Onward and Upward

It’s time to take things in a new direction.

Callithump! has been, in large part, a research project. Our goal has been to explore the role of the physical object in creativity in an increasingly digital world. Digital mediums raise questions about things we took for granted:

  • Why publish a “dead tree” book when eBooks are cheaper and more convenient?
  • Why publish a physical newspaper or magazine when websites can distribute that information more timely and to a wider audience, inexpensively and with ease?
  • Why distribute music on any physical object at all?
  • Why create or distribute any image non-digitally when digital tools offer so much power and flexibility, are non-toxic and require no cleanup, as well as “Undo” to take back a mistake and “Save As” to branch off the artwork into multiple creative directions.

Distributing creative output through through capsule toy vending machines was a way of exploring “why.” It wasn’t just a way of being cute or clever. It was an attempt to provide experiences that could only be had in the non-digital domain. There was that first act of putting the quarters in the machine and turning the lever, the clank of the capsule as it descended the chute, prying open the capsule to reveal the prize within. It was an experience that tapped into earliest childhood memories, and something that couldn’t be replicated on the Web. More important than the means of distribution, the content itself was vital. We always strove to create content that couldn’t be reproduced in any other medium. In a capsule we could include content that was sculptural or was wearable, or included scent. It could be touched, shared, put on a shelf or given away. The process of creating content for, and maintaining these vending machines showed us there’s worlds beyond the computer screen. We also learned that the rise of the digital can be a liberating in terms of physical creation. The gruntwork of communicating information can be shifted onto the web while freeing up physical media to be more interesting, creative and explorational. Meanwhile, the digital medium presents a challenge to the physical: Create something unique. Create something that’s irreproducible in any medium other than what it was created in.

It’s been a fantastic learning experience but it’s time to go bigger. I think we’ve taken the capsule vending machines as far as we care to. It’s time to turn them over to someone new who will make their own discoveries with them.

We want to take what we’ve learned and apply it to a bigger scale and go beyond what’s possible when your creativity is contained in a capsule.

We’ve got a lot in the works, and over the upcoming days (which are likely to be weeks and months, as fatherhood permits) I’ll be sharing those plans, as well as reflecting on the changing nature of media.

Stay tuned!