Where Have You Been?

This blog isn’t dead. It’s just got a limp.

I’ve been struck down by a glut of work, a flat move and the inveterate ‘no internet’ problem (which may or may not be resolved soon – I can’t tell if Virgin Media are serious or jus’ playin’).

A more important question: where are you going?

Here are some ideas if you’re in London this weekend.

Friday Night – Hayward Gallery (FREE)

According to @LDN, the Hayward Gallery‘s current exhibition – Walking In My Mind – is free tonight at the Southbank Centre (normally £10).

Walking In My Mind at the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre: Exclusive on YouTube.

If you’ve been anywhere near the Southbank lately you won’t have missed a plethora of polka dots – courtesy of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.

She’s one of the exhibitors offering a glimpse into the inner workings of her imagination through “immersive, large-scale installation art”.

Walking In My Mind at the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre: Tour and Interviews on YouTube.

Saturday Night – Sambatralia @ The Egg (£10 with flyer)

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I’ll be at The Egg on Saturday night – VJing all night with the Jungle Drums Sambatralia crew and Movimientos.

Beach, palm trees, a voyage through the video vaults of Latin America…? In the words of Diplo, Lesss gooooo!

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Sunday Afternoon – Dominoes 09, East London (FREE)

The highlight of the CREATE09 arts festival is happening across East London on Sunday – all the way from Mile End to Greenwich.

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Turn up at 3.30pm if you want to see the start of Dominoes 2009.

Thousands of breezeblocks tumbling across town…

Geek aside: the Dominoes 2009 website has a couple of teaser videos – the images above are screengrabs. But the organisers seem to have made a point of not letting you embed or share the clips, as the file names showed:

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So whatever you do – DON’T tell anyone about this event.

It would obviously be a disaster if people knew about it.

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One Night in Beijing

Canon EOS5DmkII, One night in Beijing by Dan Chung on Vimeo.

Stunning short by Guardian photographer Dan Chung.

Shot on a Canon EOS5DmkII.

Insult Jonathan from Spotify

Maybe it’s juvenile. Maybe it’s crowdsourced cyber-bullying.

But dang. It’s funny. Jonathan from Spotified Ruined your Playlist.

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FYI – if you don’t have the spare time or inclination to insult Jonathan from Spotify, you might want to ‘change up’ instead.

We have Spotify on at work but for my money Blip.fm is the winner.

More crowdsourced emotions:

Twistori: how do you feel?

We Feel Fine: but it’s ‘complicated’

– Wouldn’t life be better if there was an app for that?

The Language of Fried Chicken

Chicken: High Art, Low Calorie is a fresh (or at least still warm) project by Siâron Hughes, showcasing the graphic vernacular of fried chicken vendors in the UK.

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Image cred: Mark Batty Publisher.

Hughes, a talented designer and illustrator, did not stop at cataloguing the star-spangled array of signage.

She also interviewed the people behind brands such as Perfect Fried Chicken and Hen Cottage, most notably Morris ‘Mr Chicken’ Cassanova – who claims to be responsible for “90% of the logos that’s been used out there now”.

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Image cred: Mark Batty Publisher.

The interview excerpts on Creative Review are juicy and occasionally mysterious:

1. On Origins

“A lot of people who were franchisees say from Kentucky Fried Chicken or something like that, maybe were feeling the squeeze. They feel as though they were working for Kentucky Fried Chicken and y’know Kentucky is so strict, whatever they says goes.”

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Image cred: Mark Batty Publisher.

2. On America

“In the past Kentucky usually have a little logo, a little slogan, “American Recipe”… Because they try to pull the wool over people’s eyes, you get your Dallas, it’s American, you get your California, it’s American, you get your Mississippi it’s American …”

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Image cred: Mark Batty Publisher.

3. On Logos

“People see them and try to change them around a little bit, and you will see somewhere along the line somebody will have something looking similar to that. It’s not all about the bits and pieces that goes with it, they will automatically try to copy it.”

KFC is still ahead of McDonald’s as the USA’s largest purchaser of chicken (says this site). McD’s have a diverse menu but chicken was never the main attraction.

The Chicken McNugget hit the market in 1983 and only after the McChicken sandwich bombed before it.

The Wire Season 1 – McNuggets by pushmedia1 on YouTube.

Much as I like D’Angelo’s parable in The Wire, it doesn’t seem quite true of the Golden Arched take on product innovation.

The Fillet-O-Fish and Egg McMuffin were both created by enterprising francisees. Herb Patterson broke corporate rank to start serving the McMuffin in McDonald’s Santa Barbara before it was an official item on the franchise menu.

But getting back to chicken.

Chicken is chicken.

And the Kentucky Fried Chicken brand is chicken. Plus ‘American recipe’.

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Image cred: Creative Review.

What strikes me from the interviews and anecdotes is that KFC weren’t hot on UK franchises trying to innovate – as Mr Cassanova said, “y’know Kentucky is so strict, whatever they says goes”.

If you worked for KFC and wanted to invent, you might have to leave and start your own business – and you might feel you needed to copy key elements of the brand to do it successfully.

So what do you call your new place – that fresh-minted copy of a copy, with new items on the menu?

“Perfect Fried Chicken. Because you can’t be Better Than Perfect Fried Chicken”.

Damn.

Maybe each new chicken joint should just take their founder’s name, like one round my way – Al Ikhwan Fried Chicken.

Or maybe someone should speak to a copywriter.

Previous logo design:

Remixing logos: Luis Vuitton sues charity campaign.

– Designer money: India crowdsources logo for the Rupee.

– How can you find your eggs in the morning? Tropicana vanishes.

Name the Price: Kind of Bloop

If you played computer games at some point in the 80s, the early 90s, or for one single candy-fuelled session that engulfed the best years of your childhood  – you might like the sound of this. Yes you might.

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Image cred: Kickstarter.

Andy Baio, of Waxy.org and web heroism fame, is looking to orchestrate an 8-bit re-recording on Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue.

Judging from the 8-bit Hip Hop Medley and Ocarina of Rhyme (!) tunes that were passing around a few months back, this project could yield an album that sounds pretty sweet (in small doses).

PAX 2008 : Chiptunes on Pike Street by nmhull on Vimeo.

Is this all just a global excuse to create hip retro websites and low-fi graphics?

Indonesian Chiptunes @ Urbanfest 2008 by vish on Vimeo.

Could it go the ugly way of autotune?

Auto-Tune the News #2: pirates. drugs. gay marriage. by schmoyohoon YouTube.

We could sit and speculate all day.

But if you like the idea of an 8-bit Kind of Blue, you can pay to hear the results.

That’s the model used on Kickstarter (another Andy Baio project).

Come up with an idea, see if people will fund it.

Kickstarter

In Baio’s words, Kickstarter is:

“…a site that lets other people pre-order your dreams — an easy way to get the people you know to fund your ideas into reality.”

264 people have pledged $5,555 to make Kind of Bloop a reality, and there are still 67 days to go [at the time of writing].

Now how’s that for some smart, efficient economics?

Google Run (2nd?) TV Spot

So what do you make of it?

Google Chrome, Japan by Google on YouTube [via AdWeek].

Strikes me as pitching somewhere between the understatement of Common Craft (who have been commissioned by Google in the past) …

Twitter in Plain English by leelefever on Vimeo.

… and the advertising/ embellishment, for example, of 3’s Ridiculously Easy Email by glue London (you can read a discussion of this spot at ViralBlog):

3’s Ridiculously Easy Email by tookie084 on YouTube.

I met a London-based Creative Director not that long ago who said the ‘instructional video’ would replace ‘advertising’.

Now that seems like too narrow a view for me.

All the spots featured here are for tech clients, explaining either new technology or unfamiliar interface.

But beyond that, there’s clearly an ‘advertising’ way to do the instructional.

And further beyond – there’s a question:

How many websites, browsers or mobile phones needed this kind of instructional video 3 years ago? 5 years ago?

What’s changed?

The Hand that Fames You

So Bren over at M&C told me about the new Pot Noodle ads.

“Flight of the Conchords rip-off” were his words.

You can be the judge of that:

Pot Noodle Advert – Moussaka Rap by R3SPAWNS on YouTube.

Pot Noodle advert – Doner Kebab version by IverHealth on YouTube.

Do we have another Booshgate on our hands? A theft of honey monstrosity?

Facebook Fans have been up in arms. Perhaps you, like Lauren, “just thought it was me thinking it until others agreed!”

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Is it now fair game to rip-off the style of popular comedians, entertainers, celebrities?

Don’t those same celebs rip-off consumer culture and sponsorships?

Wasn’t it simpler when famos would prance around like a**holes – “against type”?

The Observer Sport Monthly reminded me of this “endorsement” gem:

Chicken Tonight Commercial (Ian Wright) by mrsimonukalt on YouTube.

Even the 21st century has its “against type” celebrity endorsements.

For anyone who hasn’t seen it – here’s Iggy “Lust for Life” Pop getting wired on respectably-priced insurance.

Swiftcover Iggy Pop Commercial by phatfubble on YouTube.

[Iggy, incidentally, couldn’t hold a Swiftcover insurance policy on account of his being a musician. But don’t let that prejudice your answer to the next question.]

So which is worse –

Embracing the hand that feeds you

Or waiting until it bites your style?

Previous ad controversy:

The Mighty Boosh vs. Sugar Puffs – Crimp Off

Fauxbama campaigns turn racist

Tropicana packaging: Is it all over Arnell?

“Adverts make things look bigger” scandal

11 Tweets Worth Blogging About

So blogging is dead again. But I think this one’s still got a pulse. Hello readers! +3,000 of you last month – thanks y’all.

That said, I’m Tweeting more than blogging now. Which will come as a massive yawn to anyone who follows ‘the internet’.

For the less geeky – there’s a 60% chance you signed up to Twitter then quit.

Too complex? Too hyper? Too pointless? Bored now Stephen Fry’s out of that lift?

If you struggled, or you’re just finding your way, here are 11 great Twitterers I follow – and the main reasons why:

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@undrln – “highlights from the world of advertising, marketing and design”

WHY? Most rated scoops from the undrln social bookmarking site. Diverse. Punchy. To the point.

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@DAVID_LYNCH / David Lynch – “Filmmaker. Born Missoula, MT. Eagle Scout.”

WHY? The LA weather reports. And he writes like Special Agent Dale Cooper talking into his dictaphone.

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@bigspaceship / Big Spaceship – “Twitter feed of digital creative agency Big Spaceship, curated by Founder/CEO Michael Lebowitz”

WHY? Shares and insights from NY’s (and the world’s?) most creative digital production shop.

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@PSFK / Piers Fawkes – “Ideas & Trends Site PSFK’s Tweets: Inspiration To Make Things Better”

WHY? Highlights from PSFK HQ can’t eclipse Piers’ solo digging. He pulls out some gems, and pulls no punches on adland hypocrites.

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@QtipTheAbstract / Q Tip – “The Renaissance, TWEETS IS WATCHING!”

WHY? Unlike many musicians on Twitter, Q Tip has interests beyond the pale of his own PR. Love his YouTube soul treats – a great sharer.

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@lessig / Lessig – “law prof, reformer.”

WHY? The enfant terrible of copyright law is a font of knowledge for digital artists. A master of the short-form, and responsive to his followers. He “gets it”.

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@iaintait / Iain Tait – “Work: Creative Director at Poke in London. Live: Brighton. Likes: Good things. Hates: Evil.”

WHY? Pound-for-pound the best ad man on Twitter. Boundless curiosity. Every bit as active and innovative as he is friendly and engaging.

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@hipsterrunoff – “Hipster Runoff is a blog worth blogging about.”

WHY? Ironic post-ironic quips from the poster boy of “Am Appy” sponsored mp3 blogs. Plain funny. An indie meta-Twit.

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@brainpicker / Maria Popova – “Digital anthropologist, curator of culture and semi-secret geek obsessed with brilliant ideas, data viz, smart design, sustainability, good music and TED”

WHY? I wonder when Maria sleeps. Slaves relentlessly to share and connect a wealth of A-grade art, technology, consumer and eco ideas.

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@BBHLabs / BBHLabs – “Marketing Skunkworks: new models for marketing, new models for creative businesses (@malbonnington @melex @glickglick)”

WHY? Ample accompaniment to their sterling blog. Rigorous research and rich, dense presentation – full academic-style accreditation always in place. Respect.

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@thefader / The FADER

WHY? Got real tired of Resident Advisor’s spammy Twit dumps. FADER pace it right. They parlay with their artists. Link to free downloads. Constant quality.

BONUS To complete a dirty dozen, here are my details:

@guybingley / Guy Bingley – “Harmless amateur”

[A Note of Caution: I’m no substitute for any of the starting 11 in this list.]

Kehinde Wiley: Ghetto Grandeur

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All image cred: SuperTouch.

Spotted this fresh series by Kehinde Wiley on SuperTouch.

If you live in LA you can catch Wiley’s exhibition, The World Stage – Brazil, at Roberts & Tilton Gallery.

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Wiley got his favela models to recreate the poses of key statues in the city.

In assuming the role the of the western colonizer, they challenge their status as socially invisible – so he explains:

Kehinde Wiley – The World Stage by PGrizzy on YouTube.

I found it strange there were no women in this series, but the artist has a logic:

“By enlarge, the absence of women is the normal state within the history of art. The reasons having to do with misogyny, empire, construction of power – being the sole territory of powerful men.”

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The detail on these paintings is spectacular. Get in up-close on the website and you’ll see how grandiose they are.

As hyperrealism goes, they deliver loud and clear. It’s like the opposite of, and complement to, JR’s industrialised photocopies of black and white photo-portraits.

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Previous favela:

– Diplo’s first feature film: Favela on Blast.

JR’s Women Are Heroes: the other face of ghetto grandeur.

Craft, England and Codpieces

You need not see what someone is doing

to know if it is his vocation,

you have only to watch his eyes:

a cook mixing a sauce, a surgeon

making a primary incision,

a clerk completing a bill of lading,

wear the same rapt expression,

forgetting themselves in a function.

“Sext” (1954) by W.H. Auden.

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Tailored by England murals on Great Eastern St, London.

I think the gentlemen and gentlewomen at Umbro have hit on something. Their new England shirt has certainly garnered attention.

This little island was once a hub of craft and industry. By delivering “The right shirt at the right time”, Umbro have collared an inconvenient truth:

We stopped crafting – and started outsourcing.

That “rapt expression” of which Auden speaks disappeared from the face of the nation. And I couldn’t agree more with Umbro’s strapline – this is the right time to look back, and move forward.

New England Shirt – The Making of by umbro on YouTube.

A few weeks ago two Brits clashed in a game of Layer Tennis (massive props to Coudal Partners, the broadcasters and creators of the event).

What emerged from this riveting rally? For one thing, both Rex Crowle and Simon Cook were obsessed with… things.

We see “things” that are British every day. We use those things too. We may even keep them in our codpiece.

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Layer 6 by Rex Crowle on Layer Tennis.

Somewhere in the twilight of late capitalism, we lost sight of those items on our kitchen table. The necessaries in our chest of drawers.

Cookie does a wonderful job of reviving that joy of craft and “things” at his blog, Made in England by Gentlemen – go check it out.

It was there, to bring this little ramble to an end, that I discovered his apt fondness for the work of Hwa Young Jung.

In her words:

“…if you’re English these are things you might have grown up with & therefore you feel is insignificant. They are new and fascinating to me.”

Fingers crossed, as they say, that fascination can return for English folks too.

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Tetley by hwayoungjung on Flickr.