Friday, February 24, 2006


Speaking about codes. Japanese shows are somehow strange for newbies because they use different social and cultural codes. USA shows are full of political propaganda (just think about the not so hidden agenda behind series like "commander in chief").

I don't understand advertising campaigns like "don't trust your mates"... for me, the message is ambigous... or better said, it is a linear message: never, ever trust your mates because it can get you killed. OK, I get that, so far so good. The guy is just too stupid to keep hanging out with "redneck-friends" who always play pranks on him... however, when he gets into the car full of drunks... that is not a prank. So, there is no linear relationship between pranks like wrapping a celophan on the toilet seat or tipping off a port-a-loo. It's not that the drunken driver wanted to play a prank by crashing into a pole! They are just beeing stupid still. The story could be OK, IF... for example, someone covers the eyes of the driver just to play chicken and see if the friend gets scared. Drunk driving is not a prank, it's just stupidity. So, for me, the idea of "don't trust your mates" doesn't make any sense.

Anyway, back to the japanese... here's a good example of cultural encoding: The japanese version of spiderman. Look at the typical elements: the super hero is always a normal average person or even better a "loser"... the bad guys always send a monster or someone powerfull to destroy the superhero, but they never fight face to face, because the vilains are always out of reach. If the monster transforms into a super-size monster, then the hero also has a way of getting bigger (by means of an exo-skeleton or simply with a magic spell or device). When the hero launches an attack, he has to shout what it is like: "supaideruneto". There's always someone dead to avenge. And many, many other cliches... you just have to get used to them to be able to understand the whole plot.

OK, go get some popcorn! and enjoy this 1/2 hour episode of Supaaideluman. (I admit, this is also a test for embedding movies on my blog).

If you think about western cliches and conventions on movies and tv series, they are also not very sophisticated... it's just that we are more familiar with them and play along. But for an outsider, they may look silly aswell. Once again, if you want to learn more about encoding of meanings and intertextuality... just read David Chandler's book.


PS: Hooper, you should get a real PC to be able to reply to things like this... I'm just provoquing you, he, he.
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NZ rave

What happens when someone who's idea of culture is a hip-hop rave, is in charge of Arts and Culture? You get a bunch of DJ's and gansta rappers as highlight for a national arts festival. It's been now 6 years... and each year the events are ... well, there might have been better events and performances at Zapopum!

In 2000 it was really hard to decide which paid events to attend. Now that the cultural level has sunken into populism... there's not much to choose from. Some paid events are not that bad... but they are also not extraordinary. I mean, even the Simpsons went to see "cirque du puree" (a copycat of cirque du soleil).

I have to conceal the identity of our sources, but an insider told us that NZ orchestras don't play the same days there's rugby. First, because nobody would show up (including some musicians), and because there's the risk that the whole hall would shout "goaaaal!" in the middle of the concert. It's like the Springfildian hillbillies that got out of the philarmony concert and only hear classical music as ringtones on their mobiles. Maybe the Michael Fowler centre will become a state prison someday. (yes, yes, more simpsons references)

Sandra's uncle Heinrich Klug will be conducting the Münchner Philharmoniker on March 7th. A very nice programme of Mozart's Jupiter and Schubert's Winterreise. Last week he conducted a concert for children including a puppet show. Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to invite him to the next New Zealand arts festival.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Life is a quiz

Life should be a quest... but it's easier to just take a quiz and find out how it will go... If you think your life is boring, repetitive, not challenging, etc... and you'd like to trade places with someone famous... a TV star... a real... (well actually a cartoon) celebrity. You can find out how your life would be if you were : Spongebob! Step into Garnet Hertz simulator and find out.

My routine during the last couple of weeks has been just re-arranging CAD drawings (boring, but not as boring as working at krusty krab!) After a while, everyting looks like being on a grid and lines start to jump out of the monitor. Speaking of grids and rebel lines, I found this optical illusion: Motion Induced Blindness... printscreen the image, and you'll see that all dots are still there despite the illusion. That's why some lines and objects start to disappear when you stare too long at your monitor.

Here are some fun games by Oskar van Deventer. I liked the haunted vending machine... perhaps because it keeps me thinking about how we design complicated user interfaces and mechanisms that are not always visible to the user... so the user puts a coin... and nothing happens... a second coin, and it gets stuck again... -Oh, no! this *&@# machine is not going to win!!! and there it goes a third coin... and suddenly it works!!! Try using a piece of paper to hide the path for the coins and see how frustrating it is, then uncover the mazes, and you'll see how fast you can figure out how to win. Moral of the story: "the user should be able to figure out how things work on a system, so that the user can expect a certain response when performing an action."

More trivial stuff that I sometimes come across... here are many, many quick quizzes for the ones with a lot of time to waste. For example:
You can copy- paste the results on your blog... Here are some of my results (if that tells you something about me):

You Are Mr. Burns

Okay, so you're evil...

You have big plans to rule the world, and you'll destroy it in the process if necessary!

You will be remembered for: the exploitation of the masses

Life philosophy: "One dollar for eternal happiness? I'd be happier with the dollar."
-I just can say: Excellent!

Your Japanese Name Is...

Akira Suzuki

Your Sexy Brazilian Name is:

Davi Peixe
-Close enough!

Your Blogging Type is Confident and Insightful

You've got a ton of brain power, and you leverage it into brilliant blog.
Both creative and logical, you come up with amazing ideas and insights.
A total perfectionist, you find yourself revising and rewriting posts a lot of the time.
You blog for yourself - and you don't care how popular (or unpopular) your blog is!

-So that's why my blog is not very popular! Got it...

Pizza Personality: Veggie Pizza

Upscale and trendy.
You're the most likely to go for a gourmet pizza.
You have impeccable taste in everything.
You truly enjoy the finer things in life.

-No way Jose! I hate veggies!!! I hate veggies... I guess this quizz is not very accurate!

Your IQ Is 105

Your Logical Intelligence is Below Average

Your Verbal Intelligence is Genius

Your Mathematical Intelligence is Above Average

Your General Knowledge is Exceptional
-OK, ok... I had better results.

Your Personality Profile

You are dependable, popular, and observant.
Deep and thoughtful, you are prone to moodiness.
In fact, your emotions tend to influence everything you do.

You are unique, creative, and expressive.
You don't mind waving your freak flag every once and a while.
And lucky for you, most people find your weird ways charming!

-All righty then!

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Monday, February 13, 2006

X-treme update

Just a qick update on yesterday's post. Advertising is usually misleading or barely into the boundaries of honesty... That's why Sprite's campaign is just hilarious, making fun of dishonest advertising like the promo: "there are many others participating.. why would you think you could win?" and this "honest" ad from Argentina: "tu amigo te tiene ganas" (via) Just in time for Valentine's day: Girls beware!!!

Now, in other topics about advertising, I found this Extreme-post (in spanish) about how everything is "extreme" nowadays. I was terrified to see the once before "cute" gansito (recuerdame) transformed into an extreme skater, sunglasses and bermudas... who knows if the gansito has now a tattoo or a piercing somewhere. See the transformation or mutation of Gansito at ConejoAureo.

Ken (Barbie's boyfriend) also got an X-treme make over. (via Reuters) According to a Mattel's spokeperson "they separated a couple of years ago because they wanted to spend some time apart". So you see, even the blondine role model Barbie has a complicated life like those desperate housewifes.

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

mmmm... beeeeer! aghhhhhh....

The Reinheitsgebot is the German law for brewing beer... and according to Ron Pattinson, it's just... well, nicht in ordnung. (via) If you are curious about how beer is actually made in New Zealand... check this informative advertising video: Tui's brewery in Mangatainoka. Not exactly up to the standard of the Reinheitsgebot... but, who cares?!!!

Usually NZ ads are laim and boring. Most ads are like Arturo/Antonio(?) Aguila's advertisings 20 years ago for Ekar de Gas! Very afficionado. Even some NZ ads by Saatchi & Saatchi are just terrible and old fashioned. The worst problem is that they keep transmiting those ads after many years. They keep recycling or replaying old ads after 2 or 3 years. Honest! And that not just for small companies... they keep playing old ads for Telekom, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, and many big bucks corporations. That doesn't mean they replay the good ones... no, no, they replay also the bad ones. Tower Insurance won for 2 consecutive years the "worst commercial" award (with the same one).

I heard someone say in Mexico that the "bubulubuena" girl is now "bubuluabuela". I guess the Tui girls will be on air until they become mummies... but I don't mind in this case, do you?

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Age of Empires

Long time ago... pirates were heros. It just depended which side they were working for. The more gold and treasures they stole from the "enemy", the higher the condecoration they've got... while for the "enemy" the higher they would rank on their "most wanted criminals" list.

Things have not changed much since then. While many are supporters of "green pis", for other countries they are just a bunch of modern pirates. What about asking a group of hackers to design an interactive building?(via) or what about making a contest of fake phtoshoped pictures of urban legends? (read about those urban legends here). There's nothing wrong (I guess) with a little bit of humour. Problem is when you use false images to fake a scientific cloning experiment. (via) So, where is the line between acceptable and totally knockoff? Well... they say : "rumor has it" Meaning that if it's gossip... there's some truth on it or it becomes true. You know.. like that movie.

Newspapers have been faking images since... well, since it was made with just an x-acto knife! Dont't tell me you are one of those who believe in informercials showing amazing "before" and "after" pictures. For many years I did airbrush retouching... and believe me... there's nothing you can't fake: from making round and soft buttocks on some models (and disapearing all wrinkles of course), to making entire buildings, cars, and people disapear when they are not wanted... or making the whole moon match the thirds of a composition. Try to spot on the impostors on my pictures of the Jazz sundays at Auckland domain.

Not everything fake is just photoshop. Alison Jackson uses celebrity doubles to fake his unbelievable pictures. (via) There are for example, legal oil copies of famous paintings. You can buy a VanGogh for $150, or a Vermeer for $155, Mona Lisa coud be hanging on your livingroom for $165... I am seriously thinking about buying a fake Bourgereau, but it doesn't come cheap: $185.

TV shows like "lost" are just the same as some Simpson's knockoff episodes... you know, when they get cast away on a lost island like "lord of the flies". We recycle ideas... but then again, where sould we draw the line?

I remember a couple of years ago, the Designers Institute of New Zealand's design awards on the students category was a pair of shoes. Some months later, I found a very similar design from an european designer. I showed both pictures to my students... some of them said that in deed they looked similar, but there were some differences, so you can't say they are identical. During a student's exhibition a couple of years ago, I told the teacher that one of the projects was disturbingly similar to something published on the book "spoon". He agreed and said: "Yes, I know, but what can I do?"

So, I guess it is OK to recycle and re-develop... Have a look at "the knockoff project". There are some copied album covers which are sometimes even better or more famous than the originals. like: The Clash's London Calling.

At least there are some "honest" fakes... I talked before about Bansky's pranks to hang fake pictures on the walls of serious museums. But there are many more "pranksters":

    "two artists (a duo known as 0100101110101101.ORG) put up a container on a place in Vienna, Austria, "explaining" how it would be renamed "Nike Place" Inside the container was a very professional exhibit showing how Nike was planning to "buy" streets and other places, put up a gigantic red swoosh (its symbol) on the plaza. Another example: the "audio tooth implant" : you go to the dentist and you get a wireless microchip implanted in your tooth, augmenting in-body communication capabilities - needless to say, there was an uproar about the idea. The same happened with a provocative artwork called Bioteknica, by Shawn Bailey and Jennifer Willet. The website looks pretty scientific and credible, but it's a fake project on manipulation of the human orga(ni)sm. " (via)

There's no moral to this story... piracy, recycling, counterfeit, knockoff ... it's just human nature. If you need help... visit the "counter counterfeit commission" Just... DON'T try to buy a car from or get your news feed form the onion... OK?

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Thursday, February 09, 2006


I won't talk or write again about eternal recurrence... but to reincarnate, one has to be dead first. I guess it's not the same as just being born again... is it? I've been saying for quite a while that modernism is long gone, and yet, some tried to bring the corpse back to life and made a zombie called "postmodernism". - OK, OK, I confess: as a student, I once did a project more or less inspired by postmodernism... I am sorry about that. Don't kill me!

Anyway, Deyan Sudjic wrote this obituary to modernism.(via) The problem about that, is that according to Chaos Theory, there's a period of predictable events or behaviour, then there's chaos... until after a certain amount of time another period of order follows. What I mean, is that modernism has been dead since quite a while... (1929? 1970? 9-11-2001?) and there's no one there to replace it. Maybe that is why so many still worship modernism and still are in the so called "denial stage". We are inmersed in a chaotic period... maybe modernism reincarnated into one of the new age philosophies... or into immaterialism... who knows!? I also found this (almost one sided) comparaison between German and USA Design.

If you want to have a look at the reincarnated future... here's a very promising movie by Christian Volckman called Renaissance (via). I really recommend you to have a look at some of the featured sections of the site. There's a section about design of the film, not just the CGI, but also the graphic work behind the logos and advertisments on the streets. There are some sketches of the vehicles design (seems that Citroen designers helped), furniture, and even the urban development of Paris in the imaginary future 2053. Looks like one of those films made with real passion. If you can't wait like me to see the film, there are 2 trailers to download.

au revoir
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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Jazz tribute

We just came back from the Jazz festival. Honestly... each year it is more crowded, but the quality of the musicians gets worst. I wonder if there's a relationship between masses and quality... I mean, many experts say that good quality will always be unpopular... just read Bourdieu.

Anyway, this is my small tribute to Raul Anguiano and Nam June Paik, who passed away recently. I am also including Juan Soriano, because he barely escaped... you could say there is some symbolism... the survivor plays the blues in memory of the ones gone. (more of Soriano's paintings here and here). But, no... I am not so good with symbolism, it's just coincidence.

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Friday, February 03, 2006


It's terrible that Mexico slipped 7 places down on the "global competitivity index"... seriously, we need policies to help the development of new (small) business... from my point of view as a designer, not just small "tienditas". We need to strenghten small production, and design led industry. Despite (or besides) the so called "informal economy" (nice name for tiangueros) there's very little industry at a global competitive level. Tell me! after struggling for months to get right the production of our standers. That doesn't mean we're not competitive, it just means, that there is not enough industry or business competing!

So, it's always nice to have design competitions or prizes like the XVI Premio Quorum. (via) Published works (that means also products already in production) can apply on many categories. There's one special category for "export items" and students are encouraged to participate with posters and photographs on HIV, violence and drugs prevention. Apply before March 10th.
Good luck
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