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  • theaptPORTFOLIO

    theaptSHOWS

    June 24, 2013

    we’ve come to that time of the year when the apartment family usually takes an extended leave of absence in order to seek new inspiration, for a month or two, in lands saturated with olive oil, hard cheeses and soft fruits. and so it is again today. except different. this time, it’s for a year or two…

    see, journeys have felt for me lately so few and far between. I miss the real journeys, not mere trips of leisure but adventures that promote discovery as well as discomfort, that teach us just as we were convinced we knew everything, that attempt to create new familiarities. with most of our time spent at destinations, fulfilling geographical, personal, or professional obligations, we too rarely spend time wondering about the next departure as we tend to stay too long in any one place, comforted by knowing it too well and forgetting why we arrived at this strange place to begin with, because it was strange, because we were curious, once, because we had something to lose…

    certainly, that’s why i moved to New York City in september 1989, while an 18 year-old french boy, and i frankly am flabbergasted that i stayed this long…

    well, i fib a little, i do know. I know it took time to properly investigate all the aspects of life i found to be fascinating, it took time for such investigation to flower into an emerging personality, it took time to then try and grow laterally in a place that always wants us looking up. well, it took 25 years. from 18 to now 43 (that’s 25 years, right?…) easily persuaded by this tall and dark hostess to spend all my money in her shop.

    but now, perhaps predictably, i feel a void, excavated by years spent chasing what might constitute a considered life, years surely growing more efficient, years finding ways to accomplish each task not to success but to satisfaction. i always felt a need to subtract from my life the unessentials, if not materially (numerous storage facilities throughout manhattan can testify to that,) at least psychologically, enough to now find myself satisfied, opening the doors to a life, not of ease but potentially consisting as much as possible of what i want to do.

    problem is, i don’t know what i want to do…

    over the past 25 years, i have been lucky to dabble in photography, theology, filmmaking, retail, design, architecture, writing, philosophical research, music and cooking as part of the poorly-named “creative agency” business my wife gina and i launched in 1999 and i was obsessed by each and every one of those activities at the time of discovery and subsequent experimentation; but now feel my thirst quenched. of course, i am not trying to pretend i have no more to learn about each subject, lord knows how little i know, only that obsession, fascination, even addiction have always been necessary components of my interest, they are what first sparks curiosity, murders procrastination and feeds for the long run, but something i no longer feel for any of anything. well, anything other than apple rumors.

    and so, a void was created. by me. to fill.

    what with ? i don’t know yet. and as much as i am aware that a change in geography has little to do with finding one’s mind, there is one thing i am sure of: i am sick of my point of view, literally. also, figuratively. the belief system i now hold to be true was forged decades ago and evolved into a set of values against which i now judge my environment and the people and things in it. also, tweets from @robdelaney. these values are what allow me to “decide” whether something is ostensibly “good” or “just good enough to wipe myself with.” yes, i’m charming. thing is, as much as i back evolution in my kid’s textbook, i am a proponent of creation in my own life, of my own life, i should say. and that is a process i have not actively put in motion in years. i miss it. i miss the act of deciding one morning that you’re a filmmaker, a few afternoons later that you can design homes and websites, that you’ve had enough of a neighborhood, city or country and leave for another… for over a decade now, i wore the shoes of the 30 year-old me, letting them lead me where he wanted to go, or stay, instead of asking myself if they still fit! well, it stops today, i’m sick of that guy, his shoes and all his lustrous hair!

    my family and i have decided to change that point of view, literally first by moving to Bologna, Italy, where the wine is sweet and the tortellini appropriately cheesy, and figuratively second by consciously and actively questioning who we are; through those questions, hopefully eventually arrive at what we shall do.

    that said, i assume that it won’t be easy to focus on the self when meals such as the above arrive at your table with the prosciutto in a separate plate because “the heat from the pizza would ruin the taste in the time it takes to bring it from the kitchen to the table were it on top…”

    the goal of this adventure is threefold:

    1. to prove out that a business can be run from anywhere one the world.
    2. to establish a base from which travelling north, south, east and west is easy, affordable and practical.
    3. to be fed new knowledge as well as un-refrigerated tomatoes.

    now, this very well could be a complete bust but we are intent on taking the leap we have so often talked about, and heard talked about, and diving into the boiling water of change, aware, apprehensive but excited at the prospect of newness. it might be a bust but cannot be a waste of time.

    the funny thing is that as we set up this new european outpost, the running of the apartment creative agency will most likely be exactly the same. still communicating, still writing proposals, still putting together teams of incredible designers and strategists from all over the world and executing incredible, if slightly odd, experiences for our clients. such is the way of the always-on global nomad. we are very much looking forward to experimenting with the furthest notions of “remote work” and thank our current and soon-to-be clients for trusting that it will works. because it works already.

    so, on we go, tweeting, flickering and branching all the way through. it’s going to be interesting.

    at least that’s what i’m telling myself because i’m scared shitless! but that’s my story and it’s sticking to me.

    have an incredible summer and don’t forget to write!

    April 16, 2013

    girl

    can there ever be peace? can we ever get along? is it possible for israeli not to go after palestinians, for north koreans not to go after south koreans, for taliban not to go after who is not like them, for us not to go after who we don’t approve of? sadly, probably not before pepsi stops going after coke… everyday, as near as we may live next to others, we don’t really live with them, we cohabitate. it seems that we merely tolerate the presence of other life forms and mostly think about how we can stand on their shoulders in order to appear a little bit taller. whether we choose to eat them, display them in zoos, or try to go after their position, which we believe should have been granted to us, always we seem not to desire to exist together but to win. and win what? success? money? a v.i.p. seat in whatever you call heaven? i know our social contract wasn’t signed long ago but should we not have learned by now that toleration, at the very least, must lead the way to understanding? but that seems to be a tough request, whether the “other” cuts us off on the highway or represents different patriotic ideals.

    to achieve any form of peace, we must try interaction and leave reaction to the birds, we must try empathy and leave apathy to vultures, we must try because if we don’t, there will soon be none of us left. we must try because if we don’t, every generation, as it has for the past five thousand years, will sadly continue to have to explain to their children that our species does not learn from its mistakes. if we consider ourselves superior, let’s start acting superior, by learning humility, by being the bigger man, by embracing ourselves. pepsi, your move…

    March 18, 2013

    oped-new7

    i’ve had up it to here (at about frontal lobe height) with people who want to “put a dent in the universe” thinking themselves clever for re-using the wishful fantasy of one dramatic feeling steven p. jobs. those who exaggerate in such a way are usually people who love to hide behind hyperbole in order to seem extremely ambitious while, at the same, be obligated to do very little in order to then be at least able to boast of their extraordinary try when they fail. truth is, the universe cares little about a computer mouse, a graphical user interface or a touchscreen phone, however magical they may seem. i know, big shock. these inventions do not change the course of cosmic evolution, they simply, at best, help us order underwear faster. we know this, all of us know this, so why do we conspire to cultivate in our global stages, classrooms and tweets a language of overkill rhetoric that has so far proven nothing of its effectiveness on those of us looking for encouragement? why do we still instist on inspiring others to “reach the sky” when we still have so much work to do on the soil? yes, matters of language may be superficial but this obsession with exaggeration has become the standard among would-be dispensers of motivation who leave us wondering if our failure to follow through on our planned journey to neverland was our fault and that is not ok.

    what if, instead of trying to deal a blow to the marvellous paint finish of space, we merely tried to reach goals a little closer to home? for most of us, even trying to positively influence the entire planet would a task that demands the commitment of a lifetime and probably unending resources, not to mention talent, so why not try the opposite of what every single TED speaker advises and focus our minds narrowly, on objectives that we care deeply about and that obey the rules of personal practical logic. see, for steve jobs, invention in a growing industrial realm was not a dream, it was a day-to-day activity, not a re-definition of the possible, merely a matter of ingenuity and engineering. perhaps in his own mind, when he closed his eyes before sleeping, he imagined his place in the microcosm of our little blue marble to be of some importance but he knew that he was simply doing what he had to and chose to dedicate all his time to doing it as well as he could. that is not a compromise made as a result of failing to turn coal into gold, which is what i assume is meant when advice-givers goad us to “make the impossible, possible,” that is literally the best we can do. and why should that not be enough? why reach beyond our best when we cannot conceive of the inconceivable? let’s not get lost in grandiloquence for the sake of impressing our “followers,” shall we?

    so, please, stop reaching for the stars and reach for a friend, reach for a few more hours to do a better job, reach for an extra project which may allow for an extra trip to an undiscovered land this summer where you may reach for your lover on the first rainy morning but don’t reach for over-wrought metaphors that you neither created nor feel really up to accomplishing. all it will do is breed un-fulfillable expectations which will inevitably frustrate and precipitate further hesitation. nobody who has ever done anything of value has ever reached for the stars, they just did what they needed to do when they needed to do it, it’s pretty fucking simple. analogies, metaphors, parallels and mottos are nothing but talk, let’s leave them at that.

    and let’s all stop talking this week.

    March 11, 2013

    good

    nothing profound, nothing over-thought, certainly not layered but a quick thought i had yesterday as i was wondering what propels me forward in my work and in my life. this conclusion does not care for competition, for excellence, for perfection or even comparison. and it suits me just fine. have a nice day.

    March 4, 2013

    please, tell me if i’m wrong about this… as soon as there were cave dwellers, there were cave drawings. and as soon as there were cave drawings, there were storytellers. and as soon as there were storytellers, there were myth-makers. and the myths they made spoke of the unknown, of gods looking at us, judging us and deciding we could not be left alone. that is when the myth-makers discovered their power, when they understood that they could influence, guide and have authority over others as they told those amazing stories, especially if they involved aspects supernatural, aspects that could not be satisfyingly explained for they had no documented context and, most importantly, could not be proven wrong by empirical study. the greeks believed their dreams to have been transmitted during the night by the gods telling them what to do. the romans had the demiurge, a very, very tall man, who could actually reach into the heavens, talk to the gods and relay their messages back down to mere mortals. we have pat robertson, granted a diminished source of wisdom but still, all-in-all, a myth-maker in his own right. all of them, not merely content with transmission but requiring obedience without investigation. what once was wonder was turned into indispensable certainty in one or another’s story and the exclusion of the others’, to the detriment of peace. that was the beginning of faith.

    could the motivation for such an unreasonable approach be the simple, base, human need for control? i think so. control over ourselves, over our own fears, certainly. but then, still, our lives are just too damn hard, aren’t they? it was too hard then and it is too hard now not to have a safety net. and religion, as it eventually became known, is quick to provide one, which it does elegantly because it is so rich with stories, so rich with characters, so rich with lessons, with morality, with not-so-white lies. religion tries to do what art had done before it, to rationalize what keats romantically called “negative capability,” the wish to find a way for us to live with the unexplainable. art does so much, with so much more humility as it attempts, with mere interpretation of the world, to show us that which cannot be shown, daring us to look beyond form. art shows us, by nature, that there are parts of this world we cannot see, but it does so without vanity because it dares not name that which it cannot know, it dares not draw its face. the very opposite of the religious approach, on the whole.

    that is why i will go ahead and keep drawing, playing, choosing colors and camera angles in order to fill the void left by the original confusion and wish you an equally artful week!

    February 4, 2013

    manifesto

    as penn jillette once remarked… “The question I get asked by religious people all the time is, without God, what’s to stop me from raping all I want? And my answer is: I do rape all I want. And the amount I want is zero. And I do murder all I want, and the amount I want is zero.” see, atheists do have moral codes, they are just self-defined and applied. and alain de botton has just the list for you disbelievers of unbelievers, a perfect way to start the week, don’t you think?…

    January 14, 2013

    oped-new7

    for a while i have been looking for some just and eloquent way to express my disconcerted opinion about the tenuous relationship between violence in art and violence in life that some people are trying to make the argument for in the aftermath, and continuing disasters, that are senseless shootings of innocent people. turns out, stanley kubrick had already perfectly articulated such feelings in an interview with noted french critic michel ciment at the time of the release of “a clockwork orange.” because of course. you can read the full interview here but i excerpted the relevant passage for your convenience:

    “There has always been vio­lence in art. There is vio­lence in the Bible, vio­lence in Homer, vio­lence in Shake­speare, and many psy­chi­a­trists believe that it serves as a cathar­sis rather than a model. I think the ques­tion of whether there has been an increase in screen vio­lence and, if so, what effect this has had, is to a very great extent a media-defined issue. I know there are well-intentioned peo­ple who sin­cere­ly believe that films and TV con­tribute to vio­lence, but almost all of the offi­cial stud­ies of this ques­tion have con­clud­ed that there is no evi­dence to sup­port this view. At the same time, I think the media tend to exploit the issue because it allows them to dis­play and dis­cuss the so-called harm­ful things from a lofty posi­tion of moral supe­ri­or­i­ty.

    But the peo­ple who com­mit vio­lent crime are not ordi­nary peo­ple who are trans­formed into vicious thugs by the wrong diet of films or TV. Rather, it is a fact that vio­lent crime is invari­ably com­mit­ted by peo­ple with a long record of anti-social behav­iour, or by the unex­pect­ed blos­som­ing of a psy­chopath who is described after­ward as hav­ing been ‘…such a nice, quiet boy,’ but whose entire life, it is later real­ized, has been lead­ing him inex­orably to the ter­ri­ble moment, and who would have found the final osten­si­ble rea­son for his action if not in one thing then in anoth­er. In both instances immense­ly com­pli­cat­ed social, eco­nom­ic and psy­cho­log­i­cal forces are involved in the indi­vid­ual’s crim­i­nal behav­iour.

    The sim­plis­tic notion that films and TV can trans­form an oth­er­wise inno­cent and good per­son into a crim­i­nal has strong over­tones of the Salem witch tri­als. This notion is fur­ther encour­aged by the crim­i­nals and their lawyers who hope for mit­i­ga­tion through this excuse. I am also sur­prised at the extreme­ly illog­i­cal dis­tinc­tion that is so often drawn between harm­ful vio­lence and the so-called harm­less vio­lence of, say, “Tom and Jerry” car­toons or James Bond movies, where often sadis­tic vio­lence is pre­sent­ed as unadul­ter­at­ed fun. I has­ten to say, I don’t think that they con­tribute to vio­lence either. Films and TV are also con­ve­nient whip­ping boys for politi­cians because they allow them to look away from the social and eco­nom­ic caus­es of crime, about which they are either unwill­ing or unable to do anything.”

    that last point about the difference between “harm­ful vio­lence and the so-called harm­less vio­lence” is what gets me the most as the line seems to me as thin as carpaccio. so used are we to “everyday violence” that we wouldn’t dream of blaming it, would we? only the new and improved violence should be considered for censorship, that of gaspard noé (nsfw) or the used (nsfw) fitting the bill nicely when that of volkswagen or disney are too common to be anything but accepted and acceptable. shall we then eliminate it all? keep it all albeit overseen by a select few who guard the rest of us from exposure to “the hard stuff?” and if so, who?… there are no satisfying answers to these questions, only the study of the past and opinions of the students of that past. per mr. kubrick, i conclude what they do, that the argument is mere distraction.

    have as peaceful a week as possible.

    January 2, 2013

    oped-new7

    to my own surprise, i have become quite a proponent of the yearly reset afforded the switch in calendar year. not in order to resolve to do things or become someone different from the last twelve months, mind you, as those too often and quickly collect cobwebs in the attic of good intentions. no, rather i use the popular date to put everything i have and currently believe in back into play, not take any of it for granted just because i once believed in them. i look at my work, see if it is still exciting. i look at my wife, see if she is still interesting. i look at my belief systems, see if they still check out. and so on with politics, musical taste, geography, friendships… in fact, this date, however arbitrary, provides us an oportunity to pass in review all that we were and did for the past year, if not the decade or two, in order to check ourselves for honesty in our deeds. do we still love it or simply continuing a path set by younger versions of ourselves, undisturbed only for lack of questioning or fear to upset the invented order? this is a process i encourage for all for it puts us all into question once a year, a necessarily humbling experience.

    much of the time, i think it is fear that keeps us from it, at least it has been for me. scared to realize that the wishes and dreams of the eighteen, twenty-eight and even thirty-eight year-old i was once are no longer valid and need re-evaluation. fear because re-evaluation takes thought, honesty and work. invariably, the resets don’t fall that far from the original tree, i am still me after all, but they allow ever-so-slight adjustments that each passing year, bring me more into focus. that is what i attempt every year around this time and this year will be no different, adjusting the course for a changing aim.

    let’s listen to ourselves together… good luck to us all and happy new year!

    December 17, 2012

    oped-new7

    imagining the unimaginable as a parent is thinking about not having to get your child ready for school on a sleepy monday morning through no lazyness of your own but because their lives were snatched away by a madman. as scolded as my wife and i routinely get by our kids’ teachers for so rarely getting them to school on time, i have to admit that today, we feel little to no qualms about dressing, feeding and squeezing them slowly and for a bit longer, emailed late-note be damned. to think that 20 sets of parents have to break the routine of hurrying their children along as they brush their teeth, pick out outfits and serve bowls of cereals this morning… my heart breaks as my tears muddle my shirt imagining that which i cannot, going on living without which has giving meaning to my last 10 years on this earth.

    mourning is not enough, action must be taken to care about those for whom life feels too hard to bear before they snatch another life. i have nothing more profound to say on the matter, no prescription, no advice to soothe even my mind, so sad i feel… let’s find a way back this week, together please.

    November 7, 2012

    not just for him but us too. it is time we came together as a country and stopped fucking talking about what we’re going to do, about what we might do, about what we can do… and fucking do it. let’s meet at lunch and check each other on progress shall we?…

    November 6, 2012


    voting in a place of worship makes me seriously question whether these people understand that bit about the separation of church and state…


    being myself still a french citizen (mostly for the cheese,) gina is the only voting adult in our family. i just go along to make her look good.


    voted for the only guy who will not fuck with my internet (see nilay.) also, healthcare. also, women’s rights. also, science.


    last but not least, could it have been a coincidence that somebody left “the impossible dream” sheet music wide open on the church piano in front of the voting booths? i think not…

    not stop reading and GO VOTE!

    November 5, 2012

    twenty-three years i have been a guest on american shores and i could not be more excited to have been allowed to be a part of their eighties, nineties and aughts success story, at least as far as R&B is concerned. and in all that time, i can only categorically catalog three things that could in my opinion, which admittedly has been humbler, plunge this great country into a thousand-year pit of darkness. we are now only one day away from choosing the leader of the free world again and i will base my vote on the platform that promises to act as swiftly on these as possible.

    1. kill the electoral college in favor of popular runoff voting.

    if for any other reason than to be able to break the back of a nonsensical two-party system in which we (the people) do not have the opportunity to vote for a green candidate, a libertarian candidate or even a supremacist one. in my french youth, i always found it so entertaining to have a first round of candidacy which allowed anyone with enough mayoral signatures to take his/her cause to the larger electorate. the risk of having a fringe group show its strength is also the beauty of a process that can actually check reality instead of folding people with increasingly disparate belief systems under animals that no longer represent them. that is how a people can vote its leaders in, regardless of state population or demographics, that is true representation.

    2. kill the imperial system in favor of the metric system.

    if for any reason than to be able to share measurements with, you know, other countries, construction professionals and thoracic surgeons. also, to be lazy about it, three millimeters really is easier to measure than one-eighth of an inch, believe me. i just don’t think there needs to be any pride involved in sticking with a system the rest of the world has abandoned since the most practical aspect of measurement is its ability to be shared among people and professions. take that aspect of its function away and you’re left with your dick in your hand. seven inches btw.

    3. kill daylight savings time in favor of continuous time.

    if for any reason than to be able to call ourselves a modern country. we now live in a twenty-four hour, seven-day, place and time-shiftable society which, for better or worse no longer benefits from a century-old, half-decent idea meant to give leisure seekers more time to chase butterflies. yes, literally. since retailers are open for business on the interweb, since information is incessant and permanent, since service providers are now found through search engines and no longer reachable solely by starting up actual ones, the need to stay open longer to attract foot traffic is laughable. so much time and worry lost for so little benefit, there’s no ROI on DST.

    that’s it. mr. obama, mr. romney, make these happen because the rest of america is perfect. have an incredible week and, since you can and i can’t, go vote tomorrow!

    October 8, 2012

    The long-lost-and-found-and-lost-again-and-found-again city of Pompeii illustrates a conundrum I’d like to address on this Columbus Day. I was lucky to visit the frozen Italian city in the late nineties and, if you have as well, I am sadly sure your experience was similar to mine. There are a hundred guided groups and people with cameras who seemingly do not use their own eyes much since the dumb ocular cavities are yet unable to send to printer. And these people (including me) run from place of predetermined interest to place of predetermined interest and all seem to miss the bigger picture. Surely you were told, as I was, to look on the ground at a crossroads and gaze in admiration but without so much as a slowdown in pace at the rudimentary plumbing system buried in the ground, right? Right. That blew my mind. We moderns take so much for granted that the fact that they, in the actual seventies, had indoor plumbing doesn’t jog something in your brain? People in my group just went on to the next supposedly exciting artifact, never to look back again. It is the reflection of a civilization that cared about hygiene, cared about cleanliness more than the people who had come before them and most after, so that they bothered to engineer an underground network of pipes from house to house which dispensed people from the need to slum to the common trough to wash themselves in the morning and risk contracting Plasmodium falciparum. Of course, not everybody could afford such luxurious indoor facilities; only the rich had plumbing. And what did that mean for the evolution of ancient social strata, for the disparities in all matters of citizenry? And how have we evolved in present society from such inequality, when rich nations today leave poor ones unassisted when it comes to something as basic as what we now consider running water to be? Any relevance worth pointing out between the passing historical anecdote and the downright criminal will of current global policymakers? By my group’s standards, none, I guess. But it can and should at least trigger some questions as you are being boringly lectured while standing on the side of such discovery. Fact is, it rarely happens. When you are shown the erotic frescoes that have long fed the Christian right’s arguments that overt sexuality will be punished by a prude god in the form of murderous lava, people have the choice to snicker or to think about the impact of such nascent liberty and morals in the context of our present life. Most people snicker. And so, as we both take the shuttle back to the airport, you have the same memories as I do of Pompeii. And that is a shame. Because I was not able, and neither were you or the hundreds of thousands of people who visit this important site, to make my own memories, distinct and specific, thoughtful and argued, introspective and useful. We are being told what to remember, given bullet points about all that we saw, even get to take home a show to tell. And that is what travel has turned into, the standardization of memories.
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    October 4, 2012

    so happy and proud to be a part of our friends’ new series over at APT No7 (no relation. yet.) titled how ideas become brands. they will be rolling out episodes one by one next week which all contain fascinating stories about each participant’s experiences with willing the merely imagined in the physical world. i had a wonderful evening talking with craig and his crew and i cannot wait to see the result. tune to their vimeo channel to catch all of them. and mine, of course, which comes out november 13th!

    September 27, 2012

    all in all, even though it is a solid under-the-hood iterative upgrade for my favorite mobile computer, i quite dislike the new general sheen that apple has added to iOS 6. it’s hard to pin-point because it’s not a single app that disturbs but an overall feeling. let’s see, first there’s the new share screen:

    with its icons trying to mimic the home screen when it should have its own vocabulary, there are not enough services, rendering the icons too spaced away from each other. and don’t get me started on the perforated metal icons which have no other correlation throughout the OS other than the industrial design of the phones themselves. then, there’s the dial pad in the all-important phone application:
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