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VL92 Gin & Tonic Emergency Kit

A vibrant Dutch tipple conveniently and handsomely packaged

by David Graver in Food + Drink on 30 September 2014

Alcoholic Drinks, Amsterdam, Cocktails, Gin and Tonic, Gins, Holland, Package Design

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More than just curious paper packaging (though it is lovely, thanks to design agency Rare Fruits Council), VL92's Gin & Tonic Emergency Kit is a smart option for the ever-famous cocktail—and those who want to quickly whip it up. With the recipe incorporated onto the bag design, anyone can quickly make this classic concoction. The kit includes Fentimans tonic as their preferred partner, and the gin itself stems from a malt wine foundation more closely akin to genever, a traditional liquor native to the Netherlands. That means it's heavy on the botanicals, though well beyond the expected juniper, as coriander leaf lends the final word with a citrus flourish. The two Dutch founders, Leo Fontijne & Sietze Kalkwijk, were on a mission to create the best gin and with the conspicuously packaged, small-batch VL92 kit, they've created a contender.

And yes, it does lend itself to a very full-flavored gin and tonic, if you stick to their recipe. Select retailers across the Netherlands carry VL92 by itself or as a kit, with other countries coming soon.

Images by Karen Day

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INST-INT 2014: Conference Highlights

From the founders of Eyeo, this specialized forum focuses the spotlight on interactive art and technology

by Nara Shin in Tech on 30 September 2014

Conferences, Creativity, Designers, Innovation, Installations, Interactive, Speakers, Technology, Minneapolis

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From the founders of technology festival Eyeo comes a smaller, more tightly focused offshoot called INST-INT. Now in its second year, the stimulating three-day experience saw roughly 300 people gravitate to Minneapolis' Walker Art Center to glean insights from an international roster of artists, designers, architects and coders. In between talks on the challenges of creating technology-rich interactive installations and other related subjects were beneficial demos, workshops and show-and-tell sessions.

"With Eyeo, we had noticed that a lot of people who were coming were working in this field of interactive projects in the physical space, and that's something that we're really interested in," co-founder Dave Schroeder tells CH. "We like to create a place where people with similar interests can get together and meet each other and form a stronger community. As people make that kind of transition from working on the screen to getting out in the physical space—it's chock full of hurdles."

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While some of the talks naturally turned into portfolio presentations or became overly technical about the coding process, the majority of the speakers candidly revealed their own #fails, offered a fruitful message and—most interestingly—put out a call for collaborations or help with current projects. There were no boundaries between speakers and the attendees, and, as Schroeder notes, he could have a hundred more people from the audience presenting their own work on stage. Seeing how speakers (both intentionally and unintentionally) were referencing each other's works in their talks reveals the cogs of INST-INT in motion. While the conference is decidedly advantageous for those in the interactive fields, below are some highlights from this past weekend than any creative person can gain from.

Minimaforms: Enabling Frameworks

The brothers behind experimental architecture and design practice Minimaforms, Stephen and Theodore Spyropoulos, opened up the conference with the first keynote address. They referenced Lucio Fontana's 1946 work, "The White Manifesto," which declared a need for a new "spatialist" art form that would go beyond architecture, painting, sculpture, music and other traditional forms: "voluminous forms changing through a plastic, mobile substance" that would engage technology to be able to express the fourth dimension. From projects like "Memory Cloud" (merging one of the oldest forms of visual communications, smoke signals, with today's form, SMS texting) to "Petting Zoo," (robotic pets that interact with human participants and evolve or become bored over time depending on the level of engagement), Minimaforms is developing new models of interaction and communication that go beyond touching a screen.

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Sputniko!: Doradical Futures with Sputniko!

When Hiromi Ozaki, more commonly known as her alter-ego Sputniko!, created a fully functioning Menstruation Machine that dispenses blood and simulates pain in the abdomen—she didn't put it in on display in a glass case. Instead, she sings a story of a transvestite boy named Takashi who dresses up in women's clothing but also desires to dress up biologically, too. Through music videos, Sputniko! triggers discussions of social and cultural implications of technology outside of exclusive academic or museum environments; instead, they take place in YouTube comments, Twitter feeds and other social media networks. "Popular" has a very negative image, she says, and has mistakenly become synonymous with "not very challenging." But as platforms like YouTube have democratized who controls the media and added to the diversity of contributing voices, "pop" can be influential in pushing cultural norms—especially in Japan, which is "a little bit behind in gender equality issues." Sputniko!'s high-heel-stamping moon rover concept—the "Moonwalk Machine"—is, for example, a response to the fact that only white American men have walked on the moon.

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Kyle McDonald: Space Filling

You might have heard of media artist Kyle McDonald, whose 2011 Apple Store performance piece "People Staring at Computers" resulted in a visit from the Secret Service. He's worked on diverse projects since, from Social Soul (where TED 2014 attendees entered inside their social media mind and were matched with their "soulmate" at the conference) to an interactive listening experience for The xx. (Probably as a reference to his Mad Libs-like webpage Who Pays Artists, McDonald also openly shared a peek of the spreadsheet breaking down the budget for that large-scale project, though banning any photos.) But McDonald also disclosed that recently, he's been infatuated by light and the ray's seemingly infinite qualities. Exploring some of them in his recent project Light Leaks, where 50 disco balls were used to essentially reverse-projection map a space, McDonald raced through a list of inspiring artists such as Aram Bartholl, Jussi Ängeslevä, Toshio Iwai, Anthony McCall and more, who use light in their works to astonish and provoke.

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I am more through this tool than I am without it.
Daniel Leithinger: Shaping the Future of Human Computer Interfaces

"I bicycle a lot," says Daniel Leithinger, a PhD candidate at MIT Media Lab's Tangible Media Group. He compares the experience to being a cyborg: "I am more through this tool than I am without it." He poses the question, "How can we feel this kind of empowerment and engagement that we gain from cycling, with computers?" The first step is envisioning human computer interfaces that are tangible, intuitive and engage our bodies more fully. Leithinger quotes Malcolm McCullough for inspiration: "Hands are underrated... they are not idle, just underemployed."

Instead of strapping yourself into a display like Oculus Rift or limiting the digital portal to a flat rectangular screen, Leithinger wants to bring "magic" into the real world. Thus far, he and his colleagues have been successful in giving digital information a dynamic, physical shape through projects like inFORM and Jamming User Interfaces (a moldable interface that "jams" or hardens temporarily by vacuum; you could knead an iPad, instead of touching it—and mold it into a tablet, game controller, watch and more).

Amsterdam sculpture project image courtesy of Janet Echelman, Moonwalk Machine courtesy of Sputniko!, inFORM image courtesy of MIT Media Lab, all other images by Nara Shin

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Illustrator Donald Robertson on Great Jones Street

The Instagram-famous illustrator opens up his work to interact with passersby

by Kat Herriman in Culture on 30 September 2014

Art, Color, Instagram, NYC, Illustration, Fashion, Paintings, Popups, Residencies

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In recent years illustrator Donald Robertson has made a name for himself with technicolor drawings of toothy lipstick smiles, cartoonish animals and fashion industry icons like Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld (as well as his coworkers at Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, where he's Head of Creative Development), which he posts on Instagram in a constant and colorful stream for all to admire. Though Robertson's social media presence has garnered quite a following, it wasn’t until this summer when he met gallerist Eric Firestone that the artist finally had a formal art setting to show his work. “Eric sort of took a gamble on me,” explains Robertson. Though the gamble payed off, as the Eric Firestone Gallery show in East Hampton was a success. "What I was able to do through Instagram was drive a lot of people through his gallery, and what he was able to do was to take all these images that look kind of dinky on my phone [and] set them up in a space that gave them a new sense of weight.”

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After the success of the initial show, the duo decided to expand their efforts into NYC where they’ve collaborated on a two-month residency on Great Jones Street, which will be open to the public with walk-in hours and appointments. Their unorthodox open door policy is a testament to Robertson’s gregarious personality and also the nature of his process, which can only be described as frenetic and incredibly absorbing.

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“Working on pieces like this gets a little lonely, when you are by yourself in a studio,” says Robertson as he works his way across a piece armed with a paintbrush. “What I love about this is that I can be chatting, or creating, or shooting with people here and the whole studio becomes this kind of dynamic art Instagram hang out.” Robertson's unique stream-of-consciousness style enables him to bounce from creating cartoons for major labels to playful interpretations of ready-to-wear looks before they make it all the way down the runway.

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While never restricting himself to just one thing, it seems Robertson’s latest fascination is Canal Street knockoffs and the peculiar double-standard that enables artists to appropriate brand labels while hawkers in Chinatown are forced to sell their wares in back rooms or from their bedsheet galleries. “I am doing it for all the guys who can’t,” laughs the artist, who is styling an Instragramable shot of his latest piece, a bright green wall dotted with dripping Comme des Garçons hearts.

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“I have yet to receive a cease and desist notice.” And, from the constant inquiries that have been bombarding both Robertson and Firestone’s inboxes, it appears more likely that a brand would want to buy one of his imitations rather than proceed with legal charges. “A lot of brands try to make themselves seem artsy, but they fake the art part,” says Robertson. “But here, we are making art and seeing how brands and new sources of inspiration can be folded into the mix.”

Donald Robertson's open studio is located at 9 Great Jones Street, #2 in NYC, and will remain open through 19 November 2014.

Images by Kat Herriman

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