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Pepsi: Can It?

How Tim Burton could’ve made $1 million today and why the road to social media is paved with good intentions.

New Pepsi LogoThe recent Pepsi redesign produced a new logo, fresh packaging and a slew of mixed response across the social web spanning the entire it-sucks-it-rocks spectrum — not quite the all-around applause last year’s award-winning new Coke identity got, but still an interesting conversation to follow.

The evolution of the logo alone sparked a heated discussion in the design community.

A multi-talented artist friend of ours loved the very first one best, declaring: “It looks like Tim Burton did it.” Which of course gives anything more street cred than any advertising can buy. And the guys at Make The Logo Bigger just launched a Design Your Own Pepsi Logo contest on Flickr for all the naysayers and smart-asses who think they know better than Pepsi’s $1 million design team.

Meanwhile, the ever-eager Steve Rubel of Edelman, Pepsi’s PR firm, got to spreading the word ever which way he could. First, influential social media types got a kit of 10 Pepsi cans showing the evolution of the logo, complete with a teaser note.

Pepsi: Logo Evolution

Pepsi Teaser

Then, a YouTube video popped up tracing Pepsi’s design history. And despite the questionable editing and the cheesy music choice, we found it somewhat endearing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOL8MBN8-IQ

Rubel even set up a room on FriendFeed called the The Pepsi Cooler where Pepsi is inviting ordinary web users to help shape the company’s media future. An admirable, albeit misguided initiative as it seems that so far, the bulk of room members are professional social media all-stars. Heck, Chris Brogan is on there.

Also from the well-intentioned but misguided front: We came across this cool tag cloud in the FriendFeed room, showing responses to the redesign. No love link and thus no clue where it came from, just a random image hosted on the Amazon cloud server — but pretty neat nonetheless.

It may be smart of Edelman/Pepsi to actually stand behind the Flickr contest and hear what the design community has to say in the only language it speaks. After all, they put themselves on the social media table, so now it’s all fair game. And, sure, it could turn into a food fight — but they’d better be ready to join in and play.

But enough about our take. What’s your 2 cents on Pepsi’s $1 million redesign initiative?

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Chris Jordan’s Photographic Visualizations of Excess

What Van Gogh has to do with Big Tobacco and how piles of folded laundry put the prison system in perspective.

Skull With CigaretteThe best of art is about something bigger than aestheticism, something that reflects on culture and makes a social statement that moves people. The work of artist Chris Jordan does just that. It grabs culture by its most unsettling truths, then displays them in gripping visuals that are part data, part philosophy, part brilliant photographic art.

Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait, Jordan’s latest project, exposes those hidden layers of consumerism, the big truths we give little thought to, by putting the devastating scale of our cultural excess into perspective. A visualization of statistical data, the project attempts to bring a human perspective to the alienating world of numbers.

Each statistically accurate image is a collage of miniature photographs portraying a specific excess:  The 15 million sheets of office paper we use every 5 minutes, the 106,000 aluminum cans we chug every 30 seconds, the 3.6 million SUV’s we buy every year, the 2.3 million Americans in prison, and so forth.

Plastic Cups depicts the one million plastic cups U.S. airlines use every 6 hours. Looking at the image from far away, it resembles a neo-industrial landscape where factories are spewing filth into the sky. Closer up, it transforms into a series of interwoven pipes. And really close up, you realize these are all stacks of actual plastic cups.

Plastic Cups

Plastic Cups: partial zoom

Pastic Cups: full zoom

Barbie Dolls exposes the 32,000 breast augmentation surgeries performed in the U.S. in 2006 through an equal number of Barbie dolls. The soft natural curves of a woman’s body seen in the full-scale image stand in stark contrast to the plasticky unrealness of the dolls in the close-up.

Barbie Dolls

Barbie Dolls: partial zoom

Barbie Dolls: full zoom

Denali Denial paints a portrait of the parts of nature we’re losing thanks to our reckless unsustainable habits. The image is composed of 24,000 logos from the GMC Yukon Denali, equal to six weeks of sales of that model SUV in 2004.

Denali Denial

Denali Denial: full zoom

Watch Chris Jordan’s eye-opening TED talk where he talks about his art, probes uncomfortable truths, and compares public reaction to the 3,000 deaths in 9/11 with the lack thereof to the 11,000 deaths from smoking that day and every other day.

What we admire most is that his art doesn’t aim to point the finger but, rather, to put our individual role as change agents into perspective.

In a world where large numbers have become practically meaningless, it’s easy to glide over the piles of zeroes, but it gets a little harder when we’re looking straight at the building blocks of our apocalypse.

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Starving Artist No More

Why da Vinci is rolling in his grave and thinking about peperoni pizza.

Oh, the wonders of Russian art. The great novelists. The great playwrights. The great poets. And, now, the great sausage artists.

That’s right, Russian art is branching out into the edible category with packaged meat art. See some of the great masterpieces reenvisioned with an eye for, well, the stomach.

So much for the starving artist stereotype.

And while nothing about packaged farm animal carcasses screams high culture to us, it does appear to be a thing of the bourgeois — let’s not forget that when the Titanic sank, there were 3,000 tons of ham onboard. (We’ve always wanted to throw something in from our new favorite timesuck, Unnecessary Knowledge.)

via English Russia

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Geek Mondays: Unlimited Solar Power

Why MIT geeks are throwing the best dinner party ever.

After the extremely popular Blue Planet Run post last Friday, we’re still on a sustainable solutions high. And the good guys at MIT are right there with us. In a breakthrough discovery last week, they’ve found a new way of storing energy from sunlight that generates practically unlimited solar power.

Solar Power

Resembling plant photosynthesis, the process basically splits water into hydrogen and oxygen gases using sunlight. MIT chem professor Daniel Nocera explains. (Come on, stick with the man — he’s no stand-up comedian but let’s see Jerry Seinfeld save the world from the energy apocalypse.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7ok8cOJbmo

Why is this huge? Because, so far, the one thing keeping solar power from reaching critical mass has been the struggle to store energy efficiently when the sun doesn’t shine. This new method — both cheap and easy to implement — will eventually allow homes to harness daytime solar energy and store it for electricity at night.

So who’s coming to our first solar-powered dinner party? Say, November 14, 2010? Don’t be late.

>>> via CleanTechnica

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