Archive for the ‘Invention’ Category

Fairtrade

Had a quick poke around Starbucks new web 2.0 UGC blah de blah site ‘My Starbucks Idea‘. Perhaps it should be called ‘Starbucks’s My Idea’. Here’s Starbucks’s idea:

“You know better than anyone else what you want from Starbucks. So tell us. What’s your Starbucks Idea? Revolutionary or simple—we want to hear it. Share your ideas, tell us what you think of other people’s ideas and join the discussion. We’re here, and we’re ready to make ideas happen. Let’s get started.”

And here are their basic terms:

“‘If we implement your idea, we may give you credit on the site, but we won’t be compensating customers if their ideas are chosen.”

So here’s the first idea I came up with and posted:

“My idea is that Starbucks compensate people fairly for their ideas and original thinking.

‘If we implement your idea, we may give you credit on the site, but we won’t be compensating customers if their ideas are chosen’ reads like exploitation to me.

But you can have this idea for free.”

I can’t see why littl’ ol’ Starbucks can’t reward some ideas appropriately, even if it’s on a good faith, unspecific basis. Ideas may be ten a penny but implemented ideas have a value, so not paying for them is as exploitative as not paying farmers properly for coffee beans.

I’m working on my second idea now but it’s difficult – my friend Akeva banned me from Starbucks years ago.

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Skin Up

The Big 4

The blue wrap came off. The Big 4 saw the light of day. A real buzz was released into the air around the Channel. Big Art, bold creativity.

The Minister for Culture Margaret Hodge unveiled the 40’ high figure four based on those much admired idents on Channel 4. On the approach to the Channel’s Richard Rogers designed headquarters in Horseferry Road (London SW1), the 4 stands three and a bit storeys high. The structure forms a figure four only from a particular angle, just like the on-screen idents masterminded by Brett Foraker. The concept of the TV graphics is that the four only comes together for a fleeting moment. So, strictly speaking, the Big 4 should be viewed walking by, no stopping.

The structure has been skinned by leading British photographer Nick Knight. He is the first of four artists to tackle the task over the coming year. His approach: skin the figure with images of people’s hearts – from the outside. White skin, black skin, brown skin, the patchwork that is modern Britain. Stand in the middle and you can hear the beating of a heart.

In three months it will be the turn of Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui, and then the marvellous Mark Titchner. The last skinner will be the winner of a competition run in conjunction with the Saatchi Gallery.

The Big 4 celebrates 25 years of Channel 4 Arts and the launch of the Big Art Project – an innovative, bold cross-platform initiative involving a 4 part documentary series from Carbon Media, the commissioning of 6 new works of public art across the UK – from Beckton to the Isle of Mull, and the first comprehensive map of public art in the UK in the form of the Big Art Mob – a mobile blogging initiative where people photograph public art they know and love and send it from their camera phone into a visually led blog and a Google Map mash-up, the Big Art Map.

Today I had a meeting at the Public Monuments & Sculpture Association with its Chief Executive Jo Darke to make sure the Big Art Mob complements what the Courtauld Institute-based research project has been doing. We (Jo, me and sculptor Nick Pearson) had a fabulous chat in a tranquil corner of Somerset House animated with passion for public art. What I so love about this interactive commission is it’s so adaptable to partnership initiatives. From arts & disability groups to the Arts Council, from Kew to specific creations like Aluna, Big Art Mob is an easy, accessible way to record, explore, enjoy, engage with public art in all its forms.

The day before the unveiling Montreal-based Mexican-Canadian multimedia artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer revealed his idea for the Big Art piece in Cardigan on the Welsh coast to the local community. Home of the first Eisteddfod, hub of the oral tradition; point of departure for America in the 19th and early 20th centuries; Lozano-Hemmer has really got under the skin of the place and distilled in a work based on buoys floating just off the river bank, collecting and projecting back the voices of the local population and interested people beyond.

There’s 2,800 job cuts being discussed at the BBC today. That’s over three times the size of Channel 4. What the Channel lacks in bulk, it makes up for in size of ambition, degree of creativity and scale of idea. Sometimes it’s good to be the underdog. Between Saturday’s unbelievable England rugby match in Paris and yesterday’s unveiling of the Big 4, I’m totally c!h!a!r!g!e!d.

Begin It

An interesting quote from Goethe which crossed my path today with regard to innovation:

“Until one is committed there is hesitancy, a chance to draw back… There is one elementary truth – the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and many splendid plans. This is, that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.  All sorts of things occur to help one, that would never otherwise have occurred.  A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.  Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it, begin it now.”

Enterprise the Eden Way

eden

Went to Oli Barrett’s launch of Make Your Mark with a Tenner where Tim Smit, the man behind the Eden project, passed on some experience and wisdom to the students of Stockwell Park High School in Sarf Lunden.Firstly he emphasised the importance of being kind, generous and open in business. Also, trusting in your instinct.Then he expounded on his Tinkerbell Theory – get enough people believing in your vision and it will happen.The former Motorhead producer then laid out the 9 rules that he devised to underpin his business:1 Say hello to a good number of people when you arrive at work every morning 2 Each year read 2 books outside your normal sphere of interest (and review them for your colleagues)

3 ditto with a Concert

4 ditto with a Movie

5 ditto with a Play

6 Get up once a year to make a short speech on ‘Why you like working for me’

7 Make a meal for 40 people at work who help you most to make the most of your day – Tim highlighted how you have different kinds of conversation when you eat together (makes me think of the French word ‘copain’ – it means ‘mate’ or ‘pal’ but literally it is someone you ‘break bread’ with

8 Do one act of anonymous kindness for a stranger each year – a way of sharing your good luck so you’re worthy of it

9 Play the samba drums as a group – Tim drew attention to how all children like to sing and dance, but look what happens to many of us on that front when we grow up

Which points to what these 9 rules are all about, getting/staying in touch with our spirit…

And this is how I try to do that: each day I leave the house saying “I will enjoy my day…”

The Spark

Creativity is in my view an essential ingredient of Happiness so it will be a common theme in this blog – be it music or art, film-making or interactive media, it is rich in Simple Pleasures.

The other day I was at a talk by Matthew Bannister, formerly of Radio 1 and golden age GLR, on Creativity at the Rich Mix centre in Bethnal Green Road courtesy of Jez Nelson and Somethin’ Else.

A lot of the focus was on experimenting, taking risks and making mistakes – all critical to innovation and covered in The Blue Movie and The Green Movie which I made in 1994 and 1996 repectively. Matthew spoke a lot about Chris Morris and his uncompromising risk taking, using clips from Blue Jam. He also quoted a resonant piece from ee cummings about how difficult it is to be individual in a world constantly pushing us to be like everyone else. It makes me think of that Mordillo comic strip: “We’re all different!” “I’m not?!”

I think I’ve taken a few creative risks in my time – most appropiately with MindGym. My current commission, the mobile blogging bit of the Big Art Project, is fairly against the grain, I’ve had to fight hard for it so far – can’t wait to get motoring on it with Alfie Dennen and co.

OK, so here’s my Big Theory on Creativity, inspired by Andre Breton and the Surrealist Manifesto – one of the few useful things to come out of a Modern Languages degree. Creative energy comes from bringing disparate things together and trying to get a spark (etincelle) to jump (jaillir) between these two poles, things that don’t ordinarily belong together. Bread rolls and feet in Chaplin’s The Gold Rush. Narcissus and an egg in Dali’s painting. A mouldy spillage and fighting bacteria in the case of Alexander Flemming. Hollywood movies and implementing ideas in that lost gem The Green Movie – a connection inspired by Elmore Leonard’s Get Shorty.

It’s all about making the Spark fly.

 

The value of the image depends upon the beauty of the spark obtained; it is, consequently, a function of the difference of potential between the two conductors. Manifesto of Surrealism , Andre Breton 1924

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