Like so many 30-somethings i grew up in an era where personal computing was just getting its feet wet. An era wherein the possibilities for what we could do—for the first time—became truly endless; where following the typical career path wasn’t a mandate my generation felt tied to; and where following your heart and doing what you love actually could pay off.
When i saw the news of the untimely death of Steve Jobs flood my twitter feed late Wed, i fought my inner cynic trying to figure out why this should even affect me—i was feeling all choked up and not sure why. He made things, i bought things, no big deal right?
My life as i know it today could not exist without the innovations of this man. Everything i do, everything i touch and care about every day has his unrelenting vision to thank for making it possible. He put beautiful, well-designed, humanized computers that just WORK into all of our hands, allowing us to control, to obsess, leave no stone unturned, no detail too small—just like the breathing of a macbook sleep light.
I work in an institution dedicated to the expression of art mashed up with technology—a giant monument to this man’s influence in the arts, a primordial art/tech soup, and oh how much we all owe him an inexpressible debt of gratitude. So thank you Steve, thank you for allowing so many of us to explore new creative ideas and avenues in totally novel ways, thank you for following your instincts at whatever cost, and thank you for enabling me to go to work everyday feeling peace in my heart and psyched to solve another problem.
Tear up the Bardo!
“In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains of the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.” — Steve Jobs
Every once in a while we experience something that truly transforms everything we thought we knew about theatre. This is certainly the case for me last Thursday attending — no experiencing — Punchdrunk’s production Sleep No More.
Imagine a theatrical mashup including elements of the following: wandering into a real live installation of Silent Hill; becoming the forbidden voyeur in Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut complete with masks and competition with fellow participants for the prime viewing angle; and navigating through a visual, auditory, and olfactory melange of arresting 30’s Hitchcockian noir haunted house complete with exquisite costume designs and the cocktails and crooners to match (there’s always the bar with some fabulous absinthe concoction). If you happen to be an antique fanatic as well, hold on to your seat because evidently every source on the east coast was scoured to fill the 100+ rooms in period detail on the order of nothing i have ever seen in my life — a veritable gigantic cabinet of curiosities. A madlib with neverending choices.
Sleep No More
Kubrick’s ‘Eyes Wide Shut’
All this is set in the fictional McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea and based loosely on Macbeth. Absolutely stunning.
Surely I have never seen anything like it and am literally FREAKING OUT wanting to return and follow each and every character and read every piece of paper and overturn every tooth and piece of hair and death portrait and… well, there it is. If this an immersive theatrical experience i never want to go back to anything else.
That said, i wasn’t without some amount of conflict and annoyance at the competitive aspect. Want to follow a main character? Well be ready to elbow your way through 30 other people literally running, some people hand in hand (really?!), from scene to scene. If you are a little more reclusive and voyeuristic like i am, you will be perfectly happy doing you own thing and reveling in the wonderland of wire mesh baby bodies hanging above a crib from a single strings, a detective office, a graveyard, notes in coffins, an apothecary to die for… more antique religious paraphernalia and nature prints than a lover of such accoutrement could ever fathom – half the time i was plotting how i could possibly stash that turn of the century statue or crucifix or creepy 19c Audubon-esque bird drawing into my shirt and abscond. but i want to do it again.. and find and see things i didn’t see, and follow characters i didn’t follow. Did i do it right? i dont’ know, but is there a right way ?
Maybe that is the point — you can’t possibly ever do it the same twice and *that* is where the true brilliance of this production shines through.
I can’t wait to go back next weekend.
I’ve been to many talks, conference sessions, and read many articles about failure especially related to innovation and the creative process – that you must first fail to realize really revolutionary ideas, to spur real creativity. It extends to iteration in the web world, but that’s completely trivializing the core of what Rowling is getting at.
Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality…That is an astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people’s lives simply by existing.
and, for the record, i’d love to be a gay wizard.
J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement from Harvard Magazine on Vimeo.