Isabelle Mège does not call herself an artist, but she has nonetheless been working on an interesting project for the last 30 years. Mège contacts photographers she likes and asks them to incorporate her into their work, keeping a copy of each photograph afterwards. She has over 300 photographs and has curated 135 of them into what she calls “the collection”.
After each shoot, Mège would follow up and ask the artist for a print, signed and sometimes numbered by its edition. The print would go into her archive, along with any artifacts related to its making; Elkoury’s letter, for instance, is accompanied in the archive by Mège’s notes about their encounter (he was late to their first meeting, and arrived with his shoelaces untied). Also in her archive are the heels that Witkin attached to her feet during the 1990 shoot, and a news item about Japanese customs having seized incoming copies of the magazine ARTnews to prohibit their circulation; the photograph, in which Mège’s pubic hair is visible, was considered obscene. Her diarizing and collection of correspondence, clippings, image reproductions, and relevant items reveal that the planning around certain images often lasted years. Several times, having worked with an artist to make an image, she was unhappy with the results and excluded it from her collection. When approached by artists who wanted to work with her but for whose work she had no feeling, she refused.
Mège felt strongly that no money should be exchanged in these interactions. (“As soon as there’s a question of payment, it’s dead, you fall asleep,” she told me.) She also asked each artist to sign a contract printed on a three-inch slip of paper, stating that she would have the right to exhibit or publish the image for noncommercial reasons only.
Mège’s project fits neatly into contemporary selfie culture. Her collection reminds me of other creative people who have incorporated themselves into their media of behalf of someone or something else. Call them “selfie auteurs”. Adam Lisagor has starred in many of the videos his company makes for tech clients. Casey Neistat films himself going on adventures for clients like J. Crew and Nike. Noah Kalina was commissioned by VH1 to take photos of himself posing with celebrities in his Everyday stance. I’m sure there are many more examples1 but few have done it as cleanly and purely as Mège.
Maybe kottke.org should be in this list as well. This is my website — my name’s right at the top for crying out loud — and I share my opinion about things here all the time, but in a significant way, the site isn’t actually about me. It’s mainly about other people’s work and ideas. Sure, if you read long enough you learn about who I am as a person in the process, but it’s not the point.↩
From Adam Lisagor’s Sandwich Video comes Computer Show, a present-day send-up of a personal computing show set in 1983. The guests and their products are contemporary and real, but the hosts are stuck in 1983 and don’t really know what the web is, what Reddit is, what links are, or anything like that.
“Computer Show” is a technology talk show, set in 1983. The dawn of the personal computing revolution. Awkward hair and awkward suits. Primitive synths and crude graphics. VHS tapes. No Internet. But there’s a twist.
The guests on this show are tech luminaries — experts, founders, thinkers, entrepreneurs…from 2015. They are real, and they are really on “Computer Show” to talk about their thing. Will it go well? Can they break through to the host Gary Fabert (played by Rob Baedeker of the SF-based sketch mainstay Kasper Hauser) and his rotating cast of co-hosts, who know of neither iPhone nor website nor Twitter nor…hardly anything?
The first episode, featuring Lumi, is embedded above and here’s the second episode with Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian.
So it just became clear to Roxana and Tony, there was something here. Roxana had the idea to make something in this universe. To produce a show like “The Computer Chronicles”.
One day, over Slack, Roxana asked me for the contact info of a producer I know. When I asked why, she told me she had this idea, and also asked if I’d maybe be a contributor on it. When I got more info out of her (she tends to be a little private about her personal projects) and explained to me that she had this idea of a tech talk show set in the early 80’s, where the guests would interview people from modern day, I just about flipped out and lost my mind I was so excited.
Update: While we not-so-patiently await new episodes of Computer Show, at least we can buy the t-shirt.
A dronie is a video selfie taken with a drone. I featured Amit Gupta’s beautiful dronie yesterday:
Other people have since taken dronies of their own and the idea seems like it’s on the cusp of becoming a thing. Here’s one taken by Joshua Works of him and his family on the shore of a lake in Nevada:
The Works clan sold most of their worldly possessions in 2011 and has been travelling the US in an Airstream ever since, logging more than 75,000 miles so far.
Adam Lisagor took this dronie of him and fellow drone enthusiast Alex Cornell standing on the roof of a building in LA:
There’s a reason that you’re going to see a lot of these from drone flyers like me, and it’s this: once you get past the novelty of taking a camera high up in the air, getting a bird’s eye view of stuff is actually a little boring.
What birds see is actually a little boring. Humans are interesting. Getting close to stuff is interesting. I bet if we could strap tiny cameras to bird heads, most of what we’d want to look at would happen when they fly close to people. If we could, we’d put cameras on bird heads to take pictures of ourselves.
The company that Amit runs, Photojojo, is going to start doing rentals soon, including kits for drone photography. And they’re gonna do flying lessons as well. For now, there’s a tutorial on the page about how to make “the perfect dronie”. (thx to everyone who sent in videos)
But his tone is his real strength. “I try to identify that thing in a product that matters most to me,” Lisagor says. “I’ll glom onto that element and try to recreate it in this linear story I’m telling.” That calm, Billy Mays-free approach conveys an inherent trust. It assumes that the viewer is the kind of person smart enough to appreciate the product’s value. That’s exactly the kind of customer tech startups want, which does much to explain their love for him: Lisagor is sui generis — “the best and only one doing what he does,” Dorsey says — and his promos blend “the aesthetics and techniques of advertising with the storytelling of an instructional video,”says Malthe Sigurdsson, Rdio VP of product design.
He’s got himself a web site on which you can view his work. Congrats on all your success, Adam…you smell great!
The first episode of a new web series “about dressing like a grownup” called Put This On is about denim. Denim like a jean. Put This On is hosted by Jesse Thorn of The Sound of Young America and Adam Lisagor, the web’s loneliest sandwich.
Adam Lisagor notices that the iPhone 3GS camera might always be buffering images so that when you press that shutter button, you get the photo that you wanted, not the one delayed by slow software or a slow shutter. Adam’s observation gives me the opportunity to trot out one of my recent favorite informational factoids about the super high-speed cameras used to capture jumping great white sharks:
The generation that came of age in the ’80s, as the VCR was becoming a staple, is especially prone to VHS nostalgia, a manifestation of the broader retro culture that has accounted for untold hours of programming on VH1.
But for a generation of filmmakers who cut their filmmaker teeth by shooting with the family camcorder and editing with two VCRs, there is a logical fixation with the object of the plastic and magnetic 1/2” VHS videocassette and the visual artifacts of its recorded image.
People who know me know that part of my charm is how wrong I tend to do things. Raleigh St. Clair could write books on my horrid sense of direction (I couldn’t tell you how to drive to my favorite restaurant yet I’m a totally awesome driver, curiously). Yesterday I made out-of-the-box mac n’ cheese but ruined it so royally I ended up dumping it and having an ice cream cone for lunch (no ice cream - just the cone).
So what the hell am doing guest-writing for this man, this hero of the web whom I so admire? I’d been toying with the idea of referring to Mr. Kottke only as ‘Cousin Jason’ hoping this would remove any doubt as to how I’d been put up to the task. But no, we’re not related. If we were, I’d have an easier time backing out at the last minute.
You may think, “Well, here you are, these are your words on the kottke blog, so you must’ve done something right.” I wouldn’t be so sure of that. But we’ll see if I can’t class this place up a bit while Mr. Kottke maintains his undercarriage.
For the next week, Adam Lisagor is going to be helping me out with kottke.org as I spend the week working on the site’s undercarriage, performing some long-overdue maintenance and (hopefully) finishing a couple of projects begun long ago during the Golden Age of Weblogs. As it happens, Adam worked on The Day After Tomorrow, one of my favorite movies of all time. Seriously, Adam really worked on The Day After Tomorrow and, seriously, The Day After Tomorrow is one of my favorite movies of all time. (Seriously! I’ve seen it like 20 times.)