We've just made a pack of double fronted playing cards in collaboration with the artist Ryan Gander. They were published by a quarterly periodical based in San Francisco called The Thing. The reason I mention it is because as a publication The Thing is quite unusual. In the words of their website: "The Thing Quarterly is a periodical in the form of an object. Each year, four artists, writers, musicians or filmmakers are invited by the editors (Jonn Herschend and Will Rogan) to create a useful object that somehow incorporates text. This object will be reproduced and hand wrapped at a wrapping party and then mailed to the homes of the subscribers"

This is Issue 6, by Allora & Calzadilla. It consistes of a blank book, entitled "Problems and Promises", which is attached to a tennis shoe. One of the tennis shoe laces is sewn into the spine of the book.


From the book burnings of China's 3rd century BC Qin Dynasty to the recent censorship of google.cn the control of published information has been a preoccupation for those in power across the world.

Book burnings in Berlin, 10 May 1933.

The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, 1873, an institution supposedly dedicated to supervising the morality of the public.


Here's the whole radio drama by Orson Welles, broadcast in New York on 30 October 1938. The radio play was an adaptation of the 1898 novel of the same name by H. G. Wells and part of a series called The Mercury Theatre on the Air.

The headline on The New York Times the next day indicates the effect the broadcast had. The way Welles plays on the format of radio and in doing so demands that listeners question what they hear on the radio in future is an approach that could be taken to any medium.


Inside Nobrow

Sam Arthur and Alex Spiro will be coming in this Wednesday to talk about Nobrow, their young-but-already-influential independent publishing venture. Their print ethic makes this a platform both for the craft itself and for emergent voices.

These two films (via Creative Review) give a good idea of their set-up and process. Thanks to our own Natalie Kay-Thatcher for the link to this. And special mention to Clark Keatley, who graduated last year with some amazing printmaking , now spending a portion of his time with Nobrow.


Some Publications #1

A glimpse of some publications available via Stand Up Comedy, based in Portland, Oregon. All quotes from the site.

"Veneer (or, alternately, Ve) is cultural critique via gesture, phenomena, documentation, and detritus. It's also the arithmetic of print and its possibilities, with an emphasis on technical minutia stretched to the edge of absurdity as its epistemological approach."

"The Kingsboro Press is operating out of New York and is edited by Megan Plunkett and Daniel Wagner. It's without imprimatur, that is to say, it's without judgement."

And so it has curiously judged. It's raw art and lit, and it changes formats each time. It is winding through a certain underground path."

Sasa Annual Report 2007. The Korea-based conceptual artist compiles annual reports of his activities, purchases, and general living. An on-going archival project that takes a different form in each volume."

"This year's report is interpreted in a series of bar graphs. Strange how analytical information takes on an abstract quality. Folded poster in dust sleeve".


Sendak on Illustration / Extruded Characters

Maurice Sendak, on what it is (to him), to illustrate a book. He talks about the illustrator quietly wishing to have written, with imagemaking the next best thing to do. Feels as if a similar place-in-the-food-chain logic has been used as basis for criticism of the just-released 'Where The Wild Things Are', directed by Spike Jonze. Will go see but expect that Spike has just tried to do something else.

The book of course is one of the greats, with less than 200 words and it's wonderful left-to-right kinetic. A 101-minute film of the three-dimensional world is a different object. The book is so much about the drawing, the hairyness and claustrophobia emerging from hairy, claustrophobic linework.

So illustrators have a crisis about their pictures spoiling a book for the mind's eye. Here it seems is an equivalent, of a filmmaker extruding a two-dimensional classic. It looks as if the collaboration with Jim Henson's Creature Workshop gives the cinematic monsters their own breathing space, with a Big Bird inflection.

It is a strange and counter-aesthetic compulsion to make something that innately belongs to a world of flatness and line, literally live-action and three-dimensional. A clear example was Robin William's incarnation of Popeye. Here is E.C. Segar's Thimble Theatre original, c. 1930, with the archetypal, everything-facing-the-front face.

And here is the 'live' but dead version. Same for Carreyfication of Dr. Seuss. Leave well alone. It worked already.


Concrete & Counterform

A favourite thing since Royal College of Art days in South Kensington, has been this cast-concrete typographic entrance to the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle.

Each facet, as you can see, is designed to become a different character. It is the three dimensional, internal, negative physical route from one to the other that offers beauty out of economy.

I don't think all six sides of each chipped cube becomes a letter. Haven't done the maths to know the saving on cast forms. Tried to find out the designer without success. Anyone know?

So, the active and determinate nature of the counterforms andkerning call to mind Wim Crouwel's Soft Alphabet (via), originally designed for a Claes Oldenburg / Stedelijk Museum catalogue, I think.

Armin Hoffmann's consistently poetic use of energised negative space.

Roads lead back to Cassandre. Not so much the entirety of this poster but the word 'Reglisse' at the top. I have found that the character 's' is tough in a kind of relishable way, like a tricky but therefore valued personality in a family. Cassandre kind of looked sideways to solve his 's' with each re-incarnation, never forcing it to fit and therefore finding counter-rhythm and colour.