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August 1, 2014 - Comments Off on Slime – Ultra-Violence in a Modern Society

Slime – Ultra-Violence in a Modern Society


I am gross and perverted

I'm obsessed 'n deranged

I have existed for years, but very little had changed

I am the tool of the Government and industry too, for I am destined to rule and regulate you

I may be vile and pernicious, but you can't look away

I make you think I'm delicious, with the stuff that I say

I am the best you can get. Have you guessed me yet?

- Frank Zappa, I Am the Slime

I recently found myself held captive in an alternate universe on the planet SyFy, to partake in a rapturous, cinematic marvel entitled Sharknado 2: The Second One. I was sucked into this deluge of gore and social media pornography predominantly by the promise of an all-too-short and relentless escape from human existence, performed by the "less-than-stars" of television's past -- and starring thousands of poorly CGI-generated, starved sharks. I was also glued to the television to look beyond its blank cathode gaze to observe the rapturous power of social media on the massess, hoping to gain some valuable insight for our next podcast entitled "What Makes Content Go Viral?". Preposterous events like the Sharknado films will eventually be taught in Social Media university courses in the future, where desperate educators will attempt to decipher the marketing approach taken to garner 3.9 million viewers and more than a half a million related tweets from nearly 200,000 unique authors. The lack of the Sharknado effects team's quality and attention to detail might have also been part of my personal draw, but sadly contributes to the long-term destruction of the creative profession in general.

"Mindlessness", as a concept, draws us into alternate realities partly because we've been so desensitized to the reality of our own surroundings. Day-to-day reality is too safe, it's a place where most activity is experienced as expected, so we have to generate more complex and interesting hyper-realities. Escapism, along side the advent of virtual and increasingly visceral entertainment (shared with potentially millions through television and the internet), is too easy to blame. Everything that is outside of the experience of life can easily become a gateway to moronic pleasure and escapism. Consider the increasingly detached comedy and climate of our political system, the popularity of "reality" tv, or a television world overrun with mindless hordes in "The Walking Dead" - pure escapism is, and will continue to be, the novocaine for the pain of reality. Who wants to worry about the planet or the homeless? I'm too busy being ensconced in the escapism of enacting some real ultra-violence on a CGI shark - my weapon of choice is a running chainsaw...Pray tell, what's yours? I wonder if the popularity of the undead combined with our fascination with designers consistently revising, revisiting and regurgitating the past is a just a passing fad, or a dystopian vision of our eventual future?

A second installment of Sharnado is not a surprise. Utilizing images and concepts from the past is nothing new. Warhol did it, and Hollywood repeatedly does it. If it works the first time, why not try a second, third and fourth time rather than try to imagine something completely new? Originality in art and design has been reduced to a photocopy of a reproduction; exponentially malleable.

You will obey me while I lead you

And eat the garbage that I feed you

Until the day that we don't need you

Don't got for one will heed you

Your mind is totally controlled

It has been stuffed into my mold

And you will do as you are told

Until the rights to you are sold.

- Frank Zappa, I Am the Slime

Stupidity is a bi-product of malaise. An overly complex lifestyle, including the use of overly complex software and engaging in the overstimulation of Sharknado-type programming can further detach one from focus. Alternately, simplicity is a hard-earned bi-product of thought. Simplicity, when it's done well, calms the mind. Entertainment and our user interfaces and applications have become too complex - software solutions should perform one simple task and do it well. Focus is key. The age of overly complex design has ended for now, and is an offshoot to the lessons of the simplistic clean design movement first pursued by Microsoft's Windows Phone design. John Maeda's 10 Laws of Simplicity is worth a read, but if you don't have the time - have a look at his video from TED.

[ted id=172]

Films like Sharknado, while marvels of cinematic foolishness, are also catalysts for gathering humans with other humans. This might not be too bad of an idea. Collectively experiencing violence of unimaginable proportions has been interesting to us homo sapiens since the days of pitting gladiators with tigers. Technology via the motion picture is allowing us to enjoy exceedingly horrific images of unfathomable gore and destruction not seen since we gathered in front of a television to watch Mike Tyson eat portions of his opponents in boxing, or enjoy wrestlers like Jake Roberts throw live cobras at "Macho Man" Randy Savage. You see, we're all savages, being driven backwards to the caves by the masters of media and entertainment. Maybe if we're sitting around talking about how stupid it is, it might save us. Or not.

It's fantastic to imagine that our societal march into ignorance is being orchestrated by the advance of technology and the warlocks who command it...

I may be vile and pernicious

But you can't look away

I make you think I'm delicious

With the stuff that I say

I am the best you can get

Have you guessed me yet?

I am the slime oozin' out

From your TV set.

- Frank Zappa, I Am the Slime

November 26, 2012 - Comments Off on Metastatic Morrows

Metastatic Morrows

I hope you made it through Thanksgiving with your cholesterol levels intact. Personally I went into hibernation mode after my massive meal. I feel refreshed but the holiday season isn't over yet. In fact it's just starting in case you haven't turned on the radio or otherwise been subjected to the now inescapable Christmas music. I'll be spending this weekend at even more family gatherings to celebrate some big birthdays: my mother's aunt is turning a whopping 90 years old! Time's unrelenting passing can seem daunting. But if I've taught you anything I hope it's that restrictions foster creativity. Every obstacle is a chance to overcome. In other words age, the biggest most inescapable obstacle of them all, can be inspiring.

This week's painting is an idea I had as I drifted off to sleep last night. The sun and moon are good stand-ins for youth and age. I'm glad my painting skills are improving though I could use more time on this. I need to learn how to quick paint like the pros.

 Nothing represents youth in Western culture more than sex. And nothing represents sex in Western culture more than that most famous of magazines: Playboy. We are a culture obsessed with the young and beautiful, having more or less abandoned traditional ideas of honoring our elders. This obsession can be found incarnate in this publication. Now being quite old it's easy to wonder where are those older models now? This is the inspiration for Robyn Twomey beautiful portraits with older Playboy models. They vary from fitting our expectations, bad plastic surgery and all, to completely undermining what we think we know about age and, more importantly, beauty. These women are still powerful, glamorous, stunning, and more...all while looking like your grandmother.

I can't look up at the night sky without thinking of age. Each pinprick of light in that vast black canvas represents thousands if not millions of years. It can be a humbling experience to realize how distant and old those twinkles really are. This Chrome experiment, 100 000 Stars, aims to give users a sense of this scale, all wrapped in a wonderful HTML5 powered presentation. I love the many different means of control this project gives you while maintaining solid performance and stunning visuals. Be sure to "Take the Tour" which leads you through the data visualization in a stunning series of transitions.

Thinking of age on such a astronomical scale almost instantly removes humanity from the equation. We're just too small in that vast expanse. Those great balls of gas take millennia to change while  we change every day. Every day we look in the mirror, every year we see our family we are reminded of this. It's a beautiful process that helps make our world so dynamic and it can be visualized in many ways. For instance, let's take a simple idea like counting to one hundred and turn it into a beautiful piece of work that makes us think about childhood, aging, and seniority (all in German, just for kicks). Happy aging all. Enjoy every second of it.

The Sketching Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Mondays, containing the artistic musings of Mobile Designer/Developer Ben Chirlin from our Monday morning meeting at the NY Creative Bunker as well as his inspiring artistic finds of the week.

Published by: benchirlin in The Sketching Mechanism
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July 30, 2012 - Comments Off on Meager Marble

Meager Marble

What an exhausting weekend at the beach. This past weekend I participated in my first ever Wildwood beach ultimate tournament, being the hipster that I am. Wildwood is the largest beach tournament in the world and with hundreds of teams competing it was awash with chaotic fun. On the trip back to the big city, slightly burnt and sore all over, I reflected on how lovely the beach truly is. As evidenced in this blog, I am obsessed with the ocean and the beach is the ultimate stage upon which the waves play. Though the sand may be an annoyance at times, beaches are a great inspiration.

Beach trips are a de facto part of life for most people who live near coastal regions. The sands are so loved in fact that many lakes have beaches largely thanks to human contributions. Sand creates a wonderful surface upon which to lay, play, or even sculpt. JOOheng Tan is an impressive sand sculptor who has participated in competitions around the world. This recent collaboration he did with Lowe advertising for OMO detergent is fantastic. Lowe is responsible for many familiar ads including the hit Superbowl Volkswagen ad starring a miniature Darth Vader. The youthful theme continues in this still series. Children, so often associated with playing in the sand, are here transported into a world made of the stuff allowing their imaginations to run rampant, with OMO's cleaning products allowing their parents to easily clean up the mess I suppose.

The beach is not just a local destination but very often the highlight of trips abroad. The most beautiful beaches attract tourists from far and wide who come to bask in the sun and enjoy the water. I plan to do just that when I visit the Yucatan this September but Southeast Asia has also been on my list for quite some time. The region is home to many lovely coastal areas and recently digital agency Fi helped Google create an interactive telling of the local story of Ramayana, a Sanskrit epic of the Hindu faith. The project itself is quite amazing but the case study for the project almost eclipses the work it documents. The creative design boldly expresses the region's character while clearly showing the detailed process behind the work. The study manages to even make blocks of code pretty and approachable. Be sure the check out the project itself, a modern browser and quick registration are required.

While the beach is a great medium for sculptors it can also be used a canvas. Some artists choose to create large-scale sand drawings that are as ephemeral as they are beautiful. Or others, as in this Nokia ad called "Gulp", use that impermanent quality to their advantage to facilitate huge animations. This short was shot from a crane with a cell phone camera by Aardman, the studio behind Wallace and Gromit (a personal childhood favorite). I highly suggest checking out the behind the scenes to get a sense of scale for what you're seeing.

The Sketching Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Mondays, containing the artistic musings of Mobile Designer/Developer Ben Chirlin from our Monday morning meeting at the NY Creative Bunker as well as his inspiring artistic finds of the week.

Published by: benchirlin in The Sketching Mechanism
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