Bob Burnett: I didn’t know Hillman Curtis or know specifically of his web design work or read his books. I read this article on Design Observer earlier in the week and was struck by it. Hillman was approximately my age when he died earlier in April of cancer. I admire that he produced video pieces in a quiet, unaffected yet thoughtful way. I like their nerdy normalcy—I didn’t care that they were sometimes technically a-kilter or not lit.
His webpage features a bunch of video clips.
He seemed to be a guy that took his design experience in web and print and expanded it to video stories about people just because he wanted to. I suggest starting with the Artists Series on his web page. I liked the David Byrne/Brian Eno film because he made me interested in an album that I didn’t like when I listened to it when it came out. The Lawrence Weiner video was another great example for me. Mr. Weiner was all over the place and captivating at the same time. I love the slow dolly shot up to his striking face.
Hillman Curtis did some commissioned work too—for instance a few shorts for Adobe. He had the huevos to do technically messy, yet engaging segments. I’m just starting to watch the BAM Performers series. Seems he actually got a camera crew for those and there's a higher level of production aesthetic.
I've produced and directed videos for 25 years. There’s something nice and re-centering for me seeing this work. It makes me not want to get simply caught up in delivering something for a client as fast as possible but to think a little bit, let a concept develop that you actually like and then make better use of the medium.