Big, Tall and Pushing the Other Dimensions
Flat world, 1 million stickies, food that serves itself, mummies, how to pimp your ride Philly style, what virtual reality has to do with the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and why parsley is the new Iron Maiden. Welcome to The Big-Tall-and-Pushing-the-Other-Dimensions Issue.
By Maria Popova
TIME FOR POP CULTURE TO POP
A few centuries ago, people believed the world was flat. Today, just visual media producers do.
Thing is, as audiences, we’ve become so accustomed to being entertained by the flat little people on our screens that this whole 2D experience is starting to feel a whole lot like devolution. Yep, we’re going back to the whole flat-world thing. And as the time we spend with screen media progressively increases (we now rake up 3,530 hours a year on average), we’ll soon be stumbling out the door into the real 3D world, flustered and tripping, not sure how to navigate it, falling into black circles that turn out to be manholes with…gasp…depth! It’s an epidemic waiting to happen.
Luckily, there are folks out there ready to battle it. Folks like those at Philips, who just released the latest addition to their WOWvx technology: WOWzone (yep, it’s a Windows Vista lawsuit waiting to happen), the world’s first major 3D TV screen. Although it’s more “major” than “TV screen.” At 132 inches, it’s more like a multi-screen TV wall. That’s a 3×3 setup of 9 42″ Philips 3D displays, making it pretty much as immersive as it gets. WOWzone is also the full package: the 3D screens come with a mounting rig, media streamer computers, control software, 3D content creation tools, and pretty much everything you need to get the ball (not the flat circle) rolling. Although we don’t quite see it taking American living rooms by storm just yet (plus, it’s not commercially available until 2008), it sounds pretty killer for public space stuff like presentations, events, even retail. We won’t ask about the price sticker. If you’re curious, check out the technology in action; you may have better luck than us understanding how exactly you’re supposed to experience 3D on your dinosaur 2D screen.
Meanwhile, you can train for your new sense of media space by checking out the King Tut Exhibit at the Franklin Institute — the After Dark program features the pretty cool IMAX film Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs. And as eternal as all those Egyptian marvels are, they’re only in Philly until September 30, so get your B.C. fix now.
And speaking of marvels in 3D, there’s now a whole new way to explore travel icons. Thanks to The New 7 Wonders, a collection of panoramic photographs by top-notch photographers across the globe, you can take a 360-degree interactive tour of the 7 world wonders (plus a few more iconic tourist attractions) and, well, marvel.
The brain child of Danish commercial photographer Hans Nyberg, The New 7 Wonders is intended to warm up the general public to immersive panoramic photography, a.k.a. VR photography (VR stands for “virtual reality.”) The relatively young medium has been hot in professional photography circles for some time, but it seems like with faster Internet connections and a booming tourist industry, the time is right to take it to the mainstream. To us, it’s fascinating mostly because you can’t experience VR photography on the printed page, which makes it a timely epitome of truly “new media” beyond your grandmother’s 2.0 definition.
Lately, we’ve been really into packaging, especially the kind that uses heavy, tactile materials (glass, wood, metal) in traditionally disposable CPG categories. Bonus points if the product in the package is actually smart and innovative as well. And even more points if it indulges our health freak side.
Which is why we dig Wild Bunch & Co., a brand of super-premium 100% organic juice. Okay, nothing too groundbreaking in this proposition. But the ultra sleek packaging and the novel fruit/veggie blends are a whole other thing.
With juicy medleys like Beet It (beets, carrots, celery), Pineapple Zinger (pineapple, ginger), Iron Maiden (spinach, carrots, parsley), Easy Peazy (carrots, peas, parsnips), Red Dragon (dragonfuit, beets) and a ton more, we think they’re fine cuisine in a bottle. Plus, they have shots like wheatgrass, horseradish and pumpkin. There’s a drinking problem worth picking up. Check out the entire summer menu for the full line of juice couture.
And while they’re so premium they don’t do retail (p-hsshhh…), the wild bunch is meant for more experiential outlets like spas, resorts, bars and restaurants. The juicy goodness is also available for event catering and office/home delivery, although we imagine the latter is mostly targeted to the 90210 zip code. With a price sticker like $300/month (and it’s not like you’re gulping gallons, you only get a single 250ml a day), it’s another product we don’t see hitting Middle America just yet.
Still, Wild Bunch & Co. remains in our good graces. Especially after we noticed it was run by fellow Maccies — their entire site is hosted on the dot-mac domain and the clear product of iWorks. How’s that for a tall glass of Apple kool-aid. Mm-mmm.
Trust. One small word, so many big payoffs.
It can make or break a spokesperson’s value as a brand ambassador. It can make the difference between your mom searching under your mattress for porn and her letting you take those long “showers” without question. In politics, it’s the currency that wins elections.
The most recent American Pulse study by BIGResearch asked Americans to weigh in on the trustworthiness of various public figures. Here’s their answer to the simple “Who is more trustworthy?” question:
We could, although we won’t, make a comment about those delusional Middle-American 14.2%. Instead, we’ll focus on what we find far more fascinating: bloggers get more respect than members of Congress and members of Senate. Combined.
So if you’re brewing up your next spokesperson, think more Jorn Barger than Senator Barger.
Technology is booming. Machines are replacing humans. Convenience is the new capital. If you’re having flashbacks to, say, 1781, you’re right. It’s the second Industrial Revolution. And automation is its Che Guevara.
All over the world, machines are popping up with value propositions only humans had been able to offer until now. Except this time, the commercial is rubbing elbows with the social and the cultural.
Take the old vending machine, a convenience revolutionary in its own right. In Japan, the hallway standby is now dispensing charity causes. Though the fruit of a quintessentially commercial global tree (hello, Coca-Cola Company), the project is still helping propel social causes in local communities, such as the White Ribbon Campaign by the Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning. (And, speaking of, we’ve all seen the condom vending machines that are now practically a staple in bars and hotels.)
Then there’s the higher-concept stuff, like the decade-old but still hip Art-o-mat, conceived by artist Clark Whittington in 1997 and now dispensing the work of over 400 artists from 10-plus countries at various museums, galleries and other cultural centers in 24 states.
And let’s not forget the functionally inspired. Like Nike’s soccer ball vending machine at Pier 40 in New York, where soccer players at the nearby recreational facility frequently mis-kick the game centerpiece into the Hudson River.
But perhaps the ultimate automation comes from mechanizing the most human of industries: the service one. German entrepreneur Michael Mack has managed to take the human element out of the restaurant industry by introducing the world’s first waiterless grub joint, ‘s Baggers. At the self-described restaurant of the 3rd dimension, the entire ordering procedure is fully automated. Each table is equipped with a touch-screen display connected to the kitchen upstairs, where meals are made fresh and sent back to the table via metail railings. It’s all also connected to the main sever in the basement, which keeps track of supply stock. If you’re having trouble believing, check it out in action.
The bistro’s state-of-the-art technology also extends to their kitchen, where it allows them to prepare traditionally fat-laden dishes (pommes frites, anyone?) with significantly less fat while keeping the flavor. And it doesn’t hurt they use mostly locally grown and organic ingredients. Plus, their tapas-like small portions make for none of that supersized crap. How’s that for fast food that’s real fast and real food?
WHAT THE OTHER GUYS ARE DOING
Sure, we’ll give it to Bogusky: looking to other advertising for inspiration is constraining, narrow and bound to produce it’s-been-done-before work. But there’s some good work out there, work so aspiration that it’s stripped of the label “advertising” and thus, well, inspirational. So with this thought, we bring you two such bits of pure good work from across the globe.
From South Africa comes a killer stop-motion out of agency MetropolitanRepublic/JDR and production house Wicked Pixels, aimed at repositioning local mobile carrier MTN as younger, hipper and, um, cool. Call us easy, but we think it does just that.
The 75-foot Sticky Man himself took 19, 865 Post-Its to build, but he had to be moved and reshot across 14 locations. So the whole 60-second spot ended up taking 1 million Post-Its, 3 miles of 35mm film, 96 314 digital photos stored on 2.5 terabytes of space, a cast and crew of 300, 3 weeks of of editing (that’s what happens when you shoot 2 hours of footage but can only use 57 seconds) and 83 hours in Flame. Well, that bad boy better sell some cell phone plans. In any case, we enjoyed this tribute to imagination and man-hours, if only for the sweetly nostalgic trip to MTV Europe spots of the 1990’s and early Fatboy Slim videos. Ah, the days.
Then on a less commercial note, Serviceplan/Munich brings us this to-the-point guerrilla campaign for AOK, Germany’s largest insurance company.
The graphic glass lungs were installed in front of public buildings like hospitals, swimming pools, and restaurants in Southern Germany, as well as the AOK headquarters. And while we’re not big believers in using scare tactics for social cause campaigns, this one seemed to work: in the first day alone, 6,167 people in Munich alone visited the campaign website, which features empowerment tools to help smokers quit. (In case you don’t sprechen Sie Deutsch, the URL translates to “i-will-become-a-non-smoker.”)
ONLY IN PHILLY
Yep, your fix of random as-seen-in-Philly oddities and curiosities is back. From the streets of Philadelphia to you, via Brain Pickings, you get a sampling of local quirk and creativity.
This week, we pay tribute to Philly’s pride in being a bike-friendly city. With bike lanes aplenty and the country’s largest connected parks system for killer trails, it’s clear Philly has lofty bike standards. Spotted this week: a neat DIY project, or a clever collage of bike thefts. You decide:
Okay, we’ll give it lofty. Standards? Eh. Not so much. But who cares, it’s still pretty damn bad-ass in our book.
Published September 11, 2007