free markets, free culture

The One-Year Performance

with 2 comments

Remember that guy who took a picture of himself every day? At the end of weeks, months, years, emerged a time-lapsed self-portrait hypnotizing to watch — for the subtle changes in hair, lighting, expression but mostly for the sameness of it all.

In the early days, a guy could grab headlines with this kind of crazy project. There was even a family who did it collectively. This “found art” series told a story about life, love and death, in Polaroids.

And now, the Daily Mugshot is a free, new web app that democratizes the process for all, complete with auto-animations and widgets. The circle is complete.


Thanks Jane!

From the works of Teching Hsieh, legendary master of the One-Year Performance.

Starting in 1978, Hsieh performed a series of durational performance pieces… which I believe paved the way for common mass market books to break out in later decades, fueled entirely by the fact that the author did one thing for a whole year.

(Check out blogger Rex Sorgatz’s a.k.a Fimoculous’ list of “My Year As…” an Amazon list of books about the guy who read the entire Oxford English Dictionary for a year, or the guy who was on the competitive eating circuit for a year, Joan Didion’s year of magical thinking, et al.)

Wikipedia describes the performance that accompanies the photo above:

One Year Performance 1980–1981 (Time Clock Piece)
For one year between April 11, 1980 through April 11, 1981, Hsieh punched a time clock every hour on the hour for one year. Each time he punched the clock, he took a single picture of himself, which together yield a 6 minute movie. He shaved his head before the piece, so his growing hair reflects the passage of time. Documentation of this piece was exhibited at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 2009, using film, punch cards and photographs.

Excellent video to accompany this piece here at the Gugg website: The Third Mind – American Artists Contemplate Asia.

My favorite performance of Hsieh’s, based on description alone:

One Year Performance 1985–1986 (No Art Piece)
For one year, Hsieh did no art, spoke no art, saw no art, read no art, and did not enter any museum or gallery. He just went about life for one year.

Life: just go about it, folks…


Written by @hellopanelo

July 29, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Posted in art

DIY Days, a roving conference for those who create, comes to Philly on Aug 1

with one comment

DIY Days logo big

Feel less guilt about the Indienomics blog, as my time is going directly to an independent media conference this weekend. If you are in or close to Philly, consider checking out DIY Days this Saturday. It’s free and interesting 🙂

Written by @hellopanelo

July 27, 2009 at 8:06 am

Human writable, Machine readable: QR codes

with 2 comments

Physical tokens, digital presence

New shirt idea: QR a QT!

I figure I can start writing about an emerging technology once it hits Kanye West’s blog.

From my rigorous research, I learned that Q(uick) R(esponse) codes are like barcodes, with information that you can scan, decode, and get some kind of data from — usually a website, text, or an image.

They’re cheap to make and use, and you can slap them on billboards, mugs, paper, virtually any surface (spray painted onto asphalt, collated into a “living book“).

You use a a mobile phone as a decoder to snap the QR’s picture, and decode the information that will lead you somewhere else in the digital world. If the purpose of QR sounds vague and open-ended, that’s cause it is!

For a QR scanner, try the Kaywa Reader. If anything, you should check out the illustrated “story” on the home page, which explains QR as a treasure-hunt serendipity factor for nerds, with the closing moral being “The early nerd gets the QR code!”


On a trendspotting note, I have yet to see QR codes out and about in everyday life. How will I ever get that micro-platform-blogging dream job like Susanne above??

Big in Japan

Japan’s had QR forever (from Denso-Wave’s work for the Japanese auto manufacturing industry in the mid-1990’s) but it’s now resurfacing, likely tied to the rise of personal mobile phone use. QR codes are often used as a promotional tactic — gaining you entrance to “Try-vertising” sampling salons in Tokyo, for example.

If you’re not a big ad agency, perhaps you’re using QR codes to help mobile technology in developing countries. In India, 40% of the rural population are illiterate. This population is challenged the text-based format and confusing iconography of mobile phones. Experience design consultancy Adaptive Path came up with a video sketch for MobileGlyph, a system of using QR codes to capture photos and information about contacts that can be used in an easy user interface, without having to rely on text or numbers.

Personal Branding

For a BRAND YOU bent, Emma Cott turns QR codes into wearable art “through a beautiful and elegant code concealing your hidden message.” In other words, you customize a QR code and stick it on a t-shirt or a button. The open code creator is simple: enter your URL website, pick a motive (HIRE ME, ADD ME, DATE ME, BUY ME, or customize your own) and out comes a custom generated QR patch.

Here’s mine for Indienomics. (Besides “Hire Me”, I can think of some other motivations I want to silently and mysteriously communicate to people. Ahem.)

emmacott indie

Emotional design

QR codes are kind of ugly, aren’t they? The Marc Jacobs one is cute only because it’s blocked by a cute illustration of “Miss Marc.” I think the design aesthetic flaw of the QR code is a small part of what Microsoft Tag is trying to conquer. No ugly, black-and-white pixelated squares there! You can create, customize, and color your own series of machine readable codes…. even using, yes, PowerPoint as a design tool! (The design aspect is no small part of our perception of a product’s functionality. This is why Donald Norman’s Emotional Design book is on my reading list. And also because Matt mentioned it.)

“Miss Marc” QR code for Japanese mobile website, launching today.
via Hypebeast

**7/2/09 UPDATE:
Vizitag, a startup in the “mobile tag management system” industry, had a good FAQ that answered at least two of my questions:

I Already Have a Website – Why Do I Need Vizitags?

These days, every business has a website chock full of content but you have to find it, visit it and search it to find what you want. Vizitags are designed for the ‘mobile generation’ who expect instant information gratification via the phone they carry with them everywhere.

In practice it doesn’t take much longer to load the reader and snap a tag as to load a browser and click a bookmark to go to a web page. The difference is that snapping a Vizitag will display some very specific and useful information immediately on your mobile and/or email you some targeted content that you can refer to straightaway or later.

What’s the Difference Between a Vizitag and Barcodes/RFID?

Barcodes are normally used to identify products – for example for the purposes of pricing them, stock taking or asset management. Barcodes usually require fixed or handheld scanning hardware and convert a specific alphanumeric code – like a Universal Product Code (UPC) – into a black-and-white bar image.

A RFID chip is a piece of hardware that can act in passive or active mode to be read or to read/write data and requires fixed or handheld readers. RFID chips are often used to track products through a supply chain for inventory control and lifecycle tracking purposes. Unlike a Vizitag, RFID chips cost money to buy the device itself. They are also more vulnerable to damage and therefore could be subject to replacement costs.

Written by @hellopanelo

July 1, 2009 at 3:31 pm

Molecular gastronomies

with one comment

Fancy Fast Food is a blog about re-mixing fast food, fancily.

From the blog: “These photographs show extreme makeovers of actual fast food items purchased at popular fast food restaurants. No additional ingredients have been added except for an occasional simple garnish.”

High-brow or low-brow? Despicable or brilliant?

In other words, where on the New York Magazine Approval Matrix would this blog belong? Here are some sample works:

McSteak & Potatoes

  • Popeye’s Chicken –> Spicy Chicken Sushi
  • White Castle –> Tapas de Castillo Blanco
  • Burger King Croissan’wich and Biscuit –> BK Quiche

Other extreme food makeovers:

Written by @hellopanelo

June 30, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Posted in food, hack, remix

Gestalt advertising

with one comment

Frank J. Oswald’s latest Mental Shavings post is about the new Scientology commercial: Chocolate and Football Games

Frank notes: “Of the smattering of comments on YouTube, nearly all are positive, like this one: ‘This makes one of my friends cry every time. So beautiful and so true.’ ”

Filmmakers know that any sweeping montage of opposites — life, death, up, down, yin, yang — tends to have that tearjerker effect.

Or at least some kind of awe-inspiring, holistic, gestalt effect, like those commercials for multi-national conglomerates. These are the Koyaanisqatsi type clips of ships, airliners, wind turbines, planets… The viewer asks, “What does this company do?” The campaign says, “What we do is everything.” (Think Dow, GE)

Who doesn’t like a good, random collection of nouns? Shoes, ships, sealing wax, cabbages, and kings. I dare you to read one page of Adrian LeBlanc’s Random Family and not be spurred on to read the next 100 pages, just to see where all these nouns lead. Perhaps to chocolate and football games… roast beef, and trampolines.

Written by @hellopanelo

June 25, 2009 at 2:30 pm

One Picture, Many Paths: a new tool for prez-entations

leave a comment »

The Big Picture

Prezi is the kind of presentation app that could possibly make you excited about public speaking. It’s based on a shared understanding with your audience of a “big picture” and the ability to smoothly drill down and focus on details as needed, without ever losing sight of the top-line messages.

Instead of a PowerPoint deck with a series of linear, chronological slides, Prezi is essentially a giant picture. At different points, you can zoom in and zoom out and zig zag your way throughout this giant picture. The “presentation” itself is really a map, a pathway, you create through the picture.

The fluid motions as you transition from one cluster of ideas to the next makes the presentation more.. smoothly cinematic than, say, a typical series of PowerPoint animations.

This would be an awesome way to break down those large infographics that GOOD Magazine just posted to Flickr! (See their Transparencies archive.)

*Edit:  Just saw the Prezi designers had something like this in mind as well :)

*Edit: Just saw the Prezi designers had something like this in mind as well 🙂

Transformation Zebra

As you create text and images, you manipulate everything by a series of spinning discs in the top left hand corner. You basically judge a lot of things by sight, and by rotating a circle, instead of messing with numerical values. Kind of like using a mouse trackball to make things bigger and smaller.

For example, when you are typing text, there are no font sizes to choose from — only the zebra rotator tool that lets you inflate and deflate the scale, visually.

Picture 4

(Tangent: this use of manipulating data “by sight” reminds me of some innovative market research questionnaires I’ve seen that use visual metaphors instead of numerical values. For example, instead of asking you to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 how satisfied or dissatisfied you are, it allows you — via an animated illustration — to pour liquid into a tank until it reaches a level in the container that you feel represents your level of dis/satisfaction. At the least, it makes for a fun, game-like experience while slogging through a survey.)

I can’t wait to use Prezi for… something. Hot Pot??

Please comment if you have used this tool before, and would like to share the results. (Or if you thought the narrator in the video tutorials had an amusingly familiar accent. I guessed Armenian. The company appears to be based in Budapest, but I can’t confirm.)

See a sample Prezi showcase here. Where’s your masterpiece?

Written by @hellopanelo

June 22, 2009 at 7:27 pm

Penny Blossoms

with 4 comments

Monday nights on ABC are my nerdcore TV time: The Big Bang Theory at 8pm, about a group of physics geeks (one of which is Johnny Galecki) living in a San Fran apt with a pretty girl next door. Adventures include: Super Secret Spy Agent Lunch with laser limbo, robot wars, and all manner of dating fiascos. The script isn’t always “on” but the actors are a goofy bunch, and I like their liberty in coining new terms. (My Twitter name quarkblocker was taken from one of their episodes.)

It’s a pretty smart show, much like the one that follows it: How I Met Your Mother at 8:30, with the scruffy and loveable Neil Patrick Harris. How absolutely brill that a talented gay actor plays the best womanizer in situation comedy today.

Anyway, last night’s Big Bang featured an especially entrepreneurial episode about Penny trying to escape her waitressing job by creating “Penny Blossoms” — flowered hair barrettes with a rhinestone center. Sounds really Etsy, right? Of course they’ve got it covered.

She ropes the guys into helping her manufacture a rush order of 1,000 Penny Blossoms for the East Rutherford, NJ Gay and Lesbian Center. Lots of great cracks at the factory worker culture and the invention of work and union songs to help the time pass as you hot-glue-gun a thousand plastic flowers together. (In the makeshift living room assembly line, the Indian geek Rajesh retorts, “If I’d wanted to spend my Saturday nights doing this, I would have stayed in India!”)

The boys also have an idea to market the Penny Blossoms — use it to help men disguise bald spots. How to target this demographic? ADD BLUETOOTH! “Everything is better with bluetooth.”


Sheldon: 10 a day x 5 days a week x 52 weeks a year = $2,600

Penny: That’s all?

Sheldon: If you took advantage of modern marketing techniques and optimized your manufacturing process, you might be able to make this a viable business.

Penny: And you know about that stuff?

Penny… I’m a physicist. I have a working knowledge of the entire universe and everything it contains.

Penny: Who’s Radiohead?

Sheldon: ….

Written by @hellopanelo

June 16, 2009 at 2:07 pm

Posted in crafty