Submitted by Jenn Shapland on Wed, 2014-03-05 14:49
Cropped from image below
You know you’re a huge nerd when multiple people from various corners of your life all forward you the same link, and that link is a bunch of diagrammed sentences.
This snazzy, minimalist new print from "renowned" infographic artists Pop Chart Lab satisfies the demands of everyone's favorite niche demographic (all those grammar-fiends/”classic-literature”-snobs/data-visualization-enthusiasts/fans-of-quality-design in your life) to a T. But before you place your order, let’s take a closer look at what this “Diagrammatical Dissertation” actually visualizes.
I was initially going to begin this rumination with the pretty dull introductory phrase “In Jennie Livingston's 1990 documentary film Paris is Burning,” but before the virtual ink had dried on the virtual page I was struck with pretty massive doubts. In what sense could Paris is Burning really be solely attributed to Jennie Livingston when the movie's energy, its drive and message, clearly came from the lives of the New York City ballroom scene participants Livingston interviewed? So would calling Paris is Burning a collaborative documentary effort solve the issue of artistic attribution? Well, kind of, but that seemed to somewhat cheapen the lived experiences of the ball culture community by reducing them to stylized components in a cinematic production. Calling an interviewee an artist leaves over some troubling remainder, a residue of “real life” that doesn't make it into the credits. Even more troubling was the threat of de-centering Livingston's gaze as the focusing lens of the documentary. If it felt wrong to implicitly give Livingston all the credit for the film, it felt worse to call the piece a purely collective effort when Livingston's preferences, questions, decisions and selections dictate the entire film.
When you live in Texas, you get used to people asking you to verify certain popular stereotypes: cowboy boots, country music, ten-gallon hats, and conservative politics. And—a belief in the capital punishment.
There’s no doubting that Austin’s a great example of urban sprawl. Anyone who’s driven up Burnet Road on a shopping expedition, or down South Lamar looking for a romantic Saturday night dinner, has probably wondered at some point: Why can’t these things just be closer to where I live? Fortunately, I don’t think this question is born out of narcissism. Things are far apart in Austin. And given the town’s expanding population, they feel as though they’re getting farther and farther apart, with all the increased traffic and whatnot. Over the decades, this city has grown and expanded without any apparent civic regard for urban planning. Which makes the Capital Building a really interesting monument. The roads leading to the Texas State Capital are reminiscent of Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s planning of Washington, D.C., and they convey a confidence in American governance that would make Governor Rick Perry blush. Either that or the eyes of Texas are upon us.
Probably all illustrations, and certainly the animated images I’ve discussed in Frozen and Lilo and Stitch, come freighted with a vast history of associations. Striking images can literally provide worldviews—complex perspectives from which to view matters ranging from gender roles to cultural identities to ideal body types. Frozen’s visual aesthetic offers a triumphantalist account of traditional images put to new uses, while Lilo and Stitch offers a harder-edged criticism of our lazy, self-indulgent ways of looking at the world, for instance. Yet both deliberately and meaningfully comment upon the mediating power of their own iconography. Both films are, in short, particularly focused on understanding how images have worked in the past, and how they can be made to work differently in the future.
Journey is a video game whose cartoon-like visual aesthetic draws strongly from the same animated tradition as the first two films, yet its aims are quite different. In both its gameplay and its visual design, I will argue, Journey is not focused on what it means, but rather on the raw experiences it can provide. The game reminds us, in short, that while images have deep and rich rhetorical histories, they are also something more than mere arguments.
Submitted by Sarah G. Sussman on Fri, 2014-02-21 12:51
Image credit: Wikipedia, Mars Curiosity Rover's first selfie
In my last post, I recounted a history of some of the most iconic images of space which primed my reaction to the Mars Rover’s portrait of Earth. This led me to offer a short curation of ways key figures have pathologized space, and their eco-critical views of space inflected by Earth, but all of this talk of Earth as “home” begs another question: If photos of Earth from space are photos of a shared home, are they a kind of self-portrait? More importantly, if robots are taking these images, are these self-portraits of humanity, or something posthuman? Lastly, why do those rovers have to be so darn cute?
Earlier today, members of the band Pussy Riot were attacked while performing in Sochi in front of an Olympic banner. According to The Guardian, none were arrested, one was left bloody, and we, U.S. viewers, were given the image above to process. Women in bright colors, women without faces, one woman with a defiant arm raised, one woman holding a microphone and then a man, in an overstated paramilitary uniform, taking a black horsewhip to them. So far, the New York Times is sticking with their skeptical headline “Protest Group Says Cossacks Attacked Them”—uh, says?—despite the volume at which this photo speaks otherwise. In a video that I don’t recommend you watch, more men in uniform arrive to rip the performer’s balaclava masks off, throw them by the elbows to the pavement, beat them with nightsticks on the ground, and attempt to break their guitars.
BBC's ongoing show Sherlock is a present-day adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's nineteenth-century detective stories, and it gleefully delights in its modernity by incorporating new technology and polishing up old visual tropes associated with the rationally-minded crime solver. Whether it's confronting viewers with just how resistant Sherlock himself is towards the popularity of his infamous deerstalker or transforming a first-person narrator's short stories into fodder for a personal blog, Sherlock's self-referentialityinvites its fans to think about the implications of these alterations. The alteration of the media used to tell the tales of the Great Detective Sherlock Holmes also introduces some arresting issues. If Sherlock's deductions were shrouded in mystery or only available to readers through Holmes's own explanations, the show actually allows viewers to “see” the detective's thought processes by stylistically superimposing text onto the show's images.
The park that stretches along Austin’s Shoal Creek is pretty amazing when you think about it. Starting near Lady Bird Lake downtown, the trails and bikeways wind all the way up towards 38th street. By my approximated Google Maps calculation, that’s nearly three and a half miles of gravel path, all of which feeds into the much longer Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail (discussed in my last post). Like the trails around Lady Bird Lake, in good weather the parkland around Shoal Creek is routinely flooded with Austinites seeking exercise and a break from concrete and metal. Joggers, walkers, and “mountain” bikers all frequent the trail. Around about 25th Street there is a leash free area for pets. At Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard there are three beach volleyball courts. Just north of 15th Street there’s an extensive playground and more volleyball courts. On the surface of things, there’s nothing exceptional about these recreation areas. Most communities throughout the United States provide their residents with public recreation. Indeed, community owned recreation areas have probably been a part of human settlements for longer than we can imagine. What I think is unique about Austin’s Shoal Creek and the surrounding environs is the extent to which the park consciously embodies a natural environment that challenges the skyscrapers in the distance.