Monarch Butterflies – Santa Cruz, CA

Every year during winter time, the Monarch butterflies migrate from Northern areas and congregate around the exact same branches of Eucalyptus trees near Natural Bridges Beach in Santa Cruz, CA.

The Monarches are one of the longest-lived butterfly species, with some living up to 12 months.

The fact that they live for about a year means that the butterflies that come back next year won’t be the same individuals. They will be their descendants, but will still gather around the same branches, on the same trees, on the same beach in Santa Cruz.

The World Has Changed – Evolve Video

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When we set to produce a video to help introduce Coffee Bean Technology to the market, our initial idea was to create a 3-minute film talking about Technology and its effects in society.

But as we started working with Luciana Eguti and Paulo Muppet from Birdo (an internationally recognized and award-winning video studio in Brazil), we shifted towards producing a shorter, animated film using a more universal language.

In Luciana and Paulo’s words: “For the art style, we wanted a cartoon style, taking us back to the classics of the New Yorker magazine and the animation movies of the 50’s.”

The result is Evolve.

The voice-over is by Megan, daughter of my colleague Graham.

Call your children and show it to them. Send links to your friends.

Visit the Coffee Bean Technology YouTube channel.

Light Effects – Photography in New York City

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A few years ago, I was at Times Square in New York City in a cold winter night and took a few experimental photos of anonymous crowd silhouettes against the city lights. I liked the unexpected result.

Then, just last month, I was back in New York for a Social Media conference and returned to Times Square to take new photos. The technique I used was to shoot from a low-perspective with a compact camera and using the resulting blur to produce a dream or painting-like result. I do not use flash and do not look through the viewfinder (I am roughly pointing the camera to people from waist-level as I walk past them), so the shots are quasi-random.

After these photos, I had dinner at Tout Va Bien on 51st St (Margaret’s recommendation). Service is wonderfully bad as it should be if you don’t speak French. But if you persist, you end up loving the place. If you ever go there, order the Coq au Vin and tell the owner you know Marcio from California and that I told you he would give you an extra carafe of house wine. You are guaranteed to get two free carafes.

These first two shots are similar to the original ones I took several years ago. This is the effect that inspired me to explore the technique.

The next two are my favorites of this batch. Both are blurred female bodies against the night lights and produced the painting-like effect I was looking for, making them almost abstract.

The last two in this series are more literal. I like the hand-in-pocket pattern in the photo on the left.

Enlightenment at DiVerso

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DiVerso was a an exhibition of Brazilian contemporary artists organized by the Consulate General of Brazil to celebrate the opening of new premises in San Francisco.

It run from Nov/2009 to the first quarter of 2010 and featured works by Aparecida Abdalla, Vera Costa, Sidnea D’Amico, Mauricia Gandara, Silvia Poloto, Regis Silva, and Mariangela Smania.

My friend Mariangela Smania is an artist born in Rio De Janeiro. I collaborated with her in “Enlightenment”, the mixed media piece she displayed at DiVerso. My task was to help to conceive the installation and then design and build the box that creates the light effects and supports the fiberglass panel.

Here is the text I wrote to introduce the piece at the exhibition:

“Enlightnement” (Mariangela Smania, Mixed Media, 2009)

Philosopher and Scholar Marshall McLuhan stated that “The Media is the Message”, that the most important effect of an expression should be attributed to the medium itself, more than the content it carries. He also wrote “The serious artist is the only person able to encounter technology with impunity, just because she is an expert aware of the changes in sense and perception.”

In this piece, Mariangela Smania combines unlikely medium components to create a work that is both minimalistic and complex. She lets the medium carry the message and leaves space for us to interact with it and get to our own conclusions. Using its own light source, Enlightnement is not a work of art passively waiting to be observed and interpreted. It grabs and brings us in to imprint its effects on the observer.

While using new experimental medium, in this work Mariangela brings her signature element from her previous work: pieces of tree bark and natural fibers, creating layers of texture and representing moments and experiences in our lives.

The combination of light, water and life is full of energy and impetus, but also surprising peace and balance. On a different dimension, the juxtaposition and harmonious integration of electronics, resin medium, and organic bark elements seems to suggest our minds of the need to create space for nature in the synthetic environment we live in.