The Birth of the Robot: 1936 Experimental Advertising Film by Len Lye for Shell Oil Company

In 1936, experimental filmmaker Len Lye made this short surreal animation to advertise the benefits of Shell oil for lubricating things. The film is a hyper-saturated stop-motion extravaganza that involves a mechanical world turning on some sort of hand crank. There’s an adventurer driving around the sands of Egypt. His car winds down and konks out leaving the man dead in the desert. The angel of oil rains drops of lubricating crude down on the Egyptian landscape bringing the parched skeleton to life as the Shell Oil robot. Fascinating. It’s got that awkward, shiny, naive beauty that could only be achieved in the 30s. Parts of this thing look like they might be influenced by Salvador Dali’s work. Something about that dead skeleton and the desert looks like it could fit right into the Surrealist master’s paintings.

Lye was from New Zealand and worked not only as an experimental filmmaker but also in newsreels and advertising. He was a kinetic sculptor, poet, painter and a writer of essays on artistic theory and philosphy. He made a 1935 short film called ‘A Colour Box’ which was the first generally exhibited film made by painting directly on the film emulsion. It’s a brilliant experimental animation posing as an advertisement for cheaper parcel post.  I’m sure the great direct paint filmmaker Stan Brakhage must have been familiar with Lye’s work.

Here’s a gallery site with information and examples of his artwork.

Egyptian Military Leaders Begin Systematic Beating and Slaughter of Peaceful Protesters

The Egyptian military, which is supported by the United States military, has begun a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters by beating and killing. Recently, they appear to have targeted mainly women, beating them with sticks, stomping on their heads and chests, and dragging them half naked through the streets.

This is the Egyptian military. This is the leadership of Egypt. The revolution of January 2011 has failed. Egypt has sunk into a brutal military dictatorship that has begun to rape, beat and kill all dissenters. I do not believe in peaceful revolution against murderous dictatorships. When confronted with barbaric monsters like the current leadership in Egypt, one must kill or be killed. My advice to Egyptians is to eliminate soldiers wherever you might find them by any means at hand – like the Libyans did. I say that because I’m an American. And nobody on the planet knows how to do a revolution like the Americans do. And the one thing we know about revolution is that when you want to win you put your gun in the other guy’s face and pull the trigger. Peaceful protests are for smirking idiots like the Dalai Lama.

But I do not think Egypt’s revolution will work. There are too many poor uneducated religious people and they will react to freedom with more brutal attacks on women. It is the nature of religious people under pressure to brutalize women. It happens in all places where you find poverty mixed with religion. In fact, it is oppression of women that fundamentally defines all religious behavior. Reading a Bible or a Koran is like reading an instruction manual for the subjugation and enslavement of women. These books are horrific works by deformed men who were terrified that they might not know for sure who really fathered their children. That is about all I have to say on the subject of the very sad and dying nation of Egypt. Arab Spring looks to me like a death march. I am also deeply ashamed of my country’s military association with Egypt. It is a profound embarrassment to all Americans to know that our military officers give advice and money to rapists. Disgusting.

Needless to say, I will not be visiting the fucking pyramids any time soon.

This news video contains disturbing images and shocking violence:

Killing the Net: A Film by Duncan Elms

This short film by Duncan Elms explores the danger of an Internet that can be shut down quite easily by governments that want to suppress free expression or crack down on popular movements toward freedom. The recent experience of Egyptians trying to stage a revolution and spread information about it amongst themselves and to the world should be very informative. The Mubarak government was able to turn off Internet access throughout the nation. Even in the U.S., President Obama has sought the power to switch off the Internet if he declares an emergency. That effort has since been watered down, but it is clear that the U.S. government does in fact seek a method for shutting down the Internet.  The continued treatment of China, a nation that monitors every single word typed into a web site, as even remotely civilized is an embarrassment to the entire world.  Those people won’t even allow a person to think freely, much less post freely on the web.  There must be a way to maintain worldwide access to the Internet that is beyond the control of any national government, including the United States government.

Three Big Pigs – A Middle East Revolution Animation

Egor Zhgun presents a cartoon news report on the revolutions rocking the Middle East. Some of these revolutions, though coming from noble intentions, are failing miserably. Egypt has rid itself of a dictator only to be taken over by a barbaric military that conducts organized rape and torture of men and women who seek to engage in any further protests. Egypt is now a military dictatorship. It is sheer stupidity to believe otherwise.  I won’t go visit the pyramids any time soon because I don’t want to be raped by Egyptian soldiers.

Thugs Rape American Journalist in Effort to Intimidate Egypt’s Protesters

Update for February 20, 2011: Several days ago, after hearing this news, I posted the following article which is my opinion in a moment of anger. I went too far and made some ridiculous generalizations about the situation in Egypt where a profound and positive change is underway. I should not have characterized a great and noble revolution the way I did based on the alleged actions of a small group. Several commenters from Egypt have been very angry with me. Though I still await the further facts and details of this episode, I do apologize for my generalization and hasty remarks about a ‘pig revolution.’ They are foolish and do not convey my support for the revolution from its first day. I have also changed the title of this post to try to more accurately reflect what probably happened in Tahrir Square during the celebrations of Mubarak’s departure. I will compose a new article that will make my true feelings clear. My opinions here are not to be taken as news. They are simply the overheated and sometimes too angry reactions of an artist. Here are my original and far too general words:

A mob of approximately two hundred Egyptian men gang-raped CBS chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan during celebrations of the Hosni Mubarak resignation in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

This is how Egyptian men celebrate the overthrow of a dictator.

I am not obligated to consistency of opinion on this web site.  If something makes me angry I say I’m angry.  If I see pigs celebrating a false victory, I say so.  Egypt, you have apparently gone to the pigs.  Two hundred men raping a woman during celebrations in a city square speaks volumes for your civilization or lack thereof.  You are not part of an evolved world.  You are outside of the conversation between nations.  You rape.

Sure, every country has problems with rape.  But my point is that if you see this kind of brutal gang attack during a celebration of joy and victory, you’ve got a statistical certainty that you’re dealing with a brutish general population of men for whom rape is common and widespread.  You can’t walk into Times Square in New York and find 200 people willing to commit rape during a New Year’s celebration.

One dictator has been overthrown.  What comes next will very likely be worse.  A population that can place 200 rapists inside the same square to commit the same crime during a time of joy has sunk to its knees and has no business with the world of civilized nations.  How many other women were raped in the square that we don’t know about?  This problem of rape and oppression of women is rampant throughout the Middle East.  It has deep roots in the region. It seems to be the normal state of existence which is encouraged by every government, whether run by a dictator or not.  We will not see any true revolution in the Middle East until every oppressed woman turns to her rapist and stabs him in the throat.  Perhaps women of the Middle East should organize such an event through Facebook.  All women who have suffered rape arise at 4:00 am on the same day and eliminate their sleeping attackers.  Governments would surely fall almost overnight because there would be no ministers or ‘royal princes’ left to reign.

We see this revolution unfold and we see people shouting for more freedom.  But we do not see a single soul shout for women.  Instead we see Egyptian men raping them.  I will not join my fellow Americans in naively celebrating a pig revolution.

This does not mean that I do not support the revolution. I do support it. It simply means that I will not celebrate while ignoring the very serious problem of how women are treated in the Middle East. The situation is appalling and will cause revolutions to fail. You cannot have freedom and democracy where women are considered to be something less than men.

Egypt Celebrates First Victory in Revolution

Egypt has begun to put out its garbage. It’s an amazing achievement for Egyptians that I have witnessed via the news video and photos coming from Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Congratulations to all the Egyptians who wanted to be free. They forced a raping, murdering, totalitarian criminal to resign his dictatorial position. The dictator Mubarak was and is an ongoing embarrassment and deep shame to the entire Middle East and to the United States that insisted on giving him respect and credibility even while he committed murder and oppressed a great civilization. Egyptians have made an incredible start to ridding themselves of the human garbage that was and is Mubarak. It remains to be seen if Egypt can become truly free and wrest control of the nation from its military.

Hopefully, the revolution in Egypt will spread to topple the rest of the governments in the Middle East which are nearly unanimous in their willingness to allow brutal thugs and criminal royal families to rule in bitter oppression. These savage despots straight out of the Dark Ages are specialists in murder, rape and complete suppression of all ideas and expression. They also have the absolute respect and support of governments like those in the U.S.

Beyond the Middle East and its ‘royal families,’ it would be astonishing and constructive to see the people of China put their own garbage out by removing their totalitarian government. Revolution is in the twenty-first century air. No one is immune.