Try clear drinking straws at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC. Believe it or not, they're stacked (with holes facing the viewer) 12 feet high and 42 feet wide. This is the kind of stupefying art that Tara Donovan makes.
I discovered Tara's work through Comment Magazine online this week, and you can read their article about her and a few of her creations here.
If you're interested in a road trip, go see her work up close at the Met, but do it before September 21st. (More info is in the article link.)
No car? No money? Want a little JPEG inspiration from the comforts of your home office instead? Then view a slide show of Tara's previous projects here. For kicks, try to guess the medium in each photo before looking at the description.
And one more thing. (Please pardon me if this seems too additional, but I just have to ask it.) The last line of the article reads, "Donovan calls us to value the process, as well as the goal." What benefits might there be if you valued the process of your job like Tara values hers?
P.S. Comment is produced by the Work Research Foundation whose mission "is to influence people to a Christian view of work and public life. [They] seek to explore and unfold the dignity of work, the meaning of economics, and the structures of civil society, in the context of underlying patterns created by God." Interested in the relationship between faith and work? Subscribe to Comment here.
I was inspired by a comments exchange with Bradley last week, and here's my thought:
Consumerism is not a sort of cultural plague with a mind of its own. It's an inhospitable skirmish between two real people - the marketer and the customer.
It's easy to place these two so far apart in our minds that they cease to be neighbors. All we see is the grand problem they create in the middle. Yet they are neighbors, no doubt, despite their rather manipulative and co-dependent relationship.
It does something to my perspective when I picture this as an unhealthy relationship, but I'm open to disagreement.
Houston let me know about Best Buy's "You, Happier" slogan. Somehow I missed it, yet it seems that other critics have, too.
After a cursory Google search, I didn't find too many folks up in arms about "You, Happier." Perhaps BB's customers are happier enough that the slogan failed to raise concern. BB didn't say, "You, Happy," or, "You, Happiest." They just said "You, Happier," and for most customers (including me), they're right.
I am happier when I get a new laptop or scanner. Shoot, I'm happier when I get a fresh ink cartridge. Not happiest and maybe/maybe not happy, but I'm definitely happier.
Happier is good. So is buying stuff that we need and even an occasional item we don't need. Most of these make us happier, but happier must not control us. Here's a serious reason why.
In Waiting for God, Simone Weil wrote, "The danger is not lest the soul should doubt whether there is any bread, but lest, by a lie, it should persuade itself that it is not hungry."
The ways we hunger and satisfy our hunger for happier are deeply spiritual matters, which is why Weil's comment is a theological one. When Jesus said to deny ourselves he wasn't calling us to be ascetics, but to be people who recognize the spiritual danger in satisfying our hunger.
Best Buy? Fine, but we could all do a little better at going hungry once in a while.
At the time of this posting, the "Who's Guilty?" poll from my previous post has 17 voters, eight of whom say marketers are more guilty than consumers. If you want to see all the up-to-date results, click on Survey Results.
In related news, I came across Seth Godin's musings on this subject in his post, Complicit. Do his questions affect your vote?
That's a question Brandweek recently asked Rob Walker, "Consumed" columnist for the New York Times Magazine. I told you I've been reading Rob's book, Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are. Here's his answer:
"...I don't think there's anything productive about demonizing marketers. My point of view is that consumers can't blame anyone but themselves for their purchase decisions, and the consequences of those decisions, both on a personal level and a societal level. Marketers didn't dictate massive demand for four-wheel-drive SUVs for driving around city streets. Consumers demanded that. Of course marketers did their best to exploit that demand to the fullest, but there's just nothing productive, in my view, about scapegoating anybody."
(Read the entire interview here.)
OK, so Rob says we're all guilty. But where do you stand on this? Using his example, go with your gut reaction and rate who you think is to blame for SUVs on city streets. I cast my opinion to get us started. If you'd like to vote and tell us your reasoning, simply Comment on this post.
For those who enjoyed my previous post AND get a kick out of proper grammar usage, read this short piece by Alex called "Cannot vs. Can Not."
I love the execution of this magazine ad for We Can Solve It.
The colors and concept are simple and fitting. The continents are comprised of adjectives that describe people: "Elevator riders, Those who rock, Coal Miners, Tourists, Athletes, E-mailers, Those about to rock...." And the copy brings it all together for us: "You can't solve the climate crisis alone. But if we all work together, we can."
Clever use of the w's, too, no?
In a similar vein, I also like the creative and engaging website from We Are What We Do, "a movement inspiring people to use their everyday actions to change the world." (Thanks for the link, Bryce from Auckland.)
These are just two of countless examples that herald the possibility of solving the world's problems. And they are compelling because they break this Brobdingnagian task into bite-sized, individualized pieces. You'll notice that as of August 6, 2008, We Can Solve It boasted 1,457,923 participants pushing, and We Are What We Do displayed 1,775,852 actions acted. Not too shabby for just two websites.
- Am I responsible for doing my part? Yes.
- Can I affect change? Yes.
- Can I collaborate with you and your friends to affect even greater change? Yes.
- Have individuals and communities changed the world before? Yes.
So what's the rub? Well, at some point we're going to run out of Can-power. Even if every person did everything possible to change the world for good, there is a point at which our collective capacity will come to its end.
I don't want to say it too loudly, but the truth is, I think I can't, I think I can't.... More sobering still, I think we can't, I think we can't....
I explore this further in a Catapult Magazine article called "Melinda Mae Missiology."