Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Why I love All Kinds of Stuff:
Art that is this narrowly conceived, that does not look outside its closed doors to either the real world or a wide assortment of other artists has no humanity to it. There is no opinion, no comment on the world. it's just product. Product made under the guidance of pure fear and distrust of anything remotely creative.
When a whole era and society degrades to the point where everything is blind absorbtion or stealing, then the art and culture gets more and more primitive.
Eventually everything degrades to no style or substance at all.
Skill declines and is replaced by superficial imitation or sheer nondescript blandness, ideas disappear, humanity dissolves.
Stuff just happens arbitrarily, blandly at great expense so that corporations can feed the masses with ground faceless product until the executives eventually bankrupt their companies and retire with giant bonuses. [Link]
Monday, August 27, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Bankrate.com has a nice tool for estimating how far a car will go on a tank of gas. The visualization of the car's movement thus strays from the more-frequently emphasized metric of gas mileage but the charts do highlight the "cost per mile" using gas prices provided by the user. I'd like to be able to compare cars across classes rather than just within them, though.
Only bug is that the price per mile drops the tenths if cents are in 10's - $0.10 becomes $0.1, etc. Whoops! [Via|Link]
Monday, August 13, 2007
"We continue to be fascinated with showing viewers things that you cannot see - the line of scrimmage in football, the strike zone in baseball, and the airflow in motorsports ... known as drafting," said Jed Drake, ESPN senior vice president and executive producer. "Draft Track brings to life for the viewer an element of NASCAR racing that has been a much-discussed but unseen part of the sport for decades."Video at the link. [Via]
Friday, August 10, 2007
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Monday, August 06, 2007
Crazy-good animator Paul Robertson has been trying to figure out whether to try to charge money for downloads of his soon-to-be-released short film. He has been getting a lot of advice, some good, mostly bad. Here's TiP's perspective: Selling digital content per se is a losing proposition. Bundle it, make it concrete, add more physical stuff, give it rarity, and you will give it pride of ownership and fan interest and thus monetary value. Here's how.
- Create a nicely-packaged DVD. Produce and include some random stuff for purchasers that can be spread around, shared on peer networks or emailed around. A bonus clip, higher-res film, application icons, avatar images, whatever. Include something that cannot be ripped off - an original poster, a T-shirt, really nice cover art, a sheet of stickers.
- Release in limited and open editions, with the limited edition being a real limited edition - not 10,000, not 2,000. One hundred, maybe two or three. This is not where you make your money, at least not most of it. Include something in the LE run that will become the stuff of legend, which relates well to the movie - a custom-run toy, a wall-sized wheatpaste, whatever. Spend and you will be rewarded. And this is important: The cost must be driven by high quality, not by editioning. There's a reason they give away boats on The Price is Right, because people have a hard time pricing boats, the price is incredibly variable, and the service provided by matching up buyer and seller is at a premium. This is your sweet spot. Even the people who buy and will never resell should feel like they "made money" when they watch the price rise on eBay as the package is parted out.
- Get input from fans if needed to help determine what your packages should contain, but not much. Be coy. Get them curious. Get a bit of feedback or solicit ideas, promising to reward someone with a pack of goodies if their idea gets used. Draw on your fans' creativity.
- Pricing is the tricky part, because the LE needs to disappear so that people know they are gone and start wondering if and when you'll do it with your next project. Don't think of this as a luxury item, because luxuries are measured in ability to pay, which is completely antithetical to the spirit of the medium in which you are working. It should cost more but not too much more, so that fandom is rewarded more than willingness to pay out. Cover your costs and get a bit out of it but don't overshoot. Better here to make a little than a lot, just make sure you are making the financial risk at least moderately worth your while. Reserve a few to give away on launch and a handful more to sell when you need the cash and they are worth more.
- Make the movie itself as widely and freely available as possible. Put it on every network. Track it. Respond to feedback and fandom. Charge nothing. Do not, under any conditions, release the film until you have any and all sale materials ready to ship.
- Advertise. Partner. Send high-res versions to mags and bloggers who will write about it, but don't give them any schwag, it makes them fat and lazy and they will brag about this and this will keep others from buying it legitimately.
- Get the goods out the door and paid for. Consider a paid fulfillment service which starts with warehousing and ends with shipping, even if you choose to process payment through an automated system you are in charge of. All of the people who didn't buy/win/steal the LE and who are even remotely candidates for buying anything from you ever will automatically buy the open edition at $10 or $15. Unless you want that to become your job for a while, consider what your time is worth and what scale of response you want to be ready for.
- Become rich and forget all about me.
Friday, August 03, 2007
From the creators' website:
In this demo, the text background of Wikipedia articles is colored according to a value of trust, computed from the reputation of the authors who contributed the text, as well as those who edited the text. ... Text on white background is trusted text; text on orange background is untrusted text. Intermediate gradations of orange indicate intermediate trust values. ...
We compute the reputation of Wikipedia authors according to how long their contributions last in the Wikipedia. Specifically, authors whose contributions are preserved, or built-upon, gain reputation; authors whose contributions are undone lose reputation.
We call this a content-driven reputation, since the reputation is computed automatically via text analysis. This contrasts with other reputation systems, such as those in use at Ebay, where buyer and seller reputations are computed on the basis of user-provided ratings. [Via|Link]
Thursday, August 02, 2007
What if, instead of trying to reconcile all video games with one monolithic set of laws for design and reception, we admitted that video games have many possible goals and purposes, which couple with many possible aesthetics and designs to create many possible player experiences, none of which bears any necessary relationship to the commercial video game industry as we currently know it. ...
I’ve started focusing more on the people who might be interested in different kinds of game experiences. People who fly for business more than three times a month, or people who read all of the Sunday newspaper, or people who have kids with food allergies, for example. I am sure these people read magazines and watch television and listen to the radio. But it would be short-sighted to label them ziners or tubers or airwavers. They are just people, with interests, who sometimes consume different kinds of media. - Ian Bogost, "How I Stopped Worrying About Gamers and Started Loving People Who Play Games" [Gamasutra]
The only way to support the view that Exile [on Main Street] is best listened to as an album, in other words, is to dismiss the actual preferences of most of the people who like the Rolling Stones. Carr sets about this task with gusto:Who would unbundle Exile on Main Street or Blonde on Blonde or Tonight’s the Night - or, for that matter, Dirty Mind or Youth and Young Manhood or (Come On Feel the) Illinoise? Only a fool would.Only a fool. If you are one of those people who has, say, "Happy" on your iPod (as I do), then you are a fool (though you have lots of company). And of course this foolishness extends to the recording industry, and to the Stones themselves, who went and put "Tumbling Dice" on a Greatest Hits collection. (One can only imagine how Carr feels about Greatest Hits collections.) - Clay Shirky, "New Freedom Destroys Old Culture" [Many 2 Many]
The onslaught of recalled toys and food originating from China continues with yesterday's recall of nearly one million Fisher-Price Toys sold between April and July 2007, due to lead paint. ... When looking at the sea of toys, one thought pounded in my head: I would never have bought any of these products for my daughter.
- Elmo's head on a toy power drill
- Elmo and Cookie Monster on a shape sorter
- Elmo's face on a 6-key musical keyboard
- Cookie Monster on a toy saxophone
What does Cookie Monster have to do with sax music? When we buy out-of-context licensed characters we are following a marketer's agenda for our children. - AJ, "Elmo's Head: An Analysis of Recalled Fisher-Price Toys" [Thingamababy]
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
John Nack writes:
The Graffiti Archaelogy project uses a Flash interface to let visitors navigate to different heavily tagged spots (links at left), then see the work at various stages (links at bottom). Using the M & N keys to cruise back and forth in time, I'm reminded of watching time lapses of plant life exploding on a surface, dying, and being reborn. [Via|Link]
The problem isn't the scale or the height; as a friend of Progress and Industry, Telstar Logistics welcomes high-rise construction in San Francisco's downtown area. No, the problem is the exterior curtain wall designed by architects at Chicago's Solomon Cordwell Buenz. The curtain wall achieves a remarkable effect: The more finished One Rincon gets, the less interesting the building becomes. [Link]
"Humanity will make the historic transition from a rural to an urban species some time in the next year, according to the latest UN population figures. The shift will be led by Africa and Asia, which are expected to add 1.6 billion people to their cities over the next 25 years. Read more."
Monday, July 30, 2007
Wang Qingsong is bang on:
My new work "Commercial War" focuses on the power of ads and the misconceptions that ads can create. For this photo work, I constructed a chaotic backdrop where over 20 people are depicted in a frenzy of competition with some even fist fighting while jostling for ad positioning on a huge billboard advertisement; this struggle for the most optimal outdoor ad placement is perceived as inevitably bringing power and influence. The struggle for ad placement in public space in China is not unlike a battlefield strewn with casualties after a pitched battle for power. Today one brand wins. The next day, its competitor will replace it with better positioning on public spaces. Every day, new ads go up, and old ones fall down, scattered in pieces, and discarded on the ground under newly erected billboard advertisements. [Link]
From the New York Times:
If a robot had features that made it seem, say, 50 percent human, 50 percent machine, according to this view, we would be willing to fill in the blanks and presume a certain kind of nearly human status. That is why robots like Domo and Mertz are interpreted by our brains as creaturelike. But if a robot has features that make it appear 99 percent human, the uncanny-valley theory holds that our brains get stuck on that missing 1 percent: the eyes that gaze but have no spark, the arms that move with just a little too much stiffness. This response might be akin to an adaptive revulsion at the sight of corpses. A too-human robot looks distressingly like a corpse that moves. [Via|Link]
At any given point in time there are a few projects that are urgent, some that are just important, a few that need to be kept moving, and others that are idle. How much of your time are you spending on what? Are you focused on the right things? Amidst the everyday craziness of a creative enterprise, it is hard to keep energy in perspective.
The Energy Line is a simple mechanism to graphically display energy allocation. A simple line starting at "Idle" and going up to "Extreme" is drawn along a cork or dry erase board. Then write the names of all of your major projects on small cards. Place the cards along the energy line according to how much focus they should get. Be realistic and make the tough decisions on what projects need to live on low energy for a while. [Link]
Saturday, July 28, 2007
I finally made good on a promise to Fagistani president Joshua Gibson to contribute a piece to his blog. Gibson's foul-mouthed and always insightful commentary has been on my short list of must-reads since I discovered his blog a year ago, and he has contributed here more than once. You can read my piece, which concerns an egregious bit of journalistic mumbo-jumbo on display at the Huffington Post, here.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Back in April I reported on an art appreciation class at CSU-Long Beach which features the fantastic assignment of painting reenactment. I suggested a few works for the fall semester - Washington Crossing the Delaware, a painting of John Brown, and a Botticelli Annunciation, which is basically the ecumenical inverse of that scene in Nightmare On Elm Street III when Freddy Krueger is leading Johnny Depp around by his tendons. I think I'd be equally frightened by either scenario, wouldn't you? Someone write me an essay on the role of horror films as an existential response to ecstatic experience in a post-religious culture, stat!
Anyway, I was thrilled when instructor Glenn Zucman found the post and basically shot all my ideas down. Well, not exactly. As it happens, works need to be on permanent display in Los Angeles in order to be considered, because the students have to go look at the actual artwork, not just some crappy photos on a website somewhere. The gall! But he invited me to come up with some alternatives. I had a lot of fun browsing the LACMA permanent collection online, and have come up with a bunch of options that may or may not be on display at any given moment.
The following selections have been made based on their intrinsic beauty, compositional complexity, pathos, aeronautics, or other challenges.
The Liberation of Saint Peter, circa 1625
Getting the lighting right here could be a challenge. This picture has always looked demonic to me. All those blacks and browns.
Dido and Aeneas, circa 1630
Selected for pathos, and for having so many faces in such different relationships and layers.
Psyche Obtaining the Elixir of Beauty from Proserpine, circa 1735
How would you represent that dragon? No teddy bears allowed!
The Martyrdom of St. Cecilia, circa 1610
Beautiful and hard to do!
Joseph Marie Vien (French, 1716 - 1809)
Venus Emerging from the Sea, circa 1754-1755
Over on Z Recommends today we reviewed Music Tales, an album of drawn-and-quartetered versions of classical compositions used to sound-illustrate fairy tales and children's stories. A subsequent interview led us briefly to Warner Brothers' fantastic operatic adaptations, "The Long-Haired Hare" and "What's Opera, Doc?" which have Rossini and Wagner spinning in their graves to this day.
What strikes me as most interesting about the comparison has hit me only in hindsight. In our review I gently criticized the album for its inclusion of moments of graphic violence in some of the stories, elements that have been easily and deftly removed by other authors; in Tomie de Paola's Favorite Nursery Tales, for example, the story of the Three Little Pigs is no worse off for having the wolf give up and go home rather than being "boiled to bits" in the pigs' pot.
I missed the Bugs Bunny connection from the outset when I asked the group's violinist if their "mashups" had any antecedents in the modern era, so I'm grateful she mentioned the cartoons. But even then I didn't recognize the other parallel, which is their willingness to display violence. Fairy tales may contain more visceral violence than classic cartoons, but the thread certainly runs through them both, and some fairy tales have been so thoroughly sanitized that some critics are beginning to welcome the reintroduction of at least a touch of violence in stories old and new. I'll stand by my criticism, though, to the extent that I'm talking about a toddler audience, not one of older children. When our daughter Z is a bit older we will enjoy the old Bugs Bunny cartoons together. At three, not a chance!
Apparently some networks took their concern about cartoon violence even further when it came to "The Long-Haired Hare." From Wikipedia:
The ABC version of this cartoon cuts the entire sequence where Bugs is dressed as a bobby-soxer looking for Giovanni Jones's autograph and gives him a dynamite stick disguised as a pen.Most websites don't list the cartoon titles included in Looney Tunes collections, but after a lot of digging I confirmed that "Long-Haired Hare" is included in Looney Tunes' Golden Collection Vol. 1. I couldn't find the studio's lesser-known Wagnerian masterpiece mentioned as being included in any collection - if you know where to purchase it, let me know in the comments!
The CBS version of this cartoon is a little more heavily edited (as the censors hated the cartoon due to its violence). Not only is the bobby-soxer sequence that was cut from ABC also cut here, but also the scenes where Giovanni Jones beats Bugs up every time he ruins his singing lessons (i.e., Jones breaking, then smashing Bugs' banjo over his head; Jones slamming Bugs' harp on his neck; Jones pulling Bugs from the tuba, tying his ears to a tree branch, and pulling his body back so it'll snap back and have his head hit the branch).
Both cartoons can currently be viewed on YouTube, so why not settle in to watch a couple of hilarious, not to mention history-making cartoons?
What's Opera Doc
A woman has been arrested on suspicion of kissing a painting by American artist Cy Twombly and smudging the bone-white canvas with her lipstick, French judicial officials said Saturday.
Police said they arrested the woman after she kissed the work on Thursday. She is to be tried in a court in the southern city of Avignon on Aug. 16 for "damage to a work of art," judicial officials said.
The painting, which is worth an estimated $2 million, was on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Avignon. It is part of an exhibition slated to run at the museum through Sept. 30. Officials did not provide further details on the painting.
And, ages ago (2003), from the Guardian....
Two years ago, the Chapmans bought a complete set of what has become the most revered series of prints in existence, Goya's Disasters of War. It is a first-rate, mint condition set of 80 etchings printed from the artist's plates. In terms of print connoisseurship, in terms of art history, in any terms, this is a treasure - and they have vandalised it.
"We had it sitting around for a couple of years, every so often taking it out and having a look at it," says Dinos, until they were quite sure what they wanted to do. "We always had the intention of rectifying it, to take that nice word from The Shining, when the butler's trying to encourage Jack Nicholson to kill his family - to rectify the situation," interrupts Jake.
"So we've gone very systematically through the entire 80 etchings," continues Dinos, "and changed all the visible victims' heads to clowns' heads and puppies' heads."
The "new" work is called Insult to Injury. The exhibition in which it will be shown for the first time, at Modern Art Oxford, is called The Rape of Creativity.
Far muddier are the conflicting reports that Patricia Cornwell, in her obsession to prove that painter Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper, destroyed some of Sickert's paintings to test her theory. The merits of Cornwell's arguments notwithstanding (even reader-reviewers on Amazon largely hold the book in contempt), a CBC article in 2003 paraphrased a curator asserting that Cornwell had destroyed "up to thirty paintings," "tearing them apart" in her search for evidence. Once Cornwell donated 82 works by Sickert to the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard, however, the Art Newspaper did slightly better, quietly paring the tally down to one work which "it is said" (unattributed) was destroyed, and also does Cornwell the service of mentioning that she denies having done it.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Crayon Physics is one of a series of monthly, deadline-driven game development exercises by Finnish game developer Petri Purho. Purho releases a new game every month which can be downloaded and played on PCs running Windows.
If you don't run Windows or would prefer to watch a spoiler video to remove the possibility of getting addicted to game you don't have time to play, here it is:
I find it particularly interesting that the platform Purho uses allows fans to creating their own levels for the game, which Purho then shares with other readers. They can even stray from the game's look and feel, and often crib from other game designs in their own development.
To learn more about rapid game development, visit the Ad Lib Game Development Society's home page. Their site includes a great list of strategies and tips that can be applied to many other team-based creative activities.
Friday, July 20, 2007
My very favorite thing about the book is its visuals. Yahya uses images of evolution, most of them likely to have been cribbed from other texts, and slaps a red "X" with the word "FALSE" splayed across it. Take that, science!
At 11 x 17 inches and 12 pounds, with a bright red cover and almost 800 glossy pages, most of them lavishly illustrated, Atlas of Creation is probably the largest and most beautiful creationist challenge yet to Darwin’s theory, which Mr. Yahya calls a feeble and perverted ideology contradicted by the Koran. ....
[UC Berkeley evolutionary biologist Kevin Padian] said people who had received copies were "just astounded at its size and production values and equally astonished at what a load of crap it is."
"If he sees a picture of an old fossil crab or something, he says, 'See, it looks just like a regular crab, there's no evolution,'" Dr. Padian said. "Extinction does not seem to bother him. He does not really have any sense of what we know about how things change through time."
Others he probably had created especially for the book - for example, this image of an alligator "evolving" into a chipmunk! Clearly FALSE!
To celebrate this highly entertaining rhetorical technique and its astonishing implications, I've developed some merchandise you can use to refute the existence of just about anything that is bothering you - your morning cup of coffee, your laptop or car, even yourself! Make a statement to the world that you do not believe what might appear obvious to them - tell them it's FALSE!
The clothing and other merch is all being sold to benefit the American Association for the Advancement of Science, with all proceeds being donated to them. Check out what we have in the store and help support an organization that works every day to spread knowledge and understanding.
Much has been made of the Harry Potter torrent and the fact that the digital images available contain data that can be used to trace the images back to the camera if it has been serviced. What no one seems to recognize in this discussion is that EXIF data is easily edited if you know it's there. Programs which allow you to do so and even facilitate EXIF editing of 314 of the 355 EXIF fields are priced from cheap to free.
EXIF data in digital images offers a wealth of data storage - not just date, time, and camera information but everything from GPS info (that's what makes photo geotagging possible) to information about the camera settings when the photograph was taken to all kinds of custom fields that can be edited to help protect copyrights (image credits, license terms, etc.). Virtually all of these fields can be edited with the exception of date and timestamps. (View a PDF guide to EXIF fields.)
Not many people make use of EXIF data to edit it but it is perfectly legal to do so, at least when it isn't covering up a crime, and there is no way of knowing with certainty that the author of the Potter photos now circulating on the Pirate Bay did not edit the photos' EXIF data.
If they didn't, law enforcement is in luck, and of course any EXIF data is a place to start in tracking down the culprit, especially one with such horrible carpeting. But news outlets are treating EXIF data as the equivalent of a DNA test, which is only true if you could change your own DNA with a freeware computer program.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Rebecca Whipple has completed animation for a new piece entitled "Steve Martin On The Loose a.k.a. The Big ShaBang." The piece is 4:55 and the stills she sent me to post as a sneak peek are gorgeous.
Music is being composed by Benito Meza. Here's a clip with him playing (he's the clarinetist):
You can read/view previous coverage of Rebecca Whipple on TiP here and here, or view more work on her website.