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2009 Review: Stewart Smith

Posted by Will Hudson,

Stewart Smith runs “a consultancy that approaches art and software through the lens of graphic design”, he also contributed a fantastic feature to the first issue of the publication back in April of this year. Here he shares with us the rest of his year.

Stewart’s image from 2009, “A photograph taken by Stina just before she and I walked out of our small Chinatown apartment to be married in City Hall on 09 September 2009.”

Mark out of 9 for 2009?

It’s 9 out of 9 for 2009. It’s been all about 9’s for me this year. I married my love, Stina Carlberg (now Stina Smith!) on 09-09-09. This year had a rocky start with a busted economy, no projects, mounting bills, and so on. But things flowered in late spring and all’s ending well.

Best new discovery?

The Rubik’s Cube. Yes, sure it reached its peak in the 80’s but this year I learned how to solve it and it’s become an obsession. So far I’m down to a little over a minute. I taught Stina how to solve it and now she’s faster than I am. For me a lot of 2009 was about investigating older things and rediscovering nostalgic bits. Like the “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.” When’s the last time you listened to it? Come on.

Best idea?

Teaching data visualization at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. The students are talented and that forces me to stay on my toes. I’m moving out of New York so unfortunately I’ll be leaving NYU as well, but teaching feels so right. I want to continue to integrate it into my practice as a graphic designer.

What were you doing this time last year?

I was in Paris preparing the Terre Natale (“Native Land”) exhibition for its grand opening. Robert Pietrusko and I were on very little sleep; constantly dropping Silence of the Lambs references and often speaking in a Buffalo Bill voice to each other from behind our respective keyboards into the early hours. At one point two curators arrived expecting to see our video installation but we Rick-Rolled them instead. The joke landed rather flatly.

What broke? How did you fix it?

The economy broke. It broke bad. Let’s leave it there.

What piece of work really stood out for you?

I’m humbled by Andrey Yazev’s website. It reminds me of seeing Luna Maurer’s work for the first time. I’d love to collaborate with both of them. Also add Rafael Rozendaal to that list whom I met this summer in Amsterdam.

Favourite Book/Album/Film?

Book: Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham. It’s from 2004 but I finally read it this year. Since childhood I’ve felt that source code is poetry so Graham’s essays were love at first sight. (But I blew it by aggressively emailing him about “branding” his new language called Arc. He must think I’m a freak.)

Album: Matt & Kim’s “Grand” kept my summer bumping. (And the “Dark was the Night” compilation kept the Autumn mellow.)

Film: “Videodrome” (1983) by David Cronenberg. Again, not new but new to me. I was already a fan of Cronenberg’s “Crash” and “Naked Lunch” but somehow this one had slipped through my fingers. Amazing.

Net Meme: It’s a tie between Keyboard Cat and Auto-tune the News #3. Yes, just number 3 because it’s clearly the best. Oh and of course it’s the year Twitter truly broke.

Did you get Swine Flu?

Thankfully not. But now that you mention it I am feeling a bit off…

What are you going to miss about 2009 and what are you looking forward to in 2010?

Stina and I are relocating in January. I will miss my home of New York City terribly, but I look forward with great enthusiasm to embracing our new life in London. Cheers for England! (Now if only Simon Amstell was still hosting Nevermind the Buzzcocks.)

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Posted by Will Hudson

Will founded It’s Nice That in 2007 and is now director of the company. Once one of the main contributors to the site he has stepped back from writing as the business has expanded. He is a regular guest on the Studio Audience podcast.