009

POSTERS

INSERT POSTER HERE

008

CHOICE

THE PARADOX OF CHOICE

007

GOOGLE-KNOWING

OUR ABILITY TO KNOW

005

VANTABLACK

HE WHO OWNS THE BLACKEST BLACK

004

FILTER BUBBLES

A KIND OF ONE WAY MIRROR

002

DREAMS

SCIENTISTS ARE STUDYING YOUR DREAMS IN A LAB

001

TRUTH

THERE IS NOTHING MORE RADICAL THAN THE FACTS

THOUGHTS
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INSERT POSTER HERE

If posters could change anything, they would be everywhere...

The power of a poster isn't just because it looks good, and this post isn't about making the perfect poster. We wanted to explore why the posters we see are so attention-grabbing, and how as we look through Instagram, how the success of a few beautiful visual trends is a science, not just an aesthetic.

Motion in a digital poster -
When we're scrolling and see movement in a poster, the eyes instantly increase attention against our will, a result of our reptilian core kicking in to detect movement it perceives as a threat. Furthermore, a study on implied motion showed how at a subconscious level, when there's lateral movement, the eyes track the direction of the animation, predicting its final outcome and our brain asks 'to what destination?'

Colour in a digital poster -
Aside from the varying colour psychology explanations, bright neon and fluoro colours catch our attention the quickest. They work by using a larger part of the visual light spectrum than the natural colours we see in most objects. The UV light, which our eyes cannot see explicitly, causes the colours to become much brighter and glow. This trend of pairing fluro with paired pastel colours creates a visual ebb and flow of glowing and shrinking shapes, which forces your attention around the design.

Good design in a poster -
You know that bit already.

Black and White in a poster -
Amplifies how you use negative space, it forces the viewer to take one more step in deciphering the image and triggers something called 'memory colour'. In a study in 2013 scientists demonstrated how without consciously knowing it, memory colour means our brain replaces the black and white object with the colour it should be, solidifying our engagement at the subconscious level.

However black and white also has another role...we talk a lot about instant gratification. Attention always chooses the easy option. Black and white does just that, it turns our images into shapes to be consumed as fast as possible.

Tim Wu, Writer and Lawyer, states that posters catch us in a 'somewhat in-between moment of the day.' We feel that in a way their visual excitement exploits our mental inertia, as we scroll, or move in auto-pilot through content markers in our lives. Posters can be transformative of space, both visually and mentally.

So, in our opinion, the world is naturally beautiful if you look hard enough, but we often don't take the time to. Posters are a window into that beauty, that communication and that distraction. So we crave them, we look for them, and we want to make them.



Further Reading



Research Study / NeuroImage

Book / Tim Wu - The Attention Merchants

Article / Design Week

Article / The Guardian > Black & White

Study / 'Memory Colour'

THOUGHTS
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008 /

THE PARADOX OF CHOICE

Why did we always see Steve Jobs in a turtleneck sweater? Why does Mark Zuckerberg wear the same bland outfit every day? Choice is like toothpaste, there are millions of brands, and we can only choose one at a time. We might not care about the toothpaste we use, but we can have any kind we want. 'Minty fresh', 'ultra clean', 'triple power'... that doesn't stop us just going for the one we usually would, the one we always have. The same one everyone else does. It's just C*lg*te isn't it?!

One idea for this is known as 'The paradox of choice', the idea that the more choices we have, the unhappier we actually end up being. That's Barry Schwartz view anyway. This choice overload leads to regret and anxiety, not because of the product itself, but instead of the expectation of perfection. We might not even notice it, but subconsciously the option of having so many choices must mean there is 'one perfect for us', when we can't reach that perfection we inherently blame ourselves.

Sheena Iyengar says the ideal number of choices most humans can process efficiently is somewhere between five and nine, which is also about the same amount of things we can hold at any one time in our short-term memory. That begs the question of, why do we have 43 types of toothpaste?

In the western world, we associate choice with autonomy and autonomy with freedom. We care about freedom, so in result, we care about what toothpaste to buy. However, some argue that decision to care has already been made for us; by those who are selling tubes of toothpaste.

So we've got 43 types of toothpaste, and we can think about comparing between 5-9 options. So instead we glaze over, stare at the shelving until we decide we can wait another day and wander off to another aisle. This is known as "Decision fatigue", the result of making too many decisions where the individual starts making irrational tradeoffs, like buying no toothpaste at all.

But how do you get around decision fatigue? Well back to Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs or Obama, they all wear pretty much the same outfit every day. Why? Because it doesn't require a choice. It means they can make as few unnecessary choices on less valuable decisions and avoid decision fatigue. Zuckerberg says “I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community”.

And there's me thinking his grey t-shirts we're just a dull wardrobe choice and lack of personality.



Further Reading



TED Talk

TED Talk

The Independent Article NPR Podcast

THOUGHTS
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007 /

OUR ABILITY TO KNOW

The first phone I owned was a black Motorola Pebl, it had a 176x220 pixel display and 5MB of internal memory, but its real claim to fame was 39 inbuilt ringtones. I was bought this phone for emergencies only. There was no fear over blue light suppressing my melatonin or ignoring those that I was sitting right next to.

I wouldn't have known 11 years later, that my expectations of what a phone needed to be would be so radically different. Now I want a constant companion with unlimited storage and a screen the size of a small TV; but all of these additional features come down to a simple idea. The idea of Transhumanism. 'Transhumanism', in its purest form, can be traced back to the mechanical age, where humans would craft weapons to extend their ability to hunt. It is more understandable that through analogue objects, our physical capability has been improved. However, for many centuries our mental abilities remained limited within our mind. In urban environments, we do not particularly need weapons to extend our physical capabilities, however as creatives, we pride ourselves on our ability to think of solutions to different problems. We use a different extension, our ability to 'know'.

This section will briefly explore our relationship with our smartphones and knowledge; the modern smartphone has liberated us. Just 20 years ago, people would have to seek the answers by visiting a library or speaking to a credible source. Now, our libraries are ‘no longer bounded by physical walls’; the smartphone has given us unlimited seamless interactions, an inbuilt extension of our knowledge.

However, in a 2017 study of 800 smartphone users, it found that even the presence of a smartphone near a persons vicinity can negatively affect cognitive capacity. This means reducing the total amount of information the brain can retain at any one point, to learn and use the knowledge it has. This creates a complicated relationship between our phones and knowledge.   

This phenomenon Micheal Patrick Lynch coined as ‘google-knowing.' (Lynch, 2017). Somewhat ironically we wouldn't be here writing this without 'google-knowing'.

Lynch states this on 'knowing.'

"To know in this minimal sense is to have accurate and warranted information from a reliable source. If we are looking for a restaurant, and the directions we get online turn out to be accurate and from a reliable source, then we “know.”

We like the idea of 'Google Knowing' being the 'skimming and scraping' of knowledge, we pass on the surface layer of information from the authority of Google without further investigating. It is basically how most of us live our lives, a shred of a story, or fact in the paper, which we retell with assurance. This Lynch called "epistemic overconfidence". We wonder if because of the current state of Google knowing, it will push us further, education will have to change, as students fact check their teachers in real time, it will not just be enough to 'know'. We will have to understand. We will have to check, compare, tweak the information to make it our own as 'google-knowing' democratises knowledge. This process, hopefully with enough 'knowing' will liberate us to understand more.   



Further Reading



Study on UT News

Article on Wired

Interview on Atlas.ca

THOUGHTS
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005 /

HE WHO OWNS THE BLACKEST BLACK

"What do you find most fascinating when using primarily black and white in your work?" We were asked once as someone looked through our feed. It hadn't struck us until that point the complicated relationship we have with black.

In the space of a 1080x1080px square, the use of black becomes an expression of light; ultimately it's absence. Even as pixels illuminated in a screen, it controls the pace, and the flow of one artwork to the next. Too much and the page looks empty, too little and it looks cluttered.

The pitch black of darkness, which evokes in us an uncontrollable evolutionary fear, reminds us of our vulnerability. It is then no doubt that for artists, "Vantablack" the worlds "Blackest Black" has created a surreal fascination. The carbon-based substance absorbs 99.96% of the light that hits it and creates the illusion of looking into nothing. However, instead of being a paint, the material is made of tiny tubes of carbon which trap the light as it enters.

It may be this complicated vulnerability to Black, which inspired Anish Kapoor, the British Sculptor, to buy the exclusive rights to using Vantablack in 2014. Permanently stopping any other artists from using it. The exclusive rights of 'owning' something artistically is fascinating, sometimes we think of designers or artists owning styles, the use of typefaces, motion or colour. And when others, often less established impose on that specific style we subtlely roll our eyes and say nothing is original anymore.  

But fuck the limitations of ownership. Especially of the worlds Blackest Black. By all means, do not imitate or 'copy', anyone, but know that the struggle of 'originality' is not just your own. It is getting more immediate through the use of our trending social media networks. Our aesthetics mirror each other, interwoven like a house of mirrors; and that's ok in some ways. It's how you twist and distort them that matters.

That's why Stuart Semple, an artist who has been making his own colours for nearly 20 years created Black.3.0. Launched on Kickstarter in February 2019, you can now own your own Blackest Black, absorbing 98-99% of visible light. We love this project because of its subversive nature, summed up with the simple disclaimer - you can only buy this paint - if "To the best of your knowledge, information and belief this material will not make its way into the hands of Anish Kapoor" Now that, in our opinion, is a work of art.



Further Reading



Dezeen - https://bit.ly/2T3S18G

New Scientist - https://bit.ly/2SOmrfZ

Dazed - https://bit.ly/1r33RMk

Kickstarter - https://kck.st/2T0TOvj

The Secret Lives of Colour - Kassia St Clair, 2006

THOUGHTS
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004 /

A KIND OF ONE
WAY MIRROR

“Algorithmic observers watch what you click”. These are the words of Eli Pariser, an internet activist who coined the term “Filter Bubble” in 2011. It explores the idea that the information you consume has become a “kind of one-way mirror” which reflects back your own interests, perspectives and collective intentions of people ‘like’ you. We would argue it has also become something more, a kind of opt-in curated ‘entertainment’.

Traditionally, from the papers we buy to the TV channels we watch, the attention economy has found it is more influential when it taps into our inherent interests, rather than challenges them. So on the one hand, while these digital observers Pariser talks about are comfortingly or unknowingly present; on the whole, they are ignored. Before, the attention economy could only control what was on the channels if you chose to turn on the TV, or picked up the paper. But that’s all changed. Now we choose to trade a portion of our privacy for the convenience of curated ‘entertainment’; a specific news channel, funny cat videos or Mr pimple popper - at the expense of our data.

It is difficult to fully comprehend the impact in which filter bubbles have, however, the interest in their influence across political and social consciousness has risen in the wake of the recent US Presidential election. Even in 2011, for Pariser; his main concern for filter bubbles was their impact on democracy. At its roots, the internet was idolised as a way to democratise shared information, however, on some levels, it is quickly becoming a sponsored echo chamber;

Pariser states;
“Democracy requires citizens to see things from one another’s point of view, but instead we’re more and more enclosed in our own bubbles. Democracy requires a reliance on shared facts; instead, we’re being offered parallel but separate universes.”

It is this echo chamber, (a concept we will explore in another post) which makes us feel like everyone feels the same way we do. A result which led to the ‘surprise’ seen explicitly in the Brexit result. The online digital spheres which circulated our conversations were all debating in one voice, with the extremes of narratives speaking in different tones of that same voice. However, we were unaware of the other view, one which we never heard; one who was speaking a different narrative entirely. This ‘intellectual isolation’ at its core is the crux of the issue of filter bubbles. We have, without explicitly pressing our ear up against the walls, no idea what the ‘other’ is saying.

We encourage you to follow stories which challenge your views, voices which you disagree with and narratives which offer alternatives. Not to argue, or make you change your mind but instead to understand the that in fact, there is someone on the other side.

>> To put this idea into practice, we initially built TheHeadlines.co as a tool for us to compare the language and perspective of real-time headlines across various news sources, all in one place. We saw the value in consuming news in this way, so we thought we would develop it, link the headlines to the articles and share it with you.

PS. The news sources represented do not necessarily share our political views, in fact they’re meant to challenge as well as inform. We’re currently working on including more news sources, adding more features and content.



Further Reading



MIT Tech Review - https://bit.ly/2MwYZkf

Facebook Manifesto - https://bit.ly/2lRgDBk

Forbes - https://bit.ly/2Ef2zcX

The American Press Institute - https://bit.ly/1Uu5AHK

Google Blog - https://bit.ly/2E4YzMT

THOUGHTS
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SCIENTISTS ARE STUDYING YOUR DREAMS IN A LAB

Why do we dream? And what does this mean for creativity? A popular idea is that dreams are ‘evolutionary’ - designed for our survival, to practice and prepare us for things we face throughout our day. That’s why, ultimately even in an urban environment we have more dreams about running and falling than of photoshop crashing.

Another idea is that the function of dreams is to unleash the things we suppress, giving the subconscious time to work in many creative and intuitive ways that our conscious cannot. Across almost every language there is a phrase that is similar to ‘sleep on it.' This is somewhat scientifically true. Our subconcious mind works at a much faster pace than our conscious could in waking life.

As creatives, sometimes we force our bodies to the limits, staying up until the early hours gripped by a project, make changes for a deadline, or alternatively; because we just cannot get ‘the idea.’ However this isn't necessarily the best option for the creative process, sometimes it’s more productive to go to sleep and allow the subconscious to work on it instead. Holding the thought in your mind before you go to bed, has been scientifically proven to increase your solutions to it in the waking hours.

Many people believe they never dream, however it has been proven that we forget most of the dreams we have in the first 90 seconds of waking. When disorientated by the sound of an alarm, instead of waking up naturally our brain cannot take that second of thought to visualise it. Now research into dreams is going mainstream, where mystical ideas and in-depth neuroscience is blurring the lines between symbolism and fact. From Freud to Joe Rogan, valuing the importance of the subconscious mind in sleep will allow us to push ourselves further creatively in the waking hours.



Further Reading

Joe Rogan Podcast - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwaWilO_Pig

The Verge - https://bit.ly/2QmNUEg

Psychology Today - https://bit.ly/2TzaVBp

THOUGHTS
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001 /

THERE IS NOTHING MORE RADICAL THAN THE FACTS

We love tech, so this article challenged us. We’re already living in a ‘post-digital’ society where the digital is so integrated into our lives it affects everything we touch, everything we see... Everything we consume.

A key feature of technology is how it imitates natures structure, known as biomimicry. It’s argued that through this mimicking it connects with our evolutionary instincts to naturally engage with it. It’s blurring the boundaries, this for some means pushing away from technology and reconnecting with nature is the only option. Not just going for a walk, or turning your phone on ‘do not disturb’ for 8 hours, but instead disconnecting completely. Mark Boyle believed this, so much that since 2016 he hasn’t used a single piece of technology, he hasn’t sent a text, he has not used a light, not used solar panels, nothing that has touched the ‘industrial megamachine for its production’ and he’s returned to nature.

It’s this notion of the extremes which demonstrate the influence technology has on every part of our lives, everything we engage with since the industrial and digital, internet and social revolutions are part of a world build with technology. But this quote, “nothing is more radical than the facts” captures it, the raw truth is that we don’t know. We know how ‘innovative’ tech is, we share it all the time. However, we don’t yet know what a generation of screen dependent, 4G junkies will look like in 50 years. The impact of smoking was not understood for many Could our use of technology, mobile phones and social media feeds be considered the same way smoking was 50 years ago.

There is no doubt the innovation of ‘new technology’ is one of the most powerful tools we have in connecting with others, and advancing our own humanity; but are we turning a blind eye to the possible impacts it will have on us. How will it affect our sight, knowledge or concentration, our societies, and our relationships?

Will we give up tech? Definitely not, but it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be questioned at every twist and turn.



Further Reading

The Economist - https://econ.st/2SdNG3i

The Guardian - https://bit.ly/2FLuHXs

The Guardian - https://bit.ly/2ScjmWP