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Creatives, Geeks, Freaks & Voyeurs of the World — Join Me LIVE from SXSW!

UPDATE: this is TODAY! starting at 9am SEA time (11am Austin, 12noon NYC, 17:00 London) you can join into the conversation with your truly + the most creative minds from photo, design, tech & music. If I do my job right, you’ll get more insight in a weekend than at a semester of any college – all from people who have found success. LIVE at www.creativelive.com/SXSW. Ask questions all day at #UberLIVE or @chasejarvis.

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Certainly you’re in the know of famed South-By-Southwest (aka SXSW) – that two weeks every year where the creative, film, music & tech worlds all come crashing together in little ol’ Austin, Texas. I LOVE all that stuff, so I’m here all week and ….through the miracles of technology I’ve got 2 LOVELY THINGS to set right on your lap – both of which had better add a bunch of value to YOU, or else the next round of bourbon is on me.

THING #1
chasejarvisLIVE (my internet show) & creativeLIVE (my creative education startup) are having a man-child together this week in the back seat of a Cadillac Escalade. That is right, my LIVE show + the best in online education + the ridesharing service that has taken the world by storm are all coming together in one delicious collaboration to bring you LIVE-on-the-innnernetz, real-time interviews with the best + brightest luminaries from film, photo, tech & music worlds … all while rolling the streets of Austin in the backseat of an Uber. This is your free, front row ticket to join me and an insanely talented group of creative genius without leaving the comforts of your own internet connection, wherever that might be. Things are crazy here and this list is always in flux, but here’s a couple names you might recognize that I’m preparing to hang with and bring you their nuggets of wisdom & the inside scoop….

-Austin Kleon. artist and best selling author of Steal Like an Artist & his newest…Show Your Work
-Dana Brunetti. executive producer of HOUSE OF CARDS, the netflix original hit that has reinvented TV
-Kevin Rose. founder of Digg, Revision 3 & is now a partner at Google Ventures
-Brandon Stanton. photographer & creator of Humans of New York, the world’s most popular photo project
-Gary Vaynerchuk. entrepreneur, media maven, best-selling author and wine geek
-Kristen Chenowth. actress from Glee, The West Wing, BeWitched, and other stuff
-Steven Kotler. best selling author of Rise of Superman and guru for accessing & maximizing creativity
-Lewis Howes. Former pro athlete, entrepreneur, business coach & world record holder.
- and many many more…including..ahem..perhaps some surprise musical performances

Here’s where you can RSVP for the free #UberLIVE event, find more info, and watch the LIVE broadcast this Saturday & Sunday http://creativelive.com/sxsw. (srsly – you should RSVP)

WHO: You, Me, a handful of GENIUS people from SXSW + 100 countries tuning in worldwide
WHAT: Interview, discussion + a worldwide Q&A from the backseat of an Uber
WHEN: Sat & Sun, March 8th & 9th, 8am – 5pm Seattle time (10a-7pm Austin, 11a-8pm NYC time)
WHERE: Tune into www.creativelive.com/sxsw. It’s free — anyone can watch and we’ll be taking YOUR questions via Twitter, hashtag #UberLIVE, my @chasejarvis handle and @creativeLIVE too

THING #2
Heyyo. I’m giving a little keynote speech for this SXSW thingie on Monday, March 10th at 3:30pm (1:30 Seattle, 4:30 NYC, 21:30 London). Here’s the tasty link to that hot mess http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP18955. If you’ll be physically at SXSW, come join in, heckle me from the audience, throw tomatoes, or whatever. If you’re at home in your pajamas, rumor has it my keynote will be live-streamed, compliments of our friends at U-Stream, but I haven’t got a link yet – will update that ASAP when I get one and I’ll tweet to let you know.

Don’t forget to RSVP for #UberLIVE. And, as always, you can follow along here… Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

LIVE Shoot from Inside a Frickin’ Volcano [RENEGADE #cjLIVE -- this Friday, Jan 17]

chase jarvis jp canlis photo 3UPDATE: this broadcast is TODAY! Join us at 9:30am Seattle time (12:30 NYC and 17:30 London) here at www.chasejarvis.com/live as we hi-jack the live feed from the Museum of Glass and go LIVE from the biggest and best hot shop in the world… mixing the worlds of photography + glass blowing with yours truly and my homie JP Canlis. Of course, taking questions at #cjLIVE via Twitter and my Facebook.

Ok. So maybe it’s not an actual VOLCANO, but it’s just as hot. Read on…

My favorite part of the new world order is access. Access to behind-the-scenes ideas, information, and lives of others AND granting that access into mine. We all get to watch “the sausage being made” …as they say.

Well – access (and sausage) you will get this Friday January 17th if you tune into this SPECIAL EPISODE of www.chasejarvis.com/live between 9:30am – 1pm Seattle time (12:30 – 4pm NYC, 17:30 – 21:00 London) for a special “renegade” REMOTE edition of chasejarvisLIVE. What the hell? Exactly. While the “normal” #cjLIVE shows are broadcast live from my studios in Seattle with a guest and a crowd and some ideas (and occasionally some bourbon) this Friday’s episode is anything but that… In fact I’ll be sharing an exclusive peek into a fine art project I’m working on…in progress

Indeed, YOU are invited drop in for a glimpse of a collaboration between yours truly and my dear friend (and brilliant Seattle-based glass artist) J.P. Canlis. JP’s work is collected worldwide (including the likes of the Crowned Prince of Abu Dhabi). We will be at work and coming to you LIVE and in the heat of it (literally) from the molten hot magma hot shop at the Museum of Glass, the world’s premier glass museum and one of the world’s top glass art facilities in the world.

What you will see will NOT be a staged demo of any sort. Instead you’ll be dipping your toe midstream into an authentic artistic collaboration between yours truly and JP Canlis that we’ve been working on for the past couple weeks as a part of JP’s artist-in-residency at the museum. We’ll be engaged in a real-time, never before attempted (for all we can tell) creative process mixing my photography with JP’s molten glass. Yes, we don’t know what will happen. Since we’ll be in the hotshop – which is NOT my normal habitat – I will be primarily hosting the ramshackle affair WHILE I’M WORKING and taking your questions via twitter and Facebook in realtime during the process.

THE DETAILS
WHO: You, me, glass artist J.P Canlis and a worldwide gathering of creative people
WHAT: Interview, discussion + a worldwide Q&A
WHEN: Friday, January 17, 9:30 am-1 pm Seattle time (12:30pm-4pm NYC time)
WHERE: Tune into www.chasejarvis.com/live It’s free — anyone can watch!

Couple disclaimers:
1. The entire process will be broadcast HERE at www.chasejarvis.com/live (aka the normal #cjLIVE location) for your viewing pleasure.
2. This isn’t meant to be a polished production – you will be along for the ride on a real project that will be sometimes exciting and sometimes not. This is authentic, non scripted access, with us in a new and very different location.
3. I will be primarily focused on chatting with you all via the live broadcast – explaining what I can – in real time. So as always, questions on Facebook + Twitter via #cjLIVE.
4. The awesome peeps at the Museum of Glass are letting us use their broadcast tech and facilities so it’s going to feel a lot more renegade than normal…just how we like it ;)

It will be very casual – feel free to come and go as you please. AND!!! if you happen to live in the Seattle/Tacoma area – you are invited to literally drop into the museum hot shop right there in Tacoma. There is are seats there where you can watch us in the flesh.

Couple BTS snapshots from earlier in the project…

chase jarvis jp canlis glass

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chase jarvis jp canlis

For Photographers & Musicians: How to Shoot & Design Award Winning Album Cover Art

ChaseJarvis_!!!

We may be in the age of digital downloads (behind that link is a nice present for you), but musicians and the designers behind them still care deeply about their cover art. After all – whichever way you slice it – that image evokes a narrative about the music, the artist and/or the album. So I was flattered — and immediately on board — when Mario Andreoni of !!! (pronounced/also written Chk Chk Chk) asked if they could use the above image for their album cover, Thr!!!er.

Little did I know how big of a splash (yep, I went there) the cover would make. It was nominated for Best Album Cover Art of the Year along with steep competition from the likes of Daft Punk, Elton John, and the Flaming Lips.

As a photographer who loves music – I confess to LOVING to shoot these things. You might recall a photoshoot I LIVE streamed a couple years ago while creating THIS controversial album cover (where the blog post got more than 1,100 comments). I’ve also pointed to some other favorites here. But regardless, in light of the nomination, I reached back out to Mario with some questions about shooting and selecting album cover art. I wanted to know a little more about how they found my photo as well as learn more on their process of deciding on album art in hopes that those of you who shoot music (or make it) might pick up a touch of inspiration or at least a hint or two. Also, I couldn’t resist – as a long time fan of Chk Chk Chk, I had to ask what was up with their band name… The big Q-n-A follows:

First, can you tell us about this new album from a musical perspective?

Having a new producer (Jim Eno from Spoon) and a new songwriting partner/bass player (Rafael Cohen) were the two most significant changes. Songs were still “lived in” through demos, jamming and road-testing, but Rafael’s “pop” style and Jim’s sonic sense helped push us into new territory, which is what you want when making a new LP… or at least I do.

How did you find this this particular photo? Where did you first see it?

Years ago, I saw a poster in a dodgy Brazilian touristy shop of someone or something plunging into the ocean. I loved the mystery, you couldn’t tell exactly what was exploding into this VAST body of water. The feeling of that image really stuck with me.

At the time, I didn’t think to ask if the shop would sell it to me. It appeared to be a permanent fixture on their wall. I thought I might be able to find it, or something like it, on-line, which ended up being much more difficult. I underestimated the amount of “plunge” shots on the internet.

Anyway, I caught a thumbnail of your shot one day and it gave me a similar feeling, and it was totally unique. I think you could tell through my initial contact that I felt like it would make the cover special. It sort of became the cherry on-top of making THR!!!ER.

Is it unusual to find a photo that already exists that you want to use, as opposed to commissioning work?

I tried to explain the idea to our label (Warp) and while we MIGHT be able to commission, it’d be a gamble, and there just weren’t time and resources to do it. I subsequently fell into several Tumblr holes looking for something we could use.  There are a lot of great, and not so great, shots out there.

What was it about the diver shot that grabbed you? 

The splash. It’s a good one. Visceral. I also dig the detail as well as the ambiguity in it. I’ve had several people ask me what is making that plunge.

[Chase's note - hey photog's and musicians alike, this is your key here... he used the word "visceral." There is RAW STOPPING POWER to this image. Of course they added to this with their design as well - the tie in with 3's, the !!! and the orientation of the diver. In other words, you see this image and you are compelled to stop and take a closer look, regardless of your awareness of the band or even the content of the image. IMHO this is the golden nugget of this post - to ask yourself when shooting/concepting/planning your album cover shoot. Will this photo turn heads and get people to pay attention? If yes - continue. If no, go back to step 1 and devise a new concept.]

OK, gotta ask. As a long time !!! fan, what’s the official/unofficial story behind the name !!! and how does this theme of threes show up in your work [album art modified to show 3 divers instead of the original single]?

Using !!! as our name/symbol came from the movie “The Gods Must Be Crazy.” At one point in the subtitled dialogue, three clicking sounds of the mouth translated to !!!. One of us suggested we use the three clicking sounds, but not everyone could do it, so we co-opted it into using any three repetitive sounds, (aye aye aye, uh uh uh, etc etc etc), but keeping the translation !!!.

Our first few releases just had !!! on the cover, this is PRE-internet, and it was never a problem for us. You just put it at the front of your record rack!

Post-internet, our first big label (Touch & Go) asked that we supply a subtitle/spelling, and “chk chk chk” was how most people pronounced !!!, so there you go.

I guess the repetitive imagery is a hold-over from the intent behind !!!. The fact that you can actually form the diver image into a ! is more of a cosmic/happy accident.

Any details you’d like to share about the process of creating the album cover?

We toyed with a ton of variations: single/multiple images, different colors, placement, etc., and I have to give James Burton and the people at Warp a huge amount of credit for helping pull the final image together. I mainly just provided (many) opinions. The image itself is already bad-ass, placing three of them next to each other maintained our “theme” and fortunately made a compelling record cover.

For the benefit of those who are trying to license artwork, would you explain anything helpful from your perspective as licensee?

I think that whether it’s working with someone musically/artistically, it’s best to go directly to the source. Be honest about how you’d like to work with them and be fully prepared to be told to “f*ck off” & move-on.

We’ve been lucky enough to work with people that would seem “untouchable,” and knock-on-wood, it’s worked out for the better more often than not.

Is the One Girl/One Boy Video &Contest still going on?  Will you please tell us a little about the contest?

Yeah!  This was Nic’s idea. We couldn’t have Sonia Moore, the woman that sang on the LP, tour with us, so Nic thought it’d be interesting if we established a “contest” where people would record a video demo singing Sonia’s parts, and if chosen, they would come up on stage and sing with us when we swing through their town.

The kicker has been that we don’t rehearse. We just call the winner up when it’s time for the jam, and just about every time, it’s a home-run. It all works out.

To purchase !!!’s album, go to Bleep.com.

Find tour dates at the band’s website.

Follow them on these social channels:
Twitter
Facebook
Tumblr

[Check out ChkChkChk's video for their tune Californiyeah below...and have a lovely day]:

Creative Boot Camp for Your Summer Brain [a public service announcement]

creativeLIVE chase jarvis summer sale

This is a public service announcement that I think is valuable… I’m banking you know I’m co-founder over at creativeLIVE – where we’ve delivered more than 15 million viewer hours of creative education worldwide. (If you’re new, here’s stories about it in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, TechCrunch, AllThingsD, etc and stay tuned for my MSNBC segment coming in 2 weeks…)

This is a short-notice opportunity to take advantage of these long summer days –> Just got off the horn a short bit ago with the biz ops team over at cL and talked them into making creativeLIVE’s entire catalog of workshops discounted now through July 31 — some up to 50% off. That’s photo & video classes from your favs (joeyl, zack, vince, jasmine, sue, sal, tamara, etc etc), business classes for creatives, design, software training on all those damn creative apps the you love but drive you crazy, and lots of other goodness.

Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make.

Here’s a link to some of my fav courses of the sale (and click the big blue button over there to shop the entire catalog – all of which is discounted for the next 48 hours).

And the same deal goes for your friends. If you believe in what we’ve created at creativeLIVE — trying to make the world a more creative place — I would be humbly grateful if you shared the good word. Namaste (or whatever is better to say at the end of a post like this and happy summer camping for your creative brain).

The Artist as Athlete as Artist –> Travis Rice on Creativity + Art Galleries + Taking Risks

chase jarvis travis rice

Yours truly and Travis Rice getting motley at the...um...airport

The name Travis Rice has for some time been synonymous with the best snowboarder in the world. Literally, of that caliber. Which for those more inclined to the details, that means insane big mountain snowboarding and epic snowboarding films and photoshoots all over the world (watch him on #cjLIVE here). While “artist” may not be a descriptor that comes to mind when one thinks of Travis, I beg to differ. Individual sports like snow / skate / surf are are incredibly creative BUT ALSO…in case there was any doubt… Travis’ latest endeavor takes the artist part of this whole message to another level. You see, Trav recently kicked off an art gallery representing / showing artists, photographers, painters, etc, who focus on these sports…called Asymbol. There’s a physical gallery (in Jackson Hole, WY) + an amazing (affordable) online gallery here (but more on that later). Since I’m someone who came up photographically through the action sports genre myself, it’s clear to me that what Travis is doing is connecting the dots – tearing down walls, really – between athlete and artist. This approach is near and dear to me, not just because of my respect for his vision, but because in my early career I really thought I had to EITHER be and athlete or an artist – and it wasn’t until discovering the punk rock ethic of the early action sports scene that I realized I could be keep my jock-y roots and go deep into art – that I didn’t need to fit into stereotypes, I could be my own. Travis is amplifying that ethos with Asymbol. Now, given my schedule and T’s schedule, connecting in person to chat about this new project was no easy feat, but we managed to wrangle some time over a beer and a shot of whiskey at…an airport bar recently (really – so you’d better read this whole damn interview) to ask him a few questions that will interest you, my dear reader.

1) Alrighty man, tell us about your new(ish) endeavor Asymbol. What is the name all about too?

Asymbol is a gallery + art brand I started with Mike Parillo a few years ago. It’s about honoring and connecting with the art of board riding culture – from snowboarding to surfing to skateboarding. There are incredible working artists who’ve emerged from this creative culture and are in the process of transcending it. We felt there wasn’t a gallery that was really focused on it, so we made one.

The name Asymbol has sort of a double meaning. On the one hand, it refers to the symbolic nature of art and what it stands for in terms of pushing cultural boundaries and challenging our beliefs. On the other hand, it also refers to the act of assembly, in the sense of building community, making products and bringing people and ideas together for a common purpose.

Asymbol Owl, by Hydro74 aka Joshua M. Smith

2) How is this different than creative pursuits of the past for you? You’ve made movies, done contests, been a part of companies…how is Asymbol different?

Asymbol is different in that it’s really about creating a community of people around the art and the artists we’re working with. Making a film (like the Art of Flight) or putting on contest like Ultra Natural are super intense projects, but at the end of the day, they’re still projects. Asymbol doesn’t really have a definitive end – it just keeps evolving as the art and the community evolve.

It’s also different in that we’re focused more on artistic curation than raw artistic creation – that’s the job of the artists we work with. As I see it, our job is to find ways to build support for our artists and their art so that they can keep on doing what they love.

3) What do you hope to bring to the world with this new company?

I’d be happy if people spent some time on the Asymbol website exploring who these artists are and what messages and meaning they’re trying to convey through their art. What I love is that each piece tells a unique story — about the artist and what they were thinking and doing at the time they created the work. It might be a painting by Scott Lenhardt or a photo by Danny Zapalac that look nothing like each other, but the common elements are the stories that relate back to the culture of board riding.

One of the things we’re trying to do is make art more accessible. So much of our audience is younger and doesn’t necessarily think of themselves as fine art buyers, so we’re focused on innovating unique applications of our art on things like screenprinted canvas, t-shirts, laptop skins, water bottles and cases for mobile devices. These things still allow people to connect with the art very directly, but also serve a practical purpose. Plus, they just look rad. [my note --> feel free to buy some fresh stuff here.]

Craig Kelly Mural, by Scott Lenhardt

4) How do you run a business like Asymbol AND be a pro snowboarder? When do you sleep?

Sleep? What’s sleep? In truth, Asymbol is run by a small and dedicated team back home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I stay connected to them when I’m traveling, but my schedule gets pretty insane. It’s hard to have a conference call from the back seat of an A Star helicopter, but we’ve done it.

5) Who’s this rockstar Alex Hillinger?

Alex came into Asymbol last fall as my partner in the business. Mike and I met Alex through the art and tech conference he puts on every year called the GOAT, so his connection to Asymbol was a natural one. We really wanted to take Asymbol to the next level and we needed someone who understood what we were all about. Alex is crazy about snowboarding and art and his background in online business is really important if we’re going to grow Asymbol to where we all believe it can go. [another note from me --> for those who don't know, Alex has been a personal + professional advisor to me for years...helping make cjINC, #cjLIVE and even creativeLIVE work...hats off to him.)

6) What makes "Art" in your opinion?

That's a good question and I'm sure everyone has a different opinion about what makes art. For me, it's about being willing to put yourself out there and take risks. It's easy to sit back and say 'it's all been done before.' Artists don't let that stop them, they create ways to express their points of view that require them to get outside their comfort zones. Making art is risky and forces us to confront our fears of failure and of being misunderstood. I have a lot of respect for artists who don't play it safe. It may not always work, but it's really the only way to get to a place where it does.

7) What parallels do you see in art and sport? People always assume that one has to be jock or artist - is that true?

It seems to me that a lot of athletes gravitate to art as a means of self expression. Being an athlete involves taking risks -- especially if you're dropping into a spine for the first time, or riding a giant wave somewhere in the Indian Ocean. There's no reason there has to be a barrier between being a jock or an artist, and maybe that's one of the things we're saying with Asymbol. So many of our artists are also incredible athletes like Jamie Lynn or Adam Haynes. Parillo took gold this year at my luge course event, which was huge! The competition was fierce.

Red, by Chris Burkhart

8) Who are your influences as an athlete? Who are your influences as an artist?

There are so many — guys like Guch and Johan Olofsson and Craig Kelly who really pioneered big mountain freeriding. Terje and Jamie Lynn are still charging it today with style.

For artists, I’m way into the work of Andrew Schoultz, Carl E. Smith, Todd Glaser and of course, Mike Parillo who I’ve been collaborating with on graphics for years.

9) How is it running an art gallery in Jackson Hole, WY? Would it be better if you were in NYC or SF or something? Why or why not?

Jackson’s a big art town, it’s just mostly Western art of things like bronzed eagle sculptures and cowboys on horseback. I think it makes a lot of sense for Asymbol to be based in Jackson though. This place attracts people seeking to push the boundaries of athleticism and adventure that’s hard to do in a city. There’s an aspect of Asymbol that’s about freedom and openness that being in Jackson embodies in a lot of ways. It’s also nice for me in that Jackson is my home, so when I’m back from traveling, I can really focus on it without the distractions of a place like NYC or SF.

Thanks Travis. You are radical. Follow Travis across these channels:

Asymbol Website
Facebook
Twitter

Photographs Have Been Lying To You All Along — The Sordid History of Image Manipulation

With Adobe Photoshop looking ahead to its 25th anniversary, a handful of clever advertising pranks, and the recent exhibit at the National Gallery of Art on the history of photo manipulation [deets below], I thought we’d wax nostalgic for a hot minute on how far photography has come — and hasn’t come — from those pre-school days of cutting, coloring and pasting.

For those of us who love to wrench around in Photoshop on a good photograph…give it that extra somethin sometin…This is not news. But the fact IS that nowadays we inherently question the authority and authenticity of every photograph. This speaks to the ease with which any photographer today — professional or otherwise — can enhance, alter and outright mislead for fun or nefarious purposes through the use of the most simple digital tools. Those of us more savvy consumers + even the critics living in this digital world occasionally team up to provide the push back on the topic and identifying where have been crossed [see last month's post on the "un-airbrush photoshop hack"]. It’s a healthy and ongoing debate and a reminder to consider “truth” or “fiction” before adding that filter…

But that debate always gets a little tired for me, and as it does, I like to remind haters and lovers alike that image manipulation and other crazy shiz like this has been around since long before Photoshop. The visual past is still sordid, indeed. For example:

Photo via of click.si.edu


This portrait of Lincoln (arguably the most iconic Abraham Lincoln image we have) isn’t even Abraham Lincoln. It’s just his head, placed on Southern politician John Calhoun’s body. Apparently he didn’t have any “heroic” looking pictures, so they just stuck his head on Calhoun’s body, who, ironically was an ardent supporter of things Lincoln was ardently opposed to…

And if that’s not a guffaw, a simple search reveals a huge pile of examples like this or much worse. In the early part of the 1900′s, Stalin would have his political enemies air-brushed out of official photographs they had taken with him. If there wasn’t any photographic proof, then it didn’t happen.

Photo via of neatorama.com

As hacked press can be powerful tool for media’s manipulation of the public, the June 27, 1994 covers of Newsweek AND Time had two different versions of the same mug shot of O. J. Simpson. The Time cover makes Simpson look the part of a murderer — his face darkened and slightly out of focus, roughened to make him look more unshaven. The color saturation was also removed, making O.J.’s skin look darker. Matt Mahurin, the illustrator at Time Magazine who manipulated the photo of O. J., said he wanted the image to look “more artful, more compelling.” Looking at the images side by side, it’s not hard to see why many claimed Mahurin was using photoshop to make O.J. appear evil and threatening. In a word, guilty.

Photo courtesy of tc.umn.edu

There are also images like the one below, released in the weeks following the attacks on September 11th. It ended up hitting the public hard, even though it was a fairly obvious fake (the weather was wrong in the photo, the observation deck of the WTC wasn’t open when the planes hit, the plane in the picture is the wrong type). Most people were too pissed to look too closely and this picture stirred up a lot of sentiment on the web. Still makes me feel really yucky which helps underscores the point of my article here….

Photo via of urbanlegends.about.com

There are hundreds of examples of big time photographs that have been hacked into. And I’m guessing you can show me a few more of your faves (hit me w a link or two below if you care).

But if all that makes you feel uneasy…just take a deep breath. You’ve been looking at manipulated imagery your entire life. To grab some perspective that’ll chill you out, check out the online remnants of a recent exhibit at Washington, D.C.’s National Gallery of Art featuring some 200 works showing how today’s digitally altered photographs are just a long line of manipulation from the 1840′s to the present era. And, if you happen to be passing thru Houston before August 25th, you can check it out at The Museum of Fine Arts.

(Cy)Eyeborgs, Slingshots & Skeletons: 3 Minutes of Filmmaking Pays Out $200,000


GE’s Focus Forward films are 3-minute documentaries featuring some the world’s most exceptional and innovative people presenting their ideas and inventions. Each year the project awards $200,000 to winners of the Filmmaker Competition, many of which have their 3-minute films premiered at Sundance. You’re gonna wanna take a few minutes and enjoy one or two of these.

As an example — in the Grand Prize winning film — Neil Harbisson, who was born with achromatopsia (a rare condition that causes complete color blindness) works with another inventor to create the “eyeborg,” an invention that translates color into sound. He wears this device on his head and it literally scans the world for color and transforms it into musical notes through a pair of earbuds. He is considered the first recognized cyborg in the world. I’d say director Rafel Duran Torrent nailed it. [Best line from the winning film: "It is very human to modify one's body with human creations."]

I’ve included the other four winners below. Certainly GE is aiming to connect the dots… their brand + innovation … but kudos to them for supporting supporting filmmakers to do it, and for rewarding them handsomely in the process.

2nd Place
The Artificial Leaf | Jared P. Scott + Kelly Nyks

3rd Place
Slingshot | Paul Lazarus

4th Place
Bones Don’t Lie and Don’t Forget | Kim Munsamy

5th Place
Mine Kafon | Callum Cooper

Repurposed Vintage Cameras — Keep the Lights On + Other Unconventional Uses

ChaseJarvis_VintageCameras_andriux-uk_AmyRollo

© Andriux-Uk

An invention doesn’t truly achieve obsolescence until it gets turned into a night light. Or a meat grinder. Such it is for these retro film cameras, repurposed for some good fun, inspiration, and to invoke a sense of nostalgia for the days of dark rooms. Somewhere a hipster just gasped “the horror” and a grandfather went looking for his Dualflex III. Before you freak (or hate on the hacking of old cameras in gags like this)…Maker of these beauties, Jason Hull says…

“I’m not modifying cameras if they are in pristine condition or if they’re rare, I’d rather they stay usable as cameras in those cases. The ones I’ve chosen are lightweight plastic, produced in huge numbers and easily found for sale at flea markets/ garage sales/ ebay.” [and i'll add that, in my experience, they're often inoperable too...]

While I don’t think the Spartus neon-blue wall light would necessarily mesh with my pad’s decor, I say better lighting the way to the bathroom at midnight than rotting in a junk heap. Happy friday.

[have you hacked a camera into something cool? show me with a link]

(link to Jason in one of my fav art rags, Juxtapoz, here)

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© Jason Hull

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© Jason Hull

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© Jason Hull

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© Jason Hull

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© Jason Hull

Photoshop Action Hack ‘Un-Airbrushes’ Women’s Bodies

Dove has been running “Real Beauty” ads for more than a decade. Their agency Ogilvy in Toronto cam up with a pretty dope hack/secret weapon to raise awareness with photo re-touchers, art directions and designers to reconsider the messaging that they and their clients are promoting by thinning, coloring and generally adding or subtracting to women’s bodies for benefit of advertising to the masses.

By disguising a desirable Photoshop action in popular blogs Dove has seeded it in a way that folks will download it for their work. What appears to be a skin “glow” or brightening action actually reverses all previous manipulations and reverts images back to their original state and posts a layer of messaging about why they’re doing this. Clever hack for their cause.

Reality Bender — Interview with Street Artist that Transforms Sidewalks into 3-D Wonderland

Regular readers here know I’m a big fan of street art. And when I find good stuff, I share it. In particular the work of Tracy Lee Stum have blown my mind of late – pushing the boundaries of what can be done with perspective and chalk, creating innovative new ways to expand the medium. Where most people see a piece of chalk and a stretch of sidewalk, Tracy sees yawning chasms, hidden underground cities, mythological creatures and ancient gods. To Tracy, it’s all a matter of perspective. That’s why I caught up with her in an interview below.

Anamorphic art (distorted perspective which requires the viewer to occupy a specific vantage point) is as old as the Renaissance. This new stuff from artists like Tracy borrows from that era and overlays a new urban canvas — pieces taking as “little” as 4 hours, or as long as four or more days. Nevermind that sometimes weather conditions will destroy a piece before it’s even finished.

CJ: At this point in your career, you have made art in many different countries. Is there anywhere you specifically like to work?

TS: Good question! I like working wherever I have an adequate surface, good weather (no rain) and a crowd. Certainly big cities are terrific for these works but I am also keen to travel to more 3rd world countries to introduce the art form to communities there. Art inspires and oftentimes folks in those areas don’t have access to what the 1st world population has. I’d like to bring my art form to those out of the way places.

CJ: How do you keep your passion for this specific medium alive?

TS: I’ve been doing this for a long time – 14 years! – so I do understand about keeping the passion going for the art form. I personally strive to find new ways of creating innovative images with different approaches to composition and design – a challenge keeps me going! And of course, there is nothing as satisfying as getting to the drawing phase, where color and line and all the methods you employ as an artist come into play. That makes it easy to stay excited about the art. Authenticity is huge for me and I push myself to stay authentic.

CJ: When you conceptualize a piece, do you have a specific scale in mind, or do you wait for the perfect space to create an idea you have?

TS: It’s a combination of these things – I usually have a sketchbook full of concepts (ideas come to me intuitively and I simply jot them down for later reference) and when a project presents itself, I will consider location, actual site, space, size, and interactivity needs. Scaling a painting to work with live participants is a fun challenge for me and one that requires considerable mental contemplation. I spend quite a bit of time going over my image design to make it work the best it can with a particular scale. Some designs demand specific spaces and those come to the foreground when a venue or site is offered that will accommodate them.

CJ: Do you create your pieces completely from your mind’s eye, or do you have a sketch you work off of?

TS: In the past I have typically used a sketch, albeit rough ones, to work from. I’ve also used a camera lens to view the site and imagine a likely image for the space. Lately though, I seem to find that approach somewhat restrictive and prefer to create on the spot. I may rough out an idea and once the properties of a good design are worked out, I forget the sketch and go with impulses I get while working on the actual painting. Often times, and this has been true throughout my career, I begin with one idea and then make significant changes to the design as I am developing it on the street. Again, I receive impulses and follow those absolutely – they always take me to a better result than staying with a rigid framework. I’m fairly fluent in the principles that govern 3d works so I feel fully confident to spontaneously create a design at any given time and place.

Thanks Tracy. More of this badass work found here… http://www.tracyleestum.com/gallery

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Best Photo Locations: The Most Amazing Libraries in The World [Photos]

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© Andrew E Larsen / Seattle Public Library

Libraries tend to be some of the most architecturally stunning places in the world. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials.  From authoritarian classical gothic arches to sun drenched rooms made of ethereal glass, these buildings are sanctuaries, space ships, time machines and gateway all in one.

My local library is a celebrated architectural masterpiece. You can’t walk by the Seattle Public Library without taking a photo. Libraries of the world survive wars and revolutions because they are respected and masterful. The photo opportunities are abundant.

We managed to snag a few minutes of Seattle Public’s Librarian Marcellus Turner’s time to ask him a few questions. Enjoy.

The library seems to be one of the last places in America where no one tries to sell you anything. You can just hang out. Do you have an opinion on the library as a public space?

MT: Over the last 10 or so years, libraries have taken up the cause and role of the “third place” – a place / public space outside of home and work where people can enter and just “be” – participating in independent study, reflection, people watching or personal self-fulfillment.  Equally important is that the library as public space allows a place for our citizens to connect with others, actively engage in topics, lectures, and events and have exposure to the arts.  The fact that we offer these things for free is a fitting role for the library.

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© Steve Cadman / The British Library

Have you seen a major shift lately in reader tastes and the types of
books they read?

MT: I don’t think so, but this is not based on any true observation or research.  Having worked in libraries for so many years, I know that what goes around comes around and the reading tastes of library patrons everywhere continually circles, expands, contracts, and renews, just based on popularity, recommendations, life circumstances, age and new information.

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© Daniel Parks / UC Berkeley

What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?

MT: When people comment or directly share with me the love they have for The Seattle Public Library or  information that they found as a result of our staff’s assistance, as well as seeing the wonder and amazement from our visitors when then enter our doors and marvel at our wonderful facilities.

I don’t know that you can call any of this “my job” because it is actually the “work and job” of my 700 plus colleagues who work for The Seattle Public Library, making our grounds and facilities clean and useable, answering questions and assisting our patrons with their informational needs, and offering great programs and events that provide more access, exposure and understanding of important issues locally and across the globe.

A library in Rhode Island actually removed all of the books. You go there to download books. What do you think about electronic books and how they affect the library?

MT: There are several public and school libraries also doing this and I think it is a great concept if it is appropriate for that community.  As for e-books, I have to believe that whatever promotes reading and active engagement is a good thing.

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© Mr T in DC / Library of Congress Reading Room

I know a lot of bookstore employees end up spending most of their paycheck on books. Has working at a library introduced you to a lot of new authors and their work?

MT: Yes, you can’t help but have exposure to new authors and their works when you walk through our libraries, where we have books on display and are immediately re-directed to those shelves to look closer.  It happens for me here at the Central Library and in our neighborhood libraries, so I’m always adding new titles to my reading list.

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© Lauren Manning / Yale University


Is it still true you have to be quiet in a library?

MT: Respectfully quiet I dare say.  And I say it that way because our libraries are active places of connection, engagement and movement that carry with it some level of “din and hum, laughter and whispering, conversational tones, active participation and kids shrieking with joy at a story time.  So instead of saying that we actively enforce quiet, we opt for respectful quietness.

And yes, we especially encourage silence in areas of the library designated as quiet areas.

What is your favorite book?

MT: I really don’t know.  I have favorites over time, I have favorite authors, I have favorite readers, I have favorite subjects to read and I have favorite genres so it is quite hard for me to name one book.  But one of the books that I enjoy (but have read only once so I don’t know if that disqualifies it from being a favorite book) is a fictional book titled “The Company” by Max Barry.  And I like it for its crazy take on corporate work.   I also love JK Rowling’s creative mind just for the Harry Potter series and the character names, potions, classes and other imagery that is evoked in the series.

Thanks for your time. I know librarians are busy! Any last thoughts?

MT: Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to talk about libraries.  It has certainly been my pleasure.

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© Mik Hartwell / Royal Library in Copenhagen

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© Francisco Anzola / Mexico City

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© David J Laporte / Vancouver Central Public Library

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© Andrew E Larson / Yale Library

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© Alex Proimos / NY Public Library

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