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Monthly Archives: April 2012


Patterns are the fuel of the human mind. Our pattern recognition ability is a large part of what us makes such smart creatures and remains our most defining trait in the battle for/against artificial intelligence. As such it is only sensible that pattern be one of the core aspects of art, and therefore inspiration, to us all.

The Pattern Mechanism

David Stephenson relies on the power of patterns to create truly marvelous photography in his projects Vaults and Domes. Classical architecture is obsessed with symmetry, pattern, and texture all of which the eye finds very pleasing. Stephenson manages to create loving odes of our forbears’ passion with a straight-on modern twist. Meanwhile, his other works find beauty in the chaos of nature and organization of modern man.

Chapter HouseSala de as Dos Hermanas

Of course such intricacy has recently fallen out of fashion in favor of minimalism and simplicity, spearheaded by modern art movements. This aesthetic has now seeped into the commercial sector as well with the design ethos of companies such as Apple. The visual communication agency VOID uses this elegant block and color approach quite wonderfully. The site’s stunning color palette is emphasized by the use of square, grid and linear patterns as well as a nicely animated scroll from section to section which grids out the site even further: patterns within patterns.VOID

Lastly, the inspiration for this inspirational post was the following video. Though short, it absolutely mesmerizes the viewer. An intro video for the TEDxSummit, the dancers from the Icouldneverbeadancer studio performed captivating choreography on colored mats shot through a giant kaleidoscope. The music of Yasmine Hamdan helps create an end result that is truly stunning. Enjoy and stay inspired.

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

On his blog advertising guru Luke Sullivan shares an excerpt from the 4th edition of Hey Whipple, Squeeze This.

Over the years, I’ve come to believe the operative element is subliminal; not subliminal advertising the way Vance Packard complained about in his conspiracy book The Hidden Persuaders. No, the operative element we’re talking about here is subliminal quality. The very word sublime helps explain my point. “Limen” is Latin for threshold. Below the threshold of awareness. We’re talking about baking quality so far into a thing that people who look at it perceive this quality subconsciously. They know they’re looking at something of quality before they’re even conscious of it because when a thing is made way better than it has to be its quality comes off of it in waves.

What a fantastic concept: subliminal quality.

This extra effort is how all of life’s pursuits are turned into art; yes, even advertising. An old man from Bali once patiently explained to an anthropologist studying his culture: “We have no  ‘art.’
We do everything as well as possible.”

(via heywhipple.com)

 

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts written by Antonio Ortiz and published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients. This edition of The Thinking Mechanism is cross-posted from the blog SmarterCreativity.com.

Vindication. At least that’s what I was thinking while visiting the new Art of Video Games exhibit at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. this weekend. It was a small exhibit true; just a handful of interviews with video game legends,  some concept art, five playable games and a room with around two dozen video stations each devoted to a different platform over the past three decades. Yet it’s mere existence will stir the heart of any gamer. For while some classics like Myst and Monkey Island sat desolate restricted to trackball and three minute playtime, the crowd thrived around Flower and throughout the exhibit in general. It was inspiring.

Mario Time

The question of course is are video games art? Besides perhaps a handful of indie titles, games exist as products first and foremost. And while company’s like Tim Schaffer’s Double Fine or thatgamecompany continue to push the artistic merits of games, its still a challenge to find an example of something that is both game and art while not being some strange interactive experiment. The crowd at the exhibit further had me questioning if games were art. After all, it’s not often you see such a large and diverse crowd at the Portrait Gallery. And on top of that, the personal reactions we have make them like no other form of “art” out there. When I saw the Mona Lisa, my first thought wasn’t “Oh! I remember looking at this painting every day after school as a kid!” yet I heard such sentiments throughout my time at the exhibit.

What is unquestionable however is the number of artists now involved in the games industry. Yoji Shinkawa’s art has been an inspiration to me since I first played Metal Gear Solid on my cousin’s PC at a young age. His art combines the beauty of Japanese prints and ink wash with an undeniably modern, near electric, flavor.

The Art of Metal Gear Solid IIThe Art of Metal Gear Solid II

Sadly Shinkawa seems to have next to no web presence so I have no comprehensive portfolio to send you to. However from the gallery above, extracted from the series’ art books, you can see his outstanding talent. Part of what makes his works so attractive to the eye is how personal an experience they appear to be. Their smoky nature creates an illusion of impermanence; if we look away for even a second, the image may no longer be there, like a mirage in the mist.

There exists an extremely strong relationship between video game and web design being the two most important and interactive mediums of our age, possibly our history. The only difference being that the former is a vector for entertainment while the latter is one for information. However both together helped establish the interactive metaphors we now all take for granted: menus, buttons, navigation, etc. The two mediums continue to inform one another’s evolution even as they begin to merge via the gamification of everything web (see “badges”) and the networking of everything game (see “massively multiplayer online games”).

While some sites embrace this relationship in a direct, semi-ironic way, others simply exceed at ingraining the joyful nature of games in their very fabric. The site for SpellTower, an interesting iOS game which just saw a huge swell in sales thanks to an intelligent social marketing push, is a fun romp through minimalist web design at its best.

SpellTower

I love the sites simple long form layout and bright colors. The fun animations that play out as you scroll as well as the news banner give the otherwise static page a sense of life and connectedness.

Of course the medium most affected by video games is video itself. And while there are plenty of amazing cinematics done for every major video game release, these are really just animations set in their respective game’s universe and have little to do with games itself beyond said shared setting. However 8BITS is a short animation that succeeds in celebrating the complete history of  gaming while putting a twist on the classic damsel-in-distress scenario so many games rely on. 1UP.

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

As part of our efforts for ongoing education we’ve been having internal discussions about the various subjects we individually want to keep studying as well as which subjects we should be collectively researching. While it makes sense that some things specific to our areas of expertise would probably be studied independently of each other it also makes sense to explore some things together as a team. Which is why we decided to start a book club, and also decided to share it and welcome anyone who wants to join us.

Today we are launching The Reading Mechanism and our first book selection is the recently released “Design is a Job” by Mike Monteiro. The book is the seventh in the A Book Apart series of “brief books for people who make websites.” It is short but it is fully loaded. Though the title says design, it could have easily said development, management, marketing, programming, etc.

Questions for discussion:

  • Do you execute your best work when restricted by limitations? Or, when completely free?
  • In what ways is your role misunderstood by your peers?
  • In what ways are you making your clients better?
  • Are you uncomfortable presenting your work? Why?
  • What is your process? How does it enhance your team’s process?
  • In what ways does what Monteiro share relate to the work you are currently doing?
  • Do you agree with him? Disagree? Why?

About the author:
Mike Monteiro is the co-founder and design director of Mule Design, an interactive design studio whose work has been called “delightfully hostile” by The New Yorker. He prefers that designers have strong spines. In early 2011, he gave a Creative Mornings talk entitled “F— You, Pay Me” that featured his lawyer on stage with him, and he can be heard weekly as the co-host of Let’s Make Mistakes with Katie Gillum. You can follow him on Twitter as @Mike_FTW, but we’re not liable for what you’ll see.

The Reading Mechanism will come back in two weeks to share what we learned from the book.

 

Ever since last week’s Instagram acquisition by Facebook we’ve been talking about all things photography. Here are some of our favorite links, apps and general photo related goodness:

 

A mid-week treat of assorted links. 

Well the seasons seem to be getting stranger and stranger this year. I went to Philadelphia this past weekend and besides catching up with my old friends I also got to visit the Philadelphia Cherry Blossom Festival far to the north of the city where I’d never been. It’s quite a lovely area dominated by greenery, museums and the Philadelphia Zoo. We also tried to go to the Van Gogh exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, one of the most superb examples of museum architecture on the East Coast in my opinion, but it was sold out.

Tree of Life Of course all seasons and lovely weather depend largely on one thing: the sun. The sun inspires awe like nothing else around us. To civilizations of old it was life-giving force that was often worshiped, its death every night and rebirth every morning an apt metaphor for the cyclic nature of our world, life, and death. Today we know our sun is merely one of many, and relatively small at that, but more than ever we can appreciate how fortunate we are to have its warmth here on spaceship Earth.

The physical embodiment of the sun’s importance on Earth is plant life, the means by which all the energy that hits our planet gets converted into the resources we use. In fact, practically all the energy we consume comes from the sun indirectly excepting non-fossil fuels. Mathilde Roussel puts such greenery to work in her art as a series of sculptures invoking equal parts decomposition, growth and Pompeii.

Life of GrassLife of GrassRoussel’s work largely consists of abstract shapes, sometimes involving the human form in bits and pieces. This series, Life in Grass, seems to be a rare example of her use of a full human form using the novelty of the dynamic medium to great effect. Grass itself is the diet for many animals including cows who produce the milk we so love to drink (excepting my lactose intolerant self that is). The branding agency Milkable has fully embraced all that creamy deliciousness with a lovely one page site that possesses some real character.

MilkableThere’s so much to love about this website. From its fresh color palette to the adorable hover states on the main navigation, it’s easy to see the love and attention that went into the site. It possesses just the right amount of animation such that everything flows smoothly while also adding a unique feel and not overwhelming the user. I only wish they used a true Google map on their contact page with a mask instead of a static image.

The day’s video is clearly related to the sun and needs no extenuated segue like today’s website. It is worth mentioning that this video was created with the help of an iPad and some drawing application in particular. However this aspect of the project seems to have shoehorned in due to a sponsorship deal since it was only used in story boarding. From the behind the scenes it would appear the video itself was made using 3D animation and some kind of post-production filter or rendering method. Regardless, please enjoy this impressionist painting come to life with its fun, though somewhat forgettable, musical accompaniment.

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

This week has been all about three videos that are making the web rounds and making everyone think and talk. We have the return of Ze Frank, Caine’s Arcade and Casey Neistat’s “ad” for Nike. If you are not moved by at least one of these you need to take stock of your life.

 

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts written by Antonio Ortiz and published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients. 

NEW YORK, NY, April 10, 2012 — On Monday, March 19, 2012 the James Beard Foundation launched their new website at JamesBeard.org in conjunction with the announcement of their nominees for the 2012 James Beard Awards.

Developed by The Mechanism to coincide with the Foundation’s 25th Anniversary taking place this year, the new website focuses on the Foundation’s mission to celebrate, nurture and preserve America’s diverse culinary heritage and future, in a one-stop online location.

Using innovative filtering mechanisms, the site provides food lovers easy access to a vast library of award-winning recipes and up-to-date listings of events at the historic James Beard House. James Beard Foundation members also receive additional benefits including the ability to curate their favorite recipes, Chefs and events.

“We are delighted with the exciting new website we were able to create with the technical support, creative input, and overall enthusiasm of the great team at The Mechanism.”

- Mitchell Davis, James Beard Foundation Executive Vice President

From information on their leadership awards and annual food conference, to their beloved blog and active social media presence, to supporting culinary scholarships, to showcasing great epicurean experiences with renowned chefs, to the highly-anticipated James Beard Awards, JamesBeard.org is now a robust gateway to the many initiatives the James Beard Foundation produces each year.

“It was exciting to work with the enthusiastic and highly creative team at The James Beard Foundation,” said Dave Fletcher, Founder & Director, The Mechanism, New York City. “We believe that the myriad functional and visual enhancements to the website will surprise and delight their diversified audience, and the new “member-only” features will keep them returning to the site and sharing their experiences with friends and family into the future.”

“We are delighted with the exciting new website we were able to create with the technical support, creative input, and overall enthusiasm of the great team at The Mechanism,” said James Beard Foundation Executive Vice President Mitchell Davis. “They took the time to understand the goals of our organization and our role in the ever-dynamic food world and weave them through our new site in unexpected, fun, and effective ways.”

Formed in New York City in 2001, The Mechanism is a collaborative technical and creative digital agency. They provide web, mobile, print, brand development, copy writing and search engine optimization services to clients ranging from SMEs and small-cap public companies to Fortune 500s.

Contact
The Mechanism, North America
Sharon Terry
+1 212 221 3444
Sharon.Terry@themechanism.com

Hope you all had a wonderful Spring/Easter/Passover weekend. It was a beautiful one. I hosted a marvelous dinner party Sunday and made a wonderful pot roast that turned out quite scrumptious. I trust everyone had an equally pleasant time welcoming in the fine weather. If not, happy Spring!

Peep BowlingSpring is a wondrous time. It is, perhaps, my favorite season since it’s not too hot, not too cold, but just right so to speak. It’s so full of life and new beginnings as universally recognized by all peoples and faiths, its hard to feel blue…unless you mean that pastel Easter blue of course as seen above. The egg and rabbit are symbols of this green time for their association with birth and life. I only dyed eggs a few times in my youth but I have to give a round of applause to Jessica Jones and her Pantone Easter eggs, truly a designer’s delight. And while our featured artist, Ryohei Hase, might have a more macabre and surrealistic interpretation of the other Easter symbol, the beauty of his works is unarguable.

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Meaningless scramble for...Of course all that beautiful weather and green can only be appreciated if we venture outdoors which is what earns Cleanup Cleveland our website highlight. This site is the essence of one page perfection. It’s streamlined, beautiful and has a consistent theme that turns what is essentially a web flier into a gorgeous piece of work. I love the paper cutout feel and the simple animated clouds in the header that give it just the right amount of movement and character. I especially like how it avoids the pitfalls many other one page sites fall victim to by keeping the amount of content reasonable, removing the need for complicated navigation and long load times as often occurs when sites are compressed to the one page aesthetic.

Cleanup ClevelandLovely weather always makes me think of my own trips during lovely seasons. My favorite of which was my time in Greece. I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with ancient Greece and her myths. How fitting then that this week’s video should be a touching story of new life (Spring theme remember!) and mythology. Enjoy this cute, catchy and capricious short animation.

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