Tonality Communications | Pawel Rybczynski

tonality. at Kikk Festival

8. November 2016 by Pawel Rybczynski

Working in the ever changing field that is market communications, it is crucial to stay on top of the latest trends and developments. That’s why, when Tonality offered two colleagues and myself a trip to Belgium along with tickets to the Kikk festival – a festival of digital and creative cultures – we enthusiastically said yes. The program of the trip was to fly out from Vienna at 9am on Thursday the 3rd, attend two days at the festival and fly back from Brussels on Saturday morning, in and out!

Day one

The first day I must say was quite stressful before we actually made it to the festival as we had to deal with: a 6am departure from Retz to make an early flight from Vienna, dealing with Google Maps randomly changing directions on us while on transit to the bed and breakfast, the bed and breakfast not actually having a place on Google Maps making it rather difficult to find and lastly, none of us having any French skills which made any form of conversation rather difficult. However where Maps failed on us before, another app came in to save the day – Translate – cheers Google!

During the first day there were two presentations worth mentioning. The first, presented by Volker Morawe and Tilman Reiff was to me, actually more entertaining than anything however it made me think about the relationship between man and his technology. They showed off multiple projects they’ve worked on but it was their PainStation which interested me the most. The PainStation is a a concept which uses the game Pong as its base and causes harm to the user when they lose a point. What really intrigued me though, is that people would keep coming back to play the game to the point that they would have deep lacerations on their hands leaving blood everywhere on the surface. Honestly, I’d most likely stick the less harmful PlayStation..  For more information about their projects, be sure to check out:

The second noteworthy presentation was from Jules Ehrhardt, co-owner of Ustwo: a global digital product studio which brought the hugely popular mobile game – Monument Valley – to the world. Jules’ presentation was extremely captivating, speaking about the „State of  the digital nation in 2016“ he made comments regarding the Marketing and Advertising industry – this was exactly what I came for and naturally received my full attention. He mentioned that „major players in the sector (advertising and marketing) are competing with each other to offer largely low complex work such as banners and websites“ and that „these agencies are exporting this type of work to cheaper countries as to keep competing in this death spiral of prices“, this could be a very real problem as i guess any race to the bottom may be and an interesting development to be aware of.

Jules mentioned other issues such as ad blocking and the fact that a large portion of Millennials actually don’t watch that much TV anymore, an important fact to know when that is your target market. He also noted that the industry has a „people and lifestyle“ problem where the working late culture is an issue, he argued that in reality a human being has about 5-6 hours of quality output in a day and if someone is there for 12-14 hours you get marginal returns on the quality of value.

Jules talked about so much more however, keeping you the reader in mind, Ill finish with something that i think within an agency is the most important thing to keep in mind and avoid: „…they’re (the agencies) painting stripes on a horse, instead of delivering a Zebra, they’re actually taking the same product they have and redressing their work“..

Day Two

After enjoying a fantasticly-different-to-an-Australian breakfast made up of croissants, dates and fun size packaged pieces of Camembert from Normandy, it was time to start day two. It began with a presentation from Fabian Oefner, an artist who „strives to show us that art and science do not exist on opposite ends of the academic spectrum“ using still/video imagery and installations. His take on the „Art of Science“ was nothing short of beautiful, showcasing a selection of his projects including: capturing the moment bubbles burst, depicting with coloured salts the different shapes caused by different soundwaves, how injecting oil onto a thin sheet of water creates something similar to an eye and lastly his project „Field of Sound“ which translates sound waves into motion. Similar to a field of wheat in the wind, thousands of illuminated stems move to the sound of music. Be sure to look at his work here:

Next up was Pablo Garcia with a lesson on how „Context Is the Only Medium That Matters“. To showcase this, he used the specific example of Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain. Marcel Duchamp didn’t “make” the object (it was a manufactured urinal) however he “made” the artwork. Fountain is considered art because Duchamp placed the object within an artistic context and made public perceive it differently due to this. Another interesting way that Pablo argued that context is the only medium that matters actually involved the sex cam industry.. What he showed us was actually a perfect example, on one side a picture of a nude person on the webcam while on the other a classical piece of art including nudity with the same pose and same expressions.  One was and is considered art where as the other pornography, all due to context.

At this point our brains needed some energy to further process mind blowing things so we headed for some lunch. After just guessing and choosing a random menu item due to not speaking any French at a Sandwicherie, we decided to head to the Kikk. Market before the next presentation started. Here I actually spotted a startup project – Spector – which i saw online only a few months ago. The device allows you to scan any font/colour on print media and transfer it to your projects, something I think would be extremely useful for any graphic designer. Fiona O’Leary informed me that there is no website or anything like that yet but this project will most likely make it way to kickstarter in the foreseeable future so keep an eye out!

The last presentation and highlight of the festival was from Stefan Sagmeister – most definitely one of the biggest icons of contemporary graphic design world, who we all admire for his exquisite taste and amazing skills, is no novice at conferences. As usual, his presentation was both comic and smart – comparing current trend of minimalism in the digital world to Adolf Loos’s pure functionalism in the architecture of 20’s – both devoid beauty and individuality. Asking himself – is functionality really more than form? Or do we people seek for beauty since prehistory and now we are suffering from lack of it? Stefan was not only encouraging us to create beautiful and unique design again but also showing us his own work with Walsh using symbols, floral motives and handwritten type, often referring to the times of Art Nouveau in Vienna.

After all the amazing presentations, it was time to close the ceremony which Sagmeister did perfectly. He stated “we should really focus more on not doing things without giving a shit, but to do things with love, as ultimately those are the things that succeed”. In an industry which thrives on creativity, this is an extremely important message I’d like to adhere to.

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