This year, much of the talk about the New York Art Book Fair seems to be centered on the Fair itself. Fueling some of this talk, whether expressly stated or not, is a simple question: how, in the midst of one of the most historic economic recessions on record, as the media outlets decry the final hour of the book, was last year’s Fair the biggest yet? And why does it seem that this year’s Fair may be even bigger still?
Against the backdrop of the recession and the destabilization of the book there are three additional factors that have a bearing on the Fair’s ever-increasing reach: the graphic design postgraduate program that defines a thesis book as its culminating project; the design social scene that functions a bit more like a rock scene, celebrating the making and distribution of new work over the more professionalized goals of acquiring and servicing clients; and the temporary or “pop-up” store that transforms the sometimes solitary act of buying into a networked, participatory, and collective event.
“‘The Cat in the Hat’ is 1,702 words long, but it uses only two hundred and twenty different words. And (as the cat says) that is not all. Geisel put the whole thing into rhymed anapestic dimeter. It was a tour de force, and it killed Dick and Jane.” The New Yorker’s excellent Louis Menand on the evolution of Dr. Seuss’s childhood classic.
A post about my ongoing fascination with film editing would be quite a long read, but I know I share the opinion of many designers that the craft of film editing shares a great deal with the craft of, for instance, the design of visual books. A good intro can be found in this article from the Boston Globe, where we get quotes from the venerable film editor Walter Murch who observes that film editing “could just as easily be called ‘film construction.’” Also quoted are rising stars like Steve Hamilton, who explains the ever-shrinking number of long takes in feature films this way: “The power of the gaze has been circumvented by technology. We can’t look our matinee idols in the eye anymore.”
At Kid-O and other discriminating children’s stores around town, I keep seeing this glorious boxed set of Bruno Munari’s children’s books, “I Prelibri.” Pick one up and see how much we are indebted to this Italian innovator. One of the first books I remember, Pat the Bunny, was 100% Munari in its emphatic tactility.
A project after my own heart: a significant portion of artist Martha Rosler’s library is now visible online at e-flux.com. “This project grew in part out of Martha Rosler’s space problem: she simply had too many books crowding her home and studio. They covered the shelves, piled on the floors, and cascaded down the stairs. We offered her a solution.” Note the slick use of Caslon Graphique on the spine of Victor Navasky’s Naming Names.
“In Cold Blood began, as the story goes, when Truman Capote came across a 300-word article in the back of the New York Times describing the unexplained murder of a family of four in rural Kansas” (via Salon). It’s still just as bracing to scan the paper for true crime stories today, and it’s certainly an armchair passion of mine. In 2001, “Christopher Rocancourt jumped bail in the Hamptons, running from accusations that he soaked the rich for nearly $1 million while posing as a member of the Rockefeller family.” His story in NYT may be a bit longer than Capote’s 300-word gem, but it is no less fascinating.