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robertogreco : craftsmanship   25

Why the World’s Best Mathematicians Are Hoarding Chalk - YouTube
"Once upon a time, not long ago, the math world fell in love ... with a chalk. But not just any chalk! This was Hagoromo: a Japanese brand so smooth, so perfect that some wondered if it was made from the tears of angels. Pencils down, please, as we tell the tale of a writing implement so irreplaceable, professors stockpiled it."
tools  chalk  mathematics  math  2019  japan  hagoromo  craft  craftsmanship  hoarding  scarcity 
may 2019 by robertogreco
A Smuggling Operation: John Berger’s Theory of Art - Los Angeles Review of Books
"EARLY IN HIS CAREER, John Berger’s weekly art criticism for the New Statesman provoked outraged letters and public condemnation. Once, the British Council issued a formal apology to Henry Moore because Berger had suggested his latest work showed a decline. Nor was the hostility limited to such comic passive-aggression. Berger’s politics were deemed so objectionable that his publisher was compelled to withdraw his first novel, A Painter of Our Time (1958), from circulation.

At 90, Berger is harvesting a sudden flowering of praise. It is well deserved. For more than half a century, he has been our greatest art critic — as well as a superior novelist, a poet, and the star and screenwriter of one of the best art documentaries ever made, Ways of Seeing. Most of the writers currently rushing to canonize him, however, avoid dwelling on the heart of Berger’s point of view — his Marxism. No doubt avoiding this disfavored topic makes eulogy easier, but it reminds me of something Berger wrote about Frederick Antal: “the importance of his Marxism tends to be underestimated. In a curious way this is probably done out of respect for him: as though to say ‘He was brilliant despite that — so let’s charitably forget it.’ Yet, in fact, to do this is to deny all that Antal was.” To make such a denial about Berger should no longer be possible after the publication of Landscapes: John Berger on Art.

Landscapes and its companion volume, Portraits: John Berger on Artists (Verso, 2015), are the best summation to date of Berger’s career as a critic. Both volumes were edited by Tom Overton. In Portraits, Overton made selections from decades of essays on the whole historical gamut of art, from the prehistoric cave paintings of Lascaux to the work of 33-year-old Randa Mdah, and organized them chronologically into a history and appraisal of the art of painting. To read it was to be reminded of Berger’s unique virtues: the clarity of his writing, the historical and technical erudition of his insight, and above all his unique focus on each artist’s way of looking. What Landscapes in turn makes clear, through its assemblage of more programmatic pieces — book reviews, manifestos, autobiography — is that Berger is a rigorous thinker with a theory of art. That theory evolved considerably between the 1950s and the 2010s. Yet two threads hold it together with the tenacity of spider silk: a critique of the political economy of art and a sophisticated account of its human value, each rooted in a committed but elastic Marxism.

A Marxist art criticism of any real subtlety has to be elastic, because it must deal with a problem Marx himself diagnosed but failed to solve. Berger puts it like this:
A question which Marx posed but could not answer: If art in the last analysis is a superstructure of an economic base, why does its power to move us endure long after the base has been transformed? Why, asked Marx, do we still look towards Greek art as an ideal? He began to answer the question […] and then broke off the manuscript and was far too occupied ever to return to the question.

Berger takes up the thread where Marx broke off. He is not, of course, the first Marxist to address the question of art, and he is familiar with most of those who tried before him, sorting through and furthering their legacy.

The most famous of Berger’s influences, Walter Benjamin, wrote the essay “Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” from which came most of the ideas in Berger’s documentary, Ways of Seeing. But Landscapes reveals that his most important influence as a practicing art critic was Max Raphael.

Raphael, an undeservedly obscure theorist, located the value of art in the activity of the artist. According to him, an artist performs two operations. On the one hand, the artist turns raw material into artistic material by shaping it to represent an idea or an object; this is true both of Michelangelo shaping a block of marble into David and of Jackson Pollock embodying the rhythms of jazz in drip paintings. On the other, the artist turns his perception into something external and objective, a representation. The work of art is the result of these two transformations, of raw stuff and of subjective perception into an art object. For Raphael, the point of art is these two transformations: they are the artist’s way of “undoing the world of things” and constructing “the world of values.”

So Raphael’s answer to Marx’s problem — why is art enduringly moving even though it merely reflects its social context? — is to say that art doesn’t merely reflect its social context. It does reflect it, because the artist’s material, style, the things they want to represent, even the way they see, are historically conditioned; but it doesn’t merely reflect it, because the transformed material speaks of something deeper and more voluntary. It speaks of humanity’s ability to make its own world, to become the subject and not merely the victim of history. “The function of the work of art,” Berger sums up Raphael, “is to lead us from the work to the process of creation which it contains.”

Anyone familiar with Berger’s own writing will sit up with a shock of recognition. Here is a theory of art directly correlated to his practice of criticism. Berger takes art out of the sanitizing temples where we store it and drops it firmly back onto the easel, in a messy studio, where a sweaty artist bites her lip and stores her way of looking in an object. Over and over again, he asks us to imagine the artist at work. Many have attributed this to his own training as a painter, which might have inspired his fascination with technique, as I, an amateur pianist, am fascinated by the technique of my favorite recording artists. But I think his admiring discussion of Raphael suggests a much deeper reason. If Berger believes that the most important meaning of art is what it shows us of our ability to create the world we want, it turns out that his criticism is connected to his Marxism much more fundamentally than through the borrowing of a few insights from Walter Benjamin.

For Berger, art criticism is a revolutionary practice. It prepares the ground for a new society. In Landscapes, Overton includes a translation by Berger and Anya Rostock of a poem by Bertolt Brecht. It includes this passage:
Yet how to begin? How to show
The living together of men
That it may be understood
And become a world that can be mastered?
How to reveal not only yourselves and others
Floundering in the net
But also make clear how the net of fate
Is knotted and cast,
Cast and knotted by men?
[…] only he who knows that the fate of man is man
Can see his fellow men keenly with accuracy.

How to begin? Berger answers: In art. There we find proof and prophecy of a different world. In another essay, he writes:
We can no longer “use” most paintings today as they were intended to be used: for religious worship, for celebrating the wealth of the wealthy, for immediate political enlightenment, for proving the romantic sublime, and so on. Nevertheless, painting is especially well suited to developing the very faculty of understanding which has rendered its earlier uses obsolete: that is to say, to developing our historical and evolutionary self-consciousness.

This is the promise, the positive function of art. By looking at it, we are, in effect, looking through an artist’s eyes, entering into a concretized instance of their gaze. We are looking at a looking. And from within an artist’s looking, we learn about the capacities of our kind and the possibilities of our future: “A classical Greek sculpture increases our awareness of our own potential physical dignity; a Rembrandt of our potential moral courage; a Matisse of our potential sensual awareness.”

At the same time, Berger is of the opinion that the modern history of art is a history of failure. He won’t compromise on this point, and it is undoubtedly the reason for the stiff resistance that he has often met.

In modern times, Berger believes, the art world has hosted a titanic battle between two conceptions of art. One conception declares that art is valuable because it bodies forth the vision of an artist; it is a good in itself just to the degree that it succeeds at this task. This is Berger’s conception, and it is large enough to embrace all the varying and contradictory proclamations and provocations of the successive factions of modern art. The other conception declares that art is valuable because it is expensive — that, fundamentally, art is property:
Since 1848 every artist unready to be a mere paid entertainer has tried to resist the bourgeoisation of his finished work, the transformation of the spiritual value of his work into property value. This regardless of his political opinions as such. […] What Constructivism, Dadaism, Surrealism, and so on, all shared was their opposition to art-as-property and art-as-a-cultural-alibi-for-existing-society. We know the extremes to which they went […] and we see that their resistance was […] ineffective.

In other words, artists, like all other workers, are victims of a capitalism that alienates them from the fruit of their labor. Berger has nothing but scorn for the commercialization of art: “If you could fuck works of art as well as buy them,” he writes, dealers “would be pimps: but, if that were the case, one might assume a kind of love; as it is they dream of money and honour.” Everything about the modern art world is constructed on the assumption that art is precious in proportion to its price. Even among those who profess a genuine love of art, that passion is often tainted by its ideological function:
A love of art has been a useful concept to the European ruling classes for over a century and a half. The love was said to be their own. With it they could claim kinship with the civilisations of … [more]
johnberger  2017  robertminto  marxism  art  artists  artcriticism  criticism  henrymoore  politics  waysofseeing  frederickantal  tomoverton  economics  walterbenjamin  raphael  jacksonpollock  michelangelo  elitism  anyarostock  bertoltbrecht  process  craftsmanship  arthistory  resistance  constuctivism  dadaism  surrealism  property  society  culture  ownership  beauty  aesthetics  museums  artappreciation  creativity  creation  praxis  canon  objects  mystique  products  action  achievement  making  wealth  ideology  consumerism  consumption 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The Art of Resistance | Commonweal Magazine
"Writing in the aftermath of the fall of communism, John Berger, the world’s preeminent Marxist (patience, dear readers) writer on art, faced the apparently decisive and irreversible victory of capitalism. Rather than concede defeat and join in the triumphal chorus heralding the end of history, Berger drew an unlikely lesson from the ostensible cessation of the old hostilities. In the conclusion of Keeping a Rendezvous (1991), he studied a photograph of people assembled in recently liberated Prague and discerned in their faces both elation and a dread that an even more primordial conflict was in the offing. The class struggle, he now suggested, partakes of a broader and deeper contest over ways of being in the world. “The soul and the operator have come out of hiding together.”

For two centuries, Berger explained, the soul’s longings had been perverted or marginalized in both capitalist and socialist societies, identified with or subordinated to the imperatives of material progress. Yet humanity “has great difficulty in living strictly within the confines of a materialist practice or philosophy. It dreams, like a dog in its basket, of hares in the open.” Heir, for many, to the hope once contained in religion, Marxism had been the secular abode for the soul; but with the dialectic of “historical materialism” now discredited by history, “the spiritual,” Berger observed, aimed “to reclaim its lost terrain,” surging through fundamentalist and nationalist movements. At the same time, the poor were being “written off as trash” by the soul’s implacable adversary, “the operator,” the forces of pecuniary and technological utility united under the aegis of capital. For Berger, art remained not only a potent weapon against injustice but also an enclave for the qualities of the soul. In a powerful letter to the miners who unsuccessfully resisted Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s attempt to close down mines in 1984, Berger wrote:
I can’t tell you what art does and how it does it, but I know that art has often judged the judges, pleaded revenge to the innocent and shown to the future what the past has suffered, so that it has never been forgotten. I know too that the powerful fear art, whatever its form, when it does this, and that amongst the people such art sometimes runs like a rumor or a legend because it makes sense of what life’s brutalities cannot, a sense that unites us, for it is inseparable from a justice at last. Art, when it functions like this, becomes a meeting-place of the invisible, the irreducible, the enduring, guts and honor.

Characterized by the lack of a credible alternative to the glittering imperium of capital, the ensuing twenty-five years have been the Age of the Operator: neoliberal economics, a hustling ethos, the divinization of markets and technology, the hegemony of a consumer society given over to spectacle and fueled by debt. As Berger writes in his latest book, Portraits (Verso, $44.95, 544 pp.), “the future has been downsized,” restricted to the mercenary parameters of finance capital and digital technocracy. Neoliberal capitalism fulfills the “strange prophecy” depicted in the hellish right-hand panel of Hieronymus Bosch’s Millennium Triptych: “no glimpse of an elsewhere or an otherwise.” The poor—and increasingly anyone outside the gilded circle of “the 1 percent”—are indeed “written off as trash,” detritus of the quest for efficiency, human refuse piling up not only in Calcutta, Mumbai, or Mexico City, but also in Palo Alto and San Francisco, where the technocrats of Silicon Valley dispossess workers from their homes to build mansions scaled to their colossal self-regard.

The Operator remains in the saddle, riding humankind; but with anger and dissent on the rise—Syriza in Greece, Podemos in Spain, Bernie Sanders and Black Lives Matter here at home—the Soul may be gathering strength to embark on another, more enduring reclamation of terrain, and, if it does, John Berger will deserve our attention as one of its greatest contemporary prophets. Renowned and even beloved as both novelist and art critic, Berger has also become an unlikely moral and metaphysical sage. “You can’t talk about aesthetics without talking about the principle of hope and the existence of evil,” he declared in The Sense of Sight (1985). Not that his revolutionary spirit has withered; that flame is lower but remains incandescent. But Portraits, a miscellany from his career as a writer, records the evolution of this “principle of hope”—a reference, no doubt, to Ernst Bloch, the closest thing to a theologian ever produced by the Marxist tradition. Like the other two panels of Bosch’s triptych—The Garden of Eden and The Garden of Earthly Delights—Portraits offers “a torchlight in the dark,” a glimpse of an elsewhere or an otherwise, a way of seeing the visible world that Berger might agree to call sacramental.



BERGER WAS BORN in 1926 in London, the son of a middle-class Hungarian immigrant from Trieste and an English working-class suffragette. As a youth growing up in Oxford, he drew and painted for relief from his “monstrous and brutal” education at a local private school. He also read anarchist literature and ardently embraced the radical left; yet unlike most anarchists, Berger felt no visceral hostility to religion. As he told the Guardian in 2011, since his teenage years two convictions have “coexisted” within him: “a kind of materialism,” as he put it, along with “a sense of the sacred, the religious if you like.” This coexistence has never felt anomalous to him, even when “most other people thought it was.” Indeed, the philosopher of whom Berger has been most fond is not Marx but Baruch Spinoza, whose monist ontology sought to overcome the Cartesian dualism of matter and spirit.

Conscripted at the age of eighteen, Berger spent World War II stationed in Belfast. After the war he enrolled in the Chelsea School of Art and exhibited in London galleries. While working as a teacher, he began writing reviews for the New Statesman, Britain’s flagship left periodical. In the early years of the Cold War, Berger embraced Marxism (despite his aversion to Joseph Stalin). He even maintained that, until the Soviet Union gained nuclear parity with the United States, left writers and artists should support Moscow. In the late 1940s, Berger made a deliberate decision to set aside his painting and embark on a career as a writer.

Although the New Statesman published his essays for more than a decade (some of which he collected in 1960 as Permanent Red), Berger was its most beleaguered contributor. Adamantly pro-Soviet, he wrote for a magazine that opposed Stalinism. (In his controversial 1958 novel A Painter of Our Time, Berger hinted his support for the Soviet suppression of the Hungarian Revolution.) Where the New Statesman reflected the broad sympathy toward literary and artistic modernism characteristic of liberal and social-democratic intellectuals, Berger championed realism and called for art that would “help or encourage men to know and claim their social rights.” His profoundly ambivalent view of abstract expressionism challenged its celebration by most Western intellectuals as a token of “free expression.” Although he marveled at Jackson Pollock’s formal skills, Berger argued that the drip paintings registered a collapse of “faith” in the visible world that heralded “the disintegration of our culture.” Berger asked strikingly traditionalist questions for an enfant terrible of Marxist criticism. “How far can talent exempt an artist,” he asked, who “does not think beyond or question the decadence of the cultural situation to which he belongs?”

With judgments and questions like these, Berger found himself “fighting for every sentence,” not only against his editors and skeptical readers but also against curators, gallery owners, and art critics. (One less-than-enthusiastic review of Henry Moore earned him the everlasting enmity of Sir Herbert Read, then Britain’s most respected critic.) Berger railed helplessly as the London cultural establishment—like that of New York—transformed modernism into an aesthetic for corporate suites and an emblem of Western individualism.

Weary of his travails among the London intelligentsia, Berger left England in 1962 and lived an itinerant but productive life on the continent for the next fifteen years. He published studies of Picasso and cubism as well as several other volumes of essays on painting, sculpture, photography, and politics; chronicled, in collaboration with the photographer Jean Mohr, the life of a country doctor in A Fortunate Man (1967); wrote several screenplays, including Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000 (1976), a wise and sympathetic story about disappointed radicals; and authored three novels, including G. (1972), a political and erotic bildungsroman that won him the Booker Prize. Berger promptly caused an uproar when he donated half of his prize money to the British Black Panthers (the Booker fortune having been amassed, he pointed out, through the exploitation of Caribbean slaves) and used the other half to fund a project on the condition of migrant workers that became A Seventh Man (1975). Whatever one thinks of his politics, there can be no denying that Berger is a writer who acts on his convictions.

But Berger’s most enduring achievement from this period was his landmark BBC television series Ways of Seeing (1972), notable if only because it disseminated a radical perspective to a mass audience. Published in book form in the same year, Ways of Seeing was a response to another television milestone, Civilisation (1969), hosted by Sir Kenneth Clark, doyen of the British art establishment. Loftily indifferent to social and political context, Clark’s parade-of-masterpieces approach to the history of Western art epitomized the patrician didacticism that Berger loathed. Focusing … [more]
johnberger  resistance  eugenemccarraher  2017  communism  capitalism  marxism  spirituality  anarchism  religion  materialism  sacredness  neoliberalism  mutualaid  craftsmanship  materiality  pleasure  convivilaity  soul  revolution  waysofseeing  art  artists  peasants  biography 
january 2017 by robertogreco
BBC Four - John Berger: The Art of Looking
[video currently available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3VhbsXk9Ds ]

"Art, politics and motorcycles - on the occasion of his 90th birthday John Berger or the Art of Looking is an intimate portrait of the writer and art critic whose ground-breaking work on seeing has shaped our understanding of the concept for over five decades. The film explores how paintings become narratives and stories turn into images, and rarely does anybody demonstrate this as poignantly as Berger.

Berger lived and worked for decades in a small mountain village in the French Alps, where the nearness to nature, the world of the peasants and his motorcycle, which for him deals so much with presence, inspired his drawing and writing.

The film introduces Berger's art of looking with theatre wizard Simon McBurney, film-director Michael Dibb, visual artist John Christie, cartoonist Selçuk Demiral, photographer Jean Mohr as well as two of his children, film-critic Katya Berger and the painter Yves Berger.

The prelude and starting point is Berger's mind-boggling experience of restored vision following a successful cataract removal surgery. There, in the cusp of his clouding eyesight, Berger re-discovers the irredeemable wonder of seeing.

Realised as a portrait in works and collaborations, this creative documentary takes a different approach to biography, with John Berger leading in his favourite role of the storyteller."
2016  johnberger  documentary  towatch  simonmcburney  michaeldibb  johnchristie  selçukdemiral  jeanmohr  katyaberger  yvesberger  waysofseeing  seeing  looking  noticing  biography  storytelling  skepticism  photography  rebellion  writing  howwewrite  collaboration  canon  conspirators  rebels  friendship  community  migration  motorcycles  presence  being  living  life  interestedness  interested  painting  art  history  france  belonging  place  labor  home  identity  work  peasants  craft  craftsmanship  aesthetics  design  vision  cataracts  sight  teaching  howweteach  attention  focus  agriculture  memory  memories  shit  pigs  humans  animals  childhood  perception  freedom  independence  storytellers  travelers  nomads  trickster  dead  death  meaning  meaningmaking  companionship  listening  discovery  understanding  sfsh  srg  books  publishing  television  tv  communication  engagement  certainly  uncertainty 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The Importance of a Maker Mindset - YouTube
"David Clifford, a Maker Educator, defines a maker mindset and shares how East Bay School for Boys (EBSB) integrates this mindset and way of thinking throughout its core curriculum."
davidclifford  making  makereducation  education  2015  eastbayschoolforboys  collaboration  howweteach  pedagogy  makers  building  craftsmanship  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  design  designthinking 
july 2016 by robertogreco
I Could Do That | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios - YouTube
"So you look at a work of art and think to yourself, I could have done that. And maybe you really could have, but the issue here is more complex than that -- why didn't you? Why did the artist? And why does it have an audience? We delve into it by looking at work by artists like Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Piet Mondrian, and Cy Twombly, among others. You might find it’s not quite as simple as you think."
art  video  felixgonzalez-torres  pietmondrian  cytwombly  2015  craft  via:ablerism  production  ideas  photography  reproduction  skill  research  deduction  craftsmanship  though  thinking  criticalthinking  thewhy 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Jamie Zigelbaum: Excerpt From My Master's Thesis
"One of the most interesting concepts arising from my research and development of tangible interfaces is the idea of external legibility. While the HCI literature is full of examples of studies of interface legibility or how well an individual user or a group of users can interact with or understand an interface or interaction techniques that they are directly involved with using (what could be called internal legibility), there are hardly any examples of studies to examine the impact of interface design on non-participating observers. I define this property of interface design as external legibility.

External Legibility: a property of user interfaces that affects the ability of non-participating observers to understand the context of a user’s actions.

One reason why external legibility is important in interface design has to do with its relationship to semantics. Although it may never be possible to truly understand another’s mind, communication is based on shared understanding. Without a context in which to base understanding, inferring meaning or semantics becomes difficult.

Think of watching a master craftsperson working on a cabinet. You can see her hammering a nail to join two two-by-fours, you can see how she makes precise cuts along the edge of a piece of plywood. The context that the craftsperson works within is highly legible to an observer—the feeling of the wood, the knowledge of why a hammer is used, the memory of experiences of doing things like what the craftsperson are doing are available to many of us, but unless you too are a master craftsperson you may not know why she is doing the things that she does. The specific content of her actions are private, her thoughts and strategies, but the context of her actions are public. Without the ability to move from observation to inference accurately, it is hard to create shared understanding. External legibility is a measure of the reliability of the connection between observation and inference in interface design, but not in the traditional framing of one person and one machine—what could be called legibility. External legibility is a property of the space between one person observing another person using a machine.

Publications
Zigelbaum, J. Mending Fractured Spaces: External Legibility and Seamlessness in Interface Design. Master’s Thesis, MIT Media Lab (2008)."
jamiezigelbaum  legibility  workinginpublic  modeling  2015  via:litherland  lcproject  openstudioproject  interface  interfacedesign  design  observation  inference  craft  craftsmanship  communication  understanding  process  context  visibility 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The ADMCi Foundation [American Design and Master-Craft Initiative]
"We celebrate those with the courage to take action.

The ADMCi Foundation is reinvigorating master-craftsmanship as an engine for sustained and uniquely valuable growth. We identify, curate, and promote courageous people with remarkable capabilities to build value across industries and audiences.

Jim Jacoby and Scott Miller, two extraordinary entrepreneurs, are the driving force behind ADMCi. Jacoby from digital roots and Miller from the roots of manufacturing, both are dedicated to building an organization to improve the world around us.

Their commitment to this vision is extraordinary, first exemplified by lifting a master designer named JT Nesbitt to new levels. He has achieved industry-changing impact in design and craftsmanship through the commission and completion of the Bienville Legacy Motorcycle. And, because their vision of investment requires total commitment, Jacoby and Miller are personally riding these superbikes for land-speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats."

[See also: http://school.admci.org/
http://campfires.io/interview-with-jim-jacobi-founder-of-the-american-design-and-master-craft-initiative-admci/ ]
admci  craftsmanship  jimjacoby  scottmiller  chicago  design  manufacturing 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Books Matter: Design Observer
"I recently gave a talk to a library group about why the printed book still matters. I had been asked to address the subject of “Books in a Digital World,” but I chose to focus much more closely on the characteristics of printed objects that are not effectively represented in facsimile. That is: what cannot be captured in a scan.

I’ve been carrying this list in my head for years, adding to it one reason at a time. In my profession, as a librarian and a curator, this list (of which what follows is only a portion) functions as an apologia pro vita mia—rational defenses for the continued existence of the printed codex—and my involvement with them.

Ten Good Reasons the Book is Important

1. It is a piece of technology that lasts.
The codex is one of the longest-lived of all technologies. It has been improved-upon—but changed only slightly—over the centuries. Movable type printing has been around since the 1450s; the codex form has been in use for as long as 2000 years. These are extremely durable tools and forms.

2. It needs very little, if any, extra technology to be accessed.
(Ignoring, of course, that terrifying Twilight Zone episode, “Time Enough to Last,” in which the last man alive on Earth breaks his eyeglasses… .) Other media demand devices to be deciphered. Yes, printed information is coded, via language and graphic systems of representation. But in general, these are codes that are managed by human eyes, hands, and brains—tools we carry with us.

3. The book retains evidence.
These forms of evidence include: notes; names of owners; annotations. These all help us understand how books functioned as possessions and learning tools, and how they traveled from one owner or reader to another. As a librarian, I don’t advocate writing in books, but I am excited when I find an eighteenth-century American schoolbook that contains handwriting exercises on its pages.

4. Books are true to form.
Books are meant to be seen and read in specific ways. Many early books had sections that were intended to be viewed as two-page spreads—not isolated from each other, as often happens in online viewers. The same observation can be made about scrolls; their presentation was key to how they were interpreted. We can’t forget that reading can have a ceremonial function.

5. Each copy of a book is potentially unique …
… at least up through the second industrial age. Changes to texts often show up in different copies of books that are assumed to be identical. Printing involved mainly manual processes until the end of the nineteenth century—sometimes necessitating stop-press corrections. These kinds of changes can teach us about the genealogy of printed works. Many digital scanning projects are necessarily limited to the selection of the “best” copy of a book, which, once scanned, stands in for every other copy.

6. Printed items are consumable goods …
… in passive and active ways. Some classes of books and printed objects are meant to live only a short while—to provide information and then be discarded. Lucky for us, when copies of such ephemeral items have managed to survive, we have data that record phenomena that can be extremely difficult to document otherwise. Such is the case with flyers, brochures, tickets, posters, and other single-sheet printed items.

7. A book is an object fixed in time.
A book can tell us about its status in history. If we look through first editions of Moby Dick or Leaves of Grass, we find that they give away information not only about when they were created, but also about the worlds in which they were created, by way of advertisements, bindings, the quality of their paper, and watermarks on that paper. Such components are often not captured by scanning or are flattened out to make them of negligible use. In Nicholson Baker’s Double Fold—his saga about how libraries microfilmed runs of newspapers in the 1950s and 1960s and then discarded them—one of his chief complaints was that the filmers skipped advertising supplements and cartoons: things that had been deemed unimportant.

8. A book can be an object of beauty and human craftsmanship.
Those qualities alone are of significant value.

9. When you are reading a book in a public place, other people can see what you are reading.
Reading is generally a private activity, but it also has social functions. Even when we hold a book up in front of our faces, we are telling the world what we’re reading—or in the very least—that we are reading a book (rather than tweeting about the books we wish we were reading … ).

10. The Internet will never contain every book.
The growth of information is exponential—with vast universes of new data being created online every day. Many swaths of old information—in the forms of books, magazines, and pamphlets—will never make it online. There are projects and grants for scanning specific topics—English eighteenth-century provincial newspapers, Latin American imprints—but significant bodies of work of minor stature will never make the cut."

[See also Matt Thomas's notes: http://submittedforyourperusal.com/2015/03/04/ten-good-reasons-the-book-is-important/ ]
books  design  technology  ebooks  print  digital  2015  timothyyoung  craftsmanship  display  object  atemporality  text  evidence  marginalia  annotation  durability  via:austinkleon 
march 2015 by robertogreco
sprout & co :: How Children What?
"John Holt and Paul Tough are a half-century apart. Both were interested in children and how they learned. One wrote a book called How Children Learn, the other a book called How Children Succeed. Their juxtaposition has a lot to tell us about how we think about and treat our young people."
2014  alecresnick  education  learning  parenting  unschooling  deschooling  success  paultough  grit  scientism  craftsmanship  economics  society  johnholt 
june 2014 by robertogreco
minimum force, corporeal anticipation |
“For it is Sennett’s contention that “nearly anyone can become a good craftsman” and that “learning to work well enables people to govern themselves and so become good citizens.” This line of thought depends, among other things, upon the Enlightenment assumption that craft abilities are innate and widely distributed, and that, when rightly stimulated and trained, they allow craftsmen to become knowledgeable public persons.

And what is it that such persons know? They know how to negotiate between autonomy and authority (as one must in any workshop); how to work not against resistant forces but with them (as did the engineers who first drilled tunnels beneath the Thames); how to complete their tasks using “minimum force” (as do all chefs who must chop vegetables); how to meet people and things with sympathetic imagination (as does the glassblower whose “corporeal anticipation” lets her stay one step ahead of the molten glass); and above all they know how to play, for it is in play that we find “the origin of the dialogue the craftsman conducts with materials like clay and glass.”

The assumption that craft abilities are widely diffused leads Sennett into a meditation on our love of those intelligence tests by which we supposedly single out the very smart and the very stupid so that some will go to college and others go to bagging groceries. Sennett points out that such sorting ignores the “densely populated middle ground” where most of the population is actually found. Rather than celebrating a “common ground of talents,” we tend to inflate “small differences in degree into large differences in kind” and so legitimate existing systems of privilege. Thinking of the median as the mediocre creates an excuse for neglect. This is one reason, Sennett argues, that “it proves so hard to find charitable contributions to vocational schools” while currently the wealth of the Ivy League schools is compounding at an astounding rate.”

[from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/06/books/review/Hyde-t.html?pagewanted=all ]
crafy  autonomy  craftsmanship  richardsennett  authority  resistance  force  forces  minimumforce  imagination  sympathy  play  materials  making  middleground  talent  talents  privilege  mediocrity  median  vocationalschools  wealth  knowing  knowledge  understanding  enlightenment  sarahendren  citizenship  openstudioproject  glvo  lcproject  cv  corporealanticipation  learning  work  tcsnmy  progressiveeducation  elitism  2008  lewishyde 
march 2013 by robertogreco
‘Red Brick, Black Mountain, White Clay,’ by Christopher Benfey - NYTimes.com
"Surely the word “vessel” must rate high among the loveliest in the English language. Its meaning contains (vessel-like) a well-wrought urn, a far-­sailing ship, a throbbing vein. Spoken, its whispering consonants cut swiftly past. Printed, its letters even resemble a boat: jutting prow, double-curved hull, high stern. Can it be a coincidence that this Middle English artifact encloses — centered perfectly — the Latin esse, the primal verb “to be”?

And to paraphrase Emily Dickinson only slightly, there is no vessel like a book. Especially when it’s as well wrought and far-sailing as Christopher Benfey’s “Red Brick, Black Mountain, White Clay,” a book about earthen vases, epic voyages and ancestral blood. Part memoir, part family saga, part travelogue, part cultural history, it takes readers on a peripatetic ramble across America and beyond, paying calls on Cherokee potters, Bauhaus craftsmen, colonial clay-diggers and the author’s brick-mason grandfather."
craftsmanship  quakers  history  art  toread  books  christopherbenfrey  blackmountaincollege  vessels  emilydickinson  bmc  quaker 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Information Architects – Kenya Hara On Japanese Aesthetics
"A Japanese cleaning team finds satisfaction in diligently doing its job. The better they do it the more satisfaction they get out of it.

The craftman’s spirit, I think, imbues people with a sense of beauty, as in elaboration, delicacy, care, simplicity (words I often use). Obviously, this also applies to bento-making and the pride people take in making them as beautiful as they can.

There is a similar craftman’s spirit (“shokunin kishitsu” or “shokunin katagi”) in Europe. Yet in Europe I can see it coming alive only from a certain level of sophistication. –In Japan, even ordinary jobs such as cleaning and cooking are filled with this craftman’s spirit. It is is common sense in Japan.

While Japanese are known for their particular aesthetic sense, I would say we also have an incapacity to see ugliness. How come?

We usually focus fully on what’s right in front of our eyes. We tend to ignore the horrible, especially if it is not an integral part of our personal perspective."
bento  bentoboxes  knives  shokuninkatagi  shokuninkishitsu  glvo  craft  craftsmanship  via:tealtan  2009  design  japanese  minimalism  culture  kenyahara  simplicity  aesthetics  japan 
april 2012 by robertogreco
Webstock '12: Erin Kissane - Little Big Systems on Vimeo
"It's really easy to understand the lure of small, artisanal projects that we can polish to a satin finish: they offer a sense of craftsmanship, a human scale for our work, and the chance to get something really *right*. But larger projects and bigger systems can often feel soulless and unsatisfying, even when we're excited by the causes and ideas behind them. So is there a way to work on an ambitious scale without losing the purpose and handcraftedness that makes more intimate gigs so much fun? (Hint: yes.)

Via the craft of content strategy and its intertwinglements with design and code, this talk follows the connections between making small-scale, handcrafted artifacts and designing big, juicy systems (editorial and otherwise) that encourage both liveliness and excellence."
publishing  apprenticeships  masters  craftsman'stime  time  slow  small  scale  handcrafted  artifacts  systems  systemsthinking  apatternlanguage  christopheralexander  design  contentstrategy  content  2012  webstock  webstock12  erinkissane  humanscale  craft  craftsmanship 
march 2012 by robertogreco
The Spirit of Craftsmanship - Luxury Society - Comment & Analysis
"Scye is an exceptional clothing line, but Hidaka and Miyahara’s strategy of pursuing quality and craft over trend and flash is not unique amongst young Japanese brands. Miyahara explains, “I believe the Japanese people have a basic artisanal disposition. There is a word in Japanese — kodawari — meaning being obsessed with the details, and it guides almost everything here.”

While some of this so-called quality obsession may be a response to discerning consumers, Miyahara sees craftsmanship in Japan prospering from the creators’ own self-demands:

Some part of kodawari is the designers’ own self-satisfaction of creating really nice things, even if consumers don’t notice the details. When we started the brand, we thought about how to do things from the perspective of those who actually make the clothing, and we wanted to produce clothes that people would still wear after a long time — both in terms of quality and style."
2009  luxury  quality  detail  kodawari  via:tealtan  glvo  craft  japan  craftsmanship 
march 2012 by robertogreco
Amateur Architecture Studio - Hangzhou - Architects | chinese-architects.com
"I design a house instead of a building. The house is the amateur architecture approach to the infinitely spontaneous order.

Built spontaneously, illegally and temporarily, amateur architecture is equal to professional architecture. But amateur architecture is just not significant.

One problem of professional architecture is, that it thinks too much of a building. A house, which is close to our simple and trivial life, is more fundamental than architecture. Before becoming an architect, I was only a literati. Architecture is part time work to me. For one place, humanity is more important than architecture while simple handicraft is more important than technology.

The attitude of amateur architecture, - though first of all being an attitude towards a critical experimental building process -, can have more entire and fundamental meaning than professional architecture. For me, any building activity without comprehensive thoughtfulness will be insignificant."
purpose  slow  simple  meaning  spontaneous  spontaneity  infromal  anarchism  heroes  thoughtfulness  building  handicraft  amateur  values  tradition  craft  humanity  cv  architecture  design  luwenyu  wangshu  china  hangzhou  amateurarchitecturestudio  craftsmanship 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Chinese Architect Wang Shu Wins The Pritzker Prize : NPR
"For the first time, the Pritzker Architecture Prize has been awarded to an architect based in China. Wang Shu, 49, is interested in preservation, working slowly and tradition — ideals that sometimes seem forgotten in today's booming China. Wang says in the 1990s he had to get away from China's architectural "system" of demolition, megastructures and get-rich-quick — so he spent the decade working with common craftspeople building simple constructions.

"I go out of system," Wang says, "Because, finally I think, this system is too strong."



"Handicraft is important, and Wang says he doesn't like "professionalized soulless architecture as practiced today." He says he works more like a traditional Chinese painter. When he accepts a commission, he studies the city, the valley and the mountains. Then he goes home and thinks about it for about a week, without drawing. He says he drinks tea every day to stay calm, so his architecture doesn't become too strong and overwhelm the landscape."
informal  purpose  values  luwenyu  hangzhou  meaning  tradition  reuse  materials  simplicity  slow  cv  heroes  china  amateurarchitecturestudio  amateur  handicraft  craft  preservation  design  architecture  2012  pritzker  wangshu  craftsmanship 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Weekend At Kermie's: The Muppets' Strange Life After Death | The Awl
"A character without specificity is not one."

"To demonize is to become the demon."

"When I say that the Muppets’ art direction is makeshift, I don’t mean that it’s shoddy. But it celebrates human limitation. As we watch one of these movies, we never lose our awareness that these scenes were made by men and women. Craftmanship, the game of how good any one artist can be, is presented—not hidden—and as such it can inspire others."

"What matters in the Muppet universe isn’t perfection, but expression. Dancing across the screen, they embody the philosophy that it is not what you look like that matters, but what you do."
art  creativity  film  copyright  muppets  puppets  perfection  human  humanism  specificity  makeshift  making  craft  limitations  constraints  via:rushtheiceberg  doing  meaning  purpose  glvo  jasonsegel  jimhenson  remix  remixing  remixculture  craftsmanship 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Flourishes, Craftsmanship, Dates, History, and Flickr - Laughing Meme
"I fret about the warm bath of now-ness we seem to be currently living in; real time a synonym for ephemerality and disposability."

"…giving you the ability to label your photo as being taken solidly 800+ years before anything most of us would describe as the invention of photography…a little silly. But I do love this photo of the Blue grotto…taken in 1890…

Fundamentally this split btwn system activity time, & human editable creation date models a world where the people who use your software do something other then use your software. You have to decide how you feel about admitting that possibility…

…if you visited that Blue Grotto photo you’ll notice date is listed as “This photo was taken some time in 1890.” That’s date granularity. Flickr taken dates come in 4 levels of granularity, exact, year-month, year, & circa.

…Circa is a flourish…sort of feature you only get when you care about craftsmanship…

Computers demand exactitudes by default, but it’s a laziness of which we are collectively guiltily that we’ve traded a few programmer & compute cycles for a rich & nuanced societal understanding of time."
flickr  design  dates  detail  circa  perception  computing  human  kellanelliot-mccrea  granularity  squishiness  fuzziness  nuance  meaning  meaningmaking  2011  florishes  details  disposability  bighere  longnow  craft  craftsmanship  ephemerality  ephemeral 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Stephanie Zacharek - Salon.com
"Objects can be designed to low price, but cannot be crafted to low price." But if we stop valuing—& buying—craftsmanship, very idea of making something w/ care & expertise is destined to die & something of us as human beings will die along w/ it: "A bricklayer, carpenter, teacher, musician, salesperson, writer of computer code—any & all can be craftsmen. Craftsmanship cements relationship btwn buyer & seller, worker & employer, & expects something of both...is about caring about work & its application...what distinguishes work of humans from work of machines & it is everything that IKEA & other discounters are not."...
books  walmart  ikea  globalization  consumerism  environment  economy  economics  china  cheap  design  consumption  politics  labor  bargains  sustainability  stuff  society  relationships  craft  time  slow  human  humans  humanity  craftsmanship 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Is Italy Too Italian?: From Taxis to Textiles, Italy Chooses Tradition Over Growth - NYTimes.com ["Roughly one-quarter of Italy’s G.D.P. is off the books."]
"Economists...see a country w/ a service sector dominated by guilds..., a timid entrepreneur class...a political system in thrall of older voters who want to keep what they have, even if it dooms the nation to years of stasis.

They see a society whose best & brightest are leaving & not being replaced by immigrants, because Italy has so little upward mobility to offer.

To Professor Giavazzi, the future here doesn’t look like Greece. It looks like Argentina.

“Before World War II, Argentina was rich. Even in 1960, the country was twice as rich as Italy.” Today...you can compare the per capita income of Argentina to that of Romania. “Because it didn’t grow. A country could get rich in 1900 just by producing corn & meat, but that is not true today. But it took them 100 years to realize they were becoming poor. & that is what worries me about Italy. We’re not going to starve next week. We are just going to decline, slowly, slowly, & I’m not sure what will turn that around.”
italy  argentina  guilds  economics  growth  politics  aging  age  policy  immigration  2010  stagnation  markets  china  globalization  local  slow  manufacturing  crisis  deficits  savings  society  decline  blackmarkets  offthebooks  protectionism  jobs  craftsmanship 
august 2010 by robertogreco
tor palm: south africa project
"as part of their final project from the carl malmsten furniture studies in stockholm, sweden tor and mattias of tor palm, wanted to utilize their woodworking skills and collaborate with
sweden  torpalm  stockholm  southafrica  design  furniture  wood  lighting  craftsmanship 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Near Future Laboratory » And the time it takes to make them is the time taken to mean it.
"'[Martin Puryear's] sculptures look the way they do because they need to in order to mean what they do. The labor that is compressed into them allows them to work over time, and the time it takes to make them is the time taken to mean it. That they so often employ specialized tradesmen’s skills in their making allows them to work at the edges of utility—vessels that might be dwellings in the shapes of bodies—and in that fertile seam between representation and abstraction.'

A quote from “From Head to Hand: Art and the Manual” by David Levi Strauss.

Why do I blog this? I like the way that time is emphasized here rather than the outcome. The emphasis is on the the practice and process, which have so much to say about the sculpture."
sculrpture  process  toshare  topost  julianbleecker  martinpuryear  davidlevistrauss  creation  time  processoverproduct  productasindicationofprocess  outcomes  labor  craft  representation  abstraction  sculpture  craftsmanship 
july 2010 by robertogreco

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