Tag Archives: United States

7 Street Art Shots from SXSW 2014

In-the-moment around Austin

Click for locations and full size views via Flickr:

austin, atx, street, art, graffiti, streetart, urban, paint, spray, spray paint, artists, artist, unsanctioned, texas, tx, usa, united states, sxsw, sxsw2014, 2014, public, street installation, urban art, guerilla, guerilla art, noedit, iphone, iphone5, austinstreetart,

austin, atx, street, art, graffiti, streetart, urban, paint, spray, spray paint, artists, artist, unsanctioned, texas, tx, usa, united states, sxsw, sxsw2014, 2014, public, street installation, urban art, guerilla, guerilla art, noedit, iphone, iphone5, austinstreetart,

austin, atx, street, art, graffiti, streetart, urban, paint, spray, spray paint, artists, artist, unsanctioned, texas, tx, usa, united states, sxsw, sxsw2014, 2014, public, street installation, urban art, guerilla, guerilla art, noedit, iphone, iphone5, austinstreetart,

austin, atx, street, art, graffiti, streetart, urban, paint, spray, spray paint, artists, artist, unsanctioned, texas, tx, usa, united states, sxsw, sxsw2014, 2014, public, street installation, urban art, guerilla, guerilla art, noedit, iphone, iphone5, austinstreetart,

austin, atx, street, art, graffiti, streetart, urban, paint, spray, spray paint, artists, artist, unsanctioned, texas, tx, usa, united states, sxsw, sxsw2014, 2014, public, street installation, urban art, guerilla, guerilla art, noedit, iphone, iphone5, austinstreetart,

austin, atx, street, art, graffiti, streetart, urban, paint, spray, spray paint, artists, artist, unsanctioned, texas, tx, usa, united states, sxsw, sxsw2014, 2014, public, street installation, urban art, guerilla, guerilla art, noedit, iphone, iphone5, austinstreetart,

austin, atx, street, art, graffiti, streetart, urban, paint, spray, spray paint, artists, artist, unsanctioned, texas, tx, usa, united states, sxsw, sxsw2014, 2014, public, street installation, urban art, guerilla, guerilla art, noedit, iphone, iphone5, austinstreetart,

austin, atx, street, art, graffiti, streetart, urban, paint, spray, spray paint, artists, artist, unsanctioned, texas, tx, usa, united states, sxsw, sxsw2014, 2014, public, street installation, urban art, guerilla, guerilla art, noedit, iphone, iphone5, austinstreetart,

I had the good fortune to attend South By Southwest this year in Austin, and I made it a point to document interesting street art wherever I found it. Above are the best random examples I discovered in walking about the city. This is by no means a thorough report, but just what I happened to see wherever my feet took me. Some of these have already been painted over, which I think underscores the fleeting nature of the medium.

What do you think? Ever seen any inspiring street art in your city or on your travels? Ever created any street art yourself? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Get Thee To The Getty

I recently had the pleasure of spending a few hours at The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The only thing wrong with my visit was that it wasn’t long enough. Besides the many great works of art there, The Getty’s architecture and the grounds are a thing to behold. Here are some shots I snapped via Hipstamatic, and a bonus panorama shot.

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What do you think? Have you ever been to The Getty? Do you notice architecture and landscaping for their artistic characteristics? What’s a place where that’s happened for you recently? Let us hear from you in the comments.

This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin: A Review

Note: The folks from Grammarly graciously offered to sponsor this post. I use Grammarly for proofreading online because it can free up more brain power for enjoying music.

Music is everywhere, especially when it has to do with our emotions. Music has the power to move us, physically and spiritually. It is familiarity and exploration simultaneously drawing from experience, atmosphere and energy… spatial points of reference blending in sound.

This is Your Brain on MusicI discovered this book while browsing Audible randomly for something interesting a few weeks back, and I’m glad I did. I found it to be entertaining, well-articulated and just technical enough to make solid points but not so much that I became lost in scientific mumbo jumbo. The author, Daniel J. Levitin states:

“This book is about the science of music from the perspective of cognitive neuroscience – the field that is at the intersection of psychology and neurology.”

Levitin is an experienced producer and studio engineer, who came by his musical appreciation honestly – his father offered to finance a set of headphones as long as the young author promised to use them whenever his dad was home. Sounds like good parenting to me.

Levitin later went on to become a bona-fide brain researcher and Ph.D., incorporating his musical background. This qualifies him to explore what’s happening with the brain in relation to music.

Consider how something as instinctive as “groove” works. Levitin notes: “when we talk about a ‘great groove’ in music… we’re talking about the way in which beat divisions create a strong momentum. ‘Groove’ is that quality that moves the song forward. When the song has a good groove, it invites us into a sonic world we don’t want to leave.”

That’s a pretty darned good description of groove, right there.

Beats and melodies, grooves and lyrics, disconnected ideas forging a shared energy… what happens with music is happening in our brains. So many areas of our consciousness activate together in a musical experience – like performance and interpretation happening at once. I’ve long believed music is the most powerful art form.

The book explores some of the author’s own, and other recent studies conducted on music, musical meaning, and musical pleasure, along with what’s happening in the brain in relation to music, from many perspectives – biological, physical, anthropological, and others.

“Music listening, performance and composition engage nearly every area of the brain that we have identified, and involve nearly every neural subsystem.”

This makes a ton of sense to me, since so many, many hours of my youth were spent listening intently to music closely, over and over, concentrating on untangling its secrets into something I could tap into and impart to others through a shared experience. It’s a beautiful thing, and this book illustrates some of the biological mechanisms that enable such magic. As a self-taught musician, I found it fascinating to consider all this from a physiological and evolutionary point of view.

Above: interview w/ Daniel Levitin on The Agenda with Steve Paikin

Levitin notes that “music is unusual among all human activities, for both its ubiquity and its antiquity.” I agree that there’s something primal about music, something as elemental as the air we breathe, as visceral as any vibration. Like the rhythms of a wind rustling leaves, hoofbeats on a plain, or a brook cascading among the echoes of a forest. It makes sense of the world through organization of energy, with the power to send us elsewhere and take us back home in our minds, something that has been happening since humans first started drumming on logs around a fire, continuing to this day in new and exciting forms.

“As our brains have evolved, so has the music we make with them, and the music we want to hear.”

Just think of a song you know, one that makes you tap your foot to the beat or sing along – maybe just the first melody that pops into your mind, maybe something you heard on the radio on the way to work… in a commercial… in college… last weekend at a friend’s house… years ago when you were just beginning to understand the world, or maybe love — what is that sound? It’s living in your brain right now and likely will be for a long time to come. This book can offer a new appreciation for that kind of art.

Update: author comments & recommendation!

What do you think? Have you ever considered how music affects the brain? What do you consider an example of a song that takes you to a certain place? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Solarized Tree – Rainy Day Inspiration and Flickr Feature

Solarized Tree, by rsmithing

One good thing about rainy afternoons is how the ordinary can take on more beauty. Here’s a snapshot of a tree I noticed in the post-rain haze of my neighborhood. It takes on new depth thanks to the Dynamic Light app’s “solarize” function and some finishing touches with the TtV Photo Studio app.

Flickr Explore PageUpdate: We Made Flickr’s Explore Page!

About 24 hours after this post, I visit the source image at Flickr to respond to any comments, and whaddya know: it’s featured on Flickr’s Explore: Recent Photos gallery!

Flickr’s “Explore” galleries are curated collections of 500 select photos each day. Considering the site gets photos uploaded by the thousands every minute, that’s very flattering. Other categories include “The Commons,” and “Galleries” – and all are fun ways to discover interesting new art and artists.

What an honor – thanks, Flickr!

What do you think? Have you ever been inspired to turn the ordinary into art by way of a rainy day? What are your “go-to” apps for photo editing? Let us hear from you in the comments.

American Apparel’s “Bored During the Storm?” Campaign: PR Stunt or Well-Intentioned Goof?

Really, American Apparel?American Apparel AdvertisementIt would seem obvious these days that capitalizing on catastrophe via social media is in poor taste. So why would an otherwise savvy brand like American Apparel appear to be doing exactly that?

Given the very poorly received efforts of Kenneth Cole during protests in Egypt, you would think other retailers would have a clue by now, right?

It’s one thing for a business somehow connected with a major upheaval to approach the line between altruism and marketing. And it’s certainly a fine line. Consider American Express’ Sandy-related communication efforts for its travel customers:

But it’s another thing entirely to risk the appearance of piggybacking on disaster for advertising’s sake. Sure, it gets some buzz, but is it worth all the backlash?

As reported by Huffington Post:

CEO Dov Charney did not express disappointment over American Apparel’s marketing team capitalizing on Hurricane Sandy. “I don’t think our marketing guys made a mistake. Part of what you want to do in these events is keep the wheels of commerce going,” he told Business Week. “People shopped on it. We generated tens of thousands of dollars from the sale, but we’ll probably lose a million dollars from this (storm) event at a minimum. We’re here to sell clothing. I’m sleeping well at night knowing this was not a serious matter.”

And here’s another take from American Apparel’s representatives, via Fashionista:

When reached for comment over email, an American Apparel spokesperson told us, “Of course we’d never mean to offend anyone and when we put the email out yesterday it came from a good place.”

So, is this really a big deal?

However in poor taste it may now seem in the wake of Sandy’s devastation, American Apparel’s approach was not in mean spirits, even though it’s easy to characterize it as such. The company has a history of corporate responsibility – along with a history of pushing the envelope through its marketing for PR purposes. And it serves them no purpose whatsoever to appear flippant or dismissive. Upon investigation, it’s clear they don’t wish anyone further misery from Hurricane Sandy, what with their acknowledging as much in the subsequent damage control. As reported by ABC News:

Ryan Holiday, spokesperson for American Apparel, responded to ABC News in an email:

“For us, this is about us working like crazy to get and keep our stores open. We’ve got employees who can’t work when stores are closed due to weather and the biggest Made in USA factory in the country that sits idle–we would never try to offend anyone or capitalize on a natural disaster, this was simply an effort to mitigate some of the effects of the storm on our business.”

Fair enough. So what next?

My advice for American Apparel right now:

  • Turn your affected stores into recharge-stations with power strips and free wi-fi for all so someone can tweet some good about you. Buy generators if necessary. It won’t cost much and ROI would be huge.
  • Give 20% off to ANYONE, nationwide, referencing the ad for the next week to capitalize on the viral nature of the campaign, requiring a tweet or Facebook post with hashtag #aacares or similar. Cost to you: minimal.
  • Donate 20% of profits for the next week to northeast U.S. chapters of the Red Cross. Yes, this will cost some cash, but there’s no arguing with a monetary statement.
  • Just  be proactive somehow to make this right. Or risk being one of the “don’ts” of social media. Better to be one of the “OK, we get it” stories instead.
What do you think? Is this a PR blunder or a marketing gimmick? Are you more or less inclined to shop American Apparel now? Do these suggestions make sense, or is there something you would recommend? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Mars: It’s On!

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This is one Sunday where whatever I typically share would not be nearly as compelling as this single image right here, fresh from Mars. Absolutely amazing.

And although it technically disqualifies this post as a Single Image Sunday, perhaps even more amazing is this:

Human beings send a robot to Mars, and take a picture as it lands with a satellite already there. This also happened in 2008, but this photo is even more clear, and still mindblowing. Via redorbit.com

What do you think? Have you been following this story? Were you witness to any other major space exploration milestones? Do you think humans will set foot on Mars in your lifetime? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday… MARS!

I have a fascination with aeronautics, aerospace and aviation. I don’t claim to technically understand much about them, but I think aspects of these fields are fascinating and important. That’s why I’m excited for Sunday, when NASA will be living through a very real seven minutes of terror vividly portrayed in this video about landing the Curiosity rover on Mars.

 

This video is just over five minutes long, and it’s exciting – but not as exciting as the seven minutes of burning anticipation a team of dedicated people are going to have to endure Sunday night (10:31 PST), wondering if their baby has made it to its destination, safe and sound as planned. Props to the NASA PR / Outreach / Education teams for bringing this story to us with dramatic flair.

Mars: Our Generation’s Moon Landing

Since I wasn’t around for the work leading up to the moon landing, this is my guess at what that must have been like. In all the years leading up to Americans walking on the moon, there were many missions like these just getting the logistics figured out. And wow – there are plenty of logistics.

Just think about it: we can see the moon from Earth, even observing features of its surface with our unaided eyes. With Mars, there’s a 14-minute delay from the time signals are sent until the they’re even received here. Thank goodness Curiosity is on Twitter:

NASA Peeps on Twitter

Here are some more cool NASA folk on Twitter – check them out for updates on Curiosity’s mission, and keep following for more news about space, science and exploration:

  • Adam Steltzner – head of NASA JPL’s Mars landing team
  • Lauren Worley – Press office at NASA
  • Stephanie Schierholz – NASA Social Media Manager
  • NASA JPL – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages many of NASA’s robotic missions
  • NASA Social – Announcements on social media & for info about upcoming NASA Socials
  • NASA – the News from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, themselves

Go, Science!

That we’ve ever been able to set anything on Mars’ surface, successfully navigate its terrain, take pictures from multiple angles then transmit them back them before our eyes on Earth is nothing less than astounding. And this Sunday, it can happen again. Unless something goes horribly awry – which is always a distinct possibility… but if it were easy, anyone could do it. My great respect goes to the entire Curiosity team and everyone at NASA for their work on this project.

Let’s hope all goes well for the Curiosity team this weekend.

What do you think? Will humans ever make it to Mars? Or Pandora? Did you ever fantasize about space travel? Are there aliens out there? Let us hear from you in the comments.