JR: The Compellingly Powerful Street Art of a Guerrilla-Photograffeur

Women Are Heroes: Paris

Women Are Heroes: Paris

Women Are Heroes: London

Women Are Heroes: Kenya

Women Are Heroes: Kenya

The Wrinkles of the City: Shanghai

The Wrinkles of the City: Shanghai

JR: The Compellingly Powerful Street Art of a Guerrilla-Photograffeur

The illusive JR has pasted gigantic portraits all over the world, and the public still doesn’t know the artist’s full name. He insists on JR, which are his real initials. He refers to his performance-exhibitions as the mix of photography with graffiti art. His work involves showing up in a shantytown in Kenya or a favela in Brazil, a place where some event has been noted in the media and has captured his attention.  His work turns it inside out, photographing the residents, then wrapping their buildings with the results, on a scale so vast that you can see their eyes from the sky.

Often he works through the night, and as soon as he’s done, he disappears; so when the installation becomes front-page news, there is no one left to explain it but the people whose voices had not been previously heard. As a woman from Kibera, a neighborhood in Nairobi, put it in Women Are Heroes, a documentary recently released in France that JR made about his work: “Photos can’t change the environment. But if people see me there, they’ll ask me: ‘Who are you? Where do you come from?’ And then I’m proud.”

JR’s collection of works entitled Women Are Heroes, features a compelling and empowering style focused on the struggles of women in society today. JR was recently awarded the 2011 TED Prize for Women Are Heroes.  At the age of 28, JR is the youngest recipient of the $100,000 prize.

JR’s latest project is The Wrinkles of the City, an installation of street pieces in Shanghai (and later, in other large cities). The project features images of the elderly, who represent the memory of the city. The photographs have been pasted up at locations that he feels speak to the heritage of a city that has definitely had its share of ups and downs, “from the Japanese occupation, the establishment of the Communist Party, The Liberation, World War II, the end of the foreign concessions, the victory of Mao Zedong over the General Tchang Kaï-Chek’s troops, the Cultural Revolution, the Great Leap Forward to the actual development of the city.

R expo Paris de Women Are Heroes

Women Are Heroes (Trailer)

Meet the 2011 TED Prize Winner: JR

JR’s TED Prize Wish: Use Art to Turn the World Inside Out

Slide Show: JR/The Compellingly Powerful Street Art of a Guerrilla-Photograffeur

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Isaac Mizrahi: He Eats Out, He Sees Shows and a Million Other Things

Isaac Mizrahi: He Eats Out, He Sees Shows and a Million Other Things

Isaac Mizrahi: An Eccentric, Uniquely American Personality

Isaac Mizrahi was born in Brooklyn, New York, of Syrian Jewish heritage. He’s the cousin of rock guitarist Sylvain Sylvain, who was a band member in the New York Dolls. Mizrahi went to school at New York City’s Yeshivah of Flatbush, The High School of Performing Arts and Parsons School of Design. He’s the Creative Director for the Liz Claiborne fashion, where he oversees design and marketing for the women’s apparel and accessories line. As a leader in the fashion design business for almost twenty years, Isaac has been awarded four awards from The Council of Fashion Designers of America, including a special award in 1996 for his groundbreaking documentary Unzipped. Mizrahi also designed the costumes for Liza Minnelli’s 1991 stage show Stepping Out which earned him a 1993 Emmy nomination for the 1992 televised PBS special based on that production. He also won a Drama Desk Award for his costume design for a revival of the classic Broadway play The Women in 2002.

TED Talks/Isaac Mizrahi: Fashion, Passion and a Million Other Things

Style Makes You Feel Great, Because it Takes Your Mind Off the Fact That You’re Going to Die-

In his appearance at the 2008 TED Conference in Monterrey, California, fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi spins through a dizzying array of inspirations, from 1950s pinups to a fleeting glimpse of a hole in a shirt that makes him shout “Stop the cab!” Mizrahi’s fashion design mission comes wrapped in endless colorful charisma, and inside his freewheeling talk are real clues to living a happy and creative life.

Isaac Mizrahi at TED: Fashion, Passion and a Million Other Things

Isaac Mizrahi’s Award-Winning Documentary on the Fashion Industry: Unzipped

Isaac Mizrahi’s Groundbreaking Documentary: Unzipped

Mizrahi’s documentary actually seems to make filmmaking easy. It looks like simply a matter of finding a sharped-tongued subject with a fascinating line of work, pointing the camera and coming up with a film clever enough to win the Audience Award at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival. The strength of Unzipped lies in how casual it seems, the way it creates the feeling that you’re simply hanging out with its protagonist, the celebrated New York fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi.

A sly monologuist and born entertainer, Mizrahi finds talking as natural as designing clothes and is on target with both. He’s the kind of witty performer who holds the screen just doing a crossword puzzle; Mizrahi is enormous fun to be with and considerably more charismatic than the pop culture icons like Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell who make brief appearances to model his creations. Unzipped benefits from the fact that there is something naturally funny about the fashion industry. The film shows all those nominal grown-ups getting into a series of tizzies about nothing more important than . . . clothes. It’s almost as ridiculous as the movie business itself.

Isaac Mizrahi: Unzipped (1995)

Slide Show: Fashion Designer Isaac Mizrahi

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Jeff Han: The Amazingly Orgasmic Pixel Guy

Jeff Han: The Amazingly Orgasmic Pixel Guy

The Emergence of Multi-Touch Technology

When Steve Jobs first introduced Apple’s iPhone at Macworld last year, the feature that evoked the most excitement was its touch-screen interface, allowing more than one touch at a time. The multi-touch technology added innovative new functions, such as allowing the user to easily zoom in and out of pictures and web pages by pinching the screen with two fingers.

But a more advanced version of the amazing power of multi-touch technology has been unleashed upon screens much larger than those on the iPhones. Over the past few years, Jeff Han, a research scientist at New York University, has developed a relatively inexpensive way to make large multi-touch screens that can accommodate 10, 20, or even more fingers. He foresees applications that range from interactive whiteboards to touch-screen tables and digital walls, any of which can manipulated by more than just one person. Han’s company, Perspective Pixel, is based upon the unique multi-touch technology that he’s pioneered.

The Amazing Perspective Pixel

Han’s touch display is made of clear acrylic with light-emitting diodes that are attached to the edges, which illuminate a six-millimeter-thick acrylic piece with infrared light. Normally, the light from the diodes reflects along predictable paths within the acrylic plate, a physical phenomenon called total internal reflection. However, once a finger or other object touches the acrylic, the internally reflecting light diffuses at the point of contact, scattering outside the surface. Behind the acrylic surface, there is a camera that captures this light and using simple image-processing software, the captured scattering is interpreted in real time as discrete touches and strokes.

Many researchers who’ve been working for decades on touch technology have been extremely excited to see these developments. “For almost two decades, we’ve been trapped by the tyranny of the screen, the mouse, and the keyboard,” observed Don Norman, professor at Northwestern University, in Chicago, and the author of The Design of Future Things. “It’s nice to think we’re breaking away from that and going toward touch-screen manipulation in the real physical world.”

What follows below is a video that presents a fascinating demonstration of Han’s Pespective Pixel, an exhibition that he made of “Perspective Pixel” at the annual TED Conference in Aspen, Colorado.

Jeff Han Presenting Perspective Pixel at TED

You can read more about Jeff Han’s groundbreaking Perspective Pixel in The Technology Review here.

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Sandor Teszler: The Story of a Passionate Life

Wofford College: Old Main Building

The Sandor Teszler Library

Sandor Teszler: Biographic Notes

Sandor Teszler had been born in the old Austro-Hungarian empire, ostracized from childhood not so much because he was a Jew as because he was afflicted with club feet, requiring many painful operations. From an early age he loved music, especially opera, and later in life he would befriend his fellow exile, the composer Bela Bartok.

Extremely successful in the textile business, Teszler thought that his contributions to society would protect him from the Nazis. He was wrong, almost fatally so, for he and his wife and two sons were taken to a death house on the Danube, where victims were systematically beaten to death. Midway through their beatings, one of his sons pointed to the poison capsule each of them bore in a locket about his neck. “Is it time to take the pill now, Papa?” he asked. Inexplicably, one of their tormentors leaned down to whisper in Teszler’s ear, “Don’t take the capsule. Help is on the way.” Shortly afterwards, the family was rescued by an official from the Swiss embassy and taken to safety.

After coming to this country and making another fortune, he set about improving the lives of everyone he met. In the aftermath of the Brown versus Board of Education desegregation ruling, Teszler noted the escalating rhetoric around him. “I have heard this talk before,” he said. And with a combination of shrewdness and saintliness worthy of Gandhi, he decided be the first in the Southern textile region to integrate the work force in his mills.

Setting up heavy equipment in an unused high school gym, he took a group of workers for a prospective mill in King’s Mountain, N.C., to live there on the premises while learning the new operation. Half of the workers were white and half were black. After an initial tour of this temporary facility, he asked if there were any questions. Following an uneasy silence, one of the white workers raised his hand and said he was puzzled to find there was only one dormitory and one shower room. “That is correct,” Mr. Teszler answered. “You are being paid considerably more than other textile workers in this region, and this is how we do things. Are there any other questions?” “I guess not,” the worker said.

Some weeks later, when the new mill opened, workers of both races were greeted by a group of black and white foremen standing shoulder to shoulder. “Are there any questions?” a black foreman asked. After some shuffling about, one of the white workers raised his hand. “Let me get this straight,” he queried. “Is this plant integrated?” One of the white foremen stepped forward, the same man who’d asked a similar question some weeks earlier. “That is correct,” he said. “You’re being paid a lot more than other textile workers in this region and this is how we do things. Any other questions?” There were none.

Sandor Teszler at Wofford College

For Teszler, such episodes served to confirm his faith that people are fundamentally good. And, in the company of this man with such persuasive cause for thinking otherwise, people did tend to discover their better selves. Through the last decade of his life, well into his 90s, Sandor Teszler graced the campus of Wofford College in South Carolina, attending so many classes that the faculty, acknowledging a wisdom and experience far greater than their own, honored themselves by making him an honorary professor.

To hundreds of Wofford students he was simply “Opi,” Hungarian for grandfather. Today, the Wofford College library bears his name. In addition, Wofford has established the Sandor Teszler Award, which is given annually to a person who has made outstanding humanitarian contributions. Benjamin B. Dunlap, President of Wofford College, told the dramatic life story of Sandor Teszler at the prestigious TED conference last year in Monterey, California. The video of Dr. Dunlap’s talk is presented for you below.

Sandor Teszler at Wofford

Sandor Teszler: The Story of a Passionate Life

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