I really like this short video (1:40) entitled "Vanishing Point" from Bonsajo, a visual performance unit in Japan. It makes me think of some stuff I saw in the late 1960s and early 70s. It's fun just to watch it and let it flow over you.
Wendy and I are in Turkey for two weeks (our second visit). Those readers familiar with the Ball of Whacks know my fondness for geometrical art. Turkey, with its strong Islamic tradition, provides its visitors with many opportunities to take delight in patterns.
Below is part of a panel made from mother of pearl inlay at Topkapi Palace (Istanbul). Note the interplay of octagons and pentagons. Exquisite!
Shown below is part of a wood screen at the Rustempasa mosque (Istanbul). This one has an interplay of hexagons and quadralaterals.
I've gone to two outdoor rock concerts in the past week: Bob Dylan at the JAS Festival at Aspen-Snowmass, Colorado over Labor Day weekend, and Dave Matthews Band at the Greek Theater in Berkeley last night. [Photos by Alex von Oech.]
This was my second Dylan concert (the first was 43 years ago in 1965 when I was 17). Dylan gave a paradoxical performance. On the one hand, it's quite inspirational to see a real "living legend" still pumping it out to a large crowd at the age of 67. Plus, he's got a dynamite band.
On the other hand, I wasn't always sure what I was hearing. Bob doesn't bother to sing all the words anymore, and the arrangements are quite different from what I remember. For example, I listened to one song for two minutes before I realized that it was "Highway 61 Revisited." This also happened with "Visions of Johanna." But what the heck: Bob's entitled to change!
The audience loved him, though, and he gave two thundering encores ("Like a Rolling Stone" and "All Along the Watch Tower"). He's still got his harmonica chops! Lots o'fun.
If Dylan is the "living legend" from another era, Dave Matthews is the preacher of today giving his congregation everything they wanted — and more. The Greek Theater was filled with 7,000 true believers. (This was my fourth Dave Matthews concert; my son has been to 24; and I imagine that many there had been to over fifty of his concerts.) Wonderful music, showmanship, stagecraft, and a genuine bond between performers and the audience.
Nothing like a rock concert to clean your head out!
"The folks over at MISSING LINK are offering their buddies and clients a free tattoo. This threw me into a panic. And I quickly pulled out one of my
favorite of Roger von Oech's WHACK PACK cards... 'Solve the Right
Problem'. I love this image. I copied von Oech's question mark into ArtRage, and started messing
around with it. The red/pink background is meant to represent skin tone." [shown at left]
"This didn't hurt much at all. It was more of a sort of vibrating vague sting, that numbed out after about ten minutes. When the colors settle, this will be a very painterly piece of skin.
It's not discernible now, but everything is blended and shaded and
graded. I'll post a pic in a week or so, when it's looking more like it
Roy also made a series of short videos about the tattooing process which can be found here.
Good luck with your tattoo, Roy! Tell all your friends who like it to go to creativethink.com!
Question: have you looked at your logo from a number of different viewpoints lately? Maybe you should.
Last week I reported on seeing the London 2012 Olympics logo while I was there. It's a bit controversial: among other things, some say it looks likes the Lisa Simpson performing a sexual act. Anyway, I hope the Brits have fun with it.
Today, my sources have sent me another odd British logo (hat-tip to Alex), shown below.
This one, done at a cost of £14,000, was done for the U.K. Office of Government Commerce.
What does the OCG do? According to the Times (of London), they are "responsible for improving value for money by driving up standards and capability in procurement."
So, what do you think of the design? Certainly looks modern and clean. Although it's kerned a little too tightly for my tastes.
Logos are seen from a bunch of different angles, especially when they're on mouse pads, pens, and the like. What happens when you rotate this 90 degrees like so?
My goodness, the logo takes on a whole new life! It's practically an icon to Onanism.
Despite many titters and much laughter from the public, the OCG is using it anyway. A spokesman for the OGC said this:
"We concluded that the effect was generic to the particular combination of letters 'OGC' and is not inappropriate to the an organization that's looking to have a firm grip on government spending. The logo presents a very clean, uncluttered and modern identity."
Happy Birthday Johann Sebastian Bach, born on this day (March 21) in 1685. His music, the fusion of a powerful intellect and an unshakable faith, is capable of both melodic simplicity (e.g.,"Sheep May Safely Graze") and elaborate complexity (e.g., "The Art of the Fugue").
We are very fortunate that Bach lived and abundantly applied his gift. He is one of those rare individuals about whom it can be said, "Had he never been born, we'd all be the poorer."
Bach has long been one of my very favorite creative muses. When I'm in need of inspiration, I can listen to Bach for days on end. I have many favorites, but here a few quick ones:
• The Goldberg Variations • "Wachet auf ruft uns die Stimme" cantata • Cellos Suites • Sonatas 1-6 BMV 525-530 (especially #6) • The Well-Tempered Clavier
Last night I went to see Uri Caine in a solo piano concert at Stanford. Caine is a virtuoso classical and jazz pianist, jazz ensemble leader, composer, and classical music interpretter.
Caine performed an all Mahler program. My favorite was his interpretation of the Adagietto (fourth movement) of Symphony #5. (He also did movements from Sym. #1, #2, and #5.)
Caine's performance was electric, confident, searching, and playful. At times his playing is literal: he delicately picks out the notes like stars in the sky. But more often, his MO was to take Mahler's themes and run them through his vivid imagination to create a wild and moving amalgam of sounds and feelings. Thus, Caine is able to make Mahler sound like Fats Waller, Glenn Gould, PDQ Bach, and Keith Jarrett. A true tour de force.
The second half of his program was comprised of Caine's takes on Mahler lieder (from the Song of the Earth and The Boy's Magic Horn). He'd take a three minute song and run with it for ten minutes — entertaining the audience all the way with his variations. For example, in the "Farewell" song, he seamlessly brought Stravinsky and Mahler together in ways neither could have ever imagined.
I first became aware of Uri Caine a little over a year ago when I did a post on Bach's Goldberg Variations ("Waking Up with the Goldberg Variations"). One reader suggested that I check out Caine's interpretation of the Goldbergs. I did, and I was absolutely floored (and have listened to it scores of times since). I highly recommend it. Caine's rendition of Wagner is also worth listening to.
I just got back from my trip to east Asia — in time to catch the series finale of HBO's "The Wire." It did not disappoint.
I'd say that "The Wire" is one of the top five or six series I've ever watched on television. It's set in the Baltimore of 2002-2008 and deals with the interplay of its police force and the drug community. The writing is outstanding, and the characters are intriguing. I especially liked seasons three and four.
My recommendation: rent the DVDs. I give it a big thumbs up! You will not be disappointed.
I've never downloaded a TV program. Until three weeks ago, that is. iTunes ran a special for the season of Mad Men ($22 for 13 episodes) and I snatched it up. (I connected my Mac to my plasma screen for viewing.)
Mad Men is the creation of former Sopranos' writer-producer Matt Weiner. The show is about the advertising industry and is set in the New York City of 1960. The title refers to "Madison Avenue" and this was the dawn of advertising's "golden age."
In this world, everyone smokes. Everyone drinks at work (sometimes before noon). And the women are either secretaries or housewives. The show centers around star creative director Don Draper (3rd from left, played by Jon Hamm).
It was fun to see the creative teams come up with ideas for various products such as: Lucky Strike, Kodak's slide projector, Richard Nixon's Presidential campaign, Israel Tourism Board, Bethlehem Steel, and a New York department store. It was also a kick to hear them talk about the new art of "Brainstorming" and how to do it!
I thoroughly enjoyed this program, and was happy to see it renewed for a second season. (I was twelve in 1960 and it was interesting to re-enter that world again: people watched Twilight Zone and Leave It to Beaver.)
Mad Men just won a Golden Globe for best "Dramatic Television Series," and Jon Hamm won for "Best Dramatic Actor." (He is very good.) Congratulations!
In a recent post called "Get Out of the Dogma House," I wrote about how one's dogmas can interfere with seeing alternative solutions to problems.
Today I received the following observation from the British/German "Idea Engineer" Graham Horton. Graham (shown below) is a Professor of Computer Science at Universität Magdeburg and also the co-founder of the German ideation firm Zephram (blog link here) whose clients include Daimler, BMW and Siemens. This is what Graham wrote:
"One designer dogma which I find particularly annoying is the belief
that it is more important to win design prizes than to produce objects
that meet customers' needs. A concomitant dogma is that the prize
criteria be abstract and internal rather than pragmatic and useful.
"Two common examples are advertising and architecture. Prizes are
awarded for commercials which are completely unsuccessful in imprinting
the product in the viewer's/reader's mind.
"Similarly, two buildings on
our university campus [Magdeburg] have won architectural prizes which have serious
deficiencies from my (the user's) point of view. In the first building
all the projection surfaces are mounted next to the windows (with no
possibility of lowering blinds) so that it is virtually impossible to
make out the images being shown. In the second, (our university
library) the roof began to leak owing to a design error only one year
after after completion and had to be completely overhauled."
Thanks for your thoughts, Graham.
I'd like to hope that the "cool appearance before functionality" mindset isn't widespread. Nonetheless, here's my question.
Question: What's your personal experience with products (or other artifacts such as buildings, ads, etc.) that won awards from their creator's peers (or were deemed "cool") but didn't live up to their intended users' expectations of effectiveness?