Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"Imagining The Lowline" Exhibit

Last Saturday, I walked across the Williamsburg Bridge into the Lower East Side to check out the "Imagining the Lowline" exhibit (http://thelowline.org/exhibit) because I wanted to see what this underground public park space would look like. Seeing the success and thoughtful design of the Highline on the west side, I'm pretty excited for another public park cool enough to take my family or friends to visit. The exhibit was in a warehouse on Essex and Broome and included a nice history lesson on the Williamsburg Trolley Terminal beneath Delancey Street where the park is to be built and a cool installation of the sunlight-capture contraption that allows plants to grown underground. That was a terrible explanation, but you can read more about it here.  
 Beautiful day for a walk across the Williamsburg Bridge

Monday, September 17, 2012

MTV Mobile & Nina Ricci "La Rue", Two Creative Launches Using GIFs

In the last few years, the animated image format GIF (Graphics Interchange Format in nerd terms) has found its way into mainstream publications like Buzzfeed, The Atlantic and V Magazine and more recently in launch campaigns for MTV Mobile and Nina Ricci's "La Rue" bag. These GIF campaigns raise the artistic potential of the basic animated image with more stylized photography and interactivity. There's no sign of the GIF trend slowing down, especially with mobile apps like Cinemagram--the instagram for GIFs--that makes it easy for anyone to snap a photo and turn it into a GIF to share on their social networks. 

MTV Mobile's "Gif Me More Party" Interactive Music Video 
To launch its mobile platform and app MTV Mobile, MTV created an interactive music video for Sacramento musical group Death Grip and their track "I've seen footage". Shot in the pixelated GIF style, the video has a choose-your-own-adventure aspect where you can relive an epic party through the perspective of each partygoer. The shaky video makes me a bit motion-sick, the navigation or switching of characters is a bit clunky and I'm not sure the GIF-theme is strong enough to warrant the name 'Gif Me More Party'; however, it's apparent the Paris creative agency Buzzman, which created the campaign, understood who their target audience was as the experience is fun, fresh and very "MTV". Experience the party here

Nina Ricci "La Rue" handbag launch with GIF Art Campaign by Jo Ratcliffe
My favorite campaigns are often the most simple, and designer Nina Ricci's GIF Art Campaign for her new handbag "La Rue" falls into this simply brilliant category. English artist Jo Ratcliffe created a set of animated GIFs showing off the chic "La Rue" purse in vibrant, whimsical GIFs that pumps youth into the Parisan brand but maintains high-fashion sophistication through styling. The best part about the website is you can retrieve the code to embed the GIFs or instantly share them on to your social networks. See all the GIFs here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

When Bad Commercials Happen to Good Songs

An unfortunate thing happened today, Kia Motors managed to ruin a once favorite song of mine "In My Mind" by Ivan Gough and Feenixpawl featuring Georgi Kay and mixed by Swedish House Mafia member Axwell. I watched in pain as a Marie Antoinette look-a-like slaughtered the song, only to allow urban-dressed hamsters to breakdance through the carnage. Alright fine, the dancing hamsters worked for LMFAO's "Party Rock", but I'm sorry Kia, this loose interpretation of electronic dance culture in an 18th century opera house makes no sense to me and I find the hamsters fashion choices offensive.
Not to mention, did the ad agency just use this Cosmic Opera teaser as their creative brief? Seriously, the song "In My Mind" was used to promote Axwell as the headliner of the theatrical EDM show at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom. I took photos from the event here

I don't think the general public agrees with my sentiment about the commercial, as the spot received 9x more likes than dislikes, but this doesn't change my deep disappointment. A mistake a lot of brands make is centering a campaign around a single song--often a song that has little relevance to the brand or product--and forcing it into every campaign execution. What happens is the campaign becomes less about the brand and product and relies heavily on the popularity of the track.

For example, this "In My Mind" user-generated music video contest doesn't make me think about the Kia car featured in the spot but instead wonder if Katy Perry was in charge of the design:
In my mind, maybe I'm just bitter that corporate brands are taking decent music tracks at will and plugging them into mindless, meaningless, terrible ads (I'm talking about you Buick!). However, Kia isn't the only brand to recently make a song the focal point of its commercial. I also can't stand those Internet Explorer commercials using Alex Clare's "Too Close" and Samsung Galaxy Note's "Moves Like Jagger" to emphasize that really important looking pie graph.

I'm not trying to blame Apple for this music trend, but I am going to. Apple was able to highlight product aesthetics and functionality with music in a way that complement both visual and sound where the music wasn't detracting from the product but helped to make the commercial memorable. Now somehow, brands have taken that to mean crowd surfing hamsters.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Why I Love and Hate What the EDM Scene Has Become

This Labor Day weekend, I attended Electric Zoo, New York's electronic music festival on Randall's Island. Last year was my first year, and I went to see Tiësto, Rusko, Benny Benassi, Gareth Emery, MSTRKRFT and Felguk. Needless to say, after that, I couldn't wait for this year's Electric Zoo.
Electric Zoo 2011

This year, I bought Saturday and Sunday tickets along with a Sunday after party to see my DJ crushes Knife Party, Bingo Players, Rusko (again!), Tiësto (again again!), Hardwell, Porter Robinson and Dada Life. My love for electronic dance music began four years ago when I studied abroad in London and had my first taste of jungle and dubstep in the Brick Lane warehouse clubs and saw Justice at superclub matter at the O2 arena--I even titled one of my London Facebook albums "I'll admit it, I love house, electro and techno."
Justice at matter London, Oct 2008

In four short years, the love for EDM has hit mainstream America and as much as I'm thankful for the festivals and big names playing in the states--not all of the American EDM scene makes me jump with joy. NY Mag touched upon it early this year, calling the American EDM scene 'brostep' and how frat boy nature has sucked the soul out of the music.

It's true. While the DJs delivered mindblowing performances at Electric Zoo this year, the seemingly younger crowd (they look 17) in their highlighter "Party with Sluts" t-shirts, "Faded" hats and pacifiers slightly tarnished the festival experience for me. I have no issues with the rave scene that stands for 'Peace, Unity, Love and Respect', but good vibes were spoiled when a fight broke out during Tiësto, couples screaming at each other and messed up girls being carried out by medics. I start to worry that this is where EDM in America is headed--a scene that has the intelligence level and consideration of the Jersey Shore cast. Hopefully festival goers will remember why they bought tickets in the first place, which is for the music and not about how many studs or jewels you can fit on a bra.
Is there a way to save America's EDM culture? I don't know, maybe parents should know if their 14 year-old daughter is dressed like a hooker, has a beer gut, is doing drugs and wears a cap with the label "slut"? While I'm reminded about things that are wrong in the world, there is still so much that is right and positive about electronic dance music and its power to move and unite people. There's nothing like a jam-packed stage or tent of people just enjoying, dancing and loving every second of a DJ set. The energy, the sound and lights at Electric Zoo remind me why I fell in love with this genre of music in the first place.

Here are some pictures from this weekend:
Artists top to bottom: Dash Berlin, Bingo Players, DallasK, Bingo Players, Sander Van Doorn, Dada Life, Wolfgang Gartner, Adventure Club, Krewella, Knife Party, Tiësto, Skrillex, Porter Robinson + Zedd, Hardwell