Archive for December, 2008|Monthly archive page

Seeing Somewhat Smarter

I love my eyes, but I’m learning to love them better.

You could argue that there are higher demands placed on our visual literacy today than at any other point in history. So as the sun sets on 2008, how smart do you see?

1. Colour IQ


When I took the x-rite colour IQ test a few months ago I scored a 7. Although I’m no designer I can see that’s not award-winning. But it’s a start, eh?

Take the test yourself to see how your eyes stack up.

2. Colour Matching


This year Idée Labs developed Multicolr searches for Flickr and Alamy.

The screengrab above is from a search I did a few days ago. I’m working on a Brazilian NYE set for the Jungle Drums party and wanted some content ideas to fit the palette. It’s a great test for your matching instincts.

Try a Multicolr Flickr search.

3. Musical Visual IQ


So far so static. But I mix live visuals, and I need to know my eyes got rhythm.

The phrase Associative Visual Musical Intelligence was a new one to me before I found this test on Current. AMVI is a condition of synaesthesia. Call a doctor!

Or just take the test. (I did a bit better on this one. Phew.)

4. Research


This is a scan from David A. Beronä’s Wordless Books – a magnificent xmas present from Audrey Q.

I’m getting deeper into old graphic forms. Looking at woodcut novels, where individual panels were as small as 3.5 x 2.5 inches, truly sharpens the focus (sorry to mix the metric but 1/2 looked whack).

Throw the laptop to one side and think pre-digital. And get this book while you’re at it – another present that keeps giving.

5. Pencil and paper


I got big lucky with presents this year. My brother bought me The Advertising Concept Book by Pete Barry (scan above).

I know it’s something Creative Directors say so much it can prick. But it’s true. Start with a sharp pencil and paper.

Pete Barry’s book of scamps is such a pleasure. Reminded me what it’s all about. Great visual ideas express themselves in the simplest of ways.

You can call me stupid, but I’m off to do some drawing.

Written in Santa’s Brow


What did Coke put in their bottles this Christmas? Santa’s got a knowing look about it.

For the discerning lady, however, a mighty handful of Atlanta’s finest wouldn’t outsling a dick in a box.

Frugal presents were meant to be the rage. Perhaps you enjoyed a staycation? Or traded memories at Woolworth’s wake? Much was spoken and the pre-Christmas SALES said it all.

The toys have changed but I hope you gave and received with the same glee.

I’m erasing that pervert Santa from my head. Keep the Coke on ice. Cross your fingers and frostbitten toes that next year could yet be mad decent.

A belated Merry Christmas to one and all.

Hunter Wears Chuck Taylors

There’s a star-studded brochure of laments in the new Hunter S. Thompson biopic:

‘What could he contribute if he was still alive now? What would he make of it all?’

hunter-s-shoot-typewriterLooking at the last footage in the film, I picture him at a typewriter. Still. Bristling against that machine and gnashing at deadlines with a thousand news wires jacked into his hollowed sinews.

Always at a typewriter. Until the confrontation turns ugly – and the machine makes a window exit.

Thompson battles the typewriter to earn his spoils of the phony war. With each clack in the film’s audio, you hear intent.

How could this crank-guzzling dope fiend settle down to a night on the MacBook, or even MacBook Pro? These are the motherboards of therapy, swelling the gentle waves of comfort and adulation (yes – this went viral):

As sensitive psychopaths go he could relax. He seemed at home in shorts and Converse All-Stars. But could he be that minimal mellow on the job, at his desk, writing?

When you work on a typewriter it’s no collaboration. You need to know what you want before you sit down. Then say it, and say it without compromise.

I’m not convinced Thompson would write much now if he hadn’t put a bullet in his head.

He grew obsessed with his celebrity status, from the accounts in the film. He could be happy to chew on fat endorsements while an iPod shuffles the best shards of a shattered, glorious past.

Converse co-opted Hunter S. Thompson this year. He’d already lost his war. He was not in a position to negotiate.

New Conchords Season Premiere


The second season of Flight of the Conchords starts next month in the US.

But you can watch the first episode in full at Funny or Die now (if you’re in the US).

I’m not in the US – so beware the crushing disappointment you’ll feel if you click that link without reading the caveat. It’s like Hulu all over again.

I consoled myself with this find by Coudal Partners. Matt Ruby‘s hip hop pirate… (stick with it. It’s a grower):

We All Live In A Dream World

“No make that nightmare world”, says Archie from Northampton. But we’ll come back to Archie later.

Advertising exaggerates the truth, it seems. And for that reason two TV spots have been banned in the last couple of weeks.

First there was the iPhone advert. A popular product by a popular brand – but not as fast at web browsing as the product demo suggests:

More controversial was the DFS rockstar ad. DFS shrank its actors to make their sofas look bigger.

Readers of the Daily Mail went ballistic. And sarcastic. And helpful. And then there’s good old Archie in Northampton, rightly sick of “sutpid ad people” and the “iditos” signing it off at the client end.


DFS are not like Apple, and they suffered a greater backlash.

On TV’s Worst Adverts, one star of the greenscreen denounced his role in the DFS ad and the furniture company’s Machiavellian creative.


So what about Lynx’s advertising? Over the past few months, Lynx have been promoting their new deodorant Dark Temptation.

The product demo in their TV spot reveals a feral, cannibalistic world where women gorge on the poor deodorant user. At one point they literally tear off a limb.

So when does the dream world become a nightmare?

I’ve been reading an excellent book by New York Times columnist Rob Walker – I’m with the Brand. This quote bounced out at me today – from a Unilever exec (responsible for Lynx):

“Everything that we do, we test with both moms and young women. We want to make sure that people know it’s an over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek take on the mating game.”

Even with “dream world” ads like BBH‘s campaign for Lynx, there’s a need to verify that the dream is dreamy enough.

And reality? The truth – and nothing but?

In this new age of austerity, I’d imagine there is a strong probability we’ll be seeing much more of that.

Previous banned ads:

The Motrin momtroversy and Nike That Ain’t Right

Global billboard bans

Heinz homophobia

How to VJ #7

Had a whole barrel of fun playing with The Correspondents at Braindrop on Friday. Certainly a snap to the synapses after VJing for poetry the week before.

Along the way I met Clément, aka Pikilipita, and witnessed 8-bit VJing for the first time.


Photo credit: Ne1co

I’ve talked before about the fact that you don’t need a laptop to VJ.

Pikilipita is polemical about a ‘No Laptop’ policy. He’s a developer and designer, and over a year ago developed a VJ app for the Game Boy Advance.

On Friday, as we switched over between sets, he seemed pretty light on equipment. Just a PS2 and PS2 controller. He stood behind the Braindrop DJs and played his visuals like a console game using the PS24VJ software he finished developing earlier in 2008.

I was impressed by Pikilipita’s minimal set and the ease of his interactions. I’m even more impressed that you can get his apps through a “shareware” business model that only asks for voluntary donation.

On the subject of 8-bit/ ‘No Laptop’ – there’s Gijs Gieskes, aka strobovj. Take a look at the video below:

strobovj makes his animations with Gameboy camera then plays them through his stroboscope – a truly old school device (via). The animations can be synched to the clock of Game Boy musical app LSDJ.

There’s a heap of hacking, tinkering and repurposing going on. And the long and short of it is this – you don’t need a laptop to VJ.

Although it helps to be a developer.

Previous How to VJ:

#6 Pixel-per-pixel: a history

#5 Making layers: an example

#4 Types of VJ: an overview

Readers Pop Your Retinas

I love this experimental type by Mexican graphic designer Manolo Guerrero (via).


Optica Normal is not very normal,” say your tricked eyes. Rightly so.

Manolo G build this type with orthogonal lines. It’s designed for 100+ pt size – check the PDF sample.


Inspiration came from the abstract geometry of Colombian op artist Omar Rayo. There’s a nice website for the Museo Rayo and you can take a virtual tour of it here.


How can it feel so good to hurt your eyes this bad? My retinas must have a mind of their own.

Previous geometry:

– The genius of Andy Gilmore

– Olympic op art: Mexico 68

Literally A Meme?

When is a meme not a meme? And what is a meme?

I thought an English lit. grad with a penchant for pedantry should take it to task. But I could quickly prove myself wrong. Let’s see.

If you clicked the above link you’ll have read about the Hamster Dance and Rickrolling. That Wiki doesn’t yet include the literal video. So here’s what I’m talking about:

Dustin McLean‘s literal take on A-Ha now has now had over 2m YouTube views. That’s viral, right?

So since he’s done it again, with different videos, does that make it a meme? Here are the next instalments – using Tears For Fears…

… and Red Hot Chilli Peppers:

These are all very funny. Don’t get me wrong. But is this a “catchphrase or concept that spreads quickly from person to person via the internet”?

Well, it’s spread to the extent that it’s been imitated. There’s a literal video for U2 without subtitles. And the Rick Astley version by Joe Sabia cannibalises another meme – check the subtitle on the preview!

Two things I want to flag here: sharing and evolution.

Obviously these videos have been shared – and I’m sharing them now. But is it evolving?

Rickrolling was a form of anarchy that spread beyond the internet. Anyone could do it. It was simply a trap/ device. That’s not the case with the literal video. It has made Dustin McLean (more?) famous but, so far, the concept has been too well-honed to imitate on a mass scale. The layman can’t repeat the act.

Until Joe Regular can repurpose, evolve, mutate the meme… I’m not sure it’s a meme. Then again, I’m sure a scientist could define “meme” better than an English lit. a**hole.

I should take my fat words and go Mcroll myself…

Preview: Favela on Blast

After an earlier post about Nois, a boutique of Brazilian directors, I was granted a glimpse of the future.

Here are some stills from the upcoming film Favela on Blast – directed by Leandro HBL and DJ Diplo.

Still photographer: Rebekka Elhers

Production designer: Leandro HBL


Favela on Blast explores the universe of baile funk in Rio. An October premiere of the film in Brazil was followed last month by a European debut in Copenhagen.


The two directors first collaborated on the music video for Diplo Rhythm and aficionados will know that Favela on Blast bears the title of Diplo’s breakthrough baile funk mixtape.


I’ll keep this post updated on news of US/ UK release.

In the meantime it’s good to know that more favela films are in production. The World Film Collective are working with kids in the Morro dos Prazeres favela so they can make and edit footage from their mobile phones. (More on that here).

Previous Brazil:

Taschen’s Latin American Grapic Design

JR’s Women Are Heroes