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Zadi and I spent a lot of time the past two weeks thinking about what the next iteration of Epic Fu needs to be and how we can do it. Then we had another conversation tonight and it all changed... for the better.
It seems like the longer we make the Epic Fu web show, the more it becomes clear that there is a vast but disconnected sea of people who have a passion for the way global culture is influenced by what is happening on the web. We tend to be the ones who are a couple steps ahead of our friends and families, the ones that the people in our lives look to in order to find out what's coming next.
We had the privilege to hang out and talk to Xeni Jardin, and I have to admit I was a little nervous. I'd talked to her at industry events and social gatherings, but it's not often that Zadi and I spend time with people who, like us, have such a vast knowledge of the web and its culture going back ten or more years. There is something special about the people who came of age with the first Internet boom and worked online during the transformation of the web from a tech curiosity into a mainstream cultural force. Luckily for us, she is completely charming and down to earth, and considering her efforts over the past two years with Boing Boing video, we had tons of common experiences.
Russian artist Tebe Interesno is a bit of a mystery to me. Mostly that's because his site is in Russian and there's not a lot of text that becomes clear using a tool like Google Translate. Even his name is not clear. Tebe Interesno actually means "you are interested" in Russian. One thing is obvious -- he has a fascinating imagination and is amazingly prolific.
On this week's show we talked about Photojojo's tips for taking a photo a day to see your life in a whole new way. Photo projects can be really interesting and revealing, and they are wonderful to look back on year from now. Plus, you get to feed your creative side!
Artemis Eternal is a movie created by filmmaker Jessica Mae Stover that aspires to create a studio-quality short film, but without the studio. She could have gone to wealthy private investors to raise the money, but instead she is using crowd-funding to raise the budget needed to shoot her picture. This is a very new type of model for movies that only the web could have enabled, and with the right energy and approach, it definitely sounds like she is really going to make it happen.
Artist James Jean has been successful in both the commercial and fine art worlds, and it's not hard to see why. I always love to look at artists' sketchbooks -- it's the closest you can get to seeing the world through their eyes. There are lots of indications of the thought processes, and tons of small gems to discover. And in Jean's sketchbooks, we get to see the exquisite draftsmanship and sensitivity of his undeniable natural talent.
Our amazing friend Bre Pettis has been a staple of innovative online video for years, and has a television pilot on tonight called History Hacker! From Bre's blog:
My TV show pilot called "History Hacker" airs this upcoming Friday at 8PM and Midnight on the History Channel. I'm the host of the show and I check out inventors in history and take a hands-on look at their inventions. I need your help to make the show go from a pilot to a real TV show.
The pilot is all about Nikola Tesla and the war of the currents between Tesla and Edison. In the show I learn how to blow a neon tube, explore wireless electricity and build an AC generator from a bike. I also go to Boston to visit an MIT space lab to see how the principles that Tesla pioneered are being applied to space propulsion.
The look of the show is awesome. The folks at History gave the producer, director, and director of photography permission to take my DIY style of making videos with lots of jump cuts and direct talking to the camera and push it forward into a longer format. It doesn't look like anything else on TV.
It really does look amazing -- just check out the sizzle reel embedded at the top of this post! If anyone should be the mainstream media emissary for DIY video makers, it's Bre Pettis. You rule, Bre!
William Lamson created a 6 minute long video called Think Globally, Act Locally in which he exploded a bunch of bananas on a mask attached to his face. We featured pieces of this video on an earlier episode of the show without our realizing the wonderful array of work he has on his site. Luckily we found it!
Margot Quan Knight is able to achieve an amazingly wide range of reactions in her photographs. At once I'm amused, intrigued, repulsed, and just a tad bit titillated. It's no easy feat to conjure up that many emotions from a viewer. Not to mention that she gets us past the fact that these are all works of digital manipulation, which is so easily a ruinous distraction. Generally her work is fascinating and possesses great depth, and much of it makes me wonder about the story behind the photos.
Plenty more after the jump.
If you saw a bunch of bicyclists zipping past you on the highway, what would you think? Well, if I were stuck in traffic, as is usually the case in a car culture town like Los Angeles, I would think "I bet if I were riding a bike, I'd be home by now." That would probably be true -- and that is exactly the kind of thought that Crimanimalz wants floating through your head.
This past Tuesday on EPIC FU we featured Marius Watz as our artist of the week. I don't remember exactly how I came across the impressive work that was exhibited as part of the 5 Days Off festival in Amsterdam, but I'm sure it caught my attention because of the brilliant melding between art and technology.
Watz, a Norweigian artist, had been working on a project called Generator.x, investigating computational models of creation. An exhibit titled "Generator.x 2.0: Beyond the Screen" brought together artists and architects to contribute their own creations to his project. These works used audio analysis and custom-created software to take audio data and map it to fabrication processes such as rapid-prototyping. In essence, we get to see what sound "looks" like.
On the show this week we highlighted surrealist/fantasy painter and illustrator Ryohei Hase from Tokyo, Japan. He created works for book covers, the web, games, and magazine, and he exhibits his paintings regularly in Tokyo. More of his work after the jump.
This is a fascinating short film documenting the life of deaf children. The narrator does an awesome job narrating, which leaves us able to absorb and actually pick up a few words. I now know how to say "smile" in sign language.
What was most enlightening is how they say their parents don't understand what they're saying some of the time, which is frustrating to them. The kids in this film (most seven to nine years of age) struck me as eloquent and wise beyond their years -- and most of all, they seem to have a talent for listening above many of us who are able to hear.
Scott Sigler is the Future Dark Overlord™. That's what he says. We believe him. He has a pair of chicken scissors ready if we dare say otherwise. So that's what we'll all say "Oh, hail Future Dark Overlord!"
On a more serious note, there is a reason why we chose Scott to be our FU of the Week -- he epitomizes the FU. He's a science fiction horror novelist who took matters into his own hands after getting rejection letter after rejection letter. And they didn't involve sharp deadly weapons, though some may consider podcasting equipment just that.
Please watch this video. It's been around the 'net for a while. It's the story of a man named Daniel Tammet, who can do calculations to 100 decimal places in his head. He has been diagnosed with a form of autism, but one with a relatively mild affect on the way he handles social interaction. Typically autistics have trouble relating to other people and things in their environment, but can demonstrate an ability to focus on single tasks. This rarely manifests itself as true savant-like abilities, but for a while now I have started to wonder whether the escalation in autism diagnoses over the past 30 years is a result of environmental effects on children, or whether this is nature experimenting with us to take us to the next stage of evolution.
Ill Doctrine recently remixed the Obama "Yes We Can" video as a tribute to George Carlin, and it is awesome. He mentions in his YouTube description post that Carlin's "7 dirty words" court case happened at his radio station.
Our friend Steve Garfield, the videoblogging pioneer who first put video on his blog on January 1, 2004, was interviewed recently by another friend, Paul Armstrong of MySpace. It's always a treat when someone we respect shouts us out when asked about the people and shows pioneering in the world of online video. Thanks, Steve! :)
4.11.08. we all belong. from paul dateh on Vimeo.
Paul Dateh recounts his personal experience with friends who were victims of gang violence. I wanted to pass this on because in this online web 2.0 world of ours, these are stories we often times don't get to hear (or speak about), but are all too familiar. These are the stories we need to share with each other.
Our friends at Moblogic did some interesting street interviews in New York to see what people thought of Martin Luther King, Jr's legacy today.
How do you think his legacy is doing today? Seems to me it's a mixed bag. I don't know if it's progress, but economic factors seem to be the most dividing elements of today's world. There's more tolerance on the surface between the races, but if you scrape your fingernail along the surface of America, what you find underneath is pretty ugly.
Now that we're back from SXSW and Berlin, it's time to catch up on everything that we've been doing.
The video is the full length of the panel, so it's about an hour. Just fyi. If you're interested in online video and know a bit about the people on the panel (or want to know), this was very interesting. I couldn't help but sit in the audience and be struck by what a special time this is for those of us working in this industry. And how open and giving almost everyone is.
In the hundreds of emails we get each week, it's easy to miss the good things people write. I'm really glad we saw this, because it definitely touched us:
Epic-fu, Just wanted you all to know, that I thank you for making my tour in Iraq a little less unbearable. It's people like you, who pursue your dreams regardless of all the negativity that may suround you, that make this country worth fighting for. Zadi some of the things I seen from you outside Epic-fu are inspiration and showcase your creative genius. Peace
Thank you, Elroy. Please get home safe.
Tonight we got this great email from Luke:
Hey to all at Epic-Fu. I just wanted you all to know that I as well with many others really love your show. I was a geek in hiding until I discovered you guys. I was always embaressed to do the things that I recently discovered alot of us do. Such as, coming up with creative ways to jazz up your myspace or listening to thesixtyone.com.
Without you guys, I might still be in hiding. But I am out and proud to be a geek. Keep up the great work.
Thanks, Luke! You made our night!
If you find yourself bored or in need of a fun distraction, artist Ferry Halim posts his delightful flash games on his site. They are all very refined and very intuitive and easy to play. I've toyed around with about 10 of them, and they were all really simple and a lot of fun.
If you're throwing a party for all your geek friends, replace those boring old place holders with little Lego people! These Star Wars ones are super fun, but I can imagine you can tailor your Lego person to fit your party theme - or even make them look like the person on the card.
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."-- Theodore Roosevelt