Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Block Out American Idol

These Media-Sensitive glasses are designed to darken automatically when a television is in view, to protect the wearer from the mind-numbing effects of TV. And they are named after a Hitchhiker's Guide gag, so that makes them 42 times cooler. You can read the creator's thesis here.

Apparently they are even impervious to bad reality television and Tom Cruise grandstanding appearances on Oprah.

Via We Make Money Not Art

Parson's D + T

Parson's Design and Technology Program is currently hosting its Thesis Exhibition in New York. The projects I've read about so far demonstrate the program's focus on innovative design that harnesses emerging technologies.

The program sounds amazing, and it is definitely something that might lure me back to graduate school one day.
For masters students of the D+T program, "the process of problem solving is at the core of their investigation. The dialogue pushes beyond the visual; design is seen as a mechanism for developing strategy, knowledge organization, business structure, and social consciousness. It provides fertile ground for investigation of the aesthetic and intellectual challenges created by technology."

I'll let the work speak for itself - although the interactive voodoo torture device gets a special shout out.

For a look at some of the projects featured in this year's exhibition, "DT Saved My Soul," check out Josh Rubin and Wired. Or go check it out for yourself if you are in the NYC area - details below.

Design + Technology

Annual Thesis Exhibition

May 26 - June 10

Aronson Galleries

66 Fifth Avenue
and 2 West 13th St.
Mon-Fri 9-9, Sat-Sun 9-6

Breakfast of Champions

This is a belated photo from my trip to London.

Yes - those are tiny bottles of liquor in the vending machine of the hotel. The British do love their drink.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Memorial Day Weekend

PRADE will be celebrating the memorial day weekend with a bar b q on the roof and a trip to the war memorials on the Mall to pay my respects.

I'll also be rooting for Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat to represent South Florida and put a hurting on the Pistons in Game 3 of the series on Sunday night. Wade County isn't just the land of big booties and rollerblading hotties - there is also a serious b-ball squad that resides there (and a certain underrated lyrical genius known as Trick Daddy.)

Can you feel the Heat?

Sea Orbiter

I don't really know too much about this floating research laboratory designed by Jacques Rougerie, other than the fact that it is intended to float along the oceans natural currents, and is capable of collecting data on climate change, atmospheric conditions, fish resources, bacteria, etc.

What I do know is that it seems slightly less cool than the Belafonte.

Via Archinect

People Like to Argue

The NY Times has a great article trying to lay groundrules so that computer geeks can actually have meaningful discussion of the differences between Mac and Windows operating systems.

Most tech heads have a strong opinion on the subject one way or the other - and often ignore all of the rules that David Pogue lays out. But it would definitely be a more interesting and productive debate if people followed some of these guidelines.

But I have a feeling it is like the greatest MC of all time debate - it will continue indefinitely with neither side ever listening to the other. Biggie vs. Pac, Nature vs. Nurture, Evolution vs. Creation, Cats vs. Dogs, or Mac vs. Windows. People are just stubborn and irrational - and rarely interested in hearing someone else's opinion or detaching their feelings from their point of view long enough to have a debate based on reason and logic instead of emotion and ignorance.


This morning's pessimism brought to you via Life Hacker.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


MoMA's landscape design showcase, Groundswell, hits the web in a digital form - with photos and information on all 23 featured projects, including in-depth explorations of six feature projects.

The exhibition was broken into three themes -
Designing the Urban Stage, Simulations of Nature and New Topographies, and The Bad and the Beautiful. It is interesting and eye opening to see the care and thought that goes into the design of many of these public spaces, redefining what many people might think of when they see the term "landscape design."

I particularly enjoyed the transformation of the abandoned steelwork plant in Duisburg, Germany. The new park on the site embraces the contrast between industry and nature, using the obsolete infrastructure of the plant as dramatic landscape features. The result is a series of gardens, plazas and recreational areas that make the blast furnace and steel catwalks of the plant seem like archeological artifacts of a previous industrial society that abandoned the site long ago. One ore bunker was even reimagined as a recreational climbing wall.

Check out the exhibit

Land + Living

Mac Sound

Ever wonder about how Mac came up with that iconic start up sound? Yeah, me neither. But it's one of those things you can find out on the web regardless of if you cared to know it in the first place.

Here is more than you ever cared to know about the start up sound that has been playing on my Macs for years and years (I've owned nothing but Apples since my first Apple IIc!)

Via Gizmodo

Thom Mayne Lecture

Ever want to attend a lecture by a Pritzker award winning architect? Now you can, from the comfort of your own home - just click right here.

Thanks to Archinect for spreading public knowledge through their Architecture Radio feature.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Wired on Firefox Viral Videos

First of all - the latest issue of Wired is fantastic. I haven't been able to put it down since I got it yesterday. Some really interesting articles covering film, green technology, gaming, and stem cell research. All of these fascinating articles are available online, with the rest of the magazine's content debuting on the site in increments in the next few weeks. Look for the Olympic bid coverage for a great comparison of the 5 competing bids for the 2012 Olympics.

That being said,
Wired is reporting on a new evangelical marketing effort from Firefox devotees - online videos. Firefox has largely grown based on word of mouth and grassroots organized marketing - and transferring that strategy to video content seems to be resonating well with online users. Thousands of users have already downloaded the videos and passed them along, with this one being one of the most popular home grown ads.

As a Firefox user - I can say that it definitely kicks tail. It seems like Microsoft is already planning on appropriating some of its advantages in their next release, but if the cult of Firefox persists - it may secure its role as a legitimate alternative to Internet Explorer.

Chariots of Nike

I recently told my office's resident runner that I was halfway through watching Chariots of Fire for the first time - which made him visibly excited (the cat really really likes running!)

Well, he shared this Nike commercial with me (bottom of the page) - one that makes much more sense if you've seen the film, but is wonderfully simple and effective regardless. The ad really hits the message behind Nike's Free running line - which is that no sneaker is as advanced technology as your bare feet, so this shoe lets them move freely.

Those Nike guys are really good at selling sneakers - who knew!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Hercules, Hercules

Want to wow your friends? Try some of the strong man tricks featured in this 1952 book by Ottley R Coulter, called "How To Perform Strong Man Stunts."

In addition to real tips on how to execute common strong man feats of strength, you can marvel at the amazingly cheesy illustrations. It's up to you whether you decide to wear what appears to be the strong man uniform of tight, knee-length spandex pants with a belt.

Via We Make Money Not Art

PUMA eCatalogue

I have to agree with Josh - the Puma Summer eCatalogue is very cool. Almost makes you feel like you are sitting at home on your . . . er, throne, flipping through the pages.

But none of Puma's offerings are as stylish as Josh Spear's Nike iD contest submission - so please remember to vote for them at least once a day!

TIME's 100 Best Movies of All Time

TIME recently released a list of the best movies of ALL-TIME according to their film critics. Surprisingly, the list isn't your run-of-the-mill group of Best Picture winners, but actually has some interesting and unusual choices - like City of God, and a film by one of my favorite directors, Terry Gilliam, called Brazil.

I respect the monumental task of compiling a favorites list - as a friend and I recently tried to name our favorite movie from each of the past 10 years and I was struggling for hours. However, there are some glaring omissions in my mind - for example where is Apocalypse Now and Do the Right Thing? And apparently they have decided to exclude documentaries as well - which I guess is understandable if you are limiting the history of film to just 100 choices, but again undermines the importance and artistic significance of documentary film.

The list also seems to include some very commercial fair, but then exclude other similarly successful commercial films that could be argued to be just as artistically deserving (ie. Lord of the Rings and Finding Nemo are on the list but Braveheart and Full Metal Jacket are off). TIME's list seems to be half-way between a list based on artistic principles and one selected using the cultural and social impact of the films. Black filmmakers are severely underrepresented, despite the huge impact that films like Boyz N Da Hood had on the American consciousness. And it appears that the entire continent of Africa couldn't produce one film considered important enough for the list, but the remake of The Fly apparently deserved acknowledgement. Another minor complaint is that you can't sort the list by director - as most film buffs would probably prefer.

But in general, I find these lists are helpful in expanding people's experience of older films - encouraging them to explore films that they otherwise would have never considered. With the world of DVD and Netflix rentals, rediscovering these classic films is easier than ever - and I encourage all film enthusiasts to check out some of the films on the list that you haven't seen. I know I'll be adding a few of these to my Netflix queue so that next time I weigh my favorite films of all time, I can be well versed enough to defend my selections intelligently.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Japanese Manholes

Apparently interesting design permeates all aspects of Japanese culture - even manhole covers.

These designs would make any street more colorful and visually stimulating. They are like stained glass windows into the soul of sewer and access tunnels.

Via Core 77

Cure for the Case of the Mondays

I'll let this one speak for itself - but it really made me smile on an otherwise overcast Monday.

Via Overheard in New York

Tape Men

A friend and co-worker hipped PRADE on to a great DC street artist named Mark Jennings.

Mark documents his works on his own blog, Tape Men - apparently named after a series he does of men made out of . . . tape.

As a pure coincidence, I saw someone holding a tape baby on Saturday sitting outside of Cafe Saint Ex. Now I know just what it was I saw - as I had just assumed the gentlemen at the table got bored with the conversation and whipped up a small man made of tape.

To get a sense of the artist and his work, I suggest reading this great post about a piece he put together in a local park. It shows Mark's desire to create dialogue with his work and his interest in creating dynamic interactions with "charged" spaces.

Via the culture guru, Clay.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Nike iD Blog Contest

Nike reached out to some design bloggers and invited them to participate in a contest to design their own custom Nikes using the Nike iD site.

Obviously the results are limited by the options Nike offers on the site - but I really dug Josh Spear's white and yellow kicks - partly because he picked the coolest Nike model to build off of - the FC Football.

Nike must have misplaced my email address as I was not invited to participate. If I would have been, I would have created these masterpieces.

But since I'm not in the contest, I highly recommend you vote for Josh's clean, summery design. If he wins, he'll even share the love with you in the form of a gift certificate to Nike iD.

Josh's lemonade kicks

PRADE Loves Primates

In case you hadn't noticed by now, PRADE loves primates of all kinds. So I'll find any excuse to write about our opposable thumbed brothers and sisters.

One World Projects is a company specializing in marketing renewable rain forest products in order to create economic opportunities for local communities that are sustainable and do not damage the precious biodiversity of these regions. The plushed stuff monkeys they offer on their site are both cuddly and socially conscious.

Created by Fundación Ecolombia, a Colombian organization dedicated to rehabilitating and re-releasing confiscated wildlife seized from illegal trafficking, the monkeys are part of Ecolombia's plan to create economic alternatives to poaching and trafficking for local communities. Ecolombia hopes to educate local populations about the importance of protecting Colombia's natural resources, including its many species of New World monkeys. The plush toys represent the variety of species that the organization will recover from traffickers in order to introduce back into the wild.

The plushees make great gifts - as they benefit more than just the recipient while demonstrating your interest in conservation and social justice. They also show people what a Cotton Top Tamarin Monkey looks like.

Breezehouse Erected

The Sunset Breezehouse I talked about here is apparently going up on site this weekend at the Sunset Celebration Festival.

Via Treehugger.

Gehry's Corcoran Wing May Not Fly

The Washington Post today featured an article outlining the financial problems facing the Corcoran Gallery's plans to construct a dramatic expansion, designed by architect Frank Gehry. The museum had hoped that the high profile architect might help increase the traffic to the museum - a phenomenon known as the "Bilbao Effect" after Gehry's design for the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain drew worldwide attention to the museum.

However, the fundraising efforts for the new wing have fallen short so far, and the museum has apparently been operating in the red for a number of years. Combined with some bad luck and a slumping economy that has seen a decrease in the number of wealthy stock owners who might be patrons of the gallery - the future of the expansion is now in jeopardy.

While it is disappointing to hear that the city might not get a new piece of modern architecture to spice up the somewhat drab buildings that grace the downtown and Mall area, I am more concerned to hear that the gallery is in financial problems that jeopardize its very operation. With $40 million in repairs needed for the existing building - maybe it makes more sense to preserve the Corcoran that we have first before building the Corcoran of the future.

But maybe this call to action will inspire some generous philanthropists with deep pockets to help make the Gehry wing a reality. This Washingtonian definitely hopes so.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Piano Man

You can't make this shit up.

They found this guy dripping wet on a beach, and though he is seemingly unable or unwilling to speak- he is apparently a talented concert pianist?! He drew a sketch of a piano, and when the doctors found him one, he went straight into playing Swan Lake.

The latest is that he might be a French street musician.

I'm sure Russel Crowe will play the role with Ron Howard directing.

Via Lemon-Red

Brain Teaser: Su Doku

While reading this story about Su Doku, I became curious and decided to see what all the hype was about.

And two hours later I'm fairly hooked on this little logic game. I prefer it to a crossword puzzle - because everyone has the necessary tools to solve this - it is about reasoning not about knowledge. Hence old people won't have an advantage on you here - as opposed to the youth handicap innate in the NY Times Crossword puzzle.

Math-impaired need not worry - the game is not about adding or subtraction.

Try it out for youself here for free.

Score One for the Little Guy

Netflix has defeated one of its primary competitors - and by competitor I mean large company that stole their idea almost identically and then delivered inferior service for a slightly cheaper price.

Wal-mart and Netflix have reached an agreement in which Wal-mart DVD rental customers can essentially migrate to Netflix service, and in return Netflix will inform its customers that they can purchase DVDs at Wal-mart.com.

I don't know what caused Wal-mart to cave, but this definitely is a huge win for Netflix - although now a showdown with Blockbuster looms.

Via Engadget.

The Kool Conspiracy

Kool Is Bollocks is an interesting new site exploring the question of whether the concept of "cool" has been hijacked by the corporate world completely and even investigating whether there ever was a concept of cool to co-opt in the first place.

Inspired by the extremely viral Memes.org, Kool Is Bollocks features some inspiring original thought - so it is likely to be shut down by the government or The Gap at any moment.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

International Genographic

My girlfriend passed along a very interesting link today to The Genographic Project, a collaboration between the National Geographic Society, IBM, geneticist Spencer Wells, and the Waitt Family Foundation, aimed at mapping the evolution of the human species using DNA data.

The 5 year effort hopes to collect data from indigenous people around the globe in an effort to trace the migrations of our ancestors through the imprint they left on human DNA. For $99 you can contribute to the research - both financially and genetically. Your kit includes materials to submit your DNA to the mapping effort, revealing the genetic and physical travels of your ancestors.

The website features an informative, though somewhat confusing, interactive map and timeline revealing the movements of ancestors that have been studied so far. The Genographic Project is already debunking old theories and providing new evidence of the movements of homo sapiens and their predecessors.

Liberation Day

While in Jersey, I attended some of the Liberation Day festivities. This included a memorial service for the forced laborers who were prisoners of the Nazis during the German occupation of the Channel Islands.

My uncle was the host of the ceremony and did a wonderful job putting together an honest, meaningful service that included a poignant speech from historian Bob le Sueur and the laying of wreaths in remembrance by representatives and family members from a host of countries - including an official military attache from the Russian embassy in London and the Bailiff of Jersey.

Other celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Channel Islands included a visit from the Queen, reenactments of the liberation, and a stunning fireworks display at the harbor set to music and exerts from Churchill's speeches on the BBC.

The occupation of the Channel Islands is a fascinating piece of often overlooked history - and one that I am personally connected to through my grandmother (a Jersey native who lived through the occupation) and grandfather (a Spanish Republican forced laborer). To learn more about the occupation of the Channel Islands click here.

Clive - a Jersey veteran who served as an engineer for the British military. He built 22 bridges under fire, including one as part of the D Day operations.

Gary Font (my uncle) at the memorial service for the forced laborers.

Lions of London

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Tiger Style

All in all, my sneaker hunting afternoon in London was pretty disappointing. While I did find some great stores in the Covent Garden area, I failed to find any surprises or must-have sneakers to cop. But maybe it is the globalizing nature of the internet that has removed all surprise from the purchasing game. There was little out there I hadn't already seen or read about on the net.

The only pair of kicks that even made me look twice were these interesting Nike's at Offspring. I wouldn't rock them myself, but they certainly are distinctive.

I will say that while I was checking out the various sneakered feet walking by me on the street, I saw a great variety of different styles and flavors that make me think the Brits are slightly more sneaker conscious than their US counterparts. So good on you lads.

BAPE T Shirt Spotting

With all the Star Wars hoopla circulating the internet right now, I thought this t-shirt discovery I made in London was appropriate.

Although I find the artificially created
limited supply of BAPE products a smart marketing move, I found many of their items to be disappointing in terms of quality. When you buy BAPE, you really get only the image, not a superior product. And at the price of many of the items, that is a pretty unsettling discovery.

But this t-shirt I came across in a small London spot struck me as both clever and cool. And for 20 quid it was one of the more reasonably priced BAPE items I'd seen.

I also dug their take on Mr T. That slanted eyebrow says all you need to say about the attiTude. If you wear this shirt, you definitely
treat your mother right.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Gorilla Lounger

If it hasn't become obvious to this point - I really dig primates. They are like people - only way more interesting.

So, other than on my recent trip to the Jersey Zoo, the coolest gorilla I've seen is the one from ICFF featured on
Josh Rubin. This giant upholstered gorilla is comprised of three separate pieces of very usable furniture. Dubbed "Ooh Ooh" by it's designers LIFT collective, the gorilla just makes you want to re-enact donkey Kong with some empty kegs and an old stepladder.

Expect this to be the centerpiece of my kid's playroom the second I (A) have kids, (B) build them a playroom, and (C) can afford this gorilla lounger.

Throw Away Your Brita

An Australian inventor claims that clay, dirt, coffee grounds and cow patties are all you need to make safe drinking water available to the entire world. He has developed a way to create terracota clay filters using all readily available materials, according to an interview with Radio Australia.

“They are very simple to explain and demonstrate and can be made by anyone, anywhere,” says Mr Tony Flynn. “They don’t require any western technology. All you need is terracotta clay, a compliant cow and a match.”

The filter is made by mixing terracotta clay, dirt and organic material (coffee grounds, tea leaves, rice hulls, etc). It then needs to be fired - but there is no kiln required. Flynn has developed a method to use cow dung and straw as a makeshift kiln.

The question that immediately came to my mind was - how does this creation actually filter water? Well Flynn has an answer for that one too.

"Well, in the case of the addition of coffee grounds to the local clay, it does a couple of things. First of all it greatly increases the total volume of the tiny holes or pores within the filter structure and when it’s fired as I’ve just described in the manure mound, the heat burns the coffee out, leaving the holes but which also contain small fractions of silica that aren’t combustible and are a result of the combustion of the combustible fraction of the coffee grounds. Now these small voids or holes in conjunction with their silica content and the network of tiny holes that are joined in three dimensions within the clay particle mass, act as the filter structure and they are small enough to allow the simultaneous passage of water through them, while equally being small enough to remove bacteria that we tested for – in this case E-coli."

Flynn hopes to test the process using clay and soil from other areas, and ultimately introduce the process to communities in the developing world that have little access to clean water or resources to produce it.

Via Treehugger.

The First Platypus

"Even God has a sense of humor.
Just look at the Platypus." - Dogma, 1999

Initially dismissed as a fake or a hoax, the first platypus specimen ever sent to Europe from Australia is finally being shown to the public. Although the 200 year old specimen is too fragile and too scientifically valuable to be placed on public display - the Natural History Museum in London (which I visited on my recent trip) allowed it to be photographed for the first time in order to be featured in an Australian newspaper.

This particular specimen is the holotype or "type specimen" of the platypus - the first sample used to describe the species Ornithorhynchus anatinus. Because of this, the little guy is kept sealed away in humidity and temperature controlled storage. Oddly enough, the important specimen was misplaced for many years by the museum - uncovered years later without its accompanying skull of the animal.

All this is terribly interesting, but really I just wanted an excuse to talk about what a bizarre little creature the platypus is. As if it wasn't enough to look like the offspring of an amorous encounter between a beaver and a duck - the platypus is one of only 4 known species of monotremes - egg laying mammals with only one posterior opening for intestinal, urinary and genital tracks (known as a cloaca - my new favorite insult). The male platypus is also venomous - with ankle spurs capable of dealing a world of hurt on a victim.

In a steel cage death match for the weirdest known mammal, the platypus can pretty much take on all challengers- with the offensively long-fingered aye aye producing its only real competition.

Via BBC News

Remix the Classics

Penguin - the publisher of all those classic novels you had to read in high school - is hosting a very promising contest called Penguin Remixed. They have made audio recordings of thirty of their classics available to be used as samples in audio tracks. Contestants upload the music they produced using those samples - and visitors listen to and rate the various tracks. The 10 winners will have their music published in a Penguin digital audiobook that will be available on the UK sites for Audible and iTunes. Other prizes include the entire Penguin library, MP3 players and subscriptions to Audible.

You must create or have permission to use all the loops, beats and samples on your track - and your choice of Penguin samples ranges from Alice in Wonderland to Moby Dick to The Ugly Duckling.

So far, the tracks are interesting, but not earth shattering. However, I can only imagine what a talented producer could do with these classic words and voices. So spread the word, and keep checking in to vote for your favorite tracks. Winners will be announced at the end of July.


Behind the scenes: Architecture Critique

I didn't get a chance to post this last week, but Land + Living had a great article looking at the critique - a peer review session used in architecture schools to both tear students down to size and give them a taste for client presentations.

Having never been to architecture school - I found the personal reflections on the process amazingly interesting. It is even more insightful when paired with this article about how designers bullshit about their work.

As someone who has considered architecture school - it is all definitely food for thought.

Chris Abraham Gets Some Shine

Congrats to Chris Abraham, a friend and fellow blogger who was featured on Wonkette this weekend.

Chris has shown PRADE a lot of love in these early days, and it is nice to see him inundated with visitors. Especially since that is how many of you found your way here over the weekend!

Oki Ni Gallery

While in London, I stopped by Oki-Ni's design gallery on Saville Row, and got an up close look at the Zoomer - their foray into the world of motorized vehicles. The Zoomer is a 50cc Honda that features a liquid cooled 4 stroke engine, a paired down exterior styling, extra-wide front and rear tires and dual headlights

I first heard about the Zoomer back in February on Josh Rubin, and it definitely caught my eye. But up close it was even more impressive. The camoflauge green edition has a great, military-inspired yet urban look that even makes riding a scooter look cool again. While I wasn't able to take the Zoomer for a spin, I did seriously contemplate whether I could pull off the scooter-owner life style (If you wear a suit to work, you should NOT, I repeat, NOT, ride a scooter. You look as ridiculous as you think you do - topped only by bicycle riders with their suit pants tucked into their sock.)

The Zoomer is a result of Honda's "N Project" development team - a group of designers and engineers tasked with creating products that appeal to the younger generation of devout capitalists.

Oki-Ni is the exclusive retailer of the Zoomer in the UK - with an extremely limited number slated for release (only 15 available). You can learn more about "Zoomer culutre" here, but chances of buying one over here in the states are pretty slim.

The only other item in the gallery that really grabbed my attention was this pair of Oki-Ni speakers. It wasn't that the sound was mind blowing, just that I really enjoy the idea of making your speaker into a decorative element instead of just a black or grey box. And the playful Oki-Ni branding is bound to make your auditory experience a happy one.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Most Comfortable Chair Part II

Ok, after never seeing another chair like mine in 2 years, I just spotted the second twin in a week.

This chair on Craigslist looks just like mine, and the post hints that it is a 1971 recliner from Danish designer J E Ekornes. The description calls it the "stressless chair" which certainly sounds like my baby.

Anyone in the DC area - I recommend you scoop this one up before it is too late!

An Oak Tree at the Tate Modern

While in London I stopped off at the Tate Modern. The building is appropriately ugly from the outside, as it is a converted power station. However, the inside space is fantastic, and I was particularly impressed with the various areas designated for people to merely sit and hang out. Although DC residents are used to free museums, it definitely isn't the norm in other cities. But the Tate is open and free to all - and I saw several people hanging out on the couches provided, reading and writing. Offering up that type of public space in a museum is fantastic, and really demonstrated the attitude of the building as a place to contemplate art not just walk by and look at it.

During my visit, I was particularly interested in seeing the Magritte pieces in the collection, and they certainly didn't disappoint. After entering into a heated debate with my lovely PRADE-ette later in the afternoon about the essence of art and the nature of art as a statement - we came across what became my favorite piece in the museum.

It was entitled "An Oak Tree" by Michael Craig-Martin. The piece looks like this:

Copyright Michael Craig-Martin

It features a glass filled with water, set high on a shelf. The idea that the artist is calling a glass of water "an oak tree" immediately calls to mind Magritte's "This is not a pipe" and echoes the notion of art as a conceptual exercise rather than an aesthetic one that is largely credited to Marcel Duchamp. But what really made the piece so interesting to me was the text that accompanied the piece, written by Craig-Martin himself.

It reads like a Douglas Adams passage, and immediately made me realize that the artist has both a great sense of humor and an interesting perspective on the nature of art that makes this piece thought-provoking and not merely an exercise in intellectual masturbation. I'd be interested to see if his other work demonstrates a similar wit and conceptual creativity, because this piece was exemplary.

The full text is copied below. Enjoy.

Q. To begin with, could you describe this work?
A. Yes, of course. What I've done is change a glass of water into a full-grown oak tree without altering the accidents of the glass of water.

Q. The accidents?
A. Yes. The colour, feel, weight, size ...

Q. Do you mean that the glass of water is a symbol of an oak tree?
A. No. It's not a symbol. I've changed the physical substance of the glass of water into that of an oak tree.

Q. It looks like a glass of water.
A. Of course it does. I didn't change its appearance. But it's not a glass of water, it's an oak tree.

Q. Can you prove what you've claimed to have done?
A. Well, yes and no. I claim to have maintained the physical form of the glass of water and, as you can see, I have. However, as one normally looks for evidence of physical change in terms of altered form, no such proof exists.

Q. Haven't you simply called this glass of water an oak tree?
A. Absolutely not. It is not a glass of water anymore. I have changed its actual substance. It would no longer be accurate to call it a glass of water. One could call it anything one wished but that would not alter the fact that it is an oak tree.

Q. Isn't this just a case of the emperor's new clothes?
A. No. With the emperor's new clothes people claimed to see something that wasn't there because they felt they should. I would be very surprised if anyone told me they saw an oak tree.

Q. Was it difficult to effect the change?
A. No effort at all. But it took me years of work before I realised I could do it.

Q. When precisely did the glass of water become an oak tree?
A. When I put the water in the glass.

Q. Does this happen every time you fill a glass with water?
A. No, of course not. Only when I intend to change it into an oak tree.

Q. Then intention causes the change?
A. I would say it precipitates the change.

Q. You don't know how you do it?
A. It contradicts what I feel I know about cause and effect.

Q. It seems to me that you are claiming to have worked a miracle. Isn't that the case?
A. I'm flattered that you think so.

Q. But aren't you the only person who can do something like this?
A. How could I know?

Q. Could you teach others to do it?
A. No, it's not something one can teach.

Q. Do you consider that changing the glass of water into an oak tree constitutes an art work?
A. Yes.

Q. What precisely is the art work? The glass of water?
A. There is no glass of water anymore.

Q. The process of change?
A. There is no process involved in the change.

Q. The oak tree?
A. Yes. The oak tree.

Q. But the oak tree only exists in the mind.
A. No. The actual oak tree is physically present but in the form of the glass of water. As the glass of water was a particular glass of water, the oak tree is also a particular oak tree. To conceive the category 'oak tree' or to picture a particular oak tree is not to understand and experience what appears to be a glass of water as an oak tree. Just as it is imperceivable it also inconceivable.

Q. Did the particular oak tree exist somewhere else before it took the form of a glass of water?
A. No. This particular oak tree did not exist previously. I should also point out that it does not and will not ever have any other form than that of a glass of water.

Q. How long will it continue to be an oak tree?
A. Until I change it.

Xbox 360

Before I post the recently released details about the Xbox 360, let me take this opportunity to denounce the painfully horrible infomercial that MTV aired about the Xbox last night. The idea of featuring a half hour special on the Xbox 360 launch in primetime is ridiculous to me regardless. But the way they executed it was even worse. Number one - SWAY might be the most annoying talentless hack ever. Number two - the freaking hobbit hosting the party was beyond irritating. Number 3 - you could learn more about the actual Xbox from reading a press release in 2 minutes than watching 30 minutes of that drivel. It was like Teen Dance Party meeting ugly sweater guy infomercial. And the celebrities were about as honest with their enthusiasm as a Bush nominee would be at diversity training.

Anyway, the new machine sounds pretty amazing - an improvement on the already industry leading game system in my opinion. Aesthetically it is just so so, but it seems that Microsoft is eager to make some cash off of the customization market themselves by introducing changeable faceplates and other additions. The all wireless controllers is a bold move and a smart one, and I like that I won't be paying for hard drive space I won't use (who really keeps mp3z on their Xbox?)

There is great coverage of the Xbox 360 at ARRT and you can read the official press release here.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Most Comfortable Chair in the World

I own the most comfortable chair in the world. Now, this isn't a subjective label I have bestowed on it to make you jealous - it truly is the best chair anyone has ever set their posterior on since the dawn of time. It is the throne from which I reign over my modestly sized 1 bedroom apartment.

Where did I get this fantastic chair? From a friend who bought it at Goodwill. And it was a bargain! I have no idea who made it, designed it, or even how old it is. But it is seating divinity.

Where can you buy this unbelievable butt landing pad?

Well you had a chance to buy it from Good Eye, but it has already been sold. Which is unfortunate for two reasons. Number one, I probably would have bought it and had a PAIR of the most comfortable chairs in the world. And number two, I wanted to know what the going rate is for seating ecstasy.

A spitting image of my chair. I don't have the ottoman - but I'd be willing to bet it is the most comfortable ottoman in the world.

I dare you to sit in my chair and not be immediately relaxed. Yes, it is THAT comfortable. It has lulled many an unsuspecting victim into a drooling and snoring laden doze.

It is the chair that my future wife will undoubtedly argue with me about removing from our house. But she'll never win. Because who the hell is going to throw away the most comfortable chair in the world? Well I guess someone must have for it to end up in my hands. But I will never part with this god among mere mortal chairs.

I intend to be fed applesauce in that chair at the senior center, when I'm wearing diapers and reminiscing about the good old days when kids listened to hip hop and wore baggy pants. And you can bet my weary old bones will be comfortable in my chair.

Blast from the Past - The Sailor

The traffic for the site has gone up considerably since it first started (considerably is a relative term I know, but I was surprised that even 1 person not related to me would check the site out on a regular basis.)

Since these folks missed the early PRADE posts, I thought I'd feature one or two PRADE "Blasts From the Past" over the next couple of weeks to show them what they missed.

Here is a post from February 22 about a rum with an unusual history.

The Sailor

I spent this past weekend visiting my long-time friend in Nashville, TN. I can't really tell you too much about the place, because we spent most of Saturday on the high seas with Sailor Jerry. Sailor Jerry is a delicious spiced rum that comes in a bottle with one of the most unique and striking label designs I've seen (I did extensive research on alcohol labels in high school and college). The Sailor definitely treated us right even after we downed three bottles of his prized rum. After navigating my way back to DC, I did a little research into the story behind this mouth-watering (and 92 proof) rum. Yo ho ho.

The rum is apparently based on Sailor Jerry's personal recipe. I don't know if that part is true, but it is adorned with great artwork from Jerry, who was the pioneering tattoo artist in America. He studied the art of tattooing on his world travels, then opened up a tattoo parlour in Honolulu in the 30's, ensured a steady stream of clientele by his original and bold designs that were a hit with the flood of sailors in the area. You can learn more about the history of the man

The William Grant produced rum is part of a creative branding effort by
Gyro Advertising in Philadelphia that includes a full line of Sailor Jerry clothing, accessories, and other products based on "Sailor" Jerry Collins' tattoo designs. They own the brand themselves - an interesting route for an advertising/pr fim to take, but one that has proven extremely successful. You might recognize Gyro's campaigns for clients such as Puma, but you will more likely recognize CEO Steven Grasse from his angry face in the Real World Philadelphia house.

So next time you are in the liquor store, think about engaging in mutiny against the Captain and go with Sailor Jerry.


My small Indian friend, Jason, cheesing with the Sailor!

Nike iD Takes Times Square

Apparently the NY Post featured an article about Nike iD at the beginning of the month. Nike iD is an online sneaker customization feature that Nike offers on certain shoe models that lets consumers choose color combinations and even add embroidered words to the shoes they purchase.

While I missed that piece, I did catch HYPEBEAST's coverage of the Nike iD Times Square promotion - which features a giant screen displaying Nike's customized by users via their cell phones.

While I find Nike iD's customization somewhat limiting (I still haven't been able to create any pair of kicks in my desired Brazil colorway!), I love the idea of the interactive display. Nike seems to be seizing on a growing trend in which companies are looking for interactive marketing opportunities. I remember reading about Arcade months ago - an interactive light installation that lets users play Tetris and other games on the facade of a building - all controlled by their mobile phones.

I knew it was only a matter of time before companies utilized similar technologies - and Nike iD is a great fit considering it is based on users customizing their own product. I haven't been to Times Square recently to check it out - so if anyone snaps some pictures of their own creation gracing the 22 story digital screen - send them my way.

There is also coverage of the story on Sherry Palmer's blog, focusing on how Nike intelligently made the interactive display free for users.

P.S. Don't think Nike is completely interested in consumer freedom though. They reserve the right to reject any words submitted for placement on the shoe. So "Reebok" or "Sweatshop" probably won't make the cut - although maybe you can get away with "Overpriced"

We Do Stuff

Huh? is a hilarious spoof site for an imaginary e-marketing company.

As someone who works in the e-marketing/consulting industry, I have to say that not only is the site hilarious, it is also painfully insightful into the underlying truths of the industry. I bet Huh? could even get business from some e-ignorant companies based on the "creativity" of their own branding.

Some highlights:
  • "Our name will confuse you, but, you have to admit, the logo design is pretty cool"
  • "We have a meeting room with a big, round, expensive table. When you hire us for marketing and consulting projects, we spend lots of time sitting around the table having meetings."
  • "Our main consulting strategy is to convince clients that we do stuff they can't do themselves, and that we deserve lots of money for it. The best way to do this is to always look good, and always sound like we know something you don't."

Via Core 77.

PRADE is Back

PRADE returns from escapades in O.J. (Old Jerzey- spelled with a "z" to make it sound hard)
The trip included a two day stop in London - which featured some museum trips, sneaker shopping, pint drinking, crisps eating, and extensive tube riding.

I'll be catching up at work for the remainder of the week, but next week PRADE will feature full coverage of the trip.

Thanks to those of you who have been checking in while PRADE was out of commission - know that PRADE is back, refreshed, and ready to roll.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

PRADE Crosses The Pond

PRADE officially takes off for England later today - and will be incommunicado until the middle of next week.

After a brief stop in London to check out a few museums and a few out-of-the-way sneaker stores, I'll be heading to the Channel Island of Jersey.

No, not New Jersey - home of smokestacks, interstates and big hair.

My friend from NJ thinks wildlife means squirrels and pigeons

the original Jersey, a small British island off the coast of France - where Grandma PRADE lives along with the rest of the fam (uncle, aunt and cousins). Jersey is not only home to the Jersey cow, but the island also hosts stunning medieval castles and a dramatic coastline. It also boasts Jersey Zoo, one of the finest zoos in the world - and the site of a 1986 incident in which a silverback gorilla named Jambo saved the life of a little boy who fell into the gorilla enclosure.

Jersey on a sunny day (rare but stunning!)

This brief hiatus is a great time to explore the PRADE archive for any stories you may have missed before discovering the site. When PRADE returns look for brand new reviews of some London sneaker stores, my take on the Tate Modern museum, and even the chance of a potential Queen spotting report.