Our obsession with the human face starts from the moment we open our eyes; they are the first thing we learn how to read. Babies are naturally drawn to faces, in particular the eyes, and learn how to mimic expressions after just a few months. New research from the Stanford Vision and Neuro Development Lab finds that infant neural responses to faces were similar to those of adults, showing activity over a part of the brain that the researchers think is devoted specifically to face processing. Infants are “not yet face experts like adults,” researcher Faraz Farzin says, “but well on their way.” More..
As a new parent, I’ve come to appreciate that when it comes to your children there are many things out of your control. However, the environment that you create for them at home, the objects you place in front of them, and the places you take them are definitely within your control and should be embraced as creative opportunities. This summer, the Museum of Modern Art hosted the exhibition, “Century of the Child,” curated by Juliet Kinchin and Aidan O’Connor. “Throughout the century the aesthetic, material, and technical innovations in design for children were remarkable, closely paralleling, and at times directly influencing, other areas of visual culture. What has remained consistent is the faith among designers in the power of aesthetic activity to shape everyday life. As an embodiment of what might be, children help us to think in terms of design that is flexible, inclusive, and imaginative.” – Juliet Kinchin More..
In the late 1960′s, New York City was in a state of decline. Once regarded as a cultural and economic capital of the world, the city had fallen into a funk. Strikes, power outages, drugs, and crime became commonplace, as wealthy residents fled to the suburbs. It was in this environment that a foot messenger named Demetrius (a common Greek name) from 183rd Street in Washington Heights started scrawling ‘Taki 183’ everywhere he went, helping to ignite a worldwide graffiti movement. More..
In the new film The Descendants, director Alexander Payne paints a bittersweet portrait of Matt King (George Clooney), and of everyday life in the Hawaiian Islands. For non-natives, the film is also an education in the modern Aloha Shirt. Taken out of context, some Aloha shirts can be obnoxious, or even comical. But in Hawaii, surrounded by vivid, Jurassic-sized plants and flowers, men dressed in tasteful tropical prints look like perfect gentlemen. Many tourists don’t realize that an Aloha Shirt is formal wear for Kama’aina (local) men when attending business functions and social gatherings. You can wear dress shoes and pants there if you like, but there’s no need to bring a tie or jacket – you won’t last long dressed like that in Hawaii’s humid climate. More..
When I was living in San Francisco, I saw a show at Bimbo’s that would be a lasting influence on me for years to come. To promote the 1997 album Fantasma, the Japanese musician Cornelius (Keigo Oyamada) had prepared videos to project behind the band for each song. They were composed of short clips of soccer matches, anime cartoons, exercise videos and more; all synched perfectly to the choreography of the music. More than simply providing a backdrop, the videos were visual representations of the music, like watching sound. The show opens with the raucous Count Five or Six, which they went on to perform for the children’s television show Yo Gabba Gabba ten years later. The albums Point and Sensuous that followed Fantasma lost their hard-rock edge, but continued Oyamada’s musical journey in more thoughtful and introspective ways. In 2000, he married fellow musician and collaborator Takako Minekawa, and they now have a son named Milo. More..
Approaching the edge of the waterfalls for the first time can take your breath away. The vastness of the voids, combined with the rushing sound and motion of the water, is as glorious as it is terrifying; like the towers are forever falling, sucked down into the bowels of the earth. I can’t imagine any gesture that would be more appropriate or beautiful than what architect Michael Arad has designed for the city. The two square pools are placed within the footprints of the fallen towers, and are surrounded by an urban landscape that features rows of white oak trees. The outdoor portion of the complex was completed in time for the 10-year anniversary ceremonies this year, but the museum and underground portions of the site are not due to open until Fall 2012. More..
I’ve often come across many faded and dog-eared postcards at antique shows with hand-written messages barely legible on the back. What’s always surprising is how elegant and expressive everyone’s handwriting seems to have been 100 years ago. There was a time when every postcard, contract, or love letter was a thing of beauty – giving each document an intrinsic sense of value and permanence that no longer exists in today’s digital world. Once the primary means for both personal and business correspondance, handwriting is now quickly disappearing from our culture, and our education system. Hawaii, Indiana, and Illinois have all stopped teaching cursive in their public schools this year in favor of keyboard proficiency. Soon even signatures will be a thing of the past. More..
The cultural avant-garde are the true innovators of their craft. They live to rebel against the status-quo, no matter how limited their appeal may be. In 1969, the freelance stylist Rei Kawakubo started her own brand, called Comme des Garçons (from a French soldier’s song meaning Like the Boys). Her mission was simply to ‘make a business out of creation.’ But what emerged from her studio in the years to follow was nothing short of a fashion revolution: black, baggy, distressed clothing that questioned long-held assumptions in the western world about sexuality identity and the human figure. 40 years later, the brand continues to define the term avant-garde in fashion – not only for it’s radical approach to clothing, but for it’s innovative retail architecture and design as well. Recent projects with mainstream brands like H&M and Converse have made the brand a little less exclusive, but Kawakubo and her collaborators never fail to surprise (and occasionally shock) at every level, year after year, with their fearless creativity. More..
Equal parts Shakespeare, modern dance, cabaret, and haunted house, Sleep No More is not easy to explain. With over 100 rooms on six floors, the British company Punchdrunk has combined three spaces in New York’s Chelsea district into one massive set that you are free to explore. Your journey begins inside the McKittrick Hotel bar and lounge, but you’ll soon find yourself wandering into a candy store, graveyard, hospital, library, and child’s bedroom – each one spookier than the next. Actors in 1930’s costume appear suddenly, moving anxiously through the rooms with a group of audience members excitedly trailing them. If you get disoriented and lose your friends, you’re doing something right. More..
Generating $100M per year, with a bottle sold every thirty seconds, Chanel No. 5 has been called le monstre (the monster) by industry insiders in Chandler Burr’s book The Perfect Scent. It isn’t just the most successful and enduring fragrance of all time – the extraordinary scent and understated bottle represent the very idea of luxury around the world, and have for nearly 100 years. With a heritage involving an Imperial Russian Court perfumer, a Cistercian Abbey orphan and Nazi spies, the iconic perfume’s history is as dramatic as its masterful blend of notes. “If there is one word I would use to describe it, it would be mystery.” – Jacques Polge, Master Perfumer at Chanel. More..