I am not bothered or unsettled by the MTV VMA performances or what they may or may not say about the state of culture. And least of all I’m not bothered by the Google trending elephant in the room. This post isn’t about the particular VMA performance that blew up the social interwebs Sunday. Instead, it is about the gullible, shallow assessments of something we all—as consumers, marketing professionals, designers and generally sophisticated and sentient beings—should be more aware of: that anything connected to or representative of culture is complex and encoded with multiple layers of meaning. The VMAs, like many cultural activities, are spectacles and unearth a wide spectrum of emotions. They make you feel something, for better or worse; attraction or aversion, allegiance or avoidance, appreciation or appall. The VMAs are also designed to serve as entertainment. All of the performances were designed, truly conceptualized and constructed, to cause a reaction. Inevitably some were better executed than others. To place sole ownership of the performance squarely on the performer is short-sighted, and frankly quaint, given what is known about the level of planning, design and marketing that goes into displays like this. As marketers, designers and social commenters, we, of all people, should be sensitive to products (including people as products) and experiences that are coded with multiple layers of meaning and references. Read More
As the height of summer travel draws to a close, Powerhouse is tracking the acceleration of Nomadic Expertise. This cultural trend is led by talented individuals who are more transient than fixed and poses a look into an emerging skill market that acts as a consumer bell weather, predicting the ebbs and flows of social and economic progress. Additionally, this shift points toward identity-entrepreneurship (the practice of managing your identity like a business) and a growing work force that values social and financial autonomy. Read on to see how organizations both big and small can compete with these empowered skill-sharers and become more synchronized with consumer and market changes. Read More
This month, Powerhouse is investigating Data Detritus and exploring the rapidly growing factions who are monitoring and mapping residual information in efforts to illuminate the intersection of digital and analog cultures. Fueled by our ability to process massive amounts of information with complex analytics, this trend focuses those with the ability to not only mine but make data-minutia meaningful. For better and worse, pointing toward the potential of “opt-out” no longer being an option. Read More
We left the shop at 4 a.m., easing the RV onto the interstate in the dark and headed south. With our poster tubes, prints and a piñata in tow, we were officially Bonnaroo bound.
For seven years we’ve made the flatstock festival rounds, slangin’ prints and merch at music fests like SXSW, Bonnaroo, Forecastle, Bunbury, Pitchfork and MidPoint Music Festival. We travel to these events not only to sell our wares, but to stay in tune with and immersed in a music scene that is distilled in its purest form in these highly charged environments. Read More
Powerhouse was lucky enough to attend and meet artist Ryan Wolfe at his recent artist lecture at Cincinnati’s 21c Museum Hotel. Wolfe’s work is shown around the world and explores multi-disciplinary methods that bring digital experiences to a visceral reality. Read on for insights on how designers, artists and cross functional teams can be inspired by interaction, juxtaposition, evolution and virtuous circle. Read More