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by PopMatters Staff

4 Feb 2010

Magnetic Fields
69 Love Songs (Deluxe Edition)
(Merge)
Releasing: 20 April

Merge plans a deluxe vinyl re-issue of the classic album 69 Love Songs this April and they’ve just offered up a remastered MP3 of “The Book of Love” from the release.

The Magnetic Fields
“Book of Love” [MP3]
     

by Rob Horning

4 Feb 2010

This Fast Company story about prosthesis envy is possibly even more creepy than the classic of the genre, the Atlantic‘s “A New Way to Be Mad,” about voluntary amputees. It begins as though it will be a story about reducing the stigma attached to artificial limbs and then takes off into voluntary body modification and the fantasy of transcending human limitations by becoming bionic, like the Six Million Dollar Man. I have nothing against amputees doing whatever they want to improve their lives, but I admit, and this may be wrong of me, that I find the idea of amputating additional parts of one’s body for aesthetic reasons disturbing.

Amputees are now regularly removing healthy tissue to make room for more powerful technology. “I see it every day,” he says. “People will get a second amputation—move their amputation up their leg—to get the prosthetic equivalent of a hotter car.”
Orthopedic surgeons often consider amputation the equivalent of failure, Young says, and reflexively save as much of a damaged, injured, or diseased limb as possible. But in leaving lots of human being, they create a bigger problem: There is little room left for high-performance machinery. Now, the allure of that machinery has become so powerful that amputees are routinely taking the extreme step of paying out-of-pocket for what the industry calls “revisions.”.... Herr’s suggestion, of course, is that the better prostheses make us perform, and the more glamorous they look, the more beautiful they will make amputees seem, too, even though their sheen, contour, texture, and color have ceased to look human.
“What is the obsession with looking human?” he says. “You think the only beauty is human? Bridges can be beautiful. Cars can be beautiful. Cell phones can be beautiful. They don’t look biological. So why do you anticipate 30 years from now that amputees will give a shit about human beauty? They won’t. Their limbs will be sculptures.”

Herr—an prosthetics engineer—is right. I wish Apple would stop designing gadgets and start designing elegant human-body-replacement canisters so I could do away with this hideous flesh husk. I have always aspired to be as beautiful as a phone.

by Oliver Ho

4 Feb 2010

A fascinating and complex balancing act, Yuichi Yokoyama’s Travel mixes an explosively kinetic, bold visual style with an intriguing sense of emptiness. It brings to mind a famous verse from the Tao te Ching:

‘We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.’

by PopMatters Staff

4 Feb 2010

Vampire Weekend played tunes from their chart-topping Contra on La Blogotheque’s Les Soirees De Poche series recently.

by Steve Leftridge

4 Feb 2010

Andrew Garcia

Andrew Garcia

Tonight was a sort of clean-up show that revisited clips from the audition shows that didn’t make the cuts in previous weeks. It was the last episode before “Hollywood Week”, when the actual singing competition finally gets underway and Ellen Degeneres arrives to, presumably, shake things up. Ads previewing next week promised the “most intense” Hollywood cuts ever, with even Ellen looking pissed off. Ryan Seacrest declared that the Season 9 pack might be Idol‘s most talented ever—he says that every year—but that they’ve “never broken down like this before”. So if you haven’t gotten quite enough of close-ups of crying jags, you’re in luck again next week.

Tonight’s catch-all show was a chance to get acquainted with more of the faces we’ll see in Hollywood, so the episode was mercifully light on the joke auditions, geared instead toward viewers who like American Idol as a showcase for actual talent. We have to this point been offered a limited view of the audition’s most promising singers, as the first three weeks maintained a focus on rotten-apple rejects and smirkable misfits, a parade that has proven to profitably extend the show’s season. Among the tryouts’ legitimate singers, the auditions almost exclusively focus on those candidates who have compelling stories of overcoming adversity. As a result, we have perhaps met just half of those who will end up in the Top 24 with a legitimate shot at becoming the next American Idol.

//Mixed media