Hello Velocity is a cultural technology startup, which brings together art, critical design, and viral marketing. Hello Velocity began on the premise that pop is a powerful medium; addressing a mass audience can engage with and instigate critical discourse. I am a co-founder of Hello Velocity, along with Jian Shen Tan and Lukas Bentel.
Hello Velocity and its projects were recently named to Fast Co.’s list of 2014’s best art on the internet.
I would suggest looking at these projects first! What follows is altogether too much of my own writing about these various projects, as well as the ideas behind Hello Velocity.
Critical Design is an artistic tradition which uses the language and imagery of commercial objects (read: design) in a critical fashion, as a commentary medium. Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby founded and popularized the field of critical design in the late '90s - early '00s.
Critical Design's primary assertion is that within our dominant consumer culture, the language of design is highly accessible, and has the potential to be extremely effective.
There are a number of reasons this may be so, most of which arise out of the paradigm of industrial manufacturing: the majority of the objects we consume on a daily basis are produced in vast quantity, with correspondingly intensive up-front cost. Thus there is an assumption of value, or consideration, of effort, in an object of a mass-production aesthetic, in order to justify these investments.
Consequently be believe in a designed product aesthetic. We see this when Kickstarter is forced to ban renderings from its site in large part because of its users’ blind conviction that such images equate to veracity, reality, and reliability. And we see this in Ikea’s mostly computer-generated product catalogs.
Critical design drew its practice and its visual language from the commercial, yet very consciously positioned itself outside of a commercial context, existing solely in galleries and in academia. Consequently the work severely limited its audience, to a limited set of interested parties in the art world and within design theory.
Speculative Design succeeded Critical Design, taking its precursor's ideas and blending them with pop culture, and broader internet mainstream appeal. The Yes Men fall loosely into speculative design (in some, not all of their work). Sputniko, one of Dunne and Raby’s direct successors, works in speculative engineering and pop music videos. Bret Victor’s ‘live-coding’ is a work of speculative design. The online publication Next Nature plays host to a variety to speculative design projects.
These design practices provide the background for the work Hello Velocity does, which might be referred to as "speculative marketing." However, we tend to use the term Cultural Technology, which comes largely from South Korea's music industry. Under this model, culture becomes an export to be developed like a natural resource. The prevalence of K-pop music and its spread through the Western world is an instance of cultural tehnology, supported and developed not only by South Korea's music industry, but its government as well. Hello Velocity comes from this perspective, investigating how ideas spread online.