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World AIDS Day 2008: Join the Fight

What 20 years, 112 million bloggers and a simple pledge have in common.

We’re doing something a little different today. Because today is the 20th anniversary of World Aids Day, a powerful opportunity to reflect on the deadly pandemic that started eating away at the world over 27 years ago — and the one time when it’s particularly not okay to roll our eyes at the overexposed and underaddressed problem.

World AIDS Day 20th AnniversaryNo need to drum on about the stats, because we all know how frightening they are, but just consider that by the time you finish reading this, 71 new people will be infected with AIDS, adding to the 33 million worldwide living with the disease.

So what can you do? Generally, “awareness” is a comfortable, failure-free way of pretending to be involved in a cause without really being responsible for its tangible success. (Seriously, has “awareness” cured, say, breast cancer?) But AIDS is extraordinary because in this particular case, awareness is action — in a disease where the only cure is prevention, the more people get tested and know how to “be careful,” the less people get infected.

So learn a thing or two about how not to get infected. And, seriously, get tested — the first step to chipping away at the colossal problem is refusing to think of it as an abstraction, and that begins with personal initiative — if you live in the States, find a testing center near you or just text your zip code to “KNOWIT” (566948) and they’ll text back with a nearby center. And if you live elsewhere in the world, enlist Google and a few friends in finding out about local testing options or check out UNAIDS, the United Nations program against HIV/AIDS.

You can also take the World AIDS Campaign leadership pledge and even follow AIDS.gov on Twitter.

If you’re a designer, allot some pro-bono time to doing a compelling piece that raises awareness, moves people and inspires action — talk about using your power for goodBloggers Unite

And if you’re one of the world’s 112 million bloggers, grab the World Aids Day badge and participate in BloggersUnite, an ambitious initiative to leverage the traction of the blogosphere in reaching more people with the simple yet powerful awareness message.

So go ahead, do your part. Because the more the word spreads, the less the disease does. Think about it.

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Small World, Big Bite

The big picture painted through smallness and sprinkles.

Here’s a paradox: Thanksgiving is supposed to be about gratitude for what we have, a kind of humbling appreciation of our blessings, but somehow me manage to turn it into a celebration of gluttony.

Photographer Matthew Carden‘s Small World collection offers a particularly timely poke at the irony. Just a cool bunch of macro photographs on the surface, the project actually digs deeper with a more thoughtful exploration of our dichotomous relationship with food — part necessary play therapy, part unnecessary excess and wastefulness.

Carden is also working with the Slow Food Foundation on a fascinating project to save the Gravenstein Apple, one of the last foods grown by farmers who truly nurture their crop from tree to table.

The collection both captures the labor-of-love production process that puts food on our plates and reminds us of our own smallness in the natural world that we so freely take from.

Plus, we’d just love to slalom down a sprinkles-covered hill.

via Inhabitat

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Photoshop: As Real As It Gets

Art imitates life imitates art, plus 61 cups of paint and a rubber glove.

Typically, Photoshop design is, in one way or another, a mock-up of visuals that could, or do, exist in the real world. But Jakarta-based agency Bates 141 decided to flip this on its head in a project for client software-asil.com.

In an design-imitates-life-imitates-design twist, the crew literally brought the Photoshop CS4 workspace to life.

Photoshop Sweded

We have to appreciate both the strategic freshness and the supreme craftsmanship behind the work — we can’t help wanting to come in and play with the wonderful world of tools and colors.

You can see the behind-the-scenes details of the extremely laborious process at Art Snob Solutions’ corner of Flickr.

via Scary Ideas

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Photography Spotlight: The Obama Phenomenon

What a camera and a chalkboard have to do with the political and cultural heritage of our time.

There’s no question the Obama campaign ignited some powerful human emotions. But it’s hard to grasp just how powerful by simply talking about them from the sidelines of abstraction. That’s why photographer Scout Tufankjian decided to dissect those most visceral, deeply moving elements of the history-making campaign.

Scout Tufankjian: The Early Days

Nearly two years ago, Tufankjian reluctantly took an assignment to shoot an Obama book signing, something she called “a photographer’s nightmare.”Scout Tufankjian: Book Signing

But as soon as Obama walked into the room, the crowd became so transfixed that Tufankjian couldn’t help being intrigued and absorbed by the energy. Inspired, she set to explore this incredible phenomenon by following the candidate along the campaign trail, documenting not the stereotypical glamor moments of high-stakes politics but, rather, the Obama’s guy-next-door everyday, the immense emotional charge of his supporters, the most intimate moments of the Obama family.

Scout Tufankjian: The Early Days

What started as a reluctant assignment evolved into a rich and incredibly profound portrait of America.

Scout Tufankjian: The Early Days

Scout Tufankjian: The Early Days

You can’t help finding yourself absorbed and overwhelmed by Obama’s incredibly powerful presence — powerful not because he is now the leader of the free world, but because it appears to move people — everyday people — deeply, to touch them on a fundamentally human level so uncommon in politics.

Scout Tufankjian: The Road to The Convention

Scout Tufankjian: The Road to The Convention

Somewhere between Beatlemania and The Fallen, the collection captures those big human truths that Obama resonated with so deeply, the very resonance that got him elected in the end.

Scout Tufankjian: The Road to The Convention

Scout Tufankjian: The Road to The Convention

Indeed, it’s hard not to appreciate the strong resemblance, both photographic and cultural, to the incredible social force that was Kennedy captured in The Fallen, particularly in the eerie reminiscence of the images showing Obama’s arrival via the Pennsylvania rail.

Scout Tufankjian: The Road to The Convention

It’s no surprise, really, since one of Tufankjian’s photographs shows a woman answering the question of why she was voting Obama with a simple yet momentous phrase: “The Kennedy Package.”

Perhaps the most powerful element of Tufankjian’s photographic feat is actually just that — his exploration of the vast spectrum of Obama supporters. Armed with a chalkboard and a camera, she simply asked people at Obama rallies to jot down why they were voting for him.

Scout Tufankjian: Obama Supporters

Scout Tufankjian: Obama Supporters

Scout Tufankjian: Obama Supporters

Amazon: Yes We Can
The book, featuring over 200 of Tufankjian’s most impactful photographs from this 2-year-long portrait of the Obama phenomenon, is available on Amazon December 8 — and what better holiday gift than a rich piece of political, cultural and emotional history?

via DPS

Update: Thanks to a friend of Scout’s for pointing out Scout is indeed a she, not a he. The mistake has been fixed and we’re, needless to say, deeply embarrassed to have been even less accurate than GWAP’s infamous Gender Test.

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