Category Archives: Art

The Oatmeal on Net Neutrality

The basic idea is that massive megaliths like Comcast and Time Warner and, wait, are they merging? And every other cable company that has a monopoly because of community franchising, have some community responsibility.

That responsibility is called Net Neutrality.

Net Neutrality means different things to every communication company trying to stick citizens with higher bills for their cable and internet service.

To all of them it means lower revenue.

But to the people who pay absurd cable and internet bills each month, net neutrality means that no matter what any company offers over the internet pipes, the price is the same.

Competing services, like Red Box, Amazon and Netflix, might have different business strategies, might have different owners, but each should pay the same amount to transfer their data through the internet to your house.

That’s net neutrality.

The same should be true if you’re selling Marxism, Leninism or Maoism. The price is for bandwidth, not ideology.

Comcast and Time Warner and your cable company would like you to think that this is unfair.  They’re wrong. They’ve tried to sell you on paying extra for faster pipes, and better video speeds. They may have made money doing this.

But the basic principle of the internet is equality, and that breaks down quickly when those who own the pipes are able to discriminate between different data streams passing through.

Which is why this cartoon from the Oatmeal resonates:

LINK: Keith Gessen in Vanity Fair about Amazon

This is a fantastic history of the ebook publishing industry, and the dispute between the old school book publishers and Amazon about ebook pricing.

Except, it never says what spooks the old line publishers (and Andrew Wylie) explicitly.

But it alludes.

Here’s the deal: Print books make more money for publishers than ebooks. And if the price of ebooks falls too much, print books won’t be competitively priced and won’t sell.

For the time being, a print window might work (the same way Taylor Swift created a CD window last week by pulling her music off Spotify), but it doesn’t seem likely to work forever.

At the same time, traditional publishers are fighting to retain the large margin they get from print books. It’s hard to say they shouldn’t try while they can, but they won’t be able to do that or long.

The Art of Plumbing

most700Alexander Melamid was co-author of a book, with Vitaly Komar, based on public opinion polls about art. The basic idea was to ask people what they wanted to see in paintings, and what they didn’t want to see. And then paint the paintings people said they wanted.

The project is archived at Dia.

Melamid’s new project is another stab at the art world’s pretensions. His idea is to add another recycling bin to those we already have. Paper, Plastic, Metal, Compost, Art. He says:

I think we need to open up the recycling station. Our world is polluted by art. It’s millions and millions of objects that are created every day. So imagine there are recycling bins: plastic, paper, art … .

Plumbing has something to do with it.

Two Photos

I took a book out of the library the other day. The Good Lord Bird, by James McBride. Inside were these two photos.

2photos-anonymous0001 2photos-anonymous

They’re evocative, partly because they’re artsy but printed on Kodak paper in postcard size. Someone making postcards would have printed on actual postcard forms, wouldn’t they? Not relatively thin Kodak paper.

It isn’t a great mystery, but I liked the photos. They would make nice indie rock CD covers.

LINK: Explore SEFT-1

Screenshot 2014-06-26 13.50.36

The mission statement is in Spanish, which means my understanding is fuzzy, but some guys created an automobile that will run on both paved road and train tracks. Why? To explore the abandoned rail line that runs from Mexico City to the Pacific Ocean, and find out about the people along the way who have been affected.

The slide shows from the explorations are cool, with some narration that is in English as well as Spanish.

OBIT: Massimo Vignelli

vignellistatementI only met Massimo a couple of times, thanks to my friend and employer Richard Stadin, who lived around the corner from Massimo on the Upper East Side. Massimo helped Richard design his video packaging and ads, and if I ever wanted to change a design Richard would tell me Massimo would not agree to that. He was right, and it was hard to argue. The lines were always perfectly clean and proportional, if sometimes a little effete and unemotional.

I first learned of Massimo when his NYC Subway Map came out in 1972. I was a boy from Long Island, but I studied New York City and this map made every bit of the city clean, perfect and manageable, which helped draw a shy high school student into the city’s high culture and demimonde. The release of his map was one of those epochal New York moments, that will surely turn up when I get to 1972 in Mad Men (currently in 1968).

I few years ago I helped him out, converting his video portfolio from DVD to an online video format, and a book he had written called the Vignelli Canon, to pdf. It was a reminder that technology overruns us all at some point. He was beyond anything else, in my experience, a gentle and kind man.

Screenshot 2014-05-27 23.43.32The book was dedicated to his wife, Lella, his lifelong companion and partner. Here’s to a good life, Massimo, well lived. There way more details and history in his New York Times obit.

Food Maps From Around the World

jobamaPictures made from food or packaging are a favorite of mine, resonant not only with the subject but also the medium. And I really like maps. Doesn’t everyone?

A food stylist, Caitlin Levin, a photographer, Henry Hargreaves, and a typographer, Sarit Melmed, have collaborated on a series of maps of the world, each made with local foods.

Unlike this packaging portrait of President Obama, the results are quite attractive, even if the point is somewhat obscure. Surely there is more to say about Africa than plantains. More to say about the US than corn. More to say about the UK than biscuits.

So ignore the rationale. The pictures are nice and good fun. Kristin Hohenadel wrote about these, with lots of examples, at Slate.

The artists explain themselves and show their method in a video.

No. 1 at No. 2

Screenshot 2014-03-07 21.24.55Travis Rix is a student at the School of Visual Arts, about to graduate.

In his travels he happened upon the idea of including portapotties in his pictures.

The results are uneven, the aesthetic varies in the samples, but the effect is mostly appealing. I’m not sure about the importance of the rationale that the pottie precedes development, though in many cases that’s true.

For me the pictures are a cross between Where’s Waldo and deep thinking. My deepest thought? Before these things were all over the place, where did we “go?”

The Behold blog featured his pictures on Slate.