"I don't know what I'm doing here," says Bruce McCall. He doesn't own a cell phone and paints on paper. But he did work in the automotive industry after a love of sports cars as a kid. And you can totally see this in his work as a painter and illustrator of probably a zillion New Yorker covers. He even had a show called "Serious Nonsense." You can divide his outlook on life into these themes: Retrofuturism, Techno-Archaeology, Faux Nostalgia, Hyperbolic Overkill, Shamelessly Cheap and Urban Absurdism. ("The brainless rich are the most fun to make fun of, so I do a lot of that.") But he's got some pretty striking design detail in there: Each features a miracle of modern technology or a marvel of industrial design, perfectly-rendered down to the bolts on the edge of his tanks (engaged in a polo game, of course).
As another person with a disability (he uses a wheelchair), John Hockenberry says that Aimee Mullins looked at her amputee status and took it not as an opportunity to lead a normal life, but as an "invitation to improve all physical appearance." You might have seen her in the Matthew Barney films slinking up the inside of the Guggenheim. In her adventures of designing the self, she saw the space between where her leg ended and the ground began as potential. Mullins' legs were amputated at the age of one and she shows the history of clunkily designed prosthetics. She first began to play with them by turning her feet around for substitute teachers (she even made one faint). Skiing, her ankles never hurt and her feet never got cold, so she could stay on the hill all day. And height? Well, she can be however tall she wants. "I'm usually 5-foot-8. But today, I'm 6-foot-1," she says. "Why be restricted to generic code when genetic code didn't show up for you?"
Plus the best ideas for her legs come from NASA engineers, Hollywood makeup artists, sculptors, so they look at it as a blank slate for innovation. Her running legs are modeled on the legs of a cheetah. And Alexander McQueen carved her a pair of exquisitely-carved wooden legs which she wore in a fashion show. And backstage Naomi Campbell wanted them. Mullins had to explain that they didn't really fit her. Now they're at the Met in the Costume Institute.
After a generous introduction by Hock (and a nice fakeout by Chee & Co.), Daily Show correspondent John Oliver quips: "If what he says is true, we're all doing to die." It's been three days of potentially-a-bit-too-Serious Playing, and thank god Oliver's brand of comedy doesn't need much explanation: "Analyzing comedy is like dissecting a frog. You don't learn anything, and the frog dies." So I won't try, but I will tell you that the audience is convulsing. He may have had some points in there about using your hands, or experimenting, or not being afraid to fail. But really? He's just funny. However, he does leave us with this lesson: "If you think like a child, your problems get smaller."
However, if you think like a child, you can't slam three Googletinis at the after party. So for the next hour--at least--I'm thinking like an adult.
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