This week The Atlantic writer Ta-Nehisi Coates raised the bar yet again with his thorough examination of America post-slavery and the damage that can’t be undone. Coates has been my main reason for subscribing to The Atlantic ever since reading his “Fear of a Black President" article in 2012. From his breeziest of blog posts to in-depth reporting like this, he writes in way that leaves me better informed without the guilt for not having thought about race as deeply as he has. My ignorance isn’t willful. The way he writes seems to acknowledge as much, as if to assure me, "That’s okay that you didn’t know. But now you do."
Admittedly, I haven’t fully read “The Case for Reparations” yet. I added it to Instapaper right away so I could start to read it on my phone, but reading it that way seemed inadequate (albeit convenient). Then I started to on my laptop — and I happen to think the desktop experience is the most beautiful and rewarding way to read this 10-part story — but I couldn’t keep myself from scrolling and skimming, until finding that the embedded video is Flash, which my computer can’t play. My print issue just arrived by mail, but seeing all those words crammed into a tight, text-heavy layout seemed less than inviting after seeing how beautiful it looks online. I’m eager to settle in and get to reading, if only I could make up my mind about how I want to do it. (Notice I didn’t mention reading it on the iPad, which I’m sure is quite nice in the Atlantic app, except that I never feel like reading on my iPad anymore). In the end, it’s going to be some combination of all of the above, and repeatedly.
Happy to share some of my own “fresh” work: co-author Juliette Cezzar and I have a book out called Designing the Editorial Experience. Check out our website at editorialexperience.com.
Also read an interview we did with Khoi Vinh on Subtraction.com and some kind words by David Sleight, who’s interviewed in the book. More exciting developments coming soon…
To our neighbors:
What a beautiful fall! Everything shimmering and golden and all that incredible soft light. Water surrounding us.
Lou and I have spent a lot of time here in the past few years, and even though we’re city people this is our spiritual home.
Last week I promised Lou to get him out of the hospital and come home to Springs. And we made it!
Lou was a tai chi master and spent his last days here being happy and dazzled by the beauty and power and softness of nature. He died on Sunday morning looking at the trees and doing the famous 21 form of tai chi with just his musician hands moving through the air.
Lou was a prince and a fighter and I know his songs of the pain and beauty in the world will fill many people with the incredible joy he felt for life. Long live the beauty that comes down and through and onto all of us.
— Laurie Anderson, his loving wife and eternal friend
Chris Rehberger’s Double Standards agency has designed a hefty, beautiful book of substance for the Red Bull Music Academy. For the Record was conceived as a way to honor 15 years of RBMA, one of the most praiseworthy music initiatives around. Having worked with them this past spring on the New York edition of the Academy, I can say that the RBMA crew—led by Many Ameri and Torsten Schmidt—has the utmost respect for the artists it engages with and the fans and fellow musicians who benefit from these recording sessions and conversations. The contents of the book center on 15 such conversations, with original artwork by Rehberger and essays by some of the smartest, most accessible music writers in the biz. Cannot wait to get my hands on it.
For The Record features personalities like Nile Rodgers, Erykah Badu, DJ Harvey, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Just Blaze in conversation with their peers. The 15 talks took place around the world in locations such as Amsterdam, Paris, New York and Berlin. Wide-ranging and expansive, the artists involved touched on an array of topics, live performance, instruments/interfaces, conceptualism, drumming, and rhythm among them.
In addition to the conversations, top music journalists – including Philip Sherburne, Joe Muggs, Jeff ‘Chairman’ Mao and Sheryl Garratt – contribute essays about each of the personalities included.
Here’s the full list of pairings: - João Barbosa x Kalaf Ângelo x Mulatu Astatke - Bernard Purdie x Jaki Liebezeit - Martyn Ware x Nile Rodgers - Kerri Chandler x Patrick Adams - Gareth Jones x Metro Area - Carsten Nicolai x Olaf Bender x Uwe Schmidt - Benny Ill x Moritz von Oswald - Lee “Scratch” Perry x Adrian Sherwood - Matias Aguayo x Sly & Robbie - DJ Harvey x Ben UFO - Cosey Fanni Tutti x Nik Void - Modeselektor x Mykki Blanco - Erykah Badu x The Underachievers - Just Blaze x Paul Riser - Robert Henke x Tom Oberheim
More info at Gestalten.
Everyone with a cell phone or who drives at any time should see this Werner Herzog–directed short documentary, From One Second to the Next, for the campaign It Can Wait — an effective public service announcement if ever there was one about the devastation that texting while driving can cause. It was created by BBDO New York for AT&T, in partnership with the other major U.S. mobile service providers Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Interviewing survivors, their families, and, in some cases, their perpetrators, Herzog leaves no room for ambiguity around the subject. He’s a powerful filmmaker who puts the living fear in its audience without having to resort to over-manipulation. He lets his subjects tell their stories, and in doing so, lets the viewer reach the right conclusion: There’s never a time when it’s OK to take your eyes off the road, and definitely not for the amount of time it takes to read or send a text message. Even one as brief as “I love you.”
In part the film is so chilling because everyone who drives has done it at one time or another. If not to text, then maybe to look for toll money or futz with the music that’s playing. Even if texting isn’t my vice, I’ve been guilty of reaching for a mix tape or skipping a song on my iPod, looking away from the only place where my concentration should be, just to have something better to listen to. There’s no difference.
And I should know better, too. From the moment I started driving my father taught me that when you’re behind wheel, you have only one job: to drive and pay attention to what’s happening on the road. Why is it so hard to always remember that? One thing’s sure, I won’t be forgetting the people from this film any time soon.
Here are the full credits:
Client: AT&T Agency: BBDO New York Chief Creative Officer: David Lubars Executive Creative Director: Erik Fahrenkopf Executive Creative Director: LP Tremblay CD/Copywriter: Peter Albores CD/Art Director: Hunter Fine Group Executive Producer: Julie Collins Producer: George Sholley Executive Music Producer: Melissa Chester
Production Company: Saville Productions Executive Producer: Rupert Maconick Line Producer: Cliff Schumacher Director: Werner Herzog Director of Photography: Peter Zeitlinger
Music Composer: Mark Degli Antoni
Edit House: Rock Paper Scissors Executive Producer: Eve Kornblum Producer: Melanie Gagliano Producer: Toby Louie Editor: Biff Butler
Visual Effects House: Company 3 Colorist: Stefan Sonnenfeld
Audio: POP Sound Audio Engineer: Zac Fisher Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan
The music video “Problem Areas” for Oneohtrix Point Never (aka Daniel Lopatin) travels through a world of artist Takeshi Murata's creation — a superficial, synthetic place that's both sterile and inhabited, and slightly tweaked like the comedown of an acid trip. Panning through a series of still, hyperreal CGI compositions in a voyeuristic way, the camera takes in scenes of objects that seem random and deliberate. Mixing ephemera — VHS tapes, a cracked iPhone, a model ship built inside a plastic Gatorade bottle — and 3-D imaging techniques, Murata evokes the past, present and future all at once.
Either digitally rendered or appropriated from stock images the artist found online, the objects shown in the prints evoke the remains of a long night of partying—a stack of prescription pills, a half-empty plastic cup of white wine, a fallen chessboard. Lighting effects, such as shadows cast from unseen window blinds, enhance the illusionistic quality of these scenes, which have an uncanniness to them-like sets from a movie you saw but only vaguely remember, or images from a dream.
Made with a combination of rendering/CG software, though he’d rather not give program names (“Using new technology you can kind of get put into this technological artist category, which I don’t want to be put into at all, even though I am using new technology and new tools.”), the still lifes are arrangements of everyday objects, some presented in great detail and others stripped of their context. … To create these prints, he uses the computer to set up a virtual 3D environment, modeling each element, or purchasing them pre-made from an online render mall. Then, just as a photographer would in a studio, he lights the space with virtual lights and photographs it with a virtual camera. From there, they are printed like ordinary digital photographs.
Murata, who was born in Chicago, currently lives in Saugerties, New York. For more of his video work, see this interview by the Creators Project.
I love the “Who Made That?” column in the New York Times Magazine, and am delighted to find out who made that… or rather, who came up with the idea for the column and design of it: Hilary Greenbaum. A little late to this discovery, but it’s also nice to see that the 6th Floor blog gave her credit last month when editor Hugo Lindgren dedicated an entire issue to it.
Finally, here’s the motherlode: a reverse chronological archive of every “Who Made That?” column. So much to love.
Crispin Porter & Bogusky’s Facebook ad for Grey Poupon holds the mustard in favor of a pro-gay rights message. It’s not as though the Kraft-owned brand is taking an enormous risk in doing it — this isn’t all-American yellow mustard we’re talking about, it’s the fancy French Dijon variety — but the message of solidarity is expressed with taste. It matters not only because it’s Pride Month, but because the nation is waiting to learn the Supreme Court’s ruling on two same-sex marriage cases, which will have repercussions well beyond June.
I’m not counting on SCOTUS to show nearly as much class.
The original “Pardon Me” spot has had an incredible lifespan. And it’s always been especially significant for me — I didn’t just grow up watching it on TV, but had a family connection to it, too. My mom’s cousin Steve art directed it, and so we would always be excited whenever it came on (admittedly, at that age I was way more into ketchup… Heinz ketchup). It was part of my very gradually becoming aware that the media I consumed didn’t emerge out of thin air but was created by people — creative people. Even people that I knew.
I found this great interview with Steve Kaplan by The One Club, in which he describes the origin of the idea and collaborating with copywriter Larry Elegant:
It was a pure art director/writer concept where one person throws out the pearl and everything starts to build around that. It’s about the relationship, and that’s key in the agency business. When you’re fortunate enough to be working with someone who’s compatible in certain ways, it makes a hell of a difference in terms of what you can produce.
Here’s a still of the original mustard hand-off:
And here’s the original TV spot:
Updated 6/26/13: A historic day as U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional! Hell, yes.