Sunday, October 30, 2005

Semco

Ricardo Semler is the charismatic leader (majority owner) of Semco and author of three best selling books on Semco’s unique practice of industrial democracy. Ricardo has received international accreditation and growing interest for the company’s radical policies and resulting success.

Semler believes that by giving up control, giving up power and hierarchy, employees are free to decide what is best for them, and in doing so, best for the company. By choosing their own hours and responsibilities they take ownership of their role and feel free to explore possibilities within the company.

In a very socraterian manner, Semco encourages its staff to question what they are doing and why they are doing it. “Employees must be free to question, to analyse, to investigate; and a company must be flexible enough to listen to the answers.” As a result of this, employee morale and a co-operative attitude has made company grow leaps and bounds into the international economy. However, Semler does not measure Semco’s success quantitively, nor does he advocate growth for growth’s sake. Semler believes that by growing too fast the values of Semco can become diluted. This does not mean that he has made any executive decisions on the matter. In fact many decisions have been made that were against his wishes, regardless of his strongest convictions, which have indeed turned out to be bad in the long run. But only by truly practicing what he preaches does the integrity of the values remain within the company.

During a time of economic crisis in brazil when many employees sued major corporations for mass layoffs, Semco received no negative media coverage due to their honest approach to their employees. Forums were held, figures were made open to employees and communication was ensured. As a result, everyone within the company knew exactly what was going on, what level of risk they were at and what they could do to survive. Therefore when their position was no longer maintainable and they had to leave, there were no hard feelings between employer and employee.

Many innovative ideas about the business structure came as a result of the crisis. Semco now publish all of their figures to employees and even went so far as to contract an expert in economics to simplify the statistics for the un-trained.
Semco employees do not have fixed desks. Rather, open plan work spaces with computer facilities for notebooks and telephones. Semler believes that territories create hierarchy and tribes and therefore divisions and communication issues.

More information on Semco can be found through the following links

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=pt&u=http://ultimosegundo.ig.com.br/paginas/cadernoi/materias/089501-090000/89995/89995_1.html&prev=/search%3Fq%3Descola%2BLumiar%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26ie%3DUTF-8%26oe%3DUTF-8%26sa%3DG

http://www.inc.com/articles/2004/03/7dayweekend.html/

http://semco.locaweb.com.br/ingles/modelo.html

Saturday, October 29, 2005

A quandry. A pressing quandry.

The aims of his brief:

a. Recognise that our industry is changing and we are (have to) change with it.

b. Understand this change (what it means and how we are part of it)

c. Find opportunities in this change that we speak of and make our intentions revel in this change.

d. Embrace the idea that we are invaluable n this age of flux – should we choose to change that is

e. Solve our problem. Change our industry.

Submission.

1. Our industry is currently facing a dilemma. It is loosing relevance because of narrow-minded practices. But here you are, the idealistic new graduate ready to save us from impending doom. Hmm…How do you do it?

Do you:

a. Follow prevailing wisdom and do as before or

b. Tread new ground and re-invent your industry

2. You choose b. Wise. Most wise. How then will you innovate? How shall you make your industry viable and thrive? How will it be meaningful once again?

Pick one of the following entities:

Worker or trade unions
Education Sector
Anti-terrorism
Intellectual property (music or movies)
Banking and finance

3. Localize it. For example: You are from Malaysia and choose the education sector. Then you are to work on making your services relevant to the education sector in Malaysia.

4. Sell your services to your chosen sector or entity. Tell them why you and your industry are relevant to them.




This brief, first and foremost, excited us, challenged us and then, confused us. It later prompted us to pose many questions and in turn, challenge the brief itself.

Class discussion throughout this brief generally turned to problems that other students thought were apparent in their chosen sector. Like sheep, we too began following the trend of trying to find a problem to solve within our chosen sector, education. In fact, we became too concerned with finding a problem, losing focus on what the brief was actually asking us to do.

As directed in the brief, we localised the education sector by deciding to focus on RMIT University. We study at RMIT and one of us works for RMIT. We are therefore exposed to a variety of opinions on how RMIT is run both as an educational institution and as a business.

We began racking our brains to find the problem and the solution but soon hit a brick wall; it is impossible to pinpoint an actual problem based on assumptions. We were focused on solving a problem that we ourselves had concocted, before we were asked to offer our services and without working with the client.

We began with our own pre-conceptions of RMIT and formed a problem based on those pre-conceptions. Our initial opinion was that RMIT was stuck in a rut of irresponsible actions. We based this on anecdotes we had heard regarding its financial blunders. We likened RMIT’s personality to that of a dole bludger with a gambling problem.

We set about conducting in depth research, and began to uncover a magnitude of issues. We began by sourcing media articles mentioning RMIT from the past several years and found the below information helpful:

- RMIT has received bad press on a global scale. This bad press predominantly stemmed from poor financial management, which resulted in budget cuts to many departments and maintenance funds, along with substantial staff redundancies.

- The financial blunders mentioned were those surrounding the purchase of computer system ‘AMS’ which crashed and put the university millions of dollars in debt.

- A previous Vice Chancellor, Ruth Dunken, was solely responsible for the poor financial decisions that had cost RMIT so grandly.

- In trying to recover finance, RMIT had sold large areas of valuable land that were previously allocated to the expansion of educational facilities.

- Ruth Dunken resigned due to the pressure from negative media and staff at RMIT.

- Chris Whitaker, with a business background, was brought in as acting Vice Chancellor. He succeeded in maneuvering RMIT out of financial disaster, however his dishonesty about figures lost him the trust of many employees and furthered lack of belief in RMIT’s senior management body. He was also responsible for further reductions in staff which attracted further negative press.

- Margaret Gardiner, the current Vice Chancellor, has radically re-structured RMIT and has streamlined many positions in an attempt to improve internal communication.

After conducting this basic research, we realised that in order to further our understanding, it was necessary to speak to people with exposure to the problems RMIT had been facing.

We firstly met with Lorraine Barrett de Calero, Program Manager of the Learning Skills Unit, followed by Sally Leavold, Acting Head of the School of Education. These meetings further clarified issues that at this stage, we had only read about:

- We learned that the Vice Chancellor is in charge of making all critical decisions throughout the university.

- Vice Chancellor, Ruth Dunken perpetuated a lack of trust for management due to not only her poor decisions but the fact that she took it upon herself to award herself a raise at the end of a disastrous financial year.

- RMIT relies heavily on profit made from international students. The large amount of negative press surrounding RMIT effected its reputation overseas and resulted in reduced enrolment from abroad.

- RMIT suffers from a lack of internal communication; staff were rarely informed of decisions being made.

- RMIT has enthusiastic and dedicated teaching staff.

-Students are generally undervalued throughout RMIT. RMIT denied a motion for a student representative to be on the selection board for the appointment of a new Vice Chancellor.

Upon making this array of discoveries, we found that the problems of RMIT are so much more complex than the presumptions we had previously made. Although RMIT had previously been run quite irresponsibly by Ruth Dunken, problems were now being addressed by the new Vice Chancellor - RMIT was no longer a dole bludger with a gambling problem. It was looking for employment and attending ‘Gambler’s Anonymous’.

Our initial submission for this brief was to take the form of a blog, a home for our copious amounts of research and case studies, including any relevant press mentioning RMIT. That was until a spanner was thrown in the works. That spanner belonged to Alan Cumming, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Design and Social Context, who had been informed of a breach of copyright on a pesky student’s blog. Alan contacted us within twenty-four hours, via e-mail, mobile and home phones, demanding we remove all articles, although we had cited that they were sourced from RMIT’s ‘Factiva’ subscription. We are also now blocked from using ‘Factiva’. This not only foiled our blog idea but made it somewhat difficult to arrange meetings with the Vice Chancellor to discuss our brief, particularly since the said blog featured every negative press article regarding RMIT, from every major Australian newspaper from the past four years.

Because of this little glitch, we came to the conclusion that we were limited to deriving our solution based solely on our initial research.

This was until one day, a conversation arose in the tea room of the RMIT Learning Skills Unit regarding the disastrous computer system AMS, which cost millions of dollars to implement and double that cost to fix. RMIT had to adapt to this system, changing the structure of the university and causing widespread confusion and disorder on an administrative level; many students were sent incorrect information regarding their enrolment and transcripts. One such instance was neglectful enough to attract media attention.

It was mentioned that the computer department at RMIT had made a bid for the contract that PeopleSoft won with AMS. The computer department had proposed that they could build a customised program that would be designed to work with the current structure of the organisation. The system would integrate with the University’s current computer technologies and network and would cost just a small fraction of the sum quoted by PeopleSoft.

This conversation prompted several questions, ideas and potential solutions:

As an educational institution, RMIT fosters forward-thinkers across a broad range of disciplines. However, the skills of both the students and teachers are often undervalued and overlooked. If RMIT were to call on the minds and abilities that it produces, it could potentially avoid, as well as solve many of its problems.

Identification of a problem and in turn, a solution was made by interacting with a cross-section of people involved with RMIT. In order for communication problems to be identified and effectively solved, it seems that the Communication Designer needs to truly be part of the organisation. In orginistations as large and complex as RMIT, it would almost be necessary for an in-house Communication Designer to be involved, working with the decision-making body, as well as listening to all levels and facets of the organisation.

This posed the question of how a stage where an organisation would actually employ an in-house Communication Designer, or perhaps simply contract the designer for a period of time, could be reached. Finally we had reached the core of what the brief had asked from us. As initially posed in the brief, Communication Design needs to first be recognised as an industry that offers skills relevant to all forms of communication problem solving.

The brief asked us to “Sell your services to your chosen sector or entity. Tell them why you and your industry are relevant to them…”

Our skill as Communication Designers, lies partly in having the ability to recognise how specific people communicate best and in doing so, adapt to, or perhaps appropriate their form of communication, in other words, we have the ability to speak their language. This works for both helping the client understand why our skills are relevant to them and in actually solving their specific problem. A Communication Designer also has the ability to identify whom within an organisation needs to be targeted.

In the case of our chosen organisation, RMIT, we found after conducting research that the Vice Chancellor is responsible for all major decisions. It was therefore her who we needed to work out how to communicate with and convince. From being involved with RMIT, we were able to find out the best way in which to communicate with Vice Chancellor, Margaret Gardiner. Through being forwarded her emails and by speaking with staff, it became apparent that she has a passion for writing. As Communication Designers, we would then construct a professional written proposal conveying and convincing her of what relevance our skills have to RMIT.

With a communication problem having been successfully addressed, particularly on a grand scale, Communication Designers would then be able to coax new clients with impressive past experience and a growing reputation based on credibility. We need to establish our industry as a source of problem solving. An industry needs to be practicing before it can be recognised. Communication Design does not actually exist as a recognised field as of yet. We have to first explain and convince that our industry is important and relevant before we can promote it or sell ourselves. Once recognition has been achieved, no matter which sector, if a company is in trouble they should instantly think – “I need a Communication Designer”.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Trends in Music

Music is a universal language. With such a long history and so many styles between cultures, it is not hard to pinpoint influences from genre to genre. For this reason fine line can be drawn between plagiarism and influence. We are now entering a new stage in the development of music styles, aided by the rise of mash culture and the recent advance of file sharing technology. This rise of eclecticism in sound is defining a new era in which artists can exist commercially on a basis which has not been seen before. In this post I am going to compare two of these artists, very different in style but very similar in cultural background and commercial success.


Jet and the Cat Empire are both from Melbourne’s suburbs, from middle class backgrounds and are in their early 20’s. Both have had number one singles and best selling albums. Their rise to fame came within 3 months of each other. Yet, although both have acquired mainstream acceptance, one of them has received almost universal credit and acclaim, whereas the other has been subject to harassment for plagiarism by press, musicians and the public.

Jet formed as friends in high school and listened to artists such as AC/DC, The Faces and in particular, The Beatles. In their adolescence they felt alienated from their peers for their taste in 60’s and 70’s rock and roll and in their late teens they played gigs in Melbourne pubs and bars with little to no recognition. They became frustrated with the local music scene and consequently blamed their out of fashion image on the popularity of dance music. Their resent for DJ’s is apparent in the lyrics for their song Roll Over DJ.

Well I know that you think you're the star
A pill poppin' jukebox is all that you are…
Hey Rollover DJ
You're spinning away, on my time

Hey, who cares what you play
Say whatever you say, I don't mind


As it happened, their luck changed when the band The Strokes made a splash in the music scene in 2001, buoyant on critical acclaim for their mashed vintage style of rock. By early 2002 this trend was ready to enter the mainstream and record companies knew, so Jet signed with Elektra after a bidding war from those with their finger on the pulse of mass culture.

“The record companies follow trends, and we were in the right place at the right time” Wilson – rolling stone, adds defensively “but were also the right band and we write good songs”.

Although much of Jet’s success came from their hit songs (their ability to write and perform certainly sealed the deal for their record contract), the glossy, big budget promotion they received from their label gave them the exposure they needed to be heard. But just as importantly, Jet were more than heard; they were seen. Their label created a brand with a unique selling proposition in a marketplace that was ready to embrace a new trend: a rock and roll revival.

Their style was based on the grandeur of past, respected cultural giants such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. The album art for their first LP release Get Born borrows heavily from the Beatles 1966 work Revolver, a high contrast mono image on which fine black ink drawings of the band are surrounded with various ornamental sketches on a white background. However, Jet’s version is more contemporised, more in tune with visual trend, using photography of the band juxtaposed with clean vector line art - a style at the peak of its fashion in late 2003.

Jet’s management took the style of many rock and artists of the 60’s and 70’s, and fused it with the contemporary visual trend. They created an identity that allowed the consumer to buy into the notion that Jet belong to a respected and culturally important place in music - rock and roll is important, and Jet embody rock and roll.

The branding worked, with the album sustaining number one on the charts, for several weeks, as well as their first single Are You Going To Be My Girl becoming an international hit.

Jet have faced a lot of criticism for their music, mainly for their lack of tact when demonstrating their musical influences; many quite reputable figures accusing them of blatant plagiarism. One of their most strongly criticised pieces, their number one hit single, Are You Gonna Be My Girl, contains a drum and bass introduction almost identical to that of Iggy Pops Lust For Life and the two follow similar chord progressions; their bass lines start in the same key. The words follow a simple lyrical pop formula, rhyming numbers with words - “one two three take my hand and come with me”, “four five six come on and get your kicks” and “you look so fine that I really want to make your mine”. Their song Look What You’ve Done, has the chorus lyrics “Look what you’ve done you’ve made a fool of everyone”. This is, word for word, straight from the song Sexy Sadie off the Beatles White Album. In fact the songs musical styling is remarkably similar to various Paul McCartney Beatles ballads such as Hey Jude, Golden Slumbers and Yesterday, as well as John Lennon’s Imagine. Look What You’ve Done follows a strikingly ‘Beatles’ chord progression and production style - the singer even adjusts his tone to sing like Paul McCartney.
Jets song Lazy Gun uses John Lennon’s Instant Karma! Drums, with a touch of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds styled chorus, complete with Lennon nasal vocals singing:

Lazy gun messed up my television fun
Shoot the shotgun but the war is never won
Who's the enemy, who's sucking on my sun?
I'm the only one left now you've taken all my fun

Change Nothing
Futures in
Close the door
Wear a name
Be the same
Take some more

There are songs on Get Born that hint at The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, The Faces and even Jimmy Barnes. Each song on the album leans toward a particular style of rock and roll and modifies lyrics, production and even their image on their video clips to suit. This can be seen in the transition from their second single, a 70’s, black and white, rugged but sensitive video for Look What You’ve Done, to their next, a grungy, macho, ‘boys-night-out-at-dingy-pub-in-suburban-Australia’ image for their Cold Hard Bitch film clip - a song modelled on the style of AC/DC.

Jets’ name also lacks originality, the title of the band taken from a ‘Paul McCartney and The Wings’ song. Their album, Get Born, from Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues, the Dirty Sweet EP from T-Rex and so on.

Jets response to the criticism of their originality reveals a startling insight on the group’s philosophy.

We sound like a bunch of bands, so being compared to other bands is something we are never shy of… we think of it like, we got a song that AC/DC forgot to write, or we’ve got songs that the Beatles forgot to write. That’s a part of our stick, so if you don’t like that, you don’t like our band – and I don’t give a f----

It seems that they do not grasp the concept of plagiarism, nor to they regard originality to be important to their art.

As good as their reproductions are, Jet owe their success to clever marketing based on a shift in trend. This poses the question: when fashion changes will be forgotten as quickly as they emerged? In the words of vocalist Nick Muncey;

“There have always been bands that sounded like the Sixties, but we don’t see ourselves as a band from that era. We don’t draw a line in the sand between now and then. Maybe in 200 years, the distance people put between 1970 and 2000 wont matter. Who knows who was first, Mozart or Beethoven? Does it even matter?”


Felix Rebil formed The Cat Empire formed in the late 90’s. They played prolifically around Melbourne, at jazz venues, weddings, events and Christmas parties. Eventually they added Harry Angus on trumpet and vocals, a drummer, as well as a turntable artist. Once again, they played prolifically around Melbourne and quickly made a name for themselves with their exciting, involving live performances and impressive musicianship. Their influences spun their diversity, both culturally and in taste and this is demonstrated in their music, a cocktail of styles including gypsy, latin, jazz, reggae funk, dancehall and rock and roll.

There is no genre really, we like to bring styles out of genres and just play whatever we feel like playing. If you had to call it something you could just call it "good music". We play music from all over the world and we make it our own because we play it the way we feel it and we play it with our own distinctly Melburnian attitude.

The Cat Empire embrace their diverse background, and can be seen as a cross section of the Melbourne psyche, a very young culture formed from a mix of races, backgrounds and values. Australia has a unique and exciting culture. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Melbourne, regarded as the nations cultural capital of food, art and music. This is demonstrated in the Cat Empires epicurean values.

We belive, in the grass and the trees
We support, living life cos life is short
We uphold sky of blue sun of gold

Chillin at the club
Pimpin with my money
(Well actually, my parties are more like)
Chillin in the sun

With tea and milk and honey

Tea and lamingtons

That’s my idea of fun

But I do enjoy the odd occasional bottle of rum

As we learnt in the songs that I have previously sung
When its done with fruit juice at a barbecue in the sun
If the afternoon is begun with kangaroo and capsicum

The Cat Empire appeal to a large audience of music lovers because they discard the notion of cool and do not wish to subscribe to trend. Their large fan base, which they earned from their consistent gigging and word of mouth before they were signed, ensures their success – even though they have had several commercially successful singles and gained international acclaim since their first album.

Jet and The Cat Empire were both nominated for ARIA awards in 2004. Of these, they competed in Best Album, Best Group and Breakthrough Album. Jet won all of these, as well as a host of others. The Cat Empire won no awards, however they continue to play sell out concerts around Australia and their second CD remained in the top 10 for several weeks.





http://www.jettheband.com/press/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptomnesia

http://www.musichead.com.au/site/artist.asp?actID=143602&bio=1

http://www.musichead.com.au/site/artist.asp?actID=137576

http://pitchforkmedia.com/record-reviews/j/jet/get-born.shtml

http://www.thecatempire.com.au

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Trends

An integral part of being, in the true sense of the word, a Communication Designer, is having the ability to recognise trends, the patterns that emerge from trends and in turn predict what trends may emerge in the future. This post will be updated regularly, featuring current trends along with speculation regarding where and how they emerged and perhaps, trend predictions.

-JAPANESE POP CULTURE

-1980’s TOYS

-'FRESH'

-EPICURUS

-‘SLOW FOOD’

-'NEW PUNK' (IN MUSIC)

-'STOVE PIPE' JEANS

- ADVERTISEMENTS FEATURING A SINGLE COLOUR AND LARGE TEXT (USUALLY APPARENT IN ADS. FOR FINANCIAL INTSTITUTIONS)

-'EMO' (SUBCULTURE)

-ROCK REVIVAL (IN MUSIC)

-THAI FOOD

-MOROCCAN FOOD

- HUMAN INTERACTION AND EMPATHY (EVIDENT IN BUSINESS)

- DESIGN TRENDS
Typefaces
Stylistic features
Colour

Deleuze, Guattari and the Rhizome

Deleuze and Guattari’s 'A Thousand Plateaus', is the second part of a work they began with 'The Anti-Oedipus', called 'Capitalism and Schizophrenia'.

Like Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari draw on psychoanalysis, Marxism, structuralism, and deconstruction though they cannot be classified within any one school of thought. However, while Foucault focuses on relations of power/knowledge, Deleuze and Guattari focus on the pursuit of desire and how societal institutions impede desire. They also relate well to Derrida as their main concern is to destabilize language and conventional Western thought in favor of multiplicity of meaning.

One of the most significant ideas presented by Deleuze and Gauttari, is the idea of the rhizome. To understand the model of the rhizome, it is important to first comprehend what the rhizome is a response to. Deleuze and Guattari argue that all of Western (traditionally humanist) thought is based on arborescense, which is the model of the tree. The tree sprouts from a single seed, producing a trunk and continuously branching out, growing and spreading vertically; yet, the tree can be traced back to a single origin. Basically, arborescence is representative of humanist thought and the belief that humans - through language, science, and art - can represent or reflect the world. All of Western thought is inherently arborescent, even linguistics, as it all grows (or has grown) from a supposed original source. Deleuze and Guattari even argue that most modern texts, while they seem to represent multiple origins and the elimination of the linearity of language, posit some type of cyclical unity, or form a “whole” within the reading subject, which also represents arborescence (they dub many modern texts arborescent pseudomultiplicities).

In order to break from traditional arborescent thought, and the resulting binaries, Deleuze and Guattari proclaim, “The multiple must be made” The ultimate symbol of the multiple, according to Deleuze and Guattari, is the rhizome. A rhizome is a rootlike (though not a root) organism that spreads and grows horizontally (generally underground). Some examples are potatoes, couchgrass, and weeds. Couchgrass or crabgrass continues to grow even if you pull up what you think is all of it, since it has no central, “governing” element. As a rhizome has no center, it spreads continuously without beginning or end and basically exists in a constant state of play.


The main principles of the rhizome are:
1. “Principles of connection and heterogeneity: any point of a rhizome can be connected to anything other, and must be”.
Basically, the rhizome establishes connections between everything, combining rhizomes that are themselves made of combinations of rhizomes.
• Language is rhizomatic, as “A rhizome ceaselessly establishes connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles . . . there is no language in itself, nor are there any linguistic universals, only a throng of dialects, patois, slangs, and specialized languages” Even what we view as one specific language is composed of multiplicities of languages (somewhat like heteroglossia, though even more decentered).
• There is no true language; the dominant language is only a “power takeover” within what Deleuze and Guattari call a “political multiplicity.” While language may stabilize within this “power takeover”—which forms like a bulb or a tuber on the rhizome—language continues to spread outside of it “like a patch of oil”
• We “can analyze language only be decentering it onto other dimensions and other registers. A language is never closed upon itself, except as a function of impotence” In order to analyze language we must look at it rhizomatically, viewing it not simply as language, but as everything related to language. Language is a multiplicity and connects to and encompasses other multiplicities.

2. “Principle of multiplicity: Basically, everything is not composed of units operating within rules, as in structuralism, but of multiplicites spreading and connecting with other multiplicities within a non-centered structure: “A multiplicity has neither subject nor object, only determinations, magnitudes, and dimensions that cannot increase in number without the multiplicity changing in nature (the laws of combination therefore increase in number as the multiplicity grows)”.
• The multiplicity, or the rhizome, has no real rules or laws, as it continuously adapts to incorporate other multiplicites. There is no real unity within a rhizome as “The notion of unity appears only when there is a power takeover in the multiplicity or a corresponding subjectification proceeding” . A “power takeover” is similar to the aforementioned idea of a unified language, as the power takeover only limits the rhizome in one specific area, and the multiplicities continue to spread outside of it.

3. “Principle of asignifying rupture . . . A rhizome may be broken, shattered at a given spot, but it will start up again on one of its old lines, or on new lines” D&G use the example of ants: “You can never get rid of ants because they form an animal rhizome that can rebound time and again after most of it has been destroyed” .
• D&G further claim that the rhizome deterritorializes in one place and reterritorializes in another. D&G use the image of the wasp and the orchid to demonstrate deterritorialization and reterritorialization: “The orchid deterritorializes by forming an image, a tracing of a wasp; but the wasp reterritorializes on that image. The wasp is nevertheless deterritorialized, becoming a piece in the orchid’s reproductive apparatus. But it reterritorializes the orchid by transporting its pollen. Wasp and orchid, as heterogeneous elements, form a rhizome . . . Each of these becomings brings about the deterritorialization of one term and the reterritorialization of the other; the two becomings interlink and form relays in a circulation of intensities pushing the deterritorialization even further” . Through this symbiotic process, both the wasp and the orchid continuously spread and multiply. The wasp feeds off the orchid, while the orchid uses the wasp to reproduce. D&G further write: “There is neither imitation nor resemblance, (between the wasp and the orchid) only an exploding of two heterogeneous series on the line of flight composed by a common rhizome that can no longer be attributed to or subjugated by anything signifying” (519). It seems that the main point of this example is that while the wasp and the orchid are two completely heterogeneous, and seemingly unrelated, objects, they both spread and grow in relation to each-other.
• D&G also discuss how books and the world have a similar relationship. They write “[the book] forms a rhizome with the world, there is an aparallel evolution of the book and the world; the book assures the deterritorialization of the world, but the world effects a reterritorialization of the book, which in turn deterritorializes itself in the world (if it is capable, if it can).
Another image D&G use is the plateau (here we finally have an explanation for the title). They state that a plateau is always in the middle. There is always something before and something after plateaus. D&G assert that the rhizome is composed of plateaus, as it continuously deterritorializes and reterritorializes into infinite new plateaus. The rhizome and the plateau are both always between things, which guarantees their continued growth and existence. Although the plateau cannot return to what precedes it, it always moves on, becoming something else, moving towards the next plateau.
• D&G further emphasize the rhizome’s state of being between in relation to the tree, or arborescent thought. Humanism, by attempting to represent the world, “imposes the verb ‘to be,’ while the rhizome continues infinitely with the “conjunction, ‘and . . . and . . . and”.
• For Deleuze and Guattari, the rhizome is positive because it evades totalization, and in a rhizomatic structure, desires are not limited and contained as they are in a treelike structure. D&G use the example of the nomad to represent desire revolting against and evading totalizing structures. The nomad is in a constant state of movement and cannot be confined within any political or ideological system of totality.

-The Internet is a very good example of a rhizomatic structure. There is no real center to the Internet and it is composed of infinite links. It is impossible to affect the World Wide Web by removing any specific site or sites. Even the removal of big servers like AOL, yahoo, Netscape, and even Microsoft would not affect the functioning of the majority of sites.

-Nolan’s 'Memento'—begins at what seems to be the end and ends at what seems to be the beginning, yet by doing so reveals that there is no real end or beginning. So it essentially begins and ends in the middle (though it doesn’t really begin or end).

-Lynch’s 'Lost Highway' and 'Mulholland Drive'—the end of both films appears at the beginning, while the beginning appears at the end. While both seem to represent two heterogeneous deterritorializations and reterritorializations. Also, both films feature characters shifting and becoming different characters, which seems to represent the nomadic, schizophrenic postmodern subject.

-Deleuze and Guattari claim: “We are writing this book as a rhizome. It is composed of plateaus. We have given it a circular form, but only for laughs” .

-Several successful 'creative business'' are based on a rhizomatic structure. 'Semco' and 'Ideo' for example, delve into such a variety of ventures that it is immpossible to describe in one point, what either companies actual focus is.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Viewpoint Magazine - Back to Basics

‘Viewpoint’ magazine often features extremely relevant articles on trends and trend forecasting throughout culture, including fashion, architecture and business, to name only a few. This particular excerpt form ‘Viewpoint’, basically spells out some of the key factors that contribute to the emergence of what we lovingly refer to as ‘creative business’. The article features small quotes from several ‘creative business’ owners/managers/creators, which I would like to share. Also, below each quote I will be adding a comment on the business and any relevant links I can hunt down. (These business’ are hard to find information on at present).

EXCERPT FROM ‘VIEWPOINT’ MAGAZINE, ISSUE 17
ARTICLE – ‘BACK TO BASICS’

A public increasingly tired of corporate manipulation and big-brand spin is starting to turn to smaller companies with a whole different offer: authenticity, local roots, a sense of community and an ethos of trust.

-The obvious ambition of the big brands to dominate our mental lives increasingly seems to unnerve people

-The public feels the creeping exhaustion that comes with dealing with constant manipulation

-The minority revolt against what is fake, spun, mass-produced and manipulated continues

-Authenticity is notoriously difficult to fake, especially for brands

-Corporate brands have shouted so loudly, so cleverly and so all pervasively, that they are increasingly useless as generators of trust

-The 21st century, exhausted by culture without roots, longs for community, or at least some sense of it

-Some rare brands enable community to evolve, and somehow do so as a by-product of the core business

-Another category of community brands is designed to provide some aspects of the local

-As the demand for fresh, local food grows, small food brands, absolutely rooted geographically. Will make them selves more apparent

-Brands work more effectively and carry more conviction if the grow out of a very local reality, instead of shiny constructs imposed from the centre

-Companies that can’t tell stories because they only relay on products made using sweatshop labor are at an increasing disadvantage

-People tend to trust those with the humanity to risk being off-message



NICK SELBY AND IAN JAMES
MELROSE AND MORGAN
LONDON
‘It feels like you’re shopping in somebody else’s kitchen. The kitchen is open with two chefs cooking in there live. You can come in and see what’s going on in their pots and pans and even go into their larder where there will be things like large bones for you to buy for making stock at home. Everything that is sold is simple, straightforward fare. Everything we do is back to basics, traditionally made and honest. Our core customers are the sort of people who tell us exactly what they like and what they don’t. That’s the way we like it. In the right community with the right people you feel secure.’

This delicatessen prides itself on creating traditional British delights while supporting local producers. The typically British kitchen or deli is fast becoming a popular trend, with similar business’ popping up throughout the UK.

Contact details
www.melroseandmorgan.com

Article - ‘The Independent: online edition’
http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/food_and_drink/features/article3778.ece

Information and Review – Urban Path
http://www.urbanpath.com/london/delicatessens/melrose-and-morgan.htm


MAX MONTANA
PRIMITIF
LONDON
‘We’re promoting the new ideas of graphic designers as well as selling books, records, vintage wallpaper and furniture in an environment that is a million miles away from the sterile shops that you see on every high street. This is all about selling the new and exciting rather than stealing somebody else’s thunder. We thought that the market was so boring out there, with most shops becoming desperate to chase the pound and lacking individuality. But people are not stupid and will immediately see right through a shop environment if it is copied and drab and move onto somewhere invigorating. We did it here in London’s east end as there were far too many hairdressers in the area! I could have made a lot more cash as a hairdresser but I just like finding new product.’


ZEN PITSIALIS
TSIAKKOS
LONDON
‘We are fighting against everything that the slick, big restaurant chains are up to. We don’t want to hit everyone for loads of drinks, puddings and all the other extras, I think that’s wrong. Tsiakkos is just the way I like it. If it’s busy I just ask my customers to go and get their own drink while I’m in the kitchen cooking. It’s about trust.’


GEORGE FORADARIS
ARIKAYRIA
LONDON
‘If you go to an Indian restaurant you expect to feel like you could be in India. If you come to my place you will think that you are in Cyprus. Everything I do in my restaurant is about authenticity – the food, the feeling and especially the hospitality. It is incredibly important that we are as friendly as possible to all our customers; 99% are English and I make a point of getting to know each of them by name. It makes people fell like they are at home.’


GREG-SCOTT GURNER
GALLERY 491
LONDON
‘It started off as a squat and turned into a gallery and kept on growing. The best thing with communities such as these is that we can get loads of things done, with no labour costs. We have combined all our skills and now have a textile workshop, recording studio, art class and gallery. It is great because we have turned into an arts organsiation offering events and classes to the local community, who have complete open access. It really is amazing what you can do with a neglected dead space. It’s a very complex living environment though, with between 15 and 20 of us here at any one time. Just like living in any environment it can get a little bit strained!’

Home page
www.491gallery.com

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Slow Food Movement

‘Slow Food’, a non-profit organisation, aims to merge pleasure and food with responsibility and awareness on an international level. The slow food movement is essentially a response to the negative impact of the industrialization of food, hence the title ‘slow food’, a revolt against ‘fast food’. With a network of over 83,000 members the movement has taken off in over 100 countries.

Goals as stated by the Slow Food Organisation:

-To support the preservation of food and agricultural heritage and traditions.
-To defend biodiversity and conservation.
-To link producers with consumers and cooks.
- To collaborate with members and the wider community to achieve our purpose.
- To promote sustainable practices and lifestyle to future generations.
- To build solid resources.

Slow Food members gather in small, local groups called convivia, a single group of slow food members being a conviviam. The term ‘conviviam’ is Latin for ‘a feast, entertainment, a banquet’, ideas that opitimise the ideals of Slow Food.

Having recently attended a Slow Food event I was exposed to a real sense of community. Food lovers, from grannies to bubbas, inner city to burb dwellers perused stalls representing farms and businesses whose focus lies in good quality, fresh, local produce and unique ideas. A friendly faced, northern Victorian lady sold gourmet puddings with eye bulging flavours such as ‘cranberry and white chocolate’ or ‘brandied peach and cinnamon’. An enthusiastic chap peddled pesto and dukkah, incorporating native Australian greens, while down the road at the monthly farmers market, stall holders were showing off ‘beetroot and orange chutney’ and bio-dynamic rabbit.

Reputable chefs gave demonstrations promoting simple cooking techniques, allowing the ingredients themselves to shine. Toby Puttock of ‘Fifteen’, a restaurant of international fame, whipped up a warm salad of quail eggs, celery leaves, pecorino and white asparagus, all ingredients he stumbled upon at the Prahran market that very morning.

For Australia the Slow Food organisation aims to promote native and local produce, and a diversity of culture and a sustainable future. In Victoria, the government has recently gifted the Abbotsford convent to the public to create an arts, cultural and educational precinct, incorporating accredited produce vendors.

“The precinct will showcase and teach lost techniques in food preparation, handling and selling of secondary produce...With a vision of providing a university type environment, the precinct will incorporate the adjoining Children’s Farm and provide and eco-sustainable model for educating the next generation.”


Links: www.slowfood.com

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Introduction

We are approaching the conclusion of a Communication Design degree. We have spent many hours actually pondering what Communication Design is. As it is only seen at the moment, by most, as a sort of evolution of Graphic Design, we are still pushed in the direction of the graphic design studio by the majority of lecturers. There are some up-starts however (like us) who want so much more.

We were introduced some time ago, by a couple of dedicated lecturers, to the notion of the ‘creative business practice’. These businesses great or small, who seem to be emerging at an escalated rate, conduct their business from a unique standpoint. They push boundaries, experiment and above all, they take risks. To give you just a sniff of what ‘creative business practise’ can be, join us for a moment to delve into the world of Semco. Semco is a global company in which employees are encouraged to take afternoon naps in the hammock provided in their offices. These employees are pushed to broaden the company’s horizons by bringing their own ideas and projects into fruition.

A business of somewhat smaller scale, we have also had the pleasure of indulging in Hana Assafiri’s Moroccan Soup Bar. In this tiny North Fitzroy eatery, the notion of dining out is being challenged. At the Moroccan Soup Bar, there is no written menu, no alcohol licence and absolutely no meat. People are encouraged to share their meals from the eclectic range of bowls as the employees; women of Middle Eastern origins with normally scarce employment opportunities serve delectable mountains of culturally rich treats.

Both Semco and the Moroccan Soup Bar, though in size, at opposite ends of the creative business spectrum, have achieved an enviable success and popularity.

As communication designers, we are interested in finding where we could fit into this stimulating picture. We aim to uncover more exciting business practises and discuss how and why they work, taking into account factors of a social and contextual nature.

So come along on our journey of discovery and please feel free to send us your thoughts and any material you feel is of relevance.