All Posts in The Sketching Mechanism

Meager Marble

July 30, 2012 | benchirlin

From: The Sketching Mechanism

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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.

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Myriad Marathons

July 23, 2012 | benchirlin

From: The Sketching Mechanism

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Olympic season is upon us once again. Time to watch that opening ceremony, a few interesting events, and then tune out till the medal count comes out! All snark aside, I have fond memories of watching the Olympics with my family. As an event that only happens every four years, it's incredible to think there have only been a handful of games, winter and summer, since my birth. Yet as a celebration of the limits of the human body and how it can bring us together all politics aside, the Olympics are definitely inspiring.

Watching the opening procession of the games can turn into quite the geography lesson. Sometimes to the point where one swears some of the more obscure countries don't even exist. You wouldn't be wrong in the case of the country Vodkovia, a fictional Stalinist country in Eastern Europe that has a penchant for genetic modification. Oli Kellett did a series of interesting photo manipulations to illustrate the bizarre team the country has assembled for London this month. Whether this is a strange art project or viral marketing campaign is unclear, regardless it is a wacky parody of the effort spent to approach perfection in athletics.

Basketball

Archery

 One of my greatest annoyances about this year's Olympics is the London 2012 logo. While undeniably unique, something about its 80's retro stylings and harsh abstract appearance have turned me off since its premiere years ago. Yet such aesthetic can work in certain situations as the site for art director and graphic designer Jimmy Raheriarisoa attests. The sharp abstract angles and shapes are much more in balance in this stylish one page site. While it still possesses much of the distracted energy of such a style, it is honed here to communicate the singular vision of artist.

Nerisson

The Olympics is an invitation for advertising and media gluttony. With so many eyes focused on a single city and event, content providers go into overdrive, often producing tons of generic and unoriginal material to feast our sport-hungry eyes. However the following television intro for BBC's coverage of the Beijing games is a stunning exception (sadly, BBC didn't manage an equal level of vision for the event now happening in their own capital this year). Created by the powerhouse duo behind the Gorillaz, Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, and borrowing music from their London opera of the time, Monkey: Journey to the West, this short is incredible. The thrumming bass accompanies a summarized version of the classic Chinese tale Journey to the West while the main characters subtly reenact many of the Olympics' most famous events. How many can you spot?

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.

Millimeters of Metropolis

July 16, 2012 | benchirlin

From: The Sketching Mechanism

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I'll be the first to admit it: I have a problem--a media problem. It might be just my generation but I'm beginning to think it's really all of us. We've contracted what I call "screen-lookitis" and I suffer from a particularly acute case. I'll be with friends in a bar having a merry old time, but put a screen in the corner of the room and I can't help but look every few minutes or seconds even! Perhaps being raised in a world where anything and everything of worth appears in glowing pixels at some point or another has conditioned me to this extreme behavior. But even looking back to the birth of the moving image we see a similar devotion in those Vaudevillian days. Film is an extremely efficient and engaging communication tool and as such it has completely altered the human experience. As a confessed media junky, I can easily say it very much inspires.

 Of course all forms of media inspire us. Our ability to communicate and interpret ideas is what makes human so unique after all. But by simulating our real world experience in the lit rectangle of the screen, movies, television and now the web manage to hijack our senses completely and unlike anything before. The amount of television we now consume is quite startling at an average of 4 hours a day in the US. But the works of people like César Moreno tap the brakes on this depressing train of thought. His strong illustrative style echoes a comic book aesthetic while his downplayed colors and extreme contortions of scale and perspective serve to make his work truly unique. The subjects often involve film stars and characters alike, below are Heisenberg from Breaking Bad (which just returned this past Sunday!) and one of the most famous scenes in modern cinema from Pulp Fiction.

The interplay of film and the web was obvious at first glance to many. Web video has recently taken off on services like Youtube, Hulu, and Vimeo. But like so much else in our glorious digital revolution, progress has been slowed and stymied by entrenched parties. While some are coming around, many more remain obstinate in the course of progress. But that just leaves more opportunities for the small guys to swoop in and take over as the site for Media Arts Lawyers can attest. A small law practice, MAL provides legal support for small burgeoning artists in all forms of media and distribution. Their long horizontal site calls to mind film strips with its perforated menu design. The monochromatic palette mixed with splashes of red is like the darkrooms of old while slick design and interface rule all. Though the site doesn't work well on small screens it does work on mobile devices. However the static header fills the entire screen making it unclear that the content below has changed.

One often overlook downside of film is how invisible it makes the artistic process. Large amounts of work are required to bring any artistic vision to life, especially in film. If a film maker has done a good job of course, all this work should be invisible to the viewer. And no crew member is more overlooked than the Foley artist; the men and women who add all those subtle sounds that don't get picked up while recording but are vital to giving actions a sense of weight and reality.

Please tune in later this week for our podcast on the subject of digital media and privacy in the modern age. Till then, happy watching.

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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Mutagens of Melanin

July 09, 2012 | benchirlin

From: The Sketching Mechanism

We've already discussed the beauty and power of the human form in past entries. For a thing we see so often it's amazing how it never ceases to move us dating all the way back to the earliest cave paintings. Around that same time, some keen hunter-gatherer realized the body's potential as not only the subject but the canvas itself thereby inventing tattoos. Society has always had a strange relationship with such forms of body modification. They represent a more primal time. A time before we expressed ourselves through our brand of sneakers. Some may view such acts as desecration of the perfected human form but for many they are anything but. To be able to spark such an ultimate act of permanent self expression, tattoos must be terrifically inspiring. 8Bit Ink

 I'll be the first to admit that often, tattoos simply don't appeal to me. Living in Brooklyn they're a bit difficult to avoid so when you see a piece of work that is not only good but matches its wearer (or canvas in this case) it can be quite stunning. Most tattoos rely on a well established iconography as pixelated upon above, however every so often one finds tattoo artists truly pushing the boundaries of the medium. Peter Aurisch does just this with his vivid line and color work. Many interplay gorgeously with their owner becoming one with the surface. The boundary between skin and ink is further blurred by the way he manages to make his work imitate watercolors, the hues bleeding past the lines that defines them. I can only imagine how much time and skill are required to simulate traditional mediums in the realm of human skin.

ElefantRose

Tattoos are often associated with the fringes of society as they can represent a passionate commitment to a specific subculture. Yet as seen above they can just as easily be about pure art and expression. The Family Affair tattoo studio seeks to remind us of this soft side with their friendly website emphasizing the family nature of their business in Italy. The site is simple and straight to the point clearly showing the studio's work and location while communicating their unique vision of the industry.

Family Affair

It's hard to think about tattoos nowadays without thinking about the hit books and film series The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. While the movies and books are still on my to watch/read list, the stunning opening credits for the film can be found below. Sit back and enjoy (no spoilers included).

http://vimeo.com/34699752

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.

Published by: benchirlin in The Sketching Mechanism

Malted Meteorites

July 02, 2012 | benchirlin

From: The Sketching Mechanism

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We take a lot for granted and there is one thing in particular we are all subjected to every waking moment. No human to this day has ever been truly free of its grasp though many may think otherwise. I am of course talking about gravity, the force that holds us all down and determines what's up and what's down. Most everything in our world is right side up, meaning heavy on bottom, light on top which is quite a limiting factor one would think. But artists love such established notions. The best art always comes out of breaking such expectations and precedents. And seeing how gravity is one of the strongest forces of all, it's opposite, inversion, must be quite the inspiration.

Artists have long experimented with themes of flight and weightlessness. Making things feel like they have weight at all can be quite a frustrating artistic process. Yet Li Wei seems to have mastered an ability to toy with preconceptions about physics in a startling way. His works are often self portraits with the artist performing death-defying feats like seeming to hover outside a window or hanging onto a car to stop from floating away. Yet his more recent pieces seem much lighter, focusing on the freedom of flight rather than the danger of falling. Most important to our theme however is his obsession with being upside down. Nearly every series he creates contains at least one portrait of the artist in an ostrich-like pose, head in ground.

Red Ribbon

The web promises a similarly liberating freedom from mass, yet unlike a piece of paper, a screen cannot be easily rotated. However the rise of tablets has given fostered a new breed of adaptive sites. Imagine a magazine that changes its layout depending on orientation to best highlight certain aspects of an article, for instance a chart in one orientation and the text describing it in the other. Or, as in this example for software development firm Ikayzo, the page seamless transitions to an inverted state as you scroll from top to bottom (though obviously the words stay right way up). Such designs could leverage mobile computing in the future to great effect.

Ikayzo

Yet can you imagine having to live life completely inverted every waking moment? What a strange and challenging existence that would be. Oh, well someone thought of just that and made a wonderful animation to tell the tale.

Have a great July 4th and enjoy the warm weather!

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.

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Mugginess and Moisture

May 29, 2012 | benchirlin

From: The Sketching Mechanism

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend! It was a hot one. I enjoyed a fair bit of outdoors time but it was a bit too sticky to stay out the entire time. I'm always amazed by how quickly these long weekends zip by. The sun was nice but the heat and humidity were oppressive. Heat moves us all, quite literally. I was out Friday enjoying the fresh air with the masses but when it began to rain I bolted into the Subway--along with about half the city.Sunbather

The works of Ian Francis exude a level of heat almost equivalent to a muggy New York summer. The paints seem to melt on the canvas in a splattering of warm hues that intermingle with the deconstructed scenes in a complex fashion. The layered and broken qualities of his works speak of the digital age while his method is clearly more classical. His abstract backgrounds and expressive figures seem to live in a world of constant searing heat.

Sweat and heat aside, the biggest change that comes with the warmer weather is undoubtedly our clothes. The warm weather allows for much more interesting forms of self expression. New York City is fairly diverse fashion-wise on a cold day but when garments no longer have to keep their wearer warm city dwellers begin exploring the vast landscape of fashion. Krystalrae does just this with a bright collection of styles and a fabulous site. The heavy reliance on pattern reflects the product itself while the centerpiece model that changes as you scroll reminds me of those paper dolls of youth.

KrystalraeWhile the weekend was a true scorcher, I'm thankful that things weren't as bad as they are in this week's video by Jacob Streilein. While a beautiful and poignant piece of animation, let us pray global warming never gets so bad. And it if it does, make sure you have a wrench handy.

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.

Published by: benchirlin in The Sketching Mechanism

Mud in Mire

May 21, 2012 | benchirlin

From: The Sketching Mechanism

This past weekend would seem have to finally announced that Spring is most definitely here. Yet like all good things, it comes at a cost: a rainy Monday. Now don't get me wrong, I love the rain.  But when you're trying to get out of bed to get to work the last thing you want to see is a gray sky and hear the pitter-patter of droplets the size of peas outside your window. On the other hand, there's nothing quite like running through the rain at night and dancing away in its cleansing glory, even in a city like New York where the rain is not quite so clean. Moreover there are whole dances and songs devoted to the power of rain. Rain is an inspiring life-giving force.Rain Walk

My least favorite thing about rain is all the umbrellas even though I occasionally use one myself. Those pointy tips at eye level height (for the six foot tall guy I am) are outright scary, especially in the crowded streets of the city in weather that makes everyone look at their feet. My favorite thing is the texture of rain, from the puddles in the street to the rivulets running down a window. Gregory Thielker captures the surreal world as witnessed through rain soaked car windows in a series of oils that gives this writer pause.

Complete StopCash Only

These works take me back to that strange and magnificent land of the road trip. We spend so much time in the car, alone or together, it can often feel claustrophobic. However, in the rain a car feels like the best place in the world to be: safe, warm and dry while still managing to get where you need to go. Thielker's paintings capture this space with incredible detail while using the distortion of the water on glass to evoke nuances of abstraction and surrealism.

Raindrops fall into a puddle, making ripples in the water much like how this week's site behaves upon opening the page. Vlog.it is a HTML5 animation extravaganza featuring the video choices of one Marco Rosella. This piece is full of animations up to its eyeballs and is great showcase of what is possible in the post-Flash era. The sheer amount of animation can cause less-than-fluid transitions and usability but the overall result is as progressive as it is stunning.

Vlog.it

And lastly who do we have to thank for this life essence that magically falls upon us from the sky? Watering our yards? Filling our drains? Delaying traffic? The clouds, white and gray, puffy and thick, Cummulus and Nimbus.

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.

Published by: benchirlin in The Sketching Mechanism

Masts and Mollusca

May 14, 2012 | benchirlin

From: The Sketching Mechanism

Mother's Day may be past but the mother to us all, and in fact all life, gets little mention on that holiday. The Ocean is a universal inspiration not just to man but all living things. I was in Atlantic City visiting my grandmother over the weekend where I swam in the shockingly cold water. It was both invigorating and cleansing. Despite its frigid touch I was hard pressed to leave the water for the comfort of the sand and towel. I feel a deep connection to the ocean and water in general. And though the ocean's surface is a simple blue pattern stretching to the horizon, something about it is undeniably inspiring.Whale of a Time

Matt Wisniewski communicates his love of the ocean, and many other aspects of nature, in his series of beautiful photo manipulations and double exposures. Part of the magic of his work is the way he blurs the line between the digital and physical. However due to the precise composition of each piece, I can't imagine how he would manage such meticulous works with one-off double exposures. I love the way he creates a symbiotic relationship between model and landscape, the water becoming part of the figure but the figure also extending the ocean. Lastly, his combination of modeled and found photography leads to truly riveting temporal mash-ups.

My Home is the SeaMy Home is the SeaThe nature of the ocean is undeniably minimalist. The ocean is in fact a force of simplification and minimalism. Place any object in the tides and soon it will be smoothed--even later it will be nothing but sand. Swellca.st reproduces this reduction in web form with a delightful site that combines landscape photography and infographic. The sharp design, clear interface and quick response of the site are a true pleasure, not to mention a very useful tool for beach goers...if you're in Australia.

Swllca.stHowever not all oceans are resplendent in their green and blue. Some are only mirages where the seemingly endless reveals itself to be a desert. The Salton Sea (not quite an ocean but large nonetheless) was one such false promise. It's life is a truly interesting parable on boom and bust, the death spasms of which left behind a strange setting you may have seen in some music videos. Yet the following short documentary by Ransom Riggs tells the whole story in an incredibly moving way.

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.

Published by: benchirlin in The Sketching Mechanism

The Motherly Mechanism

May 11, 2012 | benchirlin

From: The Sketching Mechanism, The Thinking Mechanism

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A little bonus Sketching Mechanism for you all out there as an homage to Mother's Day this weekend. I made this watercolor card for my grandmother and thought I'd share it with you all (after Photoshopping her name out!). Print the inside and outside images in this zip at full size, one per sheet (standard letter). Fold, cut along the crop marks and then glue the sheets back to back. Sign after the heart on the inside and voila! Instant motherly happiness! Alternatively you could just print the outside and write your own message inside. Make sure to take a moment to appreciate the miracle and gift of motherhood as you celebrate your own mater. Have a great Mother's Day weekend and enjoy the wonderful weather.

Mother's Day Card Sample

Published by: benchirlin in The Sketching Mechanism, The Thinking Mechanism
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Marvel to Mesopotamia

May 07, 2012 | benchirlin

From: The Sketching Mechanism

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In honor of the Avengers coming out this past weekend, I thought it was time we celebrate the inspirational power of the super-human, so idolized and adored by pop culture. Superheroes are nothing new. In fact one could say they're some of the oldest detritus of human culture. The idea of an übermensch can be seen going back to one of the most ancient of epics: Gilgamesh. His power? Super strength. His weakness? Friends. Gilgamesh (not the most stunning of reads I must confess) could easily be spun as a modern paperback lark where Gilagmesh and his sidekick Enkidu go on a series of harrowing adventures. When we read these stories of super powered men and women, whether now in modern metropolises or cities of old, they teach us valuable lessons showing how even heroes can falter. Mechman

But another part of the magic of superheroes is that they just don't seem to die. I don't mean the characters themselves but what they stand for. As with Gilgamesh, it's easy to draw comparisons from many of our favorite modern heroes to their ancient counterparts (Superman and Hercules, Flash and Ares, etc). This fact hints at the underlying truth that these fictional heroes strike at something core to our cultural identity as human beings and it's artists like Kris Anka who help enable this perpetual cycle of mythology.

Avengers FilmHellboy Colablo

I've never been a huge capes and cowls fan. Instead I often reach for the more independent or atypical graphic novel. A large part of that is I find the stories, and more so the art, of those classic Marvel/DC series to be somewhat trite. But Anka breathes a fresh modern style into his tributes while maintaining their characters' essence making me yearn to read...though he doesn't seem to have done any actual books, just fan art. Yet his animation skills leave little question as to his ability.

Of course part of what makes superheroes so interesting is simply the fact that they are indeed super, or in the words of one German philosopher: über. Über Content seems to understand this power as embodied in their striking website. Fellow Youtube junkies may recognize team member Charlie Todd as founder of Improv Everywhere here in our very own NYC.

Uber Content

Beyond the crisp tight design of the site, Über Content does its umlaut proud with some wonderful hover states and some amazing screen adaptability which, at a glance, looks like a customized Get Skeleton layout (the new hotness around the office). I especially like how the site keeps the team member images at the top in an even grid with filler blue circles when necessary.

Yet for all the truly amazing heroes, there are also the ones that just can't quite live up to the name. Most heroes overcome this adversity to become truly super, something about great power, great responsibility yadda yadda etc etc. However, as this cute French short shows, sometimes even such happy endings might not be all their cracked up to be.

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.

Published by: benchirlin in The Sketching Mechanism
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