Reading In Detroit, a Case of Selling Art and Selling Out quickly reminded me of a recent trip to Detroit. Ford had invited me to attend their annual thought leader’s conference. Along with hearing people like Steve Wozniak, Sherry Turkle, Seth Godin, Jay Ward, Rachel Shechtman among many others, I also drove around Detroit on a guided tour. One of the first stops was the Detroit Institute of Arts. While it was a brief stop it was one of the highlights of my trip to Detroit. Walking around seeing and experiencing the Diego Rivera murals I had a hard time focusing. There were details within the details. I tried to capture a couple of those views below. Along with the narrative I couldn’t help but be reminded that the murals were part of the environment. It wasn’t just about the building but the fact that it was a reminder of Detroit and the historic beginnings of the assembly line and the people that had to work on it. Reading the NYT article, it was an unfortunate reminder of what might come to be.
No matter where I start my walk to work in the morning I tend to find myself on 30th st at some point. Inevitably I’ll end up walking under a sign for African Fabrics. As I passed the sign this morning I stopped in front of it once I was aware that I was consciously trying to ignore it. The first thing I did was ask myself why? Was it because I don’t need to make anything from that material? Was it because it’s visually very busy? Yes on both accounts but was there something that I could learn from the display? The surprising answer was yes. When I broke down the elements that I saw I was surprised at how effective the display was for people needing the material. The sign is huge, it’s pretty tough to miss from a block away. The next part of the strategy can go one of two ways. A person could validate the place by looking at real samples instantly or be inspired by examples of made things from the material (or vice versa). The point is that within a couple seconds the store owner has made their shop easily visible. They’ve built multiple ways to earn the trust of the potential person interested in visiting the store. While not applicable all the time I think there’s some helpful things to consider when designing. First thing is clarity. It’s pretty tough to not understand what the the thing is. The second thing is to show examples. For this shop they’ve done it two ways. Showing the material in the rough and as a finished product to inspire. Combining those elements allows a user to instantly connect the dots to understand what can be done. In this example it’s the simple purchase of fabrics.
Today was a pretty significant day at Dataminr, below are a couple of articles from the press talking about the new round of funding and what Dataminr does.
BLOOMBERG: Hot Plays for Big Data Companies
WALL STREET JOURNAL: Dataminr Secures $30 Million Amid Twitter-Scanning Success
Last Thursday thru Saturday there was a Giant Lego Star Wars X-Wing in Times Square. Using 5.3 million LEGO bricks and taking over 17,000 hours, the true to scale X-Wing was a pretty cool thing to see. The sheer size (largest LEGO model of all time) and attention to detail was pretty amazing. The model was on it’s way to Legoland California Resort while stopping in Times Square first. The weather wasn’t great on Saturday but that didn’t stop people walking around in awe. As a fan of LEGO the experience of standing pretty close to look at the details was awesome.
I’ve been waiting quite a long time to write this post. I’m really happy to mention here that the Forbes Career Advisor iPad app is now available. This was the final project that I designed at Gesture Theory before leaving. In terms of the number of custom feeds, different types of content and screens it was probably the most advanced thing that was conceived at Gesture Theory. On top of that when we started the groundwork for this app, almost none of the feeds had been developed from Forbes.
As the title of the app suggests, the app was designed to leverage Forbes career content to help people that may be in a career transition, those that are looking to improve on their skills and recent university grads. With the articles there’s a large repository of career videos and photo galleries. Along with the different media types we also added a couple other helpful tools. By including two Forbes lists (World’s Largest Companies and Best Small Companies) we created a large company directory. The company detail page is designed to give a lot of concise information along with job listings. Within the directory there’s a company overview, the latest news from Forbes for the company, detailed number information and related jobs from LinkedIn.
There’s a lot of manageable information wrapped in this app. One of the benefits for Forbes was that there wasn’t any additional work for them to do when they publish the content to the web. The content for the app is pulled in dynamically. It’s a pretty nice system. As I mentioned this was the final thing I designed at Gesture Theory before leaving. What I really enjoyed was taking the process from the Forbes Photos and Videos app and extending the system. Creating a focused app within Forbes large digital ecosystem was something I was very proud to do.
NYCxDESIGN snuck up on me pretty quickly. I haven’t had much of an opportunity to get out to many events yet. Looking at the calendar there’s a ton of things that a design minded individual in NYC could take on for the next week. One exhibition that I had wanted to see for a while was AIGA Colorado’s Bordo Bello being held at the AIGA National Design Center Gallery. AIGA Colorado since 2008 has invited designers and artists to design skateboard decks with the proceeds going towards mentorship programming in AIGA chapters across the US. There was a lot to take in for a fan of skateboarding. Lots of unique approaches to graphics and the format of a board. I thought the ramps were a nice touch. For the fans of this type of expression, the show is on till July 3rd with extended hours this week (May 13–17: 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.). More info can be found at at www.bordobello.com and www.aiga.org/bordo-bello.
Monday through Thursday: 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Friday: 11:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m.
Extended hours* for NYCxDESIGN Week
May 13–17: 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
*Please note: The gallery will be closed for a private event from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on May 16.
AIGA National Design Center Gallery [map]
164 Fifth Avenue (between 21st and 22nd Streets)
New York, NY 10010
212 807 1990
I had my iPhone 4S for almost two years. It was decent enough though I had wanted a larger screen two years ago. Before buying the iPhone 4S I had bought a Droid Bionic. I liked the screen size but the camera was awful. So I returned it and upgraded my iPhone 3s for a 4s. Fast forward two years and I wanted a bigger screen again. The current iPhone 5 screen size was disappointing (along with how it felt light and cheap). While it is not exactly reliable to believe in Apple rumors, the consensus so far for the next iPhone is that the screen size will not increase with the next iteration. When I started looking at alternatives, the no brainier was the Samsung Galaxy S4. As I read reviews for it, a lot if people were comparing it to the HTC One. Up until that point I hadn’t even heard of the HTC One. The common theme from the reviews was that as good as the Galaxy S4 was, it felt cheap due to all the plastic. The HTC One felt much better.
Before deciding to change platforms (iOS to Android) I compared the top ten apps I used on my iPhone. Surprisingly 8 out of 10 were on both platforms. If they had data it was for the most part easy to connect to the cloud. I also banked on the fact that I would be using my iPad Mini a lot with my Android device so I wouldn’t miss much on the iOS side. I was planning to use my new phone as a hotspot for my wifi iPad mini so mobility was going to be easy.
After reading the reviews, comparing what apps I would be able to transfer it was time to look at the phones. Within two seconds of holding the Galaxy S4 and the HTC One it became clear which one I was going to get. I also opened each device up to see how the work flows. I think the biggest error in all the reviews of both devices was the operating system. Sure it’s important but most popular apps on the surface ignore the pre-designed software. For example email, I don’t really care how Samsung or HTC deal with it. I’m going to use the Gmail app.
If you’ve made it thus far with my review it’s kind of obvious that I bought the HTC One. I’ve used it for a couple weeks now so I thought it would be worth mentioning some of my workflows with this device. First off, I have no regrets with this phone. I really love using it. It’s not perfect but the benefits make up for any imperfections. This is basically the iPhone that Apple should have released a year ago. My best guesstimate is that in two years the might get to the ergonomics of this one.
The way that I’ve organized my apps mirrors my workflow for the most part.
(on my dashboard outside of a folder)
• Amazon Kindle
• Score Center
• Strava Cycling
• TuneIn Radio
• The Weathernetwork
There’s a couple apps working in the background such as Flickr and Facebook. I rarely open them but use them to share content from other services that are above.
I basically wanted a bigger screen so I could read. I save a lot of content to Pocket thanks to the easy workflow from twitter and desktop. A majority of ebooks I read come from Kindle. The screen does a great job of letting me read. The text reads as sharp as any retina device I have. At this point I couldn’t ask for anything more when it comes to reading. Actually there’s one issue with reading, it really needs to be done in the shade. It’s pretty impossible in direct sunlight.
I shoot a lot of photos. I shot one every day as I walk to work. I also take a lot when I’m out and about. I find that I use Snapseed to shot and tweak the image. From there Ill share it on Flickr and Instagram. The process feels pretty smooth. As for the camera I think it’s ok. It’s not great but good enough that I can hide some of the sensor issues with Snapseed’s filters. If there’s one complaint with the photo flow, it’s how the images are saved to folders. It’s confusing going into the gallery feature as there seems to be no order in how the images are organized. While it is confusing its not a big deal since any photo worth having for me is saved on Flickr.
Along with reading and shooting images I listen to a lot of music. I use Spotify for the most part so my flow stays the same as with my iPhone. The added bonus is that the music sounds amazing whether I use headphone or not. The earbuds are great and the speakers on their own sound high end as they can for a tiny device. I also like how I can advance songs with a locked screen.
All of these workflows take battery power to pull off. I don’t know the amount of hours a charge can last in empirical terms. The test that I did do is keep it unplugged for a normal full day 8am – 12am. The charge kept with some battery power to spare. Keep in mind that the phone wasn’t on all day so results will vary on use.
My biggest issue has to do with notifications when my phone is locked. I hear the alert but nothing shows on my screen. It kills me that I have to turn on my phone every time to see what I got notified on. I really, really wish I could see them the same way iOS does.
How does it scroll? At times it does feel a bit clunky. The clunkiness differs from app to app so it’s hard to judge if its the operating system or how the app was optimized for Android. With that said its not that noticeable and doesn’t get in the way for using my apps.
So far I have no misgivings about changing from an iPhone to the HTC One. In a year ask me the same question and we’ll have to see how the phone holds up. It’s hard to guess at this point. But as something I will probably keep for two years I feel more confident betting on this than an upgraded iPhone that will be delivered later this fall.
If you love type and you’re in NYC this weekend and find yourself in Soho, perhaps make the trek to Tribeca to see some original type (and process) with Monotype’s Pencil to Pixel. You could probably just walk in but here’s the eventbrite listing http://penciltopixel.eventbrite.com/ The address is Tribeca Skyline Studio, 205 Hudson Street (12th floor). There’s a number of paper works that demonstrate the process of typefaces that wouldn’t be otherwise accessible to view. Last night I had the opportunity to view things just after they put up the show.
Update: I’ve updated the photos with captions thanks to Ketan Deshpande who was nice enough to contact James Fooks-Bale and Dan Rhatigan for the text.
“O” series by Mario Godlewski. Outlined “O’s” from various fonts were projected as digital light images, and were subsequently photographed at long exposure with a moving camera. The resulting images give a three-dimensional, extruded form only evident once the image is processed.
For the past couple of months I’ve been co-teaching with Luke Miller at Generally Assembly. The class is UXD with the goal of those taking the class could be hired as junior ux’ers by the end of the 12 week course. I’ve really enjoyed working along the students and Luke. We’ve been covering a wide range of areas that will lead the students to have a pretty in-depth final project whether that be an app, website or some hybrid.
Last night before class I was talking with a student about a number of states that they should consider as they build out their system for navigation. As we discussed things it struck me that an easy way to consider things is 1. what are they doing before the action, 2. what are they doing while they are doing the action, and 3. what are they doing after the action? Extra points for considering those steps as a first time user, how things might evolve for second and third times, and finally considering some of the errors that a user might encounter and how their system will help guide the user as they make mistakes.
In some respects this seems pretty obvious but as users (and designers) work through systems the obvious tends to fade to the background as people start actually do their tasks. As we work through systems and the inevitable happens, getting stuck it is worth considering the flow above. It also helps as a handy checklist to compare against while testing and considering questions to see if the system will actually work for the user.
Having coffee with Sue Apfelbaum a couple weeks ago, she tipped me off about a series of articles that she was writing for the Red Bull Music Academy. For the next couple of weeks they will be publishing a daily series called Daily Note. The paper covers a broad range of music topics based around NYC for the most part. Sue’s contribution is looking behind the scenes of iconic music logo’s. It’s a great topic that I’m surprised that hasn’t been explored before. So far CBGB and Kiss’ logos have been mentioned. These logos are so ingrained in visual culture that it’s easy to take for granted that someone actually had to design the thing. You can view the PDF’s at www.redbullmusicacademy.com/dailynotenyc. I also believe you can find the paper version around NYC and possibly at the Ace Hotel.
It has been quite the time to be designing in parallel and in some instances ahead of the speed of Twitter. The events of the past weeks and months have been hard to describe in the context of designing systems. Between desktop, mobile and all the other ways to alert info through Dataminr has been an awesome experience for me. Working within the team that can pull it off has been amazing. The team here is incredibly smart and driven. Currently I’m starting to build the product design team. If the articles and quotes below seem interesting, Dataminr is looking for a junior product designer.
We’ve had a number of articles in the past couple of days. Here’s some of my favorite quotes.
FROM FastCoExist: TWITTER CAN PREDICT THE STOCK MARKET, IF YOU’RE READING THE RIGHT TWEETS News impacts financial markets, and that news is increasingly breaking on Twitter. Dataminr–a social analytics company with clients in finance, government and the larger corporate world–takes this dynamic one step further. They use Twitter to beat the news. “It’s the lack of someone who is a news commentator or a news source saying it,” says Dataminr founder and CEO Peter Bailey. “The point is the things that aren’t there.”
FROM WALL STREET JOURNAL: IN THE WIRED WORLD, FEEDS DRIVE TRADING But the machines weren’t fooled: Before the AP announced that the tweet was a hoax—its account had been hacked—Dataminr’s computers generated a fresh alert saying the news may not be legitimate.
FROM FORTUNE MAGAZINE: SHOULD BLOOMBERG BE AFRAID OF TWITTER? Dataminr says it was able to alert its clients to the hoax a full two minutes ahead of major news.
FROM FINANCIAL NEWS: TWITTER ‘HACK CRASH’ RAISES QUESTIONS OF MARKET INTEGRITY Dataminr, for example, sifts, analyses and interprets masses of Twitter information for signs of market-moving events which it then effectively ‘breaks’ before the mainstream media (the news of Osama bin Laden’s death being one such story). This process involves detecting abnormal signals and then analysing them combined with contextual data, both historical and concurrent.
FROM FORTUNE MAGAZINE: SHOULD BLOOMBERG BE AFRAID OF TWITTER? Yesterday the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 146 points within seconds after a hacked AP account falsely claimed the White House was under attack. While the market recovered quickly after the hoax was exposed, it showed just how many Wall Street traders were now relying on Twitter for trading information. Dataminr says it was able to alert its clients to the hoax a full two minutes ahead of major news.
Every couple months I try to take a step back to look back and review some of the common themes I’ve found myself shooting. Now that we are in April it made sense to see what has happend in 2013. A lot of the photos below were related to me shooting something every morning while I was walking to work. There wasn’t much surprise that a lot of those images were about typography or architecture–2 of my favorite topics. What was a bit surprising in the evening’s was the number of times oysters popped up when I was capturing food. Other favorite things that came up were V, Madison and tech in a consistent manner.
FOOD & DRINKS
It has been quite a week for anyone that has grown to use Google Reader as the news is sinking in the Google is killing their RSS reader. There’s been quite a bit of chatter about alternatives. After learning about not being able to use the service after July I started to consider how that would change my process. On Thursday I received an email from an associate editor at Mashable asking if I would be interested in doing a guest post about RSS. On Friday my post titled RSS Can’t Fill Google Reader Void went live on the interwebs.
Below are my quotes and images from the post.
The popular theory seems to be that people will move on to another RSS reader, and life will go on as usual. I’m not that optimistic.
Twitter is not the entire answer, but I do think there’s a great element to tapping into a system that is somewhat human.
Below is my review of Aften Screen for Typographica’s Our Favorite Typefaces of 2012. If you’re a fan of typefaces and want to see some beautiful cuts, I recommend visiting Typographica to get your type on.
Aften Screen cuts through the majority of bland screen-only fonts by being confident enough in what it chooses to display as much as in what it doesn’t show.
I spend a majority of my time reading on screen, whether it’s on a Retina display or a monitor with a lower resolution. What drew me immediately to wanting to read text in Aften Screen was how easy the typeface was on my eyes. Aften Screen doesn’t scream “look at me!”, but elegantly combines characters in a subtle and sophisticated manner.
Type testing with words like “city”, “upgrade”, and “renderings” shows how the extended ascenders and descenders fit nicely together and with other characters. By extension, reading with Aften Screen is a great study in flow. One simple example is the lowercase word “supreme”: As the eye surfs over the top of each letter, it seamlessly floats to the next.
Continuing with my type tests, I would drop in long paragraphs of type, short quotes, and the occasional favorite word. As I experimented with different sizes from extremely small to giant, uppercase to sentence case, I was inspired. I wanted to start using Aften Screen for unimagined projects. As a screen-only typeface, I could see how it could be used in many applications. I was really struck by how versatile it could be — from straightforward workhorse applications to long reads. I could see myself using one weight and size for an entire project without it feeling stale. On the flip side, I could also see it being used elegantly with a subtle range of weights and sizes.
Aften Screen is one of those unique typefaces that could be used daily without fear of being lost within too much eccentricity, while at the same time displaying some new aspect of its character in each application.
I came across the above diagram for the Gesture chair from YMFY. Basically it shows the different postures a typical person goes through in a workday with more than one device. I’m sort of surprised that I haven’t seen this type of exploration before. It’s really well done. The diagram has really captured a moment in time with the technology that a person has at their fingertips. As more motion based gestures evolve where a person doesn’t even touch a screen more postures may pop up. Below is how Steelcase is marketing the Gesture chair.
Design: Inspired by the Human Body
1) The Core Interface.
- The Gesture back and seat move as a synchronized system moving with each user to provide continuous and persistent support.
- The back cradles the user no matter the posture or device.
2) The Limb Interface:
- The Gesture arm moves like the human arm, which allows users to be supported in any position.
- Arms and shoulders remain supported when texting on a smartphone, typing on a keyboard or swiping a tablet.
3) The Seat Interface:
- The Gesture seat brings comfort all the way to the edges.
- It is flexible at the perimeter to allow users to sit in a range of postures without obstruction.
4) The User Interface:
- Gesture takes into account various body types and sitting preferences, quickly adjustable to meet the needs of each individual user.
- Users can adjust Gesture as easily as adjusting their posture.
The Art Director’s Club invited Sean Kenney to talk about his art and display some of his personal Lego pieces in a show titled Piece By Piece: The Artist Who Built His Own Dream Job. Walking around experiencing the Lego pieces at different scales is quite special. On one level there’s the image of the object that is just plain cool to look at. Then there’s the marvel of the architecture of how things were built. On a third level there’s the narrative of how the pieces tell the story of how he came to building his own dream job. If you are near the Art Director’s building in NYC, I highly recommend experiencing the story.
The exhibition will be on display through March 20, 2013, and is free and open to the public from March 8-20. Gallery hours 10am-6pm, Monday-Friday. 106 West 29th Street (between 6th and 7th Aves). New York, NY 10001
One of my goals when I wanted to move to NYC was to start a company. With Gesture Theory I was able to complete that unattainable goal that I dared to consider many years ago. Gesture Theory lasted two years and we worked on projects that I had previously not come close to working on.
It all started with a simple conversation a couple years ago with Roy. We had worked together for a couple years prior at Daylife. When he asked me to consider leaving Behavior to start something, the first feeling that struck me was the same gut reaction when I decided to leave everything in Canada to move here. It was basically “how could I not do it”? I would never be able to guess what might come down the road and I knew I would regret the decision if I didn’t go through with it.
Gesture Theory started in January 2011. By the end of the first year we had a decent studio space in Soho, building products for some well known and respected clients, and building both products for our selves at the same time. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything in the world. There were challenges as there always is with running a business but there was something deeply satisfying knowing that things were on our shoulders to get the work done.
Learning from the first year 2012 exploded with business. I thought nothing could go wrong. I’ve learned now that when that type of emotion comes into play things could drastically change in an instant around a blind corner. That blind corner hit in the spring. Within a couple days I was informed that a new company was taking over the studio space and that Gesture Theory had thirty days to move. A couple days after that Roy let me know that he had accepted an offer from a colleague of his to move to SF to be in Y-Combinator and that he could no longer have an active roll in Gesture Theory. It was a kick to the gut that I never saw coming nor knew how to react to. If it hadn’t been for my former wife I don’t know how I would have survived those first couple of days.
The months after that seriously questioned why on earth I wanted to start a company. It didn’t matter what I did, things just went from bad to worse. What I went through and was feeling were things I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to go through. There was no option, I had to finish up projects so I could say goodbye to Gesture Theory. I wasn’t interested at the time continuing on by myself.
The summer was pretty bad but as fall was approaching things finally started to click. I ended up finding a great company that had more potential than I had ever seen before. Dataminr had access to Twitter’s firehose which in turn was focused on building products for the financial sector. The team was like no one else I had worked with. Really smart people that could be trusted. The UI needed a lot of work which excited me a lot. I could really help with building the next version.
I wanted to finally write this post about Gesture Theory as there’s a lot of stuff being released with Dataminr. Due to the competitive nature of the financial sector along with expanding into government and news I won’t be talking much about the upcoming products.
It was awful having to say goodbye but I would never had been able to create the experiences and learning lessons any other way. I still have a couple case studies that I want to write about the work at Gesture Theory. But for now I’m enjoying the time looking forward.
I’ll be kicking myself for a while for not taking any photos of the Basquiat show that I saw over the weekend at the Gagosian Gallery. Below are photos from the Gagosian website. Having only spent a short amount of time viewing the artwork in person, thinking back now I can recall so much with each layer he built on top of the other.
It has been a long time since I went for a walk down the West Side Highway. Taking advantage of the nice weather I found myself walking in Chelsea near the Meat Packing District. The route I took yesterday was one that I’ve taken many times before. What surprised me is that I’ve probably walked by the signs below many times but never noticed them until yesterday.
A couple weeks ago Mashable had a post about Dataminr’s UI technology for the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony. Below are two maps that show some of the Twitter activity. You can read more about it on Mashable’s site: Twitter Was Watched for Security Threats During Obama’s Inauguration.
Presidential Inauguration Ceremony
Live Dataminr situational awareness of the Inauguration – 10 minutes of live event–related Twittter activity using reported and predicted user locations.
Presidential Inauguration Parade Route
Live Dataminr situational awareness of the Inauguration – 10 minutes of live event–related Twittter activity using reported and predicted user locations.
Doors should be pretty self explanatory. A person turns a knob, pushes forward, pulls back or maybe slides a handle. While I don’t agree with the statement that if an app has instructions the UI is faulty, what does it say if a door has instructions on how to open it? Here’s a couple examples below that I came across recently. What these signs suggest is that there are people listening to feedback though it begs the question that if the door had been designed differently would there have been the need for the signs in the first place?
There’s two issues here. A sliding door and a weird lock. It’s not rare to have a door like this but compared to most pubs a person is used to pushing to get out. My guess is that people don’t understand the concept of a sliding door so the stickers went up. I’m not sure why they just didn’t place a slide to open arrow instead. I guess people also got a false sense of locking so they had to emphasize it.
There’s probably only a couple people that need to open this door. One lock opens in one direction, the other lock a different way. I can only imagine how much time was lost before the arrows were documented. Makes sense but I also have to wonder why they couldn’t just remember how the locks open.
In terms of ergonomics, I thought it was pretty clear that a person had to push the door to open. I look at this door and wonder if three different management people needed to feel involved so this was the outcome.
A dear friend of mine passed away recently. When I think back to the great times in Edmonton, a lot of the time it was directly related to hanging with Marc. Marc you will be sorely missed.
February 14, 1970 – February 2, 2013
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, son and brother Marc.
He will be forever remembered by his wife Constanza, son Matias, and daughter Luciana; mother Joan; sister Sandy and brother-in-law Brad Reinbold, niece Emery, and nephew Cobe. He will also be remembered by his Argentinean family: father-in-law Dr. Armando Pacher, and mother-in-law Cachita Pacher; sisters-in-law Paula and Mariana; brothers-in-law Natalio and Alejo, and nephews Nicolas and Gonzalo; and his faithful friend Buckley.
Marc graduated with a Master’s Degree in Design from the University of Alberta. He was passionate about design research and education. Most recently a faculty member at MacEwan University; he was well respected by his colleagues, students and the design community. He was an avid outdoorsman, a dedicated husband and father. His generousity of spirit and his kindness will be missed by everyone that knew him.
A Memorial Service will be held on Friday, February 8, 2013 at 2:00 pm in the Chapel of Eden Brook Funeral Home in Calgary (corner of 17th Avenue SW and Lower Springbank Road).
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the children’s trust fund. For information please email matiasbrisbourne at shaw.ca
The combination of Faile and the New York City Ballet was a great idea. An awesome art installation with the athleticism of the NYCB. The night that I saw both together couldn’t really have been a better evening. It started early with a talk with principal dancer’s Sara Mearns and Jonathan Stafford. They had an informal discussion that was based largely on the Q & A of the small audience. The topics varied from how they were told they had become principal’s to their commitment to their craft. Having heard them speak really helped inform me when I saw the ballet that night.
I’ve known about Faile for some time but the scale and depth of what they had on display inside the David H. Koch Theater was special. I started walking around the piece from the fourth ring and slowly made it around through a 360 when I eventually made it to the ground floor. There was so much to see from multiple angles. I shot a lot of photographs hoping that I wouldn’t miss anything with my eyes.
Between the scale, historical nods and pure visual intensity there was a lot to take in. That description doesn’t go into what it was like with an audience that was mesmerized nor the music playing in the background. That on itself would have been a great event but that was only half of the evening.
I really enjoyed the entire ballet. Having heard two principals talk ahead of time helped a lot. Between hearing about how they got to where they were to what it means to be in the moment, it helped me appreciate the dancers on stage that performed. There was a variety of different ballets that were performed over the two hours. I really enjoyed it.
There was a lot of takeaways from the perfect evening. Some were more tangible than others. Each audience member was given a block from Faile. The installation was at such a large scale that having a small block encapsulated the memorable evening. For me as I’m sure for most people there that night, when they look back to their block they will smile and remember a great evening of performances.
Les Ballets De Faile vine.co/v/b117LAx6tjW
— Michael Surtees (@MichaelSurtees) February 2, 2013
Over the weekend I took the time to visit Jonathan Levine Gallery to see Haroshi and Aakash Nihalani latest pieces. I’ve seen photographs of Haroshi’s work previously on blogs. The first thing I noticed them in person is the tactile quality. The scale for each piece fits as well as the color bits that are mashed together. I first came across Aakash Nihalani’s stuff on the streets of NYC that was just tape on sidewalks and walls. The restrained sophistication speaks loudly as the colors. The show is up through February 9, 2013. Wired has a pretty decent write up for more info on Haroshi.
I’ve been posting photos to #walkingtoworktoday for many years now. There’s a lot of motivating factors for why I do it everyday. One consistent theme is that I want to keep my eyes open at all times while listening to the internal dialog when I see something that I hadn’t noticed before in NYC.
Recently I came across a site that pulls in hashtags from Twitter and overlays them with geo data from Google Maps. All of a sudden I had a new context for everything that I shot (and others) with the hashtag #walkingtoworktoday.
Seeing what I shot pulled out in a larger context was addicting. I couldn’t wait to see the next image after image to help give context to the image I shot in the left upper corner. Weather, time of day and angle either helped show the scene or completely contradicted the two images together. Either way it was a juxtaposition that I spent a lot of time looking at.
Below are a couple screenshots that I took. Top left image is mine, the full scale image is from Google Street Maps. The last image is a rough idea of where some of my photos came from Instagram.
Last night as the results were being mentioned on TV and talked about on Twitter there was one other method people could see the results. CNN and the Empire State Building worked together to display the ongoing results on the spire of the building. As the results evolved so would the top part of the Empire State Building. Once the winner was declared the entire top would go to the winning party. As everyone knows by now the building was blue at the end of the evening.
I thought it was a great idea but during the night as the results came in the display felt a bit static. It wasn’t until the near the end that the building for me meant much. It was hard to know when the spire had actually changed. It felt gradual. I think if there had been some sort of signal of movement it would have been much more effective. Perhaps when something changed it pulsed, maybe the top cell blinked.
As a means to signify the night it was great. There was an enormous amount of people that shot the building as it turned blue and tweeted about it. I hope that the Empire State Building continues to do live tracking of other moments but with some slight adjustments to make it feel more active.
Near the end of last week I spent some time at AIGA National Design Center. As I was walking through the Get Out the Vote 2012 Exhibition I was struck by one poster in particular. While most people take it for granted they can vote, one issue I had never considered is how a homeless person could vote. Homeless Does Not Mean Voteless makes it easy for anyone to understand. Unfortunately I don’t have the name the person that designed the poster as the name was too blurry with the photo I shot. What the posters informs people is that “when registering to vote, homeless people may use a shelter, park or street corner as the residence”. While I can’t vote in the US election because I’m Canadian, I found this poster incredibly powerful to simply let it be known how American’s that do not have a home can vote.
Friend of Design Notes Kimberly Taylor let me know about an augmented app for the new cover of Metropolis Magazine. I don’t interact with much AR these days so playing around with the cover via my iPhone and iPad definitely held my interest. While the cover is only a teaser I wish that I could have interacted more on screen. There’s icons that I would have liked to have been able to press or even a simple link to the newsstand issue. Even with that said it offers a glimpse of something much more interesting than a static cover often can be.
You can read more about the actual app on Metropolis site titled Augmented Possibility By Avinash Rajagopal. The link to Apple’s App store is https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-new-city/id562210465?mt=8 and Android at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=fr.artefacto.metropolisra&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsImZyLmFydGVmYWN0by5tZXRyb3BvbGlzcmEiXQ..
I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time. Last Xmas I got back to building with Lego. At the time I spent 2 days building the Lego Volkswagen T1 Camper Van. The time really flew by. Part of it was organizing the elements and putting them together. It was also hard to deny getting back to my youth when I would spend days putting structure together with lego and wood blocks.
As I was building the VW Van, I would take shots to remember the progress. I really enjoyed viewing the progress and seeing the underlying structure. Every couple of hours significant progress would be made. Fast forward to now and I’m just followed the same process building Fallingwater. The biggest difference between the two builds for me was I spent a lot less time organizing the bricks. For the VW I spent hours organizing the bricks by color and size. For Fallingwater I just dumped everything before starting with the instructions.
Below I’ve posted some of the pics that I shot for both the VW and Fallingwater. At the time I posted them first on Instagram and secondly on Flickr. What shouldn’t be understated is that people really enjoy commenting and favoriting that stuff in real time. While I wasn’t going to stop before I finished, I found the encouragement helpful plugging away.
LEGO VOLKSWAGEN T1 CAMPER VAN
I hate to sound consistent but the past couple of months have been crazy. Below are some of the images that made me pause long enough to stop and consider what was in front of me. I’ve had the opportunity to hit the reset button on a lot of things and Design Notes is no exception. Over the next couple of months I’ll be chipping away making tweaks where needed.