Brain Pickings

Search results for “creativity”

Angles, Visions and Illusions

Art hearts, saving cyclists, 16 feet of genius, whiteboard wonders, surfing with your posse, mouthing off online, what sex triangles have to do with printing, and why the paranormal is a matter of shutter speed.

THE ART OF THRIFT

Back in the day, we introduced you to Tiny Showcase, the brilliant enterprise that lets artists and art enthusiasts pursue their passions through affordable prices, even donating a portion of profits to a charity of each artist’s choice.

Today, we bring you another art visionary: we*heart*prints, a compilation of great sticker- shockless prints from contemporary artists.

For anywhere between $20 and $150, you can get your art-lovin’ hands on original, anything-but-bland work from folks who do it for anything but the money — while still helping them make rent.

But wait too long and it’s gone — stuff sells out fast. Great for artists, bad for slacker art lovers.

SPIRIT OF GIVING

This year, we’re spreading the holiday guilt-trip-giving spirit early.

Relax, it’s all cool stuff — literally. Like those LED Christmas lights you can get instead of the traditional incandescent variety to save energy, maintenance efforts and “fuck, that was hot!”exclamations upon touch. That’s right, these nifty suckers consume 90% less energy than the standard fare, have a lifetime 10 times that of incandescent ones (so they’re like the CFL’s of mini-lights), and don’t heat up at all (which is why they can afford to be covered by thick plastic rather than “shit, what did I just step on?” glass). And, just like CFL’s, they may cost a bit more, but you’ll be sparing that billboard-powering cycling volunteer some major pedal time. (Remember that from Brain Pickings 1.0 a year ago?)

DAMAGED / GENIUS

The human brain. We’re a little bit obsessed with it here. Its touch is everywhere, from the art inspired by its inner storms, to the complex software modeled after it, to the humor that tickles it. In fact, we’ll argue it’s the greatest product in existence.

But like all products, the human brain is susceptible to glitches in the assembly line. Glitches that result in what society deems “damaged goods.” Glitches like Alzheimer’s disease, Autism, Tourette’s Syndrome and other neurodevelopmental or neurodegenerative diseases.

And based on this social yardstick, Stephen Wiltshire is damaged goods. The 33-year-old British man was diagnosed with Autism when his was a kid and spent his childhood as a mute because he couldn’t relate to other humans. He was sent to a “special school”, where he spent most of his solitary time drawing. Soon, the hobby became his only way of communicating with the world and it became apparent that Stephen had an extraordinary talent.

But the school decided to use the gift to “normalize” him — they took away his drawing supplies so he would have to ask for them, forcing him to speak. And speak he did — his first word was “paper.” By age nine, he was fully verbal. Far more impressively, he was also fully able to draw areal images from imagination (like the imagined effects of an earthquake) and recall to astounding detail.

Stephen is an artistic autistic savant. In 1987, ex-president of the Royal Academy Sir Hugh Casson called him “the most talented child artist in Britain.”

Today, Stephen’s talent has reached new heights. He flies in a helicopter over major cities (Tokyo, Rome, Frankfurt, Hong Kong) and draws panoramic views of the city on a 16-foot-long canvas, down to the most amazing details like the exact number, proportion and position of windows on each building.

Read Stephen’s full life story, check out the gallery of his mind-blowing work and/or buy some prints of this testament to the capacity of the human brain. Meanwhile, see how he crafts a panorama of Rome after he hovers over the great city.

Damaged goods? You be the judge — if you can wrap your own brain around the magic of this one.

THE FLIPSIDE

While seeing a depiction of the world so perfectly linear, static and accurate is impressive, it’s also fascinating to look at the kind of art that interprets the world much like our brains operate: in a non-linear, dynamic, constantly shifting fashion.

Which is why we dig this stop-motion by artist Kristofer Strom, done entirely on a whiteboard — just like the blank slate of our perception uses static shapes and time to interpret complex motion.

See more of the same great art/design vision at Ljudbilden & Piloten.

THE SOCIAL SURFER

Ah, the social web. It stopped being a catchphrase ages ago and now it’s just a fact of life. As is multitasking. So to address the seemingly omnipresent web multitasker, a bunch of web masterminds have just released Flock.

And we dig it because these guys seem to share our passion for a genuine understanding of consumer behavior — the online reflection of which has changed tremendously in recent years, but the fundamental application that propels it — the web browser — hasn’t necessarily kept up. So how about a browser’s that’s the intersection of media, people, and discovery?

flockscreen.pngDubbed The Social Web Browser, this smart newbie aims to give users the most fulfilling experience across all information platforms, from gathering to exchange to self-expression to interaction, as well as across all media. As soon as you login to all your favorite social networking and sharing services, Flock pulls your friends from them into the browser so you can access them whenever. You choose how much you want to see and how often so you can keep track of when your friends have updated their profiles, access their shared media, share web stuff with them, and stay generally connected via whatever services you’re craziest about. See how the magic happens.

A bunch of new themes and extensions are coming soon, but the Flock crew promises a best-of-Firefox fiesta.

Although it’s compatible with Mac, Linux and PC operating systems, its interface and functionality decidedly have our beloved Mac feel — sharing with friends is a drag-and-drop heaven. At the top of your browser window, you get a scrollable filmstrip view of photo and video streams from Facebook, Flickr, PhotoBucket, Piczo, Truveo, YouTube and others. And, of course, the whole ordeal is appropriately open-source so you can code-write your heart out.

Our only caution: not ideal for those 12″ screens. But, hey, now you have yet another excuse to get that spiffy 15″ MacBook Pro.

UNTRIVIA

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And speaking of social, we keep drumming on and on about the power of word of mouth, about how online reviews can make or break a consumer product, and guess what: it’s been confirmed.
Turns out, there’s a particularly WOM-hungry group of net dwellers out there now called “social researchers.” In the yet-to-be-released “Social Shopping Survey 2007,” PowerReviews probed 1,200 people who regularly shop online and spend more than $500 annually. They found that a good 65% of these folks are “social researchers” — a set who actively hunts down consumer reviews before buying stuff and bases final purchase decision on them. More on those WOM-ravenous shoppers:

  • 78% spend over 10 minutes reading the reviews for a single product they’re interested in
  • 64% research products online at least half the time, regardless of where they end up actually buying
  • 82% prefer sifting though consumer reviews to finding out about the product from a knowledgeable store staffer

Ok, we’re off to finally buy that PowerShot we’ve been lusting after with the stellar Amazon reviews.

RAG DEPARTMENT

Okay, the last thing we wanna be is an industry tabloid: enough people talking about Wal-Mart sex triangles and Dentsu upskirt shots of Kournikova already. But we just heard something too gotta-spill to keep to ourselves.

hp2.jpgFresh from our Rumors Allegations, and Gossip department: seems like Hewlett-Packard is cooking up a new web-based service to address the marketing, design, production and printing needs of small business. There’s also some sort of personalized marketing consultancy involved. The mystery creative solutions service will offer pretty much everything an old-school ad agency would: logo design, direct mail, website hosting and design, collateral, online banner advertising, search optimization, print design and production, copywriting and more. And, of course, a promise of affordability.

We’re not exactly sure how HP will attempt to pull this off. (Craigslist wanteds for unemployed creative folk come to mind. And more stock photography than should be legal.) But we’re not surprised: HP has been pushing the “creativity” message big time lately, mostly thanks to some fresh work from Goodby and the recent Gwen Stefani endorsement with its various extensions.

We’re just not exactly convinced their end products won’t end up a tad too close to a certain NASA page.

GHOST OF ART

Yes, it’s real.

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It’s William Hundley‘s completely in-camera, completely haunting, completely brilliant photography. The Entoptic Phenomena project isn’t a product of Photoshop, the wind, or paranormal forces. It’s the work of Hundley’s creative mind…and his social circle.

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The secret: Hundley has his friends jump completely covered in fabric and snaps shots of them mid-air. We love the eerie vibe of the result. Also not too shabby: the photographer’s boldness with colors, patterns and textures.

See his the full project and its interesting extensions. (Our favorite: Friends, in which the Entoptic Phenomena awkwardly share space with static everyday characters.)

BP

Price Tags of Life

Money to burn, the world’s most profitable non-retailer, worse than rehab, outmobying Moby, farting sheep, cashing in on karma, how Josh feels about the homeless, and absolutely nothing related to Halloween. Welcome to the Price Tags of Life issue.

CASH FLOW DAM

$Okay, so maybe money does make the world go ’round. But managing it also takes away from our time enjoying the world’s ’round-going. Especially when the average American juggles 13 total credit obligations (9 credit cards and 4 installment loans) for a staggering national consumer debt of $2.47 trillion. So anything that makes that whole money game easier is a welcome crutch in our crippled sprint away from bankruptcy.

Say hello to Mint.com, a totally free, totally secure service that’s out to refresh money management. An effortless way to pull all of your financial stuff in one place and stay on top of things, it takes less than 5 minutes to set up. You just go through a few authentication steps for each of the accounts you add (credit cards, banks, checking accounts, savings, etc.) and you’re good to go. (And just to reiterate for the paranoid types out there, Mint provides bank-level data security. That’s PayPal with a chastity belt.

The minty magic also gives you snapshot of your spending patterns, so you know where you’re blowing your budget, and offers helpful saving tips based on your financial activity. And it saves the average user $1,000 at the first login. Bonus points for the wonderfully Appleish, widgety feel and an interface that’s as hip as anything financial can get.

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It’s been a while since we endorsed something with such lack of reservation and snark, but this one’s a real Brain Pickings Seal of Approval winner. More importantly, it’s also the winner of this year’s TechCrunch 40 grant: that’s a $50,000 nod. Do check it out.

UNTHREADED WATERS

If you’re an aspiring designer, artist, art director or other artsy-crafty type, you’re familiar with Threadless: the Chicago-based website that lets people submit t-shirt designs to be voted on by others, then manufactures the top 7 designs each week and pays the artists $2,500 a piece. Last month, Threadless opened their first retail store in Chicago, taking the nontraditional to a whole new level. They’re even staying away from the “store” label and calling it a community center instead, a “project” rather than a “business”.

The two-story, 1,700 square-foot establishment carries a maximum of 20 t-shirt designs at a time, changing them up every Friday regardless of their popularity. And we’re talking about the first floor.

The second floor is actually merchandise-free, providing instead a space for group classes, random gatherings, or just a WiFi getaway. This kind of community-centric model fully reflects the founding philosophy of the 7-year-old company.

And it has become no small hub of creativity: with over 500,000 registered members and 1,000 weekly design submissions, Threadless spends over $1 million a year compensating artists for their designs. At $15 to $17 price tag for t-shirts, we guess it’s safe to say these folks must be on to something. In fact, their global annual sales have now topped $17 million — no small feat for the 35-employee getup whose primary contributors are starving artists.

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So whether you’re into entrepreneurism, art, or fashion, Threadless is worth taking a look at. Even if only for the not-so-remote possibility that it may embody the future of retail.

SELLOUT BOY

Frankly, it’s a bit dizzifying when everyone and their mother is throwing beat-up terms like “indie”, “commercialization”, “sell-out,” and “Bob Dylan is a soulless fucking hypocrite” at us. Sure, lines are blurring. And money is being made. But the whole marketplace of licensing tunes to advertising is leaving fans, and some Washington Post staffers, kinda bitter.

So one such indignant guy came up with The Moby Equation: a very, very precise mathematical formula using very, very subjective quotients to measure how much exactly an artist has “sold out.” (Not that you’re wondering, because it’s so blatantly obvious, but just in case: the name was inspired by the legendary licensing bonanza that landed just about every track on Moby’s 1999 Play album in a commercial.)

So we decided to see how “nonconformist” Regina Spektor fared with her “Music Box” stint for JC Penny (a.k.a. Saatchi’s attempt to infuse the bland retailer with some lovemark juice.) The formula spat out an impressive Moby Quotient of 312.56. But there seemed to be some kinda bug: although you can calculate the quotient, you can’t really submit a comment as clicking the “submit” button gets you to that oh-so-familiar standard error page.

So much for our snarky remark about Regina’s only chance in life to out-something The Clash.

BIG IN JAPAN

And on that note, those of us who’ve seen Lost In Translation know a thing or two about the Japanese commercial exploits of Western celebrities. One YouTube user took to bursting Hollywood’s sacredness bubble by compiling an extensive library of such Japanese commercials, spanning over 20 years and featuring dozens of A-listers.

The clips range from the laughable (please keep those towels on, Harrison Ford and Japanese sauna-mate) to the mildly offensive (who thought Jack Bauer was a calorie-conscious kinda man) to the grossly bizarre (hey there, naked Homer and Bart shilling C.C. Lemon).

https://youtube.com/watch?v=kRLF4G1eAng

Go ahead, indulge your makes-them-look-so-much-less-enviable craving with the complete collection.

UNTRIVIA

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We’re doing something a little different this week. This Untrivia edition is less about what people are doing, saying or thinking and more about what they should be doing, saying or thinking in light of some interesting facts, ranging from just plain odd to pretty damn disturbing. Consider them little tidbits of eye-opening stuff, stuff to inspire you to make simple changes, or just stuff to make you look smarter next time you’re trying to pick up an eco-hippie. Here we go:

  • Americans use 60,000 plastic bags every 5 seconds
  • It takes 25 bath tubs (1,250 gallons) of water to make a single half-pound beef patty (and 417 gallons for half a pound of tofu)
  • In the US alone, over 1 billion bottles of water get shipped on trains, trucks and boats, resulting in 37,800 18-wheelers guzzling the roads to deliver it
  • People chug over 30 billion throwaway bottles of water a year, enough to go around the world 150 times with an end-to-end chain of the used bottles
  • Cattle and sheep pass so much gas they account for a mind-blowing 18% of all methane, one of the greenhouse gases
  • Mining gold for a single ring creates 20 tons of waste rock, leaking cyanide (used to separate metal from ore) and other heavy metals into the environment

So what’s an average Joe to do? Cut back on the Sloppy Joes, get a Brita, start shopping with a canvas bag, get over that must-wear-gold ego and, for God’s sake, give those poor cows some Beano.

PROFITABLE KARMA

Say what you will of eBay, but we can’t deny the media empire started out with a very utilitarian, user-need-centric mentality. Skype and PayPal definitely fit this model. But the latest addition to the family is truly revolutionary in vision and functionality.

microplace1.pngMicroPlace is on a remarkable mission: to alleviate global poverty by letting everyday Americans invest in businesses run by the working poor. It’s called microinvesting and besides helping those in need take their small business ideas to market, it also gives investors a financial return on their humanitarianism. We see it as the ultimate giving back.

You choose the region you want to invest in (Africa, Eurasia, Latin America or Southeast Asia) or the specific country: to help you pick, MicroPlace gives you some (pretty scary) info on the country’s mortality rate, HIV prevalence, population, life expectancy, and percentage of population earning less than $1 a day. You can start with as little as $100, which may be just a Halloween outfit for you, but will help some woman (most traders, farmers and craftspeople in the developing world are female) earn a living wage with her own brain- and hand-child.

We’re all for smart symbiotic relationships and smart solutions to big global problems, so this one’s a real list-topper on our all-things-smart collection. Be your own judge.

AS SEEN IN PHILLY

First, some background so you can put this week’s sighting in context: on the ramp connecting the Chestunt and Market Street bridges to the Schuylkill trail, there’s a certain bench that, for the past couple of years, has been permanently occupied by a homeless man. Most of the time, by one particular, particularly smelly homeless man. (But with 3,000 homeless cramming Philly’s handful of shelters and another 300 roaming the streets on an average day, this poor guy isn’t even a blimp on the city’s homeless radar.)

Passing by it the other day, we were startled to find one upright citizen by the name of Josh had taken matters into his own too-much-time-on hands and erected the following radical homeless-deterrent over the bench:

not the answer

Of course it’s not the answer. And of course it’s not the humane thing to do. But what it is is part of the social conversation about a clearly hot-button issue. So while Josh may not have the solution, we firmly believe that real solutions are arrived at only through serious, intense and, yes, uncomfortable conversation. Because a society with no controversy and conversation is just a tad too Orwellian for our tastes.

But we can’t help pondering the moral implications of investing time and money in such a blatant Band-Aid when this same expenditure could’ve been used towards a (tiny) stab at a cure.

BP

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.

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.

WOWzone 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.

JUICE COUTURE

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.

UNTRIVIA

brainiac.gifTrust. 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:

American Pulse Survey

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.

AUTOMATION NATION

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cs3P6QTmwtQ

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.

Serviceplan/Munich for AOK

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:

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Okay, we’ll give it lofty. Standards? Eh. Not so much. But who cares, it’s still pretty damn bad-ass in our book.

BP

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