In his project “Detonations,” the Swiss photographer Ueli Alder creates digital composites of explosions by splicing together images found on the Internet, screenshots from video games, and photographs from actual weapons tests. A look at Alder’s work: http://nyr.kr/18xenOe
Photographs by Ueli Alder.
Murder is our national sport. We murder tens of thousands with our industrial killing machines in Afghanistan and Iraq. We murder thousands more from the skies over Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen with our pilotless drones. We murder each other with reckless abandon. And, as if we were not drenched in enough human blood, we murder prisoners—most of them poor people of color who have been locked up for more than a decade. The United States believes in regeneration through violence. We have carried out blood baths on foreign soil and on our own land for generations in the vain quest of a better world. And the worse it gets, the deeper our empire sinks under the weight of its own decay and depravity, the more we kill.
Of all the defectors who have escaped North Korea, few know more about Pyongyang’s methods for crushing human souls than Ahn Myong-Chol, who worked as a guard at four North Korean prison camps before fleeing to China, and then South Korea, in 1994. Last month, I met him in Toronto, and he told me his story.
During training, Ahn was taught to treat gulag prisoners as expendable subhumans: They were to be kept alive only insofar as their labour output justified the gulags’ cost of operation.
On rare occasions, conditions become so hideous that starving prisoners stage local revolts. This happened, Ahn says, in 1985, at Camp 12 (one of four camps where he worked). “A guard was berating a prisoner who has collapsed, and when one of the prisoner’s relatives went to attend the fallen man, a guard killed him,” Ahn tells me, through a translator. “There was a large crowd of prisoners watching. Many of them went into a sort of rage. They attacked the local security village where the guards lived, killing 200 family members of the guard corps. When word spread, all the guards from Camp 12 and neighbouring Camp 13 joined forces to slaughter all the prisoners. No one knows how many people died. Eventually, they dismantled both camps.”
Stories like this help explain why more North Koreans do not rise up against the regime, or flee into China: Collective punishment is the norm. When a citizen is convicted of a crime, his children, parents, and sometimes even grandparents can be thrown into the gulag with him. (In Ahn’s case, his eventual escape into China precipitated a manhunt on the Chinese side of the border that resulted in 140 North Koreans being rounded up and sent to North Korean gulags.) Almost every act of escape or defiance is guaranteed to end tragically, if not for the escapee then for someone he loves. (Illustrations: Ahn Myong-Chol)
SOFLES — LIMITLESS.
More stop motion graffiti. Art by Sofles, Fintan Macgee, Treas & Quench.
Kid In The Cockpit
A skit from the absolutely fearless Australian sketch comedy series 'The Elegant Gentleman’s Guide to Knife Fighting'. (Via)
In California’s San Joaquin Valley, about halfway between Bakersfield and Fresno, on the outskirts of the fly-infested, windblown, stink-soaked, dry-mouth town of Corcoran, sits the squat, sprawling expanse of Corcoran State Prison, where Charlie Manson is serving out the rest of a life sentence for his part in the peace-and-love-era-ending Tate-LaBianca slayings of 1969. He has just entered the visiting room.
The Manson Family Tree: meet the key players in Charles’ orbit
He doesn’t look how he used to look, of course, all resplendent in buckskin fringe, sometimes sporting an ascot or the Technicolor patchwork vest sewn by his girls, with his suave goatee and his mad Rasputin eyes and his fantastical ability to lunge out of his seat at the judge presiding over his trial, pencil at the ready to jam into the old guy’s throat, before being subdued and thereby helping to cement a guilty verdict. Those days are gone. He’s 79 years old. He’s an old man with a nice head of gray hair but bad hearing, bad lungs, and chipped-and-fractured, prison-dispensed bad dentures. He walks with a cane and lifts it now, in greeting to his visitors, one of whom is a slender, dark-haired woman he calls Star.
“Star!” he says. “She’s not a woman. She’s a star in the Milky Way!”
He shuffles toward her, opening his arms, grinning, and she kind of drifts in his direction.
From a raised platform in the room’s center, two guards armed with pepper spray and truncheons keep an eye on the couple. Star is 25 years old, comes from a town on the Mississippi River, was raised a Baptist, keeps a tidy home, is a prim dresser, has a fun sense of humor. Charlie is probably the most infamous convicted killer of all time. He’s been called the devil for the way he influenced friends to murder on his behalf. He’s spent the past 44 years in prison and nearly 60 years incarcerated altogether, meaning he has spent less than two decades of his life as a free man. He will never get out. For her part, Star has been living in Corcoran for the past seven years, since she was 19. It wasn’t Charlie’s murderous reputation that drew her here but his pro-Earth environmental stance, known as ATWA, standing for air, trees, water and animals. She has stuck around to become his most ardent defender, to run various give-Charlie-a-chance websites (mansondirect.com, atwaearth.com, a Facebook page, a Tumblr page) and to visit him every Saturday and Sunday, up to five hours a day, assuming he’s not in solitary or otherwise being hassled by the Man. “Yeah, well, people can think I’m crazy,” she likes to say. “But they don’t know. This is what’s right for me. This is what I was born for.”
Rolling Stone Magazine makes a visit to planet Charlie.