I'm currently documenting with a greater frequency over here rather than here.
Just so you know.
this is helpful | Let's Be Human Beings
[about]Ongoing documentation of thoughts by Ted.
The Artist is Present
An extraordinary simple performance/ art work by Marina Abramović. Producing some extraordinary reactions, pure, simple, human reactions. A work that is real and immediate, rather than purely representitive of emotions and narrative.
"You can not be put in a space with another body and not feel a response" Wayne McGregor
The Brand is Present
I took part in a workshop with young people regarding their use of online help services recently. What was fascinating was that this generation have grown up in such an immediate environment that they now see no incentive to engage with a service unless it's responce will be immediate. Waiting hours for a reply via email isn't an attractive proposition when they can go to Google or Yahoo Answers to get the information they are looking for straight away.
This demand for immediacy is leading to many online retailers adding 'live chat' services to their online presence. Brands are being rewarded/forced to become 'present'. To be less of a representational image of their identity, and to be a real world presence instead.
The Behaviour is Present
Our health is directly effected by our behaviours. But our behaviours aren't always as good as they should be. Good behaviours can easily fall into the background, whilst more attractive bad ones take the foreground. Keeping the good behaviour top of mind, and in the present it's an area that is starting to be experimented in by projects such as a text message systems for diabetics.
Keeping good behaviours in the present is a key endeavour if we are to increasingly convert interventions to habbits.
Luther, Series 3, Episode 2. Tough nut Glasgow cop George Stark has just broken into Luther's gaff in his ongoing quest to stitch Luther up for as much as he can find on him. After having a pop at Luther's wardrobe of repeatable identikit 'Luther Look Uniform' he picks up a book to find that Luther has been busy with his highlighter pens. Interesting he thinks, he could learn a lot about Luther from what he underlines. For what we underline tends to be a very close reflection of our own view on the world, when we find things that confirm that view we look to qualify them by distinguishing them from everything else. Clever stuff DSU Stark.
We are fast approaching the point of peak ignorance. A point when the inevitability of our actions on the planet will be so obvious and that there consequences are so unarguable the only explanation for none action/continuing on the same path will be knowing ignorance. Peak ignorance is made of three distinct strands.
Hedonism is the idea that all people have the right to do everything in their power to achieve the greatest amount of pleasure possible to them (wikipedia). A hedonistic person lives entirely for the joy of the moment.
If we look around us we can see clear evidence of lives lived for the moment. Public attention is increasingly focused on very near futures: businesses live in terror of the bottom line and the quarterly results, while politicians quake at tomorrow's opinion polls and formulate policy in terms of them. Our personal lives are filled with increasingly hedonistic events where we leave far more than just footprints.
We're living like there is no tomorrow. We've heard tales of farmers planting olive trees or vineyards for their grandchildren to harvest, or of foresters cultivating groves of oaks to replace a chapel roof hundreds of years in the future, but by and large, we don't do that anymore*.
We have less active engagement with our future than our ancestors did*.
Human understanding increases with time, this is a given. What is unique about this particular time is that 'we now know what we don't know'. That is rather than what we don't know being an unimagined, unspoken and hence unexistant concept (such as the fact that the earth is round when it was thought to be flat) we now know the existance of missing facts and concepts, just not the detail of them (for example what dark matter actually is).
We now have the charts that very clearly illustrate to us what is happening around us. Charts like the story of world population growth. Understanding is no longer the domain of academics and scholars, it is now the domain of us all.
We have all the tools we need at our disposal, and if not we are quite capable of inventing them. We don't need these tools though as the changes we need to see are largely, if not entirely, behavioural. With every meeting of global leaders that passes with little commitment or true leadership we're collectively resigning ourselves to our own fate. The actions that we do take such as Carbon Capture initatives have proven to be ineffective and largely based in a desire to cleanse our conscience. An irony given the importance we put on effectiveness in all other ventures of human activity.
We increasingly put our faith in technology as the single most effective tool we know whilst not accepting that technology has no sense of moral judgment. Moore's law has now been set in motion, and there's very little we can do the cease that motion and everything, both good and bad, it brings us in turn.
Like any hill that is being climbed the decent is always out of view until you reach the apex of the climb. The hope would be that in reaching peak ignorance we will for the first time see the road that lies in front of us and be moved to action. A tipping point will be achieved. A combination of personal disgust and frustration at lack of human leadership will drive us to a collective breaking point. And in that breaking point are likely to lie the seeds of solution.
Prologue i: Shakespeare's Othello
Let's begin with trust. To a sceptical 15-year-old schoolboy, Othello seems a gullible fool. Yet his duping does make sense once it is understood that he is a 'military orphan' whose moral code is derived entirely from his military upbringing within a culture which is based on trust; for trust is the basis of all soldiering. Othello has every reason to trust Lago implicitly. Betrayal is the most heinous of military sins so it is the last to be suspected.
Jonthan Shaw on Othello from a military perspective. April 2013
Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise.
Thomas Gray. Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College. 1742.
I first got the idea after seeing James's twitter feed being taken over a while ago, atleast I assumed it had been taken over. Whilst the relentless broadcast of back to back tweets seemed adverse to the spirit of twitter and more in the world of spam, I liked the rythem of it. The way long sentences were followed by single words. It reminded me of Robin Sloan's fish app again, that slowing down of cognitive digestion that I was exploring with Switch To Manual.
I wanted to mix this with the consistency stuff I've been thinking about lately.
So got to thinking about a twitter feed I could put out just once a week, on a very rigid set schedule. And that that feed could simply be a digest of some interesting wisdom I'd learnt in the past seven days (as a kind of extension to Wisdom Tooth). Which would in turn force me to rethink what I'd leant from that wisdom, and how best to re-tell it to other.
And that's it in short. I'm toying with the idea of splitting it into a 3pm feed and 7pm feed, I've never really seen twitter accounts that are fragmented by their frequency rather than subject matter, I think that could be interesting. I'm also hoping to experiment with the amounts of content and in what kind of rythems (sentences/ words/ all captials/ punctuation etc) to test what holds peoples attention to best, and what just becomes intrusive.
You can follow those experients here @WisdomBlitz
Consistency is good in our age of ambiguity. Children like consistency, it's good for them. As it is for teenagers. And adults. Run Dem Crew is a very simple proposition, they meet every Tuesday at 7pm to socialise and run. Every Tuesday at 7pm for the last five years or so, a consistency its crew can rely on. And it's worked, for small begginings now up to 200 runners join the crew every week.
RDC's international friends New York Bridge Runners subscribe to a similar consitency formular. There's is every Wednesday at 7pm.
And this is a bell I spotted in Itsu last week. It gets rung everyday half an hour before closing, signaling that fact that everything is now half price. Every day, consistently, becoming something you can rely on, becoming an event, and a ritual.
I've written about nudges before, and how they can help us actively choose to do the right thing, or safe thing. Or how they can do something so grande as 'unlock our better value through creativity'. Most of the stuff I've ever seen on nudges has been about individuals however. None of it is about how nudges can make business or government behave better.
So I've made some stickers to do just that. Reminders to the high street banks as to their moral obligagtions to society. You can read more about them, why I made them, and how you can use them yourself over here.
So I've recently enrolled to commence an MA in Service Design at the Royal College of Art. Previous home to Dyson, Heatherwick, Hockney and some others of note. There are a few reasons taking this decision which I thought I'd get written down, as much as a statement of intent for myself as anything else. Interstingly a significant amount of them regard stuff I've had floating and around in my head for a while now which I'll reference back to.
I've wriiten specifically about this before. And I've been trying to split the time I concentrate on commercial work with the time I spend on personal work for a year or so now. But one learning I've found from that is that I find it hard to draw out that concentration through personal projects. I tend to solve things conceptually, sometime build a working prototype, then park it up to start the next thing. I'm hoping that in spending two years studying at an institution like the RCA with a talented peer group and support staff I'll push my levels of concentration a lot further. I'll be due to put in a decent dissertation (possibly on informal economy or metamorphosis stuff) + show a major final project in the summer of 2015 as part of the highly regarded RCA Show so that alone is going to force me to get something a bit more rohbust out the door.
I recently joined a gym for the first time in my life (It's a great little gym and was designed by the chap that designed the Hacinenda, so I can pretend I'm raving in the 90's whilst excercising, a lot of the time I am raving). Anyway one thing I found while going to the gym was that I excercise far my more effectively if I join in a class or hang out with a personal trainer than I do if I do my own thing. I'm sure this is true for most people, it's that motivation thing, not wanting to let others down. Again something I've written about in the past. In short I see a move to the RCA as the move from training on my own to training with others, and I'm hoping the resulting output mightl be the same.
commas & punctuation
I've always liked commas, they lead to other things rather than just stopping things, like full stops do. And I've always thought a job description/obituary with lots of comas makes for an interesting read. So I'll be adding another coma to my own for the next couple of years, that of student. And adding a bit more punctation into my life.
a post digital career
I'm kind of getting bored of social media campaigns and digital comms now. I want to shift my positioning a step away from digital, whilst still drawing upon that experience. Get closer to business (the MA includes completing 15% of Imperial's MBA programme) and purpose. And hopefully get ambigious, sketch more, digest stuff, and hopefully fail a bit to.
the product is the service is the marketing
Finally I stole this off of Russell's recent blog post, a very timely piece of writing in my view. Again it is something that I've had in my head for a while and had some good discussions about with Asi about last year. One of the most astute observations I heard about innocent while i was there was that there success was simply down to 'taking a really good service industry mentality to the FMCG sector'. An increasing amount of the client work I was/am looking at regarded service, and it became more and more obvious that an investment in the quality of that service would inturn be a direct investment in the clients product (the bit they make thier money out of) and marketing (the bit that gets and keeps that money coming in). I'm of a strong belief that it's this bit of business that is going to see significant growth, is going to have a more than significant level of demand for it's associated skills, and probably most importantly is going to effect the society and world we live in to the most significant degree. I don't think it's going to easy though, it's very possible though as the GDS team have shown in their success with gov.uk. A lot of sectors are going to need to go through that same level of thinking, planning and heavy lifting to come out the other side better for it though. That's the bit I want to start getting good at.
So here's to being a student again for the first time in fifteen years.
Two things. The first the burny of an effigy of a drone in Yemen. As referenced by James Bridle in his New Aesthetic presentations as an example of an active challenge to technological progress, one that you'd think we should be seeing more of given some of the moral implications that progress raises. I personally see the rise of drone use as a crossing of a line into a world where a single authority cab become Judge, Jury & Executioner with little regard for otherwise upheld initernational laws. The fact that the process is taking place via unmanned technology seems to have blinkered us from the reality/morality of it all in the name of efficency and effectiveness.
The second a notice regularly displayed at band of the moment 'Savages' concerts (reminds me of this thing about having to actively tell people to be good human beings these days). Again something you'd imagine we should be seeing more of, or started seeing long ago. A band playing to a room of held aloft devices is no more inspiring for the band than it is those in the audience who aren't just there to watch the gig played back as a recording later. Or to prove to those in their network that they were there, in that moment, but at the same time divorcing themselves from that moment through Facebook and Apple's combined march to own and share part of that moment themselves.
The reasoning for putting both together? I suppose an illustration of a pendulum taking effect, a swing in the other direction. A friend recently told me of an overheard bus conversation between Hackney school kids where they talked of thier being "no point owning a smart phone as they only attracted muggings", and questioned the value of living their lives within social media in regards a realisation that their privacy was being vialated to a worrying degree. I kind of hope that our new 'digital native' generation will continue to embrace confrontations like this and not just accept the behaviours we embrassed often purely out of novelty alone.
It was recently reported that a millionaire British business man was jailed for selling bogus bomb detectors. The dectors were in fact golf ball finders costing £13 each, and then resold to the Iraq Government for £26,000 each. The conman claimed the detectors could find substances from airborne planes mile in the air, underwater, underground and through walls. All wild claims that it turned out were indeed too good to be true.
Sometimes the faith we put into technology can be worrying. As technology begins to solve increasingly sophisticated problems it's hard for us to tell which new claims are authentic and which are bogus. Our desire for solutions can often lead us to 'believe things into reality', and once that president has been set it's hard to turn back again. Part of me believes that advances in technology are going to be a major part of the solution to our growing problems, but part of me believes the more relient we become on systems, grids and data the more at major risk we'll be from a blind faith in things we want/need to be true.
Last night I went to see The Royal Ballet's Draft Works at ROH. And realised something I'd been thinking about the importance of sketching recently. That sketching is pretty critical to any artistic endeavour. The Draft Works performances approach is nicely summed up in this quote for resident choreographer Wayne McGregor.
Skecthing with dance
Sketching is an arristic practise most commonly associated with drawing, pencils and paper. If you watch the below Ted talk, again by Wayne McGregor, you'll see that the exact same principles of creation can be applied to dance. And then presented as working sketches as the Draft Works were.
Sketching with food
I've also recently come across the Cook It Raw food movement, which again shares a lot of the same principles as sketching. Although highly elitist, and slightly pretenitous, they have a decent set of guiding principles and vision. What I find most interesting about it is that the chefs are basically hacking with food; using what they have to hand, working collaboratively, inventing stuff fast, trying to solve problems.
Sketching with code
And finally the bounding thought for all this is Stef's thing of sketching with code. Hack. Play. Learn. And how cultural, and business, instituitions are now more and more embrassing hacking or sketching culture and methodologies.
The below chart shows just how fucked. It's pretty fucked though. The 'impossible' point of no return line is going to kick in soon, and to be a pessimist I think we're not clever/wise/selfless enough to avoid it.
Adapting to the very changes we're creating..
We are changing our environment faster than we can adapt to it. This is ultimately going to lead to a breaking point. And at that breaking point we'll probably be forced to metamorphosize.
What we know about metamorphosis from nature..
When we look at metamorphosis in nature one rule is true of all creatures, metamorphosis is switched on when the juvenile hormone reduces to a level where it is no longer present. Let's say for arguments sake that humanity is in it's juvenile stage at present. We're going through the difficult growth spurt. And let's say that this period may well come to an end, that our 'collective juvenile hormone' may reduce to a level where it is no longer present. Might this lead to our own metamorphosis?
Can creatures make a decision to metamorphosize?
We can see from these tadpoles that creatures are capable of making a 'decision' to metaphmorphosize. All be it in this case a subconcious decision, it is still based on reading signals from their direct environment on which choices will favour their very survival. Darwin stuff.
Are we reading the right signals?
From tadpoles to toads. 60's lab test put toads into bell jars in cheerfully coloured rooms and found that they're hardwired to eat natural looking things (worms) and ignore unnatural looking things (worms that walk upright). This is where I think humans have gone fundamentally wrong. We've re-programmed ourselves to react to unnatural external signals (international financial markets/ consumerism/ the x-factor) where as we ignore the natural signals we're being given from nature (exponentially worrying changes to our natural environment and eco system). We're concentrating on, and attempting to solve the wrong problems. Imagine the above toad tried to eat the walking worms and ignored to crawling ones, it's not going to get very far.
Can humans metamorphosize?
Yep, we fundamentally do in the first 30 seconds of our lives (physically) and then continue to do so (metaphorically).
A few days ago I found the negatives from a 35mm film I took while spending two months in Tibet sometime around 2005 (before digital photography was all the rage). Not a remarkable find, but I'd been meaning to reprint them as I'd lost the original prints to an accident with leaking water quite a few years ago. The negatives contained the stimulus to a series of memories for me that hadn't been tangible for a number of years, they'd only lived in my head. That's when I started playing with the idea of a tool that would re-stimulate my memory, and what the relationship to those memories in the past might mean for where I am now. This was particularly interesting to me as the said trip to Tibet in 2005 was a pretty meaningful one as you'd imagine from such a remote, ancient and spiritual country. The photos were all largely taken on a long road trip across the sub zero Himalayan tundra in a 4x4 with a driver who didn't speak a word of English. In this Now & Then was born.
The basic principle is illustrated below and documented here. In short it involved digitising the negatives with the help of the photo labs at Jessops, automating a series of crops and resizes and then randomly loading these images into both a bespoke web app and Instagram account. Finally I paired the random images with random short texts by the likes of Tolstoy, Ghandi plus some stuff by myself.
The results are a tool that has already got me thinking. About universes and multivereses, about string theory about non linear time, and histories ability to effect the present aswell as the past. And about the detail you forget and the feelings you remember. Here's a taster of it's random output..
Not a remarkable feat, the whole thing was concieved and created in a day much like the Wisdom Tooth. But an interesting exercise all the same. And with lots of people potentially like myself with boxes of old media films and prints at the back of the cupboard, it could be a way to use our past to stimulate our present and future with the digital tools that are now part of our daily lives. Now & Then.
It's very easy to be fooled into not doing stuff because the conventional ways of doing it are so complex, and have such a expensive/high barrier to entry. I fall into the trap all the time. That's why I was inspired to come across this little story recently..
What do you need to open a petrol station?
Convention tells us a forecourt with multiple petrol pumps, a retail unit to take payment and sell associated products, staff to fascilitate transactions, signage to communicate real time prices, branding to communcate the source and authenticity of the petrolium, huge underground storage tanks, a power driven pumping system, regular tanker deliveries etc etc.
When you really think about this question however you can strip it down to three essential things; petrol, a vessel to hold it and potential customers to but it. The below example is of road side petrol vendors found in Vietnam. They simply buy petrol in bulk, decant it into smaller vessels and sell it where ever there is demand for the convienience of buying petrol on the go, pretty much anywhere where there is a road, at a small extra premium.
I like this kind of thinking. It's what I based my Exhibition In An Envelope on. What do you need to host an exhibition; art work and space. There's nothing stating that the space has to be a white cube gallery space in a bourgeois city with an attractive gallery assistant and a little book shop in the corner selling limited edition books and prints. It can just as easily be an envelope. I'm going to try and turn this kind of thinking into more projects next year.
This old woman can also be seen as an attractive young woman. Ambiguity is part of perception life.
There's nothing less ambigious than our lack of certainty. As civilization developes we chase certainty, through education/ science/ knowlegde, like a greyhound goes after a rabbit. One of the most certain facts however is that change is really persistent. Ambiguity leads to anxiety, and we don't tend to like anxiety. Our collective anxiety disorder could be simply be cured by a complete and total acceptance of ambiguity, because one thing is for sure we're going to see more change in our life times than entire generations did just centuarys ago.
Think of waves being created in a rope, and then think of those waves getting more pronounced and more frequent. That's the age that we live in. As George Monbiot argues in this article on the increasing frequency in extreme weather conditions, by measuring our forecasts on averages and not extremes we dangeoursly create false senses of security. And those extremes are now part of our daily lives, extremes in weather conditions, extremes in political views, extremes in how wars are fought, extremes in the success and failure of financial markets. It could be argued that in large those extremes are born from our relatively recent (in terms of human history) spurt in population growth, the faster we go the more problems we create and more problems we need to solve.
Those than are currently surving and thriving in these conditions tend to be those who are the most change adept. Those comfortable in flux. But what of the rest of us, and what of our systems that rely on certainty? What happens when the internet breaks on a significant scale for a significant time? I'm not sure if I, or any one, have the answers for that quite yet.
This is Doris Salcedo's Shibboleth in Tate Moderns Turbine Hall. Or atleast it used to be in 2007, then it was filled in and now it is just a very apparent scar of the memory of the work. I like thing like this, a lot. It's crude beauty.
I read some thing a while a go that our individual and collective memory is largely on the down turn because of our recent over reliance in technology. There's no need to remember stuff in short because we can just google it again later when we need to remember the exact details. Having always been interested in ritual and time I found it heartening to talk to a couple on Sunday who were marking their time in London by the milestones of their memories of the Tate's annual Turbine Hall commisions. Remembering them all (pretty much give or take a year) myself I could easily identify with how they help punctuate memory.
It both reminded me off this beautifully well observed piece in The Observer a couple of weeks ago on memory as local heritage (anyone who grew up in anything suburb/rural like should give it a read), and Asi's 12 year London anniversary tweet. Plus something around the toplogy and cartography of mapping memory, losely based around listenting to this on the radio a while ago. As with most of the stuff I throw up on here I've got no more solid discourse than that, I'm just hoping James might be able to help me make sense of it all.
Between February 1961 and August 1963 The Beatles played at The Cavern club in Liverpool 292 times. An almost unfeasible amount of gigs for a single band to play in a single venue, an average of nearly nine concerts a month, nearly two a week every week. Each time to a tiny undergorund club with a maxiumum capacity of only around 200 people. It would be fair to say that The Beatles concentrated the majority their musical efforts on the Cavern at the start of their careers.
Anyone who has downloaded the marvellous Fish tap essay by Robin Sloan will be familiar with the story of Lois Agassiz and his dead fish. Those that aren't could do far worse than to download Fish a tap essay, or read this article.
So what does it mean to really concentrate on something in this day and age? I asked myself the same question recently while working on some ideas at The School Of Life. Having previously been a customer of The School Of Life I looked back on my own past payment history and found something pretty interesting. Although I had been concentrating on a number of questions and topics for around the two hours of each class, which in contemporary terms is still quite an achievement given our collective Attention Deficit Disorder. I'd still been guilty of skipping from one subject to the next, and to the next with no real concentration. Much like the flash light whipping around a dark room that Robin Sloan describes.
So what could the/a solution to our inability to concentrate be? As much as our new digital lives give us reason to skip from one thing to the next in seconds, they also give us opportunity to concentrate. The fact that we carry our digital lives with us at all times, and that they have the ability to alert and notify us on an automated basis, also means that we have the opportunity to be reminded and guided through a themed journey of discovery. We have the ability to filter out everything else just to look in detail at one subject, from multiple angles like never before.
Imagine for example a weeks subscription to the Guardain (print or digital) in which every story was focused on a different aspect of the impending financial crisis. It's root cause, the most current effects, the potential solutions, the historical equivalents, the underlying philosophical questions, capatalist advocates in discussion with capatalist actavists, active comment and debate around it all. Just that, for seven whole days. I think that would give you a pretty good chance to concentrate on a single subject for enough time to begin to wholistically understand it. To be mindful of it.
So maybe, just like The Beatles and Loius Aggasiz's students, we just need to stay in one place for a while and concentrate. Really concentrate.
I went to see the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela a few weeks ago. And specifically chose to sit in the choir seats (behind the stage), after watching this TED talk on leadership techniques of conductors, as well as knowing the reputation of Gustavo Dudamel (SBSOV's conductor). As an aside if you ever go to The Royal Festival to see a classical concert I'd fully recommend sitting in the choir seats, they're the cheapest in the house, and afford that very rare view of a conductor in action.
One thing you quickly pick up when watching an orchestra from behind, and seeing the work a conductor does is the sheer encouragement they give to the entire orchestra. You could argue that it is their sole task in fact. And in turn you quickly realise the importance of that encouragement to the collective orchestra.
I also recent read an article on PlanB's creative journey. In it he recalls the early encouragement he received as a child, and how that influenced in early creative motivation.
"When I was a kid I used to love drawing, and whenever I'd bring my mum a drawing – and I remember some of the drawings, and they're fucking shit – she'd just shower me in praise. 'Wow! It's amazing! Put it on the fridge.' And then I would rush through to the living room and do another one, because I wanted that reaction again."
"When I was a kid I used to love drawing, and whenever I'd bring my mum a drawing – and I remember some of the drawings, and they're fucking shit – she'd just shower me in praise. 'Wow! It's amazing! Put it on the fridge.' And then I would rush through to the living room and do another one, because I wanted that reaction again."
It then becomes very easy to relate this to his own approach to sharing his own achievements with others, sheer encouragement. Have a watch of his recent BBC Hackney Project to see what I mean. Towards the end you'll even see him taking the conductors position during performances (although slightly off centre and with less hand gestures).
Sometimes the best motivation is a motivator, believe it or not.
The architects of the moment Herzog and Pierre de Meuron's past two London projects have been works of discovery. Largely concerned with the act of uncovering, both the Serpentine Pavilion and Tate Tanks have been subterranean explorations into architecture that rather than build something from scratch, have sought to use the existing 'leave behinds' of previous buildings. It's a principle they describe as 'finding rather than making'.
When thinking about we could all probably do with investing some effort in finding rather than making I'd say.
Creativity, and creative ideas, have long been a source of unlocking financial value (or helping to rapidly build growth) for business's. In essence creativity has largely become a tool for economics to do it's stuff. With the vast majority of creatives working under the economic objectives of society, almost to the point where you'd question what other roles creativity has to play in the world. Let's take a couple of example, from the world of London's Underground Transport.
Unlocking economic value
The first is an idea I had myself a while ago after reading this piece about how £30m sits unused on Oyster cards every year. And how that sleeping value could potenitaly be unlocked. Now that value has a route to becoming unlocked, via the below idea. So in this case creativity is serving an economic objective, all be it for a very good cause.
Unlocking social value
The second example is again from the Underground. But this time the creative idea is attempting to unlock a different type of value. The value of our better nature, in this case giving up your seat for someone in far more need of it than yourself.
The problem we're now facing after decades of reliance in the powers economics to get us through are equally changing the agenda of creativity. Economics is very good at modeling the systems that numbers are passed back and forward within, but less good at allowing for softer metrics like the worth of topsoil, a stable ecosystem or the economic value of honey bees. If you ask your average economist how they'd account for this stuff in their models they'd largely be at a loss to come up with a reasonable solution. But perhaps creativity can pick up in making this bridge, and solving problems like these. Traditionaly these softer, but more enduring, issues (like knowing to give your seat up for someone) were dealt with by the values of religion. But as we've slowly seen science disprove a lot of what religion is based on we've also lost the other fundamentaly important bits like guiding our values and beliefs. Then politics took up the same social challenges but ultimately never really achieved any meaningful impact as the modern peoples belief in politicians is probably only one up from their belief the religious leaders, of the faiths they now have no particular faith in.
So could creativity pick up where both religion and politics have failed? Could a new age of enlightenment be driven by individuals and ideas? Could the need to educate a new generation in creative thinking (and creative doing) be the alternative for the increasingly doomed root we're currently following? I'm not quite sure, but sitting opposite an empty tube seat with three icons of the most vunerable members of society, that's the conclusion I came to.
This is a bench. It's located about eight feet from where I'm moored on the canal at the minute, meaning that when I'm onboard I see or at least hear whoever inhabits it. In the past seven days we've had young French men eating takeaways and drinking pilsner from sunset to late into the night. Fathers teaching their sons how to fish. Arguing couples, of all ages. Retired couples bringing a home made supper and small bottle of wine to share together, along with sharing two hours of silence. Young Euro architects stopping off after a night of clubbing in the early hours to discuss life love and London, and staying until the sun had long since come up. Gangs of local youths who's use of English was far worse than their behaviour in reality, rambling alcoholics with only super strength cider for company, a nightly visit from the canal bin man and his portable World Service broadcast to announce his arrival, and just about everything in between (it's in Kings Cross after all). If it wasn't for the bench they probably wouldn't stop, as a sit down in the nettles isn't quite as appealing. But they do stop, and take a short, sometimes long, break from where they're going to or coming from. They stop and have proper conversation, or just think for a bit. They sit and spend some time with now.
If benches hadn't previously been invented a long time ago I think we'd be getting pretty exited about them right now. They'd be the subjects of blog posts listing what brands can learn from benches, they'd probably attract Governmental funding. We'd call them 'social media for society' and look for monetization opportunities. But we just take them for grantage all those benches, all those conversations, all those stories.
I never really got transmedia, I understod the concept but the examples of BatMan films and stuff never really did it for me. But I got it last night.
I went to see SUM at The Royal Opera House based on David Eagleman's book of the same name. Go and see it, you won't be disapointed.
Then I watched this talk with David Eagleman when I got back.
I've just joined Udacity to get some online education. On having a look around the community discussion boards it quickly became evident that the main traction for conversation (or statements of opinion) was where other members of the community are from. By quite a significant amount.
I also went past a chap in Trafalgar Square the other day who'd drawn up all the world flags in chalk and was encouraging the square's many international tourists to place coins on their home countries flag. He was making a killing both in crowd engagement and financially.
Seems that we'll always have a deep rooted sense of ties to our homes, and interest in others own origins. So if you ever need to get a discussion board going just ask were everyone is from.
There's a great articel in the new edition of Frieze magazine Kirsty Bell called 'Open Eyes: Online or in person? The different ways of paying attention today'. You can read it here.
In it she references the Von Heyl's exhibition at Tate Liverpool, an exhibition she hasn't been to in person but has seen a short film of on the Guardain. She sates she became aware of the paintings holding their own in the airy light filled space of Tate Liverpool's upper galleries, but questions what kind of seeing this really is? What kind of potential does a screen bound experience allow us for paying attention?
Having been to the exhibition in person I can say a whole new world of attention. When I visited the vast upper galleries housing Von Heyl's work a couple of weeks ago I was stuck by the juxtaposition of the light and energy created by each of the paintings and the views of the River Mersey from the galleries many windows. The light changing by the second as the clouds pain their own pictures on to the refractions of the rivers water. This in turn reminded me of Ed and Nancy Kienholz's installation at the National Gallery a few years ago that recreated Amsterdams Red Light district. When questioned whether the instalation was a statement about the age old industry of prostitution they replied that it was "all about the light" that you find in the red light district. Light and the way something is lit being an ongoing fascination of artists for eternity (both literal and metaphorical).
That's what I took from the in person experience that I never would have from an online experience. And it led me to think about my idea to save the world with two pieces of A4 paper idea. I was talking to Rob and Molly about it the other night and they were asking how much input I'd had to it so far. I had to admit than in reality is been a bit light, and limited to the ever helpful James so far. But then we got talking to whether online input was the right channel for the task, as they'd had three or four conversations about the idea but just hadn't got around to adding anything online. So perhaps I should have hosted an in person exploration around the idea instead. In a coffee shop, with clever people. Perhaps I should have just converted the idea into a conversation, but a real life conversation? Perhaps we should all be striving converting things into real life conversations.