Blogs The Gradient

Veterans Book Project (on NPR & www)

(a very brief history) In 2007 I was asked by artist (and McKnight Photography Fellow) Monica Haller to assist her in designing a book from content that was the culmination of a three-year conversation between Haller and Iraq War Veteran, Riley Sharbonno. The resulting book, Riley and his story., has just been released in a […]

(a very brief history)
In 2007 I was asked by artist (and McKnight Photography Fellow) Monica Haller to assist her in designing a book from content that was the culmination of a three-year conversation between Haller and Iraq War Veteran, Riley Sharbonno. The resulting book, Riley and his story., has just been released in a second edition by onestar press — and our collaborative efforts have continued over the years.

More recently, as part of the Veterans Book Project, Monica has been conducting workshops around the country with small groups of people similarly affected by current and past military conflicts. For use in these workshops Monica and I collaborated with new media designer Mark Fox to develop a lightweight software program that enables non-designers to easily assemble their own book in a spirit akin to the Riley book.

VBP Software

Veterans Book Project, software screenshot

(present day)
Today, on Veterans Day, NPR will be airing a segment about the Riley book and the Veterans Book Project during the program State of the Re:Union. The story will replay throughout November and will be available on the SOTRU web site. Also happening today: we are launching the brand new web site for the project, where you can read more about the project, view (or download) all of the current books, keep up to date with upcoming workshops, read blog posts by past workshop participants, and much more.

veteransbookproject.com

veteransbookproject.com homepage

(more about the project, taken from veteransbookproject.com)
The Veterans Book Project is a library of books authored collaboratively by artist Monica Haller and dozens of people who have been affected by, and have archives of, the current American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In their printed format, the books provide a place or “container” that slows down and materializes the great quantity of ephemeral image files that live on veterans’ hard drives and in their heads.

Each book re-deploys volatile images with the aim of rearticulating and refashioning memories. It stands both independent of and in concert with the larger collection.

Objects for Deployment

books from the first two workshops

(about the process, from veteransbookproject.com)
The Veterans Book Project facilitates bookmaking workshops around the country. In these workshops, combat and non-combat veterans, their families, and others affected by the current American wars are invited to edit and design their archives and stories into softbound, print-on-demand books. Using software specifically designed for this project, three to six participants compile their digital and handwritten archives into book format over the course of a week. These materials can include digital images, emails, journal entries and writings generated at the workshop.

01SJ Biennial, San Jose

Veterans Book Workshop, reading room @ 01SJ Biennial San Jose, CA

(finally, here are the airtimes—that we know of—for the State of the Re:Union segment)
WNYC – New York City – 11/11 @ 2p and 10p
KALW – San Francisco – 11/16 @10p
WDET – Detroit – 11/11 @ 9p
WAMU – DC – 11/11 @ 9p
WJSP – Atlanta – 11/11 @ 7p
KUOW – Seattle – 11/11 @ 9p
WVXU – Cincinnati – 11/11 @ 7p
WHAD – Milwaukee – 11/13 @ 3p
KUT – Austin 11/11 @ 3p
Vermont Public Radio – 11/11 @ 8p
WSLU – North Country Public Radio (upstate NY) – 11/17 @ 1p and 11/20 @ 3p
WIUM – Macomb, IL – 11/11 @ Noon
South Dakota Public Radio – 11/11 @ Noon
KBBG – Waterloo, IA – 11/11 @ 1a and 8p
KUFM – Montana Public Radio – 11/11 @1p
WFPL – Louisville Public Media – 11/11@ 8p
WSNC – Winston-Salem, NC – 11/11 @ 7p

The Image’s Quest to Move Far & Fast

Newly established Edition MK (a small-scale, independent publishing platform founded in Minneapolis as an extension of Making Known) announces the release of its debut title, DDDDoomed—Or, Collectors & Curators of the Image: A Brief Future History of the Image Aggregator, which forms Vol. I of VIII of a series titled Img Ctrl—texts regarding the contemporary […]

Newly established Edition MK (a small-scale, independent publishing platform founded in Minneapolis as an extension of Making Known) announces the release of its debut title, DDDDoomed—Or, Collectors & Curators of the Image: A Brief Future History of the Image Aggregator, which forms Vol. I of VIII of a series titled Img Ctrl—texts regarding the contemporary image world.

About DDDDoomed

DDDDoomed, crafted as a speculative fiction that unfolds from the perspective of a future commentator reflecting back and theorizing about the factors that brought about the dysfunctional state of the contemporary image world, tells the story of how the image (specifically, the online image) devolved in the hands of image aggregators (IAs).

IAs, as DDDDoomed asserts, in having “single-handedly pave[d] the way for a young and Internet-reliant culture’s collective disinterest in even the most essential content of an image,” have turned the image into an aimless one that is made intentionally devoid of its meaning, knowledge, and even of its most basic identifying information. Furthermore, it is argued that “by devaluing [the] image’s potency … IAs were effectively exaggerating the worth of their role by convincing the viewers of their websites that their assembled collection … was, paradoxically, to be the sole object of spectacle.”

DDDDoomed offers a thorough look at the contemporary (online) image world through the lenses of comparatively important image and photography-based artworks, image archives, and artists who are engaged with the collection and use of disparate images.



Preview of DDDDoomed

The following excerpt has been adapted from the chapter titled “The Image’s Quest to Move Far & Fast”

… Within the world of IA [Image Aggregator] websites, even the seemingly simple act of recognizing an image’s author proved to be a task that was chronically prone to oversight. Unsettling as these oversights were, many of the “content-conscious,” having waved their proverbial white flags, put out the question of how, in an online world so heavily influenced by the IA, any digital, online-bound image could have ever existed as anything but an autonomous “thing.” Defeated, out-numbered, and barely able to imagine a world of online images that were untouched by the IA, they thought: “just how could the image have ever existed as one that was full of all of the information, content, and contextual substance that had ‘weighed it down’ before the IA set it ‘free’?”

According to the IA, all of this “weight” attached to the image was, for the most part, seen as textual in nature. Therefore, in taking into account certain basic principles of physics, it wasn’t entirely surprising to know that the image, in its quest to move far and fast between many IA websites, had to shed its extraneous “weight” in order to flourish in the sense that IAs defined flourishing.*

But despite the image’s aforementioned transformation into a streamline being, its surface and appearance changed, relatively speaking, very little. As such, an image always retained some form of subtextual meaning—albeit in vastly differing capacities and in ways that were not likely intended by the image’s creator—that could be implicitly understood by its viewer. Yet, especially for the IA who typically only had an eye for aesthetic matters, interpreting and properly representing online images in a manner that strengthened the meaning and history of those images was, from the outset of IA culture, to put it lightly, ill-fated.

And as if each viewer’s history and state of mind were not already enough to drastically scramble any possibility of an image being interpreted in a manner that was intended by its creator; the always-altering and heterogeneous environments of the Internet had made it even more exponentially possible for an image’s meaning to be (mis)translated in ways that were never imagined by the image’s creator. …

– – –

*
The IA’s notion of “flourishing” was more often than not based upon their own gauging of web analytics such as the number of page views or visitors their website received or, more commonly, was based upon, for example, the number of “likes” their image tallied on Tumblr or times their image was “saved” on FFFFound!. This pervasive data and analytics-driven online culture had undoubtedly placed unforeseen expectations of performance upon the IAs. The aftermath of this widespread occurrence was interpreted in an incredibly honest way by Daniel van der Velden, who, in a 2009 essay, described the culture and habits of a growing generation of Internet-reliant creatives who came to life in the early twenty-first century century by succinctly stating that: “[in a] network … so interdependent and self-congratulatory that it ultimately suppresses deviation from its unwritten rules … every formal gesture is kept in check by an imaginary audience of thousands of your best friends (van der Velden, “Shadow Practice,” in Churchward International Typefaces, ed. David Bennewith [Auckland, NZ: Clouds Publishing; Maastricht, NL: Jan van Eyck Academie, 2009], 104).



Purchase DDDDoomed

Published by Edition MK in November 2010, DDDDoomed is currently available for purchase at makingknown.org/editionmk.

I Do Not Sell Couches: Interview with Photographer J. Grant Brittain

In 2002, I took a photography workshop in Santa Fe and failed to immediately recognize that one of my classmates was in fact J. Grant Brittain, one of the pioneers of skate photography. If you looked at an issue of Transworld Skateboarding from 1983 until 2004, you have seen his work. I recently caught up […]

In 2002, I took a photography workshop in Santa Fe and failed to immediately recognize that one of my classmates was in fact J. Grant Brittain, one of the pioneers of skate photography. If you looked at an issue of Transworld Skateboarding from 1983 until 2004, you have seen his work.

I recently caught up with Grant, who is now the Director of Photography, Production Manager and Co-Owner of The Skateboard Mag,  to talk about his life and work as a skateboard photographer and experiences in magazine publishing.

Gene Pittman:
When did you first start photographing the skate scene in California?

Grant Brittain:
I borrowed my roommate’s Canon in February of 1979 while working at the Del Mar Skate Ranch. I had no idea what I was doing.

Christian Hosoi, Del Mar, CA

Craig Stecyk, Tony Hawk, Stacy Peralta, Del Mar Skate Ranch

GP:
People often discuss what a certain skater brings to the sport—what do you bring to skate photography?

GB:
I think I brought a little bit of art to it and then helping start the magazine Transworld Skateboarding (TWS) in 1983 helped me with integrating a graphic sense into my photography. I always try to simplify what I see, not just shooting willy-nilly, really pre-visualizing the whole shot.

Andy Macdonald, San Diego, CA

GP:
What images of yours do you feel had an stylistic impact on skate photography?

GB:
Probably the shot of Tod Swank pushing that was on the June 1987 cover of TWS. I thought about that shot a lot before shooting it. That scene was on my way to coffee every morning and I would study the light every time I drove or walked by.
It’s all about the graphic quality of the shadow and light and the action of just someone skating from point A to point B. I think every skater can relate to it.
David Carson, the Art Director, and I ended up getting into an argument with the rest of the staff about running it on the cover and I quit for a couple of days.

Tod Swank

Transworld Skateboarding, June 1987

GP:
Of all of your skateboard photographs, is there one you find to be your favorite?

GB:
The Chris Miller, Pole Cam photo is my favorite. Just the conceptual part and the shadow of Chris and I in the background, which tells the whole story.

Chris Miller, Pole Cam, Upland, CA

GP:
Who pushes you photographically?

GB:
The other skate photogs make me want to take better photos. I don’t shoot as much as the young guys, but I try to make it count when I do. I am into the thought process as much as the activity. I also look at a lot of books and websites and go to shows and take workshops to get inspiration from the past and what’s happening now.

Bob Burnquist's loop

GP:
When did you last skate?

GB:
I rode over to my son’s friend’s house a couple of weeks ago to get him. I cruise down the street every couple of months to see if I can still do it. I surf quite a lot. Water is softer than pavement.

Dayne Brummet, East County, San Diego, CA

GP:
Most photographers remember the shot they missed, either because they left a camera behind, were out of film or digital memory. Is there a shot you regretfully missed?

GB:
I missed the 900. I shot at least 150 rolls of different people trying it over the years. I got kicked out of the 1999 Xgames and went back to the hotel and then got a call from Jeff Taylor and he told me Tony (Hawk) made the 900. Devastating.

Tony Hawk, Sanoland, Cardiff, CA

GP:
You seem to have a unique relationship with your subject matter. These skaters pretty much grew up with you. Did this give you a certain amount of access unavailable to other photographers? You appear to have been present at the moment when the sport was transforming into something which was financially lucrative for a lot of these young kids and becoming more of a business. Did the growth of the sport make it harder for you to maintain the access to which you had become accustomed?

GB:
I had all of the access to most riders in the beginning. When certain people got well known and skating hit the airwaves, it was still easy to get magazine shots. On the commercial side, it was a different story, dealing with agents who didn’t know me from Jesus and art directors looking over my shoulder on shoots. “I know what makes a good skate photo, don’t tell me how to shoot it marketing guy or girl!” “Yes, I do have a personal relationship with Tony and I have shot photos of him genius, I used to baby-sit the guy. I carried the guy out of the half-pipe at Del Mar when he lost his teeth.” That’s the kind of real world stuff we deal with, now that TV has its clutches on skateboarding. It was fun before, just going out and shooting photos for ads, one on one. Now everyone’s an expert, art buyers, agents, and art directors that have no connection to skateboarding. You have to play the game though to survive financially, it’s the dog and pony show as a commercial photographer once told me. The big companies could save a lot of money if they would just let us skate photogs do our job. Most guys can shoot a helluva great skate shot with two strobes, we don’t need the art directors and the caterers.

Jaya Bonderov, San diego, CA

GP:
Let’s talk a bit about magazines. What was the creative relationship between you and David Carson at TWS?

GB:
I knew David Carson from 1975, he didn’t know me. He was competing in WSA(Western Surfing Assocation) and I was in the kneeboard division. David was a hot surfer, he was ranked #1 or #2 on the West Coast. I helped start Transworld Skateboarding in 1983 and we all worked on layouts, GSD, Blender, Mountain, Ridgeway, Jinx, Larry Balma, Peggy Cozens. We had no idea what we were doing, just kind of learning along the way, Remember this was before computers, it was paste up and cutting stuff out with Xacto knives and squaring it off with t-squares and triangles and burnishing type, painstaking hands on work. In 1985, they hired David Carson as Art Director, he was teaching sociology or something at Torrey Pines High School in Del Mar. Well, he came on and things started to happen. Carson had taken a workshop with a Swiss designer and he had a different view from us on design. We were zine makers, raw and gritty and David had this clean professional look.

But David was an outsider at the mag and some resented what he was doing with layout and photos. I would meet up with David at local Mexican joints and we would draw on napkins with Sharpies over some beers. We had a pretty good working relationship for a while, but the other dudes kind of got pushed out by the design direction the mag was taking. GSD (David’s assistant and pro skater), Carson and I got into a fight with the rest of the staff at one point over the Swank “Pushing” cover. I actually quit for 2 days. We had been running peak action photos on the cover from the mag’s inception and we three wanted to run the Tod Swank photo on the cover. I considered the shot as the “Every Man” photo and the others fought it. In the end, it ran and I feel it was one of the most iconic covers in skateboarding history. Carson put Transworld on the map through his art direction and people outside the industry were taking notice. He just kept pushing the envelope and at the same time was butting heads and finally left and changed the design world.

Bones Brigade, Chin Ramp, Oceanside, CA

GP:
What prompted your departure from TWS, and led you to start The Skateboard Mag?

GB:

I think the moment the owners (I was never an owner, big mistake on my part, hey, I was naive) sold the magazine to Times Mirror, I wanted to leave. I was just never a corporate man and hated the corporate world. It wasn’t that bad with Times Mirror or the next sale to The Tribune Company, but we started noticing bad stuff when Times Warner/AOL got hold of it. I wanted to start our own mag as soon as TWS got bought, but we were always led to believe that you can’t do it without Big Daddy, we were pretty insecure. Then we started experiencing the way Corporate works.  Long time, dedicated employees getting laid off, inept supervisors playing power trips on their underlings and “Corporate Yes Men Suits” being brought in and comparing “selling skateboards to selling couches, no difference” (that was actually said!).  I soon discovered that the word “soul” does not exist in the Corporate Dictionary. They then laid off our publisher and he had been the wall between us and New York. That’s when we decided to leave and start a new mag. Editor-in-Chief, Dave Swift, photographer, Atiba Jefferson, writer, Wilkins, I and a few photogs quit on the same day and it made the San Diego Union business section via writer/skater Conor Dougherty and then the Wall Street Journal picked it up. That’s when the you know what hit the fan. Time Warner/AOL freaked out and wanted to know what the hell was going on out in SoCal?. Their damage control guy came out and tried to get certain people back and when that didn’t work they fired the “Suit” that was at watch in order to save their own jobs, typical corporate M.O.

The Skateboard Mag is everything that TWS could have been, had it not been for the priority of the bottom line. We try to think of skateboarding, skaters and our readers first.

Willy Santos, Sorrento Mesa, CA

GP:
Your blog and website continue to be a steady flow of wonderful images from the past thirty years.  When are we going to see a book and get to dig deep into the Brittain archives?

GB:
A book is the next thing on my list. I need a very large room to work in and that is what is holding the book back. I have so many photos and it will be quite the job organizing and editing. Soon though.

GP:
Any last thing you’d like to mention that we did not cover?

GB:
I love photography and skateboarding.

This was taken by Steve Sherman at Jeff Phillip's skatepark in Dallas in '88 or so. I was walking up the stairs on the side of the ramp looking down at my camera and Corey O'Brien kicked his board out full speed and the griptape side brushed across my face, shaving my nose a bit. Three inches over and it would have killed me, very close call. I flew home with Jetson Band-Aids on my face.

Come join IFS, Ltd. at the NY Art Book Fair this week from November 5–7, 2010

It’s that time of year! The NY Art Book Fair will be in full swing, November 5–7, 2010 and IFS, Ltd. will be there on the 3rd floor at booth CC01. The site specific collaboration and publication The Book Trust Prospectus is, in non-equal parts: a local currency, a stock prospectus for The Book Trust, […]

It’s that time of year! The NY Art Book Fair will be in full swing, November 5–7, 2010 and IFS, Ltd. will be there on the 3rd floor at booth CC01. The site specific collaboration and publication The Book Trust Prospectus is, in non-equal parts: a local currency, a stock prospectus for The Book Trust, an exploration into the nature of small-scale publishing and its presence at the NY Art Book Fair (Rob Giampietro), a survey of precedented alternative currencies (Benjamin Critton), a platform for hyperbolic re-representations of anonymous fiat money (Rafaël Rozendaal), a foray into corporate branding and rebranding (Metahaven et al.), a proposal for a time-based repurposing of existing banknotes (Nikolaus HirschZak Kyes), an analysis of the current state of [art] book-publishing and -design (Linda van Deursen et al.), a venue for research into non-essential commodity futures like tulips and Beanie Babies™ (Harry Gassel), a profile of independent art book vendors (Golden Age), and a podium for experimentation with anti-counterfeiting guilloché renderings (Brendan Griffiths & Zak Klauck). It is the story of its own making and financing as well as an evaluation of the context in which it was made and financed.

(left to right: Harry Gassel, Benjamin Critton, Brendan Griffiths, Mylinh Nguyen, Zak Klauck. Portrait by George Prinos.)

The Book Trust was born out of a shared interest in publishing and distribution, and from a desire to investigate the micro-economy of the art book market. As the overall demand for printed matter allegedly shrinks, specific books manage to retain their worth or even appreciate in actual and intangible value. Though the Prospectus seeks to act as a signal of literal trust and investment, it simultaneously attempts to enter a specific economy as a proposed alternative currency. Our observation of previous iterations of the NY Art Book Fair prompted IFS, Ltd. to imagine a publication that serves as both commodity and currency—an object meant to engage in transactions that bypass the traditional cash economy of the Fair. In that sense, the Prospectus hopes to stand as a book unto itself, and as a physical manifestation of the hyper-local economy to which this currency speaks. Both temporal and site-specific in this way, you are invited to invest through one of two means:

1) Your physical presence at the Fair from 5–7 November, 2010 at PS1 MoMA or

2) Your monetary or intellectual contribution to the creation of the publication

Via the Prospectus, we intend to build a Trust, of which your contribution will be a part. Our agenda is the physical construction of a value-appreciating, curated collection of publications; a literal book bank in which you can hold one share. Our holdings, however, are more than publications; they are tangible representations of the abstract value of intellectual and creative capital.

At the close of the trading day, 5PM on 7 November, IFS, Ltd. will assess and catalogue the contents of the Trust with the intention of circulating its holdings in appropriate domestic and international venues, at which point new editions of the Prospectus may be issued in context- specific reenactments of the initial trading period.

In framing the project in a format similar to that of a stock exchange, the performance emphasizes the tenuous and abstract value of the book as a designed object, as a medium for content, as a traded commodity, and as a symbol of participation in the project itself.

The Book Trust, a project by IFS, Ltd. is brought to you by Benjamin Critton, Harry Gassel, Brendan Griffiths, Zak Klauck, and Mylinh Nguyen. Our booth features a custom designed bookcase and various seating by Minneapolis-based design studio ROLU/rosenlof-lucas/ro-lu.

Previews, November 4th; opening bell, November 5th. Online at www.ifs-l.biz.

Walker Magazine, Redesigned.

If you receive our bi-monthly magazine, you might have noticed that things look a bit different. We just sent the second issue of our redesign to the printers and it should be in your mailbox later this month! The push for a redesign was prompted by a need to better understand how our communications work […]

If you receive our bi-monthly magazine, you might have noticed that things look a bit different. We just sent the second issue of our redesign to the printers and it should be in your mailbox later this month!

The push for a redesign was prompted by a need to better understand how our communications work in concert: what purpose should our printed magazine serve in relationship to our website, email blasts, marketing fliers, radio ads, billboards, TV spots, blogs, tweets, etc.? As our communication streams become more fragmented, how do we tell the story of the Walker as a whole? We’ve also conducted various surveys of how our members and others use and value the magazine, the types of stories they like to read, and the kind of information that may be missing that they would like to know.

We undertook this project as a collaborative venture with our editors, photographers, and marketing staff to produce a more substantive magazine (so much for the death of print!).

The new design more closely resembles a typical magazine, with a front section that focuses on shorter stories, items of interest, and other Walker news, followed by a more in-depth feature-well, which contains articles and essays written by both Walker staff and guest authors. Information about the variety of Walker programs follows the feature well, with a monthly calendar and visitor information at the rear. We’ve set a consistent page count of 40 for each issue, allowing for more content and images.

CONTENTS AND INSIDE COVER

Each issue begins with a visual table of contents previewing the main stories. We’ve constantly debated whether we need (or someone might use) a table of contents for a publication only 40 pages long. This debate between designers and editors was happily resolved for both as the contents page took on a more visual look. Taking inspiration from our recent salon style hanging of the paintings collection at the Walker, we are able to create a visual tableaux that gives the reader an immediate impression of the variety of programs on offer in the next two months. Opposite, on page 3, is what we call a second or inside cover—a different featured program with a beautiful image accompanied by an extended caption—a little story behind the image. This also solved an internal problem of which program would get front cover treatment when we switched to a bimonthly edition back in 2005—not an easy or democratic task when we have a full schedule of exhibitions, film screenings, and performances to showcase each month.

BITS & PIECES

The newest addition to this redesign is a section we call Bits & Pieces, a reference to the Lawrence Weiner text-based artwork that hangs outside our building (see our Lawrence Weiner piece). This section is composed of shorter stories on various topics related to the Walker: our community partnerships, recent acquisitions of artworks, calls for entries to competitions, special initiatives, behind-the-scenes anecdotes, coined terms and museum lingo, blog excerpts, etc. It’s our opportunity to present the inner workings of an active cultural institution, update members and visitors on recent developments, and highlight people and programs that populate and support it. It’s our corral for bite-sized content that had no place in the old magazine. This section supports our readers desire to know more about the Walker at large and behind the scenes as well as for us to tell the public about interesting new things, whether our new bike rental station or that teens can now get in free to the Walker galleries on any day of the week (except Mondays when we are closed!).

FEATURE WELL

Having a larger page count allows for more developed stories, larger images, and the opportunity for more dramatic layouts. Our resulting design gives images more room, stories more white space, and a distinct look from the rest of the magazine as a whole. Feature stories are complemented by extended captions for images and pull quotes highlighting the artist’s or author’s voice. Editorially, we are experimenting with developing new types of articles, bringing in outside authors, re-purposing content from other Walker publications and initiatives (this month features Art on Call excerpts from From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America), and featuring the artists themselves (last issue, we focused in on a perplexing diagram from Ralph Lemon). We’ve also streamlined some elements of the copy, notably the time/date/price of events, related events, related products, and sponsors/funding for a particular program, which have been placed into an info-bar at the end of each feature, serving as a one-stop resource for more information about particular programs. Designing a spread to act as a feature story that you want to read, yet allowing for the massive amounts of practical event information that we have to get across is perhaps the biggest challenge. It was also a key illustration of the tension of switching models from more of a newsletter like we had before, which is dedicated to promoting individual events to an editorial magazine, which tries to balance story content with event information. We are very enamored with language, the poetic nature of words, which is something we try to highlight through the typographic treatment of the headlines (we are particularly fond of “Earth, Wind, and Fire, or to Overcome the Paradox of Yves Klein, the Molecular Child Who Wrote to Fidel Castro on His Way to Disneyland” !)

EVENT LISTINGS

Following the feature well are the event listings, which provide information on featured programs and related events. We’ve made the information in this section more easily accessible, both within the context of the magazine as a whole (by placing it consistently in the same place every issue), and on the page itself. On the top of the page, an info box contains the program’s metadata: date, time, location, and ticket pricing. Below is a description or story about the particular event. The grid in this section is flexible enough to feature as many as four listings on a spread, or to accommodate more events with more complex data that require two full pages, like in this month’s Brits spread (pictured above).

CALENDAR GRID

The last spread of the magazine features a complete event listing for two months. This listing by day format is a major change from the gridded, month-view design of the previous magazine. In the past we struggled greatly to fit the content of two month’s worth of Walker programming into an ever-diminishing grid of smaller and smaller boxes. However, as a bonus, we added a feature set of 4 programs that are recommended by various Walker staff. Like the staff recommendations at your favorite wine shop, we hope that readers will begin to follow and trust the advice of various Walker staff. (And no, we don’t allow staff from a particular program area to recommend their own programs!)

COLOPHON

Typographically, we’ve moved on from Avenir, our de facto house typeface, and are now using Fox, a robust geometric sans developed by former senior designer Chad Kloepfer, paired with Mercury, by Hoefler-Frere Jones.

We’d like to acknowledge everyone that’s made this publication possible: our photographers Cam Wittig and Gene Pittman and our digital imaging expert Greg Beckel; Joe Avery and Laura Nelson at Shapco, our printers; our editors Kathleen McLean, Pamela Johnson, and Julie Caniglia; Chief taskmaster Andrew Blauvelt; publications director Lisa Middag; and Ryan French, our marketing director.

And that’s it for now! It’s a young design, and we’re eager to see how it develops once we have a few more issues under our belt.

LoR/E, the Library of Readings & Essays—A Comprehensive Index of Keywords & Defining Subject Matters

Had I been asked, I might’ve described LoR/E, a recently developed and continually in-progress project of mine, in its earliest stages as something like an online, text-based Cabinet of Curiosity for the designer. LoR/E began and still is, much like the Cabinet of Curiosity (also known as a Wunderkammer), largely an encyclopedic collection. Only LoR/E […]

Had I been asked, I might’ve described LoR/E, a recently developed and continually in-progress project of mine, in its earliest stages as something like an online, text-based Cabinet of Curiosity for the designer.

LoR/E began and still is, much like the Cabinet of Curiosity (also known as a Wunderkammer), largely an encyclopedic collection. Only LoR/E is an indexed collection of keywords, ideas, names, places, topics, and subject matters that can be searched and/or browsed with the end goal being to discover related readings and essays. As LoR/E has begun to grow more, new ideas for the long-term have emerged, but I’m also developing, for the short-term, more refined and concrete ideas of the direction that I hope to take LoR/E as its potential is realized.


Illustrations from the book Wondertooneel der Nature depicting two of Levinus Vincent’s many large Wunderkammern (Cabinet of Curiosities) in Holland during the early 1700s

One thing that has always been apparent is that LoR/E will continue to be driven by the idea of the free sharing of knowledge and information. After all, like the definition of the word that the LoR/E acronym references, a body of knowledge on a particular subject (in the case of LoR/E, subjects mostly pertaining to certain enclaves of design, contemporary art, media, and visual culture) is inherently apt to be shared and studied. Admittedly, these subjects and their information are intended for a very niche audience. But, the fact of the matter is that much of the information that is available (and that will soon be available) within LoR/E is, otherwise, not very easy to find online. So the question has become: will LoR/E be filling a gap? Or will it only be contributing to some form of information overload?

LoR/E is not simply concerned with acquiring masses of searchable information though. One of the larger aims is that, at its height, users (especially inquisitive students of art, design, media, et al.), in having access to such an extensive index, will discover useful readings that they never knew existed or that, because the reading came from an author or publication in a discipline area different from theirs, they did not expect to discover. Of course, LoR/E can barely compare to an art/design school’s well-stocked, physical library. But, I do hope to establish a very complete, wide-ranging, and rigorously assembled repository of knowledge and information—a unique and purposeful repository which helps to expose thoughts and ideas, where certain patterns reveal themselves, as well as where relationships between varying subjects become apparent.


LoR/E allows users to view all of its entries within drop-down-menu lists where (to name just a few) searches for keywords, defining subject matters, authors, and publishers can be refined and quickly filtered (the above example shows search results for each filed reading that speaks about “authorship”)

Looking forward, in an attempt to turn LoR/E into something more than just an encyclopedic collection, I hope to convert the project into a highly functional and easily-searchable database that can exist autonomously (outside of its current home with Google Docs) on its own website. With the intent for LoR/E to become a definitive site that designers, artists, media theorists, and others can utilize as a tool for their independent or professional research, I also hope to integrate spaces that will allow for discussions to occur about the readings, authors, specific topics, etc.

Since the inception of LoR/E, I’ve also become more aware and interested in movements such as the Free Cultural Works movement. As such, I suspect that LoR/E, in its focus on the free sharing of knowledge and information, could, in addition to its function as a database, also become a site that supports and acts as a springboard for authors and independent publishers (especially in such worlds as design, contemporary art, or media) who are supportive of the Free Cultural Works mindset and who, in licensing their work under similar movements like Creative Commons or Copyleft, would like to utilize LoR/E as a means of presenting their writing by offering free PDF downloads of select texts to an audience of interested LoR/E users.

It may sound too idealist, but I hope to see LoR/E become a site that is able to accomplish a number of things. Most notably, being a site that insightfully informs those seeking specific information that cannot be found with the help of other libraries or databases (or, even with a tool like Google), that poses relevant questions to users about design, art, media, visual culture, film, et al., and that encourages any user (be they a designer, artist, writer, student) to make critical thinking and research a part of their practice.

As blogs like FormFiftyFive and Manystuff make it apparent to us almost everyday, developing formal skills seemingly demands less and less experience. Anyone who wants it can access the tools and know-how to “make something pretty.” Yet, from what I can tell, there’s not nearly enough emphasis placed on the importance of reading and personal discovery. And not just reading to be able to say that you’ve read this or that, but reading as a sincere means of building a knowledge base for oneself which will then eventually lead to one being able to more confidently create a personal ideology or a set of informed principles to work by.

Six months in, LoR/E is nearing 5,000 filed entries of keywords and defining subject matters with plans to file, at this gradual rate, thousands more.

To read more about LoR/E, the project’s impetus and primary objectives, as well as for instructions on accessing and tips for viewing LoR/E in Google Docs, visit here.

Enhance the Space of a Nonprofit Serving Homeless Youth in Minneapolis

has a to help end homelessness in Minneapolis. Help them make it a reality by giving them your vote!

has a to help end homelessness in Minneapolis.

Help them make it a reality by giving them your vote!

IFS, Ltd. — The Book Trust Prospectus

Investment Futures Strategies, Limited (IFS, Ltd) The Book Trust Prospectus Investment Futures Strategy, Ltd. is pleased to announce The Book Trust, a site specific collaboration and publication to be presented at the New York Art Book Fair, 5–7 November, 2010. The semi-fictional IFS, Ltd., comprised of five graduate students from the Department of Graphic Design […]

Investment Futures Strategies, Limited (IFS, Ltd)

The Book Trust Prospectus


Investment Futures Strategy, Ltd. is pleased to announce The Book Trust, a site specific collaboration and publication to be presented at the New York Art Book Fair, 5–7 November, 2010. The semi-fictional IFS, Ltd., comprised of five graduate students from the Department of Graphic Design at the Yale School of Art – Benjamin Critton, Harry Gassel, Brendan Griffiths, Zak Klauck, and Mylinh Nguyen - will offer an original publication for trade in a series of barters executed by its authors during the three days of the NY Art Book Fair.

The Trust and the accompanying Book Trust Prospectus speak to matters of micro-economies and distribution, as well as prescribed and perceived value. The project suggests a new currency specific to the setting of the Book Fair, a context in which a distinct set of commodities is exchanged by like-minded vendors in a finite space and time. It is only in this setting that a book could be posited as capital—a literal stand-in for the money that commonly exchanges hands at the Fair. Perceived worth is no longer dictated by edition or price, but instead by a potential traders’ subjective notion of the values they assign to each book.

The book, produced in a fixed quantity of 500, will vary in value as each negotiation determines and redetermines its worth in the marketplace. With each transaction, the Prospectus will assume the value of the book for which it was exchanged. The traded commodities will ultimately comprise The Book Trust, a value-appreciating book bank. By trading with IFS, Ltd. participants acquire a single theoretical share of the bank, the Prospectus a document of the transaction.

In framing the project in a format similar to that of a stock exchange, the performance emphasizes the tenuous and abstract value of the book as a designed object, as a medium for content, as a traded commodity, and as a symbol of participation in the project itself.

Previews, November 4th; opening bell, November 5th. Online at http://IFS-L.BIZ.

BUY YOUR SHARES IN THE BOOK TRUST PUBLICATION TODAY!

BUY YOUR SHARES IN THE BOOK TRUST PUBLICATION TODAY!

BUY YOUR SHARES IN THE BOOK TRUST PUBLICATION TODAY!

5–7 November 2010
NY Art Book Fair, MoMA PS1, New York

Matthew Carter Named MacArthur Fellow

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4qxud20xg8[/youtube] Matthew Carter, widely considered to be “the most significant designer of type in America”, was recently named as one of the MacArthur Fellows for 2010. Here’s a little Walker history for you—what follows is an entry on Matthew Carter from our 2005 Permanent Collection catalogue: Matthew Carter British, b. 1937 Commissions Walker typeface (1994–1995) […]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4qxud20xg8[/youtube]

Matthew Carter, widely considered to be “the most significant designer of type in America”, was recently named as one of the MacArthur Fellows for 2010. Here’s a little Walker history for you—what follows is an entry on Matthew Carter from our 2005 Permanent Collection catalogue:

Matthew Carter
British, b. 1937

Commissions
Walker typeface (1994–1995)

Exhibitions
Graphic Design in America: A Visual Language History
(1989; catalogue, tour)
Walker Design Now
(1996)

Since its inception, the Walker Art Center has embraced design not only as a programming activity but also as an important element in forming its public image. The Walker helped invent the modernist institutional identity for museums, which favored sans-serif typefaces, generous white space, and a grid system to arrange words and images. This style had dominated its graphic identity for more than thirty years.

In the early 1990s, the Walker sought to more openly reflect its multidisciplinary programs and culturally diverse audiences. In this spirit of self-examination and shifting demographics, Matthew Carter was commissioned to design a new typeface to mirror the changing institution. His forty-five years of experience in creating typefaces in all major technologies—from metal to photographic to digital—would be invaluable in the realization of the commission. Then–Design Director Laurie Haycock Makela formulated a concept that would guide the development of the typeface: “We began with the idea that a type-face could be an identity—a font rather than a logo—that would run through the system like blood.”1 The prospective design would also be diverse and flexible enough to reflect the variety of the institution’s activities. Taken together, these two ideas would serve to dis­mantle the Walker’s monolithic, modernist identity and would focus attention on the potential of language for graphic expression.

The resulting design, entitled Walker, is a variable typeface whose ultimate look and feel is determined by the designer. Walker is intended for headline purposes and thus exists as an all caps alphabet. In its base form it is a bold sans serif, a style that provides an important link to the institution’s previous typographic palettes. Describing its basic structure, Carter states, “I think of [it] rather like store window mannequins with good bone structure on which to hang many different kinds of clothing.”2 What distinguishes Walker from any other font are its “snap-on” serifs. By using various computer keystroke commands, the designer can choose among five different types of serifs to attach to any character.
In addition, horizontal rules can be placed above and below letters to underline and/or “overline” text—a feature, like a clothesline, from which letters can be hung.3 To realize the technical innovation of the snap-on serifs, Carter employed a strategy similar to one he developed for Devanagari, a typeface used for Hindi text that allows dependent vowels to be typeset in the correct location of a letterform with simple keystrokes.4

The Walker typeface provides a distinctive look that affords great variability in its composition. Conceptually, it represents a revision of modernist typography insofar as it focuses attention on the space between letters, words, and lines of text. The result, however, is not so much about voids as it is about spanning them, as designer Moira Cullen notes: “In Walker the serifs are the ultimate connectors, the antithesis in type of a modernist apartheid. Each character holds its own frame, but an inspired or decisive stroke can will the letterform to nuzzle its neighbour or extend an arm or leg across the white divide.”5

Andrew Blauvelt

Notes
1. Quoted in Moira Cullen, “The Space Between the Letters,” Eye 5, no. 19 (Winter 1995): 73.
2. Quoted in ibid., 74.
3. Margaret Re, Typographically Speaking: The Art of Matthew Carter (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2003), 26.
4. Ibid., 26–27.
5. Cullen, “The Space Between the Letters,” 75.

General Public Library at Art in General

The General Public Library is a library/reading room project located at Art in General‘s Storefront Project Space. The project opens September 16-November 13, 2010 and will be accessible as an online resource as well. To start the library, I invited designers, publishers, curators, artists, galleries, and musicians to contribute publications to the project that reflect […]

The General Public Library is a library/reading room project located at Art in General‘s Storefront Project Space. The project opens September 16-November 13, 2010 and will be accessible as an online resource as well. To start the library, I invited designers, publishers, curators, artists, galleries, and musicians to contribute publications to the project that reflect the donor’s practice, methodology, inspiration and interest. Visitors are encouraged to donate a favorite book to the library during the exhibition.

I approach the idea of a library with a focus on participation and the formation of community. In contrast to a traditional reading room–which can only be accessed for the duration of the show—the online catalogue of the General Public Library allows each visitor to browse and curate their own library within an existing and continually growing catalogue, beyond the physical installation. Each donation, as it is made, will be logged into the library cataloging system. As libraries begin to form and overlap, each book becomes a link between the book donor and other participants in the library. Inversely, when viewing one book, it is possible to see the interests of other participants.

Throughout the course of the exhibition, as visitors create their own selection of favorite books, the library will filter all donations into a catalog of the top 200 most popular books. These books will be added to the General Public Library permanent collection after the duration of the project.

Contributing participants include Art Metropole, aaaarg.org, Ooga Booga, Fillip, Printed Matter, Nieves, 2nd Cannons Publications, Capricious, Hassla, Golden Age, Medium Rare, Oslo Editions, Gottlund Verlag, Eastside Projects, Bedford Press, Stripe SF, New Jerseyy, Matt Keegan, North Drive Press, Project Projects, split/fountain, STUPENDOUS, The Holster, Bart de Baets, Andreas Banderas, Christian Brandt, Task Newsletter, Robin Cameron, Dante Carlos, ETCAMA, For Further Information, Espen Friberg and Aslak Gurholt Rønsen, GRAPHIC, David Horvitz, Marie Jager, Kingsboro Press, Zak Kyes, Lucky Dragons, Manystuff, Jennilee Marigomen, Miniature Garden, Radim Pesko, Laurel Ptak, Rollo Press, Peter Sutherland, Swill Children, Vance Wellenstein, Jessica Williams and YOU.

The General Public Library website, www.generalpubliclibrary.info, is based on Yours Mine Ours, a shared library designed and developed by Brian Watterson, Hank Huang and Zak Klauck. www.yoursmineours.net

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