Art & Design
This time, I'm straying from the reommended books genre a bit to include a documentary film and a novel based on the tech/ social network boost (dare we call it a bubble?). In my experiene it is always a good idea to change things up a bit and keep an eye out for different sources - especially if you're doing background research and looking for inspiration for a project you are working on. Enjoy!
"Makers" by Cory Doctorow is an exciting kind of novel: tech-drama, economy-dystopia, digital science fiction, and collaboration business in action. It takes co-lab to a syndicate, corporate level, and it at the same time examines society on all levels and shows us the winners and losers of this upturn of the traditional institutions and employers. There is a new generation taking over the business desert of the dot.com/ recession aftermath: Small inventor outfits equipped with masses of junk left-over from the throw-away glory days and legions of 3D-printers.
And let's face it, who wouldn't love the awesome (and sometimes pointless) inventions of Perry and Lester? A hoard of Elmos collectively driving a car? A ginormous mechanical calculator that adds Barbie/ Ken doll heads and dispenses MMs? How cool is that! Meantime Suzanne, the journalist turned blogger, is there to chronicle the unfolding events through fame, fortune, and chaos of the big businesses fighting back against decline.
If you have even a cautious, tentative foot in the small start-up business world today you know that rapidly evolving technology is enabling new entrepeneurs to open their store, restaurant, business, with tools formerly reserved for big business (such as smart phone credit card processing and accounting). But one of the key aspects of this movement is the collaboration of many individuals into groups and movements that build the support structure and flexability to compete with the giants of the business world.
Cory Doctorow is taking the trends of tech and business ecology today and amplifies them to a wild, exciting story of evolving economy, and ultimately, of people.
"Meet the Author
Canadian-born Cory Doctorow is the author of the science fiction novels Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Eastern Standard Tribe, and Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, as well as two short story collections. He is also the author of young adult novels including the New York Times bestselling Little Brother and For the Win. His novels and short stories have won him three Locus Awards and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He is co-editor of the popular blog BoingBoing, and has been named one of the Web’s twenty-five “influencers” by Forbes Magazine and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum." (author bio from BarnesandNoble.com )
Are You a Connector, a Maven, or a Salesman?
Continuing my book recommendations on the theme of Social networks, this is the next publication on the subject. Sometimes, especially when it takes a long time to finish the project, it helps to see other people's vision on the matter. It gives you new inspiration, new wind to work harder on your piece - unfortunately, I just keep getting more and more new ideas that I don't have time to start...
"The Tipping Point" (2002) by Malcolm Gladwell focuses on the people and circumstances that make a trend, news, video, or quite literally a disease, go viral. It is very much in the same theory strand that works with the "small world" network law and all about the group dynamics, the specific kinds of person, and the circumstances it takes to spread an idea/product/virus. And some of the theories about group and social dynamics (like the Law of 150) should also be very interesting to companies or groups striving for a perfect work environment ideal to innovation and team work.
Gladwell manages to take a number of many unrelated seeming facts and examples, and applies his Three Rules of Epidemics to explain the trendiness of one or the unattractiveness of another. At the same time , he manages to be very entertaining as well.
And when it comes to movers and shakers: Are you a Connector, a Maven, or a Salesman?
"Malcolm Gladwell is a former business and science writer at the
Washington Post. He is currently a staff writer for The
Business Week: "...an imaginative...treatise that's likely...to generate some buzz...it's hard not to be persuaded by Gladwell's thesis. Not only does he assemble a fascinating mix of facts in support of his theory...but he also manages to weave everything into a cohesive explanation of human behavior. What's more, we appreciate the optimism of a theory that supports, as another pundit once called it, the power of one...there's little doubt that the material will keep you awake..."
In connection with the sculptures I am currently working on, there is plenty of literature looking at the phenomenon of todays social network structure, the technical and human aspects of it, its dynamic movement of content, the new possibilities it brings to the individual and his/her peers, but also the responsibility and effects of this lightning-fast churning engine of data and interaction. This is just a first selection of books on this subject that were very inspiring to me in one way or another, more might be added as I have time to update the list.
"Here Comes Everybody" (2009) by Clay Shirky is one of the first ones I read, and it is also one of the most general, encompassing a lot of examples of the in-reality cases where the networking community has made an impact on the way problems are handled. The focus is on how people use the new tools to get together and achieve something. It also covers the social psychology background of what makes people act one way or another, and he does so without necessarily succumbing to passing judgement on the wide-ranging effects that new technology inevitably has.
From the political statement of a flash mob in Belarus, the advent of the free weblog for anyone, to the Wiki co-op, to the group organization of Stay-at-home-Moms, the book looks at the details and background of all of the dynamics that have changed through the arrival of the digital network. Very diverse in the coverage of the subject and entertaining to read.
And here's a B&N blurb about Clay Shirky:
"Clay Shirky teaches at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU, where he researches the interrelated effects of our social and technological networks. He has consulted with a variety of Fortune 50 companies working on network design, including Nokia, Lego, the BBC, Newscorp, Microsoft, as well as the Library of Congress, the U.S. Navy, and the Libyan government. His writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Times of London, Harvard Business Review, Business 2.0, and Wired, and he is a regular keynote speaker at tech conferences. Mr. Shirky lives in Brooklyn."
"The Cult of the Amateur" (2008) by Andrew Keen on the other hand takes a very pessimistic view of the new technology that enables basically anyone to be a musician, photographer, writer, and ultimately publisher. As the title may already hint, he sees the mass blogging, tweeting, status updates, reporting and publishing as an erosion of the controlled environment of the professionals, who 'protect' us from the cacophany of mediocre noise that ensues from every 'untalented amateur' making themselves heard/read. Keen is viewing the advent of self-publishing as the doom of culture itself, and in that narrow view point he seems to miss many of the broader positive undercurrents that are happening at the same time.
Are the music industry and newspaper agencies under pressure to conform to the challenges of the day? Yes. Is it harder to find facts and truths in the jungle of cultural and political bloggers and corporations manipulating the image of grass-roots? You bet. Is it mind-boggingly difficult to fact-check a barely informed fanatical podcaster and hold him responsible for inaccuracies and falsehoods he/she might (inadvertently or purposely) publish? Absolutely.
But at the same time, the new digital tools enable small start-up businesses to compete against the established industry structure, and among all the mediocre work being put on the web by the casual dabbler, the true works of art seem to gain traction in the end. Interesting read, but a bit single-minded
And more on the author as written on B&N:
"ANDREW KEEN is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur whose writings on culture, media, and technology have appeared in The Weekly Standard, Fast Company, The San Francisco Chronicle, Listener, and Jazziz. As the
Founder, President and CEO of Audiocafe.com, he has been featured in Esquire, Industry Standard, and many other magazines and newspapers. He is the host of the acclaimed Internet show AfterTV and frequently appears on radio and television. He lives in Berkeley, California.."
That's the beginning of the list for now, but since I am working on art on the subject and can use all the inspiration I can get, there will be undoubtedly more - there are at least 10 more on my "to-read" list. If you have a good book to recommend on the topic, please do! CJ
When the mood of the season grabs me this way, I like to sit back quietly with my cup of tea and watch a stick of incense burning, sending its smoky curls into the air, folding the wind into its layers like ribbons flying in the breeze. And it seems for just one second, as if I am watching a sped up version of our earths layers folding all the dust, objects, and other earthly remains into their arms to become a melting pot of history. The drawing to the upper right is a 'true' doodle reflecting that moment. Stay dry. CJ
But even if I missed the boat on the first publishing of many a US graphic novel gem, this is not a mistake I need to live with.And the Anniversary edition of Fables' "Legends in Exile" is just one of many purchases that are evidence of my new-found love and appreciation of the American contemporary graphic novel. To ever-new horizons (even if we only made it to the party very fashionably late )! CJ
"Der Blaue Reiter" - The German Expresssionist Movement
The German Expressionists have always been very close to my heart and a major source of my inspiration. For one, the group "Die Bruecke" was based in my home town of Berlin; but more specifically I remember my first experiences with gallery art: It was an exhibition of Modern Art in the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin I visited with my family when I was about 10.
One of the pictures that stuck in my memory most were the bright, fragmented animal paintings of Franz Marc. I believe it was either the one of his deer motifs, to this day I'm not absolutely sure which specific one. The sheer energy of the colors has always stuck with me, although I just recently made the jump from mostly black and white drawing and sketching to implementing the power of color.
This full color print book focuses on the founding of the artists group "Der Blaue Reiter" in Munich, and the strong influences the personal relationships between the individual painters. Kandinsky, Gabriele Muenter, Marc, Macke, Werefkin and Jawlensky were some of the main contributors to the movement and are feature in a separate section for their individual works. This book also features a wealth of photos of all the members in the famous Murnau "Russenhaus", on the inspirational Tunis vacation, and on various meetings and private get-togethers. It is amazing how much of this material is available after this much time.
It is an absolute tragedy that the First World War not only tore apart the members of different nationalities, but claimed the lives of some of them as well. It is yet another example of the absolute senselessness of war.
"DER BLAUE REITER" by Hatje Cantz
German Language / Hardcover
"COLOR HARMONY COMPENDIUM" - how basic is 'too' basic?
Finding new ways to work with color and making exciting color combinations that work for either designs or paintings is an important part of keeping my vision fresh and renewing the inspiration to make art. That's why I make an effort to review books on color, art, design or software to update and complement my methods.
Van Gogh alledgedly used strands of differently colored thread that he braided together to test new color combinations for his paintings. Now-a-days, there are many software options for your computer, online or apps for devices that can mimic the same basic concept in a high-tech fashion. Adobe's Kuler.adobe.com website for example let's you combine up to five colors, mix-and match according to various concepts and also review palettes that others have composed. I am sure there are literally dozens of ways to incorporate these programs into your creative routine.
Now, the 25th Anniversary edition of "Color Harmony Compendium" by Terry Marks, MINE, Origin, Tina Sutton is a color guide, featuring each color and its complementory/ analogous/ monochrmatic/ primary relations, perceived psychology and application in design. There also is a moveable color wheel in the front of the book and a CD with a basic color combo program included.
There are a few problems I have with this book: One is that the combinations are showing more of a symbolic representation of the theories rather than working design choices (they are in many cases very crass, gaudy and not up-to-date). But more importantly, the program on the disk is outdated because it only has a limited, internal use. The functionality of the interactive controls is clunky and badly designed. Moreover, the combinations are not transferrable to other programs and only applicable to the designs featured in the book. Any artist or designer that works digitally already has programs that are the primary software to create, change, and enhance all aspects of a design - there is just no need to switch to the artificial, non-integrated program on the disk.
This book is very highly rated on both Amzon and Barnes and Noble - and I'm not quite sure why. It has a visual catalog of basic color schemes but is otherwise not really necessary for a designer or artist that has a basic understanding of what they are doing.
"Color Harmony Compendium" by Terry Marks, MINE, Origin, Tina Sutton
(2009) Rockport Publishing ISBN-10: 1-59253-590-9
"Design Elements - A Graphic Style Manual" (2007) by Timothy Samara
This book is a very good manual of design guidelines for mere beginners and professionals alike. The tone of the text itself is very casual, and the bold catch phrases are serving their purpose in making very simple, memorable statements about the concepts of design without being perceived as a dry teaching device.
In the first part, every rule is outlined on a single page with a short paragraph, some bold quote or catch phrase and visual examples. In short, the page is cleverly 'designed' to illustrate a rule rather than simply explaining it in great detail. The rules themselves are nothing breathtakingly new, nor are they explored in detailed length and depth. They cover the basics of successful design.
In the following parts about Space, Type, and Color the author gets a bit more into the details of the main building blocks and concepts. Still, both text and examples are kept very economic and visually friendly, keeping with the designed look of the pages.
The most instructive chapters are towa the end of the book. They deal with format, page layout and handling the individual pieces intuitively to make the information work in the context you choose. I can highly recommend the passages on grid, modular, and intuitive organic layout. Personally, I favor a mixture of organic and modular approach in my regular design work.
Summing up it works well as a general guideline to gather new ideas, get inspiration for current projects, or just learn the basics in an easy-to-read visual guide. It is admittedly very simple in language and style, but useful for demonstrating the points made on design rules.
"Design Elements - A Graphic Style Manual" by Timothy Samara
Rockport Publishers, Inc.
"Disturbing Muses" Giorgio de Chirico, 1916
"The Rise of Surrealism - Cubism, Dada, and the persuit of the Marvelous" (2002) by Willard Bohn
While this book is very insightful to the philosophical and cultural changes that formed Cubism, Dadaism and finally Surrealism, it is not written for the casual art fan. It does not focus on the poetry and art per se or displays the famous paintings in brightly colored folios, but tries to illuminate the deeper thought and metaphysical idea behind them.
This is demonstrated by analyzing quotes, writings and work of a select group of artists (who may not necessarily all be the flashiest artists of the era, but certainly represent the mind and soul of the time).
Be it Apollinaire with his thoughts on the 4th dimension and its spatial aspects, De Zaya and his extraordinary 'abstract charicature' portraits, de Chirico and his complex system of symbolism, metaphor and deeply personal mysticism of myth and dreams, Andre Breton's precise vision of the art movement he aimed to guide and develop, J.V. Foix, or Joan Miro- they all contributed to the development of the modern art revolution at the beginning of the 20th century.
With its 248 pages and small format, it is surprisingly compact for a book on art movements and history. It expounds on the well-known images and texts of the time to make the culture of Surrealism contemporaries accessable to the interested reader today.
I can highly recommend it as a supplemental read on the philosophy of Surrealism, but as mentioned in the beginning, it is not a introduction to the art for the novice to the topic.
Art in Hawaii
Living in Hawaii is an inspiring experience, both artistically and spiritually.