Cinemagraph

Gif’s are somewhat of a novelty for me, maybe to everyone. I’m specifically thinking of tumblr accounts like #whatshouldwecallme. They’re typically funny and a bit like a commentary. Besides putting together a series of stills from a video, I’ve seen really cool animations and illustrations brought to life. But, this is a first for me:

I saw this image, and a selected few more on designboom. Here’s what they had to say:

new york-based photographers jamie beck and kevin burg have created GIFs as part of their self-termed art form coined ‘cinemagraphs’. the work, often surrounding the world of fashion, is characterized by cinematic images informed by animated GIFs with elegant, subtle movement. the work presented may be an earring swaying or a lock of hair in the breeze all depicting moments suspended in time, a fragment of a memory put on hold.

I don’t know if it’s a new “thing” or not, but I just love it. Maybe this sort of photography will take off, maybe not.  There is a good chance these images will receive a lot of criticism in the photography community. Isn’t the point of photography to create a sense of energy and movement in a still image? I don’t really know. Then again, it’s not really photography, it’s cinemagraph.

There is just something really elegant to their collection; I just love the simplicity and subtlety of the movement in the images. I don’t feel as if everyone one of the cinemagraphs is successful, but the ones that are have an understated quality and quietness about them. It feels like I’m witnessing a fleeting moment of beauty. There is a sense of “being in the moment” to them.

I wonder though, why did it take so long for someone to transform a novelty into an artistic medium. Or perhaps it had been one all along and became something of a novelty. Either way, I think this project is unique and might become the next big trend. Check out their portfolio site for more.

A thought about choice…

Via Flickr

As a design student, I was constantly being reminded that my intended future career is to be the engineer of desire.  The designs I will bring into the world will shape what consumers think they want.  Those who know me know my concern with the environment and interest in sustainability.  It’s daunting to the point of occasional panic attacks to know that I have a future in adding to the waste stream.

Though my program at UArts was focused a bit differently than other industrial design schools, the emphasis being on research based, appropriate, low impact and earth friendly design; we’re still designing items for mass distribution.  I’ve seen the portfolios of students from other programs and see 100 different sketches of pencil sharpeners.  I walked into Staples noticed an array of pencil sharpeners, from a single blade to a mechanized, whirring beast. Looking to the future, countless more students and working designers will also be tasked with continuing to design a new and better pencil sharpener.

Now, this isn’t just about pencil sharpeners, (though I honestly don’t know why we need so many different sharpening options) this is about all products.  I, like everyone else, benefit from having so much choice. Choice is freedom.  But, it makes my head spin to walk into a store or the market and be bombarded with too many options.

Last night while perusing through TED.com I came across two wonderfully interesting talks that I continue to watch from time to time from a 2005 conference on happiness. The first one is Malcolm Gladwell discussing the work of Howard Moskowitz during the 1970’s. 

Moskowitz is the person to thank and blame for having too many choices. He is the man who fundamentally changed how market researchers viewed consumers and make them happy.  Before Moskowitz, researchers relied on “universals,” there was just one perfect flavor of sauce, and one perfect way to enjoy coffee.  Researchers would just ask us what we want and make that; and as it turns out, we don’t know what we want.  If we’ve only known one way and no other, our expectations are low, leading to pleasant surprises.  Moskowitz discovered there is no such thing as a “perfect one” anything for everyone, there are only “perfect ones” because everyone has different tastes.  Once his message was out and other companies began to see the profit in his research, we started seeing a variety of prefect sauces, yogurts, computers, stereos, cellphones, and pencil sharpeners for everyone.  I actually idolize that man and his work.  He was revolutionary and still continuing to do amazing work.

The other video was Barry Schwartz talking about the consequences of too much choice:

 

Schwartz’s argument is basically that having too many choices is actually distracting, paralyzing, and endangering us.  He speaks of a “simpler time” when there was only one option for a phone service, phones were rented instead of bought and the phone never broke.  Now we have cellphones with too many unnecessary functions and a variety of different fits for denim jeans (ie. relaxed, bootcut, etc).  Schwartz says living in a simpler time led to lower expectations which led to happiness because expectations can be surpassed.  With the rise of choices comes an escalation of expectation, we expect there to be a “perfect one” (sauce, computer, pair of jeans, etc) for us and when there isn’t, we’re disappointed. As and aside, going forward I would love to see a return to a rented services industry. With the technology we have now, I don’t see why we can’t. There are technologies in place that make interchangeability so easy and are being under utilized.

Though I am glad for what Moskowitz did for us and I’m not suggesting we get rid of all choices, I have to stand with Schwartz on this.  I often feel overwhelmed by decisions to the point of becoming numb and just pointing and saying, “Whatever, that one. I guess, that’s fine.”  I’m too young to remember a time when I didn’t have a choice of 70 dressings and 120 sauces at the supermarket.  Like I said, I don’t want to lose all our choices, but I can’t help but hope for a simpler, slower future.  For now I guess all I can do in my design work is stay the course, opting to make quality, well-crafted and considerate products instead of making money on a one-of-a-million item I’m not proud of.

Utilize, part 2

Liss and I finished up the Utilize project, here is a link to my coroflot portfolio if you want to check out the final products.
Utilize: A line of products developed to control the spread of an invasive plant.

Click the photo to read a brief description of the project.

This project was created with Kudzu in mind but, it could really be done with anything “useless” material. We worked with the equation abundant material + available community = utilize. After school we went to Nashville to co-host an indigo and kudzu processing workshop with the ASK Apparel girls Sarah and Ally. It was so exciting to carry on with the project. One day I truly hope I will get to full realize Utilize or a like minded project full-time. I would just love to work with any one or group to use a “pest” material as capital to revitalize a community.
Update: In the two years after graduation, several senior projects have followed our model, citing us as an inspiration! Students rose to the occasion, working within and for communities, creating products from “useless” and abundant materials.

Utilize Part 1

via flickr

Elissa and I have been working on a project for the last few weeks we’re just wrapping up now. We’re calling the project Utilize. Since I’m about to sum up the past 15 or so weeks, I’m going to have to do this in installments.

We were inspired by Kudzu, which is an invasive plant. It was brought to the US in 1876 to the Centennial Exposition at erosion cover and livestock fodder. In the 30′s it was being subsidized by the government, and planted all over. By the 70′s Kudzu had grown out of control and finally in 1997 put on the Noxious Weed list by Congress. So, needless to say, Kudzu is crazy and smothers anything in its path. It’s super prevalent in the South due to a “perfect storm” of growing conditions, no natural enemies and negligence. Kudzu requires constant harvesting to control its rapid spread.

However, Kudzu is a super awesome, beneficial plant too. Its edible (full of nutrients – something like 24% protein) and has uses medicinally. It can be processed into an ethanol, paper and even a fiber for weaving (which is why we love it). Kimonos in ancient Japan before they found Silk worms, were made of Kudzu.

We found this great book that has sort of been our bible for this project. Sadly its out of print but available on google books.

Any way, Liss and I found some really great people in the South to collaborate with and/or advise, befriend, inform, help, etc. us. Thanks to conversations with Crop Mob, Kudzu Kollege, Elsewhere Collaborative, Jay Gamble, Alix Bowman and her Goat Patrol ,Junco Sato Pollack (Kudzu/Fiber artist) and other various community organizations we met along the way, we have forged on to create something we’re both really happy with and can really apply and adapt to any invasive plant.

In a time of depleting natural resources, there are many under utilized and unwanted resources. By collaborating with available communities to utilize abundant “waste” materials (Kudzu in this case), we can help control devastating invasive plants while building a healthier relationship for the community and its local fauna.

We worked along side sustainable eradicators (controlling without chemicals) in North Carolina to eradicate and harvest the vine. We did this on Jay’s land, practicing surgical root crown removal. Strategic grazing would probably work just fine too. Basically, land is fenced off and goats roam and eat up the Kudzu to kill it. The last thing they go after is the vine itself which is the piece we need to make the fiber. If processed correctly, the length of the vine is the length of the fibers you get out of it. This is all I can handle right now. Stay tuned.

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“My Mother Noticed A Pattern”

Don’t cry. Don’t cry at work. Never in front of coworkers, especially not in front of customers. Cry in front of your friends; let them know you’ve been hurt. They need to know; they think you’re an ice cold bitch. They don’t respect your feelings, you’re a bitch. You’re not a bitch but I can see why they’d think that. I can see why they’d hate you, that’s all I’m saying. A strong, independent thinking woman who doesn’t need anybody and won’t ask for help. Why don’t you ever ask for help? People need people, you need them. Tell her you need her. Go back home and tell her, you need her as a friend now more than ever. Some girls give up on their friends when they find a new man. She’ll be missing you. Who will she call when they fight, when they break up, when she needs to move out, when she needs somewhere else to go to be alone, when she realizes her mistake and misses you? Why didn’t she tell you? You always take care of other people, when does someone take care of you, when is it your turn? You never take responsibility for your part in it all. You’re defensive, you’re never wrong, it’s never you, you are the problem. Stop pretending like you aren’t in pain, stop pretending the last four years didn’t matter and you don’t care it’s over. What’s wrong with you? Why is it always this way with you? You’re so willing to just give up on your friendships so quick when you think you’ve been wronged. There’s no give and take, no acceptance of your part in it all. You never forgive them; never try to work it out. It’s still your home, they’re still your friends, go back. Tell them. Tell them what you’re thinking. Ask them why? Why! You don’t keep your word. This is why they hate you, you break your promises. You’re so unreliable; it’s really no wonder. It’s all so childish; at least you’re acting like an adult, you’re so immature, just as bad as them. You can’t just run out every time there’s a problem; nothing ever gets resolved. You think I don’t have snarky things to say to him? Ignore him. Ignore her. Leave your key and leave. I want you to get revenge, never take revenge, take the highroad. Don’t sink to their level, even when they treat you how they do. How are things between you now? When was the last time you saw her? She’ll get what’s coming to her. One day she’ll be alone and think of you. She’ll remember your friendship, she’ll need a friend now, more than ever, and you won’t be there and it will kill her. She’ll regret it all, it will hurt her whenever she thinks of you, every time she sees you and covers her face like peek-a-boo with a four year old. She always was too immature, obviously she is great; she is your best friend for a reason. Forgive her, try to bury the hatchet. It’s a better place to be than pain and hate. You don’t want to end up alone, forgive her. You’ll end up alone, forgive your friends and keep them. Even if they don’t want you back, try to talk to them.

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“Goodnight Moon”

  1. 1. a small lidded jar full of little razor blades
  2. a model of a unit I never realized full scale
  3. a silver danish duck, carved wood, head turned about, peering behind himself
  4. leaves of a spider plant sprawled about
  5. abstract, almost like feathers, red, yellow, orange leather earrings made by a friend
  6. an ever growing heap of high heels by the front door
  7. wet red dishes drying by the sink
  8. over flowing heap of dark clothes by the dresser, needing to be laundered
  9. the slight greening of the inside of my turtles tank
  10. a lone twig amidst the sand at the bottom of the tank
  11. the cinnamon overpowering the chocolate of my winter drink
  12. abstract golden bird bookends, exaggerated long necks
  13. a brown wax owl, aging into white
  14. a crumbled bridesmaid dress of a wedding I wasn’t invited to and didn’t attend, on the floor
  15. the dress made of woven golden ribbons and golden Christmas ornaments
  16. a turquoise and pink corset draped across the floor, forgotten with the relief of freedom and breath
  17. yellowed ginger root at the bottom of a white ceramic mug
  18. Average, off white, plastic fork with longer than usual tines
  19. little squares of paper filled with tiny handwriting
  20. a travel mug, green paint peeling, showing age and use
  21. red leather wallet, thick and heavy, over filled
  22. black headphone wires, twisted and knotted
  23. faceted small diamonds, refracting light into my eyes
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