Friday, September 28, 2012

Photographs of the early days of Silicon Valley emerge

I just love it when new photographs surface. Taken in the early days of Silicon Valley many of these feature Steve Jobs and other luminaries at the beginning of something great. There's even a photograph of the possible moment that kicked off David Hockney's enthusiasm to make art with a computer. He's now known for using he iPad to paint works which have been most recently on show at the Royal Academy of art but at the time this photograph was taken he'd only previously arranged photographs by hand, creating some of his most famous works such as Still Life Blue Guitar (1982).

The photographs were taken by Doug Menuez, a photojournalist who documented the rise of the golden era of Silicon Valley over a period of 15 years. "As digital technology grew more powerful, Silicon Valley resembled what Paris in the twenties must have been like. Artists arrived from all over the world, eager to experiment," Menuez told Wired. "David Hockney, holding one of his beloved dachshunds, attends a 1990 Adobe Photoshop Invitational, where he learned how to use the first release version of Photoshop."

It's part of a set of black and white images which has just seen the light of day after it was curtailed by Steve Jobs who features in many of the images. The photographs portray Jobs in the years after he was ousted from Apple and the beginnings of NeXT (the computer that Tim Berners-Lee would eventually create the internet on) including the meeting in the soon to be NeXT factory where Jobs received the investment he needed to start his new company.

Preparations for the demonstration are not going well in Las Vegas (1992) above, is one of my favourites from the selection on Here's what Menuez had to say about it: "Unfortunately, while preparing a demonstration of the Newton for the national press in Las Vegas, the device crashed, causing event organizer Michael Witlin to hit the floor and Tricia Chan to call engineers for help."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Getting over London Fashion Week with the London Design Festival

I had an incling of how busy the last few days would be when I realised that my birthday coincided with the first day of London Fashion Week, but on the other side I now realise it's Thursday and a whole week has gone by since I last too stock.

I didn't think I'd be *that* busy.

I've been so consumed in birthday/fashion week world that the London Design Festival almost passed by without registered so much as a blip on my radar. I knew it was happening but the thought of making plans? Too much.

So yesterday when a friend emailed me and said did I know of anything good they should see, I thought did I?

My friends at Phaidon were my first port of call and sure enough they pulled through. They're showing their new beast of a book (I say book, it's not actually) and have a store selling some of their most notable titles at Design Junction down in Holburn at the Old Sorting Office.

This is a furniture and design geeks dream, there is even a Braun stand. Yes, Braun have a whole stand filled with lovely Dieter Rams designed goodness ready for you to touch and drool over. I think the stand-minder was doing a fair bit too. Make sure you wipe up after yourself.

The Old Sorting Office is so big and there's three floors, I'm going to have to make a trip back at the weekend to make sure I've not missed anything.

There's a cinema showing films by Light Surgeons as part of a Crafts Council exhibition called Added Value? which my friend seemed very excited about and there's a pop-up Canteen at which to refuel too.

Design Junction is part of the wider London Design Festival, which last year saw the Bouroullecs take over the V&A, so you know it's going to be good. Find something near you here

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Do we care enough to save our memories in the digital world?

On Monday it was reported that Bruce Willis was suing Apple for the rights to the music he owns. And then on Tuesday it was reported he wasn't. Even so, this brings to light something that many of us were probably unaware of: your record collection is not yours. Yes you heard me right, you don't actually own the music you buy through iTunes, it's just on loan.

This is part of a wider problem that has been talked about in tech, design, photography, art circles for a few years now; nothing is actually real. It's not been brought to the attention of the wider public that we won't actually have anything to pass down to our children anymore - no old photographs gathering dust in albums, no record to be drawn to by its sleeve design, nothing. Indeed it was this issue that was said to be the reasoning behind Bruce Willis supposedly suing Apple - he wanted to leave his record collection to his children. Currently, under iTunes terms and conditions users are merely 'borrowing' tracks under licence and when the owner dies the tracks are the property of Apple once more.

"Willis has discovered that, like anyone who has bought music online, he does not actually own the tracks but is instead ‘borrowing’ them under a licence," The New Statesman quotes Neil Sears in a Daily Mail article.

Public awareness of the transient nature of the collections of photographs, music and books that we 'own' only increases once exhibitions, newspaper articles prompt conversation among people. Digital Crystal, the new show at the Design Museum with Swarovski is trying to do just that.

"We want to create memories, physical things that we can give our children to take away," Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum said at the opening. "And if we think about what the digital camera and the mobile phone are doing, they're destroying that."

The show features 14 designers working with digital media including Yves BĂ©har, Ron Arad and Philippe Malouin who used CERN's Large Hadron Collider as inspiration for his spinning crystal piece. Exploring the meaning of memories in the digital age and what our relationship is going to be with them in the future it's the first step to bringing the problem of the products we own being non-existent into the forefront of public knowledge and discussion.

But you do have to ask yourself, do people even care enough to listen to these warnings? Or are we just gearing up to shout one big I TOLD YOU SO at the masses when they complain they don't have any tangible memories to hand down to their children? I sort of wish Bruce Willis would have kept quiet about the fact he wasn't actually suing Apple for the rights for his children to inherit his music collection, just so we could have this discussion in the papers for that little while longer.

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