Anthropocene

We have reached an unprecedented moment in planetary history. Humans now change the Earth’s systems more than all natural forces combined. This is the central argument of the proposed current geological epoch: the Anthropocene.

An exhibition now on view at the Art Gallery of Ontario by photographer Edward Burtynsky and filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier. A spectacular set of photos and film focused on our human impact on the Earth.

It was a lot to take in. The images were quite beautiful while at the same time, the subject matter, whether the slums of Nigeria or the mining of American landscapes, was heartbreaking. It’s clear humans are impacting the Earth in a transformational way. The exhibition itself was more about presenting the facts rather than a point of view of what to do about those facts. That, of course, is up to all of us.

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On Fahrenheits

I went to Fahrenheit 9/11 in the theater back in 2004. At that time, it felt like most people were in favor of that dumb War in Iraq and having a dissenting opinion on the matter wasn’t advised. So going to a theater full of people who were mad about the war and were proud to show it ended up being a powerful experience. If you had doubts about how many people were against the war, the theater experience helped provide a solid visual to all the dissenters out there. We weren’t alone, we were all pissed, and we were not going to be quiet about it.

Having just watched Fahrenheit 11/9 in the theater, there are some obvious differences between the two. And some similarities.

First, the differences. In 2004 Michael Moore told me more things that were new. Before the instant breaking news provided by iPhone alerts and Twitter feeds, or the in-depth coverage by Vice News and John Oliver, Michael Moore’s deep dive was key because it was fresh. And the political podcast wasn’t as prevalent. So where else would the alternative viewpoint be found? Also at that time, I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to the despair of war in the air. Going to the theater to see the film seemed just as constructive as anything else. There wasn’t a wave of new and exciting candidates at every level. Activism wasn’t everywhere. Knocking doors, signing postcards, calling voters, those things were there but didn’t seem to carry the importance they do today. Why go see a movie when you can go march with the candidate who is running on the issues you can fully support? 

And then the similarities. The tone, the delivery, the wit, and the seriousness of the issues we all face. In this case, it happens to be not only about Trump, but also an American Dream that is slipping through the grasp of more and more people. And the ideals of America, the freedom and justice for all viewpoint we’ve never really had, well we’re in danger of that never being full realized. We are moving into a corporate dystopia of dog-eat-dog capitalism that sells a livable future only to those who can afford it. Want to drink clean water? Want to be  safe from gun violence? Only if you can pay the premium price.  

I’ve always been a fan of Michael Moore. Especially Bowling for Columbine, Roger & Me, and Sicko, all of those are amazing documentaries worthy of being watched at least once. When people tell me they just don’t like that Michael Moore guy, I usually think they don’t like laughing at power. Because that’s what he does. He makes you laugh at the absurdity of power and once that happens, you can see the kinks in the armor. And then you can come up with a plan of attack you can use to take with you out into the world. That’s why he’s important. That’s why he matters. Go see his latest, and then go back through the catalog. It’s definitely worth your time.

How are things?

An alternative to good, frustrating, or busy. Some qualifiers:

Culturally
How are things going in the culture you’re living in? How’s your street? Your neighborhood? Your city? 

Politically
Local or national, how are the politics as you’re seeing them? What would you like them to be?

Professionally
How’s your work going? Is the day-to-day treating you well? How’s your career looking these days?

Personally
In your personal life, are you growing? Are you fulfilled? Are you living the life you want to live? 

I don’t like small talk. Who does? But I often peddle small talk without giving it much thought. It’s like a default. Which bums me out. So I want to be more intentional about my interactions. Having these 4 buckets top of mind, big and broad, I think gives enough of a prompt while allowing the details to be filled in depending on the person you’re talking with. Getting to more meaningful, casual conversation is something I’m concerned with. I can see this setup helping get there.

The Social Media Eye

via Joe’s Journal

Today, we are in danger of developing a “[Social Media Eye]”: our brains always looking for moments where the ephemeral blur of lived experience might best be translated into a [post]

Have you ever been living a moment and thought you must stop, freezing in space and time, whip out your phone and snap a pic with the intention of posting it to any number of social media outlets? Sure you have. I know I have. Many, many times.

So what happened first, social media or my instinct to tell (or show) someone else about something that was happening to me? It’s the latter. The former just being a natural technological extension of our human need to share.

Where do we go from here? Do we get obsessed with sharing everything or do we share only what we want people to see or do we only share things directly with our close friends and family or do we choose to not participate? Depending on the day, maybe all of those?

Big Box Brand Business

Have you ever wandered aimlessly down the aisles of a big box store? So small walking under the weight of so many shelves stacked high with endless makes and models of cheap goods by countless manufacturers. Products waiting to be discarded. It all feels part of a con that goes back decades.

The five point palm exploding heart technique really kills

We had just gone to see Kill Bill: Vol. 2 in the theater. A couple friends and I. Afterward, we headed to a small gathering for a few drinks. Also at the gathering were some artsy hipsters who worked at a couple downtown bars. In conversation, it came up we had just seen the film. Asked what I thought, I tried to come up with the words needed to describe my delight; the fight scenes, the soundtrack, the way the story unfolded over blah, blah, blah. As I rambled for a bit, one of the hipster bartenders looked at me intently, paused, and extended his hand out quickly towards my eye. Pluck! An eye for an eye. It was so clear, so succinct. We all grinned, the conversation moved on. That concise motion was a way better explanation for why Kill Bill: Vol. 2 was a great film than my rambling. You can either tell me about The Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique or you can show me.

Know Your Role

I think this is a Fight Club thing. The whole you determine your level of involvement exclamation. Along with that, you gotta know your role. What are you bringing to a particular project? Why are you there? Who are you to the success of this endeavor? I think my role goes something like this: 

Push to bring design work that’s creative, cool, appropriate, and as original as it can be to whatever the project is. Thoughtful solutions for relevant outcomes. But I know the clients I’m working with are doing the real work. They’re making the real change, and I’m here to serve those ends. Logo, website, poster, etc. I execute the design best I can, they take it from there.