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Julia Fullerton-Batten

Welcome to the wonderland that is the work of photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten.

Building on her growing rep as one of fine art photography’s rising stars, her photo series Teenage Stories landscapes are populated with seemingly indifferent giant girls. Even if you could forget the flawless technical execution in her photographs, the study of that sort of ho-hum teenage banality really pops to life when you imagine one of these bored girls squashing your car with her massive Havaianas. The juxtaposition of the reality of adolescent inner-turmoil against this Alice in Suburbia non-reality makes for an endlessly fascinating play in her work.

Troika Cloud

I want one of these in my living room. Looking to bring a little new-wave pizazz to their understandably high traffic Heathrow Terminal 5, British Airways commissioned UK art and design studio Troika to create "Cloud."

Suspended in the air between 4 escalators and 2 concourses, the 5-metre long digital sculpture is covered with 4638 individually controlled flip dots. A mirrored silver on one side and opaque black on the other, a computer controls the sculpture creating an almost organic, living skin. The versatility and subtlety of the movement is amazing, almost hypnotic. Besides the obvious allusion to flight, the shifting surface of "Cloud" was also inspired by the flipping schedule signage that was commonly used in airports and train stations in the Seventies and Eighties.

Pangea Day

In 2007 Arab-American documentary filmmaker Jehane Noujaim was awarded a TED Idea Prize for her wish to "bring the world together for one day a year through the power of film."

The realization of her dream will happen on May 10, 2008 as Pangea Day takes over the world. Professional and amateur filmmakers are needed to send in their own short films — the only criteria being that they provoke thought, inspire others, and share pieces of their experiences with people who will never meet them. Official live viewings will be hosted in Brazil, Egypt, India, the UK, Israel, the Palestinian Territory, Rwanda and the US; a four-hour live video-conference will show a stretch of films, speakers and music to unify people through the power of common emotion. If you're not in the host cities, then the program will also be broadcast live on TV, online, and on mobile devices or you can take part in hundreds of public viewings being organized in cities everywhere. Even better, you can get involved yourself and host a viewing of your own.

The hope is that millions of people around the world will gather outdoors, at theatres, and with their families to connect with the entire globe. The site explains it perfectly: "Movies alone can't change the world. But the people who watch them can". The February 15th deadline is almost here. Get inspired by the trailer and take part here.

MSU Student Invitational

Okay graphic design students "“ it's time to get your ass in gear and win the adoration of your peers and design-lovers far and wide. Plans at Mississippi State are heating up for the 3rd annual AIGA Student Invitational File Save As"¦ Soirée and they want you to enter. Students from anywhere are eligible and you get unlimited entries for a paltry $15. That's right "“ for the price of two Starbucks you could be well on the road to global design superstardom.

Plus you get your work in front of heavy-hitting industry judges like pattern designer and Also Design co-founder Julia Rothman, and award-winning illustrator, comic book artist, and self-described "typographic thing-maker" (and Carmel Hagen lust-object) Ray Fenwick.

The deadline to enter is February 8th, so there's not time like right now. No, really. Right now "“ turn off Project Runway and enter already.

You Are Beautiful

We live in a world that bombards us with fear-inducing marketing aiming to convince us that we're too ugly, too fat, or too old so that we'll go out and buy stuff to fix it. How often, if ever, do we get sweetly and succinctly told that there's nothing wrong with us? It's the simplicity behind You Are Beautiful that makes its message so immediate and powerful.

The creators of the site and all it's members are anonymous, choosing to let their message speak for itself. Collaborators design different versions of the three words "you are beautiful" and then hi-jack public areas that would normally contain advertising. From more traditional graffiti spaces to usurping billboards and lining the insides of advertising-riddled subway cars, the idea is to replace the ubiquitous consumer-driven messaging we normally see with a compliment. A little burst of positivity, unexpected in the midst of buy-buy-buy messaging, that asks us to do absolutely nothing but feel good about ourselves.

The collected images of how the message has manifested itself created an exhibition that's appeared in galleries around the world. Living up to the true nature of its movement, You Are Beautiful seeks out individuals to contribute as well. People can let out their inner artist with their very own version of the message, be it public or private, and send pics to the site for posting. The only thing they ask is that the message not be commodified or sold in any way – to just always be free and always be true to itself.

Plus, for just the price of postage, Are You Beautiful will mail you a free package of stickers. Spread the message, take pics of where you put your stickers, and send them to the site to be added to the collection.

Earth Hour 2008

I remember having a moment during the big ol' northeastern blackout in 2003. Without electricity, people left their houses. They walked outside and talked to each other. Best of all, I looked up and saw stars. In the wash of billboards and airplanes and skyscrapers, I'd forgotten they were even there.

Sometimes seeing really is believing. Last year, WWF-Australia organized the inaugural Earth Hour. Creating buzz and turning heads around the globe, 2.3 million residents of Sydney simply turned off their lights for one hour. The result is immediate and gives a stunning visual of just how much energy is being used to power our cities. In that one event alone, Australia saw a 10% reduction in use of its power grid. In CO2 terms, that's the equivalent of taking 50,000 cars off the road for an hour.

Now Earth Hour is back for 2008; this global lights out phenomenon wants individuals and the businesses they work for to turn off the lights for one hour. In a world so dependent on electricity and energy-consumption, we need to collectively remind ourselves of what we're doing and how we need to change. On March 29, 2008 at 8pm (in each time zone) you have the chance to become part of Earth Hour's environmental movement. Melbourne, Toronto, Chicago, Copenhagen, Brisbane, Tel Aviv and Manila are just some of the global cities that are taking part. Even if you're not in those cities, you can sign up at the Earth Hour website and have some fun in the dark no matter where you are.

Happy Pills

Mary Poppins had it right. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. Even better, what if the sugar is the medicine.

Designed in Barcelona by studio m, Happy Pills is a modern day collision between confectionary and apothecary. The store, literally wedged between two large buildings, might go unnoticed if not for the acid-pink Red Cross logo above it's door. Inside, the pharmaceutical design bend is consistent: jellybean filled pill bottles and fully-stocked "first aid kits" line the shelves, or you can self-medicate by filling up bottles with your candy of choice.

My personal fave are the handy "morning-afternoon-night" pill holders, just to make sure your sugar-toothing stays on schedule.

19.20.21.

In 2006 the planet crossed a tipping point "“ more than half the world's population now live in cities.

Focusing on 19 cities with populations greater than 20 million people at the turn of the 21st century, 19.20.21. is a 5 year initiative to study the global effects of urbanization. The project plans to use the data collected to become an indispensable tool for urban and business planning.

Since most of the world's biggest cities lie on a coastline, the study is paying particular attention to issues related to the global warming, ocean resources, and energy distribution while also studying factors like crime dynamic and calamity risk. Once gathered, the site aims to distribute its findings in traditional channels like print and TV as well as online and in a series of seminars to be held in each of the 19 cities that were studied.

Daniel Firman

French artist Daniel Firman's work is a diverse bunch of opposites. His life-sized body cast plaster sculptures stand in impossible formations – balanced on each other's feet or crawling upward into an inner tube. Clothed and proportioned, but with faces always hidden, their apparent realness is shocking at first. He plays with the visual trick of making each mannequin look real but defy the laws of gravity at the same time. He achieves the same effect with Suspensions — fully dressed bodies held in the air or flopped over metal bars. It's clear that these aren't static situations — a moment of action has been captured. Not the jump-off or the landing but some instant in between. Incorporated into his installations are his eye-grabbing neon sculptures. The multi-colored lines tend to radiate out from a central point in an attempt to create a perfect shape, but they all deteriorate at a point. Near perfect circles have one line that goes a stray.

One of his current exhibitions, at La Galeri des Galeries, is a celebration in honor of the 20th anniversary of famed French couturier Christian Lacroix. Appropriately, rather than form the body sculptures from plaster he not only dressed them, but formed their very bodies, from Lacroix's clothing.

Tappening

It's definitely one of the biggest branding successes (or shams) of the last 25 years that we've been led to believe we should spend $15 billion a year on something that, for most of us, shoots out of a faucet in the kitchen for free.

Enter the green crusaders at Tappening. Their site is jammed with alarming facts about the damage done to the environment and the economy by the bottled water industry — like how 40% of bottled water comes from a tap! They've even got some totally display-worth water bottles complete with core messages like "Think Global. Drink Local." You can spread the word while still looking sharp"¦ and since image is much of what the bottled water industry is about (other than you know, staying hydrated), what better way to undermine how ludicrous it all is than right at the source?

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