Category Archives: language

Mass Effect: Art and the Internet in the Twenty-First Century

Edited by Lauren Cornell and Ed Halter (2015)
Since the turn of the millennium, the Internet has evolved from what was merely a new medium to a true mass medium – with a deeper and wider cultural reach, greater opportunities for distribution and collaboration, and more complex corporate and political realities. Mapping a loosely chronological series of formative arguments, developments, and happenings, Mass Effect provides an essential guide to understanding the dynamic and ongoing relationship between art and new technologies.

Posted in art, culture, design, exhibition, history, language, media, technology, theory

The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood

By James Gleick (2011)
Acclaimed science writer James Gleick presents an eye-opening vision of how our relationship to information has transformed the very nature of human consciousness. A fascinating intellectual journey through the history of communication and information, from the language of Africa’s talking drums to the invention of written alphabets; from the electronic transmission of code to the origins of information theory, into the new information age and the current deluge of news, tweets, images, and blogs.

Posted in history, language, media, science, technology

The Gutenberg Revolution: How Printing Changed the Course of History

By John Man (2009)
In 1450, all Europe’s books were handcopied and amounted to only a few thousand. By 1500, they were printed and numbered in their millions. The invention of Johann Gutenberg had caused a revolution: printing by movable type. Born in 1400 in Mainz, Germany, Gutenberg struggled against a background of plague and religious upheaval to bring his remarkable invention to light. His story is full of paradoxes: his ambition was to reunite all Christendom, but his invention shattered it; he aimed to make a fortune, but was cruelly denied the fruits of his life’s work. Yet history remembers him as a visionary; his discovery marks the beginning of the modern world.

Posted in culture, design, history, language, media, printmaking, technology, typography

Ray Johnson: Correspondences

Ray Johnson: CorrespondencesBy Donna De Salvo and Catherine Gudis (1999)

In 1995, the resolutely reclusive Ray Johnson reemerged into the spotlight when he died in a mysterious and spectacular way, leading to the discovery of thousands of works of art in his house. Drawing upon this vast trove, Donna De Salvo, the Wexner Center’s Curator at Large, has organized Ray Johnson: Correspondences, the first comprehensive exhibition to be mounted (with the complete cooperation of the artist’s estate).

Like Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Jasper Johns, and later Andy Warhol and Jim Rosenquist, Johnson combined the signs and symbols of contemporary culture with the lessons of abstraction to develop a new lexicon of forms. A pioneer in the use of ‘found’ images and techniques of mechanical reproduction, Johnson created in 1955 what may have been the first informal happening.

Johnson first created ‘mail art’ in the fifties. These were part collage, part manifesto, part parody; he often instructed recipients to ‘add to’, ‘return to’, or ‘send to’, spawning an interactive art form, a continuous happening, that pre-figured electronic mail. Johnson was the nerve center of this pre-digital netscape that spread around the nation and, eventually, the world, which continues to flourish today.

By the eighties, Johnson was a legend in the artistic community. Ray Johnson: correspondences, offers the first opportunity for in-depth examination of the work of an artist who reflected and dissected many of the aesthetic, cultural, and theoretical preoccupations of the last forty years; a figure whose impact and influence will finally be made known.

Posted in art, biography, culture, design, exhibition, language, media, semiotics, typography

Eunoia

EunoiaBy Christian Bok (2001)
‘Eunoia’ which means ‘beautiful thinking’ is the shortest English word to contain all five vowels. This book also contains them all, except that each one appears by itself in its own chapter. A unique personality for each vowel soon emerges: the courtly A, the elegiac E, the lyrical I, the jocular O, and the obscene U. A triumphant feat, seven years in the making, this uncanny work of avant-garde literature promises to be one of the most important books of the decade.

Posted in fiction, language, poetry

Yes Yes Y’All: An Oral History of Hip-Hop’s First Decade

Yes Yes Y\'All: The Experience Music Project Oral History of Hip-Hop\'s First DecadeEdited by Jim Fricke and Charlie Ahearn (2002)
Based on the “Hip-Hop Nation” exhibit at Seattle’s Experience Music Project and the project’s ongoing Oral History Program, this history of the beginnings of hip-hop in 1970s New York City is a lavishly illustrated and lovingly compiled homage to the many artists who contributed to the birth of what soon became and remains today, more than 25 years later a worldwide cultural institution. Editors Fricke and Ahearn (director of the hip-hop film Wild Style) weave the insights and attitudes of nearly 100 of the key players into a multihued and multiracial tapestry that illustrates what the excitement of that era and its music was all about. Since the hip-hop style was first developed in the Bronx borough of New York City as a dance-floor alternative to the then-prominent “disco” sound, the oral narrative is dominated by the voices of well-known DJs: Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash. But much of the success of the book is derived from its exploration of the roots of other related hip-hop trends: how the massive new styles of graffiti were both a response to urban violence as well as a way to provoke the interest of downtown New York avant-garde artists; how the competitive world of break dancing was rooted in the rapidly changing and fading gang culture of the Bronx; and how many women were far more active and influential in all types of hip-hop styles than was obvious or recognized at the time. This is an excellent documentation of how early hip-hop expressed “a balance between pain and the celebration of music and movements.”

Posted in art, counterculture, culture, exhibition, history, interview, language, music

Sign Wars: The Cluttered Landscape of Advertising

Sign Wars: Cluttered Landscape of Advertising, TheBy Robert Goldman and Stephen Papson (1996)
Contemporary ads are a symbol of competition as much as a bid for new customers: that’s the contention of authors who suggest that the “sign wars” represent a consequence of a disjoined media culture. Insights on media, advertising strategy, and business blend in a strong consideration which uses signs and symbols from recent campaigns to provide a critical view of ad culture results.

Posted in culture, language, media, semiotics, theory

The Poetics of Space

The Poetics of SpaceBy Gaston Bachelard (1964)
The classic book on how we experience intimate spaces. A magical book. A prism through which all worlds from literary creation to housework to aesthetics to carpentry take on enhanced—and enchanted-significances. Every reader of it will never see ordinary spaces in ordinary ways. Instead the reader will see with the soul of the eye, the glint of Gaston Bachelard.

Posted in architecture, art, consciousness, language, phenomenology, philosophy

A Natural History of the Senses

A Natural History of the Senses (Vintage)By Diane Ackerman (1990)
An exciting multidiscipline book that crosses the lines of literature, history, anthropology, music, psychology, sociology, and philosophy and that flows with grace and reason. The theme is expressed in such a way as to draw readers into experiential thought and, therefore, impacts heavily upon the way one looks at the issue of sensing and its role for humanity. It is sure to raise readers’ consciousness level while providing researched and analyzed information on this topic. In addition, the language is clear and concise, which makes the book valuable to a large cross section of readers. The generous use of cultural and historical examples adds to the readability.

Posted in consciousness, history, language, music, philosophy, science

Being There: Putting Brain, Body, and World Together Again

Being There: Putting Brain, Body, and World Together AgainBy Andy Clark (1996)
Brain, body, and world are united in a complex dance of circular causation and extended computational activity. In Being There, Andy Clark weaves these several threads into a pleasing whole and goes on to address foundational questions concerning the new tools and techniques needed to make sense of the emerging sciences of the embodied mind. Clark brings together ideas and techniques from robotics, neuroscience, infant psychology, and artificial intelligence. He addresses a broad range of adaptive behaviors, from cockroach locomotion to the role of linguistic artifacts in higher-level thought.

Posted in consciousness, language, science, technology