Archive for February, 2009|Monthly archive page

Micro Work for Micro Pay


Available Online for Free by Evan Roth (via Wooster Collective).

Evan Roth of Graffiti Research Lab has his first solo exhibition to coincide with a new self-published book.


AVAILABLE ONLINE FOR FREE: Selected works by Ethan Roth: 2003-2008 was made in Linux using open source software.

It costs $20 in print and is… available online for free. You can download it here.


This feels like a timely intervention.

Right now there’s debate over at the Freakonomics blog on the subject of micropayments.

Why do we expect things free online when we would happily (or at least without question) pay for the same thing in a physical, offline shop?

Is there any hope for Kachingle and other new online micropayment schemes? Seems latecoming and reactionary, although sites like GOOD are developing some interesting alternatives.

Can see why the recession has made peeps reconsider – particularly on the cost of information.

But the (free) words of Marshall W. Van Alstyne (M.I.T.) go KA-CHING for me:

“Putting micropayments on news is like putting tollbooths on an open ocean.”


Another way? Gross National Happiness.

Journos Ask: Does Grey Matter?

Is going to a talk at the London School of Economics “relevant”?


I guess it’s all subjective. But here are some inscrutable facts:

Monday 23 February 2009, a debate at LSE:

Why did nobody see it coming? Reporting the Global Crash of ’08.

The panel included: Vince Cable (Lib Dem MP), Gillian Tett (Financial Times), Alex Brummer (Daily Mail) and Evan Davis (BBC, Dragon’s Den).

They were asked questions like:

– Did the media know that the crash was coming?

– If they did, why didn’t they warn us?

– Is it the media’s role to speculate?

Evan Davis (BBC) explained that the media tends to report – and has to report – key news that’s either good or bad.

There’s simply not time, in mainstream broadcasting, to digest the grey filling in that black and white sandwich.


Is that what bloggers do? Is that what people Tweet about? Is that how people use and consume the bulk of their online media? I must have missed that party.

Publishing stories is fast and personal now. It’s ok to make mistakes. It’s good to be subjective. It’s better to start a conversation with the wrong opinion than sit back and smugly wait.

At least two of the panel were bloggers. There was no lack of knowledge, insight or erudition on display.

Does publishing red-tape let journalists down? Or has big media been as complacent as the global economy in following – and promoting – its own “dominant narrative”?

Big questions for a Monday night. Few answers. A thick wedge of grey. Just like this post. But I did warn you.

A Stencil Saved My Life

Did you know that Shepard Fairey’s first ‘Obey’ stencils happened by accident?

Haphazard, random and roving. You can see why detractors still think of street art in terms of anarchy and vandalism. But stencils can stop accidents.


Crosswalk memorial by DraftFCB Lisbon for Associação de Cidadãos Auto-Mobilizados.

These zebra crossing stencils ran in Lisbon 2 years ago.

Part memorial, part cautionary tale, they list the names of 137 pedestrians killed by cars with the line “1/4 of the victims of automoboile accidents are pedestrians”.

Zebra Crossing by thedlab on YouTube.

This feels pretty unique to me. There may be more and more cleanvertising spots popping up around cities these days, but you won’t get many clients to sponsor a sprayed stencil.

Wilder still that they could tamper with public signage. I like it.


DIY bicycle lanes by Urban Repair Squad, Toronto.

The Urban Repair Squad didn’t wait for their corporate handshake.

Taking guerilla action in response to Toronto’s sluggish municipal authorities, they’ve been creating bike lanes since 2005.  6 kilometres of bike lanes.

le depart by NewKingsMJ on YouTube.

So hands up. Most of these get scrubbed by authorities before long. But surely we can recognise the noble gesture?

If you read this blog much you’ll know I like this kinda artivism sh*t. And I believe it’s getting better. More utilitarian. More involved. It’s producing solutions in a way that 2.0 does. Hit and miss, but unabashed and devotedly social.

Take a peek at the CCA Tools for Action site for more inspiration.

Update & Related:

Urban Repair Squad on their latest intervention: bike-friendly signage.

Bike lanes on pedestrian crossings in Japan.

We Sure Love to Dance

No comment needed. Just look at the hits for each of these vids.

Boombox by Ely Kim on Vimeo.

Evolution of Dance by Judson Laipply on YouTube.

Where the Hell is Matt? by Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

Kaoma – Lambada by igloows on YouTube.

OK, so that last one’s not a meme. I trick you.

But 20m views and counting for the Lambada? That’s deadly serious.

Why do we love to sit in front of a computer watching other people dance?

Did Saatchi & Saatchi sell their flashmobdance on the basis that dancing is the pinnacle of the entire universe?

People: throw your hats in to the circle. Best dance vids or better explanations pleeeeease.

Update – an addition

Over 20m viewers can’t be wrong, can they Audrey Q? Thanks for the tip-off.

“Thriller” (Original upload) by byronfgarcia on YouTube.

Soda Jerk and Pirate Pops


The “internet piracy trial of the decade” began today with The Pirate Bay in the docks.

The four defendants face a fine of 1.2m kronor (£1,000) and two years in prison. They could leave 25m torrent-tracking users behind them if it all falls down.

Feels strange that this is happening now. Last week pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline announced their intentions to go open source. Offline business is starting to follow the online models of sharing.

I never can understand what makes creative copyright so different. Ideas are ideas, right? Maybe it’s time to pick up Lawrence Lessig again.

Or sit back and enjoy a Soda Jerk remix … while there’s still some in the bottle.

Pixel Pirate II Hollywood Trailer by Soda Jerk on YouTube.


Soda Jerk interview on Create Digital Motion

– Understanding fair use copyright

– Remixing in… Microsoft Excel?

Neo Nostalgia in Advertising


I hear Americans have been known to shed a tear with Iron Eyes Cody (you can watch the 1971 Keep America Beautiful ad here).

We know which spot Brits voted the greatest TV commercial of all time:

Hovis – Bike Ride by Ridley Scott on YouTube.

Some folks would find that Hovis ad mawkish now. Some folks would feel the same about the word “folk”.

But I guess that’s where neo nostalgia skirts round the issue.

Cadbury Eyebrows by Glass and a Half Full on YouTube.

Fallon and Cadbury have made beautiful use of neo nostalgia – twice – with an indirect approach to nostalgia.

In Eyebrows, the soundtrack is potentially nostalgic (if you’re the right age). But more important is the art direction’s attention to the detail of an 80s school photo – the kind you just don’t get anymore.

It affects you while you’re disarmed and distracted.

With Gorilla, the neo nostalgia was even more subliminal. There is a connection between a drumming gorilla and Phil Collins, because Phil Collins was a drummer (ironically, bald).

We are tapped up by nostalgic trivia without even realising it, because we’re distracted by the surprise and absurdity.

Virgin Atlantic: 25 Years, Still Hot on YouTube.

Virgin are brasher, as you’d expect. But the obvious aggression of “Miners’ strike!” and Frankie Goes to Hollywood opens you up to a subtler appeal.

Defunct or nostalgic brands – Our Price and Wimpys – do the leg work on a subconscious level. We’re roped in, despite our sense of immunity, into feeling nostalgia.

Maybe it’s just the cynics who need a postmodern sheen. But it works on me.

**A SHORT COMMERCIAL BREAK** Most nostalgia ads are terrible. See Item A.

1998 Werther’s Original Commercial on YouTube.

Don’t know about you, but that bro wasn’t much like my grandad.

And that’s the big problem with direct, mawkish nostalgia. It’s blatantly inauthentic – it’s too blunt and impersonal for the noughties.

Still, more people are looking backwards now for inspiration. We survived the 1930s. We survived the 1950s.

There’s hope in the past and nothing certain in the future.

I’ve got a bigger pop theory about loss, mourning and late capitalism but I’ll save that for some poor soul when I’m drunk. (Probably you, Tom.)

To end, a sober recommendation: Dorian Leader’s book The New Black. A light Freudian read on mourning and melancholia.

As Don Draper says, nostalgia evokes pain. I need to get a WWDDD bracelet.

Art Director Needed


I’m no art director.

But here’s the shocker: I’m a copywriter.

If that wasn’t a shock, you’re half way there. You’ve got that brand of blind imagination I need.

I can offer you an average of one idea per lunar month. Although I’m typing this post at 30 words per minute. Not to show off – just the kind of competence I’ll astound you with every day.

Do you live in London? Would you like to live in London? This might seem like a nosey question, so don’t feel obliged to answer. Just think about it.

If the answer was ‘yes’ – congratulations. You’ve won the unique chance to send an email.

Explain to me precisely why we should never work together. You’d better have a good excuse, or else you could find yourself sitting opposite me. 5 days a week. How does that sound?

guy at thinkdemux dot com

I Am Spartacus

So Poster Boy got caught. Then the New York times got told.

When 27-year-old Henry Matyjewicz was cuffed and punted out to Rikers Island, the newspaper received an email:

“Henry is one of many individuals who believe in the Poster Boy ‘movement’. Henry’s part is to do legal artwork while propagating the ideas behind Poster Boy. That’s why it was O.K. for him to take the fall the other night.”

I love the spirit of this. It’s unsurprising that coverage this week has honed in on the ‘I am Spartacus’ response of the ‘movement’. And it seems like the sentiment is a global – look at anti-advertising events in Paris last week.


McDorse the World by Poster Boy on Flickr.

But I got more interested in the individual. Who is this Spartacus. Who is Henry Matyjewicz?

Google him and dodge the stories about Poster Boy. You’ll find a whole backlog of posts on by a 27-year-old with the same name:



Could be. And I might be well off with this detective work.

But there’s something uncanny…

This Henry Matyjewicz quotes Gandhi and totes a profile pic of Che.

He’s obsessive about modifying his Honda Civic and unconventional in his tastes:

“Me, I’m picky, especially with exterior parts so it’s worth it. I also like the feeling of being original and creative.”

Weirdest of all, he’s cussed from forum to forum. He wants to mod his car and other posters accuse him of being a flamer and a ricer. He gets in arguments and spits fire:

“…all you guys ever have to say is why don’t go and buy the real thing [sic]. F^CK, why stop there, i should just buy three f^cking ferraris. you wanna know why you dipsh!ts, because not everyone has the money.”

Is this the Spartacus behind the Spartacus?

Previous street art:

The $57 cellphone film

Dust tagging & environmental graffiti

JR’s industrialised Xerox

Strange Maps = Wonderful World

I was back in the 60s with Mad Men last night.

Art director Salvatore Romano delivers a line of expert irony. He rhapsodises about the future of advertising.

“The copy will follow the art, and not the other way round.”

It wasn’t a distant world after all. And I’ve been fairly speechless today. So I set out on a visual voyage – and Strange Maps is my pick of the morning.


Old Europe by Justine Smith.


An Absolut Mexico by Teran/TBWA Mexico.


World Beat Music by James Plakovic.


The Surrealist Map of the World, published in Variétés magazine (1929).

Palla’s Japanese Cityscapes


Kazuhiko Kawahara, aka Palla, is an architect and photographer based in Osaka.


His compositions are each based on single images. He uses symmetry to “confront the natural with the mechanical, the artificial.”


“The scenes I photograph are mainly unpopular buildings,” he says.

“They’re places that no one cares about, that are almost just quietly fading away. But I’m trying to reveal the structures and systems of a city that you can’t actually see.”


His stunning portfolio reminds me of Filip Dujardin’s compositions. But there’s more.

He’s branched out into motion graphics and – surprise surprise – they’re stunning.