Posted: April 9th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: commentary, conferences, culture, events, innovation, media, new york, storytelling, urban living | Tags: abe burmeister, clay shirky, conference, conference wrap-up, cowbird, data philanthropy, jonathan harris, kumare, outlier, piers fawkes, psfk, psfk2012, psfkconference, psfknyc, rachel schechtman, vikram gandhi | No Comments »
piers fawkes, PSFK conference 2012, new york
the PSFK conference that was held two fridays ago in new york was often characterized as a one-day get-together to talk about building better business models. while that may be true, i came away from the briskly-paced conference with a different reaction. the event’s unifying theme was far more substantial than that, as it was really about addressing the craving for lasting connection. if the conference had anything to do with crafting a better business, then it only did so by focusing some of its time on the subject of creating a better community for brands to exist within, which is fair enough.
several ideas and speakers stood out. jonathan harris made a proposal for more creation and less curation and offered cowbird as an embodiment of those ideas; vikram gandhi‘s playful probing of spiritual quests brought a smile to my face; while robert kirkpatrick‘s proposal for data philanthropy might have had held most resonance for me.
i was quite touched by kirkpatrick’s proposal for the private sector to help the public sector through sharing of their knowledge and data, which includes live data tracking, all of which he defined as data philanthropy. speaking on behalf of the united nations global pulse, he pointed out that there’s a mutual interest in this kind of exchange that can “unleash the power of big data.” i think that ideas like these are worth pursuing.
vikram gandhi’s talk about kumare and eastern spirituality at first made me suspicious, but my skepticism quickly submitted to an appreciation of his sense of humor. kumare is both a persona and the subject of a documentary feature film that focuses on myth-building through the creation of a guru identity. the producers’ absurd yet empathetic approach to the project reminded me very much of writers such as jerzy kozinski and milan kundera’s take on life under communism, as well as filmmakers krzysztof kieślowski and roman polanski.
“software engineers are becoming social engineers,” said jonathan harris during his presentation of cowbird, “we (therefore) need to consider the ethics of software design.” as harris went on to suggest that there should be a pledge for software engineers modeled on the hippocratic oath, i thought that these concerns apply to interaction designers as well. in this day and age, interaction design and software engineering is virtually interchangeable.
prolific illustrator shantell martin‘s charming restraint provided a telling contrast to jason silva‘s bulimic brand of disruptive technology evangelism, which happens to borrow far too frequently from darren aronofsky’s pi. focusing more on original ideas would help mr. silva claim the rockstar mantle that he seeks. on the other hand, ms. martin’s playful sense of mischief lent her an aura of bona fides: she might be the real deal.
parson’s new school of design‘s simon collins‘ mix of self-deprecation and unappealing arrogance ultimately obscured a really interesting presentation about the innovation in fashion design that’s coming out of the new york based design institution. collins’ boasts about the school’s achievements during the time of his employment brought more attention onto himself rather than to the students who may have blossomed under his stewardship. regardless of vision, any leader, whether a company president, a film director, or manager of a sports team, knows that the successful execution of an idea is ultimately dependent upon the efforts of its people in the field, and not the leadership from the sidelines.
in contrast, outlier‘s abe burmeister‘s less spectacular matter of fact presentation, coupled with a wry delivery, framed a rather straight-forward case study of his menswear start-up’s success that increased the credibility of both his brand and his reputation.
another start-up retail store success was narrated by cube venture‘s rachel schechtman, describing her latest project, story (a play on the word ‘store’ vis-a-vis “transactional storytelling”). it reminded me of what kiosk is already doing on spring street in new york, though story‘s interpretation is far more outward facing and better positioned, which will probably serve them well.
in closing, here’s a few memorable quotes from other speakers:
speaking of designing physical spaces as an embodiment of both creative exploration and a manifestation of a company’s values, clay shirky said “your floor plan, your space, needs to reflect the values in the mission statement of your company… be sure to design for serendipity and make sure that the structure of the space rewards play.”
todd carmichael from la colombe torrefection echoed a like-minded desire: “be decent, and be moral in your own way. create your own moral structure… and, by extension, apply that to your business.”
carmichael later added: “to surprise and delight are still very important attributes.”
that’s a nice way to remember the PSFK conference (which, of course, was only brought to life by a lot of hard work and careful planning): there were one or two duds (hello jon harris and andrew allen, love your app and your storytelling but your twee penn & teller stage schtick? not so much; and steve powers, file under “stage hog”) but there were far more delights, which kept me quite pleasantly surprised.
Posted: April 9th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: commentary, creative agencies, creative agency, culture, urban living | Tags: collaborative culture, grind, grindspace, joshua fonts, morning talk | No Comments »
at grind spaces north of madison square park, joshua fonts of the science house foundation spoke last month on rethinking collaborative culture. well, his talk was ostensibly about collaborative culture, as he offered a survey of his foundation’s projects that were supported by broad examples of how the scientific community collaborates to create meaningful work, yet fonts never offered any specific thoughts on how collaborative culture can transform the creative world.
it’s not that his point of view is without merit, but the talk lacked provocation, and felt more like a recruitment pitch for the science house foundation and less like an actual conversation with an audience full of “creatives.”
with thoughts of making an event like this more compelling and relevant, it would have been more interesting to have experienced a workshop based around a dialogue about collaborative culture, rather than having to sit through a scripted power point presentation about the achievements of fonts’ foundation.
i think grind has started a promising series of talks, but i wonder if, in this case, a panel-type discussion with audience participation would have been a better fit?
Posted: April 2nd, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: art direction, christian svanes kolding, commentary, conferences, experience, ideas | Tags: commentary, conferences, gdc, ideas, psfk, reboot, sxsw, ted | No Comments »
i love going to conferences because they frequently provide great opportunities for insights and inspiration. however, just as often, the conference experience is diminished by a predictable paralysis that inevitably seems to settle in every mid-afternoon.
conferences are meant to inspire not tire, but no matter how many diversions, DJs and fast-paced mini-talks a conference might schedule, it seems like every event suffers from an information overload that always brings with it a certain lethargy and fatigue.
therefore a few thoughts to challenge the status quo, with the hope that, if implemented, when a conference wraps for the day, one should feel compelled to act and engage.
(1) LESS YAMMERING, MORE HAMMERING (hat tip to julian bleecker).
no more all day conferences dominated by talk after talk. make it a half day conference that features a series of talks that are then followed by afternoons which are focused around workshops – providing a hands-on seminar setting to allow attendees to interact directly with speakers. make it about the exchange of dialogue, rather than a one-way conversation.
(2) MAKE THE SPACE YOUR OWN
design the space instead of hosting the conference in an auditorium or theater. approach the floor plan like a production designer or installation artist. consider putting a round stage in the middle, with groupings of seats, like pods, separated by walking space in between to allow for more serendipity and interaction amongst conference goers. if there’s a backdrop or screen, make its surface viewable from all sides, or design a 360 screen. it would be amazing if one could use holograms instead of screens.
(3) BRING IN THE SUPERCONDUCTORS
employ five or six well-connected superconductor-types whose only role is to bring people together. think of them as high-level greeters (and walking information resources) who can help introduce attendees by nudging them beyond the awkward mumblings by the coffee dispenser. ideally, this is the conference’s principal organizer, but, in reality, the organizer is rarely available. therefore, a conference should bring in a couple of ringers. even better if one of the ringers is a conference speaker as well.
(4) THEMED LUNCHES
lunch should be fun, with dining tables set-up for different themes. for example, ensure that one or two conference speakers can be found at each table; or organize tables around specific conversations, or, to keep it light, one could even have color themed tables: “everyone who loves british racing green, please go to the green table!” (where food that’s heavy on the green is served). what about tables organized by favorite travel destinations or favorite local haunts?
(5) INSIST ON MOBILITY
when returning to the main conference space after a break, attendees should be strongly encouraged to select a different seat, thus encouraging more interaction between conference attendees.
bonus thought: keep it intimate, keep it short and keep it flowing. the conferences that i’ve enjoyed most truly stick to these principles; and by “flow,” i don’t mean keep it entertaining – those two notions are not the same (though certainly not mutually exclusive) and the last thing conference goers need, is to be inundated with another blaze of razzle-dazzle.
conferences are ultimately about inspiration, serendipity, and action, and should therefore be organized around those values.
Posted: March 8th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: commentary, daily journal, events, film festival | Tags: apple, armory art show, gdc, sundance, sxsw | No Comments »
there’s been a lot of LOUD NOISES lately… everybody’s SHOUTING about all sorts of things. oh yeah, it’s that time of year when everyone heads west… then east… then south by southwest… then west again.
Posted: October 5th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: commentary, daily journal, innovation, news | Tags: gratitude, steve jobs, thank you | No Comments »
there’ll come a day when i will tell young adults about you and the world that you helped to build. i have been inspired by your irreverence, your dedication, your vision, and your healthy disregard for allegiances. not to say that you were disloyal: i know nothing of that.
i do know that those of my friends who have worked with you and worked for you, and some of them have worked very closely with you, their loyalty was forever.
the world that you helped create has shaped a large part of my creative life, providing me with the tools, the independence and impetus to express my creative self and support myself in ways that i could hardly have imagined when i first put my hands on an Apple IIe many years ago.
thank you for everything that you put your hands on.
may your days of suffering be over and may your family soon find closure and comfort.
Posted: September 2nd, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: art, augmented reality, christian svanes kolding, media, new york, openings | Tags: art, christian svanes kolding, copenhagen, design, film, henrik vibskov, louise campbell, moma, museum of modern art, new york, new york city, nils malmros, sara keir wright | No Comments »
from the september issue of DANISH CULTURAL EVENTS IN NEW YORK, published by the DEPARTMENT OF CULTURE, PRESS AND PUBLIC DIPLOMACY, CONSULATE GENERAL OF DENMARK IN NEW YORK.
We ask, they answer –every month we bring you a short interview with a current Danish artist or musician.
The Danish director of films and media objects Christian Svanes Kolding is currently exhibiting at The Museum of Modern Art as his film THE THINGS WE KEEP is part of their summer exhibition, Talk To Me: Design and the Communication Between People and Objects.
THE THINGS WE KEEP – a two-minute story features part of the song “Corporeal” from Broadcast, a lesser-known electronic band from Birmingham, England whose popularity might have peaked in the mid 2000s. Described as dream pop, minimalist neo-psychedelic, and “blissful electro-pop music,” they were fronted by vocalist Trish Keenan, who graces the film with her hypnotically confident voice that rises above a sea of distorted sounds. Both song and image work seamlessly together to portray a disjointed narrative about the relationship between friends in absentia and the souvenirs that become their proxies. Trish Keenan died very suddenly of pneumonia in January of 2011, leaving behind legions of heartbroken fans, including the director. Five months after her death, and sixteen months after THE THINGS WE KEEP made its online debut, the labour of love project was plucked out of obscurity by MoMA, who invited the Brooklyn-based Kolding to contribute the film to their widely anticipated summer exhibition, TALK TO ME.
What is the story behind “The Things We Keep”? The message or underlying thoughts?
We’ve all been through the experience of packing and unpacking our belongings and at some point, all of us have to decide what stays and what will be discarded. I made THE THINGS WE KEEP after moving to New York City two years ago. I realised that most of our keepsakes and souvenirs have meaningful stories and that each object, in essence, represents a relationship. Furthermore, I’ve always wondered what it would look like to walk into someone’s home and discover that their objects could on their own reveal the mystery of their origins, their reasons to be, as well as their journeys. This is a question of technology and design, so I decided to explore these ideas in a film, and that became THE THINGS WE KEEP.
You live in Brooklyn – what is your relationship to NYC?
I’ve had a very long relationship with New York. My father worked here (at the Consulate General of Denmark) and then I went to university here before moving back to Copenhagen. I never thought that I would return to New York but two years ago, I came back for love. My wife (who is American and speaks fluent Danish) was offered an opportunity in New York that neither of us could say no to. It was the right time to come back, and now, I absolutely love it.
Do you use NYC in your art?
Everywhere that I have lived has an impact on my art. Copenhagen is still very present in my work, as is Los Angeles, and certainly New York. New York has changed my work. The competition for an audience is very intense over here; therefore living in New York compels you to become a better communicator. You have to be very clear about what you want to express. Of course, I make art because I have to, for myself, but I also need that relationship with an audience. My work depends on that.
Are you currently working on any new projects?
Yes, all the time – when I’m not doing work for clients! I’m finishing a book right now. The book is more like an object rather than a traditional story of words and pictures. It is a bit like an interactive book of cards with fictitious characters; there are maps and short stories, and the book has digital and analog components. It’s called THE FRIENDS WE KEEP. I’m also working on a longer screenplay about growing up in a community of ex-patriate Scandinavians and Europeans, most of whom have some connection to the UN in New York. This is based, in part, on my own experiences, but also on the common experience many Scandinavians have over here through immigrating and integrating. I have a detached, comic view of my upbringing, and I realise that I need to explore this area. The story really comes down to questions of self-identity. All of the Scandinavians that I’ve known who live in or near New York are looking for something. They left Scandinavia for different reasons, myself included, and by nature, most of us are very outward looking (otherwise we wouldn’t be here), but many of us over here are looking for “home,” and what that means, and therefore, what it means to be Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, etc. So that’s an important part of the screenplay, which I am now writing and will one day direct. I also make films almost every day. I photograph and shoot short films and studies, documenting our time here in New York.
Do you see a difference in how art is perceived and recognized in the US versus Denmark?
This question raises a lot of issues about who we recognize as artists and how we ultimately value works of art. Costs and education aside, it’s hard for me to generalize the difference between Americans and Danes in the way that they perceive art. It feels more appropriate to compare New York with Copenhagen. In this sense, the way that art is recognized in Copenhagen is definitely more festive and possibly more democratic than in New York. In most corners of Copenhagen, such as in Kongens Have and Rådhuspladsen but also smaller squares, there is public art, big and small, permanent and temporary, that asks you to engage with it. There is nothing holy about art in Copenhagen. On the other hand, in New York, while we have a fair amount of public art (such as what we might find in Madison Square Park), you can’t touch it. You can’t get close to it. I know there are many reasons for this, but I think this reflects a general feeling over here that art is beyond the reach of most Americans. It’s not meant for them and there’s a strange anxiety and distaste around that. Danes would never accept that, even if they don’t understand what the work of art is trying to communicate. In Copenhagen, art is accessible to everyone. That said, I made a short documentary in which I asked New Yorkers on the street, how do they feel about art, and I can promise you, New Yorkers are not shy! Many of them feel great passion for art, and that is one of the reasons that make New York an amazing place to be for art.
Do you compare yourself to any American artist? Where do you find your inspiration?
Inspiration comes from everywhere: not only design and film but also in music, literature, urban planning, and tribal culture. In all of these fields, we see evidence that we live in an extremely interconnected world that is undergoing incredible changes. Ironically, despite the fact that we are more connected than ever, we may feel increasingly isolated, both as a by-product of seeking solace from all of the noise (as we continue to define and redefine our experience) but also because we might feel left out because of the pace of change. I’m interested in how we function during these times of great change and how we embrace the change. My Danish grandmother from Skive and my Norwegian grandmother from Lillehammer would probably not understand this life that we lead today, they would think that it’s all nonsense and chaos, but I want my world, and my work, to be understood by them. The designer Nicolas Felton and filmmaker Sofia Coppola, both Americans, work with these same themes that I’m drawn to, but, again, this is New York, and there are so many domestic and international artists working here who influence what I do. At the same time, I’m also more likely to connect with Scandinavian filmmakers, such as Nils Malmros, Lukas Moodysson and Martin de Thurah, and Danish designers Henrik Vibskov, Sara Keir Wright and Louise Campbell; even Björk: we all draw our influences from everywhere but try to refine it into clear ideas that can be expressed in many ways. Ideas from the American-born writer, Nella Larsen, are also an important resource for me – in that her work very specifically explored identities that were both Danish and American.
Interview by Amalie Sophie Butze-Ruhnenstierne for the Consulate General of Denmark in New York.
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Posted: August 16th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: art, commentary, copenhagen, culture, news, news of the moment | Tags: art, boing boing, copenhagen post, galleri v1, jagtvej 69, shepard fairey, ungdomshuset, v1 gallery, xeni jardin | No Comments »
a number of people, including associates and friends of shepard fairey, have been writing about the assault on the artist that took place in copenhagen last week. boing boing also covered it.
shepard fairey claims that he was singled out for punishment because of a lie spread by danish media.
the facts seem dubious.
my hunch is that shepard fairey is attempting to spin what was most likely a mundane late night fracas into a media-friendly story of how a forward-thinking artist is being denied his right to free expression in a hostile culture while performing a charitable and unsolicited service for the greater good of the community.
but the facts just don’t add up.
both shepard fairey’s story on his site and the summaries on sean bonner’s blog as well as boing boing leave out a few important details.
to suggest that someone in the danish media is spreading misconceptions about shepard’s work in copenhagen is, in terms of facts, true, but the danish media can hardly be represented in its entirety by the actual source: an english-language only weekly newspaper marketed to the british/american ex-pat community that has a circulation of about 10,000 readers. at best, 10,000 readers, who, for the most part, are not danish. i’m talking about the copenhagen post, the “danish media” in question which ran an article critical of shepard’s work in relation to jagtvej 69 (the youth house that is more commonly known as ungdomshuset).
i used to write film reviews for that paper for a brief period during my ten years of living in copenhagen. the copenhagen post is not known as a serious newspaper. it routinely uses a sarcastic tone for its headlines and has an editorial style that borders on juvenile, intentionally so. it’s light reading. and it’s a weekly. comes out every wednesday. definitely not widely read nor frequently cited in other danish media. therefore, i conclude that regardless of what the paper wrote, very few people paid attention to it and the story did not gain any traction within the copenhagen youth populace. it had nothing to do with the assault on mr. fairey.
i think that the reason why shepard was jumped had more to do with the popular perception that an american “hipster” has nothing of value to offer on what is primarily a copenhagen issue (and not necessarily a danish issue). why should an american use a copenhagen wall to express his opinions? and why him? and why that wall in particular? that just seems arrogant. granted, shepard claims that he’s a global citizen and therefore deserves a voice in the global community, but again, i beg to differ. he’s about as global as mcdonalds or starbucks but that doesn’t mean that he understands local politics. he’s an american who is known around the world, but that hardly makes him a global citizen.
that shephard conducted his business with the help of the copenhagen city government, which is true, probably did more damage to his credibility because it illustrated that both he and his partners at Galleri V1 failed to appreciate the anger that the residents of nørrebro have towards the local government for its involvement in the destruction of jagtvej 69. that’s the real sentiment behind why he got jumped, and not the rantings of the copenhagen post, which so few people read – and is certainly not read by the vast majority of danes living in copenhagen.
the story of jagtvej 69 is the story of an unpopular betrayal – that the local government went back on a promise made to the city’s rambunctious disenfranchised youth. that’s why there was rioting when the building was raided by the police, then sold, then torn down. protesters were beat-up during the confrontations, there were acts of police brutality, and charges of racism were brought against the police, among other things. the case is not yet over – so it’s still fresh on the minds of many copenhageners.
finally, i’m not even sure that shepard was beaten up because of the mural. he was hanging out in the early morning hours outside of a popular hipster club in the meatpacking district, which is located far away from jagtvej 69 (kødbyen is now a hipster part of town that once was a working class neighborhood with an actual meat market). i suspect that there’s a chance that he was beaten up for other reasons.
acting like an obnoxious douchebag, with an entourage in tow, possibly making disparaging comments about local yokels?
i’m not justifying the fact that he received a black eye. i think that’s terrible and an embarrassment to people in copenhagen. nobody should get beat up… but my gut feeling is that shepard is pointing the blame at a relatively obscure newspaper, then using his american friends such as sean bonner and xeni jardin to rally around his cause, rather than accepting his role in stirring up strong emotions in copenhagen. that’s the real embarrassment. so be it.
it’s cool. keep trying, shepard. i still love your hope poster.
Posted: June 29th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: art, augmented reality, christian svanes kolding, daily journal, events, new york, news, openings, press | Tags: art, christian svanes kolding, moma, new york city, news, press release, talk to me, the things we keep | No Comments »
The Museum of Modern Art has invited Christian Svanes Kolding to contribute his work, THE THINGS WE KEEP, to their summer exhibition, TALK TO ME: DESIGN AND THE COMMUNICATION BETWEEN PEOPLE AND OBJECTS.
THE THINGS WE KEEP is a two-minute exploration of the meaning of keepsakes and household objects, featuring aspects of augmented reality and tagging. The stop motion film that was hand-made with a point and shoot camera will take its place in MoMA‘s venerated spaces alongside the works of artists and designers from all over the world.
Organized by Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, Architecture & Design at MoMA, TALK TO ME explores the communication between people and things and is based on the assumption that contemporary objects contain information that goes well beyond their immediate use or appearance. The exhibition focuses on objects that establish an emotional, sensual, or intellectual connection with their users.
Christian Svanes Kolding is a director of films and media objects. His work focuses on the beauty and simplicity in the fleeting moments of everyday life. He is from Copenhagen and currently lives in Brooklyn.
The show opens on July 24 and runs through November, 2011.
Press enquiries regarding the show can be made to Daniela Stigh, Assistant Director, Department of Communications, Museum of Modern Art.
Websites of interest:
Film: THE THINGS WE KEEP
MoMA’s TALK TO ME exhibition
Director: CHRISTIAN SVANES KOLDING
Posted: June 13th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: brooklyn, christian svanes kolding, commentary, daily journal, film production, new york, storytelling | Tags: 3six5, 3six5 project, brass in pocket, brooklyn, christian svanes kolding, commentary, daily journal, filmmaking, moma, museum of modern art, subway, talk to me, urban living | No Comments »
today i deliver my film to MOMA – the museum of modern art in new york. hold on. i can’t truly say that i have a film in MOMA until the show actually opens in mid-july.
it never occurred to me that this is how it would happen – that i’d be up at three-thirty in the morning hovered over my laptop in a last minute frenzy of finicky details and unruly file renders; that, after all of this work, at the absolute last phase of the project, that the capricious mundanity of rote execution could jeopardize what would be my first experience with having my work in a museum; that it would be a short documentary about a game that would provide the ticket for this invitation into such esteemed surroundings; that it would be a friend‘s idea (his vision, his project) that would provide the means for this admission. one could say that i’m getting into MOMA via the back door. i’ll take it.
. . . . .
beyond the window, a yellow cab dashes through the puddles on union street. it’s raining at five-thirty in the morning, the sky is overcast and our backyard nightingale keeps his own counsel. a breeze carries the scent of rose hips into our apartment.
. . . . .
i’m on the F train. i deliver the film in fifty-five minutes. the entire project is loaded onto a data dvd that’s now in my pocket. who delivers projects on data dvds anymore? there’s a sunburned man seated next to me who smells of sour grass stains and booze-infused sweat. he picks his teeth and carries a rectangular box wrapped in a white plastic garbage bag. maybe he too is delivering a project to MOMA? probably not. maybe.
there’s always a disorienting melancholia that immediately follows the completion of a project. it’s horrible but thankfully brief. the cause for which one rallies resources around no longer exists. the team that answers that call will never be completely reassembled again. it’s the little death that no one talks about.
. . . . .
the sun is out by one in the afternoon, moments before i deliver the project. i’m waiting for them at the rendezvous, the discs in my hand.
. . . . .
this entry also appeared as part of the 3six5 project, on the same date. thank you, 3six5 team!
Posted: June 9th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: christian svanes kolding, commentary, daily journal, news of the moment, technology | Tags: alec baldwin, anthony weiner, commentary, relationships, social media, technology | No Comments »
on the high velocity nature of social media and modern relationships, baldwin writes:
“we tell ourselves that these devices help us communicate more effectively. what they actually do is allow us to bypass the person lying right next to us, across the room from us or at an airport heading home to us, in order to meet our immediate, even inconvenient, needs. to bypass their moods, their current view of us and their own desires, or lack thereof.”
baldwin was actually writing about the circumstances surrounding anthony weiner, but i think his eloquent sentiments apply to more than just the scandal-plagued.