“The art world seems to us to be a conservative place compared to what’s coming at us from other fields.”
A few months ago, I got a surprise call from Madeline Gins (RIP). Her office was asking if I could stop by later that afternoon. I had not seen Madeline in a few years. Once there, we were soon joined by a Japanese psychologist, and I found myself translating a conversation traversing perception, how we co-create the world, and other matters of interest for both their kinds of work.
In case you are not familiar with the work of Arakawa + Gins, theirs was a collaboration that spanned nearly 50 years. They are collectively and individually, artists, architects, poets, authors, thinkers, and dreamers in the best sense of the word.
Later you can look around their new website and get a sense of a wider range of their work. For now—so you can make sense of how we got to this particular website—here are a couple of images of their architectural work (The Isle of Reversible Destiny):
On that first evening, the conversation I had to translate traversed regions of ideas that I had not visited for a long while. My now underused Japanese was also no longer really up to the task, but it felt good to be pushing the limits of my mind.
In the course of the evening, Madeline also showed me two versions of a new Reversible Destiny Foundation website that was being worked on and that had been in the making for quite some time.
What I saw in these partially formed website projects was a kind of spectacular ambition.
The new Reversible Destiny Foundation website is a metaphorical extension of their persistent and active interference with death and the death-dealing habits that populate a normal life. She aims no lower than to free you physically and mentally from the confines of assumption about your body, about your perception of the world, and—very literally—to free you from death.
When I got back to the office I said to my team: “We missed the chance to do something great.”
A few weeks later I got another call. The website project was stuck. Were we interested?
I’ve been asked this question many times, and the answer is usually the same. Yes, but we will have to look at what that means and consider if it is not better to start over. It’s usually some fundamental flaw that prevents a website from reaching its destiny—a conceptual flaw, a brand flaw, or a technological flaw—as was the case here. The website was a catastrophe of unrealized possibilities. The technology chosen to build it was unable to deliver on its promise.
It’s usually some fundamental flaw that prevents a website from reaching its destiny—a conceptual flaw, a brand flaw, or a technological flaw—as was the case here.
The project needed to start over.
Madeline jumped with us off the precipice, and so we began the third visioning of what a true reversible destiny website would be.
The website is now live and will be formally announced next week. This website is intended to always remain a work in progress, but it has found the light of day, and it is true to the spirit of the Reversible Destiny Foundation.
This is not a website devised as part of a strategic plan or carefully positioned to appeal to a well-researched target audience. It is instead a project inspired entirely from the work of Arakawa + Madeline Gins, which I understand to be unique in the world. This makes it much more of an art project than is usual for us. It should be understood though, that marketing should never require an organization to change who it is. Our responsibility as a marketing agency is to understand who you (our clients) really are and who your constituents really are, and to then find beautiful and effective means of communication between these two groups. This work should foster an emotional and intellectual meeting and engagement that benefits both parties.
We do not know the destiny of this website. We do love it though, and we hope it inspires you as much as making it has inspired us.
I have now, sadly, had to write obituaries for both Madeline Gins and Arakawa: