Things of note for the week ending February 7th, 2014.
1. Station to Station
For three weeks late last year, Doug Aitken took an LED-laden train from New York to San Francisco, making ten stops along the way, as a kind of ‘kinetic sculpture’. At each stop, artists, musicians, writers, film makers and other creatives were asked to contribute to this mobile happening.
Personally, I just love the idea of an LED-lit train (it is a gorgeous image).
2. Banishment Rooms
In Japan, this incredible practice is unbelievably commonplace -
“Shusaku Tani is employed at the Sony plant here, but he doesn’t really work. .
For more than two years, he has come to a small room, taken a seat and then passed the time reading newspapers, browsing the Web and poring over engineering textbooks from his college days. He files a report on his activities at the end of each day. .
Sony, Mr. Tani’s employer of 32 years, consigned him to this room because they can’t get rid of him. Sony had eliminated his position at the Sony Sendai Technology Center, which in better times produced magnetic tapes for videos and cassettes. But Mr. Tani, 51, refused to take an early retirement offer from Sony in late 2010 — his prerogative under Japanese labor law. .
So there he sits in what is called the “chasing-out room.” He spends his days there, with about 40 other holdouts.”
3. Travel Lessons This collection of travel advice is pretty invaluable. Having been lucky enough to see more than my fair share of this world already, many of these tips speak to me. Especially the ones about the ability to travel lightly (this is coming from the guy that only took hand luggage on a two week, twofestival, three country trip back in the summer of 2013 – not kidding). So yeah, I like this because in the main, this is how I travel.
4. Emptying Gestures
The output of this artist isn’t anything mind-blowing. But how she gets there, to me at least, is pretty mind-blowing. First, look at the work -
“Emptying Gestures is an experiment in kinetic drawing. In this series, I am searching for ways to download my movement directly onto paper, emptying gestures from one form to another and creating something new in the process.”
The very idea of ‘downloading movement onto paper’ sparks my mind into all kinds of interesting places. How do you ‘download’ kinetic motion, something intangible, onto paper – and make it tangible? I just love the whole thought behind it.
5. Something creepy to sign you off with It’s Friday, so why the hell not?
Things of note for the week ending January 31st, 2014.
1. Robot Building: Big, Bold, and Benign
One of my favourite blogs to appear in 2013 was ‘Adam’s Apples’, the blog of design/storytelling agency, FreeState. The image (and title) above is taken from a post exploring the virtues of ‘building as message’. I love the photo but the short, accompanying post is worth a look too.
2. I really like the idea of ‘secondary attention’ That is all.
3. Hope Soap
Washing hands frequently with soap, is the most effective way of preventing the spread of infection and deadly disease. Providing the disadvantaged children of South Africa with free soap is one thing, but how do you get them to use it?
I love this idea. So much.
4. Stop the Cyborgs!
Are you a shop/venue owner? Do you fear the impending onslaught of Google Glass-based surveillance about to come swarming through your door? Is the very thought of your own customers being able to record everything that you do FROM THEIR FACES break you out into cold sweats?
Find out more more about these signs, and this movement in general, over at Stop the Cyborgs. The future of surveillance-free zones may depend on it. Speaking of the future…
5. 2014: Year of the Drone?
They’re cheap, they’re useful, they’re coming -
Drones designed to do the bidding of ordinary people can be bought online for $300 or less. They are often no larger than hubcaps, with tiny propellers that buzz the devices hundreds of feet into the air. But these flying machines are much more sophisticated than your average remote-controlled airplane: They can fly autonomously, find locations via GPS, return home with the push of button, and carry high-definition cameras to record flight.
Besides wedding stunts, personal drones have been used for all kinds of high-minded purposes — helping farmers map their crops, monitoring wildfires in remote areas, locating poachers in Africa. One local drone user is recording his son’s athletic prowess at a bird’s angle, potentially for recruiting videos.
“A glossy, magazine-format collection of “narrative collapse.” It showcases his interests in genre, irreverent humor, graphic design, drawing, and typography. SUPERMAG features new work as well as collecting the best of his recent anthology contributions.”
5. Why do we cry on planes?
This this article, from The Atlantic, is pretty spot on – and it’s definitely worth reading the whole thing. However, one quote in particular stood out for me -
When you’re alone, in a situation where you can’t can’t fiddle with your smartphone or turn your anxieties outward toward your social network, the apprehensions and fears of loneliness quickly overtake you. Then you have no choice but to face the fact: you’re a person, in the universe, and you are in some way big or small, alone here. You might cry.
So, y’know – go be alone, and have a cry. You never know, you might need it.
2. How Broadway has changed
Alec Baldwin has a semi-regular column over on the Huffington Post and he is, in my opinion, one of the smartest and sharpest writers I’ve read in a long time, and a huge advocate for the arts. Yes he can be an offensive loose cannon but, from time to time, I enjoy him. You might too. This piece from last year, on why and how Broadway has changed so much is a great case in point:
A critic’s job is to evaluate two things: what you are attempting to do and how close do you come to pulling it off. Highbrow, lowbrow, Shakespeare, Williams, movies like The Hangover, movies like Lincoln, they all deserve the same fate. If it’s trash, then call it. But is it good trash or is the bar too low? Then call it. Is the piece ambitious and groundbreaking? Factor that in. But never say “why bother?’
3. The man who hugs LIONS
This video, from those epic makers and takers, GoPro, was published in November last year but for some reason only started to go viralget popular over the past week or so. If you’ve not seen it, it features Kevin Richardson – aka ‘The Lion Whisperer’ and… y’know what? Just hit play and see if you don’t end up watching the whole thing. It’s incredible viewing.
If you want to find out more about this work, or make a donation to help preserve the habitat for the animals in this video, you can at Kevin’s Lion Whisperer website. Give a little, it helps a lot.
4. Awesome Street Art is Awesome
Found via ‘10 street art images you need to see‘ – to me, the above is just so pure; the colour, the stance, the casuality of it all. It’s just perfect. Weirdly, it reminds of this punk girl I used to date back in college. I wonder where she is now.
5. DOOMED The story behind the it-was-so-bad-it-was-never-released(-but-wait-that-was-the-plan-all-along) 1994 version of THE FANTASTIC FOUR, is looking for support to help tell get the documentary put together.
Things of note for the week ending January 10th, 2014.
I’ve made a list…
1. The Solar-Powered Wall Socket
I bloggedtumbled this at some point last year, it’s still an awesome idea though. Create a solar plug socket anywhere; on a train, on a plane, in a hotel room, anywhere there is sunshine. This is awesome. SO AWESOME.
This photo doesn’t do the art justice; but this ‘deconstruction’ of a sculptured bust really speaks to me. I can’t place it. Is it the interpretation of the mind [breaking out of the confines of the skull]? Or is just the simplistic beauty of nature hidden away deep inside our heads? I don’t know.
I post a fair bit of art from time to time, but it’s rare that I see something that I’d like to own myself. The above is one of those rarities. That is all.
3. The Eye of Sauron.. sorry, SATURN
This is stunning. Just. Stunning. If, you’re like me, you’ll probably be wanting more.
4. Thor is the new Superman
Thor is fun, the way Superman should be; his cape is a bright, hopeful red and you want to hang out with him. The Superman in Man of Steel is a guy you want to keep your distance from, more coldly alien than the Asgardian who just arrived here. They’re both immigrants to Earth, but even though the Man of Steel Superman was raised here, Thor feels more connected to humans in his movies, more their champion. More their Superman.
After a year long break (and a few false starts with my Tumblr), I’m bringing Five Things on Friday back for 2014. The good news is, last year I managed to last FIVE WHOLE MONTHS before the itch finally got the better of me. That’s right, five, not twelve. Today’s date (the date of writing, not publishing) is May 1st 2013, and I’m writing this a whole seven months in advance. Mental, I know, but I’m finding a fire truck load of stuff at the moment and I need to bank it somewhere.
So here it is. The first Five Things of 2014. Pre-written, sometime in May 2013. From now on I figure I’d make this project a bi-annual thing. One year on, one year off. Yeah. That.
EDIT: this ^ is slightly untrue. I’m now updating #5things each week and swapping stuff around (eg: the post from Zoe in at number 4).
Wait, where we? Oh yes, here -
Things of note for the week ending January 3rd, 2014.
1. Dioramas of Death
These are proper gruesome.
These miniature death scenes remind me a lot of one of my favourite werewolf films, Ginger Snaps. In it , the two main protagonists have an obsession with recreating death scenes as art (and it’s kinda awesome). The artist behind this work, Abigail Goldman, covers everything from crime scenes through decapitation and death by lawnmower. I don’t know why I’m so fascinated by them, but they’re just really cool and, should I ever have a place suitable, they’d be on display in my house in a flash.
2. IRON MAN!!! YEAH!!!! IRON MAAAAAAAAN!
At the time of writing, Iron Man 3 has just been released and the above photo was taken at a special screening of the film put on by Disney to say thank you to the teenagers of the Police Athletic League who volunteered to clean up the Hurricane Sandy-ravaged areas of New York.
Why is the kid freaking out so much? Robert Downey Jr. had just turned up, unannounced, to say thank you in person. Amazing.
This 8min short film about a human-obsessed android is dark, but beautiful; I loved it. Be warned: it is not an easy watch.
I haven’t seen Zoe Margolis for too long now, but I stay on top of how things are with her via the wonders of social media and, of course, her blog ‘Girl with a one-track mind‘. Zoe’s latest post, published Jan 1st, 2014, marks ten years of blogging and is full of insight, life lessons, and love. This is one small excerpt -
Back then, it felt like I was shouting about sex into a vacuum where there were two extreme, opposing perspectives: one, in women’s magazines, where women were portrayed as basically ‘innocent’ non-sexual beings who ‘give’ away their virginity to men and whose objective is to a) find a man and b) please him; and two, the other end of the media spectrum, where women were seen as ‘sluts’, and sexual ‘liberation’ meant the ‘freedom’ to be objectified for men’s titillation and gratification. I related to neither position.
Take some time out of your day and read it. And Zoe, if you’re reading this, you still continue to inspire me and I remember our stroll around Soho fondly. Big love.
Things of note for the week ending December 28th, 2012
1. #EmptyUnderground, New York
The above photo is taken from the mythical City Hall subway station that resides underneath New York City which, thanks to the demand of longer and larger trains, has been closed and deserted since 1945.
According to the source, New Yorkers now have the opportunity to see said subterranean architecture for themselves -
You don’t have to take my word that the secret City Hall Station exists, as the 6 Train will now allow the passengers who have been enlightened with the knowledge of its whereabouts to stay on the train during its turnaround and see the Station. You won’t be able to get off, but you’ll be taken for a slow tour of the platform and see what a beauty it was in its heyday!
2. WE DID IT. WE REALLY DID IT.
If you’re reading this then that means you’re reading the last ‘Five things on Friday’ of 2012; week 52 is in the bag and my year-long blogging project is complete.
I am spent.
Back on December 30th, 2011 – aka, ‘Five things on Friday #0′ – I made a promise:
Every Friday (hopefully on my way home from work) I’m going to jot down the five things I’ve done or seen that week. Or perhaps even five things that have happened to me or that I’ve seen or whatever. Either way, it’s going in the Moleskine and then, naturally, it’s ending up on here.
Over time that promise has moved around. Earlier posts focusing on what I’d been up to, who’d I seen or what projects I’d been working on, with later entries mainly being about the coolest things I’d found on the web that week. It’s interesting – to me at least – how (and why) that changed in the way it did.
Moving to big agency life means that there’s more structure around what projects you are (and more specifically are not) allowed to talk about. With a few slight changes in place already (I still work for Social@Ogilvy, I no longer work for OPR), I’m hoping that will change in the New Year.
What else? Well, life has been tough this year. Perhaps the toughest year to date. Both for me and for the woman in my life. We’ve not been able to do all the things we’ve wanted and we’ve had some pretty hard personal and professional battles to fight too. But again, things are changing and, as 2013 rolls around the corner, already we seem to be armed better than ever before to face the year ahead.
Work and home life aside (huh, it’s strange isn’t it? How through the simple act of collating different things you do and don’t like over the course of 365 days allows you to view the past year of your life with a new and more thoughtful lens? I never thought that this project would provide such post-year analysis – and I certainly never thought it’d wind up in this way either), here we are: exactly 52 weeks later and Five things on Friday 2012 is complete. I honestly still don’t know if I want to keep going. It was a year-long project and that year is over.So I guess, we’ll have to until next Friday and see how I feel.
What have we learnt?
Stupid things? Probably.
What it feels like to actually finish a project? Definitely.
Right then, enough wanky introspection Whatley, you’ve still got three more things to bash through – GO!
3. Jerry Seinfeld Intends to Die Standing Up
The New York Times ran a profile on Jerry Seinfeld just before Christmas and, even if you’re not a fan, it really is one of the best things on the web this week.
4. Christmas in The Trenches
On Christmas Day, 1914, Private Frederick W. Heath wrote the following -
“The night closed in early – the ghostly shadows that haunt the trenches came to keep us company as we stood to arms. Under a pale moon, one could just see the grave-like rise of ground which marked the German trenches two hundred yards away. Fires in the English lines had died down, and only the squelch of the sodden boots in the slushy mud, the whispered orders of the officers and the NCOs, and the moan of the wind broke the silence of the night. The soldiers’ Christmas Eve had come at last, and it was hardly the time or place to feel grateful for it.
Memory in her shrine kept us in a trance of saddened silence. Back somewhere in England, the fires were burning in cosy rooms; in fancy I heard laughter and the thousand melodies of reunion on Christmas Eve. With overcoat thick with wet mud, hands cracked and sore with the frost, I leaned against the side of the trench, and, looking through my loophole, fixed weary eyes on the German trenches. Thoughts surged madly in my mind; but they had no sequence, no cohesion. Mostly they were of home as I had known it through the years that had brought me to this. I asked myself why I was in the trenches in misery at all, when I might have been in England warm and prosperous. That involuntary question was quickly answered. For is there not a multitude of houses in England, and has not someone to keep them intact? I thought of a shattered cottage in — , and felt glad that I was in the trenches. That cottage was once somebody’s home.
Still looking and dreaming, my eyes caught a flare in the darkness. A light in the enemy’s trenches was so rare at that hour that I passed a message down the line. I had hardly spoken when light after light sprang up along the German front. Then quite near our dug-outs, so near as to make me start and clutch my rifle, I heard a voice. there was no mistaking that voice with its guttural ring. With ears strained, I listened, and then, all down our line of trenches there came to our ears a greeting unique in war: “English soldier, English soldier, a merry Christmas, a merry Christmas!”
Following that salute boomed the invitation from those harsh voices: “Come out, English soldier; come out here to us.” For some little time we were cautious, and did not even answer. Officers, fearing treachery, ordered the men to be silent. But up and down our line one heard the men answering that Christmas greeting from the enemy. How could we resist wishing each other a Merry Christmas, even though we might be at each other’s throats immediately afterwards? So we kept up a running conversation with the Germans, all the while our hands ready on our rifles. Blood and peace, enmity and fraternity – war’s most amazing paradox. The night wore on to dawn – a night made easier by songs from the German trenches, the pipings of piccolos and from our broad lines laughter and Christmas carols. Not a shot was fired, except for down on our right, where the French artillery were at work.
Came the dawn, pencilling the sky with grey and pink. Under the early light we saw our foes moving recklessly about on top of their trenches. Here, indeed, was courage; no seeking the security of the shelter but a brazen invitation to us to shoot and kill with deadly certainty. But did we shoot? Not likely! We stood up ourselves and called benisons on the Germans. Then came the invitation to fall out of the trenches and meet half way.
Still cautious we hung back. Not so the others. They ran forward in little groups, with hands held up above their heads, asking us to do the same. Not for long could such an appeal be resisted – beside, was not the courage up to now all on one side? Jumping up onto the parapet, a few of us advanced to meet the on-coming Germans. Out went the hands and tightened in the grip of friendship. Christmas had made the bitterest foes friends.
Here was no desire to kill, but just the wish of a few simple soldiers (and no one is quite so simple as a soldier) that on Christmas Day, at any rate, the force of fire should cease. We gave each other cigarettes and exchanged all manner of things. We wrote our names and addresses on the field service postcards, and exchanged them for German ones. We cut the buttons off our coats and took in exchange the Imperial Arms of Germany. But the gift of gifts was Christmas pudding. The sight of it made the Germans’ eyes grow wide with hungry wonder, and at the first bite of it they were our friends for ever. Given a sufficient quantity of Christmas puddings, every German in the trenches before ours would have surrendered.
And so we stayed together for a while and talked, even though all the time there was a strained feeling of suspicion which rather spoilt this Christmas armistice. We could not help remembering that we were enemies, even though we had shaken hands. We dare not advance too near their trenches lest we saw too much, nor could the Germans come beyond the barbed wire which lay before ours. After we had chatted, we turned back to our respective trenches for breakfast.
All through the day no shot was fired, and all we did was talk to each other and make confessions which, perhaps, were truer at that curious moment than in the normal times of war. How far this unofficial truce extended along the lines I do not know, but I do know that what I have written here applies to the — on our side and the 158th German Brigade, composed of Westphalians.
As I finish this short and scrappy description of a strangely human event, we are pouring rapid fire into the German trenches, and they are returning the compliment just as fiercely. Screeching through the air above us are the shattering shells of rival batteries of artillery. So we are back once more to the ordeal of fire.”
Things of note for the week ending December 21st, 2012
1. One helluva tree house
The above image is, believe it or not, one of the primary residences of the Korowai tribe. Living over a hundred feet in the air is second nature to this isolate people as the area they call home is somewhat dangerous nearer the ground (thanks to killer insects, flooding etc). Some people would move out. The Korowai, it would seem, move up.
2. The Web We Lost
This, from Anil Dash, is one of the best things I’ve read this month -
When you see interesting data mash-ups today, they are often still using Flickr photos because Instagram’s meager metadata sucks, and the app is only reluctantly on the web at all. We get excuses about why we can’t search for old tweets or our own relevant Facebook content, though we got more comprehensive results from a Technorati search that was cobbled together on the feeble software platforms of its era. We get bullshit turf battles like Tumblr not being able to find your Twitter friends or Facebook not letting Instagram photos show up on Twitter because of giant companies pursuing their agendas instead of collaborating in a way that would serve users. And we get a generation of entrepreneurs encouraged to make more narrow-minded, web-hostile products like these because it continues to make a small number of wealthy people even more wealthy, instead of letting lots of people build innovative new opportunities for themselves on top of the web itself. -
We’ll fix these things; I don’t worry about that. The technology industry, like all industries, follows cycles, and the pendulum is swinging back to the broad, empowering philosophies that underpinned the early social web. But we’re going to face a big challenge with re-educating a billion people about what the web means, akin to the years we spent as everyone moved off of AOL a decade ago, teaching them that there was so much more to the experience of the Internet than what they know.
4. Under Cover: Erotica and Sexism
I first met Zoe Margolis way back in 2008, I think it may’ve been at Tuttle – all those many moons ago. Delightful, warm, and fiercely intelligent, we had a fantastic stroll around Soho discussing all sorts. I follow Zoe on Twitter and recently I saw her tweet a link to her Lost Lecture on ‘Erotica and Sexism‘. I’ve only just got ’round to watching it – this morning in fact – and it’s a damn good watch. Enlightening and engaging, you’ll never look at an erotic book cover in the same way ever again.