For a futurist, our request might have been somewhat unwelcome: look back. Thankfully, Julian Bleecker agreed, offering us his top 10 favorite moments from 2012 in a list that ranges from acts of God (Hurricane Sandy) to the completely man-made (Twitter, Instagram, and “computational photography” cameras, to name a few). An artist, researcher at the Advanced Design Studio at Nokia, and cofounder of the Near Future Laboratory, Bleecker has been involved with the Walker since 2003, when he led the development of PDPal, a Walker-comissioned project (a collaboration with Scott Paterson and Marina Zurkow) that used a Palm personal digital assistant to “create a ‘map’ of personal-digital experience” in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. More recently, he gave a presentation on Design Fiction to the Walker’s Interdisciplinary Work Group in fall 2012.
Bleecker joins photographer Alec Soth in our series, running throughout January, of artist reflections on the year 2012.
A year ago it may have been an overstatement to say
there’s been a renaissance of earnest pleas for funding personal
projects, with Kickstarter being the canonical broker of such things. But now that the Securities and Exchange Commission is dabbling with
adjusting the rules to effectively legitimize small-scale business
investments in bands, crochet, and food trucks, I’d say this is a
recognizable achievement for the capitalization of weird ideas. Just
don’t be surprised when you don’t get anything for your “investment.”
It’s not at all like shopping.
2. LACMA’s Stanley Kubrick retrospective
Kubrick is one of those guys who you could spend a lifetime trying to gain access to the material
surrounding his film productions. The fact that LACMA put it all in one
place is significant. I feel like this is the last time there’ll be a
Kubrick retrospective in my lifetime. So I keep going back.
3. Leica M Monochrom
With all the hoopla about the infinite flexibility
of software-based image-making (witness Lytro‘s “computational
photography,” Instagram image effects filters, Photoshop everything) you
have to admire the fuck-off creative restriction of a purely digital
camera that can only possibly take black-and-white photos. There are lots
of reasons to own a Leica M Monochrom, but mostly well-heeled Leica nerds
will get one because they can, and because it’s there. Leica has either
jumped the shark or they’ve triumphed in creating a product that makes a
sublime statement about constraining the runaway possibilities of
software. Rather than a digital device that can do everything, this one
does one thing exceptionally well. Or so I’m told.
4. Twitter & Instagram sissy fight
Exceptionally boring, but hard to ignore at the same time–the first-world’s photo-sharing problems seem
to flame high emotional rage among smartphone owners. And Instagram
didn’t help itself by changing its Terms & Conditions for using the
service, even though those Terms & Conditions were more to the end-users’
benefit than their corporate owners’. Ironic, isn’t it? In the era of
crowdfunding, “Occupy” flash protests, and the like, no one bothered to
read the new Instagram T&C closely and just assumed it was worse. #eyeballroll. Turns out, the new T&C wasn’t more Stalinist, but by the
time anyone realized, Instagram had “succumbed” to the furor and set it
all back to the one where they can use your photos anyway they like. #billiondollarfistbump. So, now don’t get all
hands-on-hip-thumbs-forward-y when you see your beautiful,
software-vignetted sunrise over Manhattan in an Instagram-sponsored Dos
Equis commercial. I’m going back to Flickr.
5. Hurricane Sandy
I’m glad things seem to be back to normal. Maybe it
should’ve been called Hurricane Hubris.
6. National Health Service in the Olympics opening pageant
I mean, that’s a triumph, right? To celebrate a social service in a very
commercial, very corporate-sponsored game watched all over the world?
7. Tom Sachs’ Space Program: Mars
Sachs manages to play in the liminal
art space where he gets to teach an audience (sorta) while also playing
an epic, adolescent prank. His handmade, outer-space exploration projects
(the 2007 Space Program about the Moon landing being the predecessor)
are mostly spectacle, with a few boozy jiggers of juvenile playfulness
and boys-in-the-backyard cardboard-box-fort treehouse fantasy
role-playing. Fantastic stuff.
8. Mitt Romney losing to President Obama
I’m not a big political
observer, which is why I miss The West Wing. But I suspect Josh and Toby
and President Bartlett and the gang would provide some clever bit of
banter-y analysis about chinks in the armor of the old-guard (GHWB,
Rumsfeld, Cheney-era) Republican party. I’m curious to see what happens
9. Adam “MCA” Yauch‘s death
I dunno. I grew up in the era of the Beastie
Boys. One of the first, proper albums I bought as a kid was the Cookie
Puss 12-inch. I heard it on WPRB–the local college station of my youth–and I was baffled enough by the bricolage of crank call meets heavy
beats that I picked it up at the local record exchange.
10. Frank Ocean‘s Channel Orange
This is a bit out there for me, but Channel Orange was
a super-unexpected favorite album that I only discovered a few weeks ago
through the algorithms of social music services. I’m not a music critic
or clever with describing the subtle character of an album, but I
thoroughly enjoy this one and Frank Ocean’s story and participation with
OFWGKTA makes it all so LA.
Honorable Mention: Scott Forstall getting canned from Apple
Hopefully that’s it for the baroque, gaudy, preposterous skeuomorph design idiom. If I never hear the word skeuomorph again, that’d be just fine. It’s a computer, not a green felt-covered pool table or brass and wood compass. Forchrissake.