Posts Tagged ‘art’

manofsteel

The opposite of a golden age is a dark age.  When it comes to design and visual imagery, I believe we are living in a dark age.

The last dark age was the 1970’s.  I sometimes like to go to the Plaid Stallions and laugh at what people thought was cool back in the 70’s.  From today’s perspective it is pretty embarrassing. Back then we did not really notice how bad it was, but it seems the further away we get from it, the worse it seems. But that is the nature of fashion.  It was only 10 years ago that super low jeans and backless halters were in, and already those are uncool.  Time makes fools of every fashion trend.

I believe we are in a new dark age of design today, and can prove it, by pointing out how bad the supposedly trendy “fresh, new, and modern” trends coming out today already look like crap — no test of time needed.  Lets start with the new Superman movie Man of Steel coming out this weekend. Above are two versions of a promotional picture.  One is the original, one has the colors blue-shifted and increased the saturation 10%.  Which movie do you want to see?  The main color of Superman’s uniform is BLUE, and yet the film makers go out of their way to avoid using the color blue anywhere in the movie trailer, and I expect the entire movie.  They are not alone.  The supposedly visually stunning  The Great And Powerful OZ has the same problem.  Even though there seems to be a lot of blue in it, it is actually all shades of teal.  Are film makers purposely avoiding the color blue for some reason?

Meanwhile, in the world of software design, especially operating systems, we have the exact opposite problem: too much color.  I have already pointed out how crappy Windows 8 looks to everybody who does not have a master’s degree in design, which is at least partly responsible for its poor sales.

But then Apple decides to Windows 8ify its popular iOS used in iPhone and iPads.  Like Windows 8 look, it is flat, it is simple, and it is ugly.  To make themselves different from Windows 8, they added gradients, which looks even more ugly.  I am not alone in my assessment, there is a whole Tumblr page dedicated to software designers complaining about the look of iOS 7.

This is the baby of Apple hardware designer Jony Ive who in this embarrassingly bad video explains his design philosophy, which works great in hardware design, but fails miserably when it comes to software interface design.

The problem is that there is a lot of functionality changes in iOS 7 which are actually pretty good, and probably a good reason to upgrade, the automatic app upgrades are my favorite change, but who wants to stare at that screen?

Who indeed, especially when Apple realizes that one of the big selling points of  iPad was the cool looking main screen sitting on display next to the generic looking Android cousins.  iOS 7’s redesign takes that marketing advantage away, and now the iPad looks just as generic as the cheaper android tablets.  I predict iPad sales this holiday season to be just as disappointing as Windows 8 PC sales were last holiday season.

Far and away the best article on the design decisions behind iOS 7 is this Wired article. It explains and occasionally criticizes the decisions behind the redesign.  This quote is the most telling:

The smartphone’s greatest problem today isn’t teaching people that there’s a virtual space for doing everyday tasks. Rather, it’s teaching people that they no longer have to use their computers anymore. The functions of phones themselves are growing even as the actual size of a phone screen is approaching its natural limit. Smart phones have, in many ways, exceeded the metaphors that used to define them. Thus, in order to do more complex interactions on the screens, and to keep those interactions uncluttered, you have to strip down the design language.

The emphasis is not mine, but important.  It shows the arrogant misinformed mindset of both Apple and Microsoft inherent in their awful redesigns.  I would hope that the lesson we all learn from all of this bad OS design fiascoes is this:

Phones are not computers and Computers are not Phones

Windows 8 was a redesign of the OS with touch screen as the primary input tool.  It never seemed to cross anyone’s mind at Microsoft that desktop computers do not work as touch screens.  Did they really think that we want to lift our arms, reach over our keyboard do hand gestures on the surface of our monitor screen, sometimes for long periods of time when we are doing visual design work?  Our arms would get freaking tired in a matter of minutes doing that, when it is so much easier to use a good old fashioned mouse with an ergonomic arm rest.  We didn’t spend our youth pumping quarters into arcade machines developing master hand-eye coordination skills just to have them go to waste because “touch screens are COOL”.

Touch screens on desktop computers are not cool, especially in the work environment which accounts for around 80% of desktop computer usage.  OS design for desktops needs to reflect that model, and while Windows 8 is useable with keyboard and mouse, it often feels awkward like using an up and down scroll wheel to move the screen left to right.  Hence Windows 8’s poor sales.

iOS 7’s redesign seems to be inspired by the belief that people will start using their phones for more than just phone calls, taking pictures, listening to music, and flinging angry birds as unsuspecting pigs.  They want your tiny phone screen to be a medium for actual productivity.  Tablets make more sense in that regard, but even they are going to fall short of that goal.  It did not seem to cross anyone’s mind at Apple that the sole functionality of phones and tablets are: 1. playing media, 2. locating media to play, and 3. making media portable and useable anywhere.  That and making phone calls.  Any functionality outside those three categories and you are better off with a PC.

Writing this blog post would take me at least twice as long to do on a tablet.  It can be done, true, but takes more effort.  The hard truth is: The only time tablets become productivity tools is while sitting on the toilet.

I know what you tablet fans are thinking: “If tablets are so useless, how do you explain tablet sales outpacing PC sales?” Easy. 1.) only a small percentage of home users use their computers for productivity, most people have computers for nothing more than surfing the web and watching videos, activities that are perfectly doable on tablets, and 2.) activities that are also perfectly doable on 8 year old Windows XP computers, so many people have no need to upgrade.

Bad OS design is the result of a flawed mentality that this OS will be used everywhere and for everything.  This same flawed mentality is the root cause of the horrible design decisions behind the XBox One which wants to be the one and only box you need connected to a dumb monitor, even though smart TV’s are all the rage these days taking away the need for most of the extra functionality in the XBox One (whose starting price is higher than a smart TV).  But that is another complicated topic.

Bottom line: Good design is all about form and functionality, true.  The bad designs we see today are the result of corporate mindsets that completely misunderstand what the actual form and functionality are.  Overuse of color correction in movies is a form mistake, the movie equivalent of auto tune and needs to die like shaky cam and auto tune.  Oversimplification of software interface is a functionality mistake.

In an effort to get more images of the new Ariane out there, as well as have a little fun, I want to try and answer a question that I have been asking myself since I finalized the new Ariane.  Is there a celebrity that she looks like?

The question hit me over the head while walking through a shopping mall and seeing the “classic” Ariane staring back at me through the display window at Ann Taylor.  It was actually a picture of Demi Moore, who between age and some plastic surgery did not look like the girl I remember from Ghost, but is now a spot on match for the old Ariane.  It kind of freaked me out a little.

So I decided I want to find a celebrity that looks like the “new” Ariane.  So I started my search where Ariane began with Audrey Hepburn. Three incarnations of Ariane’s ago I designed her to look just like Audrey, but various model changes kind of morphed her away from that ideal.  Does the new Ariane look at all like Audrey.  Well there is a little bit of a resemblance in general, but far from perfect.  If I were to attempt to make her look like Audrey now, the only thing I would not touch would be the nose.  The biggest difference is in the strong square jawline.  It is a seemingly masculine feature that looks weird on most women, but somehow Audrey Hepburn and Angelina Jolie look beautiful with one.

So the next candidate for new Ariane celebrity look alike also showed up at my trip to a mall where I saw a promo poster for a new family film Dolphin Tale, and thought Ashley Judd could be a candidate.  Maybe it was the long black hair in the poster that made me consider her, because when I put the two together, there does not seem to be much resemblance…or is there?  Looking closer, the eyes are obviously way off, but nose, mouth, and jawline are pretty close. Hmm…

A better candidate would be Vanessa Hudgens, this young former child star from the Disney factory of young celebrities, was one of the hot chicks from Sucker Punch. I saw a picture of her online and thought she would be the one.  Going over the various pictures of her online however, convinced me she isnt.  Her problem is the exact opposite of Ashley Judd.  Her eyes are a perfect match, but Vanessa’s nose is wider, and instead of a slight overbite, she has a slight underbite.

Three examples of “almost” gave me an idea.  So thanks to MorphThing.com, I created a composite of Ashley Judd, Vanessa Hudgens, and Audrey Hepburn.  The results are the best yet!

There you have it.  Ariane is a composite of all three combined.

If you have any other celebrity suggestions, bring them up in the comments.

Sometimes its fun to pick a word, type it into the SL search, and see what comes up. So I decided to try typing in “Museum”. The usual assortment of art galleries came up, but the cool thing about SL is that you don’t have to build a museum according to typical real world rules. Lots of walls with lots of pretty pictures, is not that interesting in a virtual world.

I was on the lookout for something different. The above picture is a good example. You may recognize it as Nighthawks, what you may not recognize is that its a 3D representation of the famous Edward Hopper painting without the people, and I’m sitting in one of the occupied chairs from the painting. The 3D model is located in a lot called Primtings, which hopes to make more 3D models of famous paintings but only has the one for now.

I previously did a There version of Nighthawks you can see on my There Magic page.

 

One of the first museums that came up on a word search of “museum” was the Museum of Robots, which sounds just strange enough for what I was looking for. This is a more traditional museum, with lots of 2D and three or 4 3D models of famous robots from TVs and movies. There is also an art gallery in the back featuring a set of paintings called “Robots and Donuts” that I thought was quite an original subject to paint about.

Back to the more interactive museums is the Museum of Prog Rock. Being a longtime fan of progressive rock, I had to check this out. It contains a lot of 3D representations of famous album covers from Genesis to Pink Floyd. Many you can pose for, including costumes you can purchase. Above is the famous cover of Rush Moving Pictures.

Below I decided to pose for a couple of other Rush poses. Left is the Rush logo, on the right is the cover of Hemispheres. The originals have naked men on them, thought I’d try the feminine touch.