The Lanthanide Series is an experimental video essay produced by Cornell alumna Erin Espelie, and its subject is the series of rare-earth metals used throughout history in the production and replication of images: first in the obsidian “black mirrors” of early societies, now in your iPhone screen. The film has no plot, characters or dialogue. Instead, it consists mostly of shots of industry, the natural world and spliced-in clips from outside sources, with a narrator reading in monotone over the top. Interposed are references to historical figures, like Gutenberg and Primo Levi, who had some hand in the process of image creation. Exactly what point Espelie is using all these techniques and subjects to make is a little unclear.
Do you want to be cool? Sub-question: do you think that a person’s taste in pop culture can signify their coolness or uncoolness? Twenty-five years ago, I’m pretty sure that almost everyone would have said yes to both. People from before the Internet took over used to identify themselves using now-defunct subcultures like “punk” and “nerd” — or so my parents tell me — and if you were part of one subculture and not part of another, that was considered cool. This is what spawned movies like The Breakfast Club, which divided teen culture into five easily recognizable and incredibly reductive stereotypes.
From her ruby-red lips down, Riley Kilgariff ’16 makes her interest in fashion clear without saying a word. Throughout her years of study in Cornell’s Fiber Science and Apparel Design (FSAD) program, Kilgariff has exhibited her collections alongside those of other FSAD students in the Cornell Fashion Collective’s annual runway shows. This Saturday, she will once again display her collection — comprised largely of dresses and jackets —alongside the work of her peers in Barton Hall. The Sun had a chance to speak with Riley outside Libe Café, where she explained her interest in fashion, explicated her philosophy on design and gave insight into the program from which she’ll soon graduate. The Sun: So how did you become interested in fashion design?
Stoned teenagers are responsible for some of the best hip hop ever made. The wise sages of today were the blunt-rolling kids of 10 years ago, and by that logic precocious Chester Watson could have a great album in him someday. His new tape, Past Cloaks, is not an album proper, but it’s pretty great nonetheless: woozy and dense, hyperverbal and unintelligible, simple yet complex. But Watson himself is a terrifically wordy millennial who compiled Past Cloaks from his recent run of mixtapes. He hails from Florida, but his music bears little resemblance to the trap music that dominates Southern hip hop.
Macklemore knows what you think of him. He’s aware that he is viewed as a lightweight YouTube rapper, a privileged thief who unfairly profits from black culture. “White Privilege II” is his response, and it’s pure Macklemore: unabashedly sincere, clearly communicated and blatantly uncool. What rubs many people the wrong way about Macklemore isn’t his whiteness as much as his complete lack of guile. Remember, this is the guy who didn’t get that it would be tone-deaf to publically apologize to Kendrick Lamar after beating him out for a Grammy.
The shtick that has turned Future into one of hip hop’s biggest superstars casts him as a drug-addled club rat, drinking lean to numb the pain; this was more or less the premise of his last album, DS2, which was a huge critical and commercial success. The updated hipster take on Future is that he’s a doomed, lovelorn soul who turns his druggy misery into art like a sizzurp-sipping Cobain. This kind of revisionism is necessary in order to listen to such mindless music without irony, because Future’s songs are unbelievably repetitive and dreary. But in a recent interview with The Source, Future as much as admitted that his persona is a fabrication designed to sell records. “I’m not like super drugged out or [a] drug addict,” he said.
James Siena’s Labyrinthian Structures, which runs at the Johnson from now until Dec. 20, comprises prints of complex geometric patterns that surround a few wooden sculptures. These sculptures, too, are essentially patterns, and they move from chaotic to ordered: Iain Banks is a neat series of interconnected boxes, while the tightly woven Nuisance Value is almost violent in its randomness. Siena describes his work as “rigorously geometric,” and it’s always nice as a critic when the artist supplies you with the perfect term for their work. The key word in Siena’s phrase, though, is “rigorous.” In their near-obsessive linear perfection, the pieces on display recall the eerie consistency of diagrams drawn by computers.
There are two kinds of R&B sex jams: those in which the singer seems actually to like the women he sings about and those in which he doesn’t. Unfortunately, Ty Dolla $ign remains a member of the second group. This album, despite its personal touches about Ty’s family, is mostly about racking up as many bitches as possible, and that prevents Ty from ascending to the artistic heights of more inclusive, friendly singers like Frank Ocean and D’Angelo. Yet, Free TC has a lovely orchestral sound, and Ty proves a charismatic and talented singer. Though marred by weak tracks, there’s the skeleton of a great project in here.