wonder.land (By Anna Gerber)

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Are you one of those people who hears the words “adapted from”, “inspired by”, “based on” or even “re-imagined” and your critical tentacles tense up? Do you find yourself thinking things like “I wonder how faithful this film is to the original novel?” or “What would the author think if she saw this dance adaptation?”. I know I certainly am, with my hand held high up in admission, head bowed down.

So when I walked into The National Theatre to watch wonder.land, the wild trippy musical “loosely based” on Alice in Wonderland (there it is, you see) I was full of that critical, snooty, cultural judgement. But just as easily, I transcended those misgivings and can tell you that, over two hours later, I left feeling surprised. More than surprised: inspired. I loved it.

Created by the almighty Damon Albarn, Moira Buffini and Rufus Norris, wonder.land highlights include the coolest, most glitchy, ravey, Gorillaz inspired rabbit you’ve ever seen; a broken-home Alice whose avatar is everything she isn’t (complete with sky high Alexander McQueen-esque platforms); the Cheshire Cat blown up so big on screen you just want to climb into that Bowie grin; a headmistress turned Queen of Spades that made me think of a hipsterfied Matilda’s Miss Trunchbull; and a Mad Hatter (Alice’s debt ridden father) who could be a cross between Albarn himself and Johnny Depp. What’s there not to love? There’s even a virtual reality music video-as-app which is like watching a whole sprawling mini-universe squeezed into the teeny screen of your mobile phone. And in all of this, there’s a mash up of familiar, clever cultural counter points. A constellation full of the world around us — it’s loud, it’s claustrophobic, it’s visually saturated. And utterly familiar.

Of course Albarn and team aren’t the first to tackle Alice in Wonderland: before wonder.land came Disney’s animated Alice in Wonderland and then there was Tim Burton’s wild ride of a film (cue: Johnny Depp) and there was Penguin’s polka dotted Yayoi Kusama beauty of a book and then there was Alice for the iPad that blew our digital minds open so wide we thought we’d never come out.

So maybe the real testimony here is the story itself: a story so good it calls out to be revisited and made familiar again and again and again. And maybe it’s okay if this Alice is more about gaming and social media than it is the traditional Lewis Carroll narrative. One thing’s for sure, Alice 2.0 makes for a fabulously wild ride.

(Anna is guest blogging for us this month covering delightful new storytelling projects that have caught her eye. Anna is a Special Projects Creative Director who knows a thing or two about making stories, be they digital, on paper or brickwork as Founder of Visual Editions and Creative Director of Editions At Play.)

High Resolution Interview

Judy was delighted to be featured on the High Resolution video podcast series. Focused on Design Leadership, High Resolution is the passionate endeavor of Bobby Ghoshal and Jared Erondu, showcasing some highly inspired dialogues.

Our conversation ranged from Wert&Co.’s history recruiting creative leadership over the last two decades, to some of our behind the scenes insights and tools, and even our favorite children’s book Harold and the Purple Crayon and how it can serve as a metaphor for mapping one’s own professional (and personal) journey.

 

SF MOMA

On our recent business trip to the left coast (after a pit stop for the fascinating Renaissance Weekend in Utah), we were finally able to visit the renovated SF MOMA. And while we don’t exit thru the gift shop, well, actually we did. And the bookstore left us with plenty of summer reading inspiration — from A Smile in the Mind: Witty Thinking in Graphic Design (the classic had a new edition out last year — over 1,000 visual examples of humour, irony and playfulness in graphic design and branding over the last few decades) to the Little Book of Hygge (which just might make us look forward to the winter or at least a visit to Copenhagen!).

 

Bookshelf: What We’re Reading

books

There’s a lot happening these days at Wert&Co.–reflected in six books we would like to share with you. We’ve been preparing for a few talks and seeking to understand ourselves and our work more deeply, finding inspiration from the self discovery of childhood to the wisdom (hopefully) gained over the years. This month we also mourned the loss of John Berger who’s seminal Ways of Seeing provided us not just with a tool to view art in a revolutionary way, but a tool to understand critically the images that surround us. Finally with data ruling the day, in both politics and our work, we’ve found ourselves recently in a deep dive on both the mechanics, design and ethics of this fascinating subject.

 

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