Who’s Inside Cindy? (2013) digital art experiment
In late 2012, a crew of researchers, journalists, entrepreneurs, art experts, and filmmakers (locals and expats, women and men) conducted a digital experiment across China’s social networking landscape. We explored issues of status, gender dynamics, internet safety, and our common need for companionship, by unleashing fabricated personalities on an unsuspecting metropolis, engaging in real conversations (in English and Chinese, following strict rules of engagement) with strangers. We took turns assuming identities, named after characters from the Brady Bunch so we could keep track of them. If you were in Shanghai at the time, we probably talked to you, too. This random photo is from one of our many threads.
TED in Space (2011) TED2011 conference intro
Our plan was to surprise the live TED audience with a video greeting from the International Space Station. I’d been waiting my entire life to explain how to fly for the camera, only I’d naively assumed my first time would involve heavy, rigged wires or maybe a blue screen not actual, weightless astronauts hurtling 200 miles above the Earth at 17,000 mph. After discussing shot composition over staticky phone calls from the icy black void of space, NASA sent over the most precious couple hours of footage I’d ever seen (here, trimmed to three minutes).
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TED Conference Titles (2009 and 2010) motion design
We introduce every TED Conference with opening titles created exclusively for the event, and we play a short slate when each new presenter takes the stage. We rarely post these online and usually we outsource, but occassionally I like to roll up my sleeves to try my own hands at directing them. Here is a random sample from among my handmade intros and slates for TEDGlobal (2010) and TEDIndia (2009) and you can click through to watch even more. I attempted to breathe new life into TED’s pre-existing idea globe iconography.
The theme for TEDGlobal in Oxford was “And Now The Good News.” The TEDIndia theme was “The Future Beckons.”
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I Want You to Want Me (2007) art installation
My friends Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar were commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York to make a giant interactive touch screen visualizing real-time data pulled from online dating websites. It’s their project but I made 500 short films for them to include in the piece over one (very intense) weekend, “Rear Window”-style vignettes of people milling about in the tiny, isolated bubbles of their daily lives. The piece was unveiled as part of 2008’s Design and the Elastic Mind exhibit and remains on display in the MoMA permanent collection. This is a photo from the shoot.
Icon Chef: Designer Challenge (2005-2006) live events
It’s not exactly filmmaking, but I developed and hosted a remarkable series of events called Icon Chef for the final year of the touring RESFEST film festival. First, our live audience would select one of three sealed envelopes. Inside would be the treatment for a high concept, fake-Hollywood blockbuster of my own twisted devising. Then, over a single hour, two teams of top tier designers would battle it out to create both the movie trailer and poster for the fake film. It was a mix of design lesson, creative inspiration, performance art, and cooking show! Contenders included heavyweights like Pixar vs. Lucasfilm. Sponsored by Getty Images and Apple. We brought it to LA, NY, SF, Chicago, London, Cupertino, and Singapore (pictured).
The Weekly Pic – Nerve.com (2005-2006) column
When the online dating and “literate smut” site NERVE approached me to write a weekly column reviewing racy online video, I assumed my dutiful role as a professional internet funnyhunter, seeking out obscure up-and-coming filmmakers from across the globe, interviewing them, and curating their sometimes-NSFW efforts much as I had previously done with the New Venue only this time including the occasional exposed nipple. Or two.