Yannick Hamon, Portland-French Artist

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Yannick Hamon is a Portland transplant from southern France. He moved here a couple years ago with his wife, and just about two years ago he began to work on his art full time, which he’s been successful at so far.

His work was on display at a Red Bull curates show in Portland a couple weeks ago, and his work stood out the most – I can’t say exactly why, other than that they seemed to be the least Portland-esque paintings there.

I don’t claim to be an art expert, so when I look at Yannick Hamon’s art I feel a strange mix of tragedy and excitement. So when I ask him if he thinks they’re tragic, he says not at all. His paintings are expressions of all the things he loves. When looking at them in that light, I can see why I find them exciting, because he apparently loves a lot of the same things I do.

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I tend to see something of an ordered chaos in his paintings. There’s always a central focus, but the focus is surrounded by a kind of myriad of chaos that make up for a larger picture. I was able to stand at a distance and look at one thing, but closing in on the paining one is able to find so many smaller things. At some point I had to ask him what is the Lycée Montmartre. It turns out it’s an arena where Daft Punk played with Phoenix. Rock and roll mixed with fashion, two themes to be found in his work.

 

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IMG_0422 “Hey Yannick, was it intentional that the word ‘ass’ is right smack in the middle?”

“Not necessarily, but i’m glad it is.”

There is a certain provocativeness he brings to his work. His subjects don’t care much to play by the rules. “You’ll see that I say, ‘fuck your morals,’ and that’s what they are saying in my paintings.”

He provides a unique flavor to Portland, bringing in elements from his home and elsewhere, and giving it a Northwest spin. All his work is for sale on his page, http://yannickhamonart.tumblr.com.

And by all means, send him an email and offer to buy him a beer, i’m sure he’d be more than happy to oblige.

 

 

Ryan Saari Discussing his Non-Profit Public House

Check this out:

Back in May 2013 a pub opened up in Portland Oregon that functions as a non-profit pub.

This is a pub that exists solely for the purpose of donating money to charity. You walk in the pub, order some food, order a drink, and then you select a charity that your individual proceeds will go to. I went in there a couple nights ago, and darn it, their food is good too.

So check out this video of the founder, Ryan Saari, explain his pub. There is also a question and answer round for those who are bound to have questions risen.

Some Thoughts on the Rise and Fall of Flappy Bird

An interesting thing happened last week. A game called Flappy Bird gained an unbelievable amount of attention, generating $50,000 in ad revenue before the creator took the game off the app store this weekend. He apparently didn’t like the attention.

The game is notable for it’s difficulty and simplicity, though the gameplay is no different than any Helicopter variation. The player taps the screen and the bird rises or falls. The game keeps score by flying through some weird pipe obstacles that are strangely reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. 

The strangest aspect of this game is that it’s been available for about a year on the app store before Buzzfeed put up an article about the difficulty and popularity of the game, and then the game was featured on just about every mainstream business blog you can think of: Forbes, CNET, Business Insider, Wall Street Journal, etcetera and etcetera and etcetera. Ads ran in game, popping down while the player tried their damnedest to get a few points, often times (at least for me using an inferior iPhone 4) slowing down the game.

I found it interesting how difficult people found it. The CNET article writer claimed that they replayed the game about 12 times before they scored even one point. Myself, I scored seven points on my third try (I was allowed a grace period to learn how the game works). I found it simple: Determine how much space the bird raises, and then tap the button, using projection algebra to beat the obstacles and score points. Though the hit detection is shoddy, and the ads slow the game, so it’s very easy to lose, and losing is where it gets interesting.

Most of the attention to the difficulty was about how addictive it is. When a player gets a “game over,” instead of turning it off, they just restart and keep playing. They’re determined to get that extra point, to outdo themselves and to get that medal.

What strikes me about all this is the attention the game’s getting. A very simple game of subpar quality that’s entirely empty of substance but crunchy and salty enough to keep the player digging in far past the point of it being any fun, only to find validation in big-time business publications reminding us of the unusual quality of it being simple, difficult, and addictive. Flappy Bird is video games as McDonalds.

I find it fascinating with how it’s taken up until now to get mainstream audiences exposed to what makes video games so addictive and manipulative. This game certainly isn’t the first “soul-less,” mind-numbingly “annoyingly difficult” game to have been released, nor is simple addictive games even a recent phenomenon. I’ve been playing games like that for years. Gaming community and blogs dedicate great deals of time to discuss and analyze the way games are so addictive, and many games designed explicitly to call attention to how addictive games and manipulative games can actually be. “Skinner Box” is a phrase that comes up often when discussing games.

Flappy Bird is truly nothing special or new, except for the fact that it’s caught the attention of a ton of people and has been manipulated by certain powers, and covered in business publications, in order to manipulate mass amounts of people to generate a ton of money. The creator himself made a couple million, or at least Forbes predicted. And, like McDonalds, it won’t take anyone very long to catch onto that strangely specific formula and imitate Flappy Bird and to generate a similar amount of money, except the next creator may not be quite as morally adept as the creator of Flappy Bird. The next guy (or girl) may be as cynical and evil as the pre-Christmas-Scrooge, and money will be made.

That’s not entirely fair though. Flappy Bird probably wasn’t initially created at a cynical attempt to make money. It just feels that way after recent events. Though it does seem to me that the driving force in today’s economy is products that appear to be extremely amateurish projects that are backed by mega-corporation. At least, that’s the sense I got from Alexis Ohanian’s Without Their Permission. I used to think Reddit was a stupid website until I found out it was bought by Conde-Nast.

I think it’s fair that video games are coming closer to the mainstreams eye and being more and more accepted as a legitimate art form, but I think Flappy Bird demonstrates that nothing escapes the free market when profit is at stake.

I am the Worst Blogger in the World.

It’s true, i’m terrible at this.

First of all, that picture I have of myself is about two years old. I’m way sexier now (drunk and overweight). I only post whenever I feel like it, which seems to be once every couple months, which is pitiful because it seems like I have a little bit of a readership. It’s small, but it exists, and that’s incredible! Even as I sit here and type these words I feel that bit of excitement one might feel when they’re engaged in that childhood dream they decided to pursue after putting aside a safe and secure job after a number of years.

Well, I have a post open, and there are words in my window, so i’ll just tell you the books I picked up from the library: A variation of Camus and Sartre. I’m back in school now, and i’m taking some philosophy classes and law classes (next term I hope to take a philosophy of law class). In each of the classes the professors have brought up an influential philosopher at some point or another. There’s been discussions on Kant, Hume, Heidegger, etc., and it inspired me to go look up some of these French writers who i’ve picked up in the past but never finished. Now that i’m in a weird place where all I want to do is read (rather than play video games or watch movies) I decided i’ll give some of these authors a look-see again.

So there’s a blog post. I like to throw up a random post sometimes just to keep it alive. That and i’ve been making plans for my blog. Hopefully my wonderful readers will find some big changes soon.