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by Eric Kohn
March 15, 2009 10:26 AM
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SXSW Snapshot: Gary Hustwit's "Objectified"

There's a new documentary at SXSW from the guy who made "Helvetica," and if that turns your head, then Gary Hustwit's "Objectified" will not disappoint. However, even those uninterested in the history of a popular font should find an appealing hook in Hustwit's fascinating analysis of the design business exclusively from the vantage point of designers. The filmmaker eschews narrative for beautiful imagery and thoughtful input from the unique brand of artist responsible for everyday objects such as chairs and garden shears.

The mundane perception of these items, when viewed from the perspective of the people responsible for them, leads to a deeper understanding of the creative process. In the movie, designers talk in Zen-like fashion about the gadgets they create. "Every object speaks to the intent of the person who put it there," says one insightful character. Even the toothpick gets an intriguing moment in the spotlight.

With its marriage of aesthetic purpose and pragmatism, "Objectified" works as a swift corrective to Doug Pray's "Art and Copy," an entry from the 2009 Sundance Film Festival focused on designers in the advertisement industry. Pray glorifies the content creators without discussing the questionable motives of their corporate overlords. Since the subjects of "Objectified" have a direct line to their audience because the designs must address their needs, questions of consumerist motives are rendered moot.

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