Stories, Musings & The Vision Thing

Tag: urban design

Tactical Urbanism is Popping Up Everywhere

Call it “activated spaces,” “tactical urbanism” or “pop ups,” there’s something afoot in the mashup of urban neglect, a sagging economy, digital tech, and burgeoning entrepreneurism.  And it’s cropping up in DaytonAtlantaSan Francisco, Fort Worth and anywhere you can imagine an instant art/food/shopping/play/fun experience.

New York

Fort Worth


What is it?  It’s a down and dirty way to re-imagine the urban landscape by inserting instant gardens, art, shops, food, music and anything else that can be plunked, dug, hoisted,or inserted into the empty lots, abandoned buildings and decaying streets of our cities.  Or you can think of it as a flash-mob-inspired taking-it-to-the-streets effort at revitalizing neighborhoods. It could be anything.  Even libraries, big

New York

and small

New York

Here’s a blog devoted just to them.  And then there’s chair bombing  

DoTank gets ready to chair bomb the neighborhood

And the results

You’ll find a cool video and explanation of chair bombing from the DoTank site.

And, just for fun, here’s a link to a stepping video performed on the Highline, one of the great city-sponsored new urbanism projects.

If you think about social media like Facebook and how it created a virtual community, this urban guerilla art/design/living movement is bringing that new sense of connection to the streets. I find all of it inspired. Creative. And of the moment. It certainly is fun. And it does compel us to see where and how we live with each other with new eyes. And a new sense of the possible.

Intel’s Visual Life

Still from The Expressionist

I found myself on Intel’s Visual Life site and I want to share.  Especially a video called “The Expressionist” which you’ll find on the site.  

In it, designer Michael Wolff talks about understanding the visual experience, its importance to him personally and its impact upon his vision as a designer.  He speaks so clearly about the importance of seeing and engaging in the world around us.  And how that ability informs his work as a designer.  The visuals that accompany his comments are simple, sparse and elegant.

Still from The Expressionist

I’m seeing more videos in this style these days.  Basically static camera, every shot well composed, action takes place within the frame, each shot placed with the next to tell the story, sparse ambient music.  

When it works well, with purpose, it really moves you thought the moment in a highly visual manner.  Leaving lots of room for the words to have impact.  A huge departure from the often frenetic pace video used to embrace.  But that was then… and if this is what’s replacing it, I applaud.  But do check out “The Expressionist.”  It’s well worth the 5 minutes.

Still from The Sartorialist

I also watched the piece on Intel’s site about fashion blogger Scott Schuman, better known as “The Sartorialist.”  He talks about shooting street style fashion, which he does with aplomb.  

And while I find him personally a little off-putting, as opposed to the engaging and fascinating Michael Wolff, he has a keen eye and a great sense of capturing people imbued with that certain something we call style.  And although he directs and poses his people, his photos have that sense of casual encounter that typifies the street.  I especially liked watching him work with the discovered moment and then seeing what he actually shot.

What I haven’t talked about is Intel’s understanding that it’s not about their chip, it’s about what you can do with it.  And what better way to show that, than to profile people who personify “the visual life.”   I think it’s a great way to re-brand themselves.  And the Intel message only appears at the very end, when you’re ready to receive it.  Marketing magic.