Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Sexual Retrolution (Sponsored by Facebook)

Retrosexuals are people who go searching for sex by revisiting past relationships via Facebook. I'm sure everyone knows someone, or is someone, who has done this. It was only a matter of time before someone gave it a name and made the concept explicit to the masses. The January 22 piece in Boston Phoenix, Are you a retrosexual? is both informative and amusing.

"The neology is obvious: retrosexuals are people who rewind their own lives, digging into their past to emerge with a current romantic partner.

A retrosex episode can fall into two major categories, with some subsets: a one-time hook-up or a longer-term romance. The textbook retrosexual, the perfect specimen, if you will, is the former — someone like Suzanne, who hooks up for casual sex with someone he or she knew in high school. Within this group are two narrower classifications: some retrosexuals, like Suzanne, have been there, done that; others might be reconnecting with old friends but hooking up for the first time."

Let the games begin!

Cheers to Kyle for the tip-off.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Ludacris Proximity Sadness Meter

This may be the most brilliant info-graphic ever created. All hail the DMC for send me this one.

Infantilizing Reality with Imaginary Worlds

The ability to invent imaginary worlds and to play pretend are uniquely human abilities.

From a very early age children pretend to be things other than themselves: superheroes, little mermaids, power rangers. They also engage in forms of group play and seem to intuitively understand roles and rules. No one was ever taught how to play house or cops and robbers but all children seem to understand which game you shoot people in and which game you don’t.

Much of what we call culture is the creation of imaginary worlds. Aside from the “high culture” of the arts, the material culture of everyday life, what we call the “real world” is a collective invention and assemblage of objects, customs and beliefs. Each culture is a unique, invented world that reinvents itself across generations and over time.

More explicitly, storytelling and narrative art forms create imaginary worlds and metaphoric experiences. Motion pictures are the most obvious example. They allow us to insert ourselves into other worlds so that we may have those experiences without any actual risk or consequence.

Lately I've noticed the frequent use of “other worlds” being used by products and brands in television spots and on websites, often by brands that have a perception problem or whose products have actual negative impact on the real world. In these re-articulated worlds their brands are presented as the opposite of what they may actually be. In these theatricized versions of reality they are creators of idyllic utopias, sources of goodness and visions of life beyond consequence or complication. The difficult, day-to-day challenges of reality are replaced by illustrative, childs-toy representations that often include some sort of interactive game.

All State your Playground

On Toyota's Mind

Mobil's "Real" Energy World

Chevron's Energyville

Lipton Clear Green (utopian/dystopian screenshots)

Toyota Why Not

Coca Cola Tastes of the World

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Best Musical Performance of The Year!

I've begun to shift the focus of The Foundation to center more on cultural essays and less on the posting of odd curiosities and funny WTFs. Those things will start getting posted to my Tumblr site. That said I couldn't resist posting this, it's brought me so many laughs this week.

I can't decide what my favorite part is, the spinning, the Bonoesque rock-god salute, the driving, the banging of the steering wheel...

The Bonoesque rock-god salute. Magnificent.

Kelly, by forwarding this along you've brought joy to many.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Paradoxical Food Advertising & Caregiver Abuse

For some reason, whenever I think of either paradoxical food advertising or caregiver abuse I am reminded of the other. I suppose it's because both come wearing a face of benevolence but do, or may, have a dark side.

Paradoxical Food Advertising
There is a new commercial running on television for Frito-Lay potato chips. The setting is a beautiful, sunny day. A crowd of healthy, happy people are gathering on a farmer's field. Holding bowls in their hands they look skyward in anticipation. There is a slight pause then "poosh!", potatoes start shooting out of the soil and rocket into the air. Seconds later, potato chips begin falling from the sky into the bowls of the smiling people. The chips, made from potatoes, straight from the earth are baked by the sun and delivered as if a gift from nature. The message is that potato chips are a healthy, natural snack.

Screens from the Frito-Lay website.

When a product doesn't have a clear, competitive advantage or has an objectionable quality, one marketing strategy that's used is to position the product as if it is the exact opposite of what it really is. Hence, the presentation of potato chips as a healthy, natural snack.

Michael Pollan, in his NYTimes piece on nutrition and the food industry titled Unhappy Meals offers this as one of his simple principle's for healthy eating: "avoid those food products that come bearing health claims. They're apt to be heavily processed, and the claims are often dubious at best."

In the technology category, one of my all-time favorite examples is AT&T's "Reach Out and Touch Someone" campaign. Technology is, by it's very nature cold, mechanical and inhuman. The invention of the telephone actually made it possible for people to live apart from one another, to be increasingly geographically separated. AT&T offered the promise of "touch", a promise that it can't fulfill, with a technology that help created increased physical distances in the first place.

Caregiver Abuse
A bizarre and rather dark paradox that has always fascinated me is caregiver abuse. A caregiver is generally defined as someone who takes care of someone who is unable to care for their own basic needs. The cared-for person is usually an invalid or elderly individual. The caregiver may or may not be a professional and is often a close family member. Apparently, cases of abuse by caregivers is quite common. Obviously a difficult thing to measure, the range is suspected to be somewhere between 5 and 23%. The reasons cited as the cause of the abuse are resentment, stress and the difficulty in caring for the disabled.

One of the most interesting cases I've come across involves physicist Stephen Hawking. A few years ago there were allegations that his second wife was abusing him. From the Daily Mail: Hawking's nurse reveals why she is not surprised his marriage is over.

It is a relationship that, almost from the beginning, has provoked a storm of controversy - and suspicion - the wheelchair-bound Prof Hawking, 64, who has suffered from motor neurone disease since the age of 22, and the "controlling, manipulative and bullying" (the words of another former employee) Elaine.

Because for years there have been shocking rumours of violence and abuse against the vulnerable scientist - mental as well as physical - supported by his own children no less.

Just as every cop is a criminal and all the sinners saints.
-Mick Jagger (Sympathy for the Devil)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lyndon Johnson's Low-Tech Limousine

My father worked in Ford Motor Company's Design Center. When I was a child he told me about a car that was customized for a U.S. President. It had been a long time since I had heard the story so I asked him to fill me in on the details again. This is what he wrote me:

The presidential limo was built for Lyndon Johnson after Kennedy was assassinated. A guy at Ford had worked on it at a shop somewhere in Detriot area. According to him, all the air space between the inner and outer sheet metal was filed with marbles to keep bullets from going through. A ½ inch thick metal plate was ordered to cover the entire underside of the vehicle. When the plate was delivered it was ¾ of an inch thick so that’s what they used. The bullet proof glass was was 6 inches thick. When Lyndon got in the back seat he felt so claustrophobic that they had to rework the rear windows so they could go up and down. The windshield was so thick and caused so much distortion that the drivers had to take Dramamine to keep from getting sick.

It’s hard to imagine a car being reworked enough to accommodate 6 inch think glass but, according to an Englishman named Malcolm Dooley, that’s how it was done.

While driving from Washington to Detroit, two secret service agents had to stop on the expressway and have the limousine weighed at a weigh station. The people running the truck scale couldn’t believe a car could weigh that much. (I don’t know what the weight was).

I remember my father telling me that the gas tank had a sponge and extraction pump so that the fuel wouldn't leak out if the tank was ruptured. My father says he doesn't really remember that part but thinks it sounds so interesting that I should pass it along as fact.

Security technology has come a long way, but you have to give props to that generation. When they needed something or needed to get something done they just rolled up their sleeves and did it, or build it, with their bare hands.

6 inch glass and marbles. Badass.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sculpture, Imaginary Worlds and Home Exercise Equipment.

The Most Important Human Need
There is a deep physiological and psychological need to be in the presence of other human beings. We need other people. Infants are dependent on the care their mothers. Growing children need peers and adults to socialize them. As adults, we need each other to make families, form societies and create culture. What is less commonly recognized is the powerful psychological need for the presence of others. Research has found that isolation is one of the most stressful things a human being can experience. So powerful, it causes the body to flood it self with hormones like cortisol and shuts down higher-lever brain functions. Isolation doesn't have to be as extreme as confinement, social isolation is an equally powerful force.

The Presence of Others
Since the beginning of civilization humans have created effigies and figurative art. Their functions, according academic art history include: practices of worship / sympathetic magic, representations of deities, monuments honoring the living and the dead, and as expressions of idealized form and beauty.

I have always had an additional theory as well. One of the most significant behaviors that differentiates human beings from other creatures is our creation of "imaginary worlds". Every culture is a significantly different assemblage of elements: language, manners, customs, unique styles of architecture and homes, furniture, clothes, eating utensils, a cannon of literature, games, sports and so on. The synthesis of all these elements is a constructed and shared reality. Just 1 in an infinite number of possible worlds.

Figurative sculpture create a sense of presence. They fill rooms and the world with other people. Symbolic people that reflect and encapsulate the culture and age they belong to. They are manufactured beings who's purpose is to inhabit their unique imaginary world. The ancient worlds of Egypt, Greece and Rome overflowed with figurative sculpture. Medieval cathedrals are packed with figurative sculpture creating a world within their walls. The sculptures of the palaces and grand rooms of the 17th century are my personal favorite. 

Fast Forward to Today
Todays mass art forms also create imaginary worlds filled with people. Movies and television place us in the the far, far, away galaxy of Star Wars, the world of Don Corleone and Dawson's Creek. Today's media is more immersive than early art but the function is the same. Imagine how mind-blowing it must have been for the average person to step inside a medieval cathedral. Movies allow us to leave this world and experience other worlds and stories of loss, betrayal, love, murder, etc. All without putting ourselves in harms way.

In the 1970's architects built public spaces that included in their designs areas where people could have a bit of privacy, nooks in which to read and places for quiet moments of reflection. As it turned out, these spaces were rarely used. People don't like being by themselves. The duration from person to person varies but generally speaking, people don't want to be alone. It's why bookstores and Starbucks are such popular places to read, study, or just hang out. Places like this have come to be known as "the third place". Public places other than the 2 primary places, home and work. You can go to these places and be left alone while simultaneously being in the presence of others people.

Sculptural Occupants, Home Alone
Instead of joining a gym, some people buy exercise equipment for their home. Sometimes it's one machine, like a treadmill, and sometimes they create their own little mini-gym. Very often, none of it gets used. It's easy to cite lack of discipline as the reason why. This may be true to some extent, but I believe that being alone and working out goes against our hardwired, human nature. It just doesn't feel right.

There are lots of solitary activities that people do: play musical instruments, read, write, draw, tend to their garden. Most of these are mental or involve some level of concentration. Although they might have a physical component these kinds of activities take you outside yourself, they allow you to escape for a while. In the end most in-home exercise equipment loses it utility and becomes a piece of sculpture. Monuments to the hopeful possibility of reshaping ones body, of re-sculpting one's physical form.

These days most people have more than one TV in their home. Some have TVs in every room. It's not uncommon for people to leave the TV on all day, even when no one in the room. Like figurative sculpture, it add presence to the house. It makes people feel less alone.

I've have an idea for a  product idea. It's based on the fact that everyone loves people watching. Checking people out, watching the all different kinds of amusing strangers walk by. My idea is a series of DVDs that allow you to people watch from the comfort of your own home. Sound and conversations included. They would be in all sorts of setting. The people could be walking by, passing you on the sidewalk or just standing around. There could be different settings: the mall, the park, New York City sidewalks, Vegas casinos, whatever. There could be interactive DVDs that allow you to move to move around a party to check out different clusters of people, eavesdrop on their conversations. These DVDs are a more direct way of fulfilling the need for presence. Most of all, it's what every home exercise room needs. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Next-Gen Technology and Marketing

Monday, February 09, 2009

Christain Bale directs Bill O'Reilly

I think Bale has gotten a bad rap. The world is so full of cowards, pussies, passive-aggressives media manufactured divisiveness and the persistent air of PC tyranny, it's nice to see someone go off the rails.

Thank you Kim. xoxox

Friday, February 06, 2009

F is for Friday, F is for "hoodrat stuff"

Thursday, February 05, 2009

I love Jesus but I drink a little


Much love to Kim for sending me this.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Drawing with Sound

Ze Frank has created a software app that allows you to draw with sound. The input is your computers built-in microphone. The volume of your voice controls the direction of the line. It's like voice a (sound) controlled etch-a-sketch. Click here to it out.

This is a self-portrait Ze Frank created.

Lacking the patience to make a self portrait, I created an abstract by playing The Cult's "Spiritwalker" from iTunes. You think if I created art from enough songs I would end of with a Vermeer?

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Kathleen for all the cool things she turns me on to.

I Lego New York

Despite how miserable I hear the wether is, I do miss New York. My friend Susan must have sensed how I feel and sent me this very charming series from the NYTimes: I Lego New York. (Here are just 3, there are more on the Times site.)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Evolutionary Origins of Breakups

In recent years, many human behaviors have been examined and explained within the context of evolutionary development. For instance, love and affection are believed to function as a way of bringing and keeping two people together for the purposes of procreating and maintaining a family unit. I was thinking about this the other day and wondered if, in intimate relationships, discord, fighting and breakup also have an evolutionary origin and role? After all, recent work in the intersecting fields of evolution, biology and psychology seem to imply that most human behavior is not random, it has a purpose.

Could fighting be a way of dismantling affection and love, prompting us to separate? Compelling us to breed elsewhere, to find a more suitable genetic mate or to simply move on and spread cultural knowledge and memes elsewhere.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Get your squeak on!

Champion Hoodie Design Contest

Champion is holding a Hoodie Design contest. The site is great and some of the designs people have created are dope. My only issue with it, you can't buy your design. Understandable given the degree to which you can customize your design, but it still bums be out. I want my hoodie!