Selling Stories

Last week I took a shortcut through Stockholm’s Gamla Stan (The Old Town). Suddenly I stopped in front of a placard advertising an exhibition with some of my absolute favourite designers: Ingegerd Råman, Byarums Bruk, Märta Måås-Fjetterström and Tove Adman. It turned out to be an unexpected combination of design and medals, provided by the Royal Coin Cabinet. I asked if I could take some photos, and to my surprise they said yes.

The day before, Leif and I had talked about how different our approaches are to photography. We both display our photos using Picasa, and get automatic emails when one of us has made any additions. Leif is more into describing sequences, whereas I tend to focus more on details. When taking pictures this time, I started to reflect on my actions. What first caught my eyes was Råman’s glass vases in the window. Then I tried to catch the clever idea of putting the delicate medals under glass together with the plants. After a while I came to realise that I hadn’t really paid attention to the medals as such, why I started to focus on them only. Then I discovered that the combination of glass and light provided some rather funny pictures. After that, I also recognised that I had not captured much of the work of Adman. Leaving the exhibition I took a last shot trying to capture as much as possible, and finally I took a picture of the entrance to make sure I will find my way back. Reflection-in-action proved to be very interesting!

The more distorted pictures reminded me of a research project some former colleagues from the Viktoria Institute did a couple of years ago. They developed digital cameras that changed the image directly. Today similar cameras can be obtained in any store, and I saw a review of a camera that makes your motive look thinner. I’m not sure I like that particular development though… My colleagues were inspired by the lomograph. This special type of camera is provided by the company Lomographische AG. It was started by two marketing students, which is probably the reason why storytelling plays such a big role. They have created www.lomography.com which has the look and feel of a community. Here the “rules” of lomography are presented, and people are encouraged to become members and share their pictures.

If you look at Lomography at Wikipedia, a somewhat different picture emerges. Here you can find links to critical remarks regarding this marketing strategy, and complaints about the price and that the cameras are no longer made in Russia. It’s apparent that with Web 2.0 tools, you’d better keep your story straight, but also that it’s not that easy to tell which story is the truth.

Another example of odd Russian technology is the Theremin, probably the only musical instrument your play by not touching it. This is a kind of early version of the synthesizer and I was not surprised to see that Robert Moog played it as a young student and made use of the experience when developing the famous Minimoog. You can still buy your own Etherwave® Theremin Kit at www.moogmusic.com and put together one just for fun. Moog Music has chosen another approach to their fans/customers. They provide a forum where anyone can ask questions or tell the rest of the world how they have used the products. They are letting the customers tell the story.

What a Theremin sounds like? Well, remember the eerie sound in the theme waltz from Midsomer Murders? That’s it!

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