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03 NOVEMBER 2012

Experimental typography: light refracted through water droplets

Ruslan Khasanov (2012) Lumen type: experimental typography.

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TAGS

2012 • aberration • animation • bokeh • dappled light • design craftdustetherealeveryday lifeexperimental techniquesexperimental typeexperimental type designexperimental typographyexperimentationflicker in the light • glimmer • letterform exerciseslight • light refraction • liquid type • Lumen type • magnifying glass • mirror surface • nostalgic elegance • optical distortion • out-of-focus • Ruslan Khasanov • Russian designer • scratches • small drops of water • tiny letters • typetypographytypography experiments • visual properties • water • water droplet

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
18 FEBRUARY 2012

The materiality of financial flows and digital networks

"Ours is an existence characterized by cultural flux and political economic flows, by the virtualization of place and the acceleration of time, the disembodiment of labor, the fluidity of identity, the 'conceptualization' of art, the etherealization of communication. Yet even these financial flows and digital networks rely on physical supports, on material storage devices and infrastructures, and embodied interactions with human actors. This seminar examines media as material objects, as things, as symbolically charged artifacts, as physical supports for communication. In the first third of the semester we'll explore various theoretical frameworks and methodologies – from 'thing theory' to media archaeology – that can be useful in studying the material culture of media. The second third will be dedicated to custom–designed 'plug–ins' that pertain to students' individual research interests. And in the final third, we'll work collaboratively on the creation of (an) online exhibition(s) of material media – an endeavor we'll approach as a form of 'multimodal scholarship,' an alternative means of performing and publicizing academic work. The particular format of our project will also provide an opportunity for us to think through the central concepts of our class: what does it mean to mediate the materiality of media objects, and to create a virtual exhibition that addresses their physicality?"

(Shannon Mattern, 2010)

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TAGS

2010 • acceleration of time • conceptualisation of art • cultural flux • digital networks • disembodiment of labour • economic flowsembodied interactionsethereal • etherealisation of communication • financial flowsflowsfluidity of identityglobal capital flowsmaterial culture • material culture of media • material media • materialitymedia archaeologymedia as material objects • mediate the materiality of media objects • multimodal scholarship • online exhibition • performativityphysicalphysicality • political economic flows • publicising academic work • Shannon Mattern • symbolically charged artefacts • thing theory • things • virtual exhibition • virtualisation of place

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
18 NOVEMBER 2011

The Commissar Vanishes: retouching Soviet Russian history

"The Commissar Vanishes is an installation of haunting images from the David King Collection, which coincides with the Russian publication of the book of the same name that traces the falsification of photographs and art in Stalin's Russia.

Like their counterparts in Hollywood, photographic retouchers in Soviet Russia spent long hours smoothing out the blemishes of imperfect complexions, helping the camera to falsify reality. But it was during the Great Purges, which raged in the late 1930's, that a new form of falsification emerged. The physical eradication of Stalin's political opponents at the hands of the secret police was swiftly followed by their obliteration from all forms of pictorial existence. Photographs for publication were retouched and restructured with airbrush and scalpel to make once–famous personalities vanish. Entire editions of works by denounced politicians and writers were banished to the closed sections of the state libraries and archives or simply destroyed. Soviet citizens, fearful of the consequences of being caught in possession of material considered 'anti–Soviet' or 'counterrevolutionary', were forced to deface their own copies of books and photographs.

The subject matter of this exhibit focuses on one particularly evocative example: in 1934 the artist/designer/photographer Alexander Rodchenko was commissioned by the state publishing house OGIZ in Moscow to design the album, Ten Years of Uzbekistan, celebrating a decade of Soviet rule in that state. The Russian edition, full of Rodchenko's skillful design techniques, appeared the same year and the Uzbek edition, with some politically induced changes, in 1935. But in 1937, at the height of the terror, Stalin ordered a major overhaul of the Uzbek leadership and heads began to roll. Many Party bosses photographed in Ten Years of Uzbekistan were liquidated. The album suddenly became illegal literature. Using thick black India ink, Rodchenko was compelled to deface his own book. This installation now brings together, in the form of photographic enlargements, the published portraits of the high–ranking officials victimised in Stalin's Uzbek purge, juxtaposed with their eradication by Rodchenko's hand. The macabre results – ethereal, Rothko–like, sometimes brutal and terrifying – came close to creating a new art form, a graphic reflection of the real fate of the victims."

(The Photographers' Gallery)

David King (1997). "The Commissar Vanishes".

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TAGS

1930sairbrushedAlexander Rodchenko • banishment • blemishcensorshipdeface • denounced politician • eradication • erasureethereal • evocative • falsificationfalsify realityfamous personalitiesgraphic representation • Great Purges • haunting images • heads roll • historical revisionism • illegal • imperfectionJoseph Stalin • Leon Trotsky • liquidated • macabreobliterate • OGIZ • photo manipulationphoto retouching • photographed • photographic enlargements • photographic retouchers • photographs • pictorial existence • portraitradical communist landscapereality • retouched • retouchingRussiaRussian historyscalpel • secret police • Soviet history • Soviet Russia • Ten Years of Uzbekistan • vanish • visual depiction

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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