The World Is Us- Adam Sadowsky Zeitgeist Americas 2012

Uploaded by zeitgeistminds on 16.10.2012

I was bar mitzvahed with a stolen torah. Burned into my 13-year-old psyche is the drive to
the very fancy former synagogue in Beverly Hills that we used to belong to where we all
jumped out of the car, my father and his friend and I ran in, leaving the car running and
the trunk open, grabbing the torah, throwing it into the trunk, and taking off.
The torah did get returned after my bar mitzvah. But that maybe gives you a little sense of
sort of who I am. I tell that story for two reasons. One, because
I think the statute of limitations has now expired. And also because I think that's -- a
little bit maybe informs perhaps some of what we do and how we approach it.
So who are we? Well, as a group, well, we're a group of engineers, scientists. We are artists
and designers. But we're also -- we have roboticists, molecular gastronomists, just an amazing collection
of people who have really awesome day jobs and who often take time off to spend some
time with us and create really extraordinary stuff.
We've been called the League of Extraordinary Nerds by Fast Company. We've also called ourselves
a drinking club with an art problem. [ Laughter ]
>>Adam Sadowsky: But mostly, and perhaps fundamentally, we are storytellers.
And we tell our stories with kinetic sculpture and interactive art. And we're going to show
you a little bit about what it is that we do.
This is just a quick look at a piece we did a couple years ago in Santa Monica for a festival,
a nighttime festival with all glowing art. We had a vision of creating a piece made of
a double helix with full color LEDs, and connected to a very sophisticated sequencer. And we
gave a button panel to the audience and let them decide what light sequences they wanted.
We, of course, allowed the music -- we filtered the music through this system as well so that
we would always beat-match so the light was always matching whatever the deejay was playing.
It was a really beautiful piece. We were asked to do some work for work for
the folks at Die Hard battery. And their only question of us was, "What can you do to show
how tough our batteries are?" We said, "Will it take a bullet?"
They gave us a half a dozen. We took them to the desert. And you can see a bullet in
flight there. This is the resulting image. It can take it. In fact, that actually did
start a car afterwards, if you can believe it. That's the honest truth. They're really
tough batteries. I can recommend them. We also, as part of the same campaign, built
them an organ made out of automobiles, arranged like a piano keyboard, ran all the power back
to a single Die Hard battery, and ran all the lights and horns back to a computer connected
to a mini keyboard. And we had Gary Numan playing.
[ Video. ] >>> 24 cars without batteries, and Gary Numan,
all with one Die Hard platinum battery. [ Keyboard playing. ]
[ Video concludes. ] >>Adam Sadowsky: So a lot of you got that.
That was Gary Numan playing his song "Cars" on our cars. It was pretty cool. Thank you.
[ Applause. ] >>Adam Sadowsky: So, by the way, as smart
as this group of really talented individuals are, they managed to lock the keys in the
car. [ Laughter ]
>>Adam Sadowsky: At that shoot. It was really embarrassing.
We did some work for Chevy, keeping with the car theme, actually, totally accidentally.
They approached us with the launch of the new Sonic last year. The resulting spot actually
aired during the Super Bowl, which was a huge, exciting win for us.
I'll let this one speak for itself. [ Video. ]
>>> On October 19th, 2011, we asked the Internet to help launch the all new Chevy Sonic from
a 100-foot platform. The launch was streamed live on Let'
To help push, the only thing you had to do was to click on a four-foot closer hand. Every
additional click turned an elaborate gear system in real time and pushed the Sonic closer
and closer to the edge. You could check out the launch from any angle you wanted, from
gear cam to (indiscernible) cam, even sit inside the Sonic itself.
And while you waited for the car to drop, you could go back in time and check the click
stats to see who else was pushing. After nine hours and 2.5 million clicks, this
happened. [ Video concludes. ]
>>Adam Sadowsky: So it was a 36-inch tolerance. We couldn't hit the ground and we had to hit
a water on a 100-foot bungee jump with a car. That was fun.
What we're perhaps most famous for is, of course, Rube Goldberg machines, which we love,
being that we're from the Wile E. Coyote school of engineering. One of the most famous is
a machine we did for OK Go. I'm not going to show you the whole thing, but a few seconds
for those who haven't seen it or who need a refresher on what it is we did.
[ Video. ] [ Music ]
[ Video concludes. ] >>Adam Sadowsky: Sorry that I can't play more
of that. That was really fun. This is one we did for Google Science Fair.
[ Video. ] [ Music ]
[ Video concludes. ] [ Applause. ]
>>Adam Sadowsky: Thank you. That's very nice, but I'm running out of time,
so you can't applaud anymore. One of the things that, actually, really resonated
with me yesterday was something that JJ Abrams was talking about. Actually, he mentioned
it a couple of times, the idea that the sort of unlimited possibility kind of paralyzes
you in your creative process. That's certainly true for us, because sometimes
a brand or a band or someone will come to us and just say, what do we do? And so for
us, having the opportunity to do that is really exciting, but we need to sort of wrap what
we call enabling constraints, a phrase that was coined by my associate in the back, Brett
Dorr, who I will introduce in a moment more officially. We basically put these things
in, sometimes artificially, sometimes budget related, whatever, to help us sort of guide
our creative process. We find it incredibly valuable for us. We believe that art reflects
the tools of the time and that, you know, we feel like the tools are just getting better
and better every day. That technology is enabling us in all kinds of really exciting ways. We
believe that technology plus creativity equals art and innovation. I don't think there's
anyone in the room who will disagree with that concept, but that's sort of a guiding
principle for us. Finally, we believe that authenticity is really important. I think
that's sort of a running thread through all of our work. We really believe that there's
a place for the authentic. CG certainly has its place, it's brilliant, wonderful, we can
create the unimaginable. But there's something really wonderful about seeing the magic of
actual things happening and the truth in that. And so with that, let me introduce my associate
in the back, officially now, Brett Dorr, who is one of our lead engineers, he's standing
by the contraption that's been there for the last couple of days. The secret here is that
we're going to be actually demonstrating a small Rube Goldberg machine live, a machine
that Brett built over the last day, basically in the parking lot. So we're -- Brett, why
don't I let you explain it? >>> Thanks, Adam. All right. Going to roll
a ball down this little track that's going to whack into this hammer. The hammer is going
to flip, it's going to whack into the ice axe. The ice axe is going to flip, it's going
to hit this hook. It is going to whip the pen out of the screwdriver. The screwdriver
is going to fall about five feet and land in this funnel. That's about -- about -- that's
about four inches wide. It's going to go into the center of the funnel and it's going to
connect to this little switch. That's going to turn on this belt sander.
[ Laughter ] >>> And the belt sander is connected to this
lawn mower and the lawn mower is going to -- the reel on the lawn mower is going to
reel up and it's going to take up this string on this take-up reel. That string is going
to pull this little arm up, which will pull a pin out of this right here, this little
door. The door is going to swing open, the sander is going to shoot down this little
track. It's going to whack into that sledge hammer --
>>Adam Sadowsky: By the way, pulling its own plug out in the hopeful.
>>> Well, hopefully. It might not. >>Adam Sadowsky: Yes.
>>> But it's going to whack into the sledge hammer, the sledge hammer is going to drop.
It's going to pull that little pump. The pump is going to blow a little gust of air against
that golf ball, the golf ball is going to roll down the track. It's going to hop into
that, this little cup. The cup is going to drop. It's going to fall into the other cup.
That little cup is going to drop, it's going to pull the pin out of that lever. It's going
to drop the olive into the martini glass. [ Laughter ]
>>Adam Sadowsky: By the way -- >>> That's the plan.
>>Adam Sadowsky: -- let me just say the failure rate on Rube Goldberg machines is astronomically
high. All right? We did 82 takes for the OK Go video and got three runs.
>>> Three. That was a little bigger than this one.
>>Adam Sadowsky: Yeah. Make sure it works, will you?