Monthly Archives: March 2010

What if Twitter re-invented the art of teasing?

Thanks to Pierre Ayroles who asked me to re-post an article from his blog called Paperplane titled “Twitter as a Treasure Map”.

“The agency Johannes Leonardo (whose website deserves a look 😉 ) have invited New Yorkers on a scavenger hunt, with Twitter in the background.  40 billboards were posted in the subway in Manhattan and Brooklyn with a simple message #UNDERGROUNDPUZZLE.  This clear Twitter reference incites passengers to take pictures of the various clues on the poster and post them on the social network.  This campaign is based on a community ethos and on mobility.  In order to allow for the most noise to pique New Yorker’s curiosity concerning this campaign, the agency also put out lots of stickers with the hashtag. In one month’s time we will find out who is behind the campaign.  Who ever the mystery tweeter is, one thing is for sure: it will most certainly draw wrath from the MTA for (what seems like) such a suggestive billboard.”

The first one to reveal who is behind this campaign by posting a comment on this blog (before anyone else does on Twitter) wins a dedicated copy of The Killer Idea. 😉

What if architecture responded to our environment?

During the “semaine de la publicité” (“the week of advertising”), I most appreciated architect François Roche who contributed to the debate on “The New Creative Classes”.  François has an iconoclastic approach to architecture—he imagines buildings that integrate themselves into their environment.  Look to “hybrid muscle”, his buffalo powered pavilion installed in northern Thailand.  Or, check out the Museum of Modern Art in Bangkok, a living witness to the city’s pollution (images above and below).  While most architects add plant life into the walls and roofs of their buildings to make them eco-friendly, François Roche and his associate Stéphanie Layaux decided for to do the opposite: construct a building whose surface attracts pollution.  Thus, the building becomes a living testimony to the city’s high pollution levels.  Here is what François Roche had to say during the project’s exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris: “In Bangkok, I am constructing a contemporary art museum for a collector who had also asked Rem Koolhass to design the building.  Bangkok has two distinctive characteristics: it is one of the most polluted cities in the world and it is a city that has not at all integrated urban planning.  The city grows rapidly, by individual fits and starts.  In constructing this building, we wanted to integrate these two phenomena.  This loss of control dictates the form of the building and the pollution and carbon residue create the “skin” of the building. Thanks to an electrostatic system that covers the exterior, the building becomes an urban filter.  The result, at once visual and tactile, is the flesh of our economy: insulated, up-tight and dusty.”  This building is beautiful in part because it reveals to us what we cannot see.

What if 4 iPhones could replace an entire orchestra?

What if 4 iPhones could replace an entire orchestra?


In just 5 days, so-called “Applegirl 002” has received 500,000 views on YouTube. Applegirl 002 sings “Pokerface” accompanied by 4 iPhones equipped with T-Pain, Beatmaker and MiniSynth applications that she programs before our (and her cat’s) very eyes!  Thanks to Jean-Christophe for showing this video to me via twitter (@wishmedia) and for introducing me to the fabulous site w3sh.

If you’re more into Beyonce than Gaga, Appelgirl 002 does a similar demonstration with the song “Irreplaceable” (see video below).  Between the two, I still prefer “Pokerface”.


What if hyper modernity were celebrated?

For today’s “Day of the Thinker,” I would like to welcome Gilles Lipovetsky, who has just released in France L’Occident mondialisé (The Globalized West—in English) a sequel to 2008 previous book, La culture-monde (The World-Culture).

Gilles Lipovetsky was born in 1944 in Milau, France. He is a professor of philosophy at the University of Grenoble, and is a consultant for the French organization “Progress of Management”.  For more information, here is a translation from (French) Wikipedia: “One of Lipovetsky’s most important works, L’ère du vide (“The era of emptiness”), analyzes a post-modern world where the public sphere, and its large institutions, have receded.  In this “open” culture, society has put narcissistic individualism at its forefront, ushering in a “second individualist revolution”…Lipovetsky refers to our current era as ‘hyer-modernity’.

For Lipovetsky, this second individualist revolution is reflected in our mores, in fashion and in our ethics.   According to Lipovetsky, we as a society refuse to sacrifice ourselves for any one ideal; our ethics have become painless, circumstantial, plural and emotional.  However, Lipovetsky does not see this individualism as a moralistic decline in values.  He emphasizes the persistence of shared values, the rising importance of volunteer work, and the struggle for humanitarian and ecological justice as proof against a reactionary worldview…If hypermodern society has created what Lipovetsky terms an “irresponsible individualism” it has also created a “responsible individualism”.  Following this logic, we must stop equating individualism with egotism.  Lipovetsky analyzes the final phase of capitalistic consumer-based societies: hyper-consumption.  In our current day and age, Lipovetsky sees brands seeping through every aspect of life.  Consumers are experts on these brands.  No longer constrained by the cultures of their social classes, these neo-consumers purchase erratically and impulsively, in order to gain emotional fulfillment…for Lipovetsky, this hyper-consumptive society creates a “happiness paradox”: wherein unprecedented numbers of people report being happy, while at the same time, we live in an era of unparalleled depression, anxiety and worries….”

In his most recent book, L’Occident monidalisé. Controverse sur la culture planétaire (The Globalized West: Controversies on a Planetary Culture) that was co-written with Hervé Juvin, Lipovetsky defends the thesis of a positive mixing of cultures and of an overall global “westernization”, by analyzing 5 “vectors of modernity”: capitalism, consumption, technology, media culture and individualization.  Despite its many critics, Lipovetsky is still optimistic overall about globalization.  According to him, “…globalization has allowed Earth’s life expectancy to be increased by 8 years, has brought 1 billion people out of poverty, made way for education and has created a global sensibility.”  In reality, globalization is a paradox guided by conflicting sensibilities.  These contradictions can create leveraging possibilities. Not taking into account all the ambivalences inherent in globalization gives us a caricatured view of modernity.

For those English speakers who would like an introduction to Gilles Lipovetsky, I would recommend reading Hypermodern Times, or The Empire of Fashion: Dressing Modern Democracy— two excellent works from a thinker who celebrates our (hyper) modern condition.