Friday, February 24, 2012

Your turn #5

Jean Delville, Idol of Perversity, 1896
There are plenty of themes: Art Nouveau, Symbolism, Aestheticism, Exoticism, Decadence, erotica, 19th century consumerism. Then there are the great artists of the epoch: Chéret, Grasset, Mucha, Dudovich, Koch, the Beggarstaffs, Toorop, Delville, Goudy, Beardsley, etc.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Designing pork

Mark Bittman's food columns in the NY Times have recently taken an ethical-gastronomical angle. The issue at hand is McDonald's new requirements that its suppliers of pork  provide plans for phasing out gestation crates. Bittman writes:
This is important for the animals and for the entire meat-selling industry. Let’s start with the sows: a gestation crate is an individual metal stall so small that the sow cannot turn around; most sows spend not only their pregnancies in crates, but most of their lives. For humans, this would qualify as “cruel and unusual punishment,” and even if you believe that pigs are somehow “inferior,” it’s hard to rationalize gestation crates once you see what they look like. (For the record, defenders of the system suggest that crates prevent sows from fighting in group pens. There’s no space to argue that here, but it’s nonsense.)
This is when you come in because "designing pork" impacts our food design in terms of that seldom explored food topic: animal cruelty.

Is it better to eat an animal that lives a more humane life?*
*When it comes to animal abuse and neglect, "humane" is generally used. Few have stopped to ponder why. I find difficult to hold a moral standard which ultimately serves the very purpose of killing the animal being protected. It's like saying: "I'll keep you happy until it's time for you to die" so, 1- you taste better, 2- I feel less guilty for eating you and -on top- treating you miserably."

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Designing (cyber) dependence

I find this interesting article in the New York Times by Pamela Paul entitled "Don't Tell Me, I Don't Want to Know" addressing informational overload:   
The entire world has become this Dickensian series in which you are not visited by three ghosts but by eight million ghosts,” said Sloane Crosley, author of “How Did You Get This Number.” “I feel as if I see things about people that I don’t necessarily want to see, and then it’s lodged like a piece of corn in my subconscious.” Whether it’s via Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn, e-mail or some other form of Internet connectedness, the latest headlines from your super-successful frenemy from high school, the boss who fired you and the awful 14-year-old boy your daughter is in love with are now in your face. Sometimes you don’t want to know about these people at all. Other times, you don’t want to know quite so much.
So, do we want it or not? Paul reluctantly acknowledges that our choice is caught in vicious cycle:
Let’s be straight: it’s not just that other people’s minutiae bombard us regularly. Sometimes, we seek it out despite ourselves. Whether you call it low-buzz stalking, cyberstalking or the unsettling new term “creeping,” people can now browse around the edges of former intimates’ lives, learning much too much about them:
In other words, the bombardment works!, which is why we're bombarded in the first place. In case anyone ever thinks of personal (cyber)fulfillment, Paul cites that,
A study published last month in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking found that the more time people spent on Facebook, the happier they perceived their friends to be and the sadder they felt as a consequence.
In the end one feels Paul's title could be revised: "Don't Tell Me, I Don't Want to Know."

Friday, February 10, 2012

Your turn #4

 Auguste Belloc & Félix Jacques Antoine Moulin, Femme sur un lit, 1856

Plenty to discuss: photo as reportage, as art. Illustration as fashion, as natural science, as social mores, as war reportage, as the exotic. Harper's cultural contribution. Victorian design and Pre-Raphaelite design. And the emerging Arts and Crafts.

Next week I'll talk about a huge market for 19th century erotica illustrations, daguerreotypes and early photography: EROTICA!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Your turn #3

Koo-koo, "the bird girl"

Great class. There is plenty to talk about: communities of belief, early newspapers, charts, Blake, Romanticism, daguerreotype, political satire, photo-portraiture.

Pick your favorite topic!

Thursday, February 2, 2012