I've got a couple posts written and ready to go but no energy to dig up images. I've got the flu. Lovely.
A Certain Lack of Focus
Monday, February 25, 2008
Matt and I got caught in a snow storm or three on the way home from DC last Monday. Aside from the fact that bad weather is always scary when driving (and I was happy Matt was the one behind the wheel) the weather did catch my attention in an unexpected way.
Snow has a distinctive look to it when it's caught in headlights, or street lights. Rain has a similar pattern but snow looks so much more solid (because it is) and real. In a streetlight you might notice that while it doesn't seem to be snowing all that hard anywhere else, in the light it's terribly thick. Headlights are the same when a car is stopped, but the effect changes when a car is in motion. At low speeds the snow merely gets a horizontal, windswept look to it, but when you're on the highway, going fifty or sixty, the snow gives a heightened sense of motion. Perspective becomes simplified, like a comic book, with a vanishing point right in the center of your vision. You can't see much aside from the snow which moves so fast it's line fragments rather than dots, streaking past your car in a cone. In fact the visual is nearly identical to what we see in a sci-fi movie when a spaceship goes into hyperspace.
I doubt that this is coincidental. It's easy to see how an early designer might have been driving through snow while trying to come up with a visual representation of something that's completely beyond our ability to create. This visual: stars moving behind the camera's viewpoint to become streaks of light, is now so a part of our consciousness that we take for granted that it's what traveling at close to the speed of light would look like. Of course we can't know what it would really look like but if you asked someone to describe what is currently impossible, many would readily give you a rendering of snow rushing past a car. Maybe there is no connection, but I think design often works this way, with seemingly unrelated images coming into well known ideas of the future.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Improv Everywhere released a new video yesterday. It's not quite as striking as most of their "missions" but it's interesting for other reasons. This was the first mission by Improv Everywhere: Singapore, part of their IE Global group. If we think people in the US are potentially twitchy about large groups of people acting strangely, it's nothing compared to Singapore where they apparently have a law preventing groups larger than 4 people from gathering. The group explained that the law made planning the stunt difficult, which is perfectly logical.
Personally if I lived in a places with laws that restrictive, I'm not sure I'd be so quick to jump on board with a prank like this. There are many things worth risking arrest by oppressive governments, I'm not sure that this is one of them. Nonetheless, it sounds like they pulled off their first mission without anyone getting in trouble, so I'll give them kudos for that at least.
Friday, February 22, 2008
A little while ago I posted a link to the youtube video inspired by a speech by Obama. I just ran across this video, posted on the eleventh, inspired by McCain and thought it also warranted a post.
It makes me giggle. There've actually been several video spoof type responses to the "Yes We Can" video. Two that I found just by clicking around are here and here, but I think the one above is the best.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
William tagged me, he said to help my procrastinating. In true procrastinating style, I'm finally getting around to it more than a week later:
1) The rules for this meme are:
2) Link to the person that tagged you.
3) Post the rules on your blog.
4) Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
5) Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
6) Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.
1- When I ride in a car I have to tick off the road lines with my eyes and fingers. If I'm looking anywhere near them I won't be able to stop myself.
2 - I sometimes bite my nails down so far that I need a band-aid. Right now for example. Which is making typing difficult.
3 – I stopped drinking soda/pop about two and a half years ago, but I still crave it. I DREAM of drinking Pepsi, and when I pass a bar I think: God I want a drink, but I mean the soft variety.
4 – When I was a kid I thought I was an alien and was always confused by the fact that I looked so much like my parents.
5 – I don't remember how to write in cursive.
6 – Because I'm always trying to do a hundred things at once, it's often difficult for me to get anything done at all.
Tag, you're it (I'm so sorry... blame the coroner):
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Friday, February 15, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
This is completely unrelated to anything I would normally post on, but I'm so appalled that I had to write it down somewhere. According to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, it's ok to torture innocent people because they are not protected by that little "cruel and unusual punishment" thing. It's not punishment, it's interrogation, therefore it's fine. Apparently it's ok to use cruel and unusual techniques on people who've not been proven guilty. So I'm twisting his words a little, but seriously, it's terrifying. And I promise you, I'm not twisting his words nearly as much as he's twisting his own: he's using debating techniques worthy of a seven year old. I quote: "Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to determine where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited in the Constitution?" Yeah, I know he's talking about preventing theoretical terrorist attacks but I didn't realize you could torture someone to see if they were planning to do something bad. That would certainly make law enforcement a whole lot easier. How the hell did this guy get on the Supreme Court? I can't even blame Bush for this one. Read the whole thing here.
*Photo from Wikipedia
Monday, February 11, 2008
As with the Obama music video, everyone has probably already seen this, but I wanted to post it just in case. This is the (probably) latest stunt by Improv Everywhere, a group that gets hundreds of people together to cause "scenes" in public. You can look at their events as anything from a practical joke to an interactive work of performance art. I believe they're most famous for the blue shirt prank at Best Buy a few years ago.
This video in particular is actually a wonderful example of people interacting creatively with their spaces. One of the things that makes these scenes so brilliant is that they executed and then abandoned without explanation. I'd have to think that witnessing one of these scenes would be pretty shocking... in a good way.
This week's another crazy one.
While I've got a few minutes, I wanted to mention that I'll be making some changes to this blog. The theme, which is currently vaguely defined as looking at design, or looking at the way we interact with our spaces, or... well, actually it's not really defined at the moment, will be changing (I think). I'd like to start talking about design in fantasy. I'll go into a bit more detail later this week to explain what I mean by that. I hope to post about three times a week but continue (ha) my daily drawings and photos although they'll have nothing to do with the blog theme. We'll see what I decide to do with that in the long term, I'm pretty attached to both even though I've been pretty bad about posting drawings lately (including tonight, there will be no drawing tonight).
More later this week.
Friday, February 08, 2008
If you've been to my portfolio already, you've already seen this drawing. Go to the gallery to see the other four in the series.This is an old one... it's from my BFA thesis at ND, but it's still one of my favorite pieces and it fit this week's Illustration Friday too perfectly to pass up (plus I don't really have time to draw anything else this weekend). Hoping to get back into normal blogging and daily drawings next week.
*Click for larger version.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
I realize I'm a bit slow on this one since the video came out I think on the 2nd, but I just found it and though it was worth a mention.
Now ignoring the fact that I support Obama, I think this video is interesting purely for what it demonstrates. This is one of the best examples of how technology and youtube is impacting this election. Well, maybe. I'm not sure if we can measure how many people decide to vote for Obama after seeing the video. I think it's a pretty cool intersection of electronic age and politics. I've never seen a politician's speech put to music or art like this before, and especially not so quickly, have you? I'm not really sure what my point is here... I guess I just think it's an indication of the changing forms of communication and information.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Monday, February 04, 2008
I noticed something interesting the other day when Matt was shopping for new dress shoes. Many men's dress shoes these days have gel pack insoles to make some part of the shoe, in this case the heel, softer than the rest. This isn't really surprising or even that new. What was interesting is that in most cases these insoles were intentionally left visible.
This seems to be a trend with shoes in general, though less so with dress shoes. New advances are made in shoe comfort and the shoe designers decide to make it extra visible to advertise that the wearer is sporting the very latest in shoe technology. Or something. This is not normally possible with dress shoes, but since this alteration is on the inside, the manufacturers can make it obvious to the buyer at least, that they've used the utmost of shoe technology to ensure their comfort.
There's one problem with this, which Matt found much to his sorrow. For someone with a sensitive foot, the edge of the gel pack is noticeable, and has the possibility of growing uncomfortable if not painful. Matt had some problems with one of his feet a while ago and, though he liked two of the shoes he tried on, decided not to buy them because of the visible insole. The silly thing is, that edge would probably not be a problem if the manufacturers chose to cover it with even a thin layer of fabric. If that wasn't enough to do it, I'm sure the padding required would be minimal. Then the wearer could get the benafit of the technology without the inconvenience of that plastic edge. I can almost hear the designers saying: "but then how will the customer know that this shoe has the very latest shoe technology, which is of course very important?!" I wonder if anyone's done some kind of survey to see how many people are more likely to buy a shoe because of the visible element (and I'm sure that actually does have a positive affect on sales) verses the number of people who will not buy them due to feeling the visible element. Any thoughts?
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Yes, it's time for another picture of our cat.This one is Tricky (the name and the description). She gets up to absurd places that no earth creature should be able to get to without suction cup feet. The only cat I know of with suction cup feet is Garfield.
Speaking of cats, I made Chyna and Tricky into a lolcat the other day. Go vote for it! I'm hoping if it makes it to the main page I might get some visitors out of it...
Here's a drawing for this week's Illustration Friday. The topic is blanket.Initially I was planning to draw the blanket draping to the floor around them, but I realized I really liked the effect of peeking through the white paper instead (plus I'm lousy at fabric: practice, practice). Charcoal is a medium that I've always loved the look of but have never been any good at using... I should start pushing myself and working with it more.
*Click on the image to see a larger version.
Saturday, February 02, 2008
Friday, February 01, 2008
I know I promised to draw something decent but I got distracted, then Matt and I decided to go out for ice cream (because what sounds better when it's snowing right?) and I figured I'd better post something before midnight so...Yeah...
I was reading Neil Gaiman's online journal and it got me thinking about modern authors and whether or not they really take advantage of the internet.
It seems like well known authors fit into one of three categories. The first is full throttle web presence: Gaiman fits into this category. You can find out anything you might want to know from his website, and (nearly) daily he updates his journal with thoughts that are interesting enough to keep people coming back. Obviously to me this sounds like the best option but I can understand why not all authors would opt for it, or why they might do it with less than full enthusiasm. Stephen King has a frequently updated site like Gaiman's, but it's clear he doesn't put quite the same attentiveness into it. Although there are still nearly daily updates, they are brief and seem to be done for the sake of doing it: it's a message board rather than a blog. Only the occasional update comes from King himself which is an important difference. Still, there is a current and full web presence for Stephen King in a similar way as there is for Neil Gaiman. J.K. Rowling also has a site like this, though she doesn't seem to update the blog section as frequently. This site, I might add is one of those obnoxious visual ones that looks super cool but is a pain in the ass to use. One of my favorite artists, John Van Fleet is guilty of the same sin.
I would classify the second segment as authors with helpful, current official websites, but without the author's presence. Terry Pratchett has a website like this. It's attractive, informative but not particularly personalized. I'd wager Pratchett has never actually spent much time on his own site and didn't put much input into its design or... anything really. And that's completely fine. At least you know that whatever's on there is going to be accurate.
Then there's the third type which is the one I really just don't get. This is the category of authors who not only have put no work into their online presence, they haven't bothered to pay someone else to do so either. My favorite author is children's author Diana Wynne Jones. When you click on what google calls her official website, what you get is actually an extensive fansite. The information on there is likely current, and probably accurate, but who knows really? The design is horrible, which is understandable because it's by fans, and probably something put together in some teenager's spare time.
In all fairness, I think Diana Wynne Jones is getting on the older side, so her lack of online involvement isn't entirely surprising. But then I come across the website for Tamora Pierce which is again, a badly designed fansite. I'm not sure how old Pierce is, but anyone who writes comic books is young enough to have a real website, not something put together by dedicated fans. Particularly for someone like Pierce whose primary audience is teenagers.
These authors are popular enough that web presence might not be necessary (though I can't think it would hurt) but in the future I see that changing rapidly. I'm always shocked when I look for an author or artist and discover that they don't have a website these days. Worse, a new business should always have a website, it's something relatively cheap and extremely easy that may help increase a customer base. Even my dad has his own website and he can't even copy/paste without help. I think the electronic age has taken over so quickly that some people still don't realize we're in it.
I took this picture quite a while ago at World Market.
The design looks pretty simple and I thought it might be fun to try to make one. I don't have children, but I thought with the sturdy construction, and pretty wooden sounds, this would make a great alternative toddler toy to obnoxious plastic noise makers.