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Jason W. Bunyan

born in: Silver Spring, MD
lives in: New York
Jason W. Bunyan is a journalist and interactive producer who has overseen the development of digital, film, and editorial initiatives for organizations including Droga5, Wieden + Kennedy NY, Transistor Studios, Euro, Campfire, Heavy, The New York Times, and Bad Boy Worldwide.He... [more]

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When Lead developer Fumito Ueda (seated right, with Kenji Eido, Producer of Shadow of the Colossus to his left) had an idea for a stripped down concept for Ico, a “boy meets girl” game in which the characters would hold hands during their adventure to establish a bond but would not communicate, it cut against prevalent notions of what a good game was.

According to 1UP magazine, “Ico's design aesthetics were guided by three … notions: to make a game that would be different from others in the genre, feature an aesthetic style that would be consistently artistic, and play out in an imaginary yet realistic setting.” This was achieved “through the use of “subtracting design”; they removed elements from the game which interfered with the game's reality.”

Released in 2001, the final product, minimalist and visually inspired by Greek-Italian metaphysical painter Giorgio de Chirico’s The Nostalgia of the Infinite, has become a cult classic. Some classics owe some of their mystique to being products of unique circumstances or the brainchild of an ephemeral group of people; Ico was followed by two other games, both based on the same world, and both with Ueda as Lead developer.

Shadow of the Colossus, and the forthcoming third installment The Last Guardian are set in different periods of history of the same fantasy world at different times; however, thematic and technical threads run through all three of them.

Each game has centered around the actions of individual characters and a single supporting companion. In Ico, a young boy who has been born with horns is locked away in an abandoned fortress because his horns are considered a bad omen. It is during the explorations of the fortress that he meets Yorda, a girl who speaks in an unknown language, and the two attempt to escape the fortress together. In Colossus, an unnamed wanderer seeks out 16 gigantic demons and has to figure out how to defeat them. Throughout the game, the player's only companion is a steed. In the The Last Guardian, a young unnamed boy frees and befriends a griffin-like creature called an Erne and collaborates with it throughout the game. Guardian is slated to be on shelves in 2010.

Determined to make the Erne more than a cute addition to the game, Team Ico used a physics engine for the first time in order to ensure that the creature's movements and actions looked believable. The result was an animal that has a mixed physical appearance and moves in a way that is a mixture of how cats, dogs, and birds behave. The way the Erne has been programmed make it a puzzle in itself: it doesn't automatically take to its rescuer, follow instructions, or understand what it has to do. According to Ueda, the player will have to figure out how to influence the Erne by giving it rewards or using other available means.

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Architecture of Instruction and Delight by Pieter van Wesemael

Van Wesemael’s text, which he describes as socio-historical analysis of World Exhibitions as a didactic phenomenon, is a study of world’s fairs in the United States, Europe and Asia during and around 1798, 1851, and 1970. The historical facts van Wesemael touches on, such as the influence of Marshall McLuhan’s thinking on the ‘modernist, West-oriented planners’ of Osaka, Japan’s Expo ’70 illustrate how human assemblage in public events can be used to encourage transformation of individual self-image, economic activity, and international relations. A used paperback copy costs over $300, and at nearly 900 pages, Architecture and Instruction of Delight is not a book that everyone would want to buy. Fortunately, it is currently available on Google Books.

Google Books |


Art of the Samurai: Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156–1868

This is the first comprehensive exhibition devoted to the arts of the samurai. Arms and armor is the principal focus, bringing together the finest examples of armor, swords and sword mountings, archery equipment and firearms, equestrian equipment, banners, surcoats, and related accessories of rank such as fans and batons. Drawn entirely from public and private collections in Japan, the majority of objects date from the rise of the samurai in the late Heian period, ca. 1156, through the early modern Edo period, ending in 1868, when samurai culture was abolished.

Metropolitan Museum of Art | 1000 Fifth Ave at 82nd St, Manhattan | 9:30am – 9pm | $20


Roof Garden Café and Martini Bar open Saturday Night

This Saturday evening, enjoy some refreshment in the Met’s Roof Garden while visiting the special exhibition Roxy Paine on the Roof: Malestrom and viewing the panoramic skyline of Manhattan, weather permitting.

Metropolitan Museum of Art | 1000 Fifth Ave at 82nd St, Manhattan | 5:30–8pm | free with admission to the Met



One of most celebrated filmmakers of our time, Lars Von Trier is back with the beautiful, terrifying, and altogether engrossing ANTICHRIST. The talk of 2009 Cannes Film Festival, where star Charlotte Gainsbourg took home the award for Best Actress, the full, unedited version of this eagerly-awaited film promises to captivate audiences this fall. A grieving couple (two-time Oscar®-Nominee Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) retreat to ‘Eden’, their isolated cabin in the woods, where they hope to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage. But nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse…

IFC Center | 323 6th Ave, Manhattan | daily | $12.50


The Long Count

In an inspired collision of creative worlds, three inexhaustibly original artists—brothers Bryce Dessner and Aaron Dessner of indie rock band The National and omnivorous visual art phenomenon Matthew Ritchie—combine talents to create a song-filled myth about the beginning of time. A feast of images, instrumentals, and songs thick with primordial mystery,The Long Count pairs Ritchie's protean forms with a twelve-piece orchestra and the Dessners' gothic mix of electric and orchestral sounds.  Guest vocalists Kim and Kelley Deal (The Breeders, The Pixies), Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), and Matt Berninger (The National) round out the line-up in this visionary collaboration between music and art.

Brooklyn Academy of Music | 30 Lafayette Ave., Fort Greene, Brooklyn | 8pm | $20, 25, 35, 45


The Superheroes Halloween Ball

An evening of music, drinks, and dancing to raise funds for a The History of the Universe as Told by Wonder Woman, a documentary feature by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan & Kelcey Edwards. Costumes encouraged but not required. More information available at Vaquera Films.

Studio 385 | 385 Broadway, 3rd floor, between Walker & White, Manhattan | 8pm | $25

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Visual Arts



Priscilla Hamby
Clint Bickham
Devil's Candy

One half of the creative team behind the Grand Prize winning submission for Tokyopop’s first Rising Stars of Manga competition, Manga artist Priscilla Hamby (pen name Rem), collaborated with writer Clint Bickham to create Devil’s Candy, a tongue-in-cheek high school fantasy that featured a colorful set of characters, including a young demon protagonist, gym teacher Skeleton Ninja sensei, a smitten but overlooked cyclops, and a mute, undead nurse / homework assignment held together by stitches and a gigantic safety pin. Kage no Matsuri, a subsequent one-shot title, won awards in both the US and Japan, and her work on Harper Collin's popular Vampire Kisses series earned her further recognition. She is currently working on the manga adaptation of NHK/Nickelodeon's Domo.

Manga made in the States regularly faces the stigma of lacking the originality and feel of its Japanese counterparts, as well as being poorly drawn. Hamby’s work lives up to the standards set overseas, but her approach is her own. Both Hamby and Bickham, who live together in Houston, Texas, work staggering hours. She was in the Lone Star state when she accepted this interview but was enjoying a much-deserved change of pace in Italy when she answered the questions below.


JASON BUNYAN: Has your schedule given you a chance to indulge in any gaming, or has it been work straight through?

PRISCILLA HAMBY: Work straight through, with breaks for reading manga every now and then. Clint plays games and I watch while I work, which is ideal for me, there's been a lot of good ones out lately.

BUNYAN: How do you feel the publishing world's changed in the wake of everything that's been going on with the economy since last year? Is putting out books independently a realistic option, or is it made out to be a better solution than it is?

HAMBY: I think the comic industry has been affected just like everything else has. It's tough for everyone. It's always been tough for comic book artists, so maybe we don't feel it quite as painfully as others do. I'd say self publishing is just as difficult as it was before: very difficult. But you know, a lot of people are able to find success if they know how to promote themselves. Web publishing still seems like a good option as far as I can see, especially for those who want creative freedom. 



BUNYAN: What do you think the US Manga market will look like in the next 10 years?

HAMBY: It's such a weird industry that I don't even know anymore. I can't say that I personally believe that it will grow much larger than it is now, but more like, it will become more of a norm, rather than a niche sort of thing. I believe that Japan will find more ways to publish over here without using companies like Tokyopop, as they do with Viz. As for American manga-style artists like myself, I think that they will become a bigger part of the industry since this generation of kids have grown up on manga and are better influenced than the artists of my generation as far as that goes.

BUNYAN: What was the first story that you and Clint collaborated on, published or unpublished, and when did it occur to you that you should be doing Manga professionally?

HAMBY: Clint and I first collaborated on Devil's Candy for the first RSOM competition. It was a really big deal for both of us. Working on manga professionally has always been my number one goal since I started drawing comics in, like, elementary school, so it's kind of hard to pinpoint a time that it actually dawned on me. It’s like, in my blood!


BUNYAN: Who were the first artists that you were exposed to? What stories were you reading, and what aspects of them worked or didn't work for you?

HAMBY: Jeff Smith's Bone was one of the first comics I really fell in love with and probably started my love affair with black and white comics, along with Rumiko Takahashi's work for Ranma 1/2. The crazy characters and the humor in Ranma 1/2 really made me want to make something similar – oh, well, and the fights. I've always read manga with action in them. I guess my attention span is just too short. I can't deal with too much melodrama.

BUNYAN: US-based Manga artists are often victims of criticism, both from here and abroad. Have you noticed any change in this dynamic since you started working in the field?

HAMBY: Not really. I feel like American manga artists still have to struggle like they always have, being stuck between two worlds and all. I think that artists who find their own way and become experts at it are the most successful.

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In 2005, a Brilliant Red A3 disappeared from Audi’s Park Avenue showroom, an event that drew considerable public response, brought two million visitors to, and contributed to the sale of 1,025 Audis in the 90 days that followed. Even more remarkable was the fact that an actual crime never occurred.

A campaign developed by New York City marketing firm Campfire, The Art of the Heist “embraced the target audience's need of control over their environment and invited them into an immersive 24-hour-a-day alternate reality.” Elements such as films, televised content, a fictional video game company, and physical items that were linked to these fictional elements, made the unreal seem real.

Recent recipients of four IAB Mixx Awards for their work on HBO's True Blood, the company has continued to develop engaging ideas. This week I caught up with Campfire Co-Founder Steve Wax about clichéd social media practices, The Art of the Heist, and creatives who inspire him.


JASON BUNYAN: What are 3 social media marketing practices or buzzwords that should be retired at the end of 2009?

STEVE WAX: Number 1: “I’m making a viral video for _____ and I’m going to put it up on YouTube.” This sort of certainty ranks up there with Michael from The Office on the occasion of his upcoming roast telling someone, “Let’s get YouTube down here to film it!”  Or “I’m writing a New York Times Best Seller!” Number 2: The “30,000 Foot View” referred to at many conferences is weird – what can you see from 30,000 feet after all? Number 3: “Social Media Expert”  gimme a break, most of the people who are “Social Media Experts” haven’t worked on a client social media campaign in years. We’re in a period where the brains – or mouths  don’t know what the hands are doing.

BUNYAN: The idea of narrative seems to hold particular importance to Campfire. Were there particular films, books, games, or works of art that inspired the Art of the Heist? How did the team develop the project? Was there a particular moment in development phase when the group started to feel like, okay, we’ve entered new territory?

WAX: There was definitely a bit of a ‘70’s action film vibe to the project, highlighted by the short videos directed by Ben Rock. And at that point [The Blair Witch Project] was only 4 years old, and since my partners produced and marketed TBWP, we followed the same principles in building a fan base for Audi and the A3. We developed the project by the main creatives, Mike Monello, Gregg Hale, Brian Cain and Brian Clark, brainstorming down in Orlando, where they all lived at the time. We consulted with McKinney at regularly as well. As to a particular moment where ok, we’re in new territory, yes and no, if you know what I mean. Mike and Gregg had [The Blair Witch Project] under their belts, Beta-7 for Sega and ESPN had been a huge hit, so to some extent it was known territory. At the same time live events, like the the mission at the Coachella and finale at the Viceroy Hotel in LA that wrapped up the story were largely new.


BUNYAN: What are the pros and cons of the gradual rise in web fluency? If you pitched Art of the Heist in 2010, how would it differ from the approach you took in 2005?

WAX: We’d probably do a lot more influencer/blogger outreach. We might do more live events connected to the program as well — although the original theft, the wild ass events.

BUNYAN: Who are some creatives, in any field, whose work you enjoy right now? Are any of them doing things that you forsee informing or making their way into advertising in the years to come?

WAX: Besides Campfire’s eclectic and world class group of Creative Directors, Brian Cain, Sean Ganann, Steve Coulson, CC Chapman and our ECD, Mike Monello, I’d say Jane McGonigle and Lance Weiler.

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Visual Arts




Nicolai Howalt is a photobased artist who was born, and is based in, Denmark. His photographic works carry references to the tradition of documentarism, and is typically based in specific environments.

Artforum's Mara Hoberman described Howalt's "2009 photographic series [as] shockingly vivid and startlingly poetic. His images of cars wrecked in severe accidents, many presumably fatal, examine the horror of high-speed collision from a variety of perspectives. Close-ups of dented and scratched sheet metal are initially disorienting—the photographs’ large formats and tight crops make it impossible to identify which part of the car is on display. Jagged scratches, shiny reflections, and crude crumples rhythmically punctuate saturated metallic hues in these unnervingly aestheticized abstractions."

Howalt received Niels Wessel Bagge's Art Prize 2008 and the ParisPhoto BMV Special Jury Award 2006. In New York, he is represented by Martin Asbæk Gallery, Denmark and Silverstein Gallery.









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