On identity design

by Paula Scher
October 2nd, 2017

Paula Scher: "I never knew a designer that got hundreds of thousands of dollars to design a logo.  Mostly, designers get paid to negotiate the difficult terrain of individual egos, expectations, tastes, and aspirations of various individuals in an organization or corporation, against business needs, and constraints of the marketplace.  This is a process that can take a year or more.  Getting a large, diverse group of people to agree on a single new methodology for all of their corporate communications means the designer has to be a strategist, psychiatrist, diplomat, showman, and even a Svengali*. The complicated process is worth money. That's what clients pay for. The process, usually a series of endless presentations and refinements, persuasions and proofs, results, hopefully, in an accepted identity design."

* Via Wikipedia: "Svengali is the name of a fictional character in George du Maurier's 1894 novel Trilby. A sensation in its day, the novel created a stereotype of the evil hypnotist that persists to this day. [...]
The word svengali has entered the language meaning a person who with evil intent manipulates another into doing what is desired."

[ NEU ]

3900 Pages of Paul Klee’s Personal Notebooks

Presenting his Bauhaus teachings (1921-1931)
March 5th, 2016

Via open culture: "Paul Klee led an artistic life that spanned the 19th and 20th centuries, but he kept his aesthetic sensibility tuned to the future. Because of that, much of the Swiss-German Bauhaus-associated painter’s work, which at its most distinctive defines its own category of abstraction, still exudes a vitality today.

And he left behind not just those 9,000 pieces of art (not counting the hand puppets he made for his son), but plenty of writings as well, the best known of which came out in English as Paul Klee Notebooks, two volumes (The Thinking Eye and The Nature of Nature) collecting the artist’s essays on modern art and the lectures he gave at the Bauhaus schools in the 1920s. [...]

 

More recently, the Zentrum Paul Klee made available online almost all 3,900 pages of Klee’s personal notebooks, which he used as the source for his Bauhaus teaching between 1921 and 1931. If you can’t read German, his extensively detailed textual theorizing on the mechanics of art (especially the use of color, with which he struggled before returning from a 1914 trip to Tunisia declaring, 'Color and I are one. I am a painter') may not immediately resonate with you. But his copious illustrations of all these observations and principles, in their vividness, clarity, and reflection of a truly active mind, can still captivate anybody — just as his paintings do."

[ Catalysts ]

What Happens at the End of Infinite Jest?

by Aaron Swartz

October 3rd, 2015

 

Via Aaron Swartz: "JOI also created DMZ as part of an attempt to undo the effects of Hal’s eating mold as a child (recall: DMZ is a mold that grows on a mold). He left it along with the Entertainment (recall: ETA kids find JOI’s personal effects (670: 'a bulky old doorless microwave…a load of old TP cartridges…mostly unlabelled'); the tapes and the DMZ are delivered together to the FLQ) which is about this goal (it stars a woman named Madame Psychosis (a street name for DMZ) explaining that the thing that killed you in your last life will give birth to you in the next). The DMZ and the Entertainment were meant to go together for Hal. Now that the Entertainment has escaped, he needs to get Hal the DMZ."

 

Via Wikipedia: "Aaron Hillel Swartz (November 8, 1986 – January 11, 2013) was an American computer programmer, entrepreneur, writer, political organizer and Internet hacktivist who was involved in the development of the web feed format RSS and the Markdown publishing format, the organization Creative Commons, the website framework web.py and the social news site, Reddit, in which he became a partner after its merger with his company, Infogami. He committed suicide while under federal indictment for data-theft, a prosecution that was characterized by his family as being 'the product of a criminal-justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach'.


Swartz's work also focused on civic awareness and activism. He helped launch the Progressive Change Campaign Committee in 2009 to learn more about effective online activism. In 2010, he became a research fellow at Harvard University's Safra Research Lab on Institutional Corruption, directed by Lawrence Lessig. He founded the online group Demand Progress, known for its campaign against the Stop Online Piracy Act.

On January 6, 2011, Swartz was arrested by MIT police on state breaking-and-entering charges, after connecting a computer to the MIT network in an unmarked and unlocked closet, and setting it to systematically download academic journal articles from JSTOR using a guest user account issued to him by MIT. Federal prosecutors later charged him with two counts of wire fraud and eleven violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, carrying a cumulative maximum penalty of $1 million in fines, 35 years in prison, asset forfeiture, restitution, and supervised realeas. 

 

Swartz declined a plea bargain under which he would have served six months in federal prison. Two days after the prosecution rejected a counter-offer by Swartz, he was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment, where he had hanged himself.

 

In June 2013, Swartz was posthumously inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame."

 

You might also be interested in The Infinite Jest Liveblog (massive spoiler alert !!), Erowid on DMZ, and How to Read Infinite Jest Chronologically.

[ Catalysts ]

Black Mamba

Dominick Fernow and William Bennett: A Conversation

September 20th, 2015

 

Via Red Bull Academy: "William Bennett: I became very interested in the technology of drama, particularly method acting and building scripts and performance techniques and things like that. I found it fascinating how much could be applied to music.

Dominick Fernow: Like what?

William Bennett: Well, this is very influenced by Stanislavski, but what they call mask work. Where you just work in a mask or you literally go without a mirror for a couple of days – and how that affects you psychologically. Because so much of what we do, whether it’s in the real world or in the music world, is filtered through our illusion of identity. This illusion that we’ve created about how we see ourselves. When people say, I am this kind of person or I don’t do this, it’s really all an illusion because everything in actual fact is affected by what’s around you rather than what’s inside you. And so a lot of these activities I found very interesting for creating music, because you can get past these obstacles and enter a different domain where you can find very unexpected things.

Dominick Fernow: But is it about losing identity?

William Bennett: It’s not about losing – because there is such a thing as your core identity, the way I see it. But that’s very different from the illusion of identity – what we believe we are. The kind of person we think that we are is very different to what we really are. But it’s very difficult to bridge that gap and, artistically, I find that a very interesting place to explore."

[ Catalysts ]

What Did the Lady Forget?

The awesome work of Ozu Yasujirō

August 11th, 2015

 

A summer flu gave me the opportunity to watch Ozu Yasujirō films.

Via Wikipedia: „Ozu Yasujirō became widely recognized internationally when his films were shown abroad. Influential monographs by Donald Richie, Paul Schrader, and David Bordwell  have ensured a wide appreciation of Ozu's style, aesthetics and themes. Ozu was voted the tenth greatest director of all time in the 2002 British Film Institute's Sight & Sound poll of Critics' top ten directors. [...]

 

In the Wim Wenders documentary film Tokyo-Ga, the director travels to Japan to explore the world of Ozu, interviewing both Chishū Ryū and Yuharu Atsuta."

[ Catalysts ]

The Dada Baroness

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven

August 7th, 2015

 

Via The MIT Press: "Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (1874-1927) is considered by many to be the first American dadaist as well as the mother of dada. An innovator in poetic form and an early creator of junk sculpture, the Baroness was best known for her sexually charged, often controversial performances. Some thought her merely crazed, others thought her a genius. The editor Margaret Anderson called her perhaps the only figure of our generation who deserves the epithet extraordinary. Yet despite her great notoriety and influence, until recently her story and work have been little known outside the circle of modernist scholars."

 

Via Wikipedia: "The Baroness was one of the characters, one of the terrors of the district, wrote her first biographer Djuna Barnes, whose book, however, remained unfinished. In Irrational Modernism: A Neurasthenic History of New York Dada, Amelia Jones provides a revisionist history of New York Dada, expressed through the life and works of The Baroness.

The recent biography, Baroness Elsa: Gender, Dada and Everyday Modernity, by Irene Gammel, makes a case for the Baroness’s artistic brilliance and avant-garde spirit. The book explores the Baroness’s personal and artistic relationships with Djuna Barnes, Berenice Abbott, and Jane Heap, as well as with Duchamp, Man Ray, and William Carlos Williams. It shows the Baroness breaking every erotic boundary, reveling in anarchic performance, but the biography also presents her as Elsa’s friend Emily Coleman saw her, not as a saint or a madwoman, but as a woman of genius, alone in the world, frantic.

In 2013, the artists Lily Benson and Cassandra Guan released The Filmballad of Mamadada, an experimental biopic on the Baroness. The story of The Baroness' life was told through contributions from over fifty artists and filmmakers."

 

Thanks to Swantje Lichtenstein!

[ Catalysts ]

An Autobiographical Statement

by John Cage

July 19th, 2015

 

Via John Cage: "I determined to give up composition unless I could find a better reason for doing it than communication. I found this answer from Gira Sarabhai, an Indian singer and tabla player: The purpose of music is to sober and quiet the mind, thus making it susceptible to divine influences. I also found in the writings of Ananda K. Coomaraswammy that the responsibility of the artist is to imitate nature in her manner of operation. I became less disturbed and went back to work. [...]

 

We are living in a period in which many people have changed their mind about what the use of music is or could be for them. Something that doesn't speak or talk like a human being, that doesn't know its definition in the dictionary or its theory in the schools, that expresses itself simply by the fact of its vibrations. People paying attention to vibratory activity, not in reaction to a fixed ideal performance, but each time attentively to how it happens to be this time, not necessarily two times the same. A music that transports the listener to the moment where he is."

[ Catalysts ]

The Art of "Interbeing"

Legendary Zen Buddhist Teacher Thich Nhat Hanh

April 5th, 2015

 

Via Brain Pickings: "Sometimes we feel empty; we feel a vacuum, a great lack of something. We don’t know the cause; it’s very vague, but that feeling of being empty inside is very strong. We expect and hope for something much better so we’ll feel less alone, less empty. The desire to understand ourselves and to understand life is a deep thirst. There’s also the deep thirst to be loved and to love. We are ready to love and be loved. It’s very natural. But because we feel empty, we try to find an object of our love. Sometimes we haven’t had the time to understand ourselves, yet we’ve already found the object of our love. When we realize that all our hopes and expectations of course can’t be fulfilled by that person, we continue to feel empty. You want to find something, but you don’t know what to search for. In everyone there’s a continuous desire and expectation; deep inside, you still expect something better to happen. That is why you check your email many times a day! [...]

The essence of loving kindness is being able to offer happiness. You can be the sunshine for another person. You can’t offer happiness until you have it for yourself. So build a home inside by accepting yourself and learning to love and heal yourself. Learn how to practice mindfulness in such a way that you can create moments of happiness and joy for your own nourishment. Then you have something to offer the other person. [...]

 

Often, when we say, I love you we focus mostly on the idea of the I who is doing the loving and less on the quality of the love that’s being offered. This is because we are caught by the idea of self. We think we have a self. But there is no such thing as an individual separate self. A flower is made only of non-flower elements, such as chlorophyll, sunlight, and water. If we were to remove all the non-flower elements from the flower, there would be no flower left. A flower cannot be by herself alone. A flower can only inter-be with all of us… Humans are like this too. We can’t exist by ourselves alone. We can only inter-be. I am made only of non-me elements, such as the Earth, the sun, parents, and ancestors. In a relationship, if you can see the nature of interbeing between you and the other person, you can see that his suffering is your own suffering, and your happiness is his own happiness. With this way of seeing, you speak and act differently. This in itself can relieve so much suffering. [...]

 

The remainder of How to Love explores the simple, profoundly transformative daily practices of love and understanding, which apply not only to romantic relationships but to all forms of interbeing. Complement it with John Steinbeck’s exquisite letter of advice on love to his teenage son and Susan Sontag’s lifetime of reflections on the subject, then revisit the great D.T. Suzuki on how Zen can help us cultivate our character."

[ Catalysts ]

Charismatic Psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan Gives Public Lecture (1972)

Dramatic pauses, ironic self-reflection, and storms of emotion

March 20th, 2015

 

Via Open Culture: "The footage above is from an extremely rare – and unexpectedly entertaining – video of the philosopher and psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan (1901-1981), giving a lecture at The Catholic University of Louvain in 1972. The film is notable for a couple of reasons:

 

1. In France, Lacan’s rock star status owed much to his popular public seminars. The charismatic iconoclast had been giving free public lectures for decades, and those lectures were usually packed with students, colleagues, skeptics, young radicals … and fans. The video gives you an idea of what the fuss was all about. Even at 70, Lacan still owns the room, and he has the presence of a stage actor, complete with dramatic pauses, ironic self-reflection, and pitch-perfect storms of emotion (see minute 15:07)

 

2. At minute 21:37, a politically inspired heckler tries to ambush him. It’s a moment right out of a comedy show, if the comedy show were chic and grainy and edited by Jean-Luc Goddard. Note the grace with which Lacan neutralizes the poor guy, lights his cigar and then concludes the lecture, even though the fallout from their encounter is still stuck in his hair.

 

Lacan’s ideas have fallen a bit out of fashion in the past two decades, particularly in the U.S., where psychoanalysis has been nudged out of the spotlight by neuroscience and post-structuralism has lost ground to post-colonial studies. But Lacan still has his fans, notably the Elvis of Philosophy, Slavoj Zizek, who dominates YouTube the way his predecessor once did salons."

 

Thanls to Manu Burghart!

[ Catalysts ]

Contra-Internet

by Zach Blas

March 18, 2015

 

Via Zach Blas: "Contra-Internet describes the emerging militancies and subversions of the Internet. Comprised of multiple series, Contra-Internet critiques the Internet as a hegemonic descriptor for digital networking and premier arena of political control, as well as documents and speculates upon network alternatives that social movements are developing globally, such as autonomous mesh networks, encryption tactics, and darknets. Inspired by the transgender theorist Beatriz Preciado’s Manifesto contrasexual, Contra-Internet is oriented from a feminist and queer perspective, in an effort to unite such political positions with a hacker ethos. Contra-Internet aims to function as an expansive conceptual, practical, and experimental framework for refusing the neoliberal logic of the Internet while building alternatives to its infrastructure."

 

Via dis magazine: "The Inversion Practices series is comprised of short, performative videos that utilize various conceptual-technical tactics to abandon and subvert the Internet."

 

Thanks to Carsten Görtz!

[ Catalysts ]