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Art

New Book Collects ROA’s Black-and-White Creatures in Photographs from Around the World

December 11, 2019

Grace Ebert

All photographs © ROA, shared with permission. Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Those unable to experience the black-and-white murals of Belgian artist ROA (previously) in person can admire photographs of his works in the recently published Codex. Released by Lannoo Publishers, the 352-page book contains four chapters centered on Eurasia, Africa, America, and Oceania, regions where ROA’s depictions of local animals blanket building walls. The photographs portray a snake wound around itself, six different species perched on vertical ledges, and an alligator on its back with its tail scaling a fire escape.

ROA works directly on the building, foregoing sketches and projections, and uses the architecture to inform the ways he paints birds, rodents, and other native creatures. Captivated by anatomy, the artist attempts to animate his paintings, giving energy and life to species often disregarded by humans. “Exploration of nature, more specifically of the animal world, can lead to increased empathy,” he says. “It teaches you something substantial about how one should live a good life.” The monochromatic murals’ scale often makes animals larger than their real-life bodies, securing and emboldening their monumental presence.

Codex, which is available now, also incorporates writing from RJ Rushmore, Lucy R. Lippard, Johan Braeckman, Gwenny Cooman, Robert R. Williams, and Kathy De Nève.

Johannesburg, South Africa

Puerto Rico

Vardø, Norway

São Paulo, Brazil

Perth, Australia

Las Vegas, Nevada, United States

 

 



Illustration

‘Joy of Reading’: A New Book of Illustrations by Christoph Niemann Promotes Free Press

December 9, 2019

Grace Ebert

Illustrator Christoph Niemann (previously) has released The Paper, a book celebrating what he calls “the joy of reading magazines and newspapers.” The wordless book totals 194 pages and features pink, black, and white illustrations that depict people engrossed in magazines and newspapers. One couple lays with a large piece of newsprint covering them like a blanket, while another image depicts numerous hands and arms coming from all directions to grab and hold on to pages. Niemann says his intent for the book was to highlight the problems surrounding attacks on the media and press freedoms.

The world is facing countless pressing issues. I don’t know how to solve them, but I’m convinced that in order to find out, we need a press that can ask the relevant questions, without fear of threats, persecution and violence. We need to protect reporters who take risks to shine light into the darkest corners of the world and to bring us the truth about sensitive subjects involving our health, our safety and our geopolitical environment.

All of the proceeds from The Paper will go to Reporters Without Borders, an organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the freedom of information. The book, which is published by Abstractometer Press and features design by Ariane Spanier, is available for purchase on Niemann’s site. Find more of Niemann’s illustrations that are at the crossroads of humor and activism on Instagram.

 

 



Design Science

Returning to Roots: A New Book Highlights How Indigenous Practices Can Create More Sustainable Technology

December 3, 2019

Grace Ebert

A young fisherman walks under a living root bridge at Mawlynnong village, India. In the relentless damp of Meghalaya’s jungles the Khasi people have used the trainable roots of rubber trees to grow Jingkieng Dieng Jri living root bridges over rivers for centuries. Copyright: © Amos Chapple

Self-described designer, activist, academic, and author Julia Watson is trying to quash the boundary between native practices and technology in a new book that explores the ways indigenous wisdom can combat the high-tech approach to design and fighting climate change. In Lo—TEK Design by Radical Indigenism, Watson shares knowledge that transcends generations and cultures in an attempt to debunk the myth that indigenous approaches are primitive and far removed from current conceptions of technology. Throughout its more than 400 pages, the book explores ideas from 20 countries, including Peru, the Philippines, Tanzania, Kenya, Iran, Iraq, India, and Indonesia, about how to tackle more sustainable technology and design. It also contains a forward from anthropologist Wade Davis.

Watson founded Julia Watson Studio, an urban design studio, in addition to co-founding “A Future Studio,” described as a collective of conscious designers. She also teaches urban design at Harvard and Columbia University. Lo—TEK is scheduled to be released this month by Taschen. If you liked this, check out the recently published Primitive Technology: A Survivalist’s Guide to Building Tools, Shelters, and More in the Wild.

 

A view over the sacred Mahagiri rice terraces, a small portion of the one thousand year old agrarian system known as the subak, which is unique to the island of Bali, Indonesia. Copyright: © David Lazar

 

In the Southern Wetlands of Iraq, an entire Ma’dan house known as a mudhif, which is built entirely of qasab reed without using mortar or nails, can be taken down and re-erected in a day. Copyright: © Jassim Alasadi

 

Built by the Tofinu, the city of Ganvie meaning ‘we survived’ floats on Lake Nokoué surrounded by a radiating reef system of twelve thousand acadja fish pens. Copyright: © Iwan Baan

 

 

 

 



Art Design History

Download More Than 300 Art Books From the Getty Museum’s Virtual Library

December 2, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

“The Rosebud Garden of Girls” by Julia Cameron. Virtual Library title: “Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs” by Julian Cox, Colin Ford, Joanne Lukitsh, and Philippa Wright

Over the last five years, the Los Angeles-based Getty Museum has developed a program to share more than three hundred books in its Virtual Library. Each unabridged volume, drawn from the Getty Publications Archive, has been cleared for copyright issues and is available for free download. Greg Albers, Digital Publications Manager for Getty Publications, shared with Hyperallergic that books in the Virtual Library have been downloaded 398,058 times to date. The initiative is a way to keep compelling and historically important books available even if they have, literally, gone out of print. Topics in the Virtual Library collection range from fine and decorative art genres to features on specific artists. Dive into diverse titles including “Art and Eternity: The Nefertari Wall Paintings Conservation Project 1986 – 1992” and “Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs”—among dozens and dozens of others on the Virtual Library Website. (via Hyperallergic)

“Pilgrim Flask and Cover with Marine Scenes” (circ 1565-1570), Workshop of Orazio Fontana, tin-glazed earthenware. Virtual Library title: “Italian Ceramics: Catalogue of the J. Paul Getty Museum Collection” by Catherine Hess

 

 



Design History

A Miniature Magazine Penned by Teenage Charlotte Brontë is (Finally) Acquired by the Famous Author’s Namesake Museum

November 21, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

It’s often said that even the most successful people start small. What they probably don’t mean, though, is that to become an author equal to the timeless stature of Charlotte Brontë, you should pen a miniature magazine first. Yet Brontë did just that: in 1830, at age fourteen, she hand-wrote six issues of a petite periodical, one of which recently came up at auction for $777,000. The Young Men’s Magazine was a matchbook-sized series including stories and even advertisements of Brontë’s devising.

The Brontë Society placed the winning bid to acquire Brontë’s magazine, wresting it back from the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts, a now-shuttered for-profit (and fraud-ridden) venture that nabbed it in 2011. Learn more about the history and significance of The Young Men’s Magazine in the video below, which features Ann Dinsdale, the curator of the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, England.

 

 



Design

Not Just For Bookworms: Helsinki’s Oodi Central Library Connects Residents Through Multi-Faceted Cultural Resources

November 8, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Readers, researchers, and other curious residents are encouraged to gather together in a massive new ship-shaped library in Helsinki, Finland. Designed by ALA Architects, Oodi Central Library, the long and narrow structure features a sweeping wooden exterior topped with two stories of glass walls. Oodi Central Library is situated in the heart of Helsinki, nestled in the capital city’s cultural district. About one-third of the space is dedicated to books. A cafe, restaurant, public balcony, movie theater, recording studios, and a maker-space broaden the institution’s ability to connect with, and serve the needs of, a diverse population.

The effort seems to have paid off: in the library’s first month about two-thirds of Helsinki’s residents visited the library, and it has had 3 million visitors so far in 2019, according to Tommi Laitio, Helsinki’s Executive Director for culture and leisure. Laitio explained in a recent conference talk in Washington, D.C. that it is essential in their small country for people to respect and invest in their fellow residents. “Our society is fundamentally dependent on people being able to trust the kindness of strangers.” (via Kottke)

 

 

 

 



Animation Dance Design Illustration

Innovative Augmented Reality Book Merges Dance, Theater, Literature, and Technology

November 5, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Adrien Mondot and Claire Bardainne, who work together as the Adrien M / Claire B Company (previously), explore the intersection of tangible and augmented reality in their multi-media projects. They recently launched a Kickstarter to support their latest project, Acqua Alta – Crossing the mirror. Acqua Alta turns a seemingly simple pop-up book into an animated black-and-white world. Two figures move through the pages, battling rainstorms and walking through doorways, all seen through the portal of a tablet or smartphone.

The duo tells Colossal that after their 2017 exhibition Mirages & miracles, they wanted to focus their efforts on an affordable medium at an intimate scale that still allowed for constructing volume. “After considering the AR algorithm, it was important to find a solution for the book to be a plane for each of the 10 double pages,” Mondot and Bardainne explain. “The magic happens only when the real space and the AR space are completely synced together.”

The duo was also working with a limited budget and limited professional experience with motion capture. In contrast to more specialized production companies with greater resources and established, Mondot and Bardainne were challenged by looking for smart and creative solutions to achieve the same results.

“It was very exciting to be at the border between many disciplines—theater, dance, but also comic books and animation,” Mondot and Bardainne share. “We are questioning the language: what does this medium allow us to express? Can we use part of the cinematographic language? Can we use some of the symbolic tools of the theater?”

You can support Acqua Alta on Kickstarter, where the book is available for preorder (it also comes with a free app for experiencing the AR). Explore more of Mondot and Bardainne’s interdisciplinary work on their website.