• ( egoistic ) • activistic • architectural • audible • cinematic • conceptual • graphic • strategic • surface • urban • wireless
Hema is a popular Dutch department store chain selling low pricing housewares and other items made by Hema itself.
According to the media foundation Mediamatic in Amsterdam, Hema is the most public manifestation of Dutch culture. Some countries find their identity in churches, the Dutch identify with Hema; a living monument of practical colorful clearness with value for the money.
And so, in relation to a project on Arabic-Dutch art, design and culture, Mediamatic launched the competition 'El Hema' that explore what an Arabic version of the Dutch cultural brand Hema look like. What would the typography look like? What items would they sell? What would be the opening hours?
People are invited to submit their ideas and designs for El Hema products and concepts. The best submissions will be included in an exhibition and the best overall idea will receive an award.
Originally, the real Hema was not too happy with the idea and threatened to take legal action but apparently they changed their minds and are now part of the jury that will select the best design(s). If you can't beat them, join them.
Here is a brilliant work by Tad Hirsch that I came across when looking through a ppt presentation by Swiss researcher Nicolas Nova.
Tad Hirsch is a researcher in the Smart Cities Group at MIT's Media Lab, where his work focuses on the intersections between art, activism, and technology.
In 2006 he made the site-specific installation Tripwire, which responds to the relationship between San Jose International Airport and downtown San Jose in California
Hirsch custom-built sensors, placed them inside coconuts and hung them from trees at several public locations to monitor noise produced by overflying aircrafts.
Detection of excessive aircraft noise would cause the sensors to trigger automated telephone calls to the airport's complaint line on behalf of the city's residents and wildlife.
A few years ago, the American artists Tyler Jacobsen and Nathan Martin created the online application Barcode Generator that could be used to adjust the barcode on products in chain-stores (exemplified as Wal-Mart). The idea being that people should only pay what they felt was right, rather than paying the (over)price determined by the stores.
Barcode Generator was available at the website www.re-code.com but it didn't take long before the artists came under attack from Wal-Mart attorneys who forced them to remove it from the site.
Now the London based product designer Bahbak Hashemi-Nezhad has come up with a (slightly related) hack called Shiv Card, which can be used to evade the fare on London buses.
Shiv Card is made from a recordable greeting card that mimics the feedback sound of an Oyster Card when waved at the electronic reader, thereby fooling the bus driver into believing that the card is real (Oyster Card = electronic ticket/smart card).
Bahbak is a designer who experiments with the boundaries of product design, but since his website only contains limited information it's hard to tell precisely what the artistic motivation behind the project is. From my point of view, the interesting thing about Shiv Card is not the free rides that you get but the anonymity that it provides. Oyster Cards are embedded with RFID chips, meaning that the users' movements within the public transportation grid is likely to be tracked and stored somewhere.
I don't know exactly how the Oyster system works, but another way - and without cheating anyone - of avoiding being tracked, could perhaps be to meet up with other commuters and agree to swap Oyster Cards thereby jamming the data and preventing it from being (mis)used. At least, that's what people in The Netherlands (including myself) did a few years ago when they found out that supermarket-chain Albert Heijn was spying on their customers by data mining the discount cards that they so generously gave away for free.
AddArt is a Firefox add-on developed by the American artist Steve Lambert.
The concept is inspired by the popular Adblock add-on which removes ads from web pages. The main difference between the two is that AddArt will not just block ads, it will replace them with new images - images created by artists. The more ads you surf, the more art you'll get.
The idea is to run AddArt like an art gallery with different curators responsible for organizing the shows.
AddArt is currently in prototype-mode but hopefully it will be functional soon.
Posted by Sebastian on Apr 17, 2007
The Boston-based performance group Institute for Infinitely Small Things has published a book called The New American Dictionary.
The dictionary highlights the terminology of fear, security and war that has permeated American English post 9-11. It includes 68 new terms i.e. Preparedness and Freedom Fries as well as terms that have recently been redefined i.e. Torture.
The dictionary also has an interactive dimension. 58 terms are left undefined for the reader to pencil in their own definition. Furthermore, readers are invited to submit their additions to the institute for a possible inclusion in the 2nd edition.
The New American Dictionary is available at several online stores.
Activists in Copenhagen has renamed a number of streets by covering the real street names with a new one - "Jagtvej".
Jagtvej is a reference to the the recently demolished Youth House (Ungdomshuset) located at the address Jagtvej 69.
The Youth House has been the temple for the underground scene in Copenhagen for decades but the City of Copenhagen, who owned the building, decided to sell it to what turned out to be a Christian sect that seem to be on a crusade against any form of cultural diversity.
The community around the Youth House refused to leave, so last week, the police (the anti-terror quad to be more precise) stormed the building and only a few days later the bulldozers moved in and demolished it. The eviction led to riots throughout Copenhagen.
From a personal (not having a car) perspective, parking meters are a natural consequence of cars themselves. To other people (with cars), the presence of parking meters can be a provocation.
To the latter category belong people in Madrid who got upset with mayor Gallardón when he introduced parking meters in the city last year. Subsequently he became the target of a public protest in which strategically placed sticker-art was humorously employed.
You get something like 'Tree in front of billboard' ('Boom voor billboard').
In discontent with the presence of bilboards in the urban landscape, Dutch artist Helmut Smits decided to take direct action in a creative way.
Instead of defacing the billboards, he dressed up as a city worker and planted a tree in front of one of them in broad daylight.
Humor and creativity often plays a central role when civil disobedience movements develop their tools and tactics.
Sometimes these tools even turn into works of art, such as 'Suited for Subversion' developed by Ralph Borland as a part of his Master's Degree at New York University.
The suit - which can be worn with our without clothes underneath - also monitors the wearer's pulse and projects an amplified heartbeat out of a speaker. Naturally, it's not really the material itself but the obvious vulnerability and self-irony that is most likely to pacify the opposition and win over public support.
Suited for Subversion took part in SAFE: Design Takes on Risk at the New York Museum of Modern Art in 2005/2006.
It has been around for a long time but it seems that charity is increasingly being built into consumer products, services and interfaces.
Perhaps, a sign that materialism is no longer an aim in itself - consumer lifestyle must also match our increasing need for holistic meaning.
Apple's special edition iPod RED (a part of the joinRED business model) is an example reflecting the trend. It's cleverly designed to let consumers support a good cause, while making a fashion statement about it.
At the other end of the scale are the bottle-recycling machines in Sweden (image). Bottle deposits are relatively high in some parts of Europe and the machines simply lets you decide between donating the money to charity (yellow button) or cashing it in yourself (green button).
As of February 2007 you can also get yourself a climate conscious credit card, which align your consumer behavior with a compensation mechanism. Dutch bank Rabobank is about to launch the 'climate card', which will look at the type of purchase you make (consumer goods, petrol etc.) and channel a proportionate sum into projects run by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
The more you sin, the more you pay.