Monday, May 27, 2013

Ai Weiwei - “S.A.C.R.E.D.”

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is debuting in Venice this week "six fiberglass dioramas that depict, at half-scale, his often banal daily existence as a captive of the vast [Chinese] government security apparatus."

"Their task was to reconstruct scenes from Mr. Ai’s illegal detention in 2011, when he was held for 81 days in a secret prison guarded by a paramilitary unit."

"The dioramas were quietly transported out of China — Mr. Ai declined to say exactly how — to Venice"

New York Times - "An Artist Depicts His Demons"

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Businessmen Tweets

"Asked to respond to Mr. Musk’s contention that Chrysler Group LLC is not an American company, [Chrysler Senior Vice President Gualberto] Ranieri, in a telephone interview, said: “I don’t have any response to that. Chrysler Group LLC is the company of Walter Chrysler, and it speaks for itself for what it does.”

When asked if he could expand on that, Mr. Ranieri added, “I love espresso ristretto, so I don’t have anything more to add.”"

New York Times - "Tesla vs. Chrysler: Who's on First?"

Gawker - "Warren Buffet Joins Twitter, Can Fuck With Stock Prices In Real Time"

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Poker Face

New Yorker - "Poker Face"
by Jonathan Nolan (screenwriter of The Prestige, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar; younger brother of director Christopher Nolan)

"We don't live in the information age. That would be an insult to information, which, on some level, is supposed to inform. We lie in the communication age. Ten billion fingers fumbling away, unautocorrecitng e-mails, texts and tweets; each one an opportunity to offend, alienate, aggrieve, all in public, and at light speed. The misinterpretation age.

Take the language itself. Texting in English is like propelling a gilded horse-drawn carriage onto the interstate. Subtlety, nuance, and ambiguity were luxuries of a less frantic era. And irony, a supposed hallmark feature, has become an invisiable, odorless menace. Someone--presumably someone with a healthy sense of the stuff--made it harder to detect by strangling the irony mark (⸮) in its cradle. Irony now condemns us all to imagine that every e-mail or text might actually, secretly, be poking fun at us.

Not long ago, I noticed that a friend had found a work-around to the growing irony blight; he ended almost every sentence, in every e-mail, with an exclamation mark. Astonishing! I had, up to this point, imagined that everyone had a tiny velvet bag of exclamation marks, hidden somewhere behind the dresser, to be taken out and used only on special occasions: one apiece for the birth of your children; a choice few to chase off a carjacker. In the misinterpretation age, however, there’s no time for hoarding resources. Applied liberally, the exclamation mark takes the stink of sarcasm off e-mail. A sentence without one is suspect. Slippery. Ambiguous. “Thanks.” But a sentence suitably equipped becomes honest, enthusiastic, courageous. “Thanks!” I no longer felt secure sending an e-mail with fewer than five of the things; a row of smart little hammer-and-nails smashing flat any chance that the reader might misunderstand.

The exclamation mark led me, inevitably, to the emoticon. I offer no regrets. Enabling the emoji keyboard in my smartphone was like tumbling down a softly carpeted flight of stairs and into a sparkling happy party in which every sentence was understood. No harm, no foul, no worries. I simply mixed and matched parenthesis and colon, semicolon, etc., to convey the exact emotional subtext. Entire sentences could be expressed in emoticons. Not just faces. Little pictures of handguns, dog shit, poison. No wonder the pharaohs rules for three thousand years; their written language left no room for ambiguity.

My written communications were now unimpeachable. Digital. Clean. But in person there was still one big obstacle to effective communication; that great bungler of human expression. The last dead giveaway. The human face.

Where my emoji keyboard gave me an almost virtuosic mastery of my emoticons as presented to others, our faces remain blunt instruments; the flinches, the microexpressions, the tells. The human face is a mess, roiling with divergent emotions, as if your id has signed up for Twitter. The premature hint of a smile that plunges you back into the fray as a fight with your spouse was rounding the corner into rapprochement. The tiny frown at the big presentation of the bold new direction at work. I considered wearing a ski mask to the office.

But I think I've hit on a solution. A device like a necktie, with a small set of contacts that trigger the nerve endings just below the chin. Controls connected wirelessly to the emoji keyboard on my phone, bringing the whole mess full circle. A smartface. Stepping into a power meeting? Select that winning, stoic half smile. On a date? Dial in a little mystery. Responses would be semi-automatic. Parameters assigned. Someone says something uncouth, unreconstructed, obscene? People would never know from your reaction-unless you wanted them to.

A premium account brings deepere integration with big data: Facebook, Google, the Department of Justice. Your smartface will flash a broad, toothy smile at people whose politics and world view match yours--and a tight little one for those whose don't. A small wink for your fellow NRA or PETA members. Why make your friends pullout their phones when they can read your status right there on your knotted brow: "It's complicated"? In more charged social situations, your face could finally start looking out for you instead of letting you down. The woman with chronically bad  taste in men won't know why she finds herself scowling at the handsome rogue with late child-support payments and an addiction to Muscle Milk. She just will.

Digital emotions. Sweet relief for those of us quipped with a sour puss. Downloadable content would insure that your new kisser remained unflappable, ambiguity-free, fresh. Epansion packs for more sophisticated looks: consternation, triumph  ennui. The Calvin Klein smirk. The Versace grimace.If I can afford it, I'll go custom; a bespoke smile built just for me by an emoji speakeasy in a painfully trendy neighborhood. Mouth tilted down ever so slightly at the corners, eyes narrowed to an Eastwood, my face drawn into a rictus of mild amusement, two degrees south of smug, one north of glib. Right on target. Walking along the street assured that my poke face betrays nothing--and that non one could possibly misunderstand. :)"

The Counselor

Cormac McCarthy's (No Country for Old Men, The Road, Blood Meridian) first original screenplay, The Counselor, has finished filming and is set to be released this November.

Directed by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down), the film stars Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem and John Leguizamo.

"A lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking."

"We happen to be alive at the moment when humanity starts leaving the planet."

New York Magazine - "Welcome to the Real Space Age"

"If the twentieth-century space race was about the might of the American government  the emerging 21st-century space age is about something perhaps even more powerful--the might of money."

"In New Mexico, workers are putting the finishing touches on the first of at least ten spaceports currently under construction around the world. More than 800 people have paid as much as $200,000 apiece to reserve seats on commercial flights into space."

2011 Space Race

Monday, May 13, 2013

The New Vikings Stadium


Alfonso Cuaron's fourth film in the past twelve years (Y Tu Mama Tambien, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men).

Robocop Statue

The $50,000 Kickstarter project for a Robocop statue in Detroit is almost there. Set for a Spring 2014 unveiling.

Detroit Fress Press - "Get a peek at the life-size model for Detroit's RoboCop statue" 
Boing Boing - "Robocop statue awesome"

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby

A.O. Scott, from the New York Times, review,

" is an eminently enjoyable movie."

"I grant that this is not so easily done. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s slender, charming third novel has accumulated a heavier burden of cultural significance than it can easily bear. Short and accessible enough to be consumed in a sitting, the book has become, in the 88 years since its publication, a schoolroom staple and a pop-cultural totem. It shapes our increasingly fuzzy image of the jazz age and fuels endless term papers on the American dream and related topics."

"Mr. Luhrmann’s peculiar genius — also the thing that drives cultural purists of various stripes crazy — lies in his eager, calculating mix of refinement and vulgarity."

"To those of us watching in our modest multiplex seats, he is a movie star. In previous incarnations he was Robert Redford, Alan Ladd and Warner Baxter, and now Leonardo DiCaprio has slipped into the ice cream suit and the curious diction. “Old sport” may be the two hardest words for an American actor to say, but for Gatsby himself they were an affectation, so it is possible to overlook Mr. DiCaprio’s overdone accent. (I do wish he would try a performance without one, though.) More important, it is impossible to look away from him. His charisma has increased as his youthful prettiness has worn and thickened away, and he is beautiful, sad, confident and desperate in exactly the way Gatsby should be."

"Is the tale of Daisy and Gatsby a credible love story? Fitzgerald himself was not sure, but Mr. Luhrmann, Mr. DiCaprio and Ms. Mulligan make it an effective one. At a crucial, climactic moment — a scene in a suite at the Plaza Hotel — the director mutes his irrepressible, circus ringmaster showmanship and plunges into undiluted melodrama. The music stops, and the camera cuts among the assembled faces as the emotional core of the film is laid bare."

New York Skyline

One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) now stands as the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the third-tallest in the world at 1,776 feet.

Gawker - "Behold the Freedom Tower's Finishing Touch"

Levi's Stadium

Ad Age - "The Right Fit? San Francisco 49ers' New Home Will Be Levi's Stadium" 

"Levi Strauss & Co. and the NFL's San Francisco 49ers have announced a $220 million, 20-year deal to call the team's planned new home "Levi's Stadium."

"It's a non-traditional deal. You don't see many apparel companies with their names on stadiums and arenas," said Jim Andrews, senior VP-IEG. "But it does a couple of things for Levi's. They're a heritage brand -- and part of that heritage is being from San Francisco. This plays that up big time. Also, this stadium will be extremely high tech and it will be in Silicon Valley. So it will enable Levi's to associate their brand with something very cool, very hip, in the future."

"But sports marketing expert Bob Dorfman said he was "surprised" a Silicon Valley tech company didn't nab the 49ers deal.

"One reason [the 49ers] are leaving San Francisco for Santa Clara is to attract the high-tech business down there," said Mr. Dorfman, the creative director of Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco. "I just assumed they wanted to sign a sponsor based in Silicon Valley, not San Francisco, for the naming rights."

Things Come Apart: A Teardown Manual for Modern Living

"This book makes visible the inner workings of some of the world’s most iconic designs. From SLR camera to mantel clock to espresso machine, from iPad to bicycle to grand piano, every single component of each object is revealed. These disassembled objects show that even the most intricate of modern technologies can be broken down and understood, while beautifully illustrating the quality and elegance of older designs. Stunning photography is interspersed with essays by notable figures from the worlds of restoration, DIY, and design innovation who discuss historical examples of teardowns, disassembly, and reverse-engineering."