contemporary art, design, performance art

John Maeda is the Fortune Cookie, Riflemaker

November 17, 2010

Despite better intentions, this blog post is all about me. And you can see none other than myself in this Polaroid taken by artist, academic, and sometime futurologist John Maeda.

I met John earlier today in a sandpit where he is spending four days in performance as a sort of live interactive fortune cookie. That is his advice to me, scrawled beneath the picture.

My consultation lasted ten minutes and ran contrary to expectations. I had meant to ask about the future of art and the future of journalism, but within 30 seconds I was blethering.

I also had a theory that oracular wisdom belonged to literature, just as beauty might have belonged to art and perhaps emotion was in the realm of music. So was this piece to be a literary crossover?

In fact, it had more in common with music. It had emotional affect. And those emotions were fear plus a sense that, as Maeda wrote in the sand before me, things were slipping out of control.

And then at one point he wrote the word “dancer” and by way of explanation said that I showed an awareness of my own body of which I had up to that point been quite unaware. Hmm.

But it was hard not to believe the Rhode Island School of Design professor, as he drew me out and summed me up in a format which was like therapy with Don Draper from TV show Madmen.

There were reservations. Despite what Andy Warhol said, I’m not a fan of convergence between art and business, and major brands have indeed come to Maeda for his blue-chip advice.

Then there was also confusion when the artist handed me this Polaroid. I had requested a more anonymous photo of a drawing in the sand, so I got more than I paid for with this signed portrait.

For whatever reason, I was not about to argue. And the 10-minute appointments, free so long as you buy an artwork, already contain generous amounts of Maeda’s energy and insights.

Since this is such a first person account of the experience, I should mention that my ex also had her fortune told earlier in the day and was happy for me to blog about that also.

As you can see from this photo of them both, he calls her an integrity chameleon. As far as I am concerned, where she is concerned, he has really nailed it there. In that at least, I can be objective.

This four day only live exhibition (16-19 November) at Riflemaker, London, is already fully booked. But if you like the sound of John Maeda’s work, you can follow him on Twitter, get some free downloads here, or watch him give a very engaging 17 minute talk.

5 Comments

  • Reply jottadotcom November 18, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    met John Maeda in sandpit on Tuesday! read our interview with him for another look at his inspiring outlook on the future:

    “What I want to achieve now is to get the focus away from technology – I want countries to equate innovation with technology, thus they will equate innovation with art and design, and with artists.”

    http://www.jotta.com/jotta/published/home/article/v2-published/1206/in-conversation-john-maeda-on-twitter-and-getting-the-a-in-stem

    • Reply Mark Sheerin November 19, 2010 at 12:38 am

      Thanks for the link – an enjoyable read – and thanks for the comment. I’m not quite so inspired by the future, but it seems good there are people who are.

  • Reply Millie November 18, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Brilliant entry! We found it just as awe inspiring
    “People engaging in social media are doing what artists do all the time – they express their humanity, and sometimes people aren’t listening.”
    http://tiny.cc/iuhe1

    • Reply Mark Sheerin November 19, 2010 at 12:39 am

      Thanks for reading! But I’m not sure I agree with that. If tweets are art, then why not speech? To me it seems art is something to be worked at, but maybe I’m wrong.

  • Reply KAREN LEUNG: Works and Words in Branding and Design January 30, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    […] exhibition at Riflemaker, London. Here is a piece of wisdom John gave me: Have a look at what others got. Have a read on what my friend Millie wrote about John in Jotta. No […]

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