Los Angeles may be the most mediated city in the world: it is the backdrop of countless media representations. No wonder we have a hard time grasping it: which part is real and which part is fake? Is it a fool’s errand to try to separate the two?
We’ll discuss this and much more on Sunday, August 7 at 4pm at the WUHO Gallery in Hollywood, which is exhibiting an experimental moving image installation called Median. Created by Bill Ferehawk and David Hartwell, Median presents a Los Angeles of drive-by impressions. It distills the city into the canned personas that it projects to its passers-by and lends perspective on the everyday urban tics through which the city is read.
With Median as the backdrop, I’ll moderate a panel discussion with some keen observers of Los Angeles’s urban experience, including:
Bill Ferehawk and David Hartwell, creators of Median
Naomi Iwasaki, Program Director of the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office Great Streets Program
David Ulin, author of Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles
Andrew Wilcox, landscape architect and contributor to LAtitudes: An Angeleno’s Atlas
Sunday, August 7, 2016
The Making of Median: 3pm (LA Forum members only)
From the Street: Median in Conversation: 4pm (free and open to the public)
LA Forum Events @ WUHO Gallery
6518 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Median is on view through Thursday, August 25, 2016
Gallery Hours: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, noon to 5 pm
I had to attend the Struktur conference vicariously this year, but I had the great fortune of attending this creative summit for active, outdoor and urban design last year. The organizers had approached me because of my TED.com talk on the lack of copyright protection in the fashion industry. It turned out that the active wear industry was facing a potential sea change. The news was getting out that Lululemon was aggressively pursuing design patents for their designs, effectively installing barbed wire around previous open pasture in the design community. The Struktur community wanted to know: what the hell is a design patent, anyway, and should I be getting some of them, too?
Once I knew this, It took me about zero seconds to agree to give a talk on the topic (here’s the video). I’ve been impatiently monitoring the wearable technology sector for many years now, where I see a very exciting (and lucrative) future for apparel designers. One key reason: fashion designers may not have copyright protection – which means they don’t own their designs – but they are eligible for patent protection if they can inject some unique utility into their design.
I can’t believe how long it’s taken for high-end fashion designers to get into the wearable tech game. But slowly and surely, it’s finally happening. The wearable-electronics market reached $8 billion in sales in 2014, and is expected to hit $20 billion by 2017, according to research firm Futuresource Consulting. I expect the sector to explode once customers realize that they should be getting tremendous utility value with their clothes – not just cute looks.
Editorial about wearable tech tends to be pretty snarky, but even cynical reporters are starting to warm to the idea. Athos now offers workout capris that alert you to your workout targets and tell you whether you’re favoring one leg over the other, which can lead to injury and inadequate work outs.
Emel + Aris have created a luscious cashmere wrap that’s actually a toasty electric blanket. Iris Apfel, icon of all who hope to age in grand style, has developed WiseWear cuffs that can send a message to an emergency contact if you should get in trouble. And while I’m no fan of Ralph Lauren, the Ricky bag is kind of genius, with its built in phone charger and LED lights that switch on when you open the bag.
So all of these contraptions are eligible for utility patents, which cover inventions that are novel, useful and non-obvious. So what is a design patent? Read the rest of this entry »
How can we translate awareness into action?
If you’re a regular news consumer in the United States you might get the impression that world is going to hell. Especially when it comes to international news, you’ve probably recoiled from the grizzly headlines and wondered how on earth, in the 21st century, we find ourselves surrounded by such barbarism, poverty, and countless other intractable global ills.
Unless you’re a global development professional, or someone who’s watched one of Hans Roslings’ acerbic TED videos, you probably wouldn’t know about all of the absolutely mind-boggling improvements that have been made to the quality of life for billions of people around the globe.
Unfortunately, the great successes of the Millennium Development Goals, didn’t exactly make front page news. In the financially failing news industry, the international beat is the most expensive to cover, and with the public dead-set against increasing foreign aid and selfishly focused on its own backyard, news outlets don’t have the best incentives to report on boring things like the MDG targets that were met. Little old things like . . .
- Goal 1: Extreme poverty was reduced from 47% to 14% in developing nations.
- Goal 2: 91% of kids in the developing world are receiving primary education.
- Goal 3: The developing regions as a whole achieved the target for gender equality in primary, secondary and tertiary education.
- Goal 4: The mortality rate for children under five has declined by more than half.
- Goal 5: There was a 45% decline in maternal mortality.
- Goal 6: There was a 45% decrease in HIV infections, a 58% drop in the malaria mortality rate, and a 45% drop in the TB mortality rate.
- Goal 7: 2.6 billion people now have access to better water – this target was achieved five years ahead of schedule.
- Goal 8: Despite public opinion, we’ve seen a 66% increase in development assistance.
Pleasantly surprised? Perhaps a little more inclined to follow the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals, which just launched in January?
Well, the UN hopes you will be. But, beyond injecting capital into the news industry, how do NGOs, governments and global development activists figure out a way to reach and engage the public? Read the rest of this entry »
Even though it had been highly recommended to me repeatedly, I didn’t get around to reading Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir Fun Home until after I saw the musical at the Circle in the Square on Broadway. It’s rare that I retain enough interest in something to read the book after having seen the movie or the play, but I knew I would this time. The musical, which grabbed five Tonys, was such a fresh, original take on memoir, with subject matter so foreign to the Broadway stage, that I knew I would enjoy, at the very least, mulling over the differences between book and play.
I was especially eager to dig into the book after I read a fantastic interview with Lisa Kron by Laurie Winer in the LA Review of Books. Kron was the playwright for Fun Home and I was really intrigued when she claimed that about 75% of the play doesn’t appear in the memoir (what?!) and that the book didn’t contain any scenes:
“There are no scenes in the book. There are no scenes! There is no dramatic action, there are no sustained scenes. There aren’t even really characters. There’s Alison at this age, at this age, and at this age. There are fragment[s] of scenes in different locations.”
I just couldn’t fathom what that meant, and I must, say, after having read the memoir, I’m still not sure what she’s talking about. Either her notion of what qualifies as a “scene” or a “character” completely diverges from mine, or (and this possibility entrances me) her play so deeply informed my reading of the memoir, that I was unable to recognize the lack of scenes or character. Had Kron baked into my mind the material I needed to bridge the gaps between plot fragments and character revelations? It seems like I would need a time machine to know (or a device like the one in the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.)
But then I remembered Scott McCloud’s brilliant graphic book, Understanding Comics.
I’d never seen an earlier installment in the Mad Max franchise when I went to see Fury Road at Grauman’s Chinese IMAX Theatre. I felt it was a movie I needed to see because so many people were asking me whether it succeeded in its effort to be a feminist action flick. But what really captured my imagination – and inspired me to watch all three of the previous films – was its singular vision and its relentless originality.
I often judge the sci fi I read by its ability to avoid exposition – to simply immerse me a world that is completely unfamiliar. This is a standard feature of cyberpunk style, which Bruce Sterling recently summarized at a terrific conference I attended at USC called Cyberpunk: Past and Future (videos are available).
Turns out that Sterling’s description fits Mad Max to a T. Read the rest of this entry »