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Caught up in an information culture.


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“Learn to Say F*ck You”: Sol LeWitt’s Advice to Artists, Put to Music (Video, 2013)

Animated still from MOCAtv's "Learn to Say F*ck You", with words by Sol LeWitt and music by Rancid. (2013)

From MOCAtv’s “Learn to Say F*ck You”, with words by Sol LeWitt and music by Rancid. (2013)

Sometimes there’s a mashup so sublime, you just can’t resist. Modern art, punk rock, and good creative advice?  I’m on board.  I’m so behind that. Swirl some bright colors in my face, and the deal’s done.

MOCAtv, the digital channel of the Museum of Contemporary Art, writes this about their video:

In 1965, Sol LeWitt wrote fellow sculptor Eva Hesse a four-page letter of encouragement, urging her to stop doubting herself and to simply continue making her work. Despite the fact that some would consider their friendship unlikely, the two sculptors were close friends and wrote to each other frequently about their ideas, work, and personal lives from 1960 until Hesse’s death ten years later. Often quoted, LeWitt’s letter has become a source of inspiration and a vote of confidence for many artists the world over.
Producer Aaron Rose (Beautiful Losers, Become a Microscope) worked with punk rock band Rancid to remake LeWitt’s words into a bold and boisterous song. With wild and wavy LeWitt-inspired animation, this video energetically embodies the message of its writer.

Watch the video below, and if you’re up for a little hand-writing archaeology, you can also read LeWitt’s full letter.

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Ira Glass’s Advice for Beginners (2013)

AKA, “Make Bad Work”.

Neil Gaiman’s advice to young artists to “make good art” is useful and supportive, but equally useful and supportive is Ira Glass’s advice that young artists should be prepared to make bad work, and a lot of it.

Creative work is often discussed, even among people who know better, in a romantic language that implicitly contains our cultural myths about genius and inspiration, because that’s the language we have for creativity.  When we talk about a successful artist’s early career, it’s usually in terms of innate talent and voice that’s visible even in their early work.  It’s easy to forget, especially for young artists trying to figure out what’s worth showing and what’s worth finishing, that that’s an interpretation made in hindsight, and often contains more than a little wishful thinking.  There will be a lot of bad work.


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Paper sculpture maps reveal the history of cities

Detail of Matthew Picton's map of Dallas, showing the route of the Kennedy assassination.

Detail of Matthew Picton’s map of Dallas, showing the route of the Kennedy assassination.

The Atlantic Cities takes a pictorial stroll through Matthew Picton’s paper sculptures of cities, combining their streetmaps and their history in a way that quickly conveys geolocated information about major events.  The Atlantic’s Mark Byrnes says:

“In his series “Paper Sculptures,” Picton creates hand-cut and folded paper 3D street grids. He also incorporates art, text, or even special paper to evoke something specific about the city (often, a historical event or time period). So, for example, Picton’s London “Great Fire” of 1666 map depicts burned illustrations of 17th century street life. In the case of Las Vegas, Picton uses neon green paper decorated solely by the words from Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

While these are primarily positioned as art, and deservedly so, I like the concise and subtle information design, communicating the damage done by the French invasion of Moscow or the progress of the Kennedy motorcade in Dallas with tremendous economy.


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So you’re making your weekend plans in New York, and you can’t decide between taking in some art or going to an open-source hackathon.  Dear reader, I sympathize; we all have these dilemmas.  Art and technology center Eyebeam have teamed up with internet technology giant Mozilla, and they have you covered.  From Eyebeam: “Open(Art) is a joint initiative launched by Eyebeam and Mozilla to support creativity at the intersection of art and the open web.”  Their exhibit runs from July 12 – August 10, 2013, with an opening reception on Friday, July 12 from 6-8pm and workshops on Saturday, July 13 from 12-3pm.  The workshops are free, but registration is required.  (Want more?  There’s a Mozilla Maker Party for teens on July 15th from 10am-3pm.  The Moving <img> Storytelling workshop  will cover stop-motion animation, rotoscoping, pixilation, and several types of animated GIF.)