I don’t know dude…

A couple of weeks ago, in the comments section of this thread, friend of the blog and skilled builder Christopher Hoffman had this to say:

And if I may make a recommendation, this dude does some unique stuff and only has 2(!) followers on Flickr so far.

Now, I’m always up for a suggestion, especially from a valued reader who contributes regularly in the comments, so I took the link with high hopes.  I was not prepared for what I found on Geng Lee’s Flickrstream, and even though I’ve had a few days to chew on the bone, I still can’t decide if the models are great or bullshit.  I think of the guy as “Murmurdog” because the builder uses the signature to irritating effect on all of his photos.  The name is kind of creepy and interesting but I hate when people put their stupid logos and signature lines on their models.  It seems incredibly pretentious to me, all the more so because the medium of choice is a childrens toy and more often than not the people who use such icons don’t produce compelling models.

On the upside, Murmurdog has his own distinct style, even within a relatively small sample size of creations.  His models and general style of building don’t really remind me of any other builder and that is kind of rare these days.  My favorite of his efforts to date is the Donald Duck image you see below, it’s a wonderful perversion of the classic Disney character with a hidden stomach cavity that contains the brushed gold device you see him brandishing.  I’m probably a little more inclined to like this one because I have a strong aversion to all things Disney and the cult of people who worship at the mercantile temple of the mechano-rat god.  But no matter how much I can appreciate demented Donald, he’s terribly low-resolution and kind of crappy when you get down to the nuts and bolts.  After spending way too much time considering the issue, I was left asking the question: is weird and artsy enough to be considered ‘good’? Or is this some sloppy action masquerading as something more.

On the downside it’s probably worth noting that he’s only got 18 followers (including me) and a handful of favorites.  Perhaps the most damning evidence is that the Manifesto seems to be the first and only blog to pick up his work.  BrickNerd posts just about anything Disney themed and TBB is so thirsty these days they will post anything that is remotely interesting, so if neither one has taken a flier on Mr. Lee, then I think it’s safe to say that the models don’t conform to the widely excepted standard of what makes a compelling Lego creation.  I know it’s stupid to base a decision like this on popularity slone, but people don’t seem to be all that receptive to Murmurdog’s models and that’s probably worth pointing out, if it may seem a little mean-spirited to do so.

In the end I guess Murmurdog and Christopher Hoffman win because I had enough doubt to make this post, but I’m putting the issue in front of the jury of their peers.  What say you, constant reader?  For those of you who refuse to comment because of a language barrier, Aspy-based fear or the all-encompassing death by inches of apathy, I have included a poll to make things easier and less time-consuming.

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54 thoughts on “I don’t know dude…

  1. I don’t know man…

    Yes, Hoffman is out of his mind or you followed a mis-copied link, but I can’t blame you for posting. Especially since every post turns into a debate. And this is certainly worthy of a debate, because… I can’t see it having any MOC-value. But maybe that’s only because, as you mentioned, it doesn’t conform to any current building style or theme? I can imagine a kid loving some of these characters. I imagine Lego mom being disturbed and upset when Lego kid makes these instead of a more natural looking Donald Duck. It feels like a mockery of the hobby. Is that a good thing? Maybe! Would it ever be accepted as a highlight of what the Lego hobby has to offer? Uhh, no.

    Which brings up an interesting point. Why are we so focused on quality in this business? And who on Earth gets to define what quality is anyway? Geez! We all got a right to build what we wanna build! Maybe MurmurDog has the right idea. If he’s having fun, who are we to turn up our noses? (Better to just ignore it, play it safe. Ignoring is the easiest form of dislike.) When all’s said and done, at least his build and your commentary caused me to leave a reply. Worth it? I doubt it! But it did make me consider, and quickly reject, a different building style to try out as soon as I am reunited with my bricks.

    MATANGO!

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    1. You hit the nail on the head, debate is the life-giving grist for the mill that is the Manifesto. What fun would it be if everyone agreed with my jackassy opinion? I hadn’t considered the possibility that Murmurdog is mocking the hobby and my rather expansive gut tells me his isn’t but you have planted the seed of doubt. I do think he’s mocking Disney, and I’m all about that, but as for the hobby at large…the jury is still out.

      Look, as you point out, dude is certainly within his rights to post whatever crazy shit he wants to. Fun trumps all other considerations but once he posts the creations he opens himself up to my jackassy opinion. I’d rather look at something I’m not sure about than another tedious X-Wing fighter or a “character” build with Mixel googly eyes based on some pop-culture flavor of the moment. I embrace the weirdness and I added him as a follower to see what he comes up with next, but I do like a little more complexity in my Lego models. It doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel or have stunning NPU, but Murmurdog’s stuff can look like the work of a crackhead.

      I think we’re so focused on quality over say fun or artistic expression is because we’ve been conditioned to do so by popular builders, taste-maker blogs and the collective weight of what we’ve seen in the brief history of the hobby. In the end, I’m glad Hoffman brought Murmurdog to my attention, even if I think it’s hot garbage.

      MATANGO!

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  2. I can’t really judge these, because I fail to grasp the meaning behind the builds. All I can comment on is what I can see: the building skill and the use of color. In terms of skill, there’s not much going on there, everything is simplistic and not very polished. As for the weird colors, it’s nothing special either; bright colors used in alternating or checkered patterns. Now would I like these more if the technique was better? I don’t know. In the end, all I can say is I don’t mind stumbling upon these, they attracted my attention for a while when Christopher posted the link, but once I closed his profile that was it, I forgot about them until now.

    And since I can’t stay on subject, I’m going to comment on what you said about signatures. I for one don’t mind them when they’re done in a stylish and non intrusive manner (Iain Heath) or done with a symbol (Carl Merriam, Jimmy Fortel). Then there’s Murmurdog’s example on the bunny picture… oh well.

    I also completely disagree with you about the pretentious part: does it really matter what the medium is/was? Is a rock a more noble material? If you think about it, most mediums (painting, sculpting) are just as much children games as they are art mediums. The medium is the same, what is different is the result. There’s so many strange things (from garbage to rusted iron) artists use nowadays, the medium is no longer relevant (in terms of who’s fucking who).

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    1. We’ll have to agree to disagree, Heath is the perfect example of a guy who take pretension to a whole new level. He seems to think of himself as a brand, as somehow bigger and more important than everyone else. To me it’s distracting and a sure sign that the builder takes himself waaaaaay too seriously. I do agree that some people handle it better than others, some logos are less obtrusive or obnoxious than others. I just think the plagiarism angle is overblown. Most people don’t make money off the hobby and I’ve rarely encountered a group of people who are quicker to call out the plagiarists. Look, everyone is free to do whatever they want, it just makes me roll my eyes…sometimes right out of their sockets.

      The medium does matter to me. When people try and get too serious or profound with Lego it makes me laugh. That’s my own baggage, but I just can’t take it that seriously. It’s cool, it’s fun, it’s endlessly interesting but I can’t get carried away calling it art (sorry rountRee). I think it’s closer to a hobby or a craft. At the end of the day it’s still grown men (for the most part) playing with a kids toy and when things get too serious it seems pretentious to me. Obviously your take is completely different and that’s EXACTLY what I love about your contributions on the Manifesto. You RARELY agree with me and your arguments are always well articulated and free of hostility. What more could I ask? I salute you, Absurde!

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  3. I did say “unique” and I don’t think I’m wrong there. I guess the closest thing his stuff reminds me of would be ugly 90’s animation like Aaahh!!! Real Monsters and Rugrats, or maybe the less gruesome imagery in Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared. His MOCs are simultaneously nostalgic and disturbing and I value that way more than all the technically impressive builds out there that make me feel nothing. In my opinion the hobby is way too focused on techniques and part usage and no one gives a shit about evoking any sense of feeling, Iron Builder being the poster child. Of course what resonates with someone is subjective but I think the fact that all anyone talks about when they praise a MOC is the technical aspect is telling. Techniques and part usage should be the means, not the end, but obviously a lot of people in this hobby don’t see things that way. I say Murmurdog’s lack of popularity is the fault of the masses too blind to see past the basic bricks and rainbow colors.

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    1. This is their biggest failure to me, they tell me absolutely nothing. They just seem abstract for the sake of being abstract… which is one of the most common attempts at art in general. In terms of aestetics, this is very reminiscent of seuss or alice – madness games and millions of other things that use similarly abstract style. Karf does this a million times better. Even when I don’t know what the hell he’s building, it either causes a laugh or they’re so out there I get a sens of what the hell is this guy dreaming about. No such reaction here. Or if you really want something good, you can’t go wrong with why not? on pages – http://www.moc-pages.com/home.php/118360

      With all it’s “flashiness” and focus on parts, IB has produced some of the best mocs the community has to offer. And that despite the exhaustion it causes and need for rushed builds. Are you saying that these are more worthy than what was done there? That they should get more attention?

      This is what I love about this hobby, there’s plenty of ways to approach it and neither is wrong. You can focus on technical aspects, you can focus on parts, you can focus on stories, emotions, purely on aesthetics, whatever you want. But the real mind blowing stuff happens when you manage to check pretty much all the boxes.

      And I also disagree about the community; there are rare instances where a builder actually seeks attention + deserves it and isn’t noticed. And he’s not really going out of his way to be noticed.

      And I really hate you right now for making me say that agree with the majority (I hate doing that :)) ), but in this case I really can’t be on the other side.

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      1. True, this is not a particularly original aesthetic outside of Lego. But then a lot of what you see in Lego has been done before in other mediums. Taken within the confined context of Lego, Murmurdog has a style that you just don’t see anywhere else in the hobby and it doesn’t reek of amateurism to me from the way he’s blocked and striped his colors and how intentional the creep factor seems especially in those Disney builds. I think the mere fact that they’re done with Lego adds a certain quality to both the nostalgia and the creep. Perhaps he’s inexperienced in technique, but that’s a non-issue to me.
        His work reminds me of that Nicholson Joker build we had a while back on Friday Night Fights that was incredibly unsettling despite (or maybe thanks to) the simple techniques used.

        It’s hard for me to put my finger on why, but I’m not a huge fan of Karf. There’s something about the colors he uses and the proportion of bley to everything else that puts me off. And why not? looks a hell of a lot like Nannan’s early stuff and is way more conventional than Murmurdog’s or Karf’s work. As I said this is all a bunch of subjective shit, but I value both Karf and Murmurdog for going against the grain of the hobby at the very least.

        I have more of an issue with IB from an ideological standpoint than the MOCs themselves. Being based solely on NPU it encourages people to value that more than almost anything else it seems. The output is often boilerplate and occasionally brilliant (which should be a given considering the talent involved), although usually only from a technical/parts standpoint in my opinion. I guess that box in my checklist is way further down than on most people’s.

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    2. I agree. It feels like he’s one of the few who has managed in way to transcend the medium, and for that alone, deserves some attention. The opposite could be said of someone like Nathan Sawaya whose work is utterly lacking of any soul and focus on the medium is the only thing he has going for him.

      In these, the presentation is lacking and that watermark is truly obnoxious but I get the feeling that he would be trying to do the same type of art no matter what you put in his hands. If he had picked up the paints and brushes instead, the work would still reflect the same message and style I think.

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      1. That’s a great point Nathan, I agree (in a vacuum) that Murmurdog would probably be making the same type of art regardless of the medium. Painting, clay, mixed-media, he would probably still produce things like demented Donald Duck. It will be interesting to see where he goes from here.

        I also agree that Sawaya’s stuff is charmless and obvious in a first year Art-School student kind of way. That giant figure tearing open his chest so bricks can spill out kills me every time. So deep! So thought provoking! I don’t begrudge Sawaya his success, he went for it and now his stuff tours the world…it just leaves me cold. I found him to be really standoffish in person too, although it was at a huge bustling convention so it might not be too fair to judge him in such a distraction filled environment. He definitely seemed too cool for the little people.

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  4. I know you don’t like cosplay, but you have a thing for weirdly wonderful characters, don’t you Keith? Since I couldn’t make up my mind about this post, I just vote the one with Rutherford written on it, I do like the guy though.

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    1. You are correct, good sir, I despise cosplay (except on Halloween) and the attention whoring people who engage in it, but I do love weirdly wonderful characters. I’d say the jacked-up Donald Duck qualifies as weirdly wonderful, even with it’s jagged edges and basic construction so I’m forced to admit that Murmurdog’s work does has some value.

      You made the right choice on the poll, like him or not, Rutherford is a jerk!

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  5. I ended up voting for the “interesting” option. Yeah, the technical aspects of all these MOCs and pictures are kind of crappy, but I feel like that might just be down to lack of parts or practice. I feel like there’s some sort of artistic intent in these, moreso than a lot of other “rainbow warrior” builds. Some of these MOCs are already sort of weird and creepy, so maybe in a few years time they’ll reach a point where they’re really the stuff of nightmares. Regardless of whether Murmurdog’s stuff is really “good” or “art”, it at least serves as a palate cleanser between all the boilerplate castles and SHIPs and cries of “NPU!” that comprise the majority of the output of the rest of the AFOL world, so I definitely appreciate it for that.

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    1. You voted for interesting?! How could you not select the “Rutherford is a jerk” option? You disappoint me, donuts, you wound me to the core. I forgot to mention in my write-up that the photo quality is crappy, but strangely I find that presentation means less and less to me as my adventures in blogging continue. Sure I’d rather look at a model with good focus than a blurry one, but I don’t put the same value on slick-boy Photoshopping skills as I used to. I agree with you that there has to be some kind of artistic intent going on, but I just can’t currently fathom it. And I hope you’re right when you suggest that time and more examples of his work will lead to greater understanding and more impactful models. At the end of the day, I would like to see more from Murmurdog.

      A palate cleanser might be the best way to categorize these creations, a welcome break from the tedious boilerplate that surrounds us. When responding to these well thought out comments, I find myself leaning towards these models actually being good.

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  6. There’s a level of creepy to his work that I can really appreciate. Not the Nick Pascale sort of creepy, but the nightmarish sort of twisting of nostalgic imagery with this blocky medium that makes me want to wonder why I am looking at it. I think the best way to describe this from an artistic standpoint is to relate his work to the Cubist movement with Braque and Picasso (Yup, I went there.) The direction their art went started somewhere. Both were very highly skilled at realistic and “accepted” forms of art. With Murmurdog, there’s no point of reference and foundation to understand his direction. And with all our focus on techniques, NPU, exceptional photography, etc., all the narrative that explains or defines why his builds show us what’s next is lost. Is it worth blogging? Sure. Why not? I’ve seen shit blogged that makes me shake my head thinking that no one posted any builds today EXCEPT for this one right here on TBB. I always figured that was the reason for all the lame fucking product reviews (Really?! Who fucking cares? We’ll buy it for the pieces anyways and who gives two shits about how this X-wing is different than that X-wing? But minifigs!!!) Are the blogs worth his time though? I don’t think he gives a fuck about what his exposure and place in the community is. He doesn’t take any sort of normal path of glory or counts likes or followers. It may be an unfamiliarity with the mechanics, but it may not. I just see this as someone exploring something interesting in their minds. A little more familiarity with his intentions wouldn’t hurt, but I don’t think it will help either. It just is. Like an amoeba. And Christopher is definitely a loon. And your poll is flawed. And Rutherford is a jerk. And spaceship!!!

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    1. Creepy is relative, at least there was no mankinder Santa Claus lap-sitting going on here. I can’t believe you dropped in a Braque reference, I know he once shared a “dream of cubism” with Picasso but that’s not the comparison I would have expected with Murmurdog. You’re such an art-history wonk, I love it! I spent most of my art history classes at college sleeping (night classes, lots of slides), I’ll have to chew on that one for a bit.

      As for TBB and product reviews, how else will I know what Lego sets to buy? I’m an idiot who can’t make a decision so I, for one, appreciate being told which Marvel or Star Wars sets are the best, and which minifigs have the best resell value. Minifigs!

      I agree completely and celebrate the fact that Murmurdog likely does not give a solitary fuck about blogging or what his contemporaries think about his work. It’s refreshing to see somebody just building weird stuff, and I kind of hope he maintains his mystery by not speaking on his Flickrsream. I know it’s probably a language barrier but too much explanation might queer the vibe. He’s new to the scene so who knows what he really values or which direction he’ll take things, as you suggest, time will tell. I hope he stays weird, and if he does hit the big time we can say we were first on the bandwagon and that is incredibly important.

      Christopher is a loon! My poll is flawed! And Rutherford is a jerk! Spaceshipppppp!

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  7. Since I spit in the face of technique for the sake of technique, I salute the simplicity here. The presentation could use some work, though. I get why some people put their name all over their photos, but I find it distracting nonetheless.

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    1. Agreed. Technique for its own sake amounts to reading a Haynes manual on how to replace a fuel pump on an 84 Celica. I’ll look it up if I NEED to; outside that, who gives a shit.

      The signature thing is unnerving, especially in this instance. If it’s there to be some level of copyright, you’d think he’d have a wider following. This just seems premature and paranoid. Who’s looking let alone copying? To me, signing a work is almost an impossibility. It is the way I communicate that there is no more for me to do on a piece. The time you end a piece is just as important as the time you start one. That is the final final. The signature here seems like an exercise of some wrote procedure; and in that respect, it is a technique for the sake of technique as if he’s expecting to be graded.

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      1. I interpreted it more as trying to prevent others from ripping off his photos, which could be a big deal in the Asian Lego community as far as I know. Because I know a big fat nothing about that scene.

        On the point of the near impossibility of ever being completely finished with a piece, I totally agree.

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      2. I’m not convinced that the logo thing prevents theft, with the right skills (that pay the bills) isn’t it pretty easy to get rid of those? If the thief is determined enough I wonder how much it matters?

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    2. I get it too, but it doesn’t make the logos and slogans any less irritating. Spit or salute, that could be the name of your monthly column Pascal, think about it!

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  8. Guess I’m in the minority here (So I am on the right side!). Anyways, you guys keep mentioning technique for the sake of technique, but honestly I can’t figure out what you’re thinking about with this. What type of build enters in that category? The only thing I can think of is putting together two parts for a nonsense that looks cool. The moment you build something meaningful (be it something artsy or you basic everyday car build), technique becomes the means to achieve that result. And why the hell shouldn’t the technique be complex if you have the skill for it? (Of course there’s the case where you can introduce a complex technique for the sake of it with a lesser aesthetic result than taking the simple route, but in most cases that doesn’t apply – also doing it doesn’t have to be a bad thing, maybe it will inspire someone to use it properly in a different context and so on).

    I myself love simplicity (polished and well build not the amateurish kind) and tend to focus on that most of the time, but damn if I can see the reason for making technique seem like meaningless shit. Most great works are elevated by it.

    “His work reminds me of that Nicholson Joker build we had a while back on Friday Night Fights that was incredibly unsettling despite (or maybe thanks to) the simple techniques used.”

    I find that to be completely different. It’s a well polish build and a million times more complex than these. As for the creep factor, simplicity’s got nothing to do with it. It’s a mix of the distorted style he used coupled with lighting and almost a mechanical look caused by some of the techniques.

    “I have more of an issue with IB from an ideological standpoint than the MOCs themselves. Being based solely on NPU it encourages people to value that more than almost anything else it seems.” > You’re looking at this wrong, IB doesn’t encourage anything. It’s a show meant to entertain the masses (while gathering as much attention as possible), and as such it does it’s job admirably. It’s aim is not to create the next big masterpiece. So the focus is on as much action as possible to keep the audience interested, but here’s the good part: by putting the best against each other and introducing the presentation criteria, they also force the entire thing to become quantity AND quality. The entire thing is as shallow as a lame tv show, but the quality of builds produced there serves to balance things out.

    The people’s focus on npu is not IB’s fault, but their own; as with everything popular, they will jump on the bandwagon.

    And finally, there’s nothing wrong with NPU. There are examples of uses that are so brilliant and unexpected that they become as relevant as a great build itself. The problem is nowadays every mildly interesting use is over-praised.

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    1. I’ll throw myself under the bus here and provide you an example from my own questionable stable of work. This model was built pretty much exclusively to show off a technique for it’s own sake. It was fairly popular despite no coverage from blogs or Explore, but that’s mostly due to the franchise theme.
      The Dragon Wall: Arrival
      I didn’t really try as hard on the rest of the build as I did on the back wall made of hose boat hull sliders (real name of the part escapes me). I wanted to use a big bag of those things that were gifted to me by another AFOL, and I finally found a way to do it.

      I just realized you’re talking to Hoffman here, but I couldn’t resist jumping in. I don’t think anyone hates a great technique, it’s just a means to an end, but it’s not the be-all end-all that some people think.

      As for IB, I think you’re wrong, it does encourage something…speed over quality. You’re never going to win that contest making two or three awesome, intricate builds, you’re gonna get killed.

      Good to see you fired up though, as I said further up the chain here, I dig you opinion, especially when it runs contrary to my own. This blog is no different from the other places where people gather, it can quickly become an echo chamber and sometimes I’ll say outrageous things just to combat that effect.

      I do take exception with your statement that “I myself love simplicity (polished and well build not the amateurish kind) and tend to focus on that most of the time”. I find most of your builds to be anything but simple.

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      1. The bricklink name is “Plate, Round 2 x 2 with Rounded Bottom” which is a mouthful. Though I do find it funny that “boat stud” is kind of confusing, too. The first time I heard that I assumed there’s a special kind of stud (some 1 x1 sized thing) used on boats. 😉

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  9. “At the end of the day it’s still grown men (for the most part) playing with a kids toy and when things get too serious it seems pretentious to me.”

    I sure as hell cannot deny that. :)) But my focus is on the result and this is where things become different. You can’t compare stuff a child builds while playing, with what the best in the hobby have to offer. I’m not one to throw around the word art on every single build that is above average, but there’s definitely examples where I would use it. And with the advancements in technology (digital sculpting and painting, need I even mention music) I don’t see other mediums as something special either nowadays. Art sparks from the individual’s talents and creativity; the medium is just the means to communicate it to the world. Of course there’s a lot to add here about how each medium has it’s own particularities and how it serves to work with or against an idea, but I don’t really want to turn this post into a Pascale.

    I’m not talking exclusively to Hoffman, anyone is free to chime in.

    Sure, you may have started build with a technique in mind (plenty of my builds started that way with a part or a technique in mind, but I can’t really put them in the t4t sake category; it’s just one of the ways inspiration strikes), but you didn’t stop there, you used that technique to make a huge avatar dio. The build would still be good if you used lame panels for those walls, but it’s that technique which pushes it to being something fantastic. If anything, I see this an example that proves my point, where the technique elevates the build. (Also this is one of my favorites from you).

    IB related, I did say the same thing, that it encourages quantity, but in the competitors. And I truly believe it balances that nicely by demanding quality as well. You won’t win it with 60 shitty builds either. Then it’s the competitor’s fault partly. Nobody is asking them to do 30 builds in a round. They can just as well do 5, but if one does 30 the other is forced to follow. What I meant to say there is that IB is not there to guide the crowd towards certain a ideology, it’s there to entertain. That’s it.

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    1. All our little table scraps exist as NPU/t4t inspirations. On that level, they are the equivalent of style in the art world; something unique to share and expand on. Something is clicking internally that communicates with all of us, whether someone else finds it interesting enough is another thing and irrelevant. Celebrating a specific piece and showcasing its unlimited possible uses is the job of the Iron Builder. And in that entertaining respect, they do it well.

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    2. IB is a huge source of entertainment and that’s exactly why I’m criticizing it. It draws a big crowd and a ton of excitement toward what I see as soulless builds. That attention reinforces an inbred style among Iron Builders and influences greenhorns who may consider those boilerplate builds the ideal. Even if IB is only entertainment now, it had a strong influence back in the day; as I’ve said in other threads it was at its peak when the zeitgeist was focused on NPU and I think it’s had a lasting effect on what the community at large values in much the same fashion as tastemaker blogs like TBB.

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  10. It really bothers me that there isn’t a limit on the entries for IB. I suppose at this point it’s about the heritage and it will always be this frantic build build build sleep build build build shitshow, but fuck me…that sounds awful. Why not 1 month, 5 entries maximum. Or is the lack of restrictions what makes it so great to people? The sort of frenzied builds that come out of it…some are great, but some of the lesser ones…I just feel like it isnt that exciting anymore.

    I’d be way more interested in sort of a live version of Friday Night Fights. Two warriors, one week, one build. No mailing of parts, maybe a theme gets chosen, whatever. With the level of comments and critiques offered here by everyone, I’d be stoked to have that much feedback, constructive especially, be offered up.

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    1. It really isn’t as awful as it seems. I’ve done both IB and Mocathlon at the same time and while it was definitely exhausting, it didn’t stop me from doing something other than building nor did I end up staying up at night to build (I never do that). Most builders that participate are builders that are able to throw an above average medium sized build in an evening. As for ideas, by the time you finish the first build, you’ll already have 5 others waiting in line. I actually believe I improved a lot during that time, was forced to get out of my comfort zone often, and the challenge of going against Jimmy helped a lot in this respect.

      The Friday Night Fights idea is definitely interesting and it could appeal more to people that have been in the hobby for quite some time now. Indeed, instead of judges you would have people voting and offering feedback and critique.

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      1. Wasn’t hard for you, but you’re some kind of robot. Your average builder can’t do both at the same time. Was that some kind of humble-brag? You did it all without building at night. Freaking robot. I think most of the IB competitors come away from the experience exhausted but agreeing with you that it made them better builders. I’ve done MOCathalon and it didn’t seem as harsh because you had a team to keep you motivated and distribute the weight of the workload.

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      2. So you’d be willing to compete in a Friday Night Fights live competition? Like I told Zach I’ll give it some thought, I don’t really like to ask the readers for anything other than comments, one thing this blog has made clear to me is that people are incredibly busy and can barely find the time to comment for the blog, much less build for it.

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    2. The problem with IB is that we’re all just sort of done with it. It is after all based on an awesome show that ran its course then faded into obscurity. It had its moments good, not so good, and utterly brilliant, but we all want something more. We are a finicky lot. The level of competition is always there, the showcase for it needs to adapt to our needs and wants (I know that my own sadism is screaming for the seed piece to be something utterly useless like Nnenn’s useless piece, that goddamn rubber band holder without any way to connect, or the Scala potty.) The show calls for pure NPU well done, photographed perfectly, and lots of it. The marathon is a brutal challenge, but it’s still just a guy running 26 miles; throw in a rapid tiger that’s been poked with sticks for the past two hours while being subjected to Insane Clown Posse then you might have something brilliant. If IB could also have categories or themes as well as limits, that would not only increase the challenge but also make judging less subjective. That would then take away from the pure NPU aspect for good and/or bad, but that would then not be IB.

      Love the idea of a Week(end) Warrior build-off though. From week to week or Friday midnight to Sunday midnight for the weekend, one brutal seed piece, two competitors, one build per week(end) maybe in a theme announced each week, and a fucking rabid tiger! Go for a month/four week(end)s/four battles; see who comes out on top. Other than the tiger.

      We really got oddly sidetracked on this article, didn’t we? And Rutherford is still a jerk.

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      1. Sure you love the concept, but would you build for it? That’s the question. Things sound great in theory until it’s time to slap some bricks together. If I did go for it, I’m not sure the seed part is the way to go. IB and it’s many knockoffs do that already, I’d have to come up with a new spin on the action. Food for thought dude, I’ll kick around the idea.

        We may be a finicky lot but we are not a funky one.

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      1. I’m only asking for it because I’m too fucking lazy to go out and find it myself, all the extra clicking on the compooter cuts in to my drinking. Thanks! XD

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      2. I wanted to get into that competition but it was like watching paint dry and the models that come out of it are less than interesting. I’ve only seen a couple of the shows and I know the rules are purposefully restrictive but the final product isn’t much to look at.

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      3. I also found the host and his bow-ties to be irritating. I think there is some ageism going on there too, all the participants were skinny teenagers.

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      4. Yeah I’m not a fan of the host either. He seems a bit… vain? Seemed pretty standoffish when I met him at Brickworld last year as well. And yeah I agree with the builds not being that interesting. I get that they used specific sets for the sake of fairness, but with the competitors involved I don’t think there would be any problem if they let people use their own parts.

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      5. I’ve never met the dude, but he doesn’t come off as the friendliest person, even in those videos. I’m sure he’s a great guy and people seem to dig him, but I can’t resist taking the piss out of him. I’m sure I come off as quite a jackass too, just not nearly as metrosexual, perhaps the opposite even. Is that still a thing? I have an ancient hatred for bow ties and people with a perfect head of hair, so that doesn’t help matters either. I’m a petty, sometimes jealous fuck. I doubt a dude like that would read this blog but if he does…shrugs…it’s all in good fun. I agree that the idea is at it’s core, the concept is a good one, but it needs some refinement to have legs and produce something worth looking at. At the end of the day the final models look like something a 9 year old would build.

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    3. I’m not sure a limit is the right call, it might lead to a different set of problems and I’m not sure its fair to inhibit those monsters out there who can crank out 30 builds in as many days. I think you’re right that the lack of restrictions is part of the appeal.

      We’ve all kind of hit on the same point, that IB isn’t necessarily broken, it’s just overexposed. Too many matches per year and the way it’s presented has always sucked, and it’s hard to follow or get a sense of the history.

      I’ll think bout the Friday Night Fights live…I think the biggest problem would be getting a steady stream of combatants, people have so much going on between personal builds, conventions, contests, challenges….I’m not sure there would be enough interest. I’ve kicked around the notion of a Manifesto contest but I have yet to come up with a good angle. I’m actually considering a writing contest because so many people have expressed interest in contributing formally to the blog, but so far only Simon and Rutherford (ugh) have come up with anything solid. Maybe some prizes might get the submissions flowing? Not sure but I’ll kick it around.

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      1. I watched a couple of BrickinNick’s contest streams. I agree with many of the criticisms listed above. I also think the show held my attention much less because it was so PG. It would be great to have a live show that has more of a “Bricks and Beet” attitude (less serious, less scripted). In the end there was also very little focus on building. Sure, the builders were visibly building shit, but the audience couldn’t see much beyond that.

        I really love the concept of a live show, but not the Battle of the Bricks format.

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      2. Bricks and Beet? Is that like a Russian thing? Bricks and borscht? Yeah, the show could use a dose of humor and charisma, maybe some Mystery Science Theater style commentary from the host. There is definitely some cool potential there but I’m not sure I’d tune in again if the format doesn’t change. It would be fun to swap out Johnny Bow-Tie for Andrew Lee with a stein of beer.

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      3. I really fail to see how a show like this could work, leaving aside the limitations caused by the format, watching people build for 1-2 hours is about as fun as watching paint dry. But then again there’s people watching others play games on youtube for hours instead of just playing themselves, so what do I know.

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      4. I don’t get the whole watching people play video games thing either. I was open to it and tried to watch some tournament play but it just gave me a headache and moved so fast that I couldn’t really follow the action. It’s growing in popularity though so there must be something to it, perhaps I’m just too old to appreciate it, but I doubt it. It’s like watching somebody eat tacos instead of eating them yourself. I don’t understand the appeal of the Food Channel either.

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      5. I mean, people watch video games for the same reason others watch sports. I think a live show that engages some of the Manifesto’s regulars in a purely verbal, lego-related discussion would be pretty fun. I agree that live building would probably be pretty hit or miss. It really would depend on the effectiveness of the builder’s camera setup and the willingness of the builder to multitask/engage with the audience. With the right host, though, I think such a show would be enjoyable.

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      6. I don’t want to get into a death spiral over E-Sports, it’s not for me but I do understand that it’s got big money involved and it’s growing every day in popularity. It gives me a headache and I tried to give it a shot (I like to remain open to new things) but it does nothing for me. And I think calling it a sport is a little bit of a stretch. But again, I acknowledge that my old man yells at cloud opinion is pretty irrelevant.

        I think you’re right that for a video project it’s all about the charisma of it’s host and the participants. I’m just not a video guy, so I’m definitely not the right host for the job. It’s good food for thought though, something worth considering as a long term project, or maybe something one of the commenters with more experience could take on. Maybe some one-off event where we try and get people together might be the right answer, a video-convention of sorts. In my experience those video chats can get a bit chaotic with too many people though. I’ll have to get some advice on that one.

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  11. I’m always up for a session of building, but I doubt I’m the unknown here; you only asked for the sake of asking. :)) I think it’s worth a shot and I’m sure you can come up with an interesting idea to motivate people.

    Also, since time is the main factor, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a weekly thing. It can happen twice per month or even monthly; or you can mold it around the schedules of those interested to participate.

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    1. Just the fact that you’d consider competing makes the idea more attractive, and I agree that it doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be a weekly thing. I’ll give it some thought and see what kind of a spin I can put on it and maybe make a post to determine interest and get some additional feedback. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.

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  12. I voted that this was worthy of a blog post, but I did not choose to follow Geng Lee.

    I used to edit children’s books, and I rejected thousands of manuscripts in those days. I would always note with a huff those who put more thought into their personal letterhead than their writing. The ubiquitous watermark often puts me in mind of this; usually I go into auto-ignore, so when it’s plastered across the actual meat of the image I get annoyed. To extend the conceptual scorn, two of the art forms I am most wary of are poetry and collage — they CAN be brilliant, but often serve as an outlet for those who want to make art but can’t do it well. Beware!

    Despite what I said about poetry, I use the word “poetry” to describe the pass/fail criteria of pretty much anything you might want to talk about. That pretty face vs that other pretty face. The actions scenes of the Wachowskis vs. those of Michael Bay.

    I don’t see the requisite amount of poetry in Geng Lee’s photo stream to make me want to see more; I don’t expect to see anything innovative enough in the future. It’s weird that I would care — I feel I gather contacts too slowly and always want more — but I do. Making a distorted, negative version of a beloved children’s IP is a solid part of the cultural DNA now, so that doesn’t grab me, and there’s something about the work overall that feels like he’s going for the low-hanging fruit, a la that friend of mine’s roommate whose Chinatown apartment was filled with boring, kitschy, postcard-and-cocktail-monkey collages coated in stinky polyester resin.

    Well that got mean for no reason! Geng Lee, if by any chance you read any of this please tell me to fuck off and build whatever you want.

    I haven’t followed IB closely since the Kyubi/Chrome match. I think the frenzied pace has its own merits, but if the community could support similar, lower-key contests that’d be cool too.

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    1. I had no idea you edited children’s books, that sounds like a fascinating gig for the short-term, I bet you saw your share of weird stuff. I think 50% of all kids books are useless or thinly veiled advertisements, totally disconnected from what kids need and like in a book, so you must have just stared incredulously at some of it. Yeah the water-mark thing is annoying, I do understand why people do it but unlike you I can’t auto-ignore it, I always notice it and it’s always annoying. I think it speaks to the larger issue of people trying to invent a ‘personal brand’ and then promoting it as something more than it actually is. I’ve never thought that much about collage in general (it always seemed like a crazy cat-lady endeavor) but now I’ll look at it in a different light, as for poetry, I want to like it, but unless it’s set to music I typically avoid it like the plague. Beware indeed. I thought this whole article and discussion might come across as mean-spirited but I also don’t want to candy-coat it either. I actually sent Geng an email trying to explain what we’re doing here, with an invitation to join the discussion but he has yet to respond. I still say if you put a creation out there, you have to be ready to take the good with the bad.

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  13. So late to the party here. Was doing the BrickWorld thing… you were missed Rowntree & Hoffmann (…wow-that name combo would be a great name for a seller of fancy chocolates, or leather attaches to stick some zeitgeists into, or perhaps the name of some mid-70’s easy listening musical duo); There were no late-evening, massive Duplo towers built this year, but rumor has it there was some clever adjustment to some red text that was spinning around a globe…

    Reading through all the comments, Keith had me scrolling up again to see if “Christopher is a loon!” was actually one of the survey choices… bummer 😉

    Not sure what my verdict is here. On the one hand, it would be cool to think that this builder has been isolated from the LEGO building community, was “raised by wolves”, and developed his own unique and untainted artistic building style… but on the other hand, “LEGO Movie”, and the “cloud-kitty-rainbow-whatever land”. Everyone fancies themselves a builder now… Seeing Geng’s builds reminds me of stumbling across some weird art-school animation while flipping through TV channels at 3am, that seems cool during those hazy hours. They also remind me of some WTF stuff I saw at the MOMA in NYC. His part placement does seem thought out and intentional, pretty much the LEGO equivalent of collage work…. But I think his intention is also doing it to be ironic. That said, I’m going to follow the guy… at least until he gets his own traveling art show.

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