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Action is the foundational key to all success.

- Pablo Picasso

Free Webinar – Social Media for Business Development

Neal Romanek on the webPepper Stark, premier consultants for the stock photography industry, have invited me to give a free 30-minute webinar this Thursday, June 30 at 3pm GMT, about how & why businesses should be using social media. The talk will be geared primarily toward the creative industries, but it’s applicable to any business trying to reach the whole world on a shoestring budget.

Info & sign-up for this Thursday’s free sample webinar:

http://www.pepperstark.com/news/news-details/article/63/social-media.html

Then in two weeks, on Tuesday, July 12, 3pm GMT, Pepper Stark and I will be serving up a full two-hour webinar, entitled “Social Media For Business Development”, that will get into the specifics of developing a social media presence. I won’t just be giving the usual patter about how Twitter and Facebook are indispensible to your marketing strategy, etc. I’ll be helping participants understand the core social principles behind social media, so they’ll be able to adapt to and exploit whatever new web-based wonderland lies just over the horizon. In this talk I’ll also discuss using transmedia techniques for enhancing your business presence. The cost of this full 2-hour version is only ₤49 (about $78) and spaces are limited, so sign up early.

Info & sign-up for the full July 12 webinar, “Social Media For Business Development”:

http://www.pepperstark.com/training/seminars/article/63/leveraging-s.html

Looking forward to seeing you at both events – and your Friends!

 

Transmedia Next and the Passion of Anita Ondine

Next month, London will host two key media industry conferences – the venerable London Book Fair and the second outing of Transmedia Next. Storytelling professionals happy to stay in the world of business-as-usual will be attending the London Book Fair. But those who have discovered that business-as-usual doesn’t cut it in the 21st century – who want to stay at the cutting edge of media production – those people will be hitting Transmedia Next.

Transmedia Next is a three-day series of seminars, workshops and exercises aimed at training storytelling professionals in the theory and practice of transmedia storytelling. It is hosted by Seize The Media, with the support of the EU MEDIA Programme. Lance Weiler, Seize The Media’s creative director and chief story architect, unnerved attendees of the Sundance Film Festival with the short film his short film “Pandemic 41.410806, -75.654259”. The film played in conjunction with a transmedia experience accessible to people on the streets of Park City too, and the Sundance crowd got a peek into Weiler’s compelling and intricate storyworld, “Pandemic 1.0” (www.hopeismissing.com).


Lance Weiler’s Pandemic 1.0 short film, shown at Sundance

I spoke with Anita Ondine, transmedia producer and CEO of Seize The Media about transmedia and Transmedia Next. Anita is passionate about educating creatives and producers in the method and vocabulary of transmedia production. She grew up in Australia surrounded by artists and creatives. Her later years took her to law school and then to a series of positions tackling legal issues of technology and intellectual property for major firms. She was a Senior VP at Lehman Brothers in London until 2006 when she decided to pursue filmmaking full time. For her, the transition from finance to film was perfectly natural. She has always been a storyteller, a communicator, and her practical experience in the no-nonsense arena of The City gave her the perfect toolkit to becoming a 21st century producer.

The term “transmedia” is thrown around with ever-increasing frequency, but surprisingly few people, even those in the media industries, have a solid grasp of what it exactly is. “Transmedia” is often confused the old-school term, “multi-media”. Multi-media is the presentation of a story in multiple formats – often repeating the same story in a book version, then a film version, then a game version, etc. Ondine explains that transmedia is a type of storytelling in which the story exists independently of the media used to present it. The story exists before and beyond its appearance in a specific form and each media experience is a limited window onto that larger story. “There are gaps in the storytelling,” Ondine says, “where the audience – or participants as I like to call them – fill in their own experience, through their own imaginations or by supplying content themselves or by actually physically taking part in the story.”

Anita Ondine, Transmedia Producer

Anita Ondine, Transmedia Producer

Lance Weiler’s “Pandemic” short, which Ondine produced, is only one viewpoint into the Pandemic storyworld. An web of online and real-world content, carefully architected, allows participants to interact with the Pandemic 1.0 storyworld in a variety of ways. It is that careful structuring of the storyworld parameters – its characters, timeline, rules, narrative style – and the orchestrating of the venues by which participants can access it that makes transmedia such a challenging and exciting storytelling arena.

Developing a transmedia storyworld requires forethought and vision. The development and production of a computer game might be a comparable endeavour, but a highly complex transmedia story might have a computer game embedded in it as only one of the numerous experiences available to the participant. And how each of these different experiences interacts with each other and with the ever-evolving participant can be unpredictable. In a transmedia experience, the participants or audience might begin contributing more to the story, changing things in real time, introducing complications and story twists of their own. The story architects must be meticulous in their preparation of the underlying narrative and technological structures supporting the storyworld. Transmedia Next emphasises the preproduction of a transmedia story is as important as the storytelling itself. Though some of the well-tested workflows of 20th century media production still apply, new ways of building a story and offering it to an audience have had to be introduced, often through an R&D process that continues beyond deployment of the story. The world of transmedia storytelling is still in its infancy, a “Wild West” where methods and techniques are still being pioneered and experimentation is the name of the game.

Transmedia Next is a gathering of professionals who already have a solid grounding in their own creative arenas – design, writing, finance, production, and this is one of its features that most excites Anita Ondine. The conversation that develops among these gathered professionals can be as enlightening as the seminars themselves. Transmedia Next participants are reminded that they are as vital a part of the learning process as Ondine and the rest of the seminar leaders. Characteristic of a transmedia experience, attendees move out of the realm of passive observer to active participant, discovering insights and methods that a single artist might have never arrived at on his or her own.

Ondine is eager to help people discover how transmedia stories can both creatively financed and produce profits. Because transmedia has such a wide reach in terms of the demographic of its participants, as well as a variety of venues in which it might be encountered, it has a potential for many different kinds of revenue streams. Typical of the digital age, revenue generated by transmedia projects tends to be non-linear with multiple types of revenue potential, from the old media model of volume and unit selling to a whole salad of options including subscriptions, sponsorship, ad sales, and franchises. Ondine says, “Transmedia is about the experience. That’s what makes it unique. You’re not restricted to moving units. The income can come from selling experiences.” And certainly, there is no limit to what can be experienced. The transmedia income model calls for as much creative vision as the transmedia story architecture.

This year’s Transmedia Next will again feature Anita Ondine and Lance Weiler. Joining them again this year will be Inga von Staden, Berlin-based media architect, educator for 21st century media creatives. She has published and lectured widely on technology-enhanced media and brings an intellectual rigor and years of experience to the seminars. New on the Transmedia Next team this year is Jonathan Marshall, who has been a lead technical strategist for the BBC’s interactive TV initiatives and is CTO of Social Television at SlipStream. His work for the BBC also won him a BAFTA.

Transmedia Next takes place 12th – 14th April, 2011 in London. For more information go to TransmediaNext.com or email sam [at] transmedianext.com.

I Ask Inga von Staden: What IS Transmedia?

The term “transmedia” seems to have originated in 1991 with Marsha Kinder, the critical studies dynamo of USC’s cinema school. When I was at USC, cinema students were divided into two theoretical camps. You were either a Marsha Kinder devotee (European, experimental, theoretical cinema) or a Drew Casper devotee (classic American cinema with big movie stars). And I have to say it was Drew Casper for me at the time. But I was young and narrow-minded. Today it would be Marsha though, definitely.

MIT gave “transmedia” its seal of approval in 2003, when Henry Jenkins – also a USC media professor now – wrote his game-changing article “Transmedia Storytelling”. I’ve always thought that knowing the names of things is one of the differences between an amateur and a professional. But the terminology is still flux when it comes to 21st century media. We’re making this stuff up as we go, and it will take some time to get our toolboxes properly organised. In the present Tower Of Digi-Babel ruckus, some people say, “transmedia”, some “crossmedia”, some “media 360”. Me, I say “full spectrum media”. Richard Wagner said “Gesamtkunstwerk”. And people in 1999 said “new media”.


The key feature that distinguishes true transmedia from stories presented discretely in traditional formats is that in transmedia, the story exists before and beyond its appearance in a specific form. I’d like to think that the pen & paper role-playing games of yesteryear were one of the first truly transmedial entertainments, where characters, places, monsters and events are assumed to already exist and the stories experienced and told by players are spin-offs and riffs on the already existing world. Some of the major science fiction franchises too have offered up stories, characters and worlds that appear transmedially, as children of the original universe. But we are still in the Wild West phase of transmedial storytelling and transmedia is yet to fully stand on its own two – or three or four or twelve – feet.

Last September, I attended one of the most important conferences of the year for European media professionals – Transmedia Next. The three-day event took place in London – in a lovely Thames-side corporate building, halfway between the Tate Britain and the Houses Of Parliament – and was hosted by transmedia pioneers Seize The Media. It featured lectures, discussions and exercises facilitated by a full spectrum of transmedia expertise – Seize The Media’s CEO Anita Ondine, the company’s Chief Technical Architect David Beard, and its award-winning Story Architect Lance Weiler.

Providing intellectual backbone to the Transmedia Next conference was media expert and educator, Inga von Staden. She is director of the Interactive Media programme at Berlin’s Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg and also directs the MEDIA training program at the Media Business School, Spain. She works first-hand with visionary creatives who are in the process of inventing 21st century media. She has been a guiding force in moving them forward and has, as often, learned from them what transmedia really can do.

I had the good fortune to interview Inga von Staden about her work and the past, present and future of 21st century media:


Inga von Staden

Inga von Staden

NEAL ROMANEK: So how do you answer when someone asks you “What IS transmedia?”

INGA VON STADEN: I tell them it is one of several terms used in the converging media landscape. “Transmedia” was coined by Jenkins (and Kinder—NR) focusing on a story to take the user through different media platforms. The other terms currently in use are “crossmedia” which was coined by the advertising industry, referring to integrated, cross-platform campaigns. And there’s also “360Degrees” which refers to a theme playing out across a multitude of platforms and also includes factual content that may be less story-driven than fiction. 360Degrees is quite popular term in the European media industries.

NEAL ROMANEK: You started out as a filmmaker. How did you get to where you are now?

INGA VON STADEN: I began working in television and film productions in 1987. In 1995 I migrated into games and internet development  as a conceptor and project manager. Then I worked as a consultant for the media industries from 1999 to 2008 helping with the paradigm shift from analogue to digital. My clients were print publishers, tv broadcasters, and also the film industry.

The more I worked with these companies, the more I became aware that there were too few professionals who could do the work that converging media implied. So in a lecture I gave at the Bertelsmann Association in 2000, I proposed we change our narrowly focused film education to a wide media education to create professionals who develop and produce content for all media platforms. My proposal was not particularly well-received at the time. But ten years later the director of my film school wrote in the school’s studies guide: “360Degrees is the new magic term.”  I do not really think it is magic, but I do think it is a very sensible approach to the media business.

In 2002 I set up Germany’s first European MEDIA programme, “The Academy of Converging Media”, training authors and designers to think transmedially. And I wrote the first national studies on digital cinema for the German Film Fund in 2002 and 2003 . Today I run a four-year diploma studies programme at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg (www.filmakademie.de) dedicated to 360Degree Media. Our students are trained to work as transmedia producers and transmedia content directors.

Now, apart from giving lectures at conferences, hosting seminars and directing the studies program mentioned above, I coach interdisciplinary teams through the transmedial development process. It is very stressful to be suddenly doing what you have always done your way with others who do it their way. We see this even when we bring together students from different departments or schools in our Content Labs. But the innovative force that is unleashed once the communication and methodology have been practiced is simply amazing.

NEAL ROMANEK: And you became involved in Transmedia Next how?

INGA VON STADEN: For the Transmedia Next conference, I was contacted by Anita Ondine, who had heard of me through European MEDIA training programs on converging media.

NEAL ROMANEK: So is there any going back to the traditional, 20th century way of doing things for you? Or do you see yourself now permanently operating in a multi-platform world?

INGA VON STADEN: Once I began seeing ideas, stories and themes through the transmedial lense, I found it very hard not to make transmedial suggestions when involved in a development process.

NEAL ROMANEK: What are the most difficult parts of the creative process in constructing transmedia material? What are the unique challenges that are not present in producing other content?

INGA VON STADEN: To go transmedial means you have to allow for a pre-development. In other words, before you develop a format – a film, a game, etc. – you must first develop the story universe that will be the foundation on which all the different media formats will be based. This concept of pre-development is not usually taken into consideration in the development process of content. Or in the budgets for the development process. Furthermore, you have to change the process to be less linear. Transmedia is much too complex to be designed by just one person. It is a team-oriented pool process. The producer needs to bring in other disciplines to participate through the entire development process – a technical director, for example, and a community manager. And the content director needs to be educated in all media formats to understand the input they’re getting from the different team members.

Transmedial projects tend to become very big and complex. The art is to allow for all the possibilities that transmedial thinking can offer to come into the brainstorming sessions at the same time, and to structure the development process along a commonly accepted methodology, ie the “content onion” by Raimo Lang (YLE). You have to consolidate the content into an operative idea – the creative kernel – and from there build the red thread through that story universe the team has designed. The art is to keep it simple.

NEAL ROMANEK: How is today’s transmedia different from past efforts at presenting a story across multiple platforms? How does it differ, say, from what Walt Disney was doing with simpler technologies 50 years ago?

INGA VON STADEN: Transmedia is more than just crossmedial distribution. Transmedia is understanding an story or theme to be more than just a film or game or an app. It is about the notation of the story universe that an author has in his head as he writes a story. By exposing that story universe, the team members and co-production partners can share in it and become part of the creative process. They can collaborate to design a media architecture that will take that idea or story or theme across different platforms. This is not about a film going onto the internet or a character being merchandised, though that could certainly be part of the design. It is about understanding what part of the idea, story or theme plays best where and how the different media formats are interlinked, via “rabbit holes”, portholes into the various spaces within the story universe. Simple examples are having the main plot of a story happen in a TV-series and different sub-plots staged on the Internet. Another example might be opening up spaces in the story universe to users who will create user-generated media to feed into the overall content.

NEAL ROMANEK: Whenever I talk to producers about transmedia, there often seems to be the same response – and said with quite a lot of confidence: “There isn’t any good way to make money from it”.

INGA VON STADEN: Transmedia is more expensive than “simply” making a film, game, app, or building a community. But each format in a transmedial architecture will be cheaper than if it had been produced on its own. You create synergies, production resources that can be reused and reconfigured. So rather than making 5 films for the sum of X, you are creating 5 different formats for the sum of X minus Synergy.

And furthermore we are seeing film producers having an increasingly hard time to come up pre-financing. So thinking transmedially, you can create content that feeds into another platform and then cross-finance your film with those revenues.

There is no one business model. There are many business models out there. Each media platform has its models for making money. They would otherwise not exist. Now you will probably not be making money by uploading your film to YouTube – a film does economically much better in a cinema, on DVD or VoD-platform. But you may make money selling elements of your story universe on a pay-per-item basis and collecting micro payments from an online community. A transmedial producer must creatively combine the financing and revenue models out there to come up with a project’s very own business model. I call it the transmedial business mash-up model.

NEAL ROMANEK: What is the biggest potential growth area for transmedia? Entertainment? Marketing? Education? And where is the best transmedia work being done today?

INGA VON STADEN: Transmedia will most likely be making its big money with entertainment as most media does. But we are currently seeing the most interesting projects come up in the factual realm born out of the necessity of documentary film companies to find new business models in order to survive. Examples are “Prison Valley” or “The Galata Bridge”. And we have seen transmedia happen for years already in children’s media. Kids find it so easy to surf a story environment on different platforms.

NEAL ROMANEK: I feel like transmedia now is in the same place as movies were in the 20th century. Movies imitated past popular media, like novels and theatre. A lot of transmedia seems to imitate movies. How do we get away from imitating movies?

INGA VON STADEN: You soon become more creative than simply emulating the movies if you bring in different disciplines into your creative team. A game designer has a very different approach to content, as does a designer of apps or a builder of communities. Take a look at the great work Dr. Randy Pausch (creator of the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University) did with his “Building Virtual Worlds” class.

NEAL ROMANEK: How can transmedia creators help each other?

INGA VON STADEN: Share experience and build a body of professional knowledge! That is the only way we can all begin making interesting projects and earn a living with them.

Full Spectrum Story Dominance

I’m on my way now to the third and final day of the Transmedia Next Training For Media Professionals, where the Pickfords, Chaplins, Fairbankses and Griffithses of the 21st century are gobbling up inspiration and information from the likes of Lance Weiler, David Beard, Inga von Staden, and Anita Ondine.

Officially, I’m attending the Transmedia Next training as a journalist – but that’s just my avatar. As you know, I create other worlds when I’m not writing about this one – and sometimes even get paid for it. I missed Transmedia Next day one, but yesterday was enough to soak me through with new ideas. My pulse rate literally accelerates when I hear the hows & whys of full spectrum storytelling. Really. I get all flushed and sweaty.

“Transmedia” seems to be the designation we’re going to use for this 21st century storytelling, where the divisions between book and film and game and app and any other media-centric experience you can think of can become almost infinitely blurred. But I do like the expression “full-spectrum media” too. I don’t know where I first heard it. Maybe I just made it up. The US military has openly sought “full-spectrum dominance” of all possible combat spaces. Now, storytellers and artists must stake a claim to their own limitless arena. It’s exciting to recall that a spectrum is absurdly larger than the puny ROYGBIV of visible colors. It extends endlessly to the left and right and contains colors we can, right now, only barely imagine.

One of my key functions now – as a “transmedia storyteller” – is to do my best to push into the infrared and the ultraviolet of our current transmedia spectrum, extending the range of vision so the generation after us – the real transmedia artists – the Jean Renoirs and David Leans and Orson Welleses – will be in a position to see a little further.

The Spectrum

The V&A’s Decode, Dreaming The Future Of Digital Media

(originally printed in Videography magazine, Feb. 2010)

London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, generally acknowledged as the world’s largest institution of decorative arts and design, was founded by Queen Victoria in 1852. You might think that digital video technology was the last thing the grand monarch had in mind, but the V&A was originally conceived as a “Museum Of Manufactures”. From its very beginning, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, it sought to be a place for the study of the point of art and technology.

“Decode: Digital Design Sensations” is a new exhibition the V&A is putting on in partnership with contemporary arts & design organization, onedotzero. “Decode” runs from Dec. 8, 2009 to April 11, 2010, and strives in every way to break the boundaries of the typical museum experience. The Victoria & Albert Museum has been collecting digital art since the 1960’s. An exhibition called “Digital Pioneers” showcases this material concurrently with the “Decode” exhibition.

Today’s interconnected world of social and digital information, becoming familiar to even the most luddite household, has broken down traditional structures of space, and time too, in media. People are increasingly used to the idea of watching a movie when and where and how they want to, for example, and the 20th century notion that it is an experience restricted to a brick and mortar theater with predetermined show times is moving toward becoming a novelty of the entertainment.

Shane Walter, co-founded onedotzero in the mid-nineties, and has been on the cutting edge of digital media production since. He is named as the curator of the “Decode” exhibition, but thinks of himself as more of a producer, and collaborator. A couple of the pieces in the show were commissioned directly by onedotzero, with Walters taking an active interest in their production.

“Decode”, arranged more along the lines of an extended festival than a gallery show, takes for granted the 21st century decentralization of media and then tries to see into the far reaches of digital media with fluidity and change being the focal element. Not only does an audience have an array of choices regarding its relationship to the digital pieces presented in the show, but the pieces themselves are morphing and changing as a result of their relationship to the audience.

The exhibition is divided according to three themes – “Code”, “Interactivity”, and “Network” – each representing an element of the digital creative process. “Code” presents pieces that use computer code to create new works and looks at how code can be programmed to create constantly fluid and ever-changing works. It emphasizes the idea that the code itself is a kind of creative entity that makes content – and that is willing to collaborate with the audience if instructed to do so. It’s asif the original programmer had created another little artist existing in a virtual realm – The Code.

“Code nowadays is a raw material,” says Shane Walter, “A coder is as creative as someone is a sculptor, for example, or a painter or designer.”

A museum space is traditionally, almost by definition, a place where something is preserved in stasis. The Decode exhibition strives to turn that on its head. “We’re saying,” says Walter, “Yes, touch things as much as you want, take pictures, and you can download elements of the exhibition, you can upload things too. We want to make you, the visitor, a part of the exhibit.” Some of the exhibits in fact can’t exist without an audience there, and are designed to spring into motion in response to the movement of the visitors, as if the exhibit itself was an artist, interpreting its subject – the museum-goer. Golan Levin’s “Opto-Isolator II”, for example, takes the form of a human eye that stares at the viewer, and blinks and moves in direct response to the viewers blinking and movement. “A lot of these ideas and techniques have been around for some time, but I think only in the last five years have people been using them less as a novelty and more part of their digital toolbox.” ”

The “Network” portions of the exhibition focus on and utilize the digital traces left behind by everyday communications. Walters points out how the digital web that we live in is something living, connected to us in a very intimate way. “It’s almost impossible to switch off. Even when you’re asleep , your Facebook is still going, your Twitter feed. You’re leaving all these digital traces behind. So artists are trying to make sense of this area by data mining this realm, and using that data to re-represent the world.” Aaron Koblin’s “Flight Patterns” uses FAA data to create animations of flight patters that are both ghostly and dream, as well as fascinating and informative. Repeatedly in Decode, hard fact and hallucinatory visions combine to produce a revelatory experience.

DECODE also offers people the chance to actively participate with via Karsten Schmidt’s piece, “Recode”. Created as a digital identity for the exhibition, the code for the ever changing CG piece is available on an official Decode Google code page, which also has a detailed user guide and gui. New creations can then be uploaded as part of the Decode exhibits online gallery, contributions which are considered no less legitimate than the original Karsten Schmidt work.

A fascinating challenge Decode presents to the museum world is that the digital media in the exhibit is entirely fluid and in fact quite difficult to practially catalog in a museum’s inventory. If it’s constantly changing and altering, how legitimate is the description of the piece, and if viewers are an integral part of the experience, can they be said to be part of the museum’s archive?

Decode presents a fascinating array of digital wonders and fascinating experiences, types of things which might have been seen on by attendees of SIGGRAPH, but have not been offered to a wide audience. Technologies that might have languished as a mere curiosity, have now, in the hands of artists, been made to communicate – and in some cases, commune – with a new generation of media audiences.

How To Make Art Museums Interactive

I love museums. Whom doesn’t? Museums are where we keep old stuff. It’s very important to keep old stuff. if we don’t keep old stuff, how can we ever know how good our new stuff is except through by comparison of it?

One of the problems museums face in our modern age of the 21st century is that of people having so many different avenues to choose from as regards their entertainment dollars. People want their media INTERACTIVE these days. And I’m sad to see that only a few of the museums are employing the new interactive media technological techniques. And no more is this seen not to be the case, than in the case of the art museum.

Art museums have changed very little since they first began in the days of King Arthur – large empty buildings with paintings on the walls and statues in the corners. It’s a miracle they’ve survived this long. If art museums are not to join wide-screen cinemas and opera houses as quaint but irrelevant relics of bygone erae, they must make changes. They too must join the Interactive Revolution – or as I call it the INTERA-UTION!

Below are some notes I’ve taken whilst perusing the world’s great art museums. I have selected problematic items – of genre, artist, or artwork itself – and have provided practical solutions for each. I feel confident that my solutions to these very old problems will get museum attendance up into even the thousands per year:

Ancient Greek Statues – the new conservatism makes it certain that people will dismiss life size-statues of naked young men out of hand. Solution: Dress statues in clothes by the hottest fashion designers, thereby attracting both art and fashion afficionadi! Advertising tie in? – “Body by The Rhodes Master 367 B.C. … clothes by Christian Dior … ”

Still Lifes – face it, still lifes are pretty boring if you don’t appreciate the techniques the artist used to get his effects. I recommend still life paintings be set next to real life reconstructions of the actual objects depicted, so people can see how close the artist got.

Frida Kahlo – Too serious. Lighten up. Friday nights, women get free fake mustache

Leonardo’s “Mona Lisa” – great stuff, but we’ve seen the pic over and over, starting to get boring. Easy fix though – play continous loop of Nat King Cole singing “Mona Lisa” song.

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Ceiling – Same prob as Mona Lisa – everybody’s seen it. Solution: THE SERPENT – a rollercoaster that loops around the Chapel at 90 mph, allowing patrons to take in every one of Michelangelo’s masterpieces in under 2 minutes. Also gives viewers sensation of flying through the Ether with the angels. (Maybe individual rollercoaster cars shaped like God in the Creation of Adam. Poss. safety hazard with jutting finger? – check w/Vatican Health & Safety Admin)

Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” – Yet another victim of its own success. Solution: place loudspeaker behind the painting that emits piercing human shriek every 6 to 8 minutes. Hire high-profile celebs to contribute screams? Christopher Walken? Judi Dench? That guy from the Shakespeare movie?

Jackson Pollock – first patron each day to find 10 outlines of cats hiding in the painting wins a prize.

Rubens’s Women – Naked chicks = great. Fat naked chicks = only so-so. Use computerized image editing to alter proportions of female nudes to current standards of female beauty. Could be a whole show exploring how beauty has improved over the centuries with before and after versions of paintings. Sponsored by Loreal or other?

Andy Warhol’s “Campbell Soup Can” – serve Campbell’s soup to patrons, so they can both look at the can AND eat soup at the same time! Everybody loves soup! Also (crazy but COOL idea) allow patrons to clean up after themselves using real Brillo pads. Obvious ad tie-ins too.

The Venus De Milo – People are put off by the notion of “ideal beauty”. I say, employ REALISM – fountains of blood continuously spurting from her severed limbs. It’s half a statue one day, a multimedia installation the next!

And that’s just the beginning!