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Lawrence Lessig & Shepard Fairey on Art, Commerce and Corruption Read More
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Somewhere between fashion, art, performance, technology, architecture, and that mom who dresses her twins exactly the same everyday, lies the work of Di Mainstone. Though she first stretched her creative wings at UK fashion brand Soochi, the collaborations she found herself initiating with architects and dancers would alter her route from the traditional to the experimental, creating wearables that are far from what you’ll find at Forever 21.
At first glance, Jon Cohrs’ Urban Prospecting project looks like one of those late-night-tv pyramid schemes our well-intentioned aunt got tied up with in the early 90s. But with tongue firmly planted in cheek, Cohrs’ Black Gold Rush is actually drawing renewed attention to, and creating a way of engaging with, an oil spill twice the size of the Exxon Valdez disaster right in his Brooklyn backyard. The Greenpoint spill occurred nearly 15 years ago, and very little has been done in attempts to clean it, contain it or deal with it in any real way, in part because it is now underground and out of immediate sight. It’s only by studying maps and abstract data that one would even know the boundaries of the spill today. That is, until Cohrs’ found a way to tap into the common motivators of personal greed and a sense of humor to approach the topic. Conceived at a time when crude oil prices were skyrocketing, the Urban Prospector is a modified hand-held metal detector, fitted with combustible gas sensors, that can theoretically ‘show you the money’ lying just beneath the surface. Of course, one would still need to devise some way to extract the oil and then find a market for it, but those logistics are sort of beside the real point. It’s about getting folks talking about, and interacting with, this very real environmental problem.
Featuring workshops approaching issues as diverse as Policy, Economic Development, Access, Health, Sustainability, and Organizing, the massive conference expects nearly 2,000 attendees. Five main co-sponsors, Caribbean Women’s Health Association, Brooklyn Rescue Mission, World Hunger Year, Brooklyn’s Bounty and the PSFC, and over 120 partner groups, have jumped on board for the inaugural event.
It’s clearly conference season, but one recent and worthwhile addition is the massive community-based affair masterminded by the Park Slope Food Coop called the Brooklyn Food Conference. Featuring workshops approaching issues as diverse as Policy, Economic Development, Access, Health, Sustainability, and Organizing, the massive conference expects nearly 2,000 attendees. Five main co-sponsors, Caribbean Women’s Health Association, Brooklyn Rescue Mission, World Hunger Year, Brooklyn’s Bounty and the PSFC, and over 120 partner groups, have jumped on board for the inaugural event.
Combining popular mobile technologies and grassroots on-the-ground efforts, the TapIt Water program connects empty-canteen-carrying water seekers with cafes and restaurants who offer good, clean, NYC tap water at no charge.
When it comes to utilizing design or creative thinking to shape our society, few avenues are more direct or have more potential than reaching out and fostering a commitment to social responsibility within our schools and our children. An interesting newcomer to this form of education is Design Ignites Change, an initiative created by Worldstudio Projects and Adobe’s Youth Voices, which promotes and encourages high school students to use design thinking to solve real world problems. Fostered through a mentoring program which pairs creative professionals or university organizations with area high schools, the projects address a range of issues from diversity and hunger, to homelessness and gun violence. Each project is highlighted on the initiative’s website, and selected groups will receive financial grant awards in the form of student tuition or project funding. Design Ignites Change is also an interesting way of introducing creative fields as a career path for young people, and instills early the myriad possibilities to use it to approach social issues.
Amidst the debate over the multi-billion dollar bottled water industry (is it really a debate anymore?), rises another complication in our consumer relationship to water: sure, you’re bringing your own Kleen Kanteen, but how much water was used to make that? Or the jeans you’re wearing, never mind the burger you had for lunch? The Wall-Street Journal recently reported “it takes roughly 20 gallons of water to make a pint of beer, as much as 132 gallons of water to make a 2-liter bottle of soda, and about 500 gallons, including water used to grow, dye and process the cotton, to make a pair of Levi’s stonewashed jeans.”
Thursday night, we were treated to an insightful and inspiring production at the New York Public Library as part of their Live from the NYPL series and sponsored by Wired. Titled “Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy”, the event featured Lawrence Lessig, founder of Creative Commons among other things, and Shepard Fairey, whom you may have heard of recently. Moderated by cultural historian Steven Johnson, it intended to focus on the future of art and ideas in an age when practically anything can be copied, pasted, downloaded, sampled, and re-imagined. Less about commerce and more about moral and congressional corruption crippling artistic expression, the panel was self-admittedly pretty one-sided about the whole debate.
Spun from the Berlin-based illustration and design organization and festival Illustrative e.V., the new art and culture magazine Objects–Journal of the Applied Arts grabbed attention from the global creative industry when it launched this past fall. Presenting international trends in design and discussing the duality inherent in “applied arts”, publishers Pascal Johanssen and Katja Kleiss are fascinated with both the physically produced object and craft as a process in itself.
Competition? Mergers? Supply and demand? Find our what’s cooking at the Food Court. These are the kind of directions you’ll find as you make your way through the Saturday Morning Cartoons style website You Are Here, created by the Federal Trade Commission to teach kids how marketing and advertising are influencing the way they shop.
Friday, we had the opportunity to tour Brooklyn’s newest “green space”, a seven story office building on Flatbush Avenue in the Downtown area. Stuffed to the gills with beautiful salvaged and reused materials (from industrial kitchens to carnival-ride horses, and everything in between), the building is currently home to creative businesses for whom sustainability is part of their core mission. One floor belongs to a non-profit collaborative comprised primarily of architects and urban planners called MEx, and another to the many tenants of Green Spaces (including coffee distributors, bakeries, sound studios, and video production companies). The most recent floor to open up is Treehouse, created as a community-oriented office sharing space by furniture designers Ecosystems:
The Canadian Center for Architecture is exhibiting Tools for Action: What You Can Do With the City through April 19, 2009. The exhibit presents 99 recent events from around the world in which simple acts of walking, recycling, painting, playing or gardening has transformed some aspect of urban negativity into a place for positive change. International contemporary architectural projects, design concepts, research studies, and other ideas are conveyed through a range of materials including architectural drawings, photographs, videos, publications, artifacts, and websites. Rather than using traditional tools associated with urban planning and design, the instigators of these actions offer an intensely focused personal engagement. The exhibit’s website provides not only photos of the installation, but also lists all 99 actions, such as #4: Reclaim Vacant Lot with What City’s Got (see photo) in Seville, Spain, and #79: Paint Grows Soccer Field in United Arab Emirates.
As if we hadn’t already heard that print is dead and digital is the future, Reuters reports that Google has bought a paper mill in southeastern Finland, in which it plans to build a massive data center. Not only is this purchase an ironic sign of the times, it’s another step Google is making toward staying ahead of its competitors Microsoft and Yahoo. As the NY Times reports, Google is turning barren and once industrial spaces into sprawling data centers to hold their growing wealth of information. They describe one such large-scale initiative currently underway in rural Oregon: