Camp 4 Collective: Sanctity of Space

 

Camp 4 Collective’s Renan Ozturk is working on a passion project called the Sanctity of Space alongside Freddie Wilkinson, a film about “the alchemy of landscape and people amidst the mountains of Alaska.” The clip above, called The Ridge was filmed this past June in Denali National Park.

They’re using a Cineflex Elite camera system that’s externally mounted to the hull of the chopper which these guys operate via a laptop control box from inside. Pretty cutting edge stuff.

Film is set to release sometime in 2015 and I could not be more excited.

Kobe vs. Jordan Identical Plays

Not sure there’s been a better one-on-one shooting guard in the NBA since Jordan, but Kobe certainly came close.  Little hoops porn to celebrate the announcement of the ’14/’15 NBA regular season schedule yesterday. Thanks for the share @wildanimas

The Life Lessons I Learned from Robin Williams

Yesterday, like that of many, ended on a somber note with news of Robin Williams’ passing.

As I continue to age, I’ve found it useful to take greater pause in these moments, in this case to reflect on the impact that this great man had on my life. While I realize that far more informed fans and film critics will write more insightful, poetic tributes to Williams, I’d like to add my own rough perspective to the collective dialogue. You see, the more time I allow myself to think about it, the more I realize how significant his films were at instilling key life lessons in ways that because of Williams and who he was, always stuck with me.

Williams was one of those actors that bridged generations. Being a boomer himself, he spoke directly to my parents, connecting with them through the formative subject matter of their day. No performance embodied that quite like his role in Good Morning, Vietnam, which in many ways brought the Vietnam War into the range of acceptable conversation. Even in the late 80’s when the film was released, it was still a topic that most felt uncomfortable discussing publicly. Williams’ unmatched blend of theatrical humor and wisdom was just the answer for bringing the topic back into the fold.

Dead Poets Society, which people my age didn’t see until many years after its release taught me about what it means to become an individual, and what it means to connect with the things that feed the soul, and how love and pain are often inseparable forces.

Then came Hook. Perhaps the Avatar of the 90’s? Williams and Dustin Hoffman formed what may very well have been the greatest protagonist/antagonist duo EVER. The costumes were unmatched. Yet the larger message behind the Peter Pan story stood confidently in the background, reminding parents and children alike that life changes us in many ways, but if we are mindful, it need not steal our sense of wonder, curiosity and playfulness. I cannot think of a lesson I hold more dear to my heart today. BANGARANG Peter!

FernGully, where Williams played the voice of a rapping bat named Batty, teaching youngsters like myself (I was 7 at the time of its release) about the fragility of our planet. Again, infusing his humor into an issue to ensure that it is internalized by people of all ages.

Then there was Mrs. Doubtfire. Mrs. Doubtfire may have been the most significant. It was one of only handful of VHS tapes that my family owned, which meant it was watched countless times. Growing up on a healthy dose of Disney films, even as a kid I knew what to expect with my endings: everyone (except the villain) lives happily ever after. But, this movie was different. It taught kids that the world isn’t black or white. That happiness can come with a dose of sadness. Even more, it taught me that there is no ending at all, there is only change and that it is how we respond to these changes that shape our reality, and the quality of our lives.

Which brings me to Good Will Hunting. This film has only grown in importance for me over the years. In a Psychology of Personality class I took in college our professor used this film and its characters as a means of examining the various personality types classified by the field. It was an incredibly useful exercise as each of the characters in the film possessed so many different layers. But, the movie was much more than that. It was poetic in how it brought to life the age old Tennyson line, “Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.”

And, I guess that’s how I feel about my relationship to Williams’ work. His death is a tragedy, but he lives on through every one of his characters and the lessons that they so effectively instilled with viewers. Robin Williams is testament to a life lived passionately, “because to live…to live would be an awfully big adventure.” And, it has been and will continue to be, due in some small part, to the moments I have shared with Robin Williams.

The Ritualization of Buying

Really great soundbite from Design Anthropologist, Dori Tunrstall taken from the book Brand Thinking.  The book is a sort of compilation of interviews with leading thinkers across a wide variety of fields about their thoughts on branding and design.  Dori’s comments on the ritualization of buying were of most interest to me:

We almost always used “things” as a way to identify ourselves and to identify others. Let’s start with the human body. In traditional cultures, the art of tattooing was about social coding. A certain number of tattoos meant you’ve been married. Another number of tattoos meant that you’ve had children. This many tattoos meant that you’ve killed a lion.

Nowadays, we have a tremendous emphasis on dress and makeup and in our rituals of buying. I use the word “rituals” very specifically. But our rituals of consumption are no longer as satisfactory to us … because they are empty of human relationships.

There was recently a wonderful study done on garage sales. When people go to a garage sale to buy something, they actually feel very satisfied about the interaction. Most of the time, it’s because the object they buy comes with a story—a very real, personal story about where the object fit into someone’s life.

Whether it’s real or not, you connect with that person through the object. So when you take the object, your purchase of it is more satisfactory. Whereas right now, when you go now to a store, there seems to be a lot of emphasis on branding that tells authentic stories in order to … sell more stuff.

Dori’s last part about the derivation of meaning through purchases is supported by Rob Walker’s Significant Objects experiment performed a few years back.  In it, he purchased a number of thrift store trinkets for an average of $1.25 each.

Those objects were then listed on eBay, but in place of the item description he included a short fictional story about the object written by one of numerous professional writers. Some of the stories described the objects role in a crime or historical event, others about their role in rituals or as good luck charms, etc.

In the end, the objects sold for a total of over $8,000, signifying the importance of story and, by extension, meaning, in the purchase experience.

[via Brainpickings]

Denver Comic Con

I had the opportunity to attend Denver Comic Con this weekend and wanted to share a few choice photos courtesy of the Denver Post.  Amazing community of people at these events.

Denver Comic Con

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Denver Comic Con

Denver Comic Con at the Colorado Convention Center

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Denver Comic Con  Denver Comic Con

Denver Comic Con

Denver Comic Con at the Colorado Convention Center

Sarah Sze’s Triple Point at the Venice Biennial


 
Lots of amazing artwork to be seen from the Venice Biennial this week.  The video above features Sarah Sze discussing her improvisation installation, Triple Point.

“The spontaneous is always where it’s the most interesting for the artist and for the viewer…Improvisation is crucial. I want the work to to have this feeling that it was improvised; that you can see decisions happening on site the way you see a live sports event—the way you hear jazz.”

Read more on Artsy.

Levi’s Acts As If…

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You may be familiar with the Levi’s Archives.  If not, I’ll give you a quick run down.  Essentially, it’s a meticulously maintained collection of artifacts from Levi’s 150 year history.  The collection was built from the ground up by Lynn Downey a historian and apparent icon among denim fans, and now contains a significant array of garments, posters, photos and more.

Among some of the noteworthy elements in the collection, as mentioned by Levi’s, are:

  • The XX, the oldest pair of 501 jeans in the world, dating back to 1879
  • Denim jackets redesigned and decorated by Elton John, Queen Latifah, Yves St. Laurent, Elizabeth Taylor and more
  • A jacket and pair of jeans signed by The Rolling Stones
  • Letters to Levi’s from Cary Grant, Henry Kissinger, Clint Eastwood, Lady Bird Johnson and silent-movie cowboy William S. Hart

I love that Levi’s invests in preserving it’s own history.  The act serves to solify the brand’s place in our historical and popular culture. But, even more than that, I am reminded of the old catchphrase “act as if”, which encourages us to carry ourselves as if we have already achieved the thing we are pursuing and that orientation alone will help to get us there.

Although, Levi’s is already the most iconic denim company in the world, they’re treating their products as treasures worthy of preservation, a sort of record of the evolution of fashion, as it pertains to jeans.  This simple act elevates their product to new levels in the eyes of their fans. Where most brands are merely purveyors, Levi’s has evolved to become collectors and even protectors of their specialty. Well done.

Selectivism recently received a look at some of the collectibles.  Check it out here.

[Image via Selectivism]

This Is Water: DFW’s 2005 Commencement Speech Re-visited

 

A short film adaptation of David Foster Wallace’s famous 2005 commencement speech to the graduates of Kenyon College.

Simply put, DFW’s speech is about the mere fact that we have the ability to decide how we experience each moment of our lives, especially the mundane and aggravating ones. Our education is not about arming us with vast amounts of knowledge, it’s about instilling the awareness necessary to choose between a conscious and unconscious existence, what moments have meaning, and when we’re able to experience the infinite connectedness of life.

It’s an incredibly important message for all of us, especially those moving bit by bit into adulthood and the more permanent cognitive frameworks that accompany it.

An interview with The Glossary, the creators of this film, can be found on AdWeek.

The New American Superstar

Gone are the days of trying to Be Like Mike.  The connectivity brought forth by the digital age has removed the protective veil that once insulated and propped up the athletes of old to super-human status. But, with or without new media technologies the perceived level to which we vaulted athletes in our mind, was doomed to collapse.

And bit by bit, it did.  For years, we’ve witnessed downfall after downfall, from Ron Artest climbing into the stands to attack fans to Elin Nordgren chasing Tiger down with his own golf club, hilarity and irony so extreme they borderline on the poetic.  Over the years we’ve seen too many lapses in character that media and brands can no longer use sponsorships and commercial spots to sell us the primped, primed and overly-engineered identity of yesterday’s athlete.  It’s not new and it’s not believable anymore.

This progression reached an inflection point in 2010, when LeBron James announced that he was going to play for the Miami Heat on a live television special.  The event was so significant it is now known only as The Decision.  Nearly three years later, James is still working to regain his credibility among sports fans.

And, while I used to think the root of fan frustrations came from the fact that LeBron renounced the humble, hard-working city of Cleveland for the tan skinned, botox-injected fakeness of Miami, a dynamic that now occurs regularly in sports, I now realize it boiled down to something else.  What we hated was the seriousness and over-inflated air of importance that this event conveyed about LeBron.  So, important you need a TV special to tell the world who you’re going to play for next year?! Fans went berserk and everyone overlooked the fact that the ad dollars from the :30 minute program raised over $2 million for Boys and Girls Clubs.

Today’s athlete must be willing to explore another approach if he or she wants to reach the mountain top of endorsement dollars.  I’ll elaborate.  Thanks to the creative minds of Madison Avenue and the wild success of campaigns like Old Spice’s Man Your Man Could Smell Like, advertisers are heading in a new direction with their use of celebrity talent.  Instead of the super-serious, “you want to be like me” commercial spots of old, they’ve taken the athlete’s already over-inflated ego and boosted it further to the point of comedy.
 

 
Simply put, today’s athlete makes his fame through commercial spots that enhance or underscore his peculiarities and insecurities.  No one likes a person who takes themselves too seriously.  LeBron learned this the hard way. 
 

 
But, we do like people, and especially athletes, who have no problem laughing at themselves.  Remarkable commercial spots are now achieving this with some regularity.  Some going so far as to become popular culture in and of themselves as evidenced by the Cliff Paul Statefarm spots (below).
 

 
All of these commercials are fantastic. I light up each time a new one comes out that progresses the narrative forward. But, on the flip side, it’s also somewhat sad to think about the fact that athletes have fallen to a more human level in our lives. Once immortalized as hero’s, they’re now just entertainers.

MakerHaus

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Love love love this concept.  Further proof that indie capitalism is alive and well.  What is Maker Haus? I’ll let them explain…

Frustrated by the lack of access to tools and prototyping equipment in Seattle, we decided to establish a place that allowed our community of creative minds to learn, discover, create, and collaborate all under one roof. We are an incubator and facilitator for those creative minds who need access to professional tools and prototyping equipment to support their businesses and bring their own design ideas to life.

MakerHaus is a studio environment with a professional staff from diverse backgrounds in design, manufacturing, creative strategy, and business. Napkin sketches, Kickstarter dreams, and design challenges of all kinds welcome!

It’s basically a space that provides entrepreneurs with resources like a metal and wood shop, 3D printers, laser cutting, classrooms, conference rooms, and event space, a material library and more, all accessed through a membership-based system.  Here’s a video of two aspiring guitar makers talking about how Maker Haus is helping them to scale their business:

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