Frank Chimero’s talk at the AIGA National Conference

The following is republished in part with permission from Frank Chimero (YG8). Originally published on his blog, October 18, 2011.

I was asked to speak at the AIGA National Conference in Phoenix, Arizona on October 13th as part of their Emerging Designers Symposium. This is the talk I gave.

The Particle

This morning I crawled out of bed incredibly early. I guess I’m not used to the sun being this bright or I’m still on New York time. I lurched out of bed at 6:30am and started wandering through a bunch of dirt plots a few blocks from the hotel looking for some coffee. I walked into this tiny coffee shop that served crepes, the sort of place filled with locals. People come in, say hi to the dude behind the espresso machine by name, and he’s already working on their drink. Same thing every morning, and I’ve just accidentally inserted myself into these people’s ritual. So, I’m sitting there eating my crepe and this guy named Jim walks in and immediately says to the man behind the counter: “Hey Nick, I’ve got a puzzle for you this morning.”

“What’s that?” Nick replies, and Jim starts talking about moving faster than light.

“You know they have that thing now that can shoot particles faster than light, so they actually show up before they’re shot out of that gun. Totally crazy stuff. I guess if you go faster than light you can essentially time travel.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yep. So, I was thinking on the way over here this morning. Suppose the rest of the world still goes on like usual around that little tiny particle, but it’s shooting through space so fast that time hiccups. So, you think that the particle actually shows up in the same place in relation to the Earth’s position, or just in general to the universe?”


“Well, I don’t know. I was just thinking that if you were to time travel an hour into the past, the earth would be in a slightly different spot in the universe because it rotates and goes around the sun. So, if you disappear then reappear, are you going to be standing in front of the espresso machine like you are now, or are you going to reappear outside, because the earth shifted under your feet and cruised through space while you were time traveling?”

“What the fuck are you talking about Jim? Did you just get back from the sweat lodge?”


I was thinking back to what it was like being in school, and god, it feels a lot like being that little particle. You’re somewhere trapped between past, present, and future. You’re not in the present, because there’s a part of you that feels like life is on hold until school’s done, and you know that most of the information you’re being taught is somehow dated. Yet, all of this is done in service to your future. And while all the world around you is moving and shifting, you’re essentially in none of these places, waiting to see where you will reappear, and if the world is in the same spot as when you vanished or if the earth has somehow shifted under your feet. You’re a part of the world, but you are in a cocoon and incubating. You’re moving faster than light and learning all of these new things, and yet you know that it’s not nearly enough. Simultaneously, it is all much too much to do.

Read the rest here.

Follow Frank @fchimero