2018 REMIX NYC Update


So you want to change the world. So what? Who cares? What will it take? What will it cost?

These are some of the fundamental questions creative leaders from all different industries came together to explore recently at the REMIX NYC 2018 summit. REMIX is a unique forum in which participants exchange ideas, insights, and discuss relevant questions at the intersection of Culture, Technology, and Entrepreneurship. Jerry Eisterhold, our Founder/Creative Director, attended the two-day forum and came away with these highlights to ponder:

Emily Best, Founder and CEO of Seed&Spark, an entertainment platform built to increase diversity and inclusion for filmmakers and audiences, has served as executive producer on a host of film and virtual reality projects that have played at festivals from Sundance to SXSW to Tribeca and beyond. Best provided a succinct framework mirroring the philosophy of T. V. Munson, for distilling the effectiveness out of good intentions. T.V. Munson is the American viticulturist credited with saving Europe’s traditional grape varieties from the Phylloxera epidemic in the late 1800’s. Munson saved Europe’s wine industry by grafting the Vitis Vinifera grapes to American rootstock. The hardy North American rootstock was resistant to phylloxera (since both pest and American vines had evolved side by side) and thus French wines like Bordeaux and Pinot Noir are still enjoyed today, having been grown on native American rootstock. In this same manner of grafting from a sturdy rootstock, Best applies the rootstock of action to the good intention of thought. She described a simple “Risk/Appetite Matrix” with axis of thought/action that provided a polarized axis of through-action groups such as Academics and Doers, Couchpotato and Daredevil Teens. Each group demonstrated the delicate balance of high risk/high action compared to lower risk/less action inherent in social impact groups and their goals and initiatives. Best’s categories underscores the fact thate thoughts and actions of themselves are not enough to achieve results, but a perfect blending of the two is the most productive solution.

Brendan Ciecko, Founder & CEO of Cuseum, a platform that helps museums and cultural organizations engage their visitors, members, and patrons, has been building technology since the age of 11 and has been featured in Inc. Magazine’s “30 Under 30” list for his work in design, technology, and business. Ciecko shared a compelling history of the evolution of the digital interface from,: text as cursor; mouse as cursor; phone as cursor; camera as cursor; and finally movements as cursor – which means that even pauses/lack of movement can become a cursor; as the space between virtual and physical world collapses at an exponential pace. This suggests a new visions of creating the annotated world around us. And consequently, the problem of when and how we turn it off.

Robert Hammond, is Co-Founder of Friends of the High Line, a nonprofit he co-founded in 1999. Since opening in 2009, the High Line has become one of New York City’s most popular destinations, welcoming more than 4.5 million visitors per year. Interestingly the Met has forty times the walkable space as the High Line, but the High Line gets 1.0 million more visitors per year. However, Hammond shared some disconcerting introspection in spite of the overwhelming commercial success of his initiative, as he explored his underlying concern of “Why didn’t the local neighbors come?” His testimony includes the self-admitted conclusions that High Lines wasn’t ultimately built for them. Hammond explains, “Questions they asked in their input meetings rarely got to the heart of what mattered. Instead of asking what the design should look like?” I wish we’d asked, “What can we do for you? People have bigger problems than design.” Hammond has developed a strategy of course-correcting by striving to bring in more diverse park-goers to the High Line’s narrow pathways, and to new public spaces around America. Changes have been made on how FHL engages with neighbors, and Hammond has founded the High Line Network, a coalition of designers and planners building “adaptive reuse” parks in the High Line model around the world. Besides the narrative of the overall effort, his quest evolved from two people with an idea that was resisted at every sector, to a new standard that is inspiring like-minded projects globally. The High Line is an empirical demonstration of a community seeing value in a quiet place that is significantly different than their normal urban condition—a place that few realized was a desire or a need, until it existed as a real-world option. In the digital realm, this applies to the section above. If we come to live in a fully annotated world, where is the “off” switch? To read more about Hammond’s efforts see CityLab’s article “The High Line's Next Balancing Act”.

Kier Winesmith, Head of Web and Digital, SFMOMA, a digital strategist, producer, writer and creative technologist, fuses the physical and the digital in his work. Winesmith has led, and collaborated on award-winning digital projects in Australia, Europe, and the United States. His brilliant cross-disciplinary approach to leading his expansive creative team, integrated with the ecology of the larger institution in which he operates, required each separate department to take a project management course so that they all utilized a common language. He also spotlighted the critical nature of “Stakeholder Discovery” in project development, explaining the pitfalls of allowing stakeholders unfamiliar with the process to give input when it’s too late in the process, which can derail a project. This actually reinforced an idea we have been implementing over the last decade. We conduct an initial intensive project-management/road mapping orientation for all team members at all levels because we have found it to be beneficial when everyone understands the sequence and timing of issues that will need to be addressed throughout all phases of the project. All parties are informed, therefore, about when input is needed, and when input becomes counterproductive.

Kevin Slaving, Chief Science & Technology Officer for the Shed, the first major public venue in NYC in 50 years, opined that audiences are composed of three segments. The outer sectors either don’t find the material relevant, or find the material too obscure, or even challenging. Only the middle segment connects with the content. This group seeks compelling, relevant, and personally-meaningful material. They don’t want didactic information. If we take this middle group’s “cry for orientation”, and incorporate Keir’s project management/orientation of terminology to all team members to create a parallel orientation for all audiences , we have another idea we’ve been developing over the course of our oeuvre. This is particularly applicable when projects deal with higher-order content such as diversity, civil rights, economics, etc. In short, audiences need training to truly “see” complex ideas, and benefit from a kind of “visitor center” experience to the museum . This is the main reason why we, in our attempt to meet people where they are and engage them to explore further, feature enticing and often interactive introductory experiences, which help guide visitors to not only appreciate the exhibits, but become active participants. Their interaction with our content, presented in an engaging, thoughtful, and enlightening manner, encourages and supports advocacy and personal transformation.

Dayton Segard