Many visible hangovers from the DO party last night, but Saturday got off to a great start with a conversation between conference MC Kurt Andersen and Maira Kalman. It was a very candid, very warm ease into the day, and as it progressed, became more and more charming and funny. Then it became joyous and down-right hysterical. If you love Maira's illustrations on paper, wait until you hear her talk about them.
Khoi Vin gave a great riff on "control," drawing distinctions between print and interactive, and clarifying what's really happening when designers feel digital media "taking control away from them." He argues that for print, we're talking about "narrative", but for interactive, we're talking about behavior and conversations. (Not mutually exclusive, btw.) We'll put a link to his presentation when it's up at Subtraction, but our favorite quote was this: "Digital media looks like writing, but it's actually conversation."
For the morning affinity session, we took in the "Future of Design Panel," featuring core-fave Bart Haney (S.H.Bunny and FuseProject), Vivian Rosenthal (Tronic), and Jody Turner (Culture of the Future). Yikes. Those future trenders sure do have their shit and patter together. Spooky smart, but sometimes just plain spooky. Bart showed some beloved work (the soup can hammer's still got a permanent spot in our hearts), but then moved onto some good ole provocation about what's next. Vivian Rosenthal showed some crowd-pleasing exhibition work and videos, arguing that much of their work doesn't sell products, but rather brands. The stuff is tremendous of course, but I'm not sure "selling brands" is such a persuasive alternative; Doesn't this all end up selling us more crap just the same?
Alex Steffen was the penultimate speaker of the day, arguing that "we inherited a broken future," and proposing a take-no-prisoners posture forward: "Either you understand climate change and the situation we're in and what needs to be done, or you're wrong. (Paraphrase on that first part.) Another excellent presentation, and he'll be back on the stage next week in San Francisco. Blaise Aguera y Arcas from Microsoft brought it all home with a demo of the blow-your-mind Seadragon and Photosynth. For people who hadn't previously seen it go, there were many oohs and aahs; for those who had, there were still many oohs and aahs.
The day ended with the conclusion to the very successful Command X gameshow results, and the winner was Nichelle Narcisi. Her concept, "Except You", aimed at getting the 18-24-year-old vote out in 2008, and was an absolute triumph--literally bringing much of the audience (and two judges) to tears. She got a standing-O after she presented it, and another after being crowned the winner. The gameshow will surely be an AIGA National staple now, and one can imagine very, very bright futures for all the contestants. (We'd be surprised if the bewitching Nichelle didn't get scooped up by the five-pointed ones before the weekend is up.)
Kurt Andersen, a gracious, measured, witty and insightful MC put the finishing touches on the day, invoking the lyrics of Paul Simon that these are indeed "the days of miracle and wonder," and remarking that this was the first conference he'd attended that didn't leave him depressed and exhausted. Some sweet closing words from Ric Grefe, and it was off to the Libeskind-designed parts of the Denver Art Museum in a mad search for food and beverage. (Let's be kind and just say that it would be challenging to hang artwork in this angular jungle. And the applied graphics? A fright. And this audience would know.)
Congrats to all the organizers on an inspiring conference. The next one (no pun intended) is in Memphis, so make sure you budget now for some time at Graceland. (There's that Paul Simon again.)
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3