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)
Share this story
A Miniature Magazine Penned by Teenage Charlotte Brontë is (Finally) Acquired by the Famous Author’s Namesake Museum
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.
Share this story
Not Just For Bookworms: Helsinki’s Oodi Central Library Connects Residents Through Multi-Faceted Cultural Resources
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)
Share this story
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.
Share this story
Follow the yellow brick road to 1667 N. Humboldt Boulevard in Chicago. The address is home to recently rehabbed affordable housing in the rapidly gentrifying Humboldt Park neighborhood. It’s also where author L. Frank Baum penned “The Wizard of Oz” in 1899 (though the author’s residence has since been demolished). The 70-foot long section of sidewalk is now paved with yellow bricks, a nod to one of the most famous stories in American popular culture, thanks to nonprofit developer Bickerdike. An upright rounded wall will also feature an Oz-themed mural commission from Chicago-based artist Hector Duarte.
In an interview with Block Club Chicago, Bickerdike clarified that the whimsical touches were not part of the core affordable housing budget; the project partners including the architect, general contractor, an an outside foundation paid for it out of pocket. (via Block Club Chicago)
Share this story
Celestial Illustrations by Diana Sudyka Fill a New Book Celebrating 19th Century Astronomer Maria Mitchell
A new book written by Hayley Barrett and illustrated by Diana Sudyka (previously) celebrates the life of pioneering 19th century astronomer Maria Mitchell. Mitchell was America’s first professional female astronomer and taught at Vassar College (which was a women’s college at the time). She also used her platform as an internationally renowned scientist to advance women’s rights and abolition. What Miss Mitchell Saw tells the story of Mitchell’s life, geared toward young readers with lush, star-filled illustrations that intermingle celestial shapes and patterns throughout the story’s earthbound elements.
“I immediately was struck by the beauty of Barrett’s writing, and her deep respect for Maria Mitchell was very apparent,” illustrator Diana Sudyka tells Colossal. “It was also important to me is as a manuscript about the power of observation, and a woman in science at a time when there were very few, and even less being recognized for their contributions.” The artist shares that she didn’t know much about Mitchell at the start of the project, but learned through research how Nantucket whaling culture and the Quaker faith shaped Mitchell’s character and point of view.
Sudyka used india ink, gouache, watercolor, and handmade indigo to build the imagery for What Miss Mitchell Saw. The artist works by hand and in full color from the get-go, and uses some digital techniques at the end of the editing process, once the images are ready to be integrated into the book. To complement the artist’s established aesthetic, which naturally meshed with the storyline, Sudyka tells Colossal that she drew inspiration from scrimshaw (decorative and narrative carvings into whale bones by whalers), as well as Rockwell Kent’s illustrations for an edition of Moby Dick. “The biggest challenge for working on this book was simply finding good reference material to make sure I got the look and feel of Nantucket and that time period right,” Sudyka explains.
In addition to her work as a children’s book illustrator, Sudyka has volunteered at the Field Museum of Natural History’s bird lab for over a decade, and is drawn to science and natural history. You can see more of the artist’s work on Instagram and find prints in her online store. What Miss Mitchell Saw was published last month by Simon and Shuster, and is available on Amazon.
Share this story
Still life photographer Ellen Cantor meditates on memories imbued in familiar objects. In her series ‘Prior Pleasures’, Cantor uses her childhood book collection to create multiple exposure images documenting the literary loves of her youth. Each image features a single book on a black background, with the pages ablur between the illustrations, cover, and end page art.
The photographer shares that she finds inspiration in Abelardo Morell’s camera obscura work, challenging her to “explore the myth of the photographic truth and… create a new way of looking at childhood icons.” Cantor seeks to capture the pleasure of losing oneself within the page of a book, a tactile experience that has become more rare with the advent of e-readers and the competing content on smartphones.
“My photographs are about time, loss and memory. I seek to understand how life proceeds and then ultimately disappears, the artist explains. “I document the artifacts of the past to enrich the present. I am interested in reimagining the family photo album and objects that hold personal histories in order to explore the distillation and persistence of memory.”
Cantor is based in southern California, and is represented by dnj gallery and Susan Spiritus Gallery in California and Truth + Beauty in Vancouver. The ‘Prior Pleasures’ series was most recently exhibited at the West Hollywood Library in spring 2019. You can explore more of Cantor’s memory-soaked photography on her website.
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Design
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.