(Video link here.) After we posted a video of Bjork frolicking in her “bell dress”, we got an email from a reader alerting us to the “sonic fabric” designed by Alyce Santoro. It’s a fabric made from polyester thread and audiocassette tape recorded with intricate collages of sound so that it is, literally, woven with sound. This video tells the story of Santoro’s inspiration and process in making this wild stuff; it’s an interesting, curiously relaxing inside-look at the unexpected connections and associations that carried her along, as one idea led to another to another…
Even though many of us are on email all day, there is absolutely no substitute for coming home to an actual letter or postcard you can hold in your hand. We recently tried out Postcardly, a service that melds our online lives with the magic of good old-fashioned mail. You upload a photo or graphic, add a message, supply the address, and Postcardly prints and delivers your postcards. We sent ourselves one of our graphic signs, and a photo from Ellen Silverman’s wonderful Cuban Kitchen archive. They took a week to arrive, but we were pleased enough with the quality, especially with photos. You can send an image directly from your phone, turning a snapshot into an instant postcard.
This is a great way to drop a line to someone who doesn’t use email, but it’s also a neat way to keep the printed photograph alive. Since getting a digital camera, we rarely print photos. But it used to be fun to give a friend a photograph they could tape on the wall and have on hand to look back to. read more…
While we were away, we discovered that SayMedia has included Sally and ‘the improvised life’ Say 100: The Voices that Shape Opinion. They polled ten category experts to identify ’100 Voices that Matter’. Thanks to Julie Carlson, founder of Remodelista, we share the Shelter category with the likes of The Selby, Desire to Inspire, and Design Sponge, among others...The 100 includes some seriously great blogs on the subjects of Food, Travel, Entertainment, Thought Leaders, Technology…and is a great resource for finding new sources of information.
We are thrilled.
When our friend Andrea Raisfeld sent us a compelling scan from Malcolm Gladwell’s piece Creation Myth in the May 16th issue of The New Yorker, we went online to find the story and explore its ideas more fully. In the process, the post we intended to write about the creative process turned into a post about bad design.
While trying to use the New Yorker’s digital archive (as print subscribers, we theoretically have access) we inadvertently encountered an avalanche of
ill un-considered technology. Our established password didn’t work, even when we reset it; the website didn’t recognize the email address we’ve used for years. Our first three emails to Customer Service went unanswered (There is no phone number for Customer Service on their Contact Us page). Then we began to receive robo-messages repeating the same instructions after each subsequent email asking for help. When we finally created a NEW account on our desktop, it would not work on our iPad.
Finally, we sent a very specific email outlining our experience and wrote HUMAN BEING PLEASE in the subject line. We got another non-sequitur robo-message, repeating previous instructions, this time signed “Shar”.
For ten days running, the digital New Yorker broke the record for website glitches, ineffective instructions, horrific customer service and pure wasted time. Bad design.
Our experience mades us hate a magazine we love. That’s REALLY bad design. But it also made us realize the simple key to good design (of anything): read more…
When she was two years old, Aelita Andre, now four, created paintings so sophisticated and beautiful, they fooled an art dealer, who thought they’d been done by an adult and wanted to represent her. Since then, Andre has gained worldwide fame, and her own website and dealer.
Seeing her gallery of paintings makes us think that some adult had her hand in at least the naming and marketing of them, and possibly guiding their making. (What kid would call something “Coral Nebula”? Is the perfectly split image below really the work of even an extraordinarily gifted 4-year-old?) But there seems no doubt from this video that this little girl is seriously into painting, following all kinds of ideas, and her own sensuality along as she works on canvases. Watching her work is mesmerizing; read more…
This weekend, Sally will be on The Splendid Table talking with Lynne Rosetto Kasper about Miso, and all the things you DIDN’T know you could do with it. You’ll also find Sally’s recipe for Grilled Miso Glazed Fish Filets and Steaks, just in time for grilling season (though it’s great done under the broiler as well).
Click here to listen to the show or download the podcast.
Related posts: recipe: rich porcini miso broth
This week’s New Yorker, with heart-breaking cover by Christoph Niemann also has illuminating (and heartbreaking) coverage about Japan.
As often happens, soon after we posted What To Do When Things Don’t Go as Planned, we found an example that fit it EXACTLY, which we’ve come to consider the norm: ‘like attracts like’. In the New Yorker’s recent Back to the Harbor (Seals return to New York), Ian Frazier describes cartoonist James Thurber’s process in making one of his most famous cartoons – a clear case of “asking questions forward.”
“One of James Thurber’s most famous cartoons is of a man and woman lying in a bed, and the woman is saying to the man, “All right, have it your way–you heard a seal bark!” Meanwhile, behind the bed’s headboard, and partly hidden by it, a large seal looks off to the left…The drawing came about by chance. Originally, he was trying to draw a seal on a rock looking at two small figures in the distance and saying to itself, “Hm, explorers.” When the rock Thurber produced looked more like a headboard, he adjusted and kept going.”
Related post: what to do when things don’t go as planned
This Saturday afternoon in New York City, The Calder Foundation is sponsoring a twelve-hour one-day event that presents a continuous series of artist film screenings, performances and music. It takes its name from Alexander Calder’s response to Work in Progress, his 1968 theatrical production, Maybe I should have called it ‘My Life in Nineteen Minutes’. An extraordinary group of artists will be showing work, Calder, Yves Klein, Eva Luna, and William Wegman to name only a few. Holton Rower, whose wondrous Pour Painting we posted about last week (the video went seriously viral) will be doing a “live pour”, guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience (we know, we once watched him make one).
“….Influenced by Calder’s investigations into improvisational performance, appropriated materials and continual change through the development of his iconic ‘mobiles,’ Maybe I should have called it ‘My Life in Nineteen Minutes’ will traverse history by reading it through the present moment, zigzagging through different scenarios via the slippage of time and space. It will engage an active audience through different media and temporalities via numerous set-changes, playfully interrogating life’s intermissions.
…Inspired by the long history of improvised DIY art performances as cultural strategy read more…
Events in Egypt are shifting moment by moment in what Huffington Post is calling the ”Battle for the Future”. Al Jazeera‘s ongoing reporting covers both immediate events in Egypt as well as the wider region and neighboring countries, as pro-democracy demonstrations seem to be igniting from one country to another. Although the news outlet is only sparsely available on American television, you can livestream it here. Video reports on CNN make vivid the danger journalists are in, as they attempt to report from the center of the action. Ben Wedeman, reporting on the widespread “rain” of rocks as terrible and effective improvised weapons, said “there’s no place to take cover out here.”
We sit and watch, at once riveted and heartsick and hopeful, at the change taking place before our eyes. read more…
Tara Mann who often works at ‘the improvised life’ is also pursuing a BFA in Communication Design AND a BA in Digital Media. She recently posted a portfolio of her work from last semester. We love her design of an intense philosophical essay: to format it as a WORKBOOK with lots of white space around the text. “Readers can take notes and brainstorm right on the page, next to the text.”
It’s a great design idea for many books. We envision it encouraging MORE interaction with the text, in a kind of dialogue, that could include writing, drawings, pasted in images, graphs. We want more books like that…
…(Even though we know that with paper costs being what they are, it is the opposite of what publishers want to be doing.)
After we published A New Year’s Wish Spirals On, with our not-great scan of a copy of the crumbling 45-year-old page from the New York Times, Laura Scott, a reader we have never met, wrote us. A librarian with access to the Historical New York Times Database, she hunted down the original astonishing ad that Alexander and Louisa James Calder placed on New Year’s Day so long ago, and offered to send us a pdf. It deserves a second posting.
That generous offer is a sampling of what comes to our Inbox daily, and the kind of people who have become the hackneyed-but-apt word “community”, linked together by ‘the improvised life’.
It made us realize that with our new years wishes, we neglected to say THANK YOU. We are so glad that you are here.
270 films from 2010 were spliced into one single, fabulous, illuminating 6 minute video, by genrocks (“I’m a girl by the way”)
“This year’s movies have legitimately transformed my idea of what is creatively possible. To commemorate, I’ve remixed 270 of them into one giant ass video.”
It’s amazing how much this video makes you “see” the past year.
Here’s a list of the films.