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SXSWi: Creative–Show the Path, Not the Destination

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Join Brendan Dawes, Gary Hustwit and Jim Coudal for three short presentations followed by a discussion on the subject of creating more involving, entertaining, successful projects by structuring them in a way that encourages the audience to be a key part of the process of discovery.Generally speaking you should be pointing your audience in the right direction and then getting the hell out of the way. In film, programming and design, the most satisfying works are those that on their most basic level are created along with an audience, not simply for one.

Hustwit debuted “Helvetica” two years ago at SXSWi. Tonight screening “Objectify.” Finding the usefulness of everyday things.Brendan Dawes, digital life, and practical applications. Coudal: Jewelboxing, Memo Notes. Field Books.com. The Deck–serve 40 mil. ads/mo. for 30 clients/servers. Don’t tell them, show them, lead them along.

General theory of creative relativity. Botched physics part of it–got quantum mechanics and math theory wrong. Our greatest fear is confronting the fact that we are complicit in our own corruption. Conrad wrote Heart of Darkness. Bring the viewer into the process to reach their own conclusions. Design, product, etc.

Stanley Kubrick. Not about 2001, or Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake. Enduring appeal of detective or mystery novels. We’re all on board. We know there’s something we’re going to discover, and we go along together. Roman a clef. The key to figuring out what’s going on. Montessori method–individual responsibility. Not teaching things, teaching kids how to learn.

Layer tennis. Live on Friday afternoons.Two artists swap a file back and forth in real time. Coudal creates an image. He sends it to Hustwit. He has 15 minutes to add to it, send back, keep adding. Third person writter or blogger writes about it, ultimate end is that it shows a collective creative process. No rules, except for size of files, 15 minute limits. You can do anything you want. Allow the audience to be part of the path. No destination they want to go to. Creativity most often comes out of a balance between restraint and a terrifying freedom. Can’t be complete totalitarian rule, and not a free-for-all. It’s conversation as opposed to a lecture. If you allow your viewers/readers/customers to make the leap to add their own intellect to the product, more satisfying for everyone.

Gary: Seventy-five minutes and thirty-six seconds. Documentary films are linearly-fixed. Will be the same length. No way for viewer to change plotline, characters, duration, or destination (unless they walk out!). How can you make a fixed doc film open to interpretation and interactive with the viewer. Things he’s learned: 1. use ellipsis… means intentionally leave out information so viewer needs to figure out for selves, use their own experiences and curiosities. Moment of discovery is a like a payoff. Much more compelling than someone telling you what the film is. Turning point in early 60s, DA Pennebaker, Ricky Leacock, et al whose goal was to put the viewer in the picture. Fly on the wall. Throw you in and you figure it out or not. “Don’t Look Back.” Bob Dylan documentary. No captions, not indications, no subtitles, no frame cards. Go out and experience, discover. Leave to interpretation. Delayed gratification. When’t your sitting and watching in the dark, you don’t know what image is going to come next. What’s going on? Begin scanning the frame for cues. The filmmaker knows you’re confused. Want you to think about it a while. Maybe just want you to soak it up. Controlled confusion, then a few cues. Editor of Objectify wants to keep film about 15 minutes ahead of the audience. In the  mode of discovery throughout the film. Way to bring viewer’s curiosity into play, make it individual for them.

2. make it a game. Bring in puzzles. Brains are hardwired to find patterns, figure out puzzles. Engaging on a visual level. In Helvetica, go into a lot of cities, “Where’s Waldo?” Where’s Helvetica. Have to find it in the frame, what it actually says, what’s going on around it in the scene. Almost a dialoguebetween film and viewer, finding the clues, the timing, a game between you and the filmmaker. When all else fails, include a dog in the film…

Dawes. Flow and segues are really important to him. Made something in ’98 giving power to the users: Psycho Studio. First video in Flash, just experimenting. Hitchcock’s vision is one thing, give power back to people to make their own versions of the shower scene in “Psycho.”  Sort of fake video. Choose clips, and it compiles it for you. The danger is that when you give playthings to people with a lot of freedom, you get some really weird things. Quite R rated. Humans versus machines. Shot of a park, looked at walking patterns. Why not straight lines? Because they’re not as interesting. When you take things away and do things differently, creates new concepts. Get rid of curbs, etc. might have been dangerous, but if you make the whole thing a shared space, drive into area with NO markings. What happens is you slow down. Accidents have decreased, cars slow down, because people suddenly have the responsibility, so they figure things out.

How does it impact techies? Projects start as sketches. Use Field Notes (Coudal’s product).  Sketched ideas out, before computer. Batteries, don’t break, Ways to produce without having to consume the Web. Doodle-Buzz. Typographic news explorer. Gets most popular news things at the moment. Search, then “Doodle to see results.” Then it fades. Where’s the interface? Start to cry. A friend said it actually scared him. Why can’t we do different things with interface? If you can’t use it within 2 seconds it’s rubbish–not true. You have to figure it out. Gets really scary. Let’s put alittle bit of work in. Make a gesture, and you get results along a line, squiggles, Then you can draw out from line, get a preview, link off, and can go to Web page. Then get related words, then draw out somewhere else,  Can keep going and going, zoom out, draw things. The interesting thing is that you can start one place and end up somewhere totally different. Different and scary. Don’t want to live in a world where you’re told “you can’t make that.”

Clarissa Pinkola Estes: “If you don’t go out in the woods, nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin…”

Layer Tennis is sponsored by Adobe. Coudal says there are serious problems in the world of marketing today. Dawes inspired by Coudal. In many cases, project takes the path of least resistance. Gets talked to death. Let it go up in flames, that’s when you really learn things.

On a train home commuting on a Friday nite. Fell asleep, woke to an empty train. Paper on opposite seat. Picked it up, it said “PTO” please turn over. Please take these swans. In some David Lynch film? What swans? When he looked theire were 2 origame swans on the seat. That was an amazing experience. If it had said “please take these swans,” he wouldn’t have done the work. Since it said “PTO” first, it engaged him and made it a more significant experience.


Written by kokopelliwoman

March 14, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Posted in General

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