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Logan and the Date Farmers

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Scanning the line-up of short films featured at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, I was delighted to see the animated music video N.A.S.A. A Volta in the mix. The project is part of the series of collaborations linking music video directors and visual artists as part of the North America/South America project, itself a collaboration between Squeak E. Clean and DJ Zegon, who brought a range of artists together to lend voices to create The Spirit of Apollo. The videos for the album adopt the same collaborative spirit, such that A Volta brilliantly pairs the Date Farmers and Logan. The Date Farmers are artists Armando Lerma and Carlos Ramirez, who grew up in Indio and now create paintings and sculptures that merge Mexican art iconography, murals, graffiti and more. Logan is the LA-based studio founded by Ben Conrad and Alex Tylevich and known for some of the most innovative music videos and motion graphics. A Volta, directed by Tylevich, is a dark, violent and frenetic pastiche of imagery and storylines, with references that range from Mickey Mouse to jail tattoos, with hints of gangland thrillers, high-speed chases and, more disturbingly, recent news stories of torture. The video jolts the Date Farmer's typically flat characters into action as the camera careens in and out of maze-like buildings in some lost city, where deals go bad, women are raped and men torture and kill each other. Tylevich describes the feel of the video best in an interview on boingboing when he references Street of Crocodiles, the great animation by the Quay Brothers, and Santo movies in a single sentence. While Tylevich goes on to dismiss direct links to contemporary political events, the mayhem and abuse, with clear cultural reference, bear scrutiny. Like the best videos, this piece is more allegory than pop pleasure.

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