webpick of the week
Over three weeks in September, the artist Doug Aitken directed “Station to Station,” a mobile art event nebulously defined as a “nomadic happening.” A nine-car train, carrying artists, musicians, a recording crew and assorted guests, traveled from the East Coast to the West, stopping in nine cities to put on live art and music shows. Levi’s funded the experiment, intended to take both artists and spectators out of their comfort zone, and brought in AKQA to create a campaign that linked the traveling menagerie with creative people around the country. The MakeOurMark site was the centerpiece and the anchor of the campaign, dubbed The Modern Frontier.
The site is its own kind of “happening,” built around four collaborative projects made up entirely of user-generated content submitted via Instagram, Twitter and SoundCloud. MakeOurMark also merges Levi’s marketing needs with the project’s lofty artistic goals, letting users purchase the Levi’s “Icons” product range.
“A project lacking obstacles generally means a project lacking innovation,” says Paul Nowikowski, associate creative director at AKQA and the creative lead on the project, which had its share of challenges. Each of the four web-based art projects at the heart of the site is an experiment in HTML5 Canvas, WebGL, CSS3 and AudioContext, meaning developers were constantly testing the limits of the modern web browser. Displaying social-media content from users while working within the API limitations of Instagram, Twitter and SoundCloud was, Nowikowski says, “a real head-scratcher.” Luckily Levi’s is a client that understands the importance of good design, and gave the team plenty of time, which proved to be worthwhile—over a million people visited the site within three weeks of its launch.