Member News February 23, 2017
The internet is a basic human right.
by Lauren Festa
“What’s the wifi password?” is synonymous with asking someone “how are you?” Our connected world is one we sometimes take for granted. Internet Access, according to the UN is as basic a human right as freedom of speech, gender equality, water and shelter, yet more than half of the world’s future artists, musicians, programmers, students and inventors aren’t able to connect.
“Broadband internet is failing to reach billions of people living in the developing world, including 90 per cent of those living in the poorest nations. The lowest levels of internet access are mostly found in sub-Saharan Africa, with internet available to less than 2 per cent of the populations in Guinea, Somalia, Burundi and Eritrea.”(via UN News Centre). While some people have basic connectivity, there is the problem of censorship to things like Google services, news sources and social media. If you are reading this story, you’re probably doing it on one of many of your wifi-accessible devices. Imagine how impacted your life would be without it. ADC Member and conceptual photographer Francisco de Deus along with creative director Felipe Ferreira and SID LEE recently wrapped up a project for internet.org, a Facebook-led initiative that plans to bring affordable access to people who are not yet online, via installing wireless hotspots, beaming internet from the sky and creating platforms that enable data-free access. Because connection means sharing knowledge—and that should be shared with everyone.
Our interview includes answers from both Francisco and Felipe.
What insight did you use and where did the overall idea for the campaign come from?
Felipe: Each person that comes online has the potential to create and share knowledge that improves the internet for all of us. Internet.org by Facebook came to life to tackle the lack of connectivity around the world. For most of us, the internet is so deeply permeated into our lives that we take it for granted. We look more at our phones than at our dates during dinner!
I still remember someone from our team asking a simple question: ‘how could the internet be considered the World Wide Web if half of the world has yet to be connected?’ The room went silent. It was a powerful question that led us to develop the concept — The Internet is Incomplete.
We like this thought so much because it’s the opposite of what comes to mind when thinking about the internet — this large network of people and things. What if the internet [has] only reached half of its potential? Since the campaign would run worldwide — mostly in developing countries — we had to communicate this concept to both people who already know how awesome the internet is, and to people who don’t know its importance yet.
That’s why we came up with a visual direction where objects are cut in half as a metaphor for the internet itself. We wanted to communicate the fact that only half of the world’s music and musicians, art and artists, story and storytellers, knowledge and thinkers are online. There is so much more to come. Only when everyone comes online can we call it the World Wide Web!
How did the idea and copy lines inform the visuals?
Felipe: We thought that it would be easier for people to understand the concept if they could see what they were missing — e.g. half of music, art, knowledge, stories, comics. That’s how the cut in half objects came to be. They are fun!
On the other hand, the headlines had to be translatable into many different markets, that’s why we opted for a more modular approach with “Over half the world’s __________ have yet to get online.” It was only a few rounds in that we ended up completing the missing half of the object with handwritten typography. It was a nice touch [in] the end.
What was it about the project that excited you to jump on it? What was your specific involvement?
Felipe: As a Creative Director on the project, what most interested me was the fact that we were literally asked to communicate the benefits of the internet. We are not selling the benefits of sugary water in a bottle. It’s just fascinating to receive an open-ended brief where the subject is the internet.
We were able to fully flex our creative muscles by going through our own “Quantity equals Quality” creative process. Initially we came up with about 20 concepts, then narrowed down to the most unique one.
Francisco: When I was approached by Felipe and his team I was excited to work on a project with such a fresh visual direction, the prospect of working on a project for Facebook was very motivating. It’s a brand I’ve admired for a long time. My work revolves around the use of props and I was involved not only as a photographer, but also working closely with our fabrication and animation teams in order to develop the technical aspects needed to accomplish this vision.
Behind the scenes photos show physical objects cut in half.
I thought the cut object were created in Photoshop, but then I saw the BTS photos and the objects physically cut in half. Tell us about that process.
Felipe: First, we went through a very meticulous process of finding objects that communicated the concept in each market. Mostly universal objects that represent what the audience consumes online such as guitar for music, painting for art, book for stories, etc. There were a few objects — like the artsy horse — that were created based on a specific market.
From there, Francisco de Deus, Ars Thanea and my team at SID LEE found the most interesting positions for the objects and ways of slicing them up! Craft-wise, Francisco’s team literally bought and sliced a dozen props just to see how the cut-in-half objects would behave in front of the camera. Specially because there was stop motion involved.
Francisco: Fabricating all these intricate objects was challenging and fun. Most of them are household items that we are very familiar with, but once you cut them in half a whole different world of textures and shapes opens up. Our fabrication team used many different techniques in order to achieve the visual effect we needed, a lot of tests had to be made before we got our final props. Visually we also had to go through a testing period in order to find the best angles for each of the objects, what would be the best way to light them. We had to find images that would make visually striking stills, but would also work well for our stop-motion videos. This “unknown” helped to push us well beyond what would be everyday solutions in search of new results. I feel we were very successful in this.
What was the most rewarding part of this project? What was the most challenging?
Francisco: Seeing the project live was definitely the most rewarding part of it. The most challenging was the craft, the fabrication of the objects. It took us a while to figure out how the cut-in-half objects would look in front of the camera, given the fact that most people were familiar to them in [their] entirety.
I like that this brings awareness to artists, musicians and filmmakers without wifi, but also touched on the limitations put on future students and future inventors. How did you choose who to highlight?
Felipe: We thought about the most important things that make us, internet users, come online every single day such as music, art, knowledge, stories, and ideas. Education and innovation are amongst the incredible things internet can help spread across the globe.
Can you tell us where in the world there are least amounts of internet connectivity? How does that impact productivity?
Felipe: Yes! We found out that according to 2016 World Bank Report, access to the Internet: (1) Creates greater economic opportunities, (2) Reduces poverty and hunger, (3) Improves access to healthcare and education services, as well as (4) Increases empowerment and opportunities for women. Unfortunately, there are barriers to connecting the world such as availability, affordability, and awareness of the issue. Some places in Southeast Asia, Middle East, Africa and South America are some of the places with the least amount of internet connectivity.
What are some initiatives from internet.org that are helping to get people online?
Felipe: There is a range of ways in which Internet.org is connecting people, through Free Basics, Express Wifi, and unmanned aircrafts that beam internet from the sky. I highly recommend checking them out for more info.
I think that even though these stats are alarming, it’s cool to think that there is still so much art out there that is yet to be discovered.
Felipe: Yes! This links back to the ad and design industries. I can’t wait to see more art online. Maybe our next favorite painter, sculptor or graffiti artist will show up soon.
Do you think that in our lifetime most of the world’s population will have Internet access?
Felipe: Absolutely. There has been a huge improvement already. Internet.org has brought more than 25 million people online in such short time.
How do you think you own professional (and even personal) life would be impacted if you didn’t have the access to the Internet that you do?
Francisco: I believe that technology is an extension of the human body. Glasses are extensions of our eyes because they make us see better. Clothing is an extension of our skin because it protects us. Computers [are] an extension of our brain because they help us process multiple things at once. The internet is an extension of us as human beings because it allows us to communicate better. Our job is based on the premise of communication. We are here to communicate ideas to mass audience. In many ways, I believe that we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the internet.
Tell us in your own words why you think the internet is a basic human right.
Felipe: Because it allows people to access knowledge they wouldn’t get elsewhere. It also gives people the ability to express themselves.
Francisco: The internet that holds most of the intellectual material produced by mankind to date. Once you give internet access to people that had none, their curiosity will open new doors, re-interpret many of our findings and most likely point us to new directions.
Creative Directors: Felipe Ferreira, Ethan Schmidt
Art Director: Ruben Beddeleem
Designer: Rui Ma
Account Director: Brett Niebling
Account Executive: Gillian Couchman
Producer: Dana Kandic
PHOTO CREW Francisco De Deus + VISU Artists + SKS
Photographer: Francisco de Deus
Photographer’s Rep: Blake Pearson / VISU
Producer: Susan Shaughnessy / SKS Productions
Animator: Zack Williams
Fabricator: Makoto Aoki / Swell NYC
Post Production: Ars Thanea
Executive Creative Director: Peter Jaworowski
Producer: Marta Król, Tomasz Wachnik
Art Director: Karol Klonowski
Concept Artists: Krzysztof Rosłan, Mikołaj Piszczako, Michał Lisowski
Digital Artists: Marcin Kowalski, Łukasz Wiktorzak, Piotr Frączkowski, Maciej Mizer
3D Lead Artists: Piotr Nowacki, Łukasz Skurczyński
Modeling & Textures: Ernest Kośka, Anna Mierzejewska, Jakub Włodarczyk
Shading: Piotr Nowacki, Ernest Kośka, Jakub Włodarczyk
Animation: Piotr Maciocha
Business Unit Director: Marcin Molski
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