Gonna be taking a small break here. Posting will resume later next week.
You might have seen the work of photographer Thomas Allen floating around the weblogs a few months back — he’s the guy who cuts out and arranges pulpy paperback books from the ’50s in surprising and delightful ways. Now some of his work has been collected in a new monograph, Uncovered: Photographs by Thomas Allen. In his intro, celebrity designer Chip Kidd likens Allen’s work to those old Warner Bros. cartoons in which characters pop out of various books covers and have shenanigans with each other — a totally apt comparison. It might sound gimmicky, but his work is actually gorgeous to look at, with carefully considered compositions and a shallow depth of field which creates beautifully blurred shapes around the edges. The figures pictured in the cover art represent the typical fantasy archetype of that era — lots of busty babes and square-jawed manly men — and putting them in this setting makes them appear even more dreamlike. I also get the sense that Allen simply enjoys the variety of visual textures in these musty paperbacks — not just the covers but the spines and the pages. The more “used” they look, the better, with resulting imagery so sumptuous you could just dive into them.
Surprisingly, Aperture chose to bind Uncovered as a board book, meaning the pages are printed on thickish cardboard. An unconventional format for a non-kiddie book, for sure, but I like how it allows you to easily see a photo spread across two pages without the binding getting in the way. Although sporting a nifty die cut, the cover is blandly designed and gives no indication of the depth of Allen’s work. Also, I wish there were a few more photographs, but the ones they did choose to include are excellent.
I had a bit of a deja vu moment while paging through the Geekipedia supplement of the latest Wired magazine. To illustrate the section on manga comics, they scanned a detail from the cover of the 28th and final Rurouni Kenshin volume — which I designed! I am so intimately acquainted with that artwork that seeing it in this context was like finding a picture of your baby in a national magazine.
Holy pork chops and applesauce! Apparently there was a scorching internet rumor going around last week that, in her forthcoming memoir, Maureen McCormick revealed that she had a brief lesbian tryst with her Brady Bunch co-star Eve Plumb during the show’s production. The story (of a lovely lady) was picked up by such esteemed outlets as The National Enquirer and The New York Post before getting shot down as false by McCormick’s publisher. The jury’s still out on whether Robert Reed and Barry Williams had a torrid affair going.
On a completely different note, I’ve added a little sidebar to this weblog’s front page that allows you to play select songs from my last.fm profile page. And before you say “what does that have to do with The Brady Bunch?”, the playlist does include the Bradys singing their hearts out on “Parallel Lines” (a gem from their vinyl swan song, Phonographic Record).
Here’s to art projects — even the ones that turn out differently than expected. The ambitious bead mosaic of a horse’s head which I first started last spring is finally finished! Head over to my flickr set to see how the project went along, step by step. Now the big question is how does one hang something like this on a wall? It’s got to weigh at least fifteen pounds.
By now you’ve probably heard that the New York Times is discontinuing its Times Select subscription service and opening up their digital archives. The coolest part is the free online access to all of the copyright-free articles the paper published between 1851 and 1922. Although Jason Kottke recently posted links to some of the Times’ more notable past articles, the archive’s real fun lies in digging around and finding stories that represented the everyday news as it was 100 or so years ago. Once you get past the arcane writing styles and dense columns of type, it’s interesting to find out that, say, famed actress Maude Adams invented a new method of stage lighting. Fancy that — the Times devoted a whole half a page and thousands of words to that bit of news in 1908.
In my limited browsing I’ve noticed that some stories have a tone of quaint bemusement, others play like an Onion parody of turn-of-the-century reportage. Supposed Corpse Much Alive, printed in the May 12, 1899 edition, sports a little of both:
“Mackie celebrated some event in Irish history with too much ardor and appetite …” Something tells me that this unknown reporter, were he young and alive in 2007, would have a kickass weblog.