Celebrating 15 years of collaboration and exploration in music with a hardcover featuring some of the industry's most influential figures
by Hans Aschim in Culture on 05 December 2013
Famed Austria-based energy drink company Red Bull may be best known for their involvement in alternative sports and prodigious adventure—from being a major sponsor in Travis Rice's acclaimed snowboard film "The Art of Flight" to Felix Baumgartner's BASE jump from space. But, aside from adrenaline-fueled pursuits, Red Bull has also been building a solid reputation in the global underground music scene—specifically in electronic, house and hip-hop circles—with the Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA). For the past 15 years, RBMA has been connecting influential musicians—young and old, established and up-and-coming, the legendaries and the rookies—for everything from mentoring sessions, to lectures, to forums, to live radio broadcasts to full-on festivals. To commemorate this landmark anniversary, RBMA is releasing "For the Record" with Berlin-based publisher Gestalten, a hefty coffee table essential for music lovers featuring conversations between some of the most influential producers, musicians and DJs of the past few decades, including Lee "Scratch" Perry, Erykah Badu and Nile Rodgers as well as relative newcomers Mykki Blanco, Matias Aguayo and Ben UFO.
"With this book we aimed for showcasing connections between people that might not seem to have a connection at once, but then thanks to the meeting, present an idea through the conversation to the reader that they maybe didn't know they were looking for," says RBMA co-founder Many Ameri. "We didn't set a strict topic or structure for the conversations, so the artists found their topics as they went." Ameri and fellow RBMA co-founder Tosten Schmidt's free-flow technique produces valuable results for both music-lovers and anyone interested in the creative process. "We wanted to break the recording process down and really, through narrowing the overall topic down, we actually got the chance to open up the conversation to a wider topic," Schmidt explains. "We actually get to way deeper points than the usual interviews where you just tick off the boxes."
"Some of the people we always wanted to have on the couch, but they might be the sort of characters who don't want to talk in front of the audience," says Schmidt. "Take Jaki Liebezeit, for example; he's a drummer, he wants to drum not talk. But put him in a room with another drummer [Bernard Purdie] and a few drum kits; suddenly everything opens up." The conversation between Liebezeit (a krautrock pioneer) and Purdie (a session legend who's worked with James Brown, Ray Charles and Steely Dan) is one of the book's prime examples of it being a service to not just music, but culture as a whole. Pairing this unlikely yet strikingly similar two people together for an unstructured conversation provides both an invaluable piece of history and a glimpse into the unifying humanity of creativity. "When I'm on, I'm on and everybody is with you. That's why you see people dance. And for me, that's what I need," Purdie says in the conversation.
Throughout the book's wealth of knowledge, each of the 15 conversations carries its own take-away message and feel. Book designer Chris Rehberger took great care to capture each atmosphere with the layout and typography of the conversation. "The layout and typography was really a result of reading and listening to the interviews. It's subjective, I suppose, in the same way listening to music is a subjective experience," says Rehberger. Various photographers captured the artists during their conversations in an intimate way, giving the reader a feeling of inclusion and adding to the depth of the conversation. If some of the names in the book don't ring a bell at first glance, don't fret—even some of the most dedicated music fans will see at least one unfamiliar name. An essay profiling each artist at the end of the book—some written by peers, others by journalists—add context to the conversations and enrich the book as a whole.
Photos by Hans Aschim
Amidst the bustle of Art Basel, a soothing and ethereal series of photographs
by Jonah Samson in Culture on 05 December 2013
As part of Art Basel's "Positions" program, selected galleries are invited to present the work of a single artist. As part of this year's program, Parisian gallery Gaudel de Stampa presented an ethereal series of photographs by French artist Dove Allouche, who is based in Paris. Allouche's inspiration evolved from a series of solar flare images made by astrophysicist Jules Janssen in 1903. As with many contemporary artists working with photography, Allouche creatively deconstructs the photographic process and explores the history of the medium itself.
Allouche reproduces Janssen's original 30 astral images using a historic photographic process called the physautotype, which was developed in 1832 by the very creators of photography, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce and Louis Daguerre. The physautotype process creates a photographic image by using a camera obscura to expose a plate of silver, which has been treated with a mixture of lavender oil and ethanol. The result is a series of delicate and abstract projections that float on the mirrored silver plates, and transform as they are approached from different angles.
Allouche's images produce a tension between the negative and positive, and between the visible and the invisible. This subtle and tranquil exhibit—which can be found on the fringes of the frenzy of Art Basel Miami—should not be missed.
Photos by Jonah Samson
Their VP of Data partners with NYC artist Shantell Martin to bring sleep data to life
by David Graver in Tech on 05 December 2013
As noted before, not only is information useful, it's also beautiful. Recognizing this, the recently appointed VP of Data at sleep and health data tracking device Jawbone, Monica Rogati, has partnered with artist Shantell Martin to utilize all the information they've accrued through the brand's newest, the UP 24. This isn't Jawbone's first foray into data visualization, as they've released previous findings in collaboration with artist Peter Arkle on their Tumblr. With Martin, however, the focus is on work, play and sleep.
"We are tracking more than a century of sleep every day. We have never been able to see so much," Rogati explains to CH. "We can see how people are going about their lives. We are learning as much as we can and telling the world about it." As Jawbone has been building data products, they've been taking all data and turning it around to individual users. While the information users see each day is personalized, Rogati's UPxArt initiate helps individuals understand their data by placing it into global context.
The latest data set Jawbone has released reveals insights from the UP community correlating to lifestyle, geography and travel habits—all tied to sleep. In a way, each tidbit reinforces what we know from conventional wisdom, but placing it into context and allowing real data to support it, the entire community benefits and there are tangible results. According to the data: those who work hard tend to play hard, and sleep less. More specifically, "UP wearers age 18 to 24 go to bed the latest in college towns and active nightlife cities such as College Station, TX, Miami, Orlando and San Antonio." The value in such information stands as motivational, a tent pole of the UP brand. With awareness, users can adapt or make change. According to Jawbone, these correlations help us learn about our decisions and with such knowledge, we can better our wellness.
For Rogati, this is where creativity comes from and artistic collaborations just made sense. "To be a data scientist you can uncover stories and their patterns. I look for creativity in data and in that sense it is an art. It is being a detective and being exploratory in your work. You follow a lead and realize new things we can uncover. That's a very creative process." Martin's work is an extension of this. In a stream of conscious fashion, she progresses through information in the way we would through dreams.
While the art transforms data into a motivation tool, other elements in the latest product seek to do the same. The new sleep feature, when you meet your goal three days in a row, incentivizes healthy behavior and seeks to encourage further goal-hitting. With Rogati weaving data points into stories, an ever-growing user base contributing invaluable information and programs to make it even more exciting, UP's data network might be one of their most valuable assets.
Images courtesy of Jawbone