In the summer of 2013, John Brockman and Edge.org invited a group of social scientists to engage in an intellectual round table called “The Head Conference” Since the 1970s, Brockman has been archiving the words of the world’s most fascinating scientific minds, often employing a distinctively low-tech style (locked off camera, straight-on). He invited me to develop a new iteration for Edge video. I opted for total immersion. I like to call it a “post-TED aesthetic.”
For full-screen viewing recommended (arrow-icon on the video’s lower right).
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I Want You to Want Me 2007 MoMA 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.
The New Venue 1996-2005
A decade before YouTube or Vimeo, when computers still used disks and modems and the promise of online cinema was distant, before browsers could handle postage-stamp sized video clips and there were still plenty of post offices to buy stamps in the first place, I created the first showcase dedicated to movies made exclusively for the web. It was an art house for the future, encouraging filmmakers to push the boundaries of an emerging medium, complete with an instruction manual, because constraints spark creativity. The New Venue.
My eccentric, scrappy, solo side project beat Rolling Stone at SXSW in 1999 for “Best Use of Video on the Internet.” More awards followed, among them a Webby nomination, and even Apple partnered with me, promoting New Venue content on its own website. The New Venue coasted on steady unsolicited coverage from the likes of ABC, BBC, CNN, Wired, Variety, Spin, Fortune, The New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, The Guardian, Rollling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek, and others.
Persona (above), one of New Venue’s flagship films, was my collaboration with Kristie Lu Stout. You can see how the web site looked and functioned. The cardboard box filled the full screen: monitors were smaller then.
As a spin-off, in 2000, I held the first film festival for the Palm Pilot, hacking turn-of-the-millenium day-planners into digital kinetescopes. To compensate for the technical limitations of the time, these first mobile movies had to be silent, black and white, and last only a few seconds long, hence its name: The Aggressively Boring Film Festival.
At 25, I was being flown around the world to lecture on the future of film and explain how, one day, video would be everywhere. Then, when the bubble burst, amid the collateral damage I discovered it’s rarely a matter of who gets there first. The New Venue kept its loyal following even after I stopped updating it with filmmaking tips, filmmaker interviews, or “new movies for a new medium.”
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