A career that began with a camera found on the Paris subway has reached a new, lofty high: the TED Prize. Best known for boosting the pet causes of past winners such as Bill Clinton, Bono, and culinary crusader Jamie Oliver, the prize is awarded annually to an exceptional individual who receives $100,000 and "One Wish to Change the World." Currently pondering the earth-shaking possibilities is the newly announced 2011 Ted Prize winner, street artist JR. Anonymous by design, he creates guerilla works by plastering his giant portraits on Brazilian favelas and Kenyan villages. "JR embodies the many characteristics we look for in a winner: creativity, vision, leadership, and persuasion," wrote TED's Chris Anderson and Amy Novogratz in an e-mail explaining their rather uncoventional choice. "His photography is about unlocking the power of possibility, revealing our true selves to those who live around us, and sharing those stories far and wide."
With tech companies racing to deploy ever tinier pixels for crystal clear displays, it's easy to forget how much fun can be had at lower resolutions. In this video, a global YouTube favorite, South Korean high school students put the Olympic opening ceremonies to shame by cheering on their soccer teams with what is essentially a human LCD display. And their coordinated effort goes well beyond holding up a pre-assigned placard. Each person manipulates his or her colorful jacket to display a particular color and piece of the pattern, creating an animated big picture that is nothing short of amazing. This is crowdsourcing done right.
Tomorrow is the kickoff of the Cut&Paste 2010 Digital Design Tournament, in which designers from all over the world will battle it out in 2D, 3D, and motion design competitions (think Photoshop with a live audience) to claim their place in the global championships. After making it through portfolio evaluations and test rounds, groups of 16 talented competitors will take the stage in live events in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, followed by tour dates in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Mark your calendar for the big show, scheduled for February 5 in New York, where the locally crowned champions will battle for top honors against the best the design world has to offer.
Ever dreamed of seeing your drawings come to life in a fierce battle of wills? Get ready for graFighters, an online fighting game that allows users to create their own avatars by uploading an image of hand-drawn characters directly from a laptop or mobile device. Sign up to be a beta-tester (or simply send in a drawing) and watch as your sketches transform into animated warriors, climbing the ranks as they challenge the drawings of others. "The game is not played with traditional buttons or combinations but rather with the strategic design and creation of the drawing itself," note founders Dave Chenell and Erik Cleckner, recent graduates of Syracuse University. The result? Nothing short of "a new genre of creative gameplay."
Who needs clay or stone when you've got pencils? They're the medium of choice for South African-born, Massachusetts-based artist Jennifer Maestre, who transforms mass quantities of the familiar writing utensils into stunning, spiny sculptures with titles such as "Seethe" and "Chimera." Originally inspired by the form and function of sea urchins, her work evokes rare species discovered at the the bottom of a festively colored sea. Each sculpture begins with hundreds of pencils that Maestre cuts into one-inch square sections, before drilling a hole into each one, sharpening them, and sewing them together. "Paradox and surprise are integral in my choice of materials," she notes. "Pencils are common objects. Here, these anonymous objects become the structure."
Do your part to save the world by becoming a member of Design 21, the burgeoning online community that aims to inspire social consciousness through design. A joint venture of Felissimo and UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization), Design 21 brings together socially conscious designers, nonprofits, individuals, and organizations from around the world (160 countries and counting). The network's latest initiative is a contest to design a logo for the Award of Excellence for Handicrafts, a 9-year-old UNESCO program that supports craft producers in improving their product design and marketing techniques. Besides global bragging rights, there's $5,000 in prize money up for grabs. You've got until September 7 to craft the winning entry.