Wednesday, February 25, 2009

urville, the imaginary city

I'm reading Embracing the Wide Sky at the moment.

It's good.

Anyway, it pointed me to another autistic savant - a french guy called Gilles Trehin - who has invented (and since 1984 been depicting and documenting) an imaginary city called Urville.

He's drawn hundreds of pictures of Urville and documented its social, cultural and geographical histories. Crikey.

I particularly like this quote:
"I realised that I could expand the city in my mind without necessarily building it in lego"

You can read more about it here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Manipulation Unit

Saw this sign on a door in St. Thomas' hospital yesterday:

Being a manipulation unit though, I'm not sure I trust the danger warning underneath. I think maybe a pacemaker or hearing aid might protect you from manipulation. Perhaps via deafness or deadness.

I think I might try to head up a manipulation unit at work. See how that flies.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

on and off

Saw this diagram on a hand dryer in a curry house last night.

I found the diagram on the right particularly useful.

sound posters


Monday, February 16, 2009

"the music lasts forever"

Mike Fox, my old creative writing tutor, told me writing was about 'infecting'; infecting the reader with what's in your head/heart.

I'm going to try and infect you with a wonderful experience I had last night, that revolves mostly around this guy, Lips (aka Steve Kudlow):

Last night Wrisley and I took part in Secret Cinema, a monthly movie screening in London where the film and location are announced at the last moment. They always make an effort to screen films in interesting settings to enhance the experience.

We made our way to the Shepherd's Bush Empire, along with a few hundred others. Inside we would find out that we would be watching the UK premiere of Anvil. You might have seen it advertised. It's being called by some 'the real life Spinal Tap' and the poster certainly paints that picture.

But it's so much more than that. The movie isn't a movie about a hopeless rock band. It's not even just about a rock band. It's a story about passion, friendship, honesty, love and ambition. It's a story about fragility and hope.

Lips is the front man of Anvil but he's the heart of the movie. He is as open, likeable, honest and caring as he is driven and earnest in his ambition. He's my new hero. He represents what it means to be alive. His occasional lack of eloquence and common sense are not faults, they are a testiment to his human, flawed, but wholly honest positivity.

"The music lasts forever"

This wonderfully simple quote from Lips sums the sentiment of the movie for me; both citing Lips' eternal energy source as well as the artefact that will remain after he's gone. If ever there was a casestudy worthy of the phrase 'life is about the journey, not the destination', this is it.

And if I was moved by the movie, then the finale blew my spandex leggings off.

As the film finished, a spotlight flashed across the venue and a frantic guitar solo wailed from a silhouette within its glare. It was Lips, standing tall with one leg up on the rail and that big, crooked grin on his face. The crowd went absolutely mental.

All the emotion from the movie spilled from the screen and into the huge room. All I could do was whoop with the rest of the crowd. And I don't whoop freely that often.
Lips made his way down to the stage where he and the rest of his Band played for the following 25 minutes. We all went crazy, indebted to the band for bearing their souls in the movie and returning the favour with a raw display of appreciation. It was brilliant.

The final twist was finding out how the movie came about.

Turns out the Director, Sacha Gervaisi had befriended the band 20+ years earlier as a kid. He was a fan who showed them around London on their first visit, came to see them in Toronto and even went on tour with them way back when.
Years later Gervaisi called them up. "I'm a screenwriter now. Come to Hollywood."

It's the perfect ending to the story. The fan that Anvil took under their wing all those years ago coming back to return the favour; to give them a gift worthy of everything they gave him.

If you like life, watch this movie.

And vote for Anvil to play at Glastonbury too. I can't think of a better way to put some soul back into the festival.

Update. This great pic from Dogg - who was also there last night:

Thursday, February 12, 2009

romantic nyc

Valentines day seems like an appropriately commercial occasion to plug I Feel Earth.

Some interesting stats on New Yorkers feeling romantic over at our blog.

Not sure if it feels right plugging that blog here. After all, it's a blog too. hmm.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

pay pal calls on its 'pals'

I just received this message form PayPal. It's an email asking me to send a video to my friends to show them how easy it is to use PayPal.

Firstly, if it's easy to use then why did you feel the need to make a video?
Secondly, you can't ask people to send something to their friends. If they like it they'll send it. It's fairly easy to share things these days. Spend your energy focussing on making good shit that people will want to share. And they'll feel smarter for deciding all by themselves that it's worth sharing.

I didn't even watch it. I wrote this instead. So there.

Right, what can I moan about next?...

Monday, February 02, 2009

PSFK Good Ideas Salon

I went to this. It made parts of my brain start whirring, which was nice. It also bored the hell out of me at times. Here's some of my notes with links:

Mark Earles did a good talk that resulted in me writing down this:
Book: Why most things fail
Another book: Everything's an offer
A photographer can tell which shot is 'the shot' instinctively. Partly because it feels familiar. Relating to the thinking in Dave Ingvar's Memory of the future.

Good Ideas from London.
Wasn't that many good ideas unfortunately. Although I liked the bit about London having a culture of interested people gathering to discuss ideas. And how we can take for granted how easy it is to reserve a space above a pub for free. Something you don't get in say New York.
Need to check out the Wellcome Collection on Euston Road.

Eva from Troika
She was good and Troika's work is great. Although I had seen most of it before.
I liked the story of a guy selling hot dogs who used a public art installation where you could text messages to be spoken by a computer to advertise his merchandise.

Good ideas in Design
Cameron made me really want to go to Matter. Speakers in the floor so you feel the music around you and in you.
Coralie Bickford-Smith introduced a project to LCC students called 'Stop designing, start playing'. The intention was to change focus from the end product to the process. Which I think is a very smart approach for anyone. Thinking about the end product of something you're just starting is, by definition, impossible, so you therefore think of other end products and already you're thinking unoriginally.
Kate Moross was very smart. No nuggets, but she definitely 'gets it'.
And Nik's beard was looking excellent. He also tried to reframe the discussion, because the word 'design' is fairly leading. His argument was that we tend to think of design as a visual thing, whereas often design is simply problem solving that sometimes manifests itself visually.

Richard Banks form Microsoft was very good. He talked about digital heirlooms, which have ambivalent thoughts towards so won't say anything yet. But I shall follow his blog because I like his brain.

Christian Nold's Biomapping work is great. Mood/emotion mapping basically. But I'd seen it before. A theme in his work was technology's relevant/unnecessary role as a mediator for human emotion. Blurry lines.

The mobile and youth panels were pretty awful. There were some decent, bright people on them, but the 'debates' were framed in completely the wrong way leading to very uninteresting conversations. 'Youth' is a mindset. Technology changes things but we're still driven by the same things we always have been. I wanted to burst during this one. Fortunately Matt Jones was amusing enough to lighten the mobile one and Paul Graham was speaking some sense in challenging the use of the word youth. Eesh.

Colin from Punch Drunk was great. If you haven't seen Punch Drunk's work, you MUST. Not online, in words and flat pictures. But in the flesh. In fact I'm not even going to link to it. You have to work a little to appreciate the experiences they put on. ok, here's one link to something I wrote about one of their things. Also check out Tin Horse theatre.

OK, I'm about done. There was some other stuff too, but my fingers are tired. Simon Waldman showed that the Guardian - who were hosting the event - definitely know what they're talking about. Their plans to introduce 'database journalism', opening their research to the public so we can delve deepr than the article was very interesting.

Man, does anyone even read my long posts?

Thanks for the event, Piers. It was worth going to. I think panel discussions are very hard to do right, but I think maybe they would benefit from having a tighter purpose. Maybe get everyone on it to arrive with an answer to a better defined question. Just my opinion.

p.s. Why does everyone try to look so cool for their picture in the event brochure? It was quite amusing seeing the real versions of everyone while looking at their 'Blue Steel' profiles ;)

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