSE”—opened in Washington a few months ago. As the name implies, it’s a space that showcases the spectacular possibilities of combining art and technology. “Kingdom of Colors” is ARTECHOUSE’s the third immersive experience. I missed the first one, but posted an item about the second, “Spirit of Autumn”, earlier this month.

“Spirit of Autumn” was highly interactive, with the mobile imagery on the walls and floors responding to the movements and sounds of the visitors. “Kingdom of Colors” is a more passive experience. Large cushions invite viewers to sit or lie on the floor and let the trance-like music and the awesome visuals carry them away.


Just Go with the Flow….

“Kingdom of Colors” is open to anyone over six years old during the day, and lots of children and parents show up. Evenings, when the bar offers wine and mixed drinks, are for people over 21. No smoking of any kind is allowed.

Guests are admitted in small groups, on the hour. There’s no limit on how long you can stay, and for this show, it is very easy to, uh, space out and lose track of time.

“Kingdom of Colors” is only here for a short time. It opened on 10 November 2017 and runs through 26 November 2017. Reservations are absolutely essential. Many of the remaining shows have already sold out.

Highest recommendation.


*It brought back memories of a time long ago, when a friend and I spent most of one summer researching the contrasting perceptual effects of watching the light show from 2001 under the influence of a wide range of pharmaceuticals and herbs.

For Science.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace — Full Trailer

A couple of weeks ago, I posted five stylish teasers for American Crime Story’s second season, which will deal with The Assassination of Gianni Versace. The first full trailer was released yesterday.

Edgar Ramirez plays the brilliant designer Gianni Versace, who rose from modest beginnings in post-WWII Italy to the heights of creative international high society in the 1980s and 1990s. His circle of friends included Princess Diana, Elton John, and Madonna.

Darren Criss plays Andrew Cunanan, the hustler-turned-spree-killer who longed to be part of everything that Versace represented, and left a trail of corpses across four states when he failed.

The casting is strong here. Ramirez and Criss look like the men they’re portraying.

Rounding out the cast are Ricky Martin as Antonio D’Amico, Versace’s long-time romantic and business partner, and Penelope Cruz as Donatella Versace.

The first episode of American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace is scheduled to be shown on FX on Wednesdays, 17 January 2018.

“Game of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition” — Coming Soon to a Stronghold Near You

If “Downton Abbey: The Touring Exhibition” isn’t your cup of Afternoon Tea, perhaps this will be more to your liking—“Game of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition” has just gotten underway in Barcelona.


Where it will show up next is anybody’s guess, because the tour’s stops after Barcelona have not yet been announced. But with the final episodes of Game of Thrones not expected to air until mid-2019 at the earliest, and with the final book of the series not expected to see print until George R. R. Martin’s heirs hire someone to use GRRM’s notes to complete the last four or five volumes, the tour should run for a long, long time.

According to the tour website, here’s what to expect:

In Barcelona, standard adult tickets for the exhibition range from €10.00 to €18.50, depending on the time and day, which is really reasonable. Expect higher prices when it hits the US.

If you want to see it in Barcelona, you can order tickets here. Barcelona is a beautiful city, and the food there is fantastic. Also, it’s warm in winter, and we all know that Winter Is Coming, don’t we?

“Game of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition” will be in Barcelona until 7 January 2018.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace — Teasers

FX has been running some attention-grabbing teasers for the upcoming second series of American Crime Story, which will focus on the murder of Gianni Versace.

Here are five of them, none longer than 30 seconds.

Édgar Ramírez as Gianni Versace, and Darren Criss as Andrew Cunanan. This gets points for creepiness, and for using the Versace palette of rich and saturated colours.

Penelope Cruz plays Donatella Versace. This scene is beautiful but unfortunate, because it inevitably reminds the viewer of Donatella’s well-known fondness for nose candy. At what should have been a tender moment, I couldn’t help but giggle.

Three more teasers:

The first series of American Crime Story, which was subtitled The People v. O.J. Simpson, was a critical and popular success for FX.

The second series, titled The Assassination of Gianni Versace, will première on 17 January 2018.


For my own wardrobe, such as it is, I’m strictly a Ralph Lauren traditionalist. Nobody ever claimed Versace’s clothes were exemplars of understated good taste, and I’d never wear them myself.

But sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to be young, rich, thin, stylish, and silly enough to wear Versace!

Well, not all of us can be successful coke dealers….


A Slide Show of Versace Shirts

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Dancing with the Leaves at ARTECHOUSE

ARTECHOUSE is a newish interactive art space a few blocks south of the National Mall in Washington, DC. Since I’m an easy mark for anything advertised as an “immersive, sensory art experience”,* I headed down to check out the current installation, “Spirit of Autumn”. It didn’t disappoint.

Here’s how it works: “Spirit of Autumn” is open in the evening for people over 21, and during the day for anyone over six years old. In the evening, the bar offers wine and mixed drinks, and the walls change to a darker, bluer colour scheme.

Guests are admitted in small groups, on the hour. There’s no limit to how long you can stay, but people generally spend about 45 minutes on site. You can reserve a slot online, and many of the more desirable times sell out early.

Most of the action interaction takes place in the large room you see in the above pictures. (The one at the top of the column is from ARTECHOUSE; the others are mine.) The images on the walls are in constant motion, with leaves seemingly blown by the wind. If you approach a wall, the leaves coalesce, and echo your form and movements.

Other parts of the wall turn your silhouette into a ghost-like image.


There’s more. In small spaces off the main room, you can toy with other interactive experiences. The video at the end of this item has examples.

And at the end of the line, there’s a workroom where you can design and colour your own leaves, some of which will be incorporated into the show.


“Spirit of Autumn” in Motion

What you’re seeing, once you get past the poor quality of the video:

The leaves respond to a child’s movement. The image collapses when he gets too close, and reconstitutes when he moves away.

When you walk down a dark hall, leaves on the floor rush to follow you.

The walls react to the movement and sound of the visitors. In some places, they create ghost-like reflections. Clapping in certain parts of the room brings about rain and lightning.

Blobs of colour track your footsteps.

The lady with the dancing leaves.


*God, do I miss laser shows! I wonder if they’ll make a comeback, now that marijuana is legal in the Blue States.