Archive for March, 2009

art and maps (4) Virtue Fern

March 31, 2009


by Virtue Fern – see the photostream on Flickr

more also here:

art and maps (3) Zsuzsanna Ilijin be Illin

March 30, 2009


by Illustrator and graphic designer Zsuzsanna Ilijin located in Amsterdam. more maps on the website:


art and maps (2) Paula Scher

March 29, 2009



Paula Scher’s maps at the Maya Stendhal Gallery  by Michael Surtees on his Flickr photostream.

art and maps (1) stanley donwood

March 28, 2009

Here is the first of small collection of maps in contemporary art, found here and there.



Paintings by Stanley Donwood.

book sculptures

March 27, 2009


Eyeteeth and  more by Slovakian Matej Krén.

book projection

March 26, 2009


Images of books on shelves are seen projected on the walls of the Tower of David in Jerusalem’s Old City – part of a show called “Or Shalem, Jerusalem Lights the Night”, staged by a group called Skertzo on October 7, 2008.(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) See more illuminations on this page.

via dark roasted blend

typographic trees

March 25, 2009

tony green – accumulations & rosemary and other tony green work in this set from jim leftwich’s photostream

On a larger scale is the work of Gordon Young and why not associates – a series of typographic tree sculptures situated throughout the library building in Crawley.


See and read more on CR Blog:  A Library Full of Dead Trees and here at

library promotion

March 24, 2009

4(Image credit: jonathan_moreau).

5(Image credit: wcb0028).

I have found this on CrookedBrains:

The residents of Kansas City were asked to nominate influential books that represented their town, and huge forms of the winning selections were then used as the exterior of the library’s parking garage.”

Cardiff Public Library has done something similar:

2(Image credit: keithpatterson).

kids are the new black

March 23, 2009 writes: 

Did anyone see this in the UK Telegram last week? The headline is “Girl graffiti artist, 10, is the ‘female Banksy”  What in the world? Shes a 10 year old from Brighton. She spraypaints murals all over, and according to this article, shes got street cred. whoa. I’m twenty seven years old goddamnit. Do I have to hang out with 10 year olds to be cool now?

I would say definitely, yes! Teenagers no longer manage to surprise (or shock) us. Now it’s the kids, which are cool. And with the internet children’s art work is also becoming so much more visible, beyond classroom walls and fridge doors. See for example all those groups on Flickr such as Child’s Art, and Children’s Art and Craft.

And people take their appreciation for children’s creativity further, not only by encouraging a kid to make Graffiti (!) als art, but also in other ways, for example  SweetJessie  making embroyderies based on her 6 year old son’s drawings.


Meanwhile 2009 is also the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Children are increasingly being recognized as a group with a claim to rights to dignity, self expression and human rights. A recent report points out children being negatively stereotyped in the media and recommends  “measures to address the intolerance and inappropriate characterization of children, especially adolescents, within the society, including the media…” See:

Another perspective: How journalists can promote children’s human rights and equality (PDF) by Samantha Dimmock et al. from the Children’s Rights Alliance for England.

According to Cory Doctorow its “a really meaty study on the systematic vilification of children in the English press, and the effect that this has on public opinion.”

talking to an invisible cat

March 23, 2009


A long time ago I read a critique of Garfield somewhere, where the author stated that it was not a good cartoon, as much of the information provided is redundant. The proof lies in the pudding: now I found Garfield Minus Garfield

“a site dedicated to removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strips in order to reveal the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle. It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb. “

 Beautiful Decay comments: 

“Hence, what this illustration contains is Jon in his truest, rawest form; without the guise of petty cat-antics to hide behind.” 

There is also a book out and the amazon blurb says:

“In an act that should qualify him for the brilliant editors hall of fame, Dan Walsh discovered that if all traces of Jim Davis’s lazy, lasagna-scarfing cat were expunged from his own comic strip, Garfield became a funnier, much darker series, about a desperately lonely, self-loathing man’s existential despair. Walsh started posting his altered strips at And in an act that definitely qualifies him for the good sport hall of fame, Davis not only didn’t sue him but approved of the project. This collection of the best de-Garfielded strips prints Walsh’s altered cartoons next to Davis’s originals; Davis even throws in a couple dozen Garfield-minus-Garfield strips he’s done himself.”

I never liked Garflied much, so I prefer this version, definitely. 

See also my earlier post on  comic abstraction



with love from 1972

March 21, 2009


With Love from Burger King  – a set of “Love” themed post cards by Burger King from 1972, collected by whaffle whiffer on Flickr.


free words

March 20, 2009

free-706859Douglas Wilson writes about primary school children making class projects based on ideas of his art work. I can well imagine children enjoying the anarchic destruction of a oh so holy book – a dictionary – in order to print their own stuff on top. “This is printed on dictionary paper. The young artists thought this was too cool. They loved the new use for the dictionary.”


Here is the online gallery of the Shamrock Springs Art Classroom

personalized picture book

March 19, 2009

Here is a lovely idea for making a word/picture book by Sara Hicks. She writes

Last week we bought my son a ‘first words’ book. It had some common words like ‘car’ and ‘ball’- but the car didn’t look like ours and the neon orange soccer ball didn’t look like any we owned. So I thought it might be nice to create a first words book exclusively for him, using objects that were more familiar to him and focusing on words that he was either already trying to grasp (ball, momma) or words that would be helpful to me (milk, water).


And here are some images of the result. This is a really sweet idea, and I wished I had done things like that when my son was little. I am thinking, this could be a class project in primary schools too, where children design books for their siblings and friends.

history of design and visual communication

March 16, 2009


Here are some links to very good and comprehensive online resources about the historiy of visual communication. Needless to say they are very well designed.


in 10 chapters by Elif Ayiter teaching at the Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey; She starts with Rocks and Caves, carries on with Ideograms,  The Alphabet, The Art of The Book, passing the Renaissance Masters of Type , Breaking the Grid, The Avantgarde, The Modernists and ends with the Computer. Wonderful image resources, which are downloadable.


in 11 chapters by Nancy Stock-Allen teaching Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia USA. This is truy beautiful and informative. Start by looking at this chapters on Symbols: The Alphabet of Human Thought, How Handwriting developed into Printed Type, continue with the condensed History of the Book and you may be hooked.

WRITING WITH IMAGES: Toward A Semiotics of the Web

by George L.Dillon from the UW Technology in Washington. I have posted this link before. Comprehensive overview covering aspects of visual communication, design and art, starting with an introduction on Imagetext, Multiples, and Other Mixed Modes, and fascinating chapters on

1. Words in Images
2. Photomontage
3. Collage
4. Viewing Viewing
5. Contexts
6. Maps of Abstractions
Conclusion: Short Histories of the Present

taking video literal

March 14, 2009


White Wedding: Literal Video Version – watch more funny videos

This literal video version of White Wedding by Billy Idol made me laugh out loud. I guess you had to be there in the eighties, when some of your friends were Gothic, some of your friends were New Wave and some of your friends were Straight Edge, and you had a little brother tapping his feet in black leather pants, to really appreciate this wry comment on eighties pop culture.

via boing boing

On a more serious note, this video illustrates well how words and images work best together in juxtaposition. I am just reading Perry Nodelman, Words about Pictures. The Narrative Art of Childrens Picture Books, and here is a quote which fits perfectly: 

“In a discussion of the semiology of film, Christian Metz suggests that films demand from their viewer knowledge of at least five different systems of signification, most of which can also befound in slightly different ways in picture books: culturebound patterns of visual and auditory perception (such as knowing how to understand a perspectve drawing), recognition of the objects shown on screen (labeling), knowledge of their cultural significance (such as knowing that blackclothes stand for mourning), narrative structures (types of stories and how they usually work out) and purely cinematic means of implying significance, such as music and montage.

Metz suggests that each complete film “relying on all these codes, plays them one against the other, eventually arriving at its own individual system, its ultimate (or first?) principle of unification and intelligibility”. In other words, filmmakers make the use of differencees between various means of communication in the knowledge that each medium they bring into play will finally merely be part of the whole along with all the others; consequently, they deberately (or sometimes, given the varying narrative capabilities of different media, inevitably) make each incomplete so that it can indeed be part of a whole and so that the meaning will be communicated by the whole and not any specific part of the whole.

What the clothing and gesture do not reveal to us, the music or the narrative structure might; and what the clothing and music communicate separately is different from what they communicate together. So each medium that filmmakers use always communicates different information, and all of them express their fullest meaning in terms of the ironies inherent in their differencees from each other. Irony occurs in literature when we know something more and different from what we are being told.” (222-3)

Music videos play with visual codes and popular narratives adressing the viewers’s contextual, (sub) cultural knowledge and in contrasting, juxtaposing, contradicting and amplifying music and lyrics add to the overall meaning. In the case of this Billy Idol video spoof, the irony lies in the breaking of these film making and music video conventions, which we all know so well. The lyrics are a literal translation of what is seen, merely labeling the objects and actions on the screen (candelabra! black leather pants!) and the cinematic means of implying significance (letting in the fog, blowing up stuff, going outside) but ignoring their cultural significance. Taking language conventions literal is stand up comedy stuff, here it is applied to film. The new lyrics attempt to undermine the “subversive” interplay of original lyrics (about white weddings) and video narrative  drawing on a different kind of cultural knowledge by calling it what it plainly is in the eyes of a contemporary viewer – a goth wedding, an eighties pop video. 


personalized spam

March 13, 2009

Nigerian money scams are oh so last year … almost daily I receive new kinds of much more sophisticated  money scam letters. However this is the first time I got a personalized one, which in an odd way could even make sense, after all I share the surname with this deceased oil magnate. I wonder how many Joneses got this letter.

Hello  Sigrid Jones
This is a personal email directed to you and I request that it be treated as such.
I am David Dalgarno, executor to the late Mr Alec D.Jones, hereinafter referred to as ‘my client’ who worked as an independent oil magnate and died in the Colombian Pipeline tragedy, October 18, 1998.
Since the death of my client in Oct, 1998, I have tried to locate any of his extended relatives whom shall be claimants/ beneficiaries of his abandoned personal estate and all such efforts have been to no avail.
Moreso, I have received official letters in the last few weeks suggesting a likely proceeding for confiscation of his abandoned personal assets in line with existing laws by the bank in which my client deposited the sum of 3.8 million GBP.
On this note I decided to search for a credible person and finding that you bear a similar last name, I was urged to contact you, that I may, with your consent, present you to the “trustee” bank as my late client’s surviving family member so as to enable you put up a claim to the bank in that capacity as a next of kin of my client. I find this possible for the fuller reasons that you bear a similar last name with my client making it a lot easier for you to put up a claim in that capacity. …

lolcat literacy update

March 11, 2009

Here is a long overdue update to my earlier post on lolcat literacy. More evidence supporting the notion that most lolcats are not only proficient in numeracy and literacy, with a great passion for literature, but also sophisticated users of computer technologies and Web 2.0 literacies.










design for education

March 9, 2009



Heleen De Goey and Dan Grossman from Project H Design designed a  “learning landscape” based on a grid of tires to be constructed as a playground and framework for math learning at the Kutamba school in Uganda which was built in January 2009. “The grid of tires allows for both a playspace, outdoor classroom, and a flexible system for math games which can be adapted, scaled, and added to over time.” You can find more photos on their Flickr Photostream.

They also developed learning games to teach basic addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication: 

Four games have been designed so far: “Match Me,” “Math Musical Chairs,” “Which One Is Missing?,” and “Around The World.” These games were tested at a “playdate” with designers and   children ages New York and Providence.

What a great idea to design life sized three dimensional learning tools. And I like the idea of designers and researchers developing learning games. A lot of research and thinking goes into the development of digital learning games. Would it not be a good idea if game designers and education researchers were also co-developing other kinds of games?

via beautiful/decay

self organized learning

March 8, 2009


Many years ago I read about the Hole in the Wall Project by Prof Sugata Mitra with great fascination. Mitra was working in Delhi and installed a computer with interent connection in the wall of his office compound, which enabled him to abserve how children and young people from the nearby slums would interact with the technology without any instructions. The children learned to use the computer in a fascinating process of self organized and collaborative learning. Eventually many more computers in “holes in the wall” were installed all over India. Seven years of research showed conclusively how children are able to teach themselves and each other without any adult interventions.  The children even invented their own langauge to talk about what they were doing on screen.  More about this minimally invasive education on the website. There is also an interesting TED talk by Mitra: Can kids teach themselves? worth watching

Here is an older report on pbs frontline world, with an interview with  researcher Ritu Dangwal, and here a current lenghty article from the guardian about the projcet, which apparently also inspired the Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire movie.

BTW I am going to India soon, so I hope to get a chance to watch the film there!

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