Friday, February 27, 2009

paper source

these posters are going up today to advertise a trip to annapolis next weekend for the book making wonder that is paper source. i took slivers from really sweet papers i've accumulated over the past few years (most of which i haven't used yet... but just having them makes me really happy.) i'm actually quite pleased with how the colors ended up working together. (it's not monochromatic + white! shock!) adding some strips of neon colored poster board made the overall effect sort of trippy. i think it's the dan deacon/jimmy joe roche effect that just seeps into the drinking water or something at mica.

there are only 25 seats on the bus (and it's 100% free!) so be ready to fight tooth and nail for a slot on the sign up sheet in front of the student activities office...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

all together now

i know this is a somewhat far-fetched connection, but i like going back to things and finding unexpected facets that give it even more depth. (one of the reasons why i’m ok with harping on yellow.... even though i am promising to resist the urge to pour yellow concrete color arbitrarily into my mix for any sculpture this semester.) plus, i realized i never posted this assignment from gd 1. (marketing the mica gd mfa program.)

when i made it, the idea was quotidian design. but tonight i put on my “open city” lenses and cracked open some good old jane jacobs. in urbanism it was drilled into our heads that, according to gerald frug, cities are defined by three things: size, density, and homogeneity. that last one is key. here’s jane jacob’s take on it in the intro to chapter 7 of death and life: “the generators of diversity”. (i promise the connection to the yellow pages is coming. it's actually about to hit you in the face...)

"classified telephone directories tell us the greatest single fact about cities: the immense numbers of parts that make up a city, and the immense diversity of those parts.... ‘i have often amused myself,’ wrote james boswell in 1791, with thinking how different a place london is to different people. they, whose narrow minds are contracted to the consideration of some one particular pursuit, view it only through that medium. but the intellectual man is struck with it, as comprehending the whole of human life in all its variety, the contemplation of which is inexhaustible.”

which, on another tangent, reminds me of an article i read in the new york times today about how the humanities are at risk during the recession. ("in tough times, the humanities must justify their worth.") the assumption is that college students will look to college as just a vehicle for obtaining a job (growing more and more elusive by the minute) and the accompanying salary/security. in that pursuit, the act of merely contemplating and comprehending (or attempting to…) “human life in all its variety” gets lost as unnecessary.

i hope that never becomes the case. i hope that we never become numb to all that is overwhelming around us. that is where all the excitement is.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

speaking of dancing

BOOMBOX from Ely Kim on Vimeo.
we watched this at work the other day... so entertaining.

this kid, ely kim, is in the gd mfa program at yale. the task was to do the same thing for 100 days. andwhile most people would draw an apple or something each day, he decided to dance. get cozy in front of the screen and make yourself some popcorn for this one.

thanks to ely's sweet moves, i've had "electric feel" stuck in my head all weekend.

Monday, February 16, 2009

everybody dance now

i just noticed that this got posted on the pentagram blog. it's the edition of 2wice that i worked on last november. don't give me too much credit; kristen already had the design done, all i did was come in and play with color.

i hope the cover looks as flashy in this photo as it is in real life....

Saturday, February 14, 2009


i've been holding on to these gems for a while now, but the spirit of sharing has finally struck... each one is a link to a project involving books, but in a strictly visual manner.

this is probably the coolest thing i've seen in a long time (but i say that a lot): writing without words.

the next one comes in a close second: 100 books project.

and because color should always be considered: spring snow.

i love the shift that occurs with the structure of books, something that can only come with examining their stability and predictability visually.

on a (somewhat) related note, here's a poem by stephanie on the experience of taking a class at johns hopkins. (inspired by pablo neruda.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

lots of stuff in sculpture

last week my concrete culture teacher, sarah, asked us to give some sort of presentation "on where we think we might be responding to the city on a creative level." something to situate our studio practice for the rest of the semester. i pulled together a powerpoint (a few slides from it are above) about text in the urban environment and yada yada. presentation: check. from there, i focused on a list of "contradictions" i've been compiling to inform my first technical assignment. open/closed was at the top of the list. it wouldn't be hard to guess the first thing that came to my mind. make open and closed signs out of colored concrete using my newfound skills from the plywood form demo in class. (pretty much the only difference would be shape and adding letters as negative space.) technical assignment: check.

fast forward to my individual meeting with sarah over the weekend. and her, thankfully, telling me that i missed the mark completely. (what about it has the visual language of architectural plan structures? and why would it need to be made of concrete?) and that is where the learning begins.

with design pretty much dominating my studio classes this year (book arts doesn't count...) i had forgotten that there really is a huge difference between a fine arts class and a design class. we always joke about stephanie holding her own as a painting major in an apartment full of graphic/environmental design geeks. although the girl fell asleep during helvetica, she was exactly what i needed last night to walk me through this process. (it's funny that i supposedly value "deep dive" so much, but don't actually practice it when i'm asked to create something.) soon the conversation of open/closed turned into a tangent about row homes and the little slivers of vacant lots that pop up randomly every block or so. for me, the contradictions (and their inherent demand for a choice) were facinating mostly because of the space between. as someone who tends to see things in absolutes (go broke or go home) i am constanly reminding myself that i don't have to make some radical decision about beliefs or opinions, that the smartest option might just be in the middle, a unique combination of two extremes. the empty lots between row homes became symbolic of such a space, which, as stephanie brought up, could be presented in an infinite number of ways. (that's the crazy part of sculpture. the seemingly minor difference between 2-d and 3-d is massive.)

so much that i had never though of came up... we make things so that we can describe the undescribable in ways that have never been seen before. where does that put creating in relation to contemplating? taking action in relation to just documenting? then representation and history? reading cicero or seeing a realist painting or watching a war on tv? this is the stuff that would come up once in a blue moon when designing a concert poster. (or maybe that dialogue is there and never acknowledged?)

the ah-ha moment was stephanie suggesting that "maybe what you end up doing is having a piece that is only complete when it contains two parts that make a whole." hmmm. now we're talking. then i did the unthinkable. created what was in my head as a three dimensional object in space using my hands. no computer involved. (but i did use paper.) still, when i showed stephanie my idea her response was, "good. now if i was a teacher i would tell you to think of ten other ways to express that." great. and i mean that with only a little bit of sarcasm. it really is great. i need to be pushed beyond my first/cliche/simple ideas. (something bernard has been preaching all along.... i do give him credit.)

now for the conclusion of this (insanely long) story: i have an exciting idea for my first concrete sculpture. and it will probably be insanely expensive. and weigh a couple hundred pounds. no big. amid all that craziness (of which i am probably only diverging 10%) i remembered these two things: a martin puryear quote i tore out of his national gallery exhibition catalog over the summer (he was one of ken martin's favorite) and the website for an artist named truth (really really beautiful urban interventions/experiments.)

look at me, pulling inspiration from the sculpture sphere all of the sudden...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

raw art sale 2009

working for student activities is a pretty good excuse to try new things out for advertising. (on someone else's dime.) this time around, the annual raw art sale became my excuse to make something with the laser cutter. it wasn't easy. and took many a trip to belle hardware. (the first time around the wood was too thick and started to catch on fire a little. if you ever attempt anything like this, go with 3 mm. just a note...) but once the wood was right, it was a beautiful thing to watch.

shameless plug: the last day for student work drop off is tomorrow. the sale itself will be sunday and monday from 10 to 4 in the bbox.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

the best things in life are free

my century of the city book finally came in the mail today. (i ordered it over break and gave them my home address. of course, it arrived in the mail the day after i went back to baltimore.) it's a hefty book (400 some pages) with beautiful photos (abbott actually designed it.) yes, it really is free. seriously. so you should go order one right now.

thank you, rockefeller foundation.

(more good news: my camera is fixed. just waiting patiently for momsie to send it off to me. i should be back to actually documenting and showing stuff soon...)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

one week later...

what a slacker. i should have posted this long ago. someone passed it on to carey, who in turn passed it on to me. (i'm linking to his flickr because i know he loves when people look at it. especially moms.) so i'll just keep sharing the love. it's called the center for urban pedagogy. or cup.

it's a pretty amazing website. go check it out. so much to see. sensory overload. i especially liked their attention to detroit. and on top of the michigan shout out, who should appear as i'm looking through all of the pictures and downloading documents? dan d'oca, my old urbanism/current open city teacher. i guess he's worked with them before.

which brings me to some news for anyone at mica. come check out the "arsenal of exclusion" lecture series that dan organized for my class, but, in true open city fashion, is letting anyone attend. ( one of the lecturers will be the guy who started cup.) it starts this friday.