Two-faced Tats Cru?

This post completes my triology of calling out street artists. It's more of a follow-up to the Tats Cru / Hummer post.

As you can plainly see here, here and here, Tats Cru are in fact paid by Hummer. They get paid to paint the message, then deface it. I'm almost jealous. Isn't the consumer supposed to be involved in the communication at some point, folks? Are Hummer and Tats Cru just wanking each other here?

Just because you're "street" doesn't mean you're immune to ethics. Wait... Let me rephrase that: just because you're a corporate graffiti artist doesn't mean you're "street".


More Irresponsible Commentary

So I'm sure came off grumpy in the last post about ill-conceived street art... but here's another reason why the street artists need a good calling-out.

Tats Cru used a toxic, perhaps even petroleum-based spraypaint when they tagged this Hummer ad, presumably to add a tone of environmental responsibility. And they re-branded it with their own branding, which isn't much nobler than what Hummer did in the first place. One could argue that it's actually worse, since Hummer paid to place the ad and Tats Cru played the role of the hater.

If it were only about the environment and opposition to gas-guzzling, there'd be no reason for Tats Cru to brand the vandalism; instead, they're just looking for legitimate work for themselves... Tats Cru is already in league with coroporate graffiti. Consider the projects they've already done for soft drinks, hard liquor and malt liquor.

Or was Tats Cru simply paid by Hummer to vandalize their own ad?


Clip art blows, kids.

I've seen way too much of this in my neighborhood.

I know I'm not the only person who's tired of every other struggling art student assuming the general public wants to see his or her doodles plastered all over bus stops, train stations and otherwise private property. I'm all for poetic terrorism - but not shoddy imitations. "Street art" in this vein strikes me as arrogant and inane - this particular example mounts toxic paint and adhesives to other people's property. The poetry of the "nature scene" is lost, betrayed in the piece's execution.

The take-away here (though it may not have occurred to the artist) is that Chicago street art is as boring and unoriginal as clip art. Maybe try to break the law for a good reason next time, kids? Follow-through and please try not to further poison our environment with half-baked "back to nature" efforts.


Homo Urbanus

According to the UN, half the world's population will soon live in cities. This comes as no surprise when you consider that we're well into the Information Age, we're consequently placing more value on culture itself, and cities physically represent our cultural centers. A higher population density means a higher rate of meme-churn (did I just coin a new term?); a higher/faster rate of cultural evolution. More people tend to yield more ideas, simply put. More complicated, however, is the urban sprawl that ensues.

(article link via Kottke)

TV doesn't love you.

It's true. When was the last time TV really put out like the Internet does? Right, never. But TV still thinks it rules the world, and it's up to you, me and all of us to prove otherwise. So if you're the type who speaks with your clothing instead of your actions, go pick up one of these shirts from Simple Letter.

(via Preshrunk)


Traffic alone does not a meme make.

But if you want to be successful in "contagious media", it appears that you’ll still need the help of meta-sites like Slashdot, Metafilter and Fark. This, at least, is a determination made by Mark Glasser on the heels of the Contagious Media Showdown.

While some are quick to classify “most popular websites” as memes, I would argue that these are not necessarily memes just because they are "viral" in the sense marketers use (that is, getting a lot of traffic). Truth be told, “viral” simply means that your message is talked about, or replicated, outside of the confines of your media buy; all truly “good” marketing is already viral, whether online or off, but getting internet traffic does not necessarily mean that you have a meme.

A meme has to have the right mix of fidelity, fecundity and longevity. Obvioulsy, digital media do a lot to preserve the fidelity of an idea. And longevity is why books haven't gone anywhere (your email, however, may not provide the best longevity... and your IM is terrible at providing an idea with longevity). But fecundity can be more tricky; it's not mere eyeballs you get on your site, it's how much your message sticks to existing ideas in the brains behind those eyeballs, and how likely those brains are to replicate the message. Successful memes are more culturally (or sub-culturally) relevant than a page-view; this is why they "stick" to ideas your brain is already carrying.

Here's an example of what I mean when I say traffic is not a true measure of a meme: Of all the web sites you've seen or forwarded to someone else, how many of them do you actually remember - without checking your Sent folder or your Bookmarks? Why?


Wait for it...

Golden Palace Casino, where are you on this one? Or this one? We all know these auctions are still cheaper than an advertising campaign, and we all expect you to keep bidding and buying your way into the news... Don't let us down.


Trendwatching, a trend in itself.

Originally uploaded by pylbug.

Yesterday, while suffering through my umpteenth coolhunting / trendwatching presentation, it hit me: the ultimate trend right now is trendwatching, but the trendwatchers don't realize it. The shift from "mass media" to "media of the masses" is a real problem for most marketers and merchants-of-cool. But it's not just the learning curve involved with new technology, nor is it because "cool" is so elusive. It's a fundamental ignorance as to how culture evolves, despite the fact that we are immersed in culture our entire lives. If you happen to work in the persuasion industry, you're a cultural engineer; if you don't study culture itself, you're not doing your job. Too many of you flail in an attempt to catch up to "cool" when you should be learning the recipe for making "cool".

Here's where I shift gears slightly, and make sense of the above photo. Before another chump tells you that hip-hop came out of thin air, contemplate the cultural connections between early electronic music, and how it led to house, industrial and hip-hop (among innumerable subgenres). For example, consider the cultural influence of Kraftwerk.

Then check out the pics I took at Kraftwerk's performance last weekend - nearly twenty years after I first heard their work imitated, spoofed, sampled and otherwise recontextualized. Few imitations have surpassed Kraftwerk's cult status, because few have bothered or been able to learn the recipe for what makes the band's "brand" so eduring.