Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Honey Bunches of Photos

Blake Little, is an american celebrity photographer. He recently started a project called 'Preservation' where honey is poured over his subjects. It appears that each individual is encased in amber like a prehistoric mosquito. What I find fascinating is how he created a way to smooth out any imperfections in the human body. While glazed in honey, one can only see the more pronounced features of each subject. It dulls subtle wrinkles or large pores and creates a completely smooth preserved image of human beauty.



What I feel is very creative is the fact that Little was able to see that honey being this sticky desert-esque substance had the potential to add grace and beauty to any individual.

Little's motivation for the project was to create a medium that would show the "sculptural nature of the human body regardless of its shape, size, or form". In total about 900 jugs filled with five pounds of honey were used for the project. He decided to name the project 'Preservation' because of the way his participants looked like they were preserved in amber.
blake little preservation honey covered humans
Little we be publishing his fourth book with the images he has taken during his 'Preservation' project. 'Preservation' will be at the Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles from March 7th to April 18th.

blake little preservation honey covered humans

Introducing Intro



The Lettuce Entertain You Group closed one of their restaurants, L20, and re-opened it as Intro. With Intro, Lettuce Entertain You is taking a new approach on fine dining. The premise of the restaurant is rotating chefs. Instead of having one permanent head chef that plans the menus, Intro will change out executive chefs every few months. With each new chef, a new menu and vibe will be introduced.

C.J. Jacobson

Intro’s first chef is C.J. Jacobson. He runs a restaurant in California and was on Top Chef Miami. He describes his menu for Intro as “rustic refined.” Jacobson believes in the importance of using local ingredients, and when asked about both his restaurant in California and Intro he explains how his vision for the menu was to go local with his menu. Jacobson’s only problem with that is much of his menu has ingredients that are found more easily in California, such as the popular avocado. To remedy this problem, Jacobson flies in ingredients found more locally in Chicago.

He’s not from the area, and doesn’t want to pretend he is a local. Therefore he is taking it slow and changing his menu as he gets to know the local farmers and what is available to him.

Intro also is different because of its unique beverage pairings. Up-scale restaurants often have wine pairings by a professional sommelier.  At Intro, Jacobson has prepared juice pairings for the menu along with the traditional alcoholic beverages that are paired with the menu. In the future with a different head chef, this option may change.

One of the hugest ways Intro varies from most restaurants is its adoption of Nick Kokonas’ Tock system. The Tock system is a new way to pay for your dinner out. The idea is that Intro will have tickets available to pre-purchase table set aside for the Tock system. The tickets would cover a multi-course meal with the aforementioned beverage pairings. The prices would change based on the meal offered and demand. For instance, peak dining hours could be a higher ticket cost. Jacobson in particular is excited for how this system will affect the restaurant’s inner working. He anticipates help with wait times and more efficiency with the balance of ordering ingredients versus the need.

Overall, Lettuce Entertain You is taking its new restaurant in a variety of new ways. A rotating executive chef that offers juice pairings and the idea of tickets to pay for dinner take Intro in a different direction than most local restaurants. It will be interesting to see how the Tock system works out and how each new chef changes Intro’s vibe.


Cavanaugh, A. (2015, February 23). C.J. Jacobson sets a high bar at Intro. Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://www.leye.com/news/lettuce-in-the-news/article/cj-jacobson-sets-high-bar-intro

DeJesus, E. (2014, November 30). Introducing Nick Kokonas's Ticketing System, Tock. Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://www.eater.com/2014/11/30/7294795/introducing-nick-kokonass-ticketing-system-tock

Selvam, A. (2014, December 19). First Intro Chef CJ Jacobson Says He's 'A Guinea Pig' For LEYE's Revolving Chef Concept. Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://chicago.eater.com/2014/12/19/7423683/intros-1st-5-course-foray-with-cj-jacobson-will-cost-diners-75-80

Noodles and Eggs

David Chang’s food is anything if not highly anticipated, especially if you are trying to snag a reservation at Momofuku Ko. The New York based restaurant is infamously difficult to get a seat in with its online only reservation system, serving capacity of 12 customers, and only a tasting menu. But despite the hoops that customers need to jump through to get to Momofuku Ko, they keep coming for the food.


Momofuku Ko, named as a derivative off of the two Momofuku restaurants that came before it, was open by Chang in 2008 and was a high-end and ambitious move for the relatively young yet rapidly renowned chef. Chang had owned his own business for only four years prior to Momofuku Ko’s opening but his success in management and the rave about his edgy culinary style allowed for the opportunity of steady growth. In fact, today Chang’s initial 2004 Momofuku Noodle Bar has grown into a variety of different kinds of restaurants in 15 locations throughout New York, Sydney, and Toronto.

His most ambitious move has been his businesses in Toronto, which are all located in one building complex. The all-Momofuku building contains a noodle bar on the ground floor, a bar called Nikai on the second floor, and on the third two different restaurants with two very different target populations and atmospheres. Chang received a lot of criticism from within his community of professionals for such a move and perhaps risking Momofuku into becoming “higher-quality version of a fast-food chain.” But the criticism means little for Chang. Despite the critiques he has received about his style of business and his management style (Chang has a bit of a temper, to say the least), he continues to make food the way he likes. It’s delicious and it keeps his customers coming for more.

Chang was just about to hit 30 years of age when his expansion of the Momofuku brand continued. He spent an exceptionally short time as a junior line cook but his dedication was uncanny, as he quit a well paying job under a chef to answer calls in another up and coming restaurant in hope of eventually joining its’ kitchen. He consistently pipped down the praise he received for his edgy and brash culinary style and kept the criticism from changing who he was a chef. His reward system for the innovative work he did in his business and kitchen, proposes somewhat of a dichotimy. As Baer discusses the influence of intrinsic versus extrinsic rewards, Chang can be seen as very oblivious to the extrinsic criticism he receives and focuses on his intrinsic pleasure of making food that others can enjoy. Furthermore, he has repeatedly avoided facing the merits that he receives for his work from food organizations. For instance, when Food & Wine named him as one of the best chefs of the year in 2006, he requested that the editor not publish his name with the honor. Such merits still make Chang anxious but he has learned to better deal with them.


Although Chang’s various Momofuku businesses offer different types of food, he is known for his love for ramen noodles, a staple that got him through late nights in his dorm room during his undergraduate years. Throughout his time in Japan as a teacher, his culinary education, as well as the two years he spent cooking in Tokyo, Chang’s obsession with noodles and eggs only grew. Memories of having ramen with his father as a child and how the bowl of noodles connected him to his Korean-American roots, inspired him to build his empire around the dish. Momofuku started with a noodle bar and the trend continues in Chang’s new businesses.
 
Sources:
http://business.time.com/2013/09/26/david-chang-broke-all-the-rules/
http://www.inc.com/lindsay-blakely/why-david-chang-might-be-most-innovative-entrepreneur-in-food.html
http://apps.olin.wustl.edu/workingpapers/pdf/2006-10-004.pdf



Printing for Medicine

Many people are familiar with the sci-fi version of medicine: somebody jumping into a machine that can fix everything - curing disease, replacing body parts, and healing severe wounds. It appears that modern medicine, by combining and optimizing existing technologies, is getting closer to making this fantasy a reality. Recently, 3D printing has come forth as a relatively easy and effective way to perform procedures that were once inefficient and impractical
A 3D printed heart.
With the plethora of uses for 3D printing, it is surprising that medicine has not be targeted until now. Medicine has many methods for 3D imaging, such as MRI or X-rays, and it is possible to construct models from these images. Yet it required true creative insight to realize that these models and images could physically be created through the power of 3D printing.
An MRI of a hand that could be converted into a 3D printed model.
The applications of this idea for the field of medicine are tremendous. Suddenly surgery gets significantly more precise with the aid of 3D printed custom models, guides, and tools designed specifically for the patient. This drastically reduces the human error involved in surgery and allows for a more personalized treatment; rather than using the same standardized tools and procedure for everybody.
3D printed skull used as a guide in a facial reconstructive surgery.
3D printing not only improves treatment, it also makes it more available to the average person. For instance, a person waiting for a particular implant might have to go a very long time without treatment since there is a low demand  for unique implants and their production is both long and costly. With 3D printing, implants can be made specific to a person at a significantly reduced rate, and all within several days of placing the order. With 3D printed implants so much more readily available than traditional implants, many patients stuck waiting or unable to afford treatment can now receive the care they deserve and go back to living normal lives.
3D printed vertebral implants. Specially made, and work like the real thing.
It becomes increasingly clear that the idea to effectively apply 3D printing to medicine is a creative masterstroke. By reducing costs, greatly increasing the production rate, and maintaining ideal precision, 3D printing opens treatment options that were previously impossible for a vast number of patients. Consider children in need of prosthetic arms or hands. Previously, such prostheses would cost in the tens of thousands of dollars, be difficult to produce, and most importantly, would be completely impractical since a kid would outgrow the prostheses in a couple months. Thus, kids would be forced to cope and struggle through childhood. With 3D printing, however, prosthetic arms only cost several hundred dollars, and can be made so quickly and efficiently (within 24 hours), that it is now affordable to switch prostheses every couple months; thereby allowing these kids to live much more normal lives.
A 3D printed hand. Kids can get these in various styles and colors as well.
Now, while applying 3D printing to medicine is definitely a great idea, it can be argued whether or not it was truly creative. Thomas Ward, in "What's New about Old Ideas", argues that people utilize their past knowledge and preconceived notions to come up with novel, creative ideas. Ward says that it is the unique combination of ideas that defines creativity; not how 'new' an idea might be. Thus, by using prior information on medical imaging, modeling, and 3D printing, the truly creative idea of printing for medicine was developed.





Improvisation: the Creativity of Making Connections

"Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!"

Saturday Night Live is currently celebrating its 40th season, and the show has faced its fair share of positive and negative reception since Lorne Michaels first created the show in 1975. The Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special aired on February 15, 2015, and as I watched, I couldn’t help but think about the creativity that flowed from every performer stepping onto the stage. SNL has welcomed some of the greats of comedy from Chevy Chase to Steve Martin to Kristin Wiig, and the list could go on and on. So why is this creative, particularly in the context of our class?

Will Ferrell in a sketch from SNL40
Stand-up comedy is known to have one major rule: performers always accept what the person before them said and then continue to build from that, the “yes and” rule. Most SNL cast members start out in improv, at places such as The Groundlings or The Second City, where they are trained to create instantaneously. Improvisation is all about taking one idea and building a connection from that root concept to create an entire story. Entire shows can be centered around one word or phrase, often called out from the audience to begin the show. This reminds me of Andreasen’s remark in the article Secrets of the Creative Brain that “creative people are better at recognizing relationships, making associations and connections, and seeing things in an original way – seeing things that others cannot see.” This is true not only for improv but also for the scripted comedy we see play out live on Saturday nights. The SNL writers encounter many of the same things each of us encounters in our daily lives like politics or strange public transit interactions. Yet the writers have the creative brains that Andreasen refers to, and they are able to make associations with those daily activities, see the connection their individual life could have with the greater American population, and then create a script that will resonate with their audience. 


Lorne Michaels
I think many would agree that comedians are in fact creatives. As to SNL in particular, the program has won 45 Emmy Awards and is the most nominated show in Emmy history. Public reception throughout SNL history has varied drastically. The show was almost cancelled a few times and has gone through many phases of casting choices. Lorne Michaels has been at the helm of the show throughout its entire run, except for a short hiatus in the 80’s. It has almost always starred new talent from improv theaters rather than well-known comedic actors. The much stronger reception resulting from such casting choices further suggests that improvisation is in fact a more creative – and thus more entertaining – type of performance. Lorne Michaels saw the opportunity to create a space where comedians could change the culture of comedy and America forever. His creativity produced an arena for many more creatives to continue to build a legacy of comedy that will always be a part of television history.

Sources:
Andresen, Nancy C. "Secrets of the Creative Brain." (2014)

Cell Phones Are Saving Lives (slightly morbid)

*This post is slightly morbid -- you've been warned*

Death is one of the scariest realities we as humans have to face. Every year, about 2.5 million people in the US make this terrifying journey. Of those, about 610,000 (or about 1/4) of them will die due to heart disease. Each year, about 735,000 people will have heart attacks. Obviously heart attacks and heart disease are a huge issue, not only in the US, but also across the entire world. 


When an individual has a heart attack, every single minute counts; for every minute that goes by without care, a patients chances of dying increase by 10%. After only six minutes without care, cell death in the heart spreads; the loss of oxygen supply to the brain causes cell death there, too. It can take much longer than six minutes for an ambulance to reach those in need of care, though. Traffic conditions and dispatch times can and have resulted in death that was preventable. 


So where is all this horribly sad information going? What if there was a way to get ambulances to patients faster? Well, there isn't, but the Karolinska Institute in Sweden has come up with the next best thing. What if every citizen were transformed from helpless bystander to active rescuer? This is the idea of SMSLifesaver. According to one source, more than 90% of adults (and 94% of people under the age of 44) have cell phones. Each of these people has the potential to be a lifesaver with SMSLifesaver. Volunteers trained in CPR techniques receive a phone call telling them that there has been a heart attack in their area. They then receive a text message with the location, along with a link to a map to the location. Within one or two minutes, the volunteer (and sometimes multiple volunteers) are on scene, providing emergency care to the patient. This cuts the time without care from 6-10 minutes down to 1-2 minutes, giving victims a much better chance of survival. 


This is truly innovative and has impactful, real-world applications. Right now, the program is only in a trial phase, using only a small city as its test-zone. However, other cities have also begun to implement the idea all over the world. Pulsepoint is the American version, although it is currently quite cluttered; it has information on every single emergency in your area, and is difficult to navigate. Still, it is the beginning of an efficient and effective new technique for dealing with heart attacks. 


The "big C" creative(s) behind these ideas have, as far as I can see, remained unnamed. In doing my research, I could not find anything that pointed to one person being the creator. Whoever it may be, their creative capacities will have amazing effects for hundreds if not thousands of people. His or her ideas have already probably saved the lives of many citizens, and that kind of impact is immeasurable. As a pre-med student, these are the ideas that I find truly fascinating, and the ones that I believe really deserve recognition and the utmost respect. 


Sources: 

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/06/more-than-90-of-adult-americans-have-cell-phones/276615/

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm

http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/if-your-heart-stops-in-sweden-a-member-of-the-public-might-help-you-before-an-ambulance

Photay: Yung Talent


Photay. If you don't know him, you should, and that's sort of why I'm writing this post... Photay, (Evan Shornstein), is a young, talented musician and producer whose name is almost as cool as the man who bears it. Blending electronic music with natural, real world sounds, his work is incredibly refreshing, and it's revolutionizing the electronic game. At just 22 years old, he is already part of the collective Makoshine, in 2012 he released his first solo project, and he has also recently released a self-titled EP with the record label Astro Nautico. 




On the cover of Photay's most recent release, a very young, moppy-haired boy stares out coldly at the listener. The picture is of 8th grade Evan, back when he first began playing drums. Yet his interest in music, especially the large and strange sonic genre, started in 5th grade when he first heard Aphex Twin. "My friends at the time absolutely hated it. I fucking loved it! At the time I didn’t know a thing about synthesizers or drum programming. I had no idea what I was hearing but I couldn’t stop listening," Shornstein said. It was during his high school years when he first began discovering turntables and digital audio software. For this young creative, nothing hindered his musical growth. He was fortunate to have been raised in an environment of openness and acceptance. Both of his parents are teachers, and they urged him to do whatever he loved doing from a very young age. So he followed his passion, and attended SUNY Purchase (State University of New York at Purchase) to pursue music. At SUNY Purchase, he stumbled upon kindred spirits, and together they formed the collective, Makoshine. 


Photay's creative process is incredibly progressive. His music is a unique amalgamation of numerous sounds and influences: Guinean influences, Latin and African percussion, Bollywood vocals and even the recognizable sound of the Beatles. He is a master at blending the sounds of nature or household objects with electronic samples. 
"The organic transience & timbre that you can capture from a door creaking or a firework explosion is unlike anything that one could produce on a computer."
Photay has a different way of approaching all of the various sounds he incorporates in his music. For him, sounds represent different textures. When he produces, he produces with a material in mind. Photay is very pulled by foreign music and likes taking sounds that appear unusual and alien to the western ear and blending them into his tracks to create something that is fun to listen to. Because each of his songs touches upon and draws from a different genre within electronic music, each track is incredibly unique and a work of art in itself. A lot of his current creative process was shaped by the time he spent in Guinea (West Africa) during his freshman year of college. His monkier, Photay, comes from the Susu language, meaning "white boy" in English. Photay says he was fondly called this constantly while he was in Africa. This period was a turning point in his career as he was exposed to African percussion styles, like the djembe and balafar, that he effortlessly weaves into his album. Another totally cool thing that he did while abroad was record the sounds of Guinea - conversations of the locals, children yelling, the various African dialects - and incorporate them into his music to give it an extra dimension. I find this astonishingly ingenious and creative. Essentially, he views sounds as different materials and textures, then overlays and assembles them to create a fantastic end product. 

So, let's get to the good part... You can go onto SoundCloud or Spotify or whatever to find his entire album, but I'm just going to discuss a few of his songs to give you a feel of what he's all about. The album opener "Detox" does exactly as its name suggests. The initial soft sounds of nature meshed with a gently brassy background slowly cleanse your mind for the rest of the album. It's a great song to start the album off with because it represents everything Photay is: the perfect mixture of birds chirping with the soft rising and falling of synth sounds and a thumping beat. It has a sedative-like effect, and almost puts you in a trance. The next track, "Reconstruct" (feat. Seafloor) features gentle, breathy vocals that are expertly juxtaposed against a brassy trumpet. Overall, it's a very fun track - stopping and starting abruptly, sprinkled with crescendos, bubbling synth samples, and authentic trumpet recordings, it's almost impossible not to dance to. If you decide not to capitalize on this work of pure artistry that I've just introduced you to, please at least listen to "No Sass." This track takes the cake, and is arguably the best song on the album. As he often likes to do, Photay again misguides the listener in this track - starting with a dark, sullen vibe, the track transitions into climbing riffs and vibraphone strokes. The absolute best part (in my opinion, at least) happens at 1:28. If you're like me, this part makes you just want to fall backwards and land onto the rising cloud that is the building synth. Following shortly after comes the blatant appearance of a stable lead line which momentarily offers an intense, clear note in the midst of the dazzling fray of instruments. A proper work of art that you won't be able to stop listening to, trust me. 

You can't easily classify his music. Sure, you can call it electronic, but "electronic music" is such a massive and vague genre. Photay's music is something totally different within the sub-genres that exist under the electronic umbrella. You almost feel as if you are learning about different cultures as you listen to his music, and that's what makes it such a unique listening experience. It's definitely an active listening experience. The amount of meticulous thought and careful construction that have gone into the making of each track is apparent. The entire album is something that makes you want to sit down and listen attentively to the music as it pleasantly surprises you with all of its twists, turns and interesting sounds. It's a fun album, and one that directly parallels its creator -  filled with youth and promise. 







Sources:
"ASTROCAST35: Photay." Astro Nautico. Web. 19 Mar. 2015. <http://astronauti.co/astrocast35-photay/>.
"Never Overlooked: Photay "Photay" EP | Mass Appeal." Mass Appeal. 7 Sept. 2014. Web. 19 Mar. 2015. <http://massappeal.com/never-overlooked-photay-photay-ep/>.
"September 18, 2014." No Sass: Photay Opens Up On Debut Album « The WILD Magazine. Web. 19 Mar. 2015. <https://thewildmagazine.com/blog/no-sass-photay-opens-up-on-debut-album/>.