How soon is now?

Culture in a 24 / 7 world

Kickstarter Project of the Week: Cosmic Quilt – Interactive Installation/Student Workshop

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One of the ideas that I’ve been playing with recently is the dynamic between creativity and innovation. It’s something David Sable, the  global CEO of Y&R talks about often. While I think most would agree that the two go hand-in-hand, I’m starting to see something else as well: Innovation as creativity. Innovation of course comes in all forms and is seen in all disciplines, but usually one thinks of it from a technical aspect. Something that improves efficiency or efficacy perhaps. Creative innovation tends to be more artistic – cubism for instance.

But digital technology is combing innovation and creativity is startling new ways. Call it the New Aesthetic. Innovation, in the hands of a new breed of professionals called Creative Technologists, is taking on a startling look where the innovations themselves are beautiful or somehow embody creativity.

Take a look at this Kickstarter Project: The Cosmic Quilt

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Stunning, right?  This is a project from The Prinicipals. Based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn their studio focuses on industrial design, interactive environments and the influence of new technologies on traditional craftsmanship.

By uniting facets of architecture, fabrication and industrial design, their aim is to both define architectural environments as well as build them.

Following this approach in projects such as prototyping, production of original product lines and experimental architectures, the ultimate ambition is the design of spaces and objects that expand our understanding of the built realm without abandoning its history.

Here’s how they describe the project:

Have you ever wondered what buildings will look like in the future? If the kind of interactivity we have come to expect in our devices will ever make it’s way into the architecture we inhabit?

Soon, just as we can sense a space as calm, contemplative or frenetic, the space itself will be able to sense our presence and react accordingly.

This May, The Principals and 20 students from the Art Institute of New York will take the first step to allow the public to be able to experience this new type of architectural space.  Over 1 week, we will instruct the students in the construction of a reactive architectural environment that will open to the public during New York Design Week, May 19-21.

Students will learn to network a series of sensors, motors and micro-controllers through a unique system developed by The Principals in their Brooklyn studio.

I hope you’ll take a moment to help fund this project. If you want to see the other projects Y&R NY has funded this year, take a look at our Kickstarter profile page.

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Kickstarter Project: A Guidebook of Alternative Nows

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A Guidebook of Alternative Nows

Combing through the vast expanse of the Kickstarter universe is a fascinating exercise. The breadth and scope of the individual projects is something to behold, yet I also notice that certain types of projects seem to over-index for the platform. Got a graphic novel, RPG or music project you’re trying to fund? You’ll have plenty of company.

And despite the digital nature of the platform, I seem to be constantly pulled towards people creating things in the analog realm. This week I’m backing A Guidebook of Alternative Nows, which bills itself as a collaboratively created book with over 30 contributions by visionary creative thinkers and makers – from the Yes Men to the Critical Art Ensemble and the Community Economies Collective – that illuminates ways contemporary artists, activists and others are devising  more socially, economically, and ecologically just versions of “now.”

I’m always eager to explore alternative pathways and solutions to problems and I find this project interesting because it’s trying to collect a broad range of thinking and solutions, rather than just focus on one area.  I’m also intrigued by the collection of contributors:

The Yes Men / The Laboratory of the Insurrectionary Imagination / Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative / Temporary Services / Critical Art Ensemble / Jeanne van Heeswijk / Recetas Urbanas / UrbanFarmers.ch / Artist Bailout / Howling Mob Society / Fallen Fruit / Spurse / TJ Demos / Valreep Social Centre / Trade School NY / the vacuum cleaner / New Social Art School / Monochrom / Llano del Rio Collective  / Solidarity NYC / Ken Ehrlich & Kate Johnston /swearonourfriendship (Jenn Su & Laura Noguera) / Watts House Project /Platform London / Annie Sprinkle & Beth Stephens / Conceptual Devices / The School of Critical Engagement / Precarious Worker’s Brigade / Georg Hobmeier & Tommy Noonan / Billy Mark / Sasha Costanza-Chock (Indymedia)Dr. Jenny Cameron (Community Economies Collective) / Ethan Miller (CEC)

So, please, check out this project and consider supporting it. You can see the other projects I’ve supported through this program here and feel free to check out Y&R New York’s Kickstarter profile. To see what else we like.

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Kickstarter Project: MAP 005 CHERNOBYL, a publication.

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If you’ve been following Y&R New York’s Kickstarter Program, you know there has been a focus on the real, the tangible, as opposed to the fully digital. This week’s entry is no exception. MAP (Manual of Architectural Possibilities) is the brainchild of architect David A. Garcia, who runs David Garcia Studio with base in Copenhagen and New York . Find out more about MAP here.

So many of the educational challenges in this country can be solved through design. MAP is a great example of this. As described on the project’s Kickstarter page:

MAP (Manual of Architectural Possibilities) is a non profit publication aiming to merge the fields of science and research on one hand, and architectural design on the other, to encourage discussion through design. The publication exemplifies this approach via its format. MAP presents itself as an A1, folded in the shape of traditional maps. Research and data are shown in one page, and architectural projects on the back.

MAP - Floods

MAP - Floods

Culturally, we are moving in the direction of visuals as a means of communication. Data Viz, Infographics, video, these are the language of the New Aesthetic.

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Need To Know: PSFK’s New Print Magazine

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Two continuing themes of this blog have been my admiration for PSFK, and my belief in quality print publications, whether they be experimental efforts like theNewerYork lit mag or ‘work as a lifestyle’ tome, Monocle. So when I read yesterday that PSFK was launching a new magazine called, Need to Know, well it was like chocolate and peanut butter coming together. So, this week I’ve stepped away from my weekly Kickstarter Support Project and ‘invested’ in this worthy effort.

Need to Read

As I’ve said before, I don’t think print is dead, it’s just crappy content in print form that is dead. I caught up with Piers Fawkes, one of PSFK’s founders to ask him about the project:

Rick Liebling: You recently wrote about issues [Ed. - my word, not his] you had with Monocle, do you see Need To Know as an antidote to Monocle in any way?

Piers Fawkes: Ha. I don’t have any issue with Monocle. Tyler and his gang inspire me. They make an amazing product. I just said that it’s less and less designed for someone like me. Monocle is a Rolls Royce – and while I like the brand, I probably need a BMW type of mag.

Need To Know is a test to (a) see if we can make a slow-form magazine while we still produce with our rapid blog-like publishing speed, (b) see if there’s a market for slow-form content that PSFK is interested in writing about and (c) to do it once, so the next time it can be better

RL: Was the decision to do a print magazine a response to reader interest, or did the idea come from within PSFK?

PF: Partly from me. Partly from email exchanges with the journalist Rob Walker and the planner Russell Davies. I suppose I only buy magazines when I’m at the airport and after a bout of travel recently, I looked at what I was reading and thought, “I could do something like this.”

Rob told me two things: that I should make every issue timeless so that it can be picked up in a year and still be relevant; and also to make every issue a ‘special’ around one theme. Russell told me to keep it analog and not try to put in real-world hyperlinks or like buttons (I guess through QR codes and AR).

I feel there’s an opportunity to deep-dive into subjects I know the PSFK audience wants to know about – and because we have PSFK.com - I know I don’t have to compete with the web by providing news.

Creating this magazine is pretty easy for me. (Making it a good read is still hard work). Once this first issue comes out on March 30 [Ed. - in conjunction with PSFK's New York conference] I’m going to find out how the news-stand system works and see how I can shortcut it to test selling the magazine near where our readers work.

When discussing the world of magazine publishing, it’s always a good idea to check in with Samir Husni. Known as Mr. Magazine™, Samir A. Husni, Ph.D. is the founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media. He is also Professor and Hederman Lecturer at the School of Journalism. I checked in with Husni regarding Need to Know and he told me:

“I think as print changes from a disposable item to a collectable item more and more people are going to enjoy the ”experience making” of print.  Magazines are much more than just content providers.  They are experience makers.  Unlike digital, you can feel their weight, see their real shape, feel their structure and hold the story from beginning to end in your hands.  They were, are and will continue to be the best lap top, tablet ever invented… and the cheapest for that matter.”

So, will Need to Know find a spot in the marketplace? I don’t think it wil be easy, but I have tremendous respect for the people involved. I’m confident the content and design will be strong, the question becomes can they find a business model that makes the effort sustainable?

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Kickstarter Project: LowLine – An Underground Park on NYC’s Lower East Side

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This week I’ve broken one of my Kickstarter Project rules. When I started this at the beginning of the year I said I wouldn’t support projects that had already achieved their funding goal. The point here was to help projects get funded, not jump on the bandwagon of popular projects. But I’ve decided to make an exception for the Lowline: An Underground Park on NYC’s Lower East Side. There are two reasons I’ve decided to break my rule for this project. First, this project is so awesome is scope and ambition. It will be an absolute game changer if it it realized. Secondly, though they have past their original monetary goal, additional funding will help take the project to new levels.

With that out of the way, take a look at the video:

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See what I mean? Amazing.  Check out the full Kickstarter page and be sure to support the project.

Here’s a local news story on the project:

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I was happy to see Double Fine raise $3+ million plus on Kickstarter, but at the end of the day that’s a game. The Low Line is not just an urban renewal project for New York, it’s a critical development for all major metropolises. Innovation on this scale could potentially help people all around the world, and the direction we are headed in with megalopolises sprouting up across the globe, well, you can see the utility.  I’d love to see this one hit $1 million.

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Kickstarter Project: This is not a Conspiracy Theory

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After a week off (supporting Feltron instead), I’m back to Kickstarter, this time in support of the latest project from Kirby Ferguson, This is not a Conspiracy Theory. Hopefully you are familiar with Kirby’s earlier work, Everything is a Remix, which can only be described as essential if you want to understand creativity.  This time around Ferguson is turning his attention to politics. He describes the project thusly:

 ”A series with massive scope, rooted in solid storytelling. I’ll use history, science, psychology and economics to tell the story, and I will make it relevant, accessible and seriously entertaining.”

Watch the full intro video here.

Kirby Ferguson

Ferguson’s work is an oasis of thoughtfulness in a sea of instant memes, “viral” videos and YouTube stars that get hyped before they do anything (I’m looking at you, Lana Del Rey). Ferguson does his homework to present deep insights and does so in a way that is expertly and professionally crafted. This is why his work stands out, he’s an excellent storyteller. We’ve seemingly got a shortage of this sort of thing right now.  Everyone is racing to create today’s “5 ways to jumpstart Pinterest for brands!” blog post, or crack the Klout algorithm. That’s ok, they’ll always be a place for that sort of thing, but Ferguson’s work deserves our attention, and support.

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