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Graffiti Over Time

8 Dec

Wooster Collective is always a huge source of inspiration for me. While my personal tastes tend to steer away from high concept street art, there are always gems to be found. One such gem is this post about the evolution of graffiti on a wall outside the home of Serge Gainsbourg.

Serge Gainsbourg – animation des graffitis sur 5 ans du mur rue de Verneuil from Arnaud Jourdain on Vimeo.

Using After Effects and Lightwave 3D, animator Arnaud Jourdain composited thousands of photos taken over a 5 year period into a beautiful animation showcasing the evolution of the art on the wall over time.

Graffiti Archeology

The moment I saw this piece I was reminded of another similar undertaking, Graffiti Archeology, a project of Cassidy Curtis that also attempts to capture the evolution of graffiti. Curtis describes his project as:

Graffiti Archaeology is a project devoted to the study of graffiti-covered walls as they change over time. The core of the project is a timelapse collage, made of photos of graffiti taken at the same location by many different photographers over a span of several years. The photos were taken in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and other cities, over a timespan from the late 1990′s to the present.

While both of these projects share a similar concept, they are unique in execution and purpose. Jourdain’s execution is his artistic interpretation of the wall. His camera movements and angles do not showcase each individual art piece in the way that Curtis does. Graffiti Archeology is more of an academic approach to cataloging the art pieces, though his shapes and cropping are very graffiti inspired (especially for the 90s!). I think that using motion, rather than clicking through images creates a more seamless experience of time lapse, but the dramatic camera movements adds personality to the artwork that might not have been there previously.

Both projects are fantastic ideas and are definitely worth checking out.

Rachell Sumpter

29 Oct

Rachell Sumpter

Rachell Sumpter

Rachell Sumpter

I recently stumbled upon the work of Rachell Sumpter and instantly wanted more.
Her mastery of color, detail and imagery are stunning and don’t remind me of anyone else – a rarity whenever I am first introduced to an artist. While her website gives no information about herself or her work, her paintings seem to depict technicolor, Native American, dreamlike experiences.

After digging around a bit, she lists some of her inspirations:

Big, big trees. Living off the grid

You can find more about her from this interesting interview or just check out her site and click around.

SAAB – Change Perspective

15 Oct

ACNE Digital recently teamed up with Lowe Brindfor to launch SAAB’s new Change Perspective campaign. The campaign so far consists of a TV spot and a corresponding website.

In this truly integrated production we’ve once again collaborated very closely with ACNE Film and delivered a slick TVC as well as an interactive website. The idea is to work with a set of symbols used by Saab for years and to show how Saab try to to look at things from a different perspective. It’s basically all branding and no product where curiosity is raised in the TVC and answers given on the website.

What I like most about the web experience is that the all of the usage of 3D, flash, and video has a purpose. Rather than follow the gratuitous usage of interactivity trend that most microsites follow, it seems intelligent and fun here. Instead of just cool transitions between sections, 3D and video is used here to tell a story.

Inside each section of the site, the user gets to drive through the space from a new, different perspective. The story does not progress until the user initiates the next step. This interactive and clever way to reveal the story makes for a memorable, fun experience that resonates with the user.

Browsing through the site users can play around with different toys, take part in quizzes, and even breakout the audio to listen in a jukebox form. Overall it’s a fun, playful site that enforces the message that SAAB has a different perspective on things. Surprising educational and simple.

You can check out the online experience for yourself here.

Tech Week 2009

13 Oct

Last week was a whirlwind of late nights, traveling, and tech conferences for me. I attended both Adobe MAX in L.A. and Yahoo’s Hack Day developer conference in NYC in the same week.

This was my first year attending these conferences, so I didn’t know what exactly to expect but had a great time at both.

Adobe MAX was considerably more developer focused than I had anticipated, but there was still lots of cool emerging technology and creative centered talks to keep my attention. While many of the talks I attended devolved into presenters typing actionscript projected onto a wall, several talks stood out as being inspirational, insightful and educational.

John Mayer makes an appearance at MAX

Lee Brimelow gave a great talk about augmented reality and showed several examples of real world applications. Joshua Davis gave a very inspiring presentation about the evolution of his work, his process (Tinker, tinker, and more tinker) and his unfortunate encounters with print shops. I’m pretty sure everyone involved left that talk eager to go experiment on their own.

Tesla Roadster

Some other highlights for me were being introduced to the Mega Phone platform, getting a behind the scenes of the new Guiter Hero website, gtting a glimpse of Photoshop’s content aware technology and of course, Roundarch‘s very own talks surround the Tesla model S.

The MAX Bash, watching the sneaks and meeting all sorts of cool, intelligent people are what really made this conference worthwhile.

The Yahoo Hackday experience was equally developer focused, but had a more grass roots flavor to it. After a day of talks promoting the latest Yahoo! technologies(which I was unable to attend), sessions broke and teams were organized. Each team had roughly 17 hours to brainstorm, build, design and test their “hack”. The definition of what a hack is and what technology or hardware it uses was up for creative interpretation.

Yahoo Open Hack Day

I partnered up with Akeem to work on developing an interactive restaurant menu. While more time to work on our idea would it been appreciated, it was great to work under the gun (voluntarily for a change) and see what other teams came up with. While our idea attracted a bit of media attention, in the end we got beat out by some other really great ideas. The overall winner of the competition was Insider Trades by team Queens Law. They describe their motivation below:

Insider trading of stocks is very valuable information. Knowing which executives are selling and buying is a very useful indicator for the millions of people who are casual investors.

For a list of all of the winner, and a recap of the competition, click here

Overall, last week was super fun and jam-packed. I had met lots of cool, interesting folks and learned lots at both conference. I’m already looking forward to next year.

Maker Faire Africa 2009

30 Sep

I’ve been reading lately about all of the cool inventions coming out of Maker Faire Africa, a celebration of African ingenuity, innovation and invention at the AITI Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT in Ghana’s capital, Accra.

This spin-off of the 2006 California conference is centered around do-it-yourself innovation. What makes this year’s conference so interesting is that it focuses on the indigenous populations of Africa. Instead of the Rube Goldberg-esque mousetrap or the Diet Coke & Mentos Fountain of previous years, this year’s inventions include solar-powered lamps and contraptions to harness wind energy and make use of recycled and discarded materials.

This conference reminds me very much of an exhibit I saw a few years ago at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. The exhibit, Design for the other 90% highlights advances in design and technology that help the world’s poor. The exhibit showcases some products and inventions that it proposes are the beginning of a design revolution:

“The majority of the world’s designers focus all their efforts on developing products and services exclusively for the richest 10% of the world’s customers. Nothing less than a revolution in design is needed to reach the other 90%.”

The exhibit is centered around the topics of Health, Shelter, Water, Education, Energy and Transport. Many of the same problems that the participants of Maker Faire Africa has sought out to solve.

Both the exhibit and the conference are introducing new people (like me) to an area of design and technology that is often overlooked. I wonder how many of us designers are actually doing work that is as impactful as this. While we might describe some of our ideas and interfaces as innovative, if we are operating in the same arena as 90% of the world…how innovative is it really?

You can check out the Maker Faire Africa site and get more information here .

Product vs Platform: The App Store

17 Sep

The Internet favors platforms.

Platforms are the intermediaries that deliver products. Platforms cannot exist without products, and products need platforms to be put into context and to be delivered. As our modern consumer culture becomes even more social and connected, the benefits of being a platform become even more apparent.

Apple App Store

The case study for this is of course the Apple App Store. While the iPhone device itself is already impressive the platform that the app store allows the iPhone become is what makes this product so successful. According to the latest data from iSmashPhone, iPhone users spend at least 30 minutes a day using apps and their app market share is 40 times that of their closest competitor!

After seeing the success of the iPhone app store, numerous other phone companies jumped on the bandwagon and released their own. Companies such as
Blackberry , Palm Pre, Google Android, Windows Mobile, Nokia, and Samsung have all tossed their hat into the app store arena.

HP Touch-S,mart Printer

What I find extremely fascinating is that this concept is extending beyond the reach of mobile devices. HP just launched a new printer that allows users to connect to the web and download apps to use on their printer. The printer touts applications for printing out directions, movie tickets, and cross word puzzles.

Here at Roundarch, we are working on some cool touch screen interfaces for a car, and the concept of an in-car app store has definitely been brought up. Even in your living room, Verzion has announced that it is bringing an app store and social media to it’s FiOS-TV.


While I’m both excited and eager to see products grow into platforms, I’m also anxious to see how thoroughly companies will adopt that philosophy. It seems that “app store” has become a buzzword now, similar in vein to “social media” and “viral”. These are words that marketing departments throw around all the time without fully understanding that they mean, or how these changes will affect the growth and foundation of their company.

The Apple iPhone isn’t just a phone, and I doubt Steve Jobs ever thought it would be. The app store was always a part on what the iPhone was. This isn’t a case of other companies playing catch-up with Apple. Rather, I’m more interested in seeing what the repercussions of haphazardly adding app stores, attempting to change their product into a platform, will be to these companies in the future.

Fugue – Free Interface Icons

9 Sep

As a web and interface designer I’m constantly looking for icons. I have my favorite set of standard email, logout, download etc.. icons, but every now and then I’ll find myself struggling to find an icon for some random, difficult to describe function.

More often than not I’ll attempt to find an icon rather than trying to create it from scratch and I’ll run to Google and do an image search for my random query (I can recall trying to find icons for ‘federal litigation’) and surprisingly not have much luck.

In doing one such search I came across Yusuke Kamiyaman, a Japanese icon and font designer who produces the fantastic and free fugue icon set.

Fugue Free Interface Icons

The Fugue icon set is a collection of 2,225 (and counting) 16×16 PNG icons. He is constantly adding new icons to this set so whenever I’m looking for a specific icon, I always start there. The icons are licensed under a Creative Commons license, so they are free to use commercially as long as you attribute the author. If you prefer not to do that, then for only $50 you can get them royalty-free, which if you’ve ever bought an icon set, is pretty darn cheap.

What is great about this set (aside from the cost) is the depth of the package. With over 2,225 different icons it covers a range of interface elements and applications. Everything from database and UI controls to smiley faces are included in here.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t have any federal litigation icons yet…

You can Download the set here.

Waterlife – NFB

27 Aug

Water Life Website

Toronto based creative studio JAM3MEDIA teamed up with The National Film Board of Canada to produce an amazing online experience for the Waterlife documentary film.

The film tells the story of the last great supply of fresh drinking water on earth. It touches upon problems caused by industrialization, invasive species and the rise of cancer & birth defects in surrounding areas.

Water Life Website

Water Life Website

What I like most about this site is that it maintains the documentary feel and creates a museum-like experience. The site encourages visitors to click around and play with the controls and navigation, but still maintains an educational and serious tone without being boring. The story is told by navigating through the topics like DVD chapters, using audio and video from the film that is paired with statistics and illustrations.

Water Life Website

I do wish that the photos that make up the different icons could have more interaction. It seems that the only place to click on them, individually, is at the beginning of the story.

I guess that the ability to randomly click on different cards might take away from the linear procession of the documentary style, but perhaps there would be a way to accomplish a happy medium?

How the Internet sees me

24 Aug

My Internet Persona

MIT’s Media Lab recently launched Personas, a component of the Metropath(ologies) exhibit, currently on display at the MIT Museum by the Sociable Media Group. It uses sophisticated natural language processing and the Internet to create a data portrait of one’s aggregated online identity. In short, Personas shows you how the Internet sees you.

It didn’t do a great job of creating my persona, due to either too much or too little data out there. There have been many John Gist‘s throughout history as I would find out.
However, what attracted me most to this experiment is the simplicity and ease of use in the design. Clearly labeled and color-coded, paired with real-time data aggregation make this a fun and exciting process. I ended up putting in all of my online aliases as well as some of my friends and family, just to watch the system run again.

My Internet Persona

Although the project cautions,

In a world where fortunes are sought through data-mining vast information repositories, the computer is our indispensable but far from infallible assistant. Personas demonstrates the computer’s uncanny insights and its inadvertent errors, such as the mischaracterizations caused by the inability to separate data from multiple owners of the same name

I wish it would give a bit more insight into how it classifies the data it is gathering. Why did my twitter username yield a persona that was 50% legal. Why did my name come back with 10% Religion?

My Internet Persona

Give it a shot and see how the Internet sees you here

A vertical look at civilization

21 Aug

CRUSH and Marco Brambilla of the The Ebeling Group partnered up to create an AMAZING motion graphics installation at the Standard Hotel here in New York. This “video mural” is displayed in a panel inside the elevator and pans up or down, depending on the direction of the elevator. This motion either depicts the ascension into Heaven or the descent into Hell.

In an interview with the Director, Brambilla talks about creating collages out of different video loops and the process of having the folks over at CRUSH stitch them together. Rather than using a game engine to run all of 500 individual loops, the team created one large 1920 x 7500 canvas that scans up and down. Once the layout was on the canvas the artists had to go through it again and transform it from 2D to 3D, giving it the depth that the director sought after.

You can read the full interview with Marco Brambilla and see a hi-def video here. You should definitely take a peek at the hi-resolution version because with this piece the devil is definitely in the details. The amount of elaborate and intricate loops is what really makes this an amazing installation.

Hopefully I’ll get a chance to visit The Standard soon and check it out in person.