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February 06, 2008 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-02-06

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, February 6, 2008 - SA

Everyday art:from
the ground up

The windows of Espresso
Royale on State St. - a
glass wall, really - are
familiar to most students here.
They reveal
the cafe's-
interior to
pedestrians
and provide
constant dis-
traction for
those meet-
ing for a seri- ABIGAIL B.
ous chat or COLODNER
a morning
scan of the
paper. They allow those inside
to entertain a feeling of electing
into (or out of) solitude in a pub-
lic space.
From the inside, one gets an
unnervingly acute look at pedes-
trians. Those on the street seem
remarkably vulnerable - to the
physical chaos and to scrutiny.
This opportunity to settle into
the spectator position that's out
of reach when we are, ourselves,
on display is undoubtedly part
of cafes' enduring appeal. This
fishbowl situation makes appar-
ent how much of a performance
people's public presence is. With
the degree of mental distance
allowed by a glass wall and a
paid-for seat, the outside public
can seem like a set of perform-
ers.
It's easy to lose awareness of
the spectacle we all make of our-
selves. Our awareness of it can
be teased out pretty easily: we
feel self-conscious about some-
thing we're wearing or someone
on the streets comments on how
we look, as though we're not sure
we're up to playing that charac-
ter today.
Although they can feel trendy
or oddly academic, artworks that
reflect on life with the scrutiny
of a social scientist are, if noth-
ing else, neat mind games. They
remind us of how charged with
meaning seemingly incidental
aspects of social life can be - and
our bias in picking and choosing
what we do and don't pay atten-
tion to.
New York is rightfully famous
for its street life. In a city that's
bordering on theatrics most of
the time, art that comments on
the theatricality of public spaces
seems natural. The New York
Times reported on three par-
ticularly attractive pieces which
were presented over the past
year. Both called their audiences
out on the voyeurism we so eas-
ily participate in as caf-goers
or bus-riders or, simply, pedes-
trians. Through exaggeration,
they make evident the unnerv-
ing extent to which our brains
labor to take in information and
make sense of it - fabricating, as
I wrote in my last column (Oh,
the humanity!, 1/23/08), a cast of
characters with articulated rea-
sons for their actions.
An empty storefront seated
the audience of Yehuda Due-
nyas's "One Million Forgotten
Moments," in which several acts
were performed on the sidewalk
itself. The performers navigated
the still-active street while the
audience members sat in relative
safety - except for, you might

say, their newfound exposure
to the unreserved scrutiny of
window-shoppers. The reporter
called the performance a liter-
alization of the "theater of the
streets." I don't doubt it took
passersby several moments to
realize that something out of the
ordinary was going on, and that
many of them felt uncomfort-
able stopping to watch what was
unambiguously a performance,
since the format brought it close
to home. What were the pedes-
trians? Scenery?
Photographer Thomas Struth
photographs people looking at
paintings in museums, often
taking his shots from as close to
the painting as possible, creating
an uneasy sense of edging oddly
close to an individual's attention,
at once rapt and totally unaware
of us. Photographer Kevin Con-
nelly, creator of "The Rolling
Exhibition," photographs pedes-
trians all over the world from
ground level. Connelly was born
without legs and takes these
photographs from, apparently,
a skateboard that he uses to get
around. In his artist's statement
on his website, he says that he
tries to photograph the moment
"before any of us can ponder or
speculate - we react. We stare."
His subjects are caught in the
candid moment of noticing
him. "Everyone tries to create a
story in their heads to explain
the things that baffle them," he
says.
When a couple dozen people
started simultaneously hula-
hooping on roofs in a Manhattan
neighborhood, even those not in
on the joke must have suspected
foul play. It was, indeed, orga-
nized, as part of a performance
Watching
pedestrians from
coffee shops as
voyeuristic art
art biennial. At the same time,
you can't make this stuff up
- that is, there's no need to. The
inspiration for this artful version
of what we expect to be sponta-
neous and playful came from an
actual event - the organizer saw
a woman hula-hooping on her
roof. And a statement was born.
That piece doesn't say any-
thing obviously political, but it
does tango with our wander-
ing attention as we glance away
from the face of the person we're
talking to, towards the individ-
ual looking like such a hipster
or such a businessman walking
past, towards the woman hula-
hooping on her roof for all to see.
What will we think, then, when
we look back at our friend, reach-
ingto us through their voice, ges-
tures, maybe even their clothes,
for effective communication?
Colodner is watching
you through the windows at
Espresso Royale. Tell her to
stop at abigabor@umich.edu

"Burnout: Paradise" aka "When Paris Hilton Gets Behind the Wheel."

B3LOWINA\G SMK

Latest installment in
racing franchise is a wreck
of poor gameplay and
lackluster design
By PAUL TASSI
Daily Arts Writer
Without a doubt, "Burnout Paradise" is
one of the most frustrating games you will
ever play. This is not just because of its dif-
ficulty, though a simple race
will surely have you watch-
ing your car get torn apart BurnOlt|
for at least 20 minutes of Paradise
slow-motion crash footage.X
It is so frustrating mainly Xbox 360
because of a series of poor EA
gameplay decisions by the
developers, some of which are so idiotic and
head-scratchingyou'll wonder if anyone even
played the game before its release.
Burnout has always been about crashes
- the most brutal, painful crashes you can
imagine. The "Burnout" series has always
done this well and still delivers the goods in
"Paradise." The series has evolved, however,
bringing the destructive action to a fully
functional city environment called "Para-
dise City," which looks suspiciously like Los
Angeles. Taking cues from "Need for Speed"
and "Midnight Club," in "Paradise" you
find races around the city and unlock new
cars as you go. It's actually fairly addicting.
But unlike "Need for Speed" and "Midnight
Club," "Burnout Paradise" executes this con-
cept so poorly it's almost unbelievable.
First time's the charm: If you
start a race, drive 30 miles to the
finish line and lose, there is
no "restart race" option. Yes,
that's correct; you cannot
restart the race. This means
that you have to drive 30 miles
back to where you came from
and start over, doing this as
many times as needed until
you win. It's a flaw that single-
handedly brings down the game
as players will find themselves wan-
dering aimlessly through the middle of
nowhere and wondering where the hell they
started from in the first place.
If cars were made of tin foil: Burnout is

a terrifying game to play, mainly because you
find yourself in horrific crashes every three
seconds or so. This is largely due to game
physics which has somehow interpreted that
95% of the cars in the game are made out of
glass. You can hit anything and die. Graze
another car, nick a guard rail or splatter a
butterfly on your windshield, and you'll be
treated toa five second animation of your car
spiraling through the air. And there's no way
to skip this, you literally have to sit through
the crash sequence every single time, and
you'll be doing it a lot. The only cars worth
driving in the game are the van and the
truck, because they can actually withstand
the onslaught of traffic for more than two
seconds.
"Lost" is not just a show...: It's also how
you'll spend most of the races in "Paradise."
In some bizarre "realism," the game never
actually tells you how you're supposed to get
to the finish line during races. You literally
have to pause the game mid-race, check the
map, plan out your route and then resume,
but by that time you'll usually be so disori-
ented you'll face plant into a wall. The only
hints they give you are a confusing display of
flashing road signs and the blinker on your
car. Yes, with all the crazy shit happening
on the screen you have to look at the blinker
on your car. More often than not, miss your
turn, drive off a cliff or plow into a bus while
trying to do it.
Ghost Rider: Perhaps the most bizarre
element the game is that no one is driving
your car. When you scrape along a guard rail
and tear the doors offyour car, you can clear-
ly see that your driver's seat is

empty. This may have something to do with
the "E" for everyone rating, as every single
crash in this game would tear the driver limb
from limb. Still, it's just strange to see, and
seems to be a detail that was just forgotten in
production.
Battle Royale: All the horrendous flaws in
the game aside, "Burnout" is still fun to play
in one mode: Takedown. Nothing is more
gratifying than slamming other cars against
the wall or plowing them into oncoming traf-
fic. The slow-motion crash sequence here is
readily accepted because, well, it's not hap-
pening to you, for once. This event makes
"Burnout" stand out from other racing games
and is more fun than the entire rest of the
game combined.
Nice Lamborghini Diablo, I mean Jen-
sen P12: "Burnout" will never be able to get
licensed cars because of the digital destruc-
tion it puts them through. So the game has to
resortto making up their own vehicles that
look suspiciously like their real-life coun-
terparts. There's nothing inherently wrong
with this, but the game promises 75 cars and
there's really only about 33, as each vehicle
has an unlockable alter ego which is the
exact same car, but with more stickers. And
you can't customize anything about any of
the cars, setting the game leagues behind
"Need for Speed" and "Midnight Club." In
fact, "Burnout" will make you want to play
one of those two games, where you don't
wreck every two seconds, can modify your
licensed cars and restart a goddamn race
when you fail. A multitude of small, obvious
flaws destroy this game. Hopefully a sequel
can reveal some of the fun
that is somewhere
deep inside
this series.

STYLES FROM NEW YORK
The Michigan Daily on one of
r . fashion's biggest weeks
Obedient Sons and Daughters: Fall 2008 Ready to Wear.
Swaim and Christina Hutson, the husband and wife design group of
Obedient Sons and Daughters, are anything but obedient. For a labelthat
made its name in menswear, Obedient Sons and Daughters takes their
previously perfected blend of rebel and prep - with a bit of meticulous
tailoring and lots of satin bow ties - and turns an impressive men's line
into an even bolder women's one.
Using traditional elements of menswear, Obedient Sons and Daugh-
ters morph wool jackets and pinstripe shirts into a line of high-waisted
shorts and blazers for women. Each look comes across just slightly more
feminine than androgynous. With fitted curves and a conscious layer-
ing of coherent patterns, muted colors and complimentary textures, the
line hits a high point with its strikingly glamorous, though completely
wearable women's collection.
While other designers at Fashion Week have attempted to pull off
the rebel-prep look, their attempts have left them with a look that is no
more than a baggy bohemian poncho over a schoolgirl uniform. Their
attempts simply fall flat next to the spirit of rock, messy hair and untied
boots, not-trying-too-hard-but-still-looking-great confidence that Sons
and Daughters embody in their fall line.
By translating the seemingly careless demeanor of their menswear
tradition into a uniquely individual palate of women's clothing, Sons
and Daughters pushes their fresh idea of fashioninto arefined yet rebel-
lious debut.
KATIE CAREY
tOURT-TY OF StuYLI COM

ARTS IN BRIEF

Television
Laughing at
celebrities is only
funny for so long
"Celebrity Rehab with Doctor Drew"
Thursdays at 10 p.m.
VH1
Enough is enough. Why are Ameri-
cans so intrigued by celebrity down-
fallsIt's trulysaddeningtosee Britney
and Jamie-Lynn Spears dominate the
news each day when the world has
so many other pressing issues' to be
concerned with. Instead of helping to
reverse this process, VHt's "Celebrity
Rehab with Doctor Drew" only drags
this unfortunate obsession into the

ground.
If that's not enough, "Celebrity
Rehab" contains no real celebrities.
The group of nine "patients" is head-
lined by formerWWE wrestler Chyna,
a guy from Crazy Town and Judy
Winslow of "Family Matters." Making
it even worse, it seems like these low-
class celebrities don't even want help
and enjoy acting like spoiled brats.
Throughout the pilot, they constantly
disobeyed the suggestions of Dr. Drew
and his staff, making a mockery of the
rehabilitation process.
VHl needs to wake up. There's a
limit to America's interest in rehab-
bing stars, and "Celebrity Rehab" is
far outside this boundary. It shames
shows like A&E's "Intervention,"
which takes its topic seriously and
caters to people who really need and
want the help.
DAVE REAP

FOR AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE
UPCOMING LECTURE "WHY WHITE
KIDS LOVE HIP HOP," VISIT
WWW.MICHIGANDAILY.COM

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