Click the image above for a great .pdf by Christopher Clark detailing the rising decibel levels of hit music over the past thirty years.  Maybe our ears will catch a break in the coming decade, but I doubt it.  Read the associated article via NPR here.  Happy New Year!

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collaboration is the new competition.

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"shhh...be vewy, vewy quiet..."

“The sectors of a city…are decipherable, but the personal meaning they have for us is incommunicable, as is the secrecy of private life in general, regarding which we possess nothing but pitiful documents”.

- Guy Debord, A Critique of Separation (1961)

“The rapidly shifting landscape of social locations is making the built environment an amorphous, fluid and elastic condition.” – Rahul Mehrotra

“There goes another moment. Just wrap it up. We own it. “ – Junior Boys, In The Morning

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Fantastic presentation by the Design Director of Berg.

Now it’s time to get my hands dirty.

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The following is a stop-motion commercial I co-produced for a healthier and fresher alternative to crusty Pop-Tarts and greasy Toaster Struedels.

Lil’ Joey Pancake Pockets on Vimeo.

Lil’ Joey Pancake Pockets ( a product of National Choice Bakery) are not currently on the market…but they are tasty!

Director: Andrew Yates

Executive Producer/Hand Model: Gadi Rouache

Writer/Creative Producer: John Hilmes

Lighting/Production Assistant: Frederik Stokkebye Boll

Sound/Music: Ari Herstand

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The Road to the Gulag is Paved With Good Intentions

The Road to the Gulag is Paved With Good Intentions...On Powerpoint

“At a minimum, a presentation format should do no harm.” – Edward Tufte


In a 2003 piece for Wired.com, Edward Tufte of Yale University raised the following in a criticism of Powerpoint slideshows:

“Imagine a widely used and expensive prescription drug that promised to make us beautiful but didn’t. Instead the drug had frequent, serious side effects: It induced stupidity, turned everyone into bores, wasted time, and degraded the quality and credibility of communication. These side effects would rightly lead to a worldwide product recall.”

Augmented reality is so potent and accessible because it is immaterial, and typically only requires the upfront cost of the mobile device with which you are viewing.  This makes it even more imperative that the medium is developed with care.  It will be important to thoughtfully distribute the knowledge to create these narratives in order to prevent monopoly and abuse, without limiting altruistic applications.   “Don’t Be Evil.”

Architects and planners used to have “direct” contact with their audience via the built environment,  but this is about to change.  Augmented reality will quickly become the secondary, if not primary, lens through which people experience the urban environment.  What designers seek to implicitly convey with their arrangements of program and space will soon be explicitly communicated through this medium.

As we scan our surroundings in these augmented realities, what will be the lasting effects on the human psyche?  While the human brain is very plastic, each of these visual overlays is going to cost time and mental bandwidth.  So how do you make that exchange worthwhile and beneficial to both parties?  How do we become caring curators instead of strict choreographers of consumerism? On what grounds will we evaluate the merits of augmented reality applications?

Let’s apply Edward Tufte’s criticisms to augmented reality, and use the inverse as goals for what we aspire to create.  How can augmented reality: combat stupidity, make us more interesting, make us more efficient, and improve the quality and credibility of communication?


Edward Tufte for Wired

Yelp AR Demo

Royksopp – “Remind Me”

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“Architecture is no longer simply the play of masses in light.  It now embraces the play of digital information in space.”William J. Mitchell, E-Topia

“We develop the building industry now.  We don’t just respond to it.” – Nader Tehrani

Given the current global economic and climate crises, I have difficulty fully embracing the building industry as it inherently manifests its investigations by consuming materials.  If designers consider themselves champions of sustainability, conservation and healthy living, how do we re-evaluate this relationship?

Another challenge for architecture is that it takes time to produce a building and it takes even more time for the impact of the design to be felt – if it does at all.   Much like government’s inability to nimbly respond to crises like Katrina, it seems that architecture (in the traditional sense) struggles to deal with the “big issues” because it is typically reactionary.

Re-evaluating our choice of materials will allow the profession to confront the most challenging issues of the day with even greater immediacy.

So how do architects remain “space jockeys” and curators of experience if deprived of the atoms they have grown accustomed to using?  How can architects and planners re-appropriate the spaces of the built environment they have collectively designed? As the role and responsibilities of the architect have gradually narrowed over time, other disciplines have placed data in various forms, in and around the built environment, and they continue to do so at an ever-increasing rate.  Architects should play a part in this process.  How can we pre-empt the forces that may impose their Minority Report / Bladerunner dystopias of entire cities of personalized advertisements? (Minority Report Mall Scene)  In the shadows of the Comcast acquisition of NBC and as more and more of the human population basks in the blue ambience of computer monitors, how do we remain optimistic, and steer towards the positive and away from an Orwellian future?   What is going to be our new medium?

Architecture has always been a presentation format.

Darklight Film Festival 2009 Trailer from ECHOLAB on Vimeo.

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”  -  Alvin Toffler


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In a recent lecture he called “Energy and Form,” Albert Pope of Rice University reminded his audience that the acceptance of living in isolated cul de sacs was facilitated by the one-way mass medium of television propagating a false sense of connection. This social splintering continued as multiple televisions in homes became common and different rooms hosted different programming.

This technologically anaesthetized suburban isolation, and the messages broadcast to those dead ends, led to a devaluation of urban living, the disintegration of our urban fabric, exacerbated cultural divides and stereotypes, and encouraged a general decline in the level of civic discourse and participation.

The internet revolution brought the promise of global connectivity and communication. However, the risk of further isolating ourselves as “alienated labor” in cul de sacs or high rises is still very real as the global economic crisis is reshaping where and how we work as much as technology is granting us the “freedom” to work from home.

So how do we begin to reconnect humans with the rest of humanity? How do we prevent ourselves from becoming “alienated labor” under house arrest?

Hi from Multitouch Barcelona on Vimeo.

If “cyberspace” is becoming the new agora for collective decision-making, how effective can those decisions truly be if they are removed from the physical places they effect? What is our metric of civic engagement? Can we collect that data without making citizens feel like the little privacy that remains is being sacrificed? How do you reconcile citizenship – a notion rooted in a particular geographic space – with the mobility that today’s technology affords us? We need to redefine our notions of belonging and citizenship.

Who is going to answer all of these questions?

Nicholas Carr on the Terrifying Future of Computing

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