Inspiration

Voting Open! Collaborate On a Video Poetry Project

Voting is open on the video poetry creative invite at Talenthouse.com! To recap, I have a creative invite running on Talenthouse, where the winner will have the opportunity to work together with me on a video poetry series of short films. I wrote about the contest previously, and now this wonderful experiment in online collaboration and general creativity awesomeness is coming to an end. Well, the first part, then will come the video poetry series. For the contest, I provided some images of inspiration, including images of Bratz and War, and the participants then needed to create a music track to submit to the contest. The highest voted songs will get the first listens from me, and I’ll then work with the winner (whoever created the best mix in my mind) if they’re interested. For the video poetry part, I’ll create some poetry concepts and shoot the needed video, and the winner can have their music featured as a component of the final videos.  It’s all very non-linear and experimental, but when you challenge people, excellent things always happen. The voting is open here on Talenthouse:


Voting Open: Collaborate with American Peyote on a poetry short film series

Work With Me on a Video Poetry Project

Something went live the other day, a fine determined attempt at creative collaboration on a global scale. It’s called, Collaborate on a Video Poetry Film Series. It’s a creative invite on Talenthouse.com, that fabulous website that connects creators together and is the current website to be on for interesting collaboration opportunities. Essentially I’m looking for a person to work with on a video poetry series. From my side, I’ll provide the visuals and words and you provide the soundtrack. I’ll mix everything together and we’ll ride the wave of internet propaganda to stardom together. On the creative invite page on Talenthouse is the inspiration. There’s a video of my latest still images, and the idea is that DJ’s, producers, etc. can be inspired by that to submit a track that fits to the images. I’ll pick the music submission that best fits in my brain and then we’ll collaborate together on a series of video poetry short films. It doesn’t matter who or where you are in the world, this is an opportunity to connect and work together across cultural, economic, societal and internet boundaries.


Where did the idea for this come from? It was a pretty organic evolution of the internet, inspiration, and motivation. In 2010 I submitted some paintings to a Talenthouse Creative Invite. I won the invite, and then participated at 1 Day of Art Copenhagen with (t)here magazine, then I printed a card of my best painting from Copenhagen and sent it to Jennifer Chalbaud in Venezuela who then had a dream inspired by my Gonzo Art and she created a cool design for Mambo Surf Deluxe. I wrote a blog post about it all and then Talenthouse contacted me, seeing if I would be interested in running a community creative invite. I said hell yes, and here we are.


I like painting because it’s the unknown. I never know what will come when I stare down that big white canvas, and I have no idea what will happen with this creative invite, but soon I’m going to find out. When I create I often think like a movie maker, I hear the music in my ears and break paintings up into little movies in my head. That’s why I’m excited about the possibilities of this opportunity. It’s the possibility of meeting someone motivated to create great music to mix well with the art I’m creating. In this context the idea of video peotry films is just natural for me, it’s the natural evolution of art and video. If you’re a music maker, please check out the creative invite, and you have my deepest gratitude if you pass the word on to anyone you know who might be interested. Click here to visit the page on Talenthouse.com, and below is a video explaining the idea.



and here is the inspiration…


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAHC0rHMRdA

Trains Are Good For America

Trains are good for creativity, trains are good for the economy, for America. Monorail, monorail, monorail…


I don’t keep tabs on American politics as much as I could, but the 2010 mid-term elections have sparked some interest in my brain. There were (and still are) plans in action in the US to install high-speed rail between various cities, and some folks have run in the 2010 elections promising not to waste money on such schemes. The short summary I understand is that Democrats and Obama want to pay for high-speed rail and a Republican backlash is attempting to block high-speed railroads from coming to the States. As an American living the past 7+ years in Switzerland (and a regular train traveler throughout Europe), I can speak volumes on the benefits of a train system integrated into a healthy society. The topic of job creation and immediate economic stimulus are the two least interesting and least important reasons to start a high-speed rail project in the States.

Good For The Economy


The short reason I hear for installing trains is that they’re good for the economy because they produce jobs due to the building of the needed infrastructure and also stimulate manufacturing in local areas. This may be true, but the reason the US should have high-speed rail and the reason I love train travel is that it simply makes society better. If you’ve never lived in a train-society, where the rails means of transportation is used by nearly everyone at some point to get from point A to B, then you don’t have a fucking clue what you’re missing. Trains are good for the environment. Trains are good for work productivity. Trains are good for relationships. Trains are good for writing, for creativity, for enabling communication, for the elderly, for the young, for business, for pleasure, basically they’re a no-brainier excellent way to improve the quality of life of a society. Why? Let me explain…


I lived my first 26 years in the United States, in Michigan. It’s car capital of the world, it’s Motor City Detroit. There was no real public transport to speak of when I was growing up (and there still isn’t), and communities were defined by urban sprawl (and basically still are). I’ve logged more hours driving between the years of 16 and 26 than some people in Europe will log in their entire lives. I’ve driven from Michigan to New Orleans, Michigan to Nevada, through the South West, Colorado, parts of California, and when I came to Switzerland I knew I was happy not to drive every day of my life anymore. One huge advantage of train travel is that it has the capacity to free your mind.

Trains Are Good for Thinking


Driving requires that a large part of your brain allocate attention to the act of driving. Some people think that driving is an easy barely-need-to-pay-attention task, but it’s really very involved. If you spend an hour driving, you’re concentrating primarily on just driving. You can talk on the phone (and distract yourself from not hitting the cars around you), listen to music or books (fun on road trips), and watch the road. You can think about things, but most attention has to be devoted to driving – and if you can’t drive, you’re basically fucked, your mobility is very limited in the States without a car.


Train travel requires that you buy a ticket, sit in a seat (you sometimes have to stand if it’s crowded), and then you can do whatever the hell you want. You can write a book, philosophize about the universe, sleep, read, talk on the phone, talk on the phone and write email on a computer and drink a coffee and once in a while look out the window, it’s awesome. Having more time to think means you have more time to ponder and develop ideas. Ideas motivate us in life to start companies, write plays, bake cakes, fall in love, etc. The amount of time I have to devote to things besides driving during the day when I travel means I have something like twice as much time to live and ponder my life in Switzerland and Europe than I do in the United States, and it’s awesome. I read more, write more, and think more on trains. I can honestly say that my writing, blogging, photography, painting, and creative projects would not exist if it weren’t for train travel. It just gives me more time to think about stuff.

Trains Help Communication


Train travel improves communication and idea sharing between real people. This is one topic I hear very little about when trains are debated in the context of the US. I have the impression that residents of the States sometimes think of themselves as American citizens, and that we’re all part of the same country so it doesn’t matter too much if you live in Detroit and haven’t seen Boston, but the US isn’t as homogenized as we’re taught on MTV, and the ability to travel from one city to another allows people to share ideas in real-time (instead of on Facebook) and opens up our minds. It’s incredibly cool to board the train at night in Zurich, and arrive the next morning in Berlin, or Vienna, or the South of Italy, or France, or Spain, Amsterdam, etc. It saves travel time because I can travel during the night and not be destroyed and sleep deprived when I roll into New Orleans at 8am after driving all night. This makes it easier for me to get exposure to people in different areas of Europe, visit museums, shoot graffiti, attend barcamps, etc. I travel much more in Europe than in the US because of the train system. I also spend more money in local economies in Europe because I travel, and meet more people in different cities. Trains help connect people in different geographic regions separated by distances, irregardless if they are able to drive a car or not. In a way, this means more freedom of movement and travel than in a car dominated society.

Not a Bus or a Plane?


Can’t one just take the bus? Why do we need to build rail when we already have roads? Yes, you can take a bus, but trains and busses are really very different. You can walk around on a train, you don’t get caught in a traffic jam, and it’s faster. Why not fly? This barely need mention but air travel sucks compared with trains. Plane seats are jammed, there’s little ability to move around, pressurizing cabins is uncomfortable, airport security in the US makes people want to not fly, weather has a greater influence on travel, and it’s hard to work on planes (I only fly coach).

Trains Help the Economy


Trains are good for the tourist economy and for domestic vacation. For example, I sometimes fly to California to visit friends. Last time I flew to San Diego to stay with one friend by the beach, and then took to the train to L.A. to visit another friend and we drove to the mountains to hike. There was another guy I wanted to meet in Arizona, but there’s no easy train connection to him and I didn’t want to spend 12 hours driving to Phoenix and back, so we didn’t meet up. If a high-speed rail were running between San Diego and Vegas, we could have easily met there, infused money into the Nevada economy, and then headed back.


It’s easy to be on vacation with the train. In Switzerland, many trains that go between cities have a kids wagon at the end of the train. It’s colorful on the inside, and has a large area with a slide and play area where the kids can go crazy. This is a nice contrast to driving three hours with a kid in the passenger seat who wants to run around and gets tired of sitting after 30 minutes on the road. You can do more on vacation because you don’t waste time driving. If a trip is more than 6 hours, you take a night train. You book a ticket, reserve a seat, and just let the train take you where you’re going. I travel more in Europe than in the States largely because it’s easier. From Zurich I can easily take day trips to four different countries. If I need a car I can always just rent one. In fact, the short-term car rental industry is very healthy in places like Switzerland. You travel to a city, rent a car if needed, and don’t rent one if you don’t need it. Easy, flexible, good for the local economy, good for the country.


There are many benefits to having trains integrated into a society. The short-term economic boost and industrial stimulus related to train infrastructure is just a very small part of why trains are awesome, and should be built to connect population centers in the United States.

Fantastic Magazines for Photographers

If you find anything about concept or design in a photography magazine, it’ll most likely be a puff piece about digital workflow or boring model shoots. I don’t need to read about what a softbox is or how putting my flash off my camera will enable better light control. What I’m interested in is advancing and expanding my ability to visualize and create cool-looking photographs. That’s why I’ve compiled a review of the best magazines (as I see it) to read if you’re interested in pushing your photo-making creativity abilities and improve your image-making capabilities.

The Background


What’s Photography without Design? If you go through the trouble of picking out the lens, capture medium, lighting, wardrobe and makeup, are you a designer or a photographer, or the art directory? If you’re trying to improve your photography, does it make sense to read meaningless photo publications with over-written gear reviews, or should you pick up fashion and design magazines instead? Photography magazines are often touted as places to learn about image capture and advancing your in your ability as a photographer – and they generally are if you don’t do much more than take generic pictures of sunsets and cats, but why be mediocre?


When I thumb through magazine racks, the photography-specific magazines are usually filled with little more than the latest meaningless gear reviews and photoshop tips, or the rare technique tutorial. Too often images in photography publications are generally boring and uninspiring because they serve no purpose but being content for selling a magazine which explains how to take generic photos.


The best way to get inspired and expand your conceptual mind is to learn about stuff aside from the easiest art form ever created (digital photography). To do this, I recommend reading a seemingly random combination of design, fashion, and commercial photography publications.


Archive


I always feel weird about buying Archive because it’s really just a giant collection of the best commercial images. So, I’m basically paying good money to look at advertisements. Ahhhh, but high quality ads are more than just good visual input for the brain. Archive shows you the trends and visual markers, which are driving advertising dollars. If nothing else, it’s probably the best place to go if you want exposure to the latest fresh ideas. You don’t have to be into commercial photography to enjoy Archive, because at this level the ads are art and it’s packaged in a form you won’t find anywhere else. One issue is on the order of $15, but it’s not something you buy every month.


Paper


I used to think design was just an abstract marketing tool for high-end Swedish furniture companies and million dollar ad agencies. The cool thing about Paper is that it’s basically easy-to-digest design for non-art people. By reading Paper you get exposed to design concepts in different areas; from high-end art to the coffee maker on your desk, and it’s done in a very unpretentious, inspiring way. A lot of the written content will seem more like a pop-culture magazine, but it’s one of my favorite reads because it really shows you the artistic, design, and style elements in every day life.


CITY


The Destination for Style CITY is a magazine somewhere in between high-end fashion and practically unobtainable design. Some highlights from the iSPY 2008 Design Issue (#56) covers product design in Tokyo, the internal design of a Volkswagen factory, and a photo spread shot by Vincent Skeltis (styled by Julie Ragolia). CITY is great because it gives the reader a wide range of high-end design and style input.

Nylon


The more photography and portraits I make, the more I realize how little I know about fashion and current trends. It’s not like I want to copy every new fashion trend I see, but I like being exposed to new things. Nylon is a great publication because it has a certain street edginess and gives you all the latest fashion trends and insights without reading like an uppity advertisement-filled tome like Cosmo or In Style. Once you learn to translate a certain fashion style to your own work, you basically open up a whole new set of tools for visually communicating your concepts.


Metro.Pop


“A fashion magazine for the rest of us.” Most of the time when you pick up a fashion magazine it’s like 60 percent advertisements, 30 percent boring articles, and the actual fashion content in terms of photography and style can sometimes be very small. That’s why Metro Pop rocks, it’s basically a well-done fashion mag where the total focus is on presenting daring fashion images. Every time I pick up a copy of Glamour, the images are all easy, boring (from my viewpoint) well-lit glamour images. Conversely, the content in Metro Pop is sometimes out of focus, maybe a tad blurred, and the lighting will mostly be non-standard and definitely not flat. Read Metro Pop to get a feeling for how bad your fashion images suck.

Layers Magazine


No progressive list of magazines for photography in the modern day and age is complete without the inclusion of Layers Magazine; the place to learn about all things Adobe. In the mixed-media world into which photography is heading, the image will just be part of the larger story. Layers gives you a feeling for how vast the possibilities are for producing visual content using Photoshop, Flash, Illustrator, InDesign, and any other Adobe product. Photography is often included in one form or another, either in Photoshop articles or in articles like the recent inclusion of a piece by Joe McNally, detailing the use of different modifiers in camera lighting.

What Does It All Mean?


Look, there’s not really anything wrong with reading magazines like Popular Photography, but pretty much all important parts of the content can be found online, so why pay for the hardcopy? Ahhh, yes, they publish all of those cool camera reports. So what, Your Camera Doesn’t Matter, well, at least not as much as most marketing people want you to think it does. For those learning photography, the difference between all DSLRs is pretty much nothing, so use the time and money you would have wasted on dissecting the differences between the Canon 5D and the Nikon D700 and produce some images or get inspired.


In its essence, a photo is just a capsule of concepts and elements of communication. I never buy photography-based magazines because they generally don’t contain engaging imagery or feed my creative mind. Instead, I’ve stared reading design, fashion and commercial photography publications to feed my need for visual exploration. The act of image making is the same as ever before, a lens focuses light on an image capture medium and the exposure is controlled by the shutter and lens aperture. That’s all photography is.


You can get all the near-meaningless (for most photographers) technical gear reviews and puff pieces about taking generic photos on the web, so why pay for the same lame content in magazine form? I love strong content, it drives my imagination, and I love seeing engaging imagery, (not limited to engaging photos).


If you want to push yourself and get exposed to new ideas move beyond the old photography publications, which have become largely redundant in the digital age. Get crazy and expose yourself to new ideas and be daring – otherwise, what’s the point in getting out of bed every morning?