Behind both stories: the making of Honda ‘The Other Side’

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You've been in the driver's seat, navigated the director's cut, and seen both sides of the story. Now take a peek at how it the The Other Side came to life with The Mill's short but brilliant behind-the-scenes film, plus a Q+A with Tom Walter, Head of CG Operations at The Mill, who explains how the VFX team created the CG Type R. 

sing it kitty!

Today, the nation woke up to the sweet sounds of 'We Built This City' from laptops, mobiles and headphones everywhere. That's because our new campaign for Three has launched, celebrating the nation's love of sharing silly stuff and its power to bring people together. 

The 60 second ad, which was directed by Traktor through Partizan and is set to Starship's 80s anthem 'We Built This City', makes its debut on TV today. It turns a shared moment between a young girl and her adorable pet kitten into an epic journey that sees the duo belt out a powerful rendition of the song whilst tearing up the cul-de-sac on a pink tricycle.

Because Three is the network built for the internet, wanted to salute what we love most about the web – the act of sharing silly stuff online – by allowing fans to create and star in their own version of the ad. 

We brought Stinkdigital's skills in to create a web-based app (hosted at www.singitkitty.com) which takes a still photograph of fans and through a bit of smart face-morphing technology, lets them star in their own  seamless and hilarious lip-synching version of the ad.

It's simple and completely addictive. You can use your phone, tablet, laptop…whatever floats your boat. 

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All you need to do is upload a picture of your mug, bring your mates…

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 …let the app work its magic…

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…and boom! You and your sidekicks are rockstars. 

Supergroup

Now imagine the possibilities. Try it with your friends, your family, your boss (those are ours, by the way).

We want to see all your best performances, so bring your best game faces and share away! Be sure to join the fun online and share your videos via the #singitkitty tag. 

Seven on Seven | the who, how, what and why

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Seven on Seven stormed New York for seven hours yesterday. Hosted for the first time at The New School to pack in everyone wanting to attend, the event – more of an experience and experiment than a conference – saw 14 super talented individuals come together. Over 450 of us gathered in the Tishman Auditorium to hear the output of the seven unique pairings: seven artists and seven technologists who had been teamed together, never before having met, to collaborate over 24 hours.

The teams were first introuced over dinner on Thursday night, briefed on Friday morning, and Saturday was all about revealing how they had found common ground and shared passions to determine how and what they would create together.
These 14 characters are all leaders in their respective fields and it was a pleasure to witness their unique insights, smart thinking, presentation skills and sheer gusto.

What follows is a short synopsis of the seven teams' work. Videos of each presentation will soon be available here. As ever, it was an honour for W+K to be part of shaping this anual event and many thanks go to Heather Corcoran and all at Rhizome for their excellent thought leadership in making this a great success. 

Paul Pfeiffer is a sculptor, photographer and video artist. He had spent 24 hours with Alex Chung, a creative technologist of multiple start up fame. They explored the topic of repetition, both stimulated by its impact, be it through hearing the same beats (music), having the same thoughts (hypnosis), saying the same words (mantra) etc. For them, their shared love is the repetition of image – Paul a pioneer of looped image from the 90s and Alex as creator of an animated gif search engine. They wanted to appropriate this for good and together created giphnosis.com – a site hosting downloadable screensavers to determine one's mood.


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Be it a scene from The Shining or a shot of a litter of cute kittens, they set out to test the theory a looped image can hypnotize you into a state of mind. You can check out the site and download wallpapers to test this yourself…

Fatima Al Qadiri is a visual artist and composer. She and Dalton Caldwell, CEO of App.net, found common ground in their pursuit for the antidote to information overload. The anxiety of being offline, the trend of inanimate objects like a bottle of water inviting you to follow it on Twitter or befriend it on Facebook, the visceral reaction to the news 'created' to fill 24-hour reporting… To rub against the mass streams of content 'always in beta', they created a finished article, something which couldn't be updated and would never change. This took the form of a short film, on constantupdate.net, which displayed choice words depicting the anxiety of constant notifications against a track composed from alert tones – the sounds we select on our phones or tablets to inform us of an update.


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Cameron Martin
lives in Brooklyn. His paintings and drawings have been exhibited across the globe. On Thursday he met Tara Tiger Brown, a pioneer in hacking who connects and promotes the LA tech start up community. They discovered that whilst they both behave very differently (Tara's life is predominantly played out online whilst Cameron is barely traceable in social media) as young parents on different coasts, they share a passion for informal and open learning. They are actively interested in how people learn from each other, teach themselves and mentor to support others in shared areas of interest. Neither Cameron nor Tara had previous expertise in 3D printing, so they wanted to use their time together to learn a new skill, combining art and tech. After their 24-hour immersive learning, they made use of their time on stage to share this with others. They invited a willing participant, Diego, to join them for ten minutes, design an icon in an app, then send it to 3D print there and then. With help from the knowledgable crowd and the #3Dhelper hashtag, Diego took up the challenge, designed and printed in real time, proving crowd sourcing learning is possible.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer is a Mexican-Canadian artist. He had spent 24 hours with Harper Reed, 'probably one of the coolest guys ever', the famed hacker and engineer most recently CTO of the 'Obama for America' campaign. After collaborating at W+K NY's offices on Friday (including time out for a long lunch and a couple's massage!) they landed on the shared interest of 'erasing'. In a world over-populated with items, content and devices, there are certain things you can throw away which you won't even miss. To demonstrate this, they built friendfracker – a site which logs you into Facebook and at random, unfriends up to 10 of your contacts – totally wiping out your connection with those people.


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You don't know who you are culling, not before, during or after the deletion, so you would need to hunt through your friends list to suss out who had been selected and removed. The idea sets out to prove that with so many 'friends' and contacts in our network, we might not miss a small selection. You can go online and try for yourself, if you dare.


Matthew Richie creates installations integrating paintings, wall drawings, light boxes and performance sculpture. He spent Friday working with Billy Chasen, an artist and software developer, founder of turntable.fm. They wanted their collaboration to create something tangible which would work immediately, have a real effect and would do some good. Their idea was to relieve the pressure, paranoia and sense of being pursued which surrounds charitable giving. So they created dabit.org – an incentivized fundraising mechanic: 50% of every donation each day goes to charity, the other 50% awarded at random to someone who has donated that day. So everyone who gives (no matter what amount) stands the chance of scooping half the sum of that day's total donations.


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The pair invited those of us filling the Tishman Auditorium to start giving, with donations brought to life by real time data viz for all to see. Over $1,000 was pooled from the audience – we'll see if anyone comes forward as the lucky recipient of the $500+ prize fund…

Jeremy Bailey is a Canadian 'Famous New Media Artist' who uses performance to explore custom software. He spent 24 hours with Julie Uhrman, founder of the open source gaming console, OUYA. Their collaboration set out to reapproriate the standard presentation deck, converting this from a one way 'push' of words, images and bullet points, to a gaming-influenced two-way live video-based piece of comms. This addresses the mundane way in which ideas are generally shared, and plays on the vanity factor for those who love to present. The presenter becomes the enabler as you see yourself on screen with visual cues from the gaming world – like accumulating points accrued based on how well you present; bubble words to incentivize the presenter to gesticulate more or speak more clearer; golden stars for clear communication and good ideas! Jeremy's demonstration of this interactive way to get across an idea had the whole auditorium in hysterics.

Dennis Crowley, founder of foursquare, had had quite a week. After finding himself caught up in the Boston marathon, then being struck by a 24-hour bug, he was pretty wiped out by the time Seven on Seven came round. Despite this, he honoured his involvement and partnered with Jill Magid, NY artist who forms intimate relationships with the police, secret service, CCTV and forensic ID. They didn't have much time to collaborate with tangible output, but they talked the audience through their conversations in search of their common interest. It was engaging to hear how these two individuals are passionate about similar things but approach them in very distinct ways. Dennis likes to create apps to build communities; Jill is interested in creating art which is disorientating and disruptive. They mused about social behaviour: "Does something really exist if we don't document it?" "Would we change our behaviour if we knew in advance how it would be perceived by others?" "How do we celebrate the beautiful and emotional moments captured through data collection?" "Does checking-in to an ephemeral moment in time matter more than being there?" All interesting, open ended debate and they both agreed that opportunities can be missed when art and technology fail to combine.

Seven on Seven | when art and tech combine…

This weekend New York is home to Rhizome's Seven on Seven conference. Now in its fourth year, the event pairs up seven leading artists with seven thought-leading technologists to collaborate on seven projects. W+K has been involved with the event since its inception and this year is no exception.

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2013 boasts a particularly strong line up of participants with a wealth of talent across both the art and technology disciplines.

Last night, sponsors HTC came together with Yahoo! News and others patrons to host a dinner in the Sky Room at the New Museum. This marked the first time that many of the 14 talented individuals had met and prompted excitement about how they plan to collaborate – and what output they might create.

Intimate dining against the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline…

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After an early morning briefing today, the teams of two have spent the morning hard at work, blending their skills. 

Hacker and engineer Harper Reed is working with Mexican-Canadian artists Rafael Lozano at W+K's New York office today, developing something special to unveil to the 450+ audience who will gather tomorrow at the Tishman Auditorium to see the fruits of the teams' labour. And to top that, there will be a keynote speech from Evgeny Morozov, author of 'The Net Delusion' and 'To Save Everything, Click Here'.

You can follow the event via #7on7HTC and also check back tomorrow for updates on all the presentations. All in all it promises to be a super informative day, sparking debate and blending the world of the two disciplines.

W+K @ SXSWi part three: “The Good, The Bad & The Barley” – Interactive’s View

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Terrible picture, great talk: Rushkoff was a real highlight

Graeme
Douglas, Head of Interactive & Innovation, and Luke Tipping, Senior
Interactive Creative, write:

The genius of SXSW is its innate ability to
shrug off any criticism of it with a quick ‘well, you chose the talks, son –
deal with it’. And with seemingly thousands on offer (maybe it was hundreds,
but you get the point) half the battle in Austin is navigating the different
points-of-view on offer and working out what’s going to be genuinely
useful/different/provocative versus less interesting than a non-BBQ
based meal. The titles can give you a little guidance but even the finest headlines can often mask some pretty lame content. (‘What Can We Learn
From The Unabomber’ was predictably good whereas ‘It’s Reddit’s Web, We Just
Live In It’ was disappointingly banal and one-sided). The seemingly arbitrary
‘difficulty’ scale the organizers attach to each piece of content is equally
useless (we all want the difficult stuff, right?).

The only guidance we can
proffer for future visitors is:

– Avoid talks by agencies (aside from W+K,
ahem). Chances are you’ll know more

– Avoid anything purporting to have the
definitive answer to something, especially if delivered list format (‘ten ways
to create a viral!’)

– Avoid anything with advertising in its
title (more on that in a bit)

– Go see the big hitters (like Douglas Rushkoff who was there to talk about 'Present Shock', his new book, the thrust of which is "that we no longer have a sense of a future, of goals, of direction at all. We have a completely new relationship to time; we live in an always-on “now,” where the priorities of this moment seem to be everything" – well worth a read). These guys – the rock stars – are invariably better prepared, and invest more inwhat they present. It's not a bulletproof strategy, but it's a decent bet.

– Go weird (like Tony D says): the more
esoteric, oblique and, frankly, random, the better

Perhaps as valuable as the scheduled panels
(or, arguably, more so) are the conversations and connections around the edges;
the people you meet randomly at an informal hackathon, the chats that happen
over a weak American beer as you compete to spot the try-hard Barleys rocking Google
Glass*. Hackney Council, with Tech City – yeah, Old Street roundabout – put up a
good show (ably assisted our chums at Mother London) with Hackney House, a
pop-up showcase of some of the interesting things, ideas and people currently
bubbling up from that digital enclave in East London. OneDotZero, MakieLab, BERG, and the
inimitable Daniel Hirschmann were amongst some of the speakers dropping a bit
of Shoreditch on Austin.

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Just an honest adman, wearing a prototype set of arduino-powered hackable sunglasses at Hackney House.

The other issue, and we're acutely aware of the irony in even raising this, is the rise of the admen in Austin. They're (we're?) everywhere. A few years ago, our presence was limited to those that had a specific interest in emerging tech and its implications. Not now. Everyone tips up for what is in danger of becoming Cannes, TX. The reason is probably straightforward: tech and emerging platforms are now everyone's issue, not just half a dozen geeks in the corner. We've popped over the tipping point in the last couple of years where everyone involved in the brand communication game actually does give a shit about this stuff, or at least recognises the importance of it.

What happens from here on in is anyone's guess; but what is certain is SXSW need to do something to manage the tide – they're not going to be able to stem the march of Madison Avenue and Soho (nor would they want to, given the $ that it brings with it), but it can't be at the expense of what makes Austin special, interesting and weird. This can't become an 'advertising' conference. As soon as that happens, it's dead. Plus, France already does one Mad Men conference very well (at least, depending on your point of view).

Ultimately SXSW is what you make it; choice
paralysis is your biggest enemy, an ability to read the room, and confidently
stroll out of a lame panel within the first five minutes is your greatest ally. The challenge is to ensure you’re in
credit when it comes to balancing the good vs. bad panels when you reflect on
the event en route home. Sprinkle that with a handful of interesting conversations with new people you'd like to work with, and you're not far off something really worthwhile.

And I think we just about achieved that.

///

But what of the chat? Whilst the diversity
and breadth of the event means it’s hard to properly pin it down, there was one
theme evident that was pretty hard to avoid.

SXSW 2013 was the year of hardware. A shift
to the real world. Where hype about software was matched with Vines, instagrams
and hashtags about uniquely interactive physical objects.

Nope. Software hasn’t gone away. It’s just
left it’s glass slab home in favour of eating into other objects. Objects more
natural and useful because their apps are invisible and embedded.

What’s driving the shift from bits to
atoms? Education. Yep the mobile phone is bright and hyper connected but today
the objects it connects to are still quite dumb. The next chapter in the
Internet Of Things an is increase in the intelligence of the objects that
mobile phones connect to.

Medication caps that text you if you forget
to take your pills. A fork that sets your alarm off when you eat too fast.
David Rose at MIT called these ‘enchanted objects’. This year we’ll all be
asking how we can embed sensors like GPS, accelerometers, RFID, image capture or
the Social Graph into our products to magic them an IQ boost. 

As well as objects Chris Risdon of Adaptive
Path reminded us that sensors can be used to create more personlised interactions
with people in service design too. ‘Handy’ said Steve Yankovich, eBay’s Head Of
Technology, because ‘if we know that a high value customer is in the shop then
we want to give them a bigger hug.’ Lookout soon for geofenced storefronts that
recognise you through your digital wallet.

Other hardware highlights this year
included 3D printer scanners, gesture control, OUYA, intrinsic wearable
technologies and the aforementioned Barley accoutrement du jour, Google Glass.

Bre Pettis, CEO of 3D printing company
MakerBot showcased the MakerBot Digitizer. Which he believes will help his
company shift from being a producer of 3D printers to being at the heart of a
digital reproduction ecosystem. Scanning means no longer will we have to be a
CAD design pro to print in 3D. Using our smartphone we just need to scan the
object we want to reproduce (steal). Remember what happened when somebody made
it easy to copy songs in the music industry? Ahoy there Printer Pirates.

Leapmotion was the most tweeted about
start-up at SXSW. A small, $79 USB device launching in May allows people to
control their computers using hand gestures in mid air. It’s able to sense
individual finger movements for fine manipulation of objects and apps on screen.
As a piece of hardware Leapmotion’s role in the world is to get rid of software
altogether. Today software layers present us with a series of complex elements
and choices for how to navigate a digital environment. This is driven by the
need to interact with a mouse, trackpad, keyboard, or glass panel. Leapmotion flips the bird to that. As Golden Krishna at Samsung said ‘the best interface
is no interface’.

Julie Uhrman, CEO of open-source gaming
platform OUYA, discussed how her hardware console would 'open up the world of
TV gaming'. ‘All great games deserve the TV screen’ she said. Which is why she
built OUYA to be open-source. To attract some of the most innovative and
popular gaming developers who have been designing for tablet and mobile more
recently. Super Hexagon on my 32”? Yes please.

Ouya_Console

Olivier Bau from Disney Labs was a
highlight at the festival. He demonstrated the next era of wearable
technologies. No not hardware that you wear on your skin but hardware that you
wear underneath it. Taking inspiration from comic books his philosophy is that
‘the best superpowers are invisible’. That’s why he’s created a wearable device
that interrupts the body’s electrical current with different frequencies to
create a wide-ranging set of movement. Frequencies that guide your fingers to
play Stairway To Heaven on the guitar for example.

Ray Kurzweil is coming for
you, Mr. Page.

Then on the penultimate day Timothy Jordan
of Google took to the stage to demonstrate the most worrying technology I’ve seen
since the invention of social media; Google Glass. He says that ‘by bringing
technology closer it weirdly gets out of the way’. I say ‘LolKatz in my eyes
ain’t out of the way mate’. For every layer of overlaid we become more distant
from the underlaid. ‘Google Glass please remove that homeless person from my sight’,
‘Google Glass please make that river look more clean’. No. I don’t want to see
the problems of the real world and other eco systems brushed under the
augmented Google carpet. They need to be seen with our own two eyes.

Thankfully the final talk at SXSW was about
seeing beyond the banjo-laden launch video from time to time. As the SXSWi verteran and all-round legend Bruce Sterling
so brilliantly put it ‘every deployment of technology isn’t necessarily an
advance. Remember that technology does not always make it better. There are
still people sleeping in a cardboard box in Silicon Valley’.

What’s all this  got to do with hardware? Well our hunch is
that hardware’s hard. Harder than software. There’s more to an atom than a
drag, a swipe and a pinch. You can smell it, lick it and trip over it. Atoms
are expensive and constrained compared to bits. They require energy and more
atoms to be arranged and duplicated. Which means the risk is higher. Not just
to the bottom line but to the betterment of humanity too.

So as Tony D said, before we start
building, making and printing things, before the Wow Factor, let’s ask
ourselves, where’s the betterment? 

@graemedouglas / @luketipping

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BBQ, well nice.

 

 

*Glass will be amazing, we're sure.

the Apple iWatch: when sci-fi invades reality

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The iWatch. No-one
knows much. It’s an Apple product rumoured to be in development, made of curved
glass designed to fit around the wrist.

It sounds cool in a
Napoleon Dynamite sort of way; chic and geek in equal measure. Central to chatter on the subject is the
pervasive question of whether it will actually be made; Apple’s continued silence on
the issue of the iWatch has driven various tech-bloggers giddy with the sweet
smell of conspiracy

What's more interesting is its direct link to Science
Fiction
. Watch out, it gets a bit nerdy from here on out.
The device will apparently name and describe objects at which it is pointed.
This is a tricorder, not a timepiece.

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You could look at the iWatch as part of a slow trickle of technology conceived at the
final frontiers of space-y genre lit. Similar examples abound. Another supposed
Apple product in the pipeline – the iGlasses
– purports to record what you see, edit out the bad stuff, and replay it, see
Minority Report and the Matrix for more details. There’s even a nifty working prototype of a
hover-car flying about
out there.

The fields of
fantasy-technology and real-technology seem destined for cross-pollination. This
piece takes the position that Science actually uses sci-fi to test out ideas,
as a kind of virtual lab. Simpler is the notion that a few kids watch Star Wars
and grow up into product developers with a burning desire to make a robot-hand
that actually
feels things
.

Its interesting to think of sci-fi as ‘the manual of the possible’. That the genre has a kind of mapping function –
sketching the contours of the land, the limits of what we can think up – which then challenges us fill in the gaps with actual
stuff. It’s cool and it lends credibility to a big swathe of nerd culture
that is too-easily overlooked.

—–

(Thoughts courtesy of Planning Placement newbie James.)

Bertrum’s first app

Bertrum Thumbcat is back. With nothing less than a vengeance. 

He is planning to use his polydactyl power and his newly acquired doctorate in Mind Control Studies to take over the world (and steal all the Cravendale milk therein).

On his world travels he has met many cats and has been spreading the word of impending feline world domination. And official recruitment for Bertrum’s Thumbcat Army of milk-stealing world-dominating cats is now in full swing.

Join your cat up today using the Facebook app (and keep your eyes peeled for the new commercial, airing soon).

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Color: why it’s interesting and why it won’t be “the next Twitter”

Color invites you to "creates new, dynamic social networks … wherever you go". It's getting a lot of attention at the moment, largely because of $41M VC funding. It's even being hailed as having 'a very good chance of becoming a large scale success like Twitter'.

In case you have not yet heard of Color, here's how Caroline McCarthy describes it for CNET

In Color, photos taken through the app are shared through proximity, something which amasses a list of your contacts through machine learning; in effect, you'll be able to see all photos around you that were taken with Color. You'll be able to see the Color photos of the guy sitting two tables away from you at Starbucks, but when he finishes his caramel macchiato and leaves the coffee shop, you can't see them anymore. But if you spend a lot of time in proximity to someone–an office-mate, for example–that person's photos will gradually begin to stay in your contacts list for longer.

Someone asked me this week whether I thought it really would be 'the next Twitter'. I found it hard to say at first, because my first experience with the app had been so awful that I had to go back and try it again to see what I'd missed. It really is a rather hard app to pick up (and has been heavily slated in the App store reviews, often for being hard to understand) but it's not hard to see that the idea of physical spaces having an invisible cloud of history and shared photos has potential; being able to see other angles you missed, knowing your friend was here yesterday, … you can imagine lots of fun stuff emerging from an experiment like this.

But no, I don't think it's going to be "the next Twitter". Not at all.

COLOR
Being based on physical proximity makes for a pretty tough first experience. Unless you happen to install and try it while you're at a big event with at least a couple of other people using it, you're left with a pretty unsatisfying starting point. Any app that requires you to be in the same place as other people using the same app at the same time is going to have a difficult bootstrap problem.

Most importantly though, Twitter is a platform with an open API allowing other apps to be built on top of it. Want to write your own Twitter client? Want to integrate Twitter into another app? Want to print out tweets that contain the word 'snow'? Easy. Not so with Color. Want to make a site showing the most recent Color pictures taken in a particular place? You can't. Unless you're the Telegraph and you want to do a joint PR thing around the royal wedding (the sanity of which also raised some eyebrows).

That's not to say that the situation won't change. Instagram started closed and opened up an API after a few months. That move made it easier for people to make all sorts of really cool apps like Extragram, GramFrame, Instagrid, Instaprint, Instac.at and many more.

In fact, the most common use I've seen of Color so far has been that people will sometimes post a direct link to a picture to Twitter or Facebook. While that's a useful feature (and in theory leads to more people discovering Color) it does mean that the whole local proximity and physical social discovery aspect of Color becomes optional; people continue to rely on those two tools to maintain their contact networks.

I think in its current incarnation Color is more of a photo sharing service, like Twitpic or Yfrog, with some additional features which might rarely get used. If they open up and offer an API (like Instagram did) they could become a much more interesting thing altogether, but only if it can get – and keep – users.

Although I like its innovative approach, I think it's going to be very tough for this app to become anything like mainstream. I'll give Color another chance, but I think I'll also be looking out for the next next big thing.

Roo Reynolds is Head of Emerging Platforms at W+K London

Ars Electronica 2010, REPAIR – ready to pull the lifeline

 

Never_ever

Ars Electronica is a conceptual and practical hackspace where designers, scientists, engineers, artists and researchers come together. This year we went to Ars for 3 days to see good work, and it was truly amazing. The festival's choice of the venue for this year –was the grounds of what used to be Linz's Tobacco Factory. This was already interesting in itself: an industrial complex of several well-maintained buildings that seemed to carry a lot of memory from its past. This setting fitted really well with the festival idea of repairing the broken world.

On the top of one of the buildings, we saw Benjamin Bergman's suprising basketball hoop. His work 'Never Ever' plays with the absurd. It presents something that is impossible or most likely not to happen, as you can see in the picture above.

As you walk around the multiple buildings and get lost in the innumerable floors and exhibition spaces, you stumble across a number of good pieces of work in art, science and technology. The following posts on the blog feature our thoughts and experiences at Ars Electronica 2010.

welcome to optimism at onedotzero

So the onedotzero festival has been and gone and along with it the interactive installation projected on the National Theatre has been taken down. We had a fantastic turn out and the response was amazing. Thanks to everyone who came down. Here’s a little video of Tony playing with N900 and his Welcome To Optimism message.