Please welcome to the eighth issue of Energy Transmission. This third season is all about looking eastward. In this monthly newsletter I explore the question “What is the Culture of Tomorrow?” together with those who are close to the fire. I have conversations with people I crossed paths with, or who's work inspires me and pair it with stuff we both think is worth checking out.
This interview happened in March, so not everything is super current. As I mentioned before, I now want to look east for the upcoming issues of this 'sletter. First Japan, then New Zealand and then back up to South Korea. We're travelling from Tokyo City straight to Auckland in NZ. This is the home of Logan John Buchanan, a Creative Athlete as I'd call him (and myself too). He is one of the founders of the Graverunners run club and full of great and positive energy. It was a nice vibe, because it was an 11am vs 11pm meeting again. I love to share this now. Enjoy the issue – it will be a long read! 🇳🇿🇳🇿🇳🇿
"I think the best way to describe what I do or who I am really is I'm a polymath, so it's like a wide degree of wanting to learn and learning. I act off intuition and what feels right in my heart opposed to what I think I should do. It's very fluid, but that works for me and I do art direction. Which can incorporate a lot of roles in there as well.But everything started with photography for me from a young age, about 13. Photography was a way to capture things in the world and frame the things that brought me joy. And so, I think at that point in my life, I was extremely introverted and closed in. Then photography allowed me to, like, capture that and process that and reflect on it.
Ten or eleven years that I've been doing that… and I think when you start with photography, you're very focused on like small details of life, you know, you might document a flower, beautiful small detail. And then as time goes by and you keep practicing photography, you start understanding more and more details of life that you can put into that frame. When I'd taken so many steps back and I could see all these details in this picture that were exciting me, that's when I started breaking into new mediums. Illustrating now or graphic design or working with video and then took a step into like directing video or directing other photographers or styling things now.
I’m kind of just rolling in that space where I'm still handy with the camera, but I'm more interested in working with other people to construct bigger things."
He said in New Zealand, they see things and they want things that way. That’s where I wanted to dig in. Let Logan describe the current state of contemporary culture.
"I could describe the situation in New Zealand for contemporary culture is a new term, which I'm not sure exists, but it's I like to call it a reminiscence. It's like reminiscing. Pinned with the renaissance like this. Everyone run in New Zealand just kind of wants to be overseas, really. So, we look worldwide for inspiration and because things are so at our fingertips for all the culture in the rest of the world, you know, through your phone, you can see anything. We just see all of that and then don't necessarily try and pioneer our own way because we're just oversaturated with what's happening in the rest of the world.
We also have a big stigma in New Zealand, which is that people like to begrudge others. We call it tall poppy syndrome (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tall_poppy_syndrome). So, when people succeed over here, we don't give people the kudos they deserve. Which is really strange and tricky to navigate. Like, somebody might be doing something successful, and somebody wouldn't have even tried it, but they just wouldn’t like it."
"This how I view it. But I can see it becoming better and people becoming more supportive. But because of the population size, you've got roughly like a million people in an Auckland. It is very insulated, and we call it two degrees of separation. So, you know somebody that knows somebody else. Word can travel very quickly. And then people can formulate responses. Even without attending or doing something or purchasing something or having that experience. It’s kind of like a conspiracy theory which sounds more exciting necessarily than a fact."
"But yes, the way the culture exists here is people then build these walls around themselves to protect the ideas that they do have because of that. They want to protect themselves from that. I often ask myself: why are we holding them back? Why don't we share them, put them out in the open and then gauge feedback from it so that then you can take the idea further? Like, embrace the idea of another person and think it further and then the energy flows…
Which happens a lot overseas. There's just quite a lot of fear in New Zealand around. Around letting go."
"So myself and my friend Connor (https://www.instagram.com/connorjulianadams/ ), we are living together and things were moving so fast. He went for a run and then came back and he was like “you have to go and do this”, you know? In New Zealand officially, we don't really prioritize fitness within like contemporary culture. I think it's more about drinking alcohol and partying and doing drugs. It's very small, insulated climate in New Zealand. When we both gone out and done that, we felt obviously all the endorphins that more so like how many people around us were like, you could have such benefits from going for a run. And so we put our heads together and then came up with this concept where we wanted to kind of capture that element of where a person is in a tricky place and help them through running. To help them come to a better space.
This was prior to the pandemic as well. When we come up with the name and then a couple of concepts and some illustrations and whatnot, the branding. Then it started to take off and boom, New Zealand goes into our first major lockdown. With the only thing that you could do was run. So, it really came at an incredible time when you can't go and physically be with people. That's when the whole online thing started to take off, you know, the digital relay, which was super empowering for myself as well. Being able to share that, I think we can all proudly look at each other when we see those posts there. And yes, it's a digital image and you share your time and people will be like 'Yo, this is sick'. But I think we all know deep down what happens on those runs as well. A really good reminder for people and to be like 'Oh, I need to go out there again.' "
It's so important to keep us all sane in these tough situations. I think running have squeezed so, so much for example when I have a full day with back-to-back meetings and stuff, I just go for a run and when I come back, all the knots inside my head are gone and I’m always in a better state afterwards. And that's the best. That's the best feeling.
"My role within it is trying to constantly break the iceberg on getting somebody who hasn't necessarily run before to try and run. Because that's a really hard thing right there. But I think those people that have a lot of resistance to running, may need it the most. The way I do that is by coming up with a crazy concept for a run or the visuals and trying to make that appetizing. And, you know, through technology and things like that. And then when it comes to the actual physical events, it's very much like a mindful practice and making sure that everybody feels supported and welcomed there."
"Transporting these ideas into our working culture. More and more startups or agencies should be moving towards in the future: making sure that people are OK because without people there won't be anything, you know?"
When it comes to like an arts community or like a culture community or of progressive thinkers, in general, Logan told me that it's a balance between Auckland and Wellington:
"Wellington is much more focused on creative. It's a very creative city. As a creative you thrive down there a lot, like meeting and connecting with new people. I lived down there for about four years, and everyone was friends really like, you can just go anywhere, and you'd know somebody and you'd just be able to hang out. There was not that much judgment.
The problem with that was there wasn't too much work down there because there are so many creative people, whereas Auckland's a bit different. It's more like financially focused. So, there's more work, but less creative. Yeah, you must try a little bit harder to find those groups, that you might fit into with like-minded people. There are always art kids anyway."
This might help at keeping you out of the spinning wheel of buying products because you thought, you really love them, but at the end of the day, you don't.
"There’ll be a new item that speaks to me every now and then. But, that's mainly just things that assist me to do what I want. It might be new running gear, you know, I'm looking at the latest Satisfy or District Vision and just say, 'OK, let's let's get that.' It supports me to actually make a physical movement or a change in my life. Running and mindfulness are the kind of the cultures that are really growing in New Zealand at the moment from where I sit."
"And there’s natural wine! Natural wine is the new hipster thing! it kind of sits side by side with this like what people would know as a sustainable future. It's like that kind of ticks the little consciousness box and people's minds. But if you wanted to go deeper on that sustainable just means sustainable so it can be sustained. Like a more important like method is to be regenerative. Better so I could give you I could give you an example of one of my friend's water companies. Which is a regenerative business model. It's superb. It's called ‘for the better good’.
So, he makes water bottles out of plastic made from plants. The bottles them up, and they're available at select retailers. You're encouraged to take the water bottle, use it as much as you can. Then when it's at its end of its life cycle, you take it back and you deposit it, so he takes ownership of the product that he puts out. Then when you put it back in the bin, he then takes it and decomposes in a 60 degree compost in six days. This bottle will be gone. The cap and everything, that's the wrapper like the, you know, the paper label. Everything!
And so then what he does further to this now with his compost is he has community farms. And in certain areas which the compost, he's breaking down his product and he's then fueling to grow vegetables and fruits for local communities and schools. This idea to me is like of the line, like you can't have a bit of model and then that. The guy is a genius, a true genius."
The company name is ‘for the better good’, and that's exactly what it is. That idea of regenerating that he's putting something out there so people can get water and then he's taking it back and then with the byproduct and turning it into like food to feed maybe the underprivileged or people that that don't necessarily have those resources. It's amazing!
I always want to know where my guest find there motivation and inspirations, and Logan immediately replied:
"Deep inside myself, I think. The internet's a dicey place. I do go there, you know, and I work my desk, I'm on the internet, but I think I just have to take a step back, meditate and drop into like, really where I am. What's around me? What do I want to do? And just check in to that, like the higher purpose of your deepest purpose. For me, my deepest purpose would be to help enlighten others on things that they thought they couldn't do. Maybe, and so that comes through all of my practices. Deep down, trying to raise the collective energy of the people that are around me. If I think about that and feel what that is there, I think that's where I findnthe most inspiration – from within.
Other than that, it’s books, reading is incredible. I've only actually just finished reading my first book at twenty five. But I'm a I'm heavily addicted now. I can't stop."
Logan showed me the book 'What I Talk About When I Talk About Running' by Haruki Murakami and holds it into the camera.
"Working with Allbirds – They don't allow for third parties to resell their garments. So that's why we did the event and then did the raffle and thought okay, let's fundraise some money here and now. But I want to make products, man, because I feel like especially for people like you who haven't been able to come to one of the physical runs, I feel like there would be some empowerment. Like you are having a product, you know, something that you can feel, a tangible thing that makes an impact. Yeah, I'm very curious about this idea as well in terms of the regenerative and sustainability side. I think with what's the balance there with making new products is the impact on somebody's life as well."
"Actually, I think the culture of tomorrow, is loving people for who they are. Not who you want them to be. Yeah, I think I'm happy with that one. Hopefully, it makes people think about it."
For Logan the culture of tomorrow is loving people for who they are not for who you want them to be. 💖
Every month, after the interview section, I share with you some things I found on the Internet or in streets, that infused me with good vibes. These are my new energy sources:
The Public Domain Review
As they state on their website: "Founded in 2011, The Public Domain Review is an online journal and not-for-profit project dedicated to the exploration of curious and compelling works from the history of art, literature, and ideas." – I really like to dive in a whole different visual world from time to time across history. Go subscribe to their IG for a weekly dose.
arte TRACKS on "Cottagecore" (German/French, Subs available)
Internet seeks idyll! The "Cottagecore" movement emerged on social media in 2017 and has been absolutely trending since the start of the Corona pandemic: Numerous fans post pictures of handicrafts, garden gnomes and flowered cooking aprons under this hashtag. Whether far away in the countryside or in the park around the corner - with nostalgic sepia filters, the movement's followers want to escape the dreary city life.
At A Distance: Samuel Ross on designing objects that record and reflect the world (Podcast)
British designer, creative director and artist Samuel Ross, founder of A-Cold-Wall, speaks in this podcast about his reverence and respect for materials; essentialism as a response to excess. A perfect fit for this issue, because it picks up what Logan and I talked about perfectly. What intrigued me as well is Ross' views on Masters and Experts. He shares my view that the Apprentice is better than the Master. As Apprentice you never expect, you never rely too much on your experience, you freely experiment.
Alec Leach: The World Is On Fire But We're Still Buying Shoes (Book)
This one is in the same vein. The essay by consultant and writer Alec Leach, currently living and practicing in Berlin, takes a deep look at fashion's impact on the planet. A great read to reflect on one's own consumerism. My favorite quote is the one above in the photo. Think about that for a minute. Make sure to check out his IG channel @future_dust as well for a daily reminder, before copping the next drop. Highly recommend!
Okay, with this one I might be late to the party, but I still mainly work in advertising and marketing and this is a great example of brave collaboration. Arby's teamed up with none other than Pusha T to create a bold and energetic diss-track against McDonald's and their filet-o-fish. That beat, the lyrics – my fav line: "With lines round the corner, we might need a guest list." – and the fact, that they let him speak freely. If you know, you know 😎. Phew, all the wannabe-rap-songs in German Advertising should be ashamed. A little background to the story: Push and his brother Malice created the jingle 'I'm lovin' it!' in 2003 and never got the royalties for it.
In the meantime Pusha T dropped his album 'It's Almost Dry' which is a 10/10 really. 12 perfectly executed tracks with half/half produced by Ye and Pharrell. Love it. And the cover by Sterling Ruby let the Gagosian Gallery even post about it. Check it out!
The next interview issue will release on July 1st. In June I might drop another ENERGY SOURCES only. See you on the other side!
Have a great one - sending good vibes to you all!