Thursday, June 2, 2011

Motorbike Helmets for Kids in Vietnam? Not yet.

A few years ago Vietnam finally passed a law requiring motorbike riders to wear a helmet but this law only required them for adult riders. Kids don't need them. Is somebody kidding somebody? We could blame the lawmakers for not seeing the fatalities and injuries amongst children but that shouldn't release parents from their basic responsibilities to protect those children should it? I didn't think so. And so an idea was hatched (yeah, bad pun) to do a public service campaign to speak to parents about the importance of the whole family wearing a helmet. In a country of what might be easily, 30 million motorbikes for roughly 80 million people the motorbike is a way of life in Vietnam. In fact it's an extension of life, an extra limb it has been called. But it's also a way of death, the highest rate of highway fatalities in Asia before enactment of the law.

On launch day, the government deployed 5000 police around the city (Saigon) to enforce strict fines ($10 is strict here) and lo and behold - one day nobody had a helmet and the next day they did. Except for the children. And this baffled the crap out of me. Didn't the people understand that a not fully formed skull can be crushed up to 60% easier than an adult's? Didn't they see it as important? And the answer is, 'no they didn't'. What was important to them was not paying a fine to comply with the law. Sad, I thought. No thought about the reasons one should wear a helmet at all.

Ask anyone what they believe to be a symbol of birth and childhood and you will eventually hear the word 'egg'. So I took that visual and put a helmet on it. It was funny. And it worked. We all know eggs crack easily and putting a helmet on them just reinforced the point. Photographer Mads Monsen and I worked together to create this campaign and we did it without a specific client in mind - because we thought the idea was important. Should you know of any organization in Vietnam who might be interested in running this work as a public service, please contact me. We would love to get this campaign up and running and doing the job the parents should be doing - getting all their kids to wear a helmet.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Yo Yo Ma and Lil Buck

Yo Yo Ma meets Lil Buck. You know Yo Yo Ma, he's the most famous cellist in the world. But you don't know Lil Buck - and that's what makes all of this work as well as it does. A fan of both on YouTube saw them independently and suggested a collaboration - certainly an element of audience participation gone viral. And this is now our media environment. Does life imitate art, or the other way around? There are now more ways than ever to explore that juxtaposition. What if more companies started to explore combining seemingly disparate elements? Could brands be reinvented, extended, reborn? Yes.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Teachers, students and business people alike, should see the Propellers!

A flurry of mail this week from teachers wishing they had seen and brought their students to Dinh Q. Le at aSaigon/CreativeMorning's last session but sadly, that time has passed - as will all Creative Mornings, so it makes only good sense to catch things as they happen. To that end, we are including the following flyer for posting at your school, company or otherwise place of business.

We are intent on increasing the student population at events and are happy to fly in the face of other more commercial 'seminar' series that seek to charge you real money to see, too many times, just commercial people, trying to sell you something. At aSaigon/CreativeMorning, we have but one thing to sell you - new ideas. And we hope that will provide a kind of lasting value, quite seriously lacking in business today.

Please download and post the following flyer for people who may not know us from the Internet. We have been pleased to have had many RMIT lecturers at events, but far fewer students. We hope aSCM to be an event for sharing information, so please teachers and others, share and share alike. Delloite, Raffles, Vietnam National, DDB, BBDO, WPP, Lowe and Navigos, join us as well.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

aSaigon/CreativeMorning welcomes The Propeller Group - 15 April, 8:30am

Based in Los Angeles and Ho Chi Minh City, The Propeller Group doesn't want you to view art in the way that one might have been taught to view art. And The Propeller Group doesn't want you to see television or any other medium for that matter for what you might believe it to be - rather they seek to be deconstructivist in any variety of media and have you put things back together in any way that you like. With the blurring of lines between television, telephones, computers and the next big mobile bling to hit the market, it only makes sense to begin to re-examine our relationship with media and recreate it for a new means of consumption. Come join us on April 15th as we explore disparate and ever changing creative horizons with The Propeller Group.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011

aSaigon/CreativeMorning III - Dinh Q. Lê

Reprinted from the blog, Studio Mads Monsen.

Brilliant. Inspired. Moving. It was simply a great presentation and the early birds of Saigon enjoyed it. “I’m lovin’ it” to quote McDonald's, however, it was a far better deal. Unwrap a burger and you get disappointed as it never lives up to the tasty, juicy advertising image that sells you the deal in the first place.

The Early Birds
Dinh unwrapped his thinking and reason behind his works. His research methods? Obsession he answered.

Multi-media with Dinh Q. Le
His work on Agent Orange was nothing but brilliant. His latest projects include exploring the visual language around us. If people with a voice can find a way around to get noticed, artists can too. He proved that with his Agent Orange shop example - a real shop in Vietnam that sold cute little outfits for agent orange babies, like double hooded jackets and sweaters with teddy bears and flowers on them. Cute, but scary in that the usage could be real.

That looks nice. A box?
Our lucky-draw prize. From TIKI.VN. Guess what?

Portrait - Dinh Q. Le
Overall, a great start of the day, all thanks to the humble and yet so talented Dinh Q.Le

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Location for Friday: Stella Caffe, 119 Bui Vien Street, D1, HCMC

Sorry for the delay all. The location for Friday's meeting is Stella Caffe, 119 Bui Vien Street, D1, HCMC. Stella is a fine Italian restaurant with what I consider to be the best Ceasar salad in town, but that might not be your breakfast choice. When you arrive, be sure to take stairs in front to the upstairs meeting room. We'll CU there at 8:30am, sharp!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lucky-Draw from!

Thanks to Sonny at TIKI.VN, Vietnam's online bookshop, our next session on March 18 with Dinh Q. Le will feature a lucky-draw for the book:

IDEO, the widely admired, award-winning design and development firm that brought the world the Apple mouse, Polaroid's I-Zone instant camera, the Palm V, and hundreds of other cutting-edge products and services, reveals its secrets for fostering a culture and process of continuous innovation. There isn't a business in the world that doesn't want to be more creative in its thinking, products, and processes. At many companies, being first with a concept and first to market are critical just to survive. In The Art of Innovation, Tom Kelley, general manager of the Silicon Valley based design firm IDEO, takes readers behind the scenes of this wildly imaginative and energized company to reveal the strategies and secrets it uses to turn out hit after hit.

Be sure to bring a business card for the lucky-draw, or we might decide to award it based on the results of a wet t-shirt contest.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

From the New York Times: More about Dinh Q. Lê


Vietnamese Voices Against a Whir of War

In slumberous mid-August thousands of visitors fidget and drift through the Museum of Modern Art, finding almost everything worth photographing and almost nothing worth more than a point-and-shoot glance. But in one gallery — basically a wide glorified corridor — people tend to stop, focus, even settle down in front of a three-channel video by the Vietnamese-American artist Dinh Q. Le projected across a long wall.
Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times
“Projects 93: Dinh Q. Le” at the Museum of Modern Art includes a helicopter built from scratch, right, and a three-channel video by Mr. Le.


The latest on the arts, coverage of live events, critical reviews, multimedia extravaganzas and much more. Join the discussion.
Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times
Dinh Q. Le’s video at MoMA, “The Farmers and the Helicopters,” intersperses noisy war scenes with recent interviews with Vietnamese people.
Titled “The Farmers and the Helicopters,” the video is partly and spectacularly about the Vietnam War. We first see a panning shot of forests and rice paddies in aerial view. Then helicopters arrive, swarming, landing, lifting off, buzzing and shuddering through the sky, spewing men and rockets, crashing explosively, then rising to buzz some more. Classic shock and awe.
Interspersed with these noisy scenes are recent interviews with Vietnamese people. A former Vietcong soldier recalls how, more than 40 years ago, he shot at an American chopper to make it go away, and it did. A woman describes her first sight of an American helicopter around the same time. She was so disconcerted as it hovered over her that she could only look up at the pilot and smile.
A younger man, a self-taught mechanic named Tran Quoc Hai, speaks of his lifelong infatuation with such flying machines. He says that after studying old examples in Vietnam war museums and doing some Internet research he teamed up with a farmer friend and built a helicopter from scratch, for commercial use, but also to serve as a positive symbol of his country in the contemporary world.
As it happens, we can see this symbol firsthand; it’s installed in a gallery next to where the video is playing. And the two pieces constitute Mr. Le’s solo show, part of MoMA’s Projects series. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

aSaigon/CreativeMorning welcomes Dinh Q. Lê, 18 March, 2011, 8:30am

Dinh Q. Lê in collaboration with Tran Quoc Hai,
Le Van Danh, Phu-Nam Thuc Ha, and 

Tuan Andrew Nguyen. Still from The Farmers 
and The Helicopters. 2006. Three-channel video 
(color, sound), 15 min., and helicopter. 
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. 
Dinh Q. Lê was born in Ha-Tien, Vietnam in 1968. He received his BA in Art studio at UC Santa Barbara in 1989 and his MFA in Photography and Related Media at The School of Visual Arts in New York City in 1992. In 1993, Lê returned to Vietnam and settled in Ho Chi Minh City in 1996. - - -  Lê’ s work has been exhibited worldwide. Recent solo exhibitions include, 'A Tapestry of Memories': at the Bellevue Art Museum, Washington State; 'Destination for the New Millennium', at the Asia Society, New York and  'Project 93': Dinh Q. Lê at MoMA, New York City.

His has also been included in the 55th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, 2009 - City Visions Festival, Mechelen, Belgium; 2009 - Cuvee Biennale, Linz, Austria; 2008 - The Singapore Biennale - Thermocline of Art exhibition at ZKM in Germany - The 5th Asia Pacific Triennial at Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane Australia - 'Universal Experience' at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; The Gwangju Biennial 2006, Korea - 'Persistent Vestiges': Drawings from the American-Vietnam War, The Drawing Center, New York - 'Infinite Painting', Villa Manin, Italy; 'Only Skin Deep' at the International Center for Photography, New York; Delays and Revolutions, Venice Biennale 2003.

His work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Portland Art Museum; The Bronx Museum, New York; Singapore Art Museum; Fukuoka Asian Art Museum; The Queensland Gallery of Modern Art. - - - Lê has also co-founded Vietnam Art Foundation-VNFA based in L.A., an organization that supports Vietnamese artists and promotes artistic exchange between cultural workers from Vietnam and the world. As an extension of VNFA, Lê and three other artists co-founded San Art, a non-profit gallery in Ho Chi Minh City. He is currently a board member of the Art Network Asia and Danish Embassy’s Cultural Development & Exchange Fund, and a member of the Asia Society’ s international council.

Sponsors include Malongo Coffee and The Tin Foil Grill. Location to be announced

Adrian Jones in The Word online

From Software to Vietnamese Art
Written by David Everitt-Carlson    Friday, 04 March 2011 06:13   PDFPrintE-mail
From software to Vietnamese art

This month, The Word Magazine/Saigon profiles Adrian Jones, our last speaker at   
 aSaigon/CreativeMorning. Click above to read more.

Monday, February 28, 2011

What type are you?

Helvetica? Times Roman? Courier? Verdana? Georgia? Trebuchet? Pentagram design has the answer here. Find out from a trained Phrenologist, just exactly what type you are.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Everyone needs an Evil Plan

In the early 2000's Hugh MacLeod was barely eeking out a living as a freelance copywriter in Cumbria, England but one night he had an idea and told his friend about it. "I'm going to write a blog and publish my cartoons on it", he told a friend. "What's a blog?", his friend responded. The rest is, of course, history. In 2009, with the publication of his first book, Ignore Everybody, Hugh became a Wall Street Journal top ten author for a business book that combined earthly creative logic with out of this world cartoons. This year, with his second book, Evil Plans, he tackles the questions of balancing love and work. Fast Company covers that book here with a nifty slide show. Check it out. We hope to have Hugh as a guest of aSaigon/CreativeMorning when he's in Asia next. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Young Vietnam Photo Blog

This week we're happy to present a photo blog in Vietnam with the AIS Saigon Photography blog. AIS is the American International School and, says the blog, "AIS Saigon Photography is a group of students who go out and take photographs of different subjects each week. Photographs you see here are the top selected pieces from our Tuesday wandering outside".  This blog and these shots are young and idealistic - but that's just like the country as a whole and a very good sign. One somewhat disturbing comment on the blog was that, "We don't seem to have Photography Course this term but I want to keep adding more each week." The lack of available courses for all manner of creative studies remains a problem in Vietnam as well as the students inability to choose 'elective' study as opposed to prescribed courses that everyone must attend. Hopefully aSaigon/CreativeMorning and those who participate in our sessions can help raise awareness of the positive importance of the creative arts to all businesses. As Adrian Jones stated at the close of his session last week, "Encouraging creativity is good for business".

Sunday, February 20, 2011

All about Adrian Jones and the 'restricted reading room' at the HCMC library

Sandrine Llouquet and Adrian Jones by Mads Monsen

This is the best photo of Sandrine that I have ever seen. It's all there. The beauty, the intellect, the daughter, the years, the partner, the desire to learn, the diaspora. Let us capture this forever. Because that's what aSaigonCreativeMorning is all about. It's about the ideas, and absorprtion and regurgitation and disparate cultures  and whatever happens after that. Too many coffees and I thought about this. Bad idea, all that coffee. But a better idea is what we all need. Dearly. That's it.

'You had to be there', as they say. And that's the idea. Did anybody know that an entire record of the North/South Vietnamese story, visual and written,  is kept, and not burned, at the Ho Chi Minh City Library? And only accessible to those with a permit. Adrian told stories of what it took to get that permit and what he found while there.

Adrian Jones, with a great love of story telling, is in the business of allowing the Vietnamese people to paint the world in a 20th century  context, having assembled the Witness Collection - the largest private collection of Vietnamese art in the world, because the Vietnamese and maybe only the Vietnamese, are uniquely qualified and skilled enough to do that. Eurpean colonialism, American Imperialism. Internal strife. Independence, Largely self-taught. This is our world history, not revisionist or propagandised. Balanced things.

Thank you Adrian. You had to be there and we thank you. And for those who weren't, you lost something.

Next month, a bit of great history and art, from the Museum of Modern Art in New York. And the Vietnamese artist who made it happen. Let's join together. But, you have to be there.

Thank you too Sandrine.

Full photos of the event are available on our Facebook group page.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sponsors welcome to aSaigon/CreativeMorning

In response to the many requests we've had to open aSaigon/CreativeMorning to other agencies and industry sponsors we are doing exactly that. DDB, Lowe and BBDO have all expressed interest but we haven't booked yet, and it's not like just one agency can sponsor. TBWA remains our beloved benefactor for getting us off the ground (George gets huge props here). But now we're doing what we set out to do. We more like the idea of brotherhood and togetherness so if two coffee sponsors want to take a go at it and run a taste-off, we're game! Malongo is ready! But none of you guys get to show your company reels, bad PowerPoints or other silly promo stuff. Restaurants? Come cook against the Tin Foil Grill! They've got some game you know.

Sponsorship opportunities are now available for location, coffee, breakfast and other ideas to your liking. Sponsorships go from Gold to Bronze but trust me, nobody's going to want Bronze cause you look like 'Cheap Charlie' around here.

TBWA was smart enough to execute the following press release and we think this sort of press has value to many companies. aSaigon/CreativeMorning remains a non-profit enterprise and all proceeds go towards maintaining the event and printing the cool t-shirts we're making for those in the groove.

Please contact us for sponsorship ideas. We maintain a very select avenue to Saigon's top creative thought leaders and are not interested in numbers at all. Ideas rule and if you're in that business we hope we can work together and get a few better ones.