Monthly archive for June 2008

Lines and Colors

If you follow just one art blog, make it Lines and Colors. Charley Parker is an art critic and a tireless blogger, who examines a featured artist almost daily. In truth, he publishes so much material that it is hard to stay current. In particular, I enjoyed this recent piece on John Singer Sargent, who like many artists, found himself somewhat marginalized due to timing and the ‘whims’ of the art establishment. Sargent’s greatest works were born as the art world shifted toward modernism and abstraction. He is widely regarded as a great painter, but less celebrated than his contemporaries who pioneered the new vogue. The detail view of the following painting illustrates Sargent’s skill much better than words.

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link: Lines and Colors

Hobos

The Life of American Vagabonds is a short collection of photos that depicts a group of young people living outside of the borders of society and off of its discards. The portraits are gripping.

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Link

Saturdays

The city sleeps in on Saturday. In June the morning comes early, by seven thirty – my daily rising hour – the sun weighs upon the red tiled rooftop of the school building across the street and the leaves glisten below its brilliance. It is already hot at the stool by my window onto the world. The only sound breaking the bird songs is the motor of a trash collector dragging it’s load up the street; otherwise the street below remains deserted.

From my window, Saturday is a day like any other. There is no celebration to commemorate the end of the long work week. The is no hangover to cloud this view from my window onto the world. The days are marked by rain and sun. Blue skies bring a tinge of regret when I keep myself indoors, and storms bring a relief that I am sequestered inside by a force greater than my will. There are days when I must phone-in a report on my ongoing progress. There are other days when I remain wholly unaccountable for my schedule. Progress ebbs and flows.

The milestones are increasing infrequent. I count time in months and by the migration of the sun. The world outside anticipates a response, while I seldom anticipate the future. I rose this morning with purpose and I will sleep this evening with the solemn sensation of time slipping past; though I cannot say how long it has been.

Galveston Gold Mine

I am working on a design and integration project from a company that is involved in “natural resource procurement”. This firm is a start-up company and needs (among other things) staff to manage their operations and equipment. Oh, and they need big-ass trucks – lots and lots of million-dollar trucks.

One of the design challenges I faced was creating a careers page for the firm. They use this page to list available opportunities and allow engineers to apply for employment online. From a design standpoint, I could not use the standard photo of yuppies standing around cross-armed in starched white shirts looking smug. It just doesn’t fit the image of a team of sun-drenched Texans covered in oil and grease.

I looked at photos of guys working in oil fields, but most of them are not very artistic and convey some burden of back-breaking labor. Not exactly enticing imagery when our target prospect likely has a masters degree in geologic science.

I finally created the following graphic using Illustrator. The site is not yet launched (officially) so I cannot provide a link or specify the client. The image is of a man who works in the oil fields of South Texas near the bay at Galveston. I added the caption for the purpose of this post and is not included on the client site.

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El Chorro Gorge

This video is taken from the dizzying heights of a decrepit walkway above the El Chorro Gorge in Spain. The footage truly scares the bejesus out of me. It is like that recurring nightmare I have where I have to make my way along an impossibly high and narrow ledge with only inches separating me from eternity. Only this is real. Watch how the filmmaker sure-footedly steps across gaping holes and balances on narrow beams high above the canyon floor. I think it was filmed by a goat.

via Environmental Graffiti

The Billy Letters

Radar Magazine has a fascinating article comprised of letters written by pop-culture historian Bill Geerhart to America’s most notorious serial killers and their written replies. Geerhart posed as 10-year-old “Billy” Geerhart to ask advice on dropping out of school from such infamous murderers as Charles Manson and the Unabomber. All of the inmates that Geerhart contacted replied to his hand-written letter and several years later he sent a follow-up thanking each of them for their advice.

Each inmate letter offers a glimpse into the personality of people that the media often portrays one-dimensionally as monsters. For example, Richard Ramirez’s reply is hand printed on personalized “Nightstalker” stationary. Charles Manson’s nearly illegible, rambling message is evidence of his isolation and insanity. Erik Menendez portrays himself as a concerned and sympathetic ear.

link to article

Ye Olde Edicts of Britannia

The lone english language bookstore in Old Prague sits on a lightly trafficked side street below the Prague Castle between an art gallery and a river front restaurant. They carry Harper’s Magazine at an unreasonable markup of 190 K? (12 USD). Though buried in a cardboard box on the floor, I found a few old editions with the covers torn off for about two bucks.

The follow excerpt is from one of those wrinkled and dusty copies that made their way home with me. While the column is humorous due to some of Britain’s antiquated regulations, it is alarming evidence why Britain is the world’s preeminent civil surveillance democracy.

From a column entitled “Trouble Helix” Harper’s Magazine March 2008 (abridged)

From a list compiled in 2006 by British police chiefs of more than 5,000 offenses warranting that the DNA of an arrested suspect be retained for life in a nation database.

violating king’s wife
violating king’s eldest daughter
violating wife of king’s eldest daughter
levying war against the sovereign in his or her realm
buggery
buggery with woman
buggery with animal
buggery with man in private
buggery with man other than in private
procuring a woman who is defective
procuring a woman by false pretenses
placing nonhuman embryo in woman
riding horse furiously in street
wantonly disturbing in habitant by knocking on door or ringing doorbell
keeping a disorderly house
rout
affray
voyeurism
sacrilege
using explosives to take fish
handling salmon in suspicious circumstances
cruelty to badgers
disturbing badger when it is occupying badger lair
fraudulently evading bingo duty
abstracting electricity
failure to remove disguise when required by constable
wasting police time

The Voice that Smiles

I designed this advertisement yesterday morning for my father, who is a radio announcer in North Carolina. The process was really enjoyable for me – in part because I had total control over the finished product, including the copy. I also established my time commitment to this effort early on, so I operated entirely under the idea that I would start and finish before lunch. The process of working on a design with a short time window leaves less room for endless minor modifications of subtitles which can consume hours.

Another time-saving approach was that I envisioned what elements I wanted to include and searched for exact matches to my vision on iStockPhoto, in contrast to the much more time consuming process of searching through an entire visual catalog related to “radio”. I originally intended to feature a smaller version of the hanging microphone so the entire mic would be visible. I made a mistake when cutting up the image in Pixelmator and ended up with this giant, very dramatic detail of the mic. I think is works better than my initial idea so I left it. This is the first time I have been involved in my father’s efforts to market himself, and he conveyed a great deal of enthusiasm about the result.

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link