Real beauty, sketched

Posted by Angela on April 17, 2013
Rhetoric / Comments Off on Real beauty, sketched

I love Dove’s latest addition to the Real Beauty campaign: Real Beauty Sketches. This time, Dove invited a forensic artist and a group of women to take part in a revealing social experiment.

Hearing these women talk about themselves and how they see themselves is all too familiar. But to then have the opportunity to see them see themselves through another person’s eyes is powerful and inspiring (I admit it, I cried). As one participant says in the video, “We spend a lot of time as women analyzing and trying to fix the things that aren’t quite right. We should spend more time appreciating the things we do like.”

Thank you to Dove for this lovely experiment to help women combat the beauty myth. For more, check out all the sketches and interviews and join the conversation at #wearebeautiful.

Update: Other reactions to Real Beauty Sketches
Dove Real Beauty Sketches – Men
Counterpoint from Jazz @ little drops

Tags: , , ,

Convergence art

Posted by Angela on October 14, 2012
Academia, Writing / Comments Off on Convergence art

Note: This blog was originally written as part of my MA coursework (Saturday, 19 May 2012 6:27:16 PM EST). It is the second of three that I will be posting here in order to have it on my own space rather than a university archive.

What if the public space shown on Google Maps were a performative space instead? A film crew explored that question by turning live Google Maps coverage into performance pieces through the combination of fishing rod cameras, pylons, and

I wasn’t able to find out much about this project: what motivated it, what it was used for, etc. But it’s a fantastic example of several new media concepts while drawing in issues of art, technology, photography, reproduction, surveillance, and sound. The performative space is experienced through the screen, which gives the user, or spectator, the illusion of navigating through and being present in virtual spaces (Manovich, 2001, pg. 94). Yet while the experience is a rich one filled with sound and movement, the spectator is immobile (Friedberg, 1998, pg. 261). The reality embodied in the video is gradually replaced by signs and symbols, disconnecting the real from the referent. In this way, the simulation becomes increasingly entangled in the virtual (Baudrillard, 1994). Is the Google Map portion real, or is the video real? Are both simulacra? Is there value in this kind of performance art?

Benjamin (1935) is critical of mechanical reproduction in that it cannot contain the aura of art. In fact, he states: “The whole sphere of authenticity is outside technical—and, of course, not only technical—reproducibility” (p. 214) and that “that which withers in the age of mechanical reproduction is the aura of the work of art” (p. 215). However, in his New Aesthetic project, James Bridle argues that mechanical reproduction is aura, the “eruption of the digital into the physical world”. Pixels have become beautiful, artistic, appearing even on fashion catwalks. And the pixels in the Google Maps performance are both types: nearly invisible (those which are rendering the video for us) and prominent (those were are created by overlapping the map camera views with the crew’s camera views). This is digital art, mechanically reproduced and not without aura. And it’s not alone. There are a slew of other New Aesthetic pieces that are capturing the ways in which technology mediates our lives in visual forms. One favorite is this art series by Evan Roth, who has captured gestures made on touchscreens (think of each time you swipe to unlock your iPhone) in beautiful paintings.

User Name and Password by Evan Roth

There is a passage in Benjamin’s writing where he says: “Magician and surgeon compare to painter and cameraman. The painter maintains in his work a natural distance from reality, the cameraman penetrates deeply into its web” (pg. 227). I can’t help but wonder what Benjamin would say to the Google Maps piece or the paintings by Roth, which are distanced from reality while penetrating the Web at the same time.

Baudrillard, J. (1994). ‘The Precession of Simulacra’, from Simulacra and simulation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Benjamin, W. (1935). ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, in Benjamin, W. (1992), Illuminations. London: Fontana Press.

Friedberg. A. (1998). ‘The Mobilized and Virtual Gaze in Modernity: Flanuer/Flaneuse’, in Nicholas Mirzoeff (ed.), Visual Culture Reader. London: Routledge.

Manovich, L. (2001). The Language of New Media. Cambridge, MA & London: MIT Press.

Tags: ,

Infinite Writing

Posted by Angela on October 05, 2011
Writing / Comments Off on Infinite Writing

Ecriture Infinie is a fascinating art project by Bili Bidjocka.

I thought it would be interesting to design a project around an authorless book, in which everyone would have written something. Its purpose is the process. Writing is interesting because it is a process.

Described as an interactive installation that celebrates and ritualizes the passage from handwriting to digital writing, Bidjocka’s oversize notebooks have been traveling the world, inviting people to write on the blank pages “as if theirs were the last words to be written by hand”.

Read more about the project on

Tags: ,

Moby-Dick in Pictures

Posted by Angela on March 27, 2011
Design, Inspiration, Reading / Comments Off on Moby-Dick in Pictures

Has it really already been almost a year since I first read Moby-Dick? It seems like just a short time ago I was wrapped up in Melville’s language and subsequently discovering Matt Kish’s illustration project, One Drawing for Every Page of Moby-Dick. Matt finished his whale of a project in January, and his artwork is being published this fall to coincide with the 160th anniversary of the novel’s publication.

Completely self-taught and refusing to set any boundaries for the kinds of images he would make, Kish used a wide variety of materials, including found paper, ballpoint pens, markers, paint, crayons, ink, and watercolors to create art inspired by lines from every single page of the 552-page Signet Classics paperback edition of Moby-Dick. A hallmark of the project has been his use of pages torn from old, discarded books. Layering images on top of existing words and images, Kish has crafted a work that aptly echoes the layers of meaning in Melville’s narrative. His approach is deliberately low-tech, a sort of counter-response to the increasing popularity of born-digital art and literature. Kish started the project in August 2009 and spent nearly every day for eighteen months toiling away in a small closet converted into an art studio.

Simply amazing. Wishlisted.

Tags: , ,

Books as art

Posted by Angela on August 12, 2010
Design, Reading / 1 Comment

I love bookshelves in all forms, even if the “shelves” are really just stacks of books next to my couch because there’s no actual shelf space left. I would much rather have a collection of books as the centerpiece of a room than a television. But given that the majority of my books are in boxes 3,000 miles away, I know just how much space plays a part in whether or not books are on display. When I stumbled across stacked paperback wallpaper earlier this week, I couldn’t help but daydream about how neat it would look in a small space. But the wallpaper lacks that handpicked quality that bookshelves have, and that is why I fell head over heels when I saw the Ideal Bookshelf paintings by artist Jane Mount.

I paint ‘ideal bookshelves’: people’s favorites of all time, within a genre or from a particular period in their lives.

As someone who does a lot of design work, I enjoy the process of turning graphics into ‘art’. And I love that a book is something created very personally and then mass-produced in order to affect many other people very personally. I group and paint them to turn them back into something very personal and intimate.”

Mount creates the paintings out of the reader’s choice of 10-20 books. It would be difficult to narrow down, but I know The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Bird by Bird, Interpreter of Maladies, and The Giving Tree would be a few of the ones on my list. What books would you choose?

Tags: ,

Quote: Maira Kalman

Posted by Angela on February 16, 2010
Inspiration / Comments Off on Quote: Maira Kalman

I don’t know what bookstore I was in when I first came across the illustrated version of The Elements of Style, but I know I was with Pam, and I know I dragged her over to the display so I could show her the artwork inside.

So I was thrilled to read The 99 Percent’s interview with the talent behind all that loveliness, Maira Kalman. In “The Pursuit of Happiness”, Kalman talks about how she became an artist, what inspires her, and her latest project. But I especially love what she has to say about the art of storytelling in relation to her illustrations:

I think everything I do is narrative, but it’s not just a story, it’s a movie – a movie of my life. And usually I’m trying to put too much information in one image. But because I thought that I would be a writer, and that’s how I started out – as a writer and not as an artist – then when I decided to start drawing, it was going to be narrative. It’s things that are from my life, and things I’ve seen, and things I’ve seen in books. It’s always telling stories.”

Tags: , , , ,

Illustrative storytelling

Posted by Angela on February 03, 2010
Design / Comments Off on Illustrative storytelling

Picture Book Report just launched February 1 and I’m already hooked (thanks @juparnell).

Picture Book Report is an extended love-song to books. Fifteen illustrators will reach out to their favorite books and create wonderful pieces of art in response to the text that has moved them, shaped them, or excited them. […] Together we will try to excite readers both new and old and capture some of that magic of storytelling.”

I love the inspiration behind this new project, which includes one of my favorite books, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, drawn by illustrator John Martz.

Check out the project to see how the artists continue the tradition of illustration and books by sharing their thoughts, creative processes, and own stories.

Tags: , ,

Going West

Posted by Angela on December 09, 2009
Inspiration, Reading / Comments Off on Going West

This short film from the New Zealand Book Council combines the art of paper cutting with stop-motion animation to promote books and reading.

Drawing inspiration from Maurice Gee’s classic New Zealand novel, Going West, the intricate video took eight months to complete. More about the inspiration behind the project from Book Council chief executive Noel Murphy:

The idea that lies at the centre of this project is that reading is an activity that surprises, delights, challenges and ignites the imagination.

We wanted to grab people’s attention for just one moment in the hurly burly world of modern media and direct them to the adventure that can be had in one’s own head at the flick of a page.

via Book Cover Archive blog

Tags: , , , ,

The creation of a handmade book

Posted by Angela on December 03, 2009
Design, Inspiration / Comments Off on The creation of a handmade book

One of my dreams is to learn about printmaking and book arts, so when I saw the video for The Complex of All of These, it took my breath away with its letterpress, handmade paper, and handsewn bindings. The project was done at the Women’s Studio Workshop, a visual arts organization in New York.

via The Ministry of Type

Tags: , , , ,

Book art

Posted by Angela on September 24, 2009
Design, Inspiration / Comments Off on Book art

Is it destruction or creation? That’s the first question that comes to my mind when I see books being transformed into works of art from sculptures to furniture. But as the blog Dark Roasted Blend shows, the answer lies in the bittersweet art of cutting up a book. The pieces below caught my eye with their beauty and creativity.

Mixed Media Book Art
Mixed media book art by Brian Dettmer

Wonderland by Su Blackwell

Paper vases by Laura Cahill

And while this project didn’t involve cutting books, it made me smile because I remember when I tried color coding my bookshelves and then couldn’t find anything.

Color-coded bookstore by Chris Cobb

Tags: , ,