Photographer Susan Ressler released a collection of black and white images capturing the corporate culture of Los Angeles in the 1970s. From the clunky computers to the banal office plant and male-dominated executives, she captures the industrial economy perfectly.
“Executive Order” depicts corporate America in the late 1970s, mostly in Los Angeles and the Mountain West. The sunbelt was exploding and so was corporate excess. Daylight Books is publishing this work in Spring 2018. Why 40 years later? Because now, in the era of Trump, we face the same dangers that ensue when corporations are deregulated and when profits “trump” people.
Her images are stark reminders of a culture that was and still is prevalent today.
Hi Friends, below are some interesting links I discovered this week.
Summary: Author Patricia Hampl wants to get rid of the to-do list. Mike Vardy ditches the computer for plain pen and paper to get stuff done. Van Gogh emulated Japanese prints. Video footage of New York City from 1911. Check out all these links and more after the jump.
The Art of the Wasted Day. Patricia Hampl’s new book wants us to reconsider time management by removing the burden of the to-do list and daydream instead. She encourages us, especially in our old age — what she calls the third stage after youth and middle age — to let go of the over-scheduled life.
Why Paper Works. A simple pen and paper ask for our attention. And we give it. Writes Mike Vardy in his piece: “Paper works because it is only limited by what you’re willing to put on (and into) it. Paper provides an escape from your devices and does so without compromising your ability to get things done.”
Van Gogh’s fascination with Japan. Japanese art flooded Western Europe when in 1854, America forced Japan to open its borders to trade. Some of the prints of Japanese woodcuts made it all the way to Vincent Van Gogh in Paris. He grew obsessed with ukyio-e, or “pictures of the world,” joyful elements he copied into his own art.
Thought of the week
“Another flaw in human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.”
In 1911, Swedish film company Svenska Biografteatern recorded its trip to New York. Fortunately, the footage survived and most recently was speed-corrected and reproduced with added street sounds of car horns, horses, and police whistles to give us a sense of the environment back then.
Venezuelan photographer Ronaldo Schemidt won World Press Photo of the Year for his image of the “Burning Man.” The picture shows a fleeing José Víctor Salazar Balza engulfed in flames at an anti-government protest in Venezuela on May 3, 2017.
Bursting onto the art scene for her surreal piece on “mouserflies,” painter Lisa Ericson returns to Portland’s Antler Gallery for the fourth time.
Writes the Gallery on her imaginative take on species as “mobile habitats”:
“Her technical skill is beyond compare. The depth of her feeling really shines through in these gorgeous depictions of supernatural beings which look as though they could be photographs taken on a night safari or deep-dive.”
Venezuelan photographer Ronaldo Schemidt won World Press Photo of the Year for his image of the “Burning Man.”
The picture shows a fleeing José Víctor Salazar Balza engulfed in flames at an anti-government protest in Venezuela on May 3, 2017.
“It all took just a few seconds, so I didn’t know what I was shooting,” Schemidt told the British Journal of Photography. “I was moved by instinct, it was very quick. I didn’t stop shooting until I realized what was going on. There was somebody on fire running towards me.”
The photographer currently resides in Mexico where he shoots football matches and more recently covered the Mexico City earthquake aftermath. Check out more images on the Getty website.
Japanese art flooded Western Europe when in 1854, America forced Japan to open its borders to trade.
Some of the prints of Japanese woodcuts made it all the way to Vincent Van Gogh in Paris. He grew obsessed with ukyio-e, or “pictures of the world,” joyful elements he copied into his own art.
‘Seeing with Japanese eye’
Van Gogh amassed a collection of Japanese wood prints in his Paris studio. It was there he started emulating the bright and exotic images of Japanese art, an influence he called Japonaiserie.
“My studio’s quite tolerable, mainly because I’ve pinned a set of Japanese prints on the walls that I find very diverting. You know, those little female figures in gardens or on the shore, horsemen, flowers, gnarled thorn branches.
According to the exhibition of Van Gogh & Japan at the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, the artist adopted the ‘bold, flat areas of color, bold contour lines, and prominent diagonals.’ He even cropped subjects at the edges of pictures and used the Japanese unique play on foreground/background spatial effects.
Van Gogh’s Japanese obsession permeated his work. “All my work is based to some extent on Japanese art,” he told his brother Theo.
Shepherd Fairey’s iconic “Hope” poster helped electrify the Obama campaign in 2008. Yet, it was Trump’s simplistic “Make America Great Again” red baseball hat that helped spread his message during the 2016 election. The fact that the cap looked undesigned was its greatest asset. Bad design makes an indelible impression too.
Evaluating the impact of graphic design
We are living in a surfeit of graphic design just as we are taking an excess of photos without giving careful attention to them. Writes Edwin Heathcote in the Financial Times:
“When there were fewer images, they could be more memorable. We are now awash with slogans and signs, hashtags and memes so that they burn brightly but fade quickly. Perhaps there can be too much graphic design.”
Like most of the Internet-based content, it gets created, consumed, and then promptly forgotten. With the slogan “Slogans in nice typefaces won’t save the human races,” artist Tim Fishlock AKA Oddly Head sums up the growing powerlessness of the entire field of graphic design. His poster features now at London’s Design Museum’s new show, aptly titled *From Hope to Nope.*
“We’re living in an epoch of demagoguery and debacle. As a result, there is a process of inner migration, an opting out of reality. As a species, we’re running 21st-century software on hardware that hasn’t been updated for 50,000 years and we’re not coping at all well. Have we ever been so vulnerable and so self-absorbed? Against this backdrop, my work is an investigation but also an admission of my own fallibility.”
There will always be new and old texts to rally around, perhaps none more potent than Britain’s “Keep Calm and Carry On.” But there’s just too much of the fodder in our daily feeds, particularly on visual-first mediums like Instagram and Pinterest. Time will tell if Shepherd Fairey’s gun control posters stick.
Ultimately, the durability of any political art and graffiti rests on the strength of the issue at hand.
Hi Friends, below are some interesting links I stumbled upon this week.
Summary: Stephen King lists out his top 10 favorite books. Leonardo da Vinci obsessed over water. ‘Zuckerman’ educated the Senate this week on the internet. Ellen Weinstein writes about famous artists and their odd rituals. And the ‘dog photographer’ William Wegman talks about his Weimaraners in human clothes. Check out all the goodies after the jump.
Stephen King lists his top 10 favorite books. Goodreads asked Stephen King to list out his top 10 favorite books of all time. The voracious reader and prolific writer never felt satisfied with his answers but he played along anyway. “Of course, any list like this is slightly ridiculous. On another day, ten different titles might come to mind.”
Leonardo’s Watery Chaos. Leonardo da Vinci obsessed with water more than any of his multidisciplinary interests: architecture, science, painting, and sculpture. The currents represented that perfect chaos that separated air from water.
Maria Popova: I loathe the term “content”. “I am drawn to ideas that remain resonant across time and space, across cultures and civilizations.” If you read her blog, you know that she excels in digging up little-known gems from primary sources and combining them in an interesting way.
Thought of the week
“I’m just reminding you that excellence is often irrational. Greatness is often strange. Beauty is often odd.”
Creatives obsess with how other successful creators do their work. Witness the 2013 bestseller Daily Rituals by Mason Currey. But instead of focusing on the productive habits of successful artists, author Ellen Weinstein highlights their oddities.
Leonardo da Vinci obsessed with water more than any of his multidisciplinary interests: architecture, science, painting, and sculpture.
For Leonardo da Vinci, the current represented that perfect chaos that separated air from water. In his Book on Waters, he wrote:
Nothing shares a surface with something and something shares a surface with nothingness. And the surface of something is not part of that thing, whence it follows that the surface of nothingness is part of nothingness, whence it follows that a single surface is the limit between two things that are in contact. Since the surface of water is not part of the water, and hence is not part of the air or of other bodies placed between them, what is it then that divides the air from the water?
Below is one of Leonardo’s sketches on the movement of water from 1508. It demonstrates the paradox of water in, around, and again itself.
…water in percussion: that is, water is itself the obstacle to water, and in this case the contrast is between the resulting currents on the surface, under the surface, and surging upward carrying bubbles of entrapped air. The relationship between air and water, both in combination and as analogous media, was also a subject that greatly preoccupied Leonardo and played a critical role in the development of his thought that concerns me here.
The structure of a stream lies within its anti-structure. There’s the unpredictable and disruptive movement of its flow. Yet freshwater slithers over rocks, persisting unperturbed all the way into the mouth of the river.
The chaos of running water seems to be why it works.
Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai finished his most famous work, The Great Wave, at the age of 71. Upon seeing the print, Van Gogh remarked: “These waves are claws, the boat is caught in them, you can feel it.”
Brain Pickings blogger Maria Popova sat down with WordPress in the Own Your Content series to discuss evergreen ideas and rethinking the meaning of content.
Popova writes about timeless topics. “I am drawn to ideas that remain resonant across time and space, across cultures and civilizations.” If you read her blog, you know that she excels in digging up little-known gems from primary sources and combining them in an interesting way.
Her talent reminds me of what professor Kenneth Goldsmith of the University of Pennsylvania said about education in the internet era: “an educated person in the future will be a curious person who collects better artifacts. The ability to call up and use facts is the new education. How to tap them, how to use them.”
Maria excels in making old content relevant again. Following her blog is a direct line to her insatiable curiosity.
In this sense, then, it naturally inclines toward what you call “evergreen” — which I take to mean enduring ideas that hold up across the years, decades, and centuries, and continue to solace and give meaning undiminished by time.
I loathe the term “content” as applied to cultural material — it was foisted upon us by a commercially driven media industry that treats human beings as mindless eyeballs counted in statistics like views and likes, as currency to be traded against advertising revenue. Somehow people have been sold on the idea that the relationship between ads and “content” is a symbiotic one, but it is a parasitic one.
While tech may be the cigarette of the century, the internet does provide space for writers like Maria Popova to demonstrate combinatorial creativity in the name of the hyperlink. If used properly, the internet can be a learning machine rather than a propaganda tool.