Champagne In The Ladies Church/Restroom

I was somewhat amused by the story of a museum in Tasmania that had a lawsuit brought against it because one of its exhibits was intentionally designed to exclude those who did not identify as women. The experience of being excluded or welcomed was part of the exhibition.

It was designed to take the concept of an old Australian pub – a space which largely excluded women until 1965 – and turn it on its head, offering champagne and five-star service to female attendees, while refusing men at the door.

[…]

The museum had responded by claiming the rejection Mr Lau had felt was part of the artwork, and that the law in Tasmania allowed for discrimination if it was “designed to promote equal opportunity” for a group of people who had been historically disadvantaged.

The person who brought the suit claiming it was a violation of Tasmania’s anti-discrimination law, won the case on that basis.

The exhibit had been closed since that ruling, but last week I saw a follow-up article stating the lounge is being turned into a restroom and a church in order to take advantage of a legal exemption to maintain the original exclusive intent. Envisioning the space operating as a restroom and church is the part that amused me most. And then I read the additional irreverent plans the artist has for the use of the room and I had a little cackle.

“There is a fabulous toilet coming to the Ladies Lounge, and so in that sense the Ladies Lounge will operate as a ladies’ room.

“It’s a toilet that is celebrated the world round. It is the greatest toilet, and men won’t be allowed to see it,” Ms Kaechele said in Australian media reports.

Some of the key artworks, like the ones by Picasso, will be moved into the museum’s existing ladies toilet to ensure “uninterrupted viewing” while she applies for other exemptions.

And only on Sundays, men would be allowed into the space – to learn ironing and laundry folding.

“Women can bring in all their clean laundry and the men can go through a series of graceful movements (designed by a Rinpoche and refined by tai chi masters) to fold them,” she said, in an interview published by the museum on Tuesday.

[…]

“Thanks to the ruling, we have no choice but to open ourselves to a whole range of enriching experiences – spiritual, educational… to discover fascinating new possibilities, and to become better,” she said.

Yeah It’s Hot, But Very Little Sustenance Consuming The Roiling Steam Of Culture

Seth Godin made a post today that advocates for the value of the journey over the destination:

TL;DR is defensive. Not simply because it defends our time, but because it defends us from change and from lived experience. A joke isn’t funny because it has a punchline. It’s funny because something happens to us as the joke unfolds, and the punch line is simply a punctuation of that experience.

“Orange you glad I didn’t say banana,” isn’t funny by itself.

Godin cites an article by Ted Gioia that I saw about a couple months ago in which Gioia uses the term “Dopamine Culture” to argue that people want to experience the hit rather than the journey.

In a chart from Gioia’s piece Godin includes in his post, Gioia charts the trend away from participating in an activity to spectating to essentially just consuming the short tail end of an experience.

Among Gioia’s examples which go from Slow Traditional Culture> Fast Modern Culture> Dopamine Culture:

Play A Sport> Watch A Sport> Gamble on A Sport
View in A Gallery > View On A Phone > Scroll on A Phone
Newspapers> Multimedia > Clickbait

Godin points out that what seems to be in demand is the metaphoric boiling water of all these short bits of experience we can consume, but that sort of diet doesn’t provide long term sustenance. Long time readers will know I approve of his sentiment that about not everything that can be measured matters:

Cavitation happens here. We’re at a rolling boil, and there’s a lot of pressure to turn our work and the work we consume to steam.

The steam analogy is worthwhile: a thirsty person can’t subsist on steam. And while there’s a lot of it, you’re unlikely to collect enough as a creator to produce much value.

[…]

And now we live in a time where the previously informal is easy to measure.

But just because it’s measured doesn’t mean it matters.

The creators and consumers that have the guts to ignore the steam still have a chance to make an impact.

Creativity Isn’t Locked Away In This Shed

Rochester Institute of Technology (RTI) has a new building that puts creative spaces right next to each other. The Student Hall for Exploration and Development (SHED) has acting and and dance studios with transparent walls as featured spaces in the building next to maker spaces with equally transparent walls and garage style doors which open to a common space embracing the philosophy that arts and STEM practices can inform each other.

“Placing performing arts facilities so close to tech-project spaces encourages a unique kind of cross-fertilization. For a play presented in the Glass Box Theater called Ada and the Engine, fourth-year mechanical engineering major Catherine Hampp used the SHED’s 3D printing technology to build a stage version of Charles Babbage’s 1832 calculating device, a precursor of today’s computers. The textile lab can aid costumers of theatrical productions, then turn to the task of crafting headgear that can comfortably support devices that allow facial and eye movements to control a wheelchair. These are refined by student researchers in the co-located electronics lab.”

These spaces open on to an atrium with tables and chairs where students can socialize. The building connects the library and student union which results in about 15,000 students passing by all this creative activity and displays on a daily basis.

Right from the start of the article, I immediately thought of the way Steve Jobs designed Pixar Studios building with the restroom and mail room at a central hub so that people from different parts of the company would bump into each other and talk about what they are working on. His goal was to spur innovation with cross-pollination of ideas. The story I linked to in my 2014 post on the topic isn’t available any longer, but my recollection was that employees at the outskirts rebelled at having to walk so far to use the restroom and Jobs eventually relented and installed some in other parts of the complex.

Interestingly in that same 2014 post, I wrote about the segregation of the creative class from the rest of the community in many cities, especially in college towns. This sort of dynamic manifests in a cultural divide because there isn’t intermixing between the general community and the creatives who gather near the campuses. One of the places where the divide is least present are places in the Midwest and Sunbelt. In 2014, Rochester, NY was the second least segregated community behind Minneapolis-St. Paul.  RTI’s approach with the SHED isn’t new to the institution so I wouldn’t be surprised if they contributed to the overall culture of of the city in this respect.

 

 

Marketing Storytelling Is All About The Timing

I recently saw this TED talk by Kelly D. Parker, a marketing professional who calls herself a storytelling strategist.  Her talk was on the power of storytelling and there were a number of points in her presentation which sounded very familiar.

For instance:

You know, I believe the worst story of all is the one that is told too soon. And truly, this is a very common mistake that aspiring storytellers make. We launch into a story and don’t know the first thing about who we’re talking to. Before you’re qualified to tell anything, you must deeply understand your audience’s problem and pursuit

This is very much in line with Ruth Hartt’s Jobs to Be Done practice which Ruth talks about in terms of identifying a target audience’s problem and offering a solution to it. She worked up a quick draft customer-centric video with stock images/video to illustrate classical music programming as a solution to hectic life.

Kelly Packer cites a similar example in a Nike ad where she discusses how the ad is very specific while being focused on customer need rather than product features:

Now specific doesn’t mean long and drawn out, it just means you want to include some distinguishable characteristics that your audience can relate to. It’s the reason why Nike’s ads with LeBron James don’t include a bunch of close up shots of shoes they’re selling. They don’t need to. They found the perfect person in LeBron James to represent a specific, relatable challenge, namely overcoming obstacles to beat an opponent. Then they utilize specific imagery to represent a specific progression of feelings, like defeat and discouragement, to hope and victory and resilience. And once you’ve been gripped by a story like that, doesn’t it almost go without saying that you want to wear the same sports gear LeBron James does?

Packer goes on to discuss the stage where marketing storytelling proposes the next step to audiences. Although she doesn’t mention it specifically identifies a practice which is often called out as being problematic in the arts – expecting commitment too soon which often takes the form of asking people to subscribe or donate after they attend one show.

But too often, we expect our audiences to commit too soon. Well-placed stories slow down the process just enough for you to build credibility and trust…. Good stories position us to be givers before we expect to receive. Not only that, stories make proposals irresistible because they allow us to build connection. Stories masterfully infuse a human element into our businesses, our brands and our programs that draws people in. So much so that by the time you do go in for the ask, like any good proposal, it simply feels like the next logical step.

It is interesting to think that despite being told that people’s attention spans are so short that an ever decreasing window of opportunity exists to make a connection, telling your story well can slow things down and create the space needed to develop a connection to a point where commitment is a foregone conclusion. I am fairly sure she isn’t expecting one ad to do all this work. It likely means different types of stories presented in different formats experienced in different contexts.