The Kickstarter Awards: The Uncategorizable
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Yesterday we looked at Kickstarter standouts according to the stats. Today we’re celebrating some of the great uncategorizable projects and rewards. Projects that made us laugh, made us pledge, and confused the hell out of us, too.
Reward We Backed Just to Find Out What the Hell It Is: “Irradiated Candy,” Nuclear Fusion in a Bubblegum Machine
Jacob, Leticia and Elanie are three students building a fusion reactor inside of a bubblegum machine. With that in mind, it makes sense to see “irradiated” candy listed in their rewards, but on the other hand — what the hell is irradiated candy? At a low-commitment price of just $5, we really couldn’t afford not to back and settle the mystery once and for all. —Cassie Marketos
Reward We’re Too Chicken To Back: “Receive a trip in the Time Machine prototype to your funeral!,” Mass Produce the Bison Oleander Time Machine
The work of two guys who built a time machine in their backyard, the Bison Oleander Time Machine project is something to behold. Their seven-minute time traveling video takes them from one greenscreen-and-stock-footage locale to the next, all the while awkwardly discussing their prototyped technology. It’s weird as hell and totally brilliant. Their rewards bring it, too:
As much as we’d like to see a Bison Oleander Time Machine in every garage, we can’t recommend pledging to this, of course. But as outsider comedy, it’s Award-worthy for sure.
There are a number of celebrity cameos in Kickstarter projects, from Zooey DeChannel to Yoko Ono to Tony Hawk. But cameos aren’t just about star power, as we see in unexpected walk-ons in two of Cynthia Hopkins’ project videos. While Cynthia explains her work as a playwright and performer, her cat curiously wanders into the frame. The consummate professional, Cynthia takes the cameos in stride. The cat’s speaking part begins around the 1:50 mark. —Fred Benenson
Most Effective at Mystifying an Entire Village: Lenka & Michael, Mysterious Letters
Mysterious Letters is a project by Lenka and Michael, two artists who’ve decided to write everyone in the world a personal letter, one town at a time. In April they mailed everyone in a small Irish village a letter on the same day, and in November they did the same with a Pittsburgh neighborhood called Polish Hill. The aftermath, as we carefully detailed in this blog post, was enormous: tons of befuddled press (the BBC devoted five minutes to it — the broadcast is their project’s pitch video) and equally baffled letter recipients.
Among the anecdotes in the press reports was this amazing passage:
Anna Misiaszek, who runs Alfred’s Deli Plus with her husband, said the letter that arrived at their shop seemed silly. It read: “Next time someone tries to bamboozle you with the cup and ball trick (on holiday in Turkey, at a city bus station …) choose the cup on the right.”“This is something crazy. I treat this like a joke,” she said Tuesday.
She initially tore up the letter and tossed it in the trash, but later retrieved it when she was told it was an art project.
Our final favorite bit? After the last mailing, signs began appearing all over Polish Hill proclaiming simply, “Don’t worry, it was an art project.”
Most Useless Project (That We Love): The Fishes Are Photographing Every Sizzler in the United States!
Liz and Reed Fish are a married couple from LA with a very weird idea: photographing every Sizzler (a generic restaurant chain) in the United States. After watching their very charming video we found ourselves happily pledging $25 for a large poster of every Sizzler in America — which is almost certainly the least useful $25 we’ve ever almost spent. Unfortunately the project didn’t meet its goal, and now we have to find something else to hang over the fireplace. We’re still lamenting it. (PS: You should also see the Fishes’ 2006 movie I’m Reed Fish.)
Quickest Way to Start a Horror Movie Career: “A role in the film. Your character will die onscreen, a victim of Dr. Bonesaw’s murderous rampage,” Dr. Bonesaw
For a mere $2,000, the team behind Dr. Bonesaw offered backers the opportunity to join the hallowed ranks of slasher flick victims like Drew Barrymore in Scream and a young Kevin Bacon in the original Friday the 13th. What better way to break into film than to offer your bones to the good doctor? —Fred Benenson
Coolest Way to Start a Horror Movie Career: Theremin lesson, Songs for Unusual Creatures by Michael Hearst
Or you could skip the slasher flick route and go straight to the eerie soundtracks to the classic horror movies. Michael Hearst of the band One Ring Zero offered backers Theremin lessons in support of his Songs for Unusual Creatures (itself a musical adaptation of The Island of Dr. Moreau, perhaps?). Legend has it that the perfect succession of Theremin squeals will rise Vincent Price from the dead — a technique we’ll be begging for in our very first lesson.
Best Project Mocking an Impeached Governor: Run, Blago Run! by Mr. CRO
It’s been a year since the surreal dismantling of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, but this past summer Mr. CRO launched the Run, Blago Run! show in Chicago celebrating Blago-inspired art. Works included lots of stencils of Blago running from angry dogs (very nice), as well as our favorite: Blago as a spelunker (as if he’d ever risk mussing the hair to wear a headlamp!):