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Japanese Contemporary Artist – SHINICHI SUGIMOTO

By Anjela Piccard

Visiting Artist SHINICHI SUGIMOTO “City of Gravity”

One of the oldest and most famous metropolises in Japan, Kyoto, undoubtedly inspires the work of artist Shinichi Sugimoto. This international exhibition titled “City of Gravity” transcends its literal translation, “movement of energy”, and guides us toward a fragmented and dystopic urban chaos.

This series of paintings questions everything — not only the notions of up and down, color, and space, but the consideration of the humanity’s survival.  The painted layers, with strategic and often seemingly lawless depth, remind us of the parasitic nature of our human existence. Cyborgs float through the colorful landscapes. Beautiful figures engage in both trivial and then fascinating activities, cityscapes float endless into the sky.  Through form, object placement, recognizable and yet puzzling figures, these meticulous layers draw us toward either validation or denial of The Future.

The artists’ extreme attention to detail and to the coveted “New Imperial” mark reveals hours of  painstaking sacrifice. Each canvas is saturated with a vivid street art-kultural voice and is layered with notions of traditional color theory. These mixed-use techniques link this psychographic geography and with an ever daunting fear of aging — aging as an individual and falling apart, aging as a society and being replaced, aging as a culture and becoming obsolete. Subjects of time, place, history, lifestyle preferences, and an uncertain future show up again and again.

Quandary or conundrum, what is the possibility of transitioning into the unknown? One thing is for sure, gravity and reality remain uncertain in Sugimoto’s futures. The portrayal of this public abyss, of what may be ahead — not only for a vast changing global identity but for an individual human entity, is at the same time beautiful and haunting.

Screen shot 2013-10-07 at 10.24.41 AM

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Interview with Artist Chris Trueman @White Box Contemporary

Chris Trueman, LINEAGE, at White Box Contemporary gallery, now showing.
Chris Trueman, LINEAGE, at White Box Contemporary gallery, now showing.
[Video Q&A]

Chris Trueman Discusses His New Series

Lineage, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Chris Trueman

Posted by Katherine Sweetman
video interview HERE and below

“Lineage” A solo exhibition of new paintings by Chris Trueman

For his third solo exhibition with White Box Contemporary Trueman expands on a developing body of work that revolves around the construction of paintings that inhabit precarious and unstable territory. Trueman creates visual tension by combining seemingly irreconcilable strategies of painting and various historically informed motifs and styles. The paintings for this new exhibition push the boundaries of how we see and experience paintings by employing a mixture of high-contrasted stripes, moirés and complex layering. These truly dynamic paintings toy with the typical power structure of viewer/object through a strategy of partial disclosure and quite simply refuse to sit still. The work is diverse, playful and underscore a deep exploration of the painting medium that Trueman has undertaken.

2013 has seen a burst of activity for Trueman. The young artist began the year with his first solo museum exhibition at the new Museum of art and History in Lancaster, which received a Huffington post review. His work was included in the New American Paintings publication edition 103, featured in Fabrik Online magazine and on the Huffington Post Imageblog. He received a glowing review for his two person show in Washington DC in the Washington Post. His work has been exhibited at the Dallas Art Fair, Pulse New York and will be featured later this year at Art Aspen, Houston Fine Art Fair, Art San Diego and Miami Pulse.

White Box Contemporary was established in 2011 by art dealer Alexander Salazar as a contemporary art program that focuses on historically relevant, innovative and pioneering exhibitions spanning a range of media. The gallery represents a distinct group of artists with strong exhibition histories, burgeoning careers and whose work can be found in museums and major collections throughout the world. The gallery’s program helps to cultivate the careers of emerging artists by mounting challenging exhibitions and through various partnerships with public cultural institutions.

White Box Contemporary is actively engaged with many philanthropic projects and events and remains dedicated to building community through arts involvement.

White Box Contemporary
1040 7th Ave San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 237-8813

Chris Trueman at work.
Chris Trueman at work.
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FREE SEX: A practical introduction to open relationships and swinging

eBook on Open Relationships, Available on Amazon

Posted by Katherine Sweetman

FREE SEX author Ben Burns, doing research, obviously.
FREE SEX author Ben Burns, doing research, obviously.
With eyes closed, I savor the kiss. Tongues chasing. Suction. Separation. I open my eyes to see a beautiful Japanese woman grinning back at me. I’m standing fully naked in the main room of a sex club in central Japan. I look down to see five other attractive women licking, kissing, rubbing, and groping various parts of my body. The pleasure is overwhelming and I have to plead with them to stop…before they cause this moment of ecstasy to end too soon. I take a breath and look over to a nearby sofa and lock eyes with my fiance, who watches me intently. She sips on a cocktail and smiles lovingly back at me.

Rock stars don’t live this well.

Welcome to my world.

-Excerpt from the ebook, FREE SEX – A Practical Introduction To Open Relationships And Swinging

Author Ben Burns has an interesting bio. He went to State University of New York at Buffalo for Media Studies, the Francisco Art Institute for a Masters Degree in Film, he moved to Japan, then at some point he moved to Vietnam. Somewhere in there he joined the San Jose punk band Preachers That Lie, and opened for bands like The Dead Kennedys and TSOL (he’s still in this band and comes to the US to play periodically). Somewhere else in there he wrote a book on open relationships, something he’s been doing for over 25 years, and somewhere else in there he owned a bar in the backpacker district of Ho Chi Minh City.

His latest book, FREE SEX, was recently made available through Amazon, for less than 3$!

I ask Ben Burns why YOU should pick up a copy of his book, and his answer follows:

FREE SEX is a self-help book about living a freer, happier life. Learn how to break free from jealousy to enjoy more from life. Learn how to create healthier, more stable relationships that are based on honesty and open communication. FREE SEX provides options on how to live a better, more sexually satisfying life.

Even those in (yawn) monogamous relationships can benefit from the advice in this book. All couples can improve their communication, increase trust, and share their sexual desires more openly with their partners.

But if you are interested in sampling some of the joys of a sexually free lifestyle, this book will walk you through the whole range of possibilities.. from talking openly about sex with your partner, to allowing each other a limited degree of sexual freedom. all the way to free-for-all group sex and swinging.

If you want more freedom, if you want to keep the best parts of being single while being in a relationship, if you want more joy, more experience, more fun in your life, or if you simply want to learn about open relationships and swinging… this is the book for you.

pick up yours risk-free at:


Related Articles: “Saigon Cool: Posters, Tattoos and “Chicken Girls” + Interview with Punk Rocker and Bar Owner Ben Burns”

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The 3D of COSPLAY: Interview with Director/Producer team Gulliver Parascandolo and Christine Kasal



Director-Producers Gulliver Parascandolo and Christine Kasal

Interview conducted, article written and posted by Katherine Sweetman

[3D COSPLAY (Costume play)]

I work in the 3D film production industry, and I’ve met a lot of people in this field, but I have never met anyone as passionate about 3D as Gulliver Parascandolo and Christine Kasal. This enthusiastic power couple is serious about their 3D.

Gulliver and Christine at Anime Expo
Christine and Gulliver at Anime Expo

I met them for the first time at a San Diego Filmmakers networking event. Gulliver had a glasses-free 3D device in his hand, and he and Christine showed clips of their 3D documentary to everyone they met. I don’t think I had given much thought to Cosplay before that evening, but after watching the teaser I was hooked. Since then I’ve been a huge fan of the project, I’ve helped them film Comic Con in 3D, and I’ve ask them repeatedly for an interview. They finally agreed.

What follows is an interview with film creators, Director Gulliver Parascandolo (G.P) and Producer Christine Kasal (C.K.), conducted by interviewer Katherine Sweetman (K.S)

K.S.   This is such a wonderful concept for a 3D documentary. How did the idea come about?

G.P     Living in San Diego, we’ve become big fans of the San Diego Comic-Con, and for four years we had been shooting it in 3D. This was all before the idea of this documentary was conceived. The thing that became obvious from our early experience is that COSPLAYS ARE AWESOME IN 3D! On the surface, it turns people into living works of art. As fans of films and pop-culture, it was really great seeing our favorite fictional characters brought to life and walking around in front of us. More than that, it’s the technical wizardry that goes into these costumes. These artisans and super-fans create an atmosphere at these conventions that turns heads and makes grownups feel like they’re at Adult Disneyland! As filmmakers, we were compelled to explore the reasons these Cosplayers dedicated so much of their time, money and effort into this hobby. What we discovered was a community of passionate people from different backgrounds and careers that all had one this one thing in common.

C.K.     From our early days of shooting 3D, the difference between seeing a 2D picture of a sculpture couldn’t compare to seeing the same thing in 3D. You see so much more detail and get a sense of scale weight and texture. Cosplay is a three-dimensional art, and we felt shooting this movie in 3D was best way to bring this story and the artistry to an audience. But again, it’s really been the people behind this amazing craft that has inspired us for the last 9 months of production.

K.S.      Tell me about some of the people you are following in this film.

G.P.     From the beginning we wanted to find people who experienced Cosplay at different levels. I had known a Cosplayer named Ginger for a few years now. She’s hosted dozens of Cosplay events and panels, works in the fashion industry, and is someone who spends all her time and money honing her craft. She’s very connected in the Cosplay community, and she’s constantly being commissioned to create customized costumes for others. Ginger and her boyfriend are African American, and both are involved in groups promoting diversity in Cosplay.

C.K.    Another amazing person we met was a high-school senior named Liam. He is a junior Olympic water polo player who lives a conservative, goal-driven, life. With the help of his mom, he began crafting costumes for school projects, and that’s when his love of costuming began. He’s relatively new to Cosplay, and his family and friends (his athletic friends especially) don’t quite understand, but he’s determined to show them the beauty in his art, and his dedication to Cosplay.

G.P.    We were lucky enough to spend a lot of time with world-renowned Cosplayer, Yaya Han. She’s a professional Cosplayer, meaning that her full time job is getting hired to appear at events, conventions, and photo sessions for film and video game studios. She also promotes her own brand, and is a real resource for the Cosplay community. And Yaya is never shy when talking to any one of her 148,000+ fans about their Cosplay questions. She’s actually starring on SyFy’s new TV show Heroes of Cosplay. Her perspective as a professional Cosplayer adds an inspiring dimension to this film.


C.K.    Another incredible story we’re capturing is from a Cosplayer named Brandon. He is a different type of professional cosplayer. Not only is he a dedicated Cosplayer, he was the official Jack Sparrow for Disneyland. Also, being a single Dad to his 6-year old daughter, he realized he couldn’t be a full time Cosplayer without being able to make money from it. So he turned his hobby into a full-time business that rents out top-quality costumed “Characters” for parties and events. We’ve filmed backyard blacksmiths on a Steampunk convention at the Queen Mary. We’ve camped out with medieval Cosplayers who craft their own armor, and battle with steel swords. We’ve been to a bunch of conventions and met so many other Cosplayers who’ve shared their stories for this film, and we hope that the audience gets a well-rounded look at this unique world.

K.S.     Why Did you decide to shoot his film in 3D?

G.P.    The ability shoot a stereoscopic 3D footage of any kind came after five years of building our own 3D Camera systems and editing workflows. Right when Cameron’s Avatar was just hitting the theaters, we premiered our first professional stereo-3D production for CONNECT’s Most Innovative New Product Awards. This was all way before you could buy a “3D camera” outside of the huge Hollywood rigs. Now we’ve got about 4 different 3D camera rigs, from the all-in-one 3D camera, all the way to GoPro 3D camera rigs. We have found that you have to overcome a lot of challenges when shooting 3D that you wouldn’t even consider in 2D. You have to consider how your eyes work when you move through a space, and the composition of the scenes to make sure it’s comfortable for the audience to view.

C.K.     3D isn’t a “gimmick” we’re trying to exploit. We want people to be immersed in this world. We’re really trying to present a visual spectacle that should amaze, whether people view the film in 3D or 2D.

K.S.      In your Teaser, you have some very cool 3D effects. Is that going to be featured more in the film?

C.K.     This is actually something we’re very excited about! In addition to the documentary coverage we are filming with these Cosplayers, the film focuses on the reality and fantasy of Cosplay. We have found that once these Cosplayers transform into their character, they enter a new world full of characters from hundreds of different fandoms, allowing for the ultimate pop-culture fantasy mash-ups to occur. We’re adding in 3D visual effects to bring these Cosplays to life, and to visualize the superpowers and excitement that these costumes inspire.

G.P.    One of the last things we have planned to shoot are these massive group scenes with as many cosplayers as we can get to participate in what we are calling the “Dream Scenes”. These scenes represent my inner-geek’s desire to see Wonder Woman in a fight with a Transformer, a romantic moment between Indiana Jones and a Cylon, or a Mortal Kombat vs. Pokemon Volleyball game…LOL… We’re still working on the details, but we’re going to be pulling out all the stops and adding some stunning visual effects into these scenes. Hopefully giving the audience a glimpse into how these Cosplayers see their world.

Painting her fantasy!

K.S.    What has surprised you the most working on this film?

C.K.     What surprised us the most is how large this Cosplay community actually is. There is a genre of Cosplay for every generation. We found that Steampunk appeals to a more mature crowd, while the anime Cosplay is more popular with kids and teens. And there’s something for everyone in between. We were also surprised to find that in their daily lives, these Cosplayers dress in their business suits and play the roles of accountants, computer programmers, even doctors! The common thread is that the characters they choose to portray are a reflection of the characteristics that appeal to them, but they are not able to showcase those qualities in their daily lives.

K.S.     What is your overall goal for the film, and where can people find out more?

C.K.      Our goal has stayed the same for this film. We want to share our glimpse into this fascinating world of Cosplay, while highlighting stories that were inspiring and unique. And of course we want the film to be appropriate for a family-friendly audience. We hope to launch this film on several of the 90+ 3DTV Networks around the globe, as well as having the 2D and 3D versions available for digital download. We’ll be looking towards the future as Netflix begins streaming 3D movies, and we may have opportunities for theatrical release as well!

Overall, this is an Indy film in every sense of the word. So our options are wide open for what we can do with this film. We are looking at options to launch a Kickstarter soon as we move into the final phases of Post Production. Our goal is to finish the film in early 2014.

G.P.    Right now, the best place to go if you want to follow our journey is our Facebook page: We’re constantly posting 3D screen shots and clips from our latest shoots. If you have a pair of red/blue glasses you can view some of the incredible 3D right there on our facebook page. We’ve been so blessed by the response from the Cosplay community, and even people outside the community who are just learning about Cosplay for the first time. There are SO many people who are curious about pop-culture phenomenon, and this film will bring the world of Cosplay off the screen and into your living room!

LOOK OUT FOR THE FILM IN 2014 & FOLLOW COSPLAY DREAMS 3D: website, Facebook and YouTube
ALSO: Download 3D Clips for your Nintendo 3DS

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Ekstrə Records Launch & Interview with Founder Aaron Hastings

[Dance Music]

Aaron Hastings Brings “The Big Sexy Vibes”

ARKON at KAVA LOUNGE Photo by: Kp Wedman
ARKON at KAVA LOUNGE Photo by: Kp Wedman


“… I was educated in trance, house and breakbeats.”

Interview conducted, article written and posted by Katherine Sweetman

Aaron Hastings aka ARKON is the founder of the newly established ekstrə records (pronounced “extra” records) and the owner of Ajna Art Studio in San Diego. He started his music career in 1995 and has been a professional DJ since the late 90’s. During his tenure as a DJ he has produced hundreds of events and performed with numerous acts from all over the world. Arkon is also the resident DJ/ Promoter of the long running monthly Dragon Lounge event at Kava Lounge, and it was at this venue that he chose to have his record launch party.

DJs urBn LgNd, Otter, Osal8Swan Dive and of course Arkon himself performed styles like drum ‘n’ bass, future jungle and glitch while patrons packed the house, danced, and until the bar closed. THEN we all followed Arkon to the after party at Ajna Art Studio in downtown San Diego.

I caught up with Aaron Hastings the following week to see if he could tell me more about himself, ekstrə records, and his thoughts on the future of electronica.

What follows is an interview with Aaron Hasings (A.H.) given by Katherine Sweetman (K.S.)

K.S.    How did you get into the music business? What started your love of music?

A.H.    I used to make mix tapes for my friends in high school with a mixture of new wave, punk, goth and industrial. I grew up close to Orlando [FL], and it had a great music scene during the early 90’s. That is where I was educated in trance, house and breakbeats. I moved to Raleigh in 1994, and they had a huge college scene, but it lacked quality electronic events. I took what I learned from clubbing in Florida and helped jump start a movement in North Carolina’s triangle area of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. After hosting a few after hours events at The Grove, I decided to get some used Technics 1200s turntables and a mixer. The first time I played out live was in 1995.

K.S.     What DJs performed a the launch party and why did you invite these particular artists?

A.H.   The ekstrə records launch party roster had a multi-genre format and each producer dropped the tune that they contributed to the album compilation. urBn LgNd opened the night with some future garage and dubstep. Otter, who is known mostly for future jungle played a liquid dnb set. I played the 11pm slot and dropped 2 originals and one remix I did for a Beatport contest in my set. That was the first time I had ever played out those particular tunes that I worked on. It was a transitional period in my music career that I will never forget. I have DJed so many times over the years and have not had butterflies in a long time. The Elev8 founder Osal8 opened with his track “Get Nasty” which is a mid tempo trap step funky banger that is on the upcoming compilation. And Swan Dive closed the night out with some glitch hop and dubstep. His last tune to finish out the event was “Glitch Please” from the album.

K.S.     Who are the artists you’ve got lined up for your first album?

A.H.     The majority of the artists that I collected for the ekstrə terrestrial compilation are DJs that I perform with regularly and know personally. The album is starring some already established producers such as Sleeve, Macrodot, Otter, Osal8, Divinity and Man Du. Plus some other rising stars like Swan Dive, nKey, Panda Grass, urBn LgNd, Painful Plea5ures, 5am, Axis and Stoik. I will also be adding a solo track to the album.

San Diego has a lot of exceptional talent, and I am happy to be working with this group for the release. Our album is being mastered by Kial from Sub Pressure and the album cover is being designed by Jake Fl4t Bl4ck Wagoner. Both of theses guys are masters of their trade. Jake has been our resident graphic designer for Dragon lounge since 2011. Putting this album together has been challenging and inspiring. I believe each artist involved in this project is dedicated to the music with a deep passion. I look forward to the opportunity of exposing the world to their skills.

K.S.      What is your favorite sub-genre of music to play/create? Are there any in particular you continually find yourself drawn to?

A.H.    Lately I have been working on future jungle, breakbeats, dubstep, dnb, down tempo and film soundtrack. I enjoy most music genres, so I have decided to produce a variety of sounds. I also have an interest for getting into 4×4 beats like house and techno. I have been a DJ for almost 20 years now and have experienced an incredible evolution through electronic music. My early roots as a DJ were psychedelic goa trance & progressive house. I might have to revisit those styles again with my music production.

K.S.      What’s the future for  ekstrə records?

A.H.     A lot has changed in the EDM movement in the last 20 years. I saw the electronic scene peak in the early 2000’s and Hip Hop took over in most clubs and on the main stages for West Coast festivals. That is when a lot of the newer genres went back underground, and they evolved and survived until dubstep resurrected EDM back into the mainstream. Finally it seems that the United States is somewhat catching up to Europe when it comes to forward thinking music. There are plenty of highly attended festivals growing each year in this country spreading dance music into the air waves. It really is a great era to be involved in the California music scene. I have always been searching for groundbreaking producers when I book talent for events. Artists that are on the threshold of being discovered right before they blow up. I will take that experience into the selections I make for the upcoming releases on the label.

The label will be pushing the barriers on multi genres of electronica from dance music to cinema soundtrack. Although we are covering a lot of sounds the vibes will be deep and sexy. Also be on the look out for my first e.p. this fall with an array of future jungle, breakbeats and down-tempo.

The compilation release date has not been set yet so stayed tuned.




oor, Photo by: KP WEDMAN
Dance Floor at KAVA LOUNGE, Photo by: KP Wedman