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Secret Cinema announces details of its largest production yet

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2001-a-space-odyssesy-film-itsnicethat-list Features / Film "Something bold, something pure" – the 50-year long legacy of 2001: A Space Odyssey

When 2001: A Space Odyssey premiered on 10 May 1968 – 50 years ago today – it somehow captured the imagination of its viewers: an audience who was yet to experience footage of the moon landing over a year later. Packed full of lengthy sequences and free from dialogue or even sound, its imagery, directed by Stanley Kubrick, is tranquil to the point of being static at times. This combined with its understandably puzzling ending meant the film received mixed reviews from critics upon its release. Despite this, it quickly garnered a ferocious cult following and became the highest grossing film of that year: the only Kubrick motion picture to hold this status.

Folder-studio-film-itsnicethat-alt-list Work / Film Folder Studio's interactive documentary K-Town '92 highlights our "desensitisation to societal trauma"

The 1992 Los Angeles riots were a series of riots, lootings and arsons that occurred from 29 April – 4 May. The unrest began after the acquittal of four officers from the Los Angeles Police Department who were involved in the brutal beating and arrest of African American taxi driver, Rodney King. The riots began after footage of the incident was broadcast and widely viewed on television resulting in the most destructive civil disturbance in America’s history, totalling in over a billion dollars of damage.

Duncancowles-film-itsnicethat-list Work / Film Duncan Cowles' new film explores the panicky feeling that a creative idea might not be amazing enough

Following on from Duncan Cowles’ brilliant Taking Stock film at the end of last year, the director is back with a new film which again uses generic stock footage to piece together a very relatable narrative. Where Taking Stock touched a nerve with freelance creatives through Duncan’s own tale of trying to make a side hustle from selling stock footage online with little financial success, It’s Not Amazing Enough, commissioned by Ted, explores the panicky feeling of worrying your work might not quite be up to scratch.

Tom-fisher-catherine-prowse-the-need-to-be-alone-the-school-of-life-film-itsnicethat-list Work / Film Rod puppets in intricate felt sets profess The Need to Be Alone for Alain de Botton

Not long out of Kingston’s Illustration and Animation course, Tom Fisher and Catherine Prowse have directed a charming and impressively detailed short film for The School of Life, made entirely from hand-stitched felt. Featuring a cast of rod puppets shot in a live action format, The Need to Be Alone stars a red-spectacled, introverted protagonist called Alan – a tribute to its writer and narrator Alain de Botton. Throughout the film, Alan navigates a series of potentially awkward social scenarios as Alain professes the importance of having time alone to process these interactions.

Baloji-peaudechagrinbleudenuit-film-itsnicethat-2list Work / Film Baloji's latest music video is a dreamscape of electric hues and intriguing characters

An immaculately dressed man adorned in azure feathers stands against a cloud of blue smoke holding a bouquet of flowers. The man’s gaze commands the camera as a soft voice whispers “bleu de nuit” – “midnight blue” – over a kalimba rhythm. This is the opening scene of Congolese-Belgian musician Baloji’s latest music video Peau de Chagrin / Bleu de Nuit, taken from his album 137 Avenue Kaniama. Conceptualised and directed by Baloji and photographed by Kristin-Lee Moolman, Peau de Chagrin / Bleu de Nuit is a dreamscape of electric hues and intriguing characters. Although Baloji’s career is now firmly cemented within the music industry, the singer’s strengths stretch across creative disciplines. “I’m a visual artist when I work as a film and art director and sometimes even a stylist when funds are tight,” Baloji tells It’s Nice That. 

Peau de Chagrin / Bleu de Nuit follows a bride and groom during the hours leading up to their wedding. Baloji avoids a linear narrative, creating instead a series of metaphorical images that condense fleeting impressions into unsettling emotions. “Many shots depict an absent partner, which implies that one of them has gone back on their promises; changed their mind. The film illustrates this allegorically, showing the two protagonists alone in their wedding finery in front of the ceremonial installations. The backdrops become clearer as the cloud of yellowish smoke dissipates,” Baloji explains. These wedding frames, seeped as they are in vegetal embellishments, construct a theatrical stage that allows Baloji to play out his symbolic tales of love, lust and eventual apathy.

The hand-crafted masks worn by the characters throughout the film further highlight Baloji’s desired dramatic effect. As the figures wait in vain, “the masks come to represent the love that becomes a ghost. In this way, the masks separate the symbolically-charged waiting shots from the more figurative parts of the video,” Baloji says. This contrast is made all the more poignant by the intricately decorated wooden backdrops, which draw on Pygmy culture and its visually rich wedding rituals; “the installations are historically used as altars for wedding ceremonies,” the artist explains. In drawing on a long-established tradition, Baloji emphasises the pain felt by the lonesome character waiting at the altar and transforms a conventionally celebratory occasion into a harrowing betrayal. 

Peau de Chagrin / Bleu de Nuit is an aesthetic triumph; vibrant, atmospheric and undeniably compelling. When asked how the final outcome compares to his initial visions, Baloji admits that “it’s pretty close. We just didn’t have time to shoot everything. I made sure to be extremely prepared since the budget was very low. I knew the whole shooting list by heart, which meant we could focus our attention on the acting on set.”

Nxs-publication-itsnicethat-list Work / Publication NXS magazine builds a network of contributors who reflect on "the self" in the digital era

“We came up with the idea of NXS while studying on our master’s programme at Sandberg Instituut,” recalls Monika Grūzīte, Juliette Lizotte and Florian Mecklenburg, the founders of the tall, skinny publication exploring “the self” in the digital age of technology. NXS, which stands for nexus, is true to its name with every issue building a network of contributors where each is asked to reflect and comment on a previous contribution.

Morgan-powell_finger-machines_animation_itsnicethat-list Work / Animation Morgan Powell's animated industrial finger machines will unnerve and hypnotise you

Merging the two disparate worlds of human and machine in a slightly gross but strangely hypnotic way is Finger Machines, a new animated film by Morgan Powell at Seed. Softness and tactility are “the direct opposite of what you’d expect from machines,” he explains of the animation’s conflicted visuals, which show dismembered digits on a mass scale, engaged in various mechanical processes. And it is the film’s materiality that makes it so unnerving – an apt application of Morgan’s plasticine-like, super-smooth and hyperreal animation style. You can see more of this on his hilariously naughty ident for MTV involving lewd balloons.

Junocalypso-whattosowithamillionyears-photography-itsnicethat-7list Work / Photography Juno Calypso's eerie new series sees her posing inside Nevada’s plushest bunker

Imagine your average Doomsday prepper’s underground bunker; a low-ceilinged, dark, dingy room with a make-shift sofa bed and cupboards jam-packed with tinned food. Luxury and fallout shelter don’t seem like an obvious match. Juno Calypso’s latest surreal self-portraits, however, prove this assumption wrong. Her series What to do with a Million Years, which is currently on display at London’s TJ Boulting gallery, sees the artist posing inside Nevada’s — perhaps even the world’s — plushest bunker.

Elenaheatherwick-liberianmidwives-photography-itsnicethat-list Features / Photography Elena Heatherwick captures the spirit of hope and happiness embodied by Liberian midwives

The act of holding a camera has a distinctive charm to it. It starts conversations, but it’s an opener before a word has even been spoken. It intrigues people to come on over, to ask why you have it, what you’re doing, who you are. These pleasantries and the inevitable conversation that follows is an experience every photographer has undoubtedly had, but the accounts photographer Elena Heatherwick has from a trip to Liberia are some of the most joyful, heartbreaking and life affirming ones we’ve heard.

Subin-yang-illustration-itsnicethat-list Work / Illustration Subin Yang's joyful illustrations capture the fleeting and unobtainable moments in life

“Drawing started with my obsession for recreating something I saw that I couldn’t have in person. But by recreating it, I could somehow own it,” explains New York City-based illustrator Subin Yang. With a love for books, zines and any printed material, Subin’s joyful illustrations act as a means to capture the fleeting and unobtainable moments in life, all awash in a Lego-inspired palette of primary colours and pinks.

Nicer-tuesdays-april-max-siedentopf-list Regulars / Nicer Tuesdays Max Siedentopf explains why creative perfection is a dead end

Max Siedentopf is a creative working in advertising, who on the side creates a myriad of brilliantly oddball and original personal projects. But it is this eclectic output that can sometimes confuse people, he admitted at Nicer Tuesdays. “I’m pretty sure that no one here has any idea who I actually am,” he joked, and attempted to clear things up by telling us about his work at KesselsKramer – where he recently became partner – as well as his latest passion projects including a sticker book, gif series Instructions for World Peace, and Ordinary magazine.

Canyang-whitetigerbluedragon-graphicdesign-itsnicethat-1list Work / Graphic Design Designer Can Yang's book visually presents ancient Chinese elixir recipes

Chinese designer Can Yang is currently studying graphic design at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Born in Shenzhen in southern China, Can moved to the US four years ago where she has been working toward her degree alongside her freelance work. “Most of my projects are situated between design and cultural communication and draw on brand identities, editorial and conceptual art,” says Can. “They are visually characterised by abstract forms and Chinese characters that signal a reflective and critical stance to global affairs,” Can tells It’s Nice That.

Adobe99u-conference-itsnicethat-list Work / Events From being bad to burping glitter: things we learned at The Adobe 99U Conference

Last week I was in New York at Adobe 99U, a conference which brings together a selection of the best creative leaders from the industry to share new ideas. The talks explored how to be a creative leader today, from the design process to directing a team and everything in between. It also, refreshingly, featured one of the widest ranges of creative voices we’ve seen at this type of event, which made for an inspiring, interesting and original few days. Below, we share a few learnings from the week on how to become a better creative leader and practitioner.
h3. It’s ok to be yourself at work

Practica-interactive-itsnicethat-list Work / Interactive Gravient's adaptive typographic identity changes depending on where you look at it from

“When working, we’re always orbiting an idea. The concept has to ride everything,” explains Barcelona and New York-based design studio Pràctica. Founded by Albert Porta, Anna Berbiela, Carlos Bermúdez, Guillem Casasús and Javier Arizu, the studio recently collaborated with graphic and motion designer David Galar and coder Thomas Hoek to demonstrate its concept-first process.

Cassidyaraiza-itsnicethat-list Work / Photography Cassidy Araiza's dreamy photographs touch on youth, camaraderie and sportsmanship

“I always knew I wanted to make work around baseball but I just never knew what it would be until I moved back to Tucson, Arizona,” photographer Cassidy Araiza tells It’s Nice That. “I grew up playing baseball in the desert and developed a strong love for the game. I have always thought that Tucson was a baseball players’ paradise as it stays warm all year around and has some of the best light during evening games.” As it turned out, Cassidy’s intention materialised through photography. In his latest series, inspired by his nephew’s sports enthusiasm, the artist captures the subtle interactions that take place during a children’s baseball game. 


Nicer-tuesdays-april-marion-deuchars-list Regulars / Nicer Tuesdays Marion Deuchars on how to make a great picture book

The idiosyncratic brushwork and hand-drawn typography of illustrator Marion Deuchars is instantly recognisable, and have charmed children and grown-ups alike in her many books. Recently, Marion has been both educating and inspirational in her books about the art world, particularly in Bob the Artist, which aims to teach kids about well-known artistic techniques while also encouraging individuality. The new follow-up Bob’s Blue Period is about expressing emotions through creativity, and is loosely based, she explains, on Picasso’s story of loss.

Davidkasnic-alphaandomega-photography-itsnicethat-list Work / Photography David Kasnic
 sees photography as a collaboration between artist and sitter

In his latest book Alpha and Omega, photographer David Kasnic turns his lens on a regional community church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and presents striking portraits of the local neighbourhood. The Chicago-based photographer spent his time getting to know the local families, engaging in local church practices, and asking his sitters how they would want to be photographed. It is this thoughtful approach that renders Alpha and Omega a unique insight into an otherwise tightly-knit community.

Corentin-corneau-graphic-design-itsnicethat-3 Work / Graphic Design Corentin Corneau gives "strength and substance to images and text" through editorial design

Specialising in editorial design, whether in the form of a publication or a poster, Corentin Corneau’s work places archiving at its heart. Working with found photography, video stills and texts, the French designer’s portfolio explores the possibilities of print: “shaping, ranking, cutting and publishing,” in order to “give strength and substance to images and text.”

Listimage2 Features / Art Sound and vision: Parquet Courts' A. Savage on life as an artist and musician

A. Savage is an artist who is always walking the ledge between two creative worlds. The first is a musical one, where he throttles through songs playing in Parquet Courts. But the second is a slower paced painting career, where his enviable talent for building a narrative shifts from songwriting onto canvas. While he has no plans to settle in either camp permanently, his painting studio is “wonderful” the artist tells It’s Nice That. “It’s my favourite place in the world.”

Daynacasey-studiumgenerale-graphicdesign-itsnicethat-list Work / Graphic Design Dayna Casey's book of university talks is derived from the act of sitting in the lecture theatre

Designing posters for a series of university lectures appears to be a right of passage for many graphic designers. But Dayna Casey, an Australian-born, Hague-based graphic designer has gone above and beyond the usual one page InDesign layout. A graduate of The Royal Academy of Art in the Netherlands, she has created a whole publication, Studium Generale: Transmission Lexicon, on her old university’s lecture series.

List Work / Publication Super Paper is the cultural journal with regular design overhauls by Bureau Borsche

Super Paper lives up to its name. The Munich-based magazine is both superbly designed and informative; it updates its readers on art exhibitions, music and club events in the local area; it offers insightful articles on wider cultural and social issues; and it entertains its readers with satirical essays on the Bavarian lifestyle. “Each issue introduces a young as well as an established design studio, photographer or painter who accentuates a specific theme. The spreads include articles on art, fashion, places to be, exhibitions, literature, parties, and a chronological calendar. Most themes appear up to four or five times in a row. The magazine will then get a complete redesign," founder Hubertus Becker tells It’s Nice That.

Zhangkechun-betweenthemountainsandwater-photography-itsnicethat-13 Work / Photography “An unstoppable force is spreading across our natural landscapes": photographer Zhang Kechun

Zhang Kechun is a Chinese photographer based in Chengdu, a city located in the country’s southwest. Zhang spends his days working as a freelance designer, which gives the artist an opportunity to travel across the country on the lookout for new places to shoot. His latest series Between the Mountains and Water is a result of Zhang’s extensive travelling and features grand landscape shots of large, expansive mountain ranges and immense, concrete bridges. “Ten years ago, I spent three years shooting my last series Yellow River. After completing this project, I decided to continue looking for remarkable settings. Instead of shooting the river shore like I did in Yellow River, I ventured inland to look for impressive natural phenomena and man-built structures,” Zhang tells It’s Nice That.

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