Monthly Archives: June 2009

Music : data : flash : literature : interactivity : art : magic : awesome

Without doubt our find of the week (the year?) here at BBH Labs has been this staggeringly cool flash application, from a Singapore-based band called Concave Scream. I’d never heard of them, and now I can’t stop listening to them.

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Created as a piece of marketing content for their new LP, ‘Soundtrack for a Book’, it consists of data visualizations of the front covers of 50 all-time classic books (think Moby Dick, Alice, Pollyanna, Last of the Mohicans), brought to life and mashed-up with the soundtracks from the new LP.

It is completely customizable & interactive. Each of the 50 books can be played with using controls at top right. You can add or accentuate colours, change rotation speed, create wallpapers, or simply opt for a more randomized effect. Go full screen for best effects (top right).

In a week when smart new ways to launch music have been recognized and awarded (for example, close to home, BBH NY’s launch of the new Oasis LP, a Titanium Lion winner in Cannes), this takes that to another level.

We’re certainly guilty of getting over-excited fairly frequently here at BBH Labs, but this is genuinely staggeringly good. Best of all, it’s utterly beautiful in a mesmerizing way, with the vocal-less music from the LP completely complementing the visuals. The actual CD itself is a fairly well-designed piece of work too (see below).

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Go play.

“[Concave Scream] have a lot of naïve aggression and a dirty kind of
sound, which I think makes them a lot more credible than the other pop
acts which seem to be singing just for the sake of singing, with no real
point of view.”

– Malcolm McClaren, The Straits Times

For more info: www.concavescream.com
Email us at: info@concavescream.com

Less, But Better – an interview with design legend Dieter Rams

“Good designers must always be avant-gardists, always one step ahead of the times. They should – and must – question everything generally thought to be obvious. They must have an intuition for people’s changing attitudes. For the reality in which they live, for their dreams, their desires, their worries, their needs, their living habits. They must also be able to assess realistically the opportunities and bounds of technology.”

(Dieter Rams, 1980 speech to Braun supervisory board, from his Design Museum profile)

There can’t be many more legendary & respected designers around today than Dieter Rams. For over 50 years Rams has been one of the most influential industrial designers around, producing elegant, stripped-down and flawlessly balanced everyday objects in such enduring forms that one is hard-pressed to identify a design of his that hasn’t stood the test of time.

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Electric shaver, 1970; Control ET44 calculator, 1978; LE1 loudspeaker, 1960. All Braun.

In fact, if you own an iPod, iPhone, or iMac you almost certainly owe thanks to Dieter Rams for some of the look, feel and simplicity of these products. His influence is explicit in the work of Jonathan Ive at Apple, most literally, perhaps, in the design of the calculator on the iPhone, but in fact across almost the entire range of Apple products.

The influence of Rams on Jonathan Ive at Apple is profound (image: Jesus Diaz)

The influence of Rams on Jonathan Ive at Apple is profound (image: Jesus Diaz)

(For more, including Q&A with Rams, click below)

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“Sharing is the essence of creation”

Wow, are we looking forward to seeing this film in full.

“RiP: A Remix Manifesto” – a film about remix and copyright culture. It explores copyright issues in the information age, where the media landscape is being profoundly transformed, and the distinction between producers and consumers is becoming blurred, to say the least.

This is the trailer and it’s uplifting, provocative, challenging and inspiring, all at the same time. Full of complex debates and clearly coming with a strong point of view on how those debates might be – must be – resolved (so not everyone will agree with this, by any means, but heh, that’s good right?).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otCImNtKqwk[/youtube]

Features contributions from Gilberto Gil, Laurence Lessig, Cory Doctorow, and many more. We’re particularly looking forward to seeing the awesome Lessig in action again: “There is no way to kill this technology, we can only criminalize its use” – Laurence Lessig.

Download the film in full, paying what you think it’s worth: http://www.ripremix.com/

Check their blog: http://www3.nfb.ca/webextension/rip-a-remix-manifesto/

Follow them on Twitter: http://twitter.com/remixmanifesto

(Thanks to Marc Schiller – @marcdschiller – for the heads up)

Bring the noise: making music with the masses

We have been playing with this really impressive collaborative & spoken word tool, Bb 2.0, and melting our brains thinking about the possibilities, and where this could go next

Conceived by Darren Solomon, from Science for Girls, but with plenty of help from users, the tool is based around the insight that it’s possibly to play multiple videos on YouTube simultaneously. It’s similar to, but according to Darren pre-dates, the Kutiman YouTube mash-up videos (which are also awesome pieces of remixed art).

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Darren & team go into the why and how in more detail in their FAQ, which are worth checking out. It’s an interesting experiment around using the crowd to conceive of and produce music, but one critical element stands out for us – the role of Darren as both editor (he filters and selects all the music chosen) and overall creative director (his vision, his direction, his imagination). In debates around the use of the crowd – in this case the musical talents of the crowd – the pivotal role of the editorial director is frequently overlooked. In a crowdsourced world the role of the ‘creative’ is more important than ever.

http://inbflat.net/

Thanks to @aaronkoblin for the tip off; his own version (kind of) of this is of course his pretty brilliant ‘Bicycle built for two thousand’ project.

Information needs architecture, but they’re not the same thing

Slightly spooky voiceover (always unnerving to have recorded ‘live’ pauses thrown in), but we’re enjoying the simplicity of these pieces about information architecture, stripped down to the bare essentials, and split into a piece on architecture and another on information. Cool animation too.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/3248803?pg=embed&sec=[/vimeo] [vimeo]http://vimeo.com/3248432[/vimeo]

From MAYA Design in Pittsburgh. And here’s how they talk about the nature of information architecture.

“By thinking about the architecture of how information is used, how it flows, and how it fits within the user’s world (its context), you can capture the essence of how to build a system that is not only intuitive but futureproof.”

Thanks to @daveElf for drawing it to our attention.

Music making for the talentless

We’re into this at the moment – http://bit.ly/68ypk

A super simple but very cool sinewave synthesizer. From the Laboratory of Andre Michelle – http://bit.ly/1iBh8

It’s remarkable, and a little scary, how even completely talentless people like us can produce something that sounds semi-musical in about 60 seconds.

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When you eventually reach the limits of your talent, here are four rather more skilled proponents of the synth cranking it out in a remarkable & massively cheesy video from 1985.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZEGHnAxEpo[/youtube]

Enjoy.

And thanks to @fittedsweats for the recommendation.

Marketing Mashup

“I love fools’ experiments.  I am always making them”
Charles Darwin, 1809-1882

Universal logo for mashups, concept by Zohar Manor-Abel, criticalflare.com

Universal logo for mashups, concept by Zohar Manor-Abel, criticalflare.com

Brokeback to the Future. Must Like Jaws. Google Maps with just about anything. Danger Mouse’s the Grey Album. We just can’t escape mashups. When the very last music track, piece of software, data or film has been spliced with something else to create another new hybrid output, perhaps then, and only then, will the world rest easy.

Or maybe it shouldn’t.  We could look at consumer-orientated mashup culture as just the start of something with even broader application. Taken to an extreme, I’m talking about mashing up entire industries. The marriage or mutation of skill sets inside an industry like marketing & communications, with those on the outside. The sole purpose of the experiment to devise radically new, hybrid forms of creativity.

Industries as diverse as architecture, astrophysics, poetry and genetic engineering are already showing us how it’s done, collaborating and cross-fertilising with each other to evolve.  A BBC podcast not so long ago explored this whole area with almost Darwinian alacrity, a guest on the show summing up his take as follows:

“How do we produce original knowledge? …We no longer need specialist knowledge, but trans-disciplinary creative solutions.”
Andy Miah, editor of ‘Human Futures: Art in an Age of Uncertainty’

The implications for creative businesses seem particularly significant. Despite the pride the communications industry has taken historically in its ability to seek inspiration from far & wide, it’s undeniable that large chunks of it currently maintain a pretty insular, closed off existence.

Consider this then a rallying cry to break down the walls, take a step outside and embrace the new forms of creativity that lie waiting for us at the intersections with fields, disciplines & cultures different to our own.

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