Taken from David Foster Wallace commencement address given to the graduates of Kenyon College in 2005
There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”
This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches, the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories. The story [“thing”] turns out to be one of the better, less bullshitty conventions of the genre, but if you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise, older fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance, or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning….
This Is a Generic Brand Video: The minute we saw Kendra Eash’s brilliant “This Is a Generic Brand Video” on McSweeney’s, we knew it was our moral imperative to make that generic brand video so. No surprise, we had all the footage.
This is where I wanted/needed to be last night. Still too damn sick.
Vivian Maier was a mystery even to those who knew her. A secretive nanny in the wealthy suburbs of Chicago, she died in 2009 and would have been forgotten. But John Maloof, an amateur historian, uncovered thousands of negatives at a storage locker auction and changed history. Now, Vivian Maier is hailed as one of the greatest 20th Century photographers along with Diane Arbus Robert Frank, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Weegee.
….intensely guarded and private, Vivian could be counted on to feistily preach her own very liberal worldview to anyone who cared to listen, or didn’t. Decidedly unmaterialistic, Vivian would come to amass a group of storage lockers stuffed to the brim with found items, art books, newspaper clippings, home films, as well as political tchotchkes and knick-knacks. The story of this nanny who has now wowed the world with her photography, and who incidentally recorded some of the most interesting marvels and peculiarities of Urban America in the second half of the twentieth century is seemingly beyond belief…. Maier’s massive body of work would come to light when in 2007 her work was discovered at a local thrift auction house on Chicago’s Northwest Side. From there, it would eventually impact the world over and change the life of the man who championed her work and brought it to the public eye, John Maloof…. (vivianmaier.com)
Also… Check out Artsy.com, an excellent resource for Vivian Maier and much more!
Standing next to 57-year-old Mississippi native Mark Landis in the watercolors aisle of a local art store, the words “master art forger” are the least likely to come to mind. Bald, stooped, and slight of voice, Landis looks more the part of a paint-by-the-numbers hobbyist. And yet for the better part of thirty years, this unassuming figure managed to dupe nearly fifty art institutions in over twenty states into accepting forged art works. Many still don’t know they’ve been tricked. Referring to himself strictly as a philanthropist, Landis never profited from this particular compulsion since he always “donated” the works in honor of his deceased parents or a distant relative. His ruse was also abetted by the unassuming appearance of the man himself – which he habitually refined by dressing as a Jesuit priest. By the mid-2000s, Landis had set up a veritable assembly-line production of forgeries that he created from the comfort of his dim bedroom. In a process that was, no pun intended, deceivingly simple, Landis picked a painting from a museum catalog, made a color copy at an office supply store, affixed it to a small piece of wood, and then drew over it with a mixture of color pencils, paint, and even magic marker. While large institutions usually sniff out such forgeries in seconds, Landis donated to small, regional museums that usually accept such at face value. His works are often copies of little known, nineteenth-century American impressionists, and why on Earth would someone make fakes of such a thing? He is clearly not your average high-stakes forger, which is exactly the kind of cover he thrived upon. The life and journey of Mark Landis is one of the weirder tales that The Avant/Garde Diaries has profiled, and yet it is also one of the most intriguing. A Rain Man-esque character, Landis might not have the most calibrated moral barometer, but through a singularly bizarre creative will and a notable penchant for theatrics, he will likely be remembered more than the iconic painters he made a career of forging.
Directed by Terri Timely / Produced by Brady Welch & Sophie Harris / Edited by Amanda Larson / Photography Direction by Donavan Sell / Sound Design by Rich Bologna / Music by Keith Kenniff / Production Coordination by Ayesha Janmohamed / Transcription by Simone Tolmie / Audio clip provided by Local 12 WKRC-TV / With special thanks to John Gapper
Update – the filmmakers have now posted this “deleted scene” (below)
And finally, some additional info in this (2-year-old) New York Times article.
Though often overlooked, Graphic Design surrounds us: it is the signs we read, the products we buy, and the rooms we inhabit. Graphic designers find beauty within limitations, working towards the ultimate goal of visually communicating a message, be it the packaging of a product, the spirit of a book, or the narrative of a building. Utilizing a language of type and imagery, graphic designers try to make every aspect of our lives defined and beautiful.
Debbie Millman: http://debbiemillman.com/
Emily Oberman: http://www.pentagram.com/work/#/all/all/newest/
Drew Freeman: http://afreeman.co/, http://www.pentagram.com/
Steve Attardo: http://stevenattardo.com/
Via: The New York Times Magazine (12/7/2012)
In 1966, Bob Noorda, a Dutch-born designer, spent three weeks navigating New York’s subway system, pretending to be a commuter and trying to follow the signs from one train to another. What Noorda found was chaos: the walls bristled with arrows and impossible-to-follow instructions. The New York Transit Authority was hoping that Noorda and his firm, Unimark International, could fix the problem.
It was an era when graphic designers hoped to reinvent the world, and Marshall McLuhan declared, “We become what we behold.” The team at Unimark wore lab coats, and at one point they drafted a manifesto declaring their allegiance to sans-serif type. When Noorda and his partner Massimo Vignelli took on the subway signs, they didn’t just update them — they invented what they thought of as a new grammar for New York City. They used minimal text, arrows only when necessary and color-coded discs to indicate different train lines. The discs were Noorda’s masterstroke….
Continue to full article
And recently the Sierra Club has created a subway-style map of national parks (below) with the legend “so incredibly not to scale”, further confirmation that this design will live on forever.
From Barter Books
A short history of the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster. After being forgotten for more than half a century, a rare original of the now famous WWII poster was rediscovered in a box of old books bought at auction in one of the largest and most popular secondhand bookshops in Britain – Barter Books.
When the bookshop owners had the poster framed and put up in the shop, customer interest was so great that in 2001 the couple started producing facsimile copies for sale – copies which were soon copied and recopied to make of the Keep Calm poster one of the first truly iconic images of the 21st century.