Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

Pharrell vs. Sammy Stephens

Fresh murketing from the Golden Arches sticks Pharrell chez McDonald’s at the crack of dawn. Acting like it’s not his first crack he’s tasted that day.

P vs McDonald’s by NeRdArMyViDeOs on YouTube.

Mr. Williams doesn’t need a sponsored viral to be “internet famous”. Although he will “try anything to get McDonald’s to open early”.

Over 1min and 18 seconds he goes through every trick in the book:

– Sing a jingle

– Sing a jingle

– Sing a jingle

– Sing a jingle

And he even dances.

But when it comes to jingles and dances, what’s Pharrell got on Sammy Stephens?

Flea Market Montgomery – Long Version by teedadawg on YouTube.

OK OK OK. So Sammy was “internet famous” in 2007 and times have moved on.

Practioners of the “jingle and dance” are more professional now.

They get up at 6am to perform choreographed routines – and that’s before their authentic carb breakfast of Parisian French fries.

Stephens was a mere amateur:

“I didn’t write it,” he said. “I just felt it.”

But there is hope for the plucky amateur. His name is Howard Brown.

Original Howard of Halifax advert by gazhack on YouTube.

The UK’s golden boy of “jingle and dance” enjoyed a hugely repetitive 6-year “jingle and dance” career after turning pro in 2002.

So when you get that urge to “jingle and dance” because you “just feel it”, make sure there’s a camera in the crowd and give it all your heart.

Dreams really can come true.

How to VJ #9

Puma Lift by Droga5 on Vimeo.

I didn’t expect to include ads in this series. But I didn’t see this spot coming.

Droga5 and Puma have used projection mapping to spectacular effect for their ‘Light Injected Footwear’ – the print work is striking too.

Where set design, installation and architecture converge with live visuals, we’re getting to glimpse the future. It’s increasingly spatial.


CAD render showing the beam traffic and early set design [image via ‘boards].

Production designer James Chinlund explains some of the thinking in interview:

“We felt like it was important that it feel at all times like these people were doing this themselves, in their own space. When you watched it that you felt like you were seeing a performance that was happening in real time.

We thought of them as a team of young artists making a piece with almost no money, you should be able to feel the “edges”. The projections weren’t mapped perfectly, there were shadows and spill-off.”

It pays off. The piece feels like a performance and that, for me, makes the creative ambition all the more impressive.

Flight of the Conchords – Carol Brown, Dir. Michel Gondry on YouTube.

That’s not to talk down the projection mapping in composed pieces. Michael Naimark’s installations were groundbreaking and Michel Gondry keeps using the technique with aplomb.

Since Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground (White Stripes) he’s taken it into TV.

But how far can you take projection mapping in a club performance?

I hope to find out tonight when Etienne de Crécy and Parisian crew Exyzt bring their Cube to matter (London).

Etienne de Crécy Live 2007 by Clement bournat on Vimeo.

The 3x3x3 cube puts different demands on a VJ crew – but this crew has architects, not to mention scaffolding.

Managed to snag free tix for tonight and will report back from the field…

More on Projection Mapping:

AntiVJ: Exyzt Installation Ripped off by The Killers.

– Projection mapping with VDMX.

Previous How to VJ:

#8 Interaction: keeping interface simple

#7 No laptops: 8-bit VJing

#6 Pixel-per-pixel: a history

The Destiny of the Rupee


“See, this country, in its days of greatness, when it was the richest nation on earth, was like a zoo. A clean, well-kept, orderly zoo. Everyone in his place, everyone happy. Goldsmiths here. Cowherds here. Landlords there. The man a called Halwai made sweets. The man called a cowherd tended cows. The untouchable cleaned faeces…

… in the old days there were one thousand castes and destinies in India. These days, there are just two castes: Men with Big Bellies, and Men with Small Bellies.”

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga.


Indian school via Mad Decent.

India, to the best of my limited knowledge, is a country built on codes and glimmering with symbols – however prismatic.

Soon there will be a new symbol. And it’s already caused some division.

The Indian government has launched a public competition to design a currency symbol for the Rupee. Entrants must be Indian nationals and are required to supply a bank draft of Rs 500 with their applications by 15 April 2009.

From what I’ve read, Indian designers are peeved they have to pay the government to participate. But there’s already spec work up on ‘the internet’.


Indian Rupee spec design by Christian Büning; Design of the Euro.

Erik Spiekermann, founder of FontShop, is “afraid their brief is a little off”. Check out the discussions at Fontblog (in German) and TypeOff.

All the hubbub set me off on a dig. Beyond the obvious (£ Pound/ $ Dollar/ € Euro/ ¥ Yen), I had no idea which currencies bear their own symbol.

Do you?

Here are a few you might not have known:


Left to right:

Yuan Renminbi (China), Colón (Costa Rica), Rial (Iran), New Sheqel (Israel), Won (South Korea), Naira (Nigeria), Baht (Thailand).

So apart from China, none of the BRIC economies have their own currency symbol. Although Russia’s been searching since 1999.

The majority of nations in South America and the Caribbean bear the $ symbol.

What does any of this mean? Will a new symbol for the Rupee help transform India’s destiny into that of a “nation with Big Bellies”?

And should designers be paying for their crowdsourced work to compete?

Currency symbols elsewhere:

World Currency Symbols index.

– The story of the Euro Symbol: From Logo to Letter.

Bankface? Remixing bank notes.

Eye Tricks by Akiyoshi

This one’s not for the weak-eyed, so please read Prof. Akiyoshi Kitaoka’s warning:

Warning: This page contains some works of “anomalous motion illusion”, which might make sensitive observers dizzy or sick. Should you feel dizzy, you had better leave this page immediately.”


Merriweather Post Pavillion (cover) – Animal Collective, inspired by Akiyoshi Kitaoka.

You’ll know if you’ve have seen this sleeve art before.

Prof. Akiyoshi Kitaoka’s experiments in “anomalous motion illusion” inspired the design of Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavillion.


“Rain” by Akiyoshi Kitaoka.

After studying psychology, Akiyoshi specialised in visual perception and visual illusions of geometrical shape, brightness and colour at the University of Tsukuba.

His website gives detailed explanations of the theory behind each piece.


“Shaman #2” by Akiyoshi Kitaoka.

Gestalt completion, eh? Fascinating how our eyes play tricks on us.

Previous op art:

House 42’s dioptical font.

– Exquisite geometric design by Andy Gilmore.

Op art goes to the Olympics.

Decay, Racoons and Detroit


Packard Motors Plant by Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre Photography.

“Perhaps no major city in the U.S. today looks more beleaguered than Detroit, where in October the average home price was $18,513, and some 45,000 properties were in some form of foreclosure…

… I’d certainly expect it to shrink faster in the next few years than it has in the past few. But more than likely, many people will stay—those with no means and few obvious prospects elsewhere, those with close family ties nearby, some number of young professionals and creative types looking to take advantage of the city’s low housing prices.”

‘How the Crash Will Reshape America’ by Richard Florida, The Atlantic Magazine


Farwell Building by Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre Photography.

So I see a story pop up in the New York Times about a $100 dollar house and ‘Detroit Unreal Estate Agency’.

Over at PSFK they’re asking if Detroit is “the next Berlin”.

You might be wondering where the racoons come in?

Well, there’s a 69 year-old blues musician called Glemie Dell Beasley living over on the west-side.

He sells raccoons for $15 each, or 2 for $25 – cleaned, skinned and wrapped in plastic grocery bags. Meat for a Southern country dish.

Detroitblogger John – House of Blues by metrotimes on YouTube.

Just one story behind the rusted face of this vast city.

On the surface of it, the soothsayers appear to be right. Artists have entered the home of motors and Motown.

A fleet of doors will open up shop floors long since abandoned by the daily grime of industry. Joyless theatres. Peopleless hotels.

Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre explored those spaces, and many others, in the series featured here (‘The ruins of Detroit’).


Ballroom, Lee Plaza Hotel by Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre Photography.

There is an epic grandeur to this vision. In the photographers’ words, we can witness the “remnants of the passing of a great civilization”. Stunning.

But I can’t look at images of Detroit without a soundtrack in my mind. Styles of soul, rock and techno that were distinctly their own. A cycle of birth and rebirth with pain, heart and expression.


United Artists Theater by Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre Photography.

To an outsiders’ eyes (my two included), Detroit is decaying. Fragile and beautiful.

To Glemie Dell Beasley, it must be that some things don’t change.

Can’t help but hope this city survives. And lives to tell its stories.

More on Detroit:

– Thick slices of Motor City life on detroit blog.

– Art and DIY crafts at Hand Made Detroit.

– Punk attitude and the new indie scene at Detour.

– Bike-and-pedestrian lanes: a less auto-dependent future?

– The sad sight of Detroit’s vandalised schools.

– Sweet Juniper’s Detroit collection on Flickr.

It’s Friday Night: FIGHT!

DISCLAIMER: This website does not endorse fighting.

Unless it’s comically unrealistic and/or in a zero budget 80s exploitation flick.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

And before anyone cries out “These fights aren’t racially representative! And where’s the wheelchair access?” – here’s the fight for you. It’s spectacular:

Ads & Obama: New Low

After Pepsi’s piggybacking I thought the worst was over. I was wrong. So wrong.


Duet Ice Cream: Obama by Ravoshod (Russia) via Ads of the World.

Click the image if you want to see this larger. But I hope you get the picture.

This ad is rolling around in a whole new nadir. Low low low.

Can’t believe ice cream has got so tasteless these days. Fat kids and the freshly-dumped will have even more to cry about. How cruel.


Pepsi steal Obama’s logo. Or vice-versa?

Searching for the Perfect Loop

It’s simple. It’s short. It moves. Is it back?


Best Friends by Christopher Smith.

It never technically went away. And maybe advertising gives me a blinkered view of the animated GIF.

It’s generally talked about as back-up – the low-fi/ if-all-else-fails option.

(I’m neither a designer nor a Flash animator, so tell me if this is baloney or codswallop.)

But could it be true? Has the animated GIF looped back around already?


Animation from Hipster Nascar by [Unknown].

I’ve seen some impressive, artistic animations in the last few months. But maybe I’ve just been looking more closely. Got a sweet tooth for 8-bit stylings and the perfect loop.

So now everyone’s throwing themselves into Twitter and getting all over microblogs, what about micromotion?

Where can I go to watch these pithy bits of visual play?

Is there a GIF underground?

I’ll kick this off and say that Loopable is one of the best GIF blogs I’ve found. (UPDATE: just found Sweet GIFs on TrendLand and the selections there are reeeal strong.)

But disagree to hell with me if you want – I’m just curious.

And I get the feeling that renewed love might show there’s more to this little format than meets the eye.

The Art of Marclay

Can I tempt you with unwanted sound and the ragtag bits that are left behind?

Christian Marclay mini documentary by gmooney on YouTube.

I’ve not seen or heard anything quite like Christian Marclay.

Before hip-hop started cutting-and-scratching-scratching-and-cutting, he was using the turntable as an instrument.

Gestures, by Christian Marclay by louis on Vimeo.

When the 90s broke out, he took on pop and sex with the Body Mixes series.

(Anyone still concerned that Dye Holloway Murray stole Sleeveface might want to take a long hard look at the image of Jacko below.)


Footstompin’ , by Christian Marclay by brennheit bakst on Flickr.

“I was just using what was there and reacting to culture and my environment. If you watch MTV it’s all about sex. It’s how they can keep people watching. You can’t be a successful pop star without being overtly sexual on screen.”

I don’t know how he’d feel about the Caramel Bunny. But they’ve both still got it.

AV performance? Multiscreen sound and image remixes?

As predictably as Dwain Chambers gets no redemption, Marclay did the business:

Video Quartet, by Christian Marclay by louis on Vimeo.

I’d love to know what this man’s got planned. You’ll get short odds that advertising will steal and sanitize it.

Sometime around 2019.

(Thanks to Zamir for the hot tip.)

External links:

Christian Marclay profile by White Cube.

Interview with the Journal of Contemporary Art.

mp3 interview/ performance at Some Assembly Required.

LPS @ Canford School


Zan Lyons rehearsing at Canford School.

London Poetry Systems on the road last week. Although teaching in name, it was more a learner than anything else.

Thanks to the kids at Canford School for their energy and ideas. I hope we helped with some shape and can’t wait to see the results on the 17th/ 18th.

Since I last wrote about this project Codeshift has kicked off an exceptional podcast to showcase his trademark sonic collage.

The Vimeo group, as ever, welcomes all contributions and collaborations.

And finally, hats off to Zan Lyons for his performance on Friday. Astonishing and outright unique, as I can only imagine the album will be once it’s released.

Zan Lyons Live at London Astoria 2008 by thisisourpunkrock on YouTube.