For years we would see the wheat-pasted artwork of artist Spazmat posted around downtown New York City. His posters were unmissable. His street art was comprised of an iconic image: An illustrated portrait of a skeleton with a cell phone in its bony hand held up to the skull as if talking on the phone. The posters were usually rendered in a stark white on black. Informally dubbed as “Skull Phone,” the image suggested many things, among these the dangers of technology. We hadn’t seen Spazmat’s artwork in many years until we recently saw one of his skull phone wheaties on a utility box along Pacific Coast Highway in Los Angeles. This one was printed in blue and white with a striped design, almost nautical in style and fitting for its location a few meters across the road from the ocean.
So many uses of augmented reality (AR) in media and advertising have been too lame or to gimmicky or both, the novelty having worn off quickly and long ago. This Pesi Max bus stop billboard ad in London, however, is an example of the technology being used in a cool, fun, and effective way, as seen in this short video below. Maybe there’s hope for AR yet.
The Apple Macintosh computer turned 30-years old this past week. Apple has produced a website and short video that looks at some famous Mac users and talks with them about their first Macs and how the machines have changed the way they work. Check it.
We travel often here at Global Graphica, and even when we’re in New York City we’re often on the move and often carrying several devices with us. Having small, lightweight, portable gear is important, as we need to be prepared to work wherever we are, whether at a cafe in Tokyo, a shared office in Amsterdam, or in an airplane seat at 35,000 feet in the air. Here’s what our mobile set-up looks like at our HQ in the Lower East Side.
Israeli artist Yossi Wallner’s viral street art project “Ctrl Alt Del” is one of the coolest projects and cleverer ideas we’ve seen in a while. Wallner has taken the common keys used in laptops and computer keyboards and installed these as buttons on walls, columns, and public infrastructure in his home city of Tel Aviv, in Israel. See photos below.
The re-contextualization of these familiar keyboard components, with their abbreviated function labels (Del, Esc, Wake, Power, etc.), imbue these objects with multiple meanings when in the public space, whether on a telephone pole, next to a security camera, in a leafy park or on a busy street.
What’s more, in these settings the buttons suggest some new kind of functionality whereby we can shape parts of the real world outside by pressing the same keys we use to change the words in an email or re-touch an image in Photoshop. Wallner poses the questions “What if the keyboards that we are buried in blindly all day could change your reality? If you could escape something by a push of an “Esc” button? Delete anything by a flick of a finger?”
The Tel Aviv installations are the first for this project, and Wallner is planning to create a website and a community of collaborators to put up keyboard buttons in cities around the world and submit photos of their installations to his site. We’d love nothing more that to walk down a street in Tokyo or New York a year from now and find one of his “Esc” keys on a wall.
Last weekend Global Graphica paid a visit to a new design exhibition at the New Museum’s Studio 231. The show is titled “Adhocracy” and we can’t recommend it enough. It’s a fascinating survey of the work of designers, architects, hackers, makers, artists, technologists and programmers around the globe who are redefining design and how things are made and used. These practitioners are working either independently or collaboratively, in academia or within commercial or corporate organizations, and sometimes illegally, as part of a DIY underground of people who fix public infrastructure that local governments neglect. It’s also a look at how sustainability, re-use and recycling, open-source systems, life-hacking and the economics of design are being addressed. Among the highlights is a working 3D body scanner called “Be Your Own Souvenir” that feeds data to a 3D printer to make a resin model of a person, and a short film documenting a group who secretly broke into the Pantheon in Paris at night, where they staged film events, built their own secret members lounge, and fixed the broken clock atop the historic building, which hadn’t chimed in four decades.
Photo credit: New Museum