40 Portraits in 40 Years

1975, New Canaan, Conn.

1975, New Canaan, Conn. by Nicholas Nixon

40 Portraits in 40 Years depicts four sisters embracing, stoic, and fierce. Their gazes are arresting and challenge the viewer to linger. Their attire is never planned and the subjects’ poses just come naturally. As time passes, and the visual story of their lives unfold and the viewer sees not only the sisters’ natural age progression but also their relationship to each other and their consciousness about being photographed. In early images the sisters lightly embrace and they appear cognizant of the camera. However in the current era images the sisterly dynamic becomes increasingly more intimate. Their body language is supportive and protective. The beauty of fine art photography is its ability to capture the progression of time into a chronicle of still moments.

Source: New York Times Magazine

Minimal Maps

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Evergreen Forests of America—Michael Pecirno

Minimal Maps is an ongoing project of London-based designer Michael Pecirno. Using USDA data, Pecirno isolates a single land use or geographic form to create unique maps, beautifully illustrating the United States beyond the typically limited urban and political contexts. Explore Pecirno’s other spatial and visual work on his website.

source: CITYLAB

Humans of New and Old New York

Sponge Peddler, Alice Austen

Sponge Peddler, Alice Austen

New audiences and artists are created at the intersection of social media and street photography. Brandon Stanton, the acclaimed photographer who started Humans of New York (HONY), has amassed over twelve million “likes” on Facebook in just a few years. However, street photography has been around for a long time. Alice Austen (1866-1952) began her artistic career at the age of ten when gifted a camera. Purportedly, for the rest of her life, Austen never went a day without taking photographs. As Austen reached adulthood she became one of the first female photographers to leave the confines of the studio and photograph the world she inhabited. Arguably one of the first photojournalists, her images capture the vibrancy and color of Old New York in a similar way to the images of present-day New York.

Source: Mashable

Digitizing Historic Maps: Cuba

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Over 100 historic maps of Cuba have been digitized by The University of Miami Libraries and are now available through their Digital Collections site. Projects such as this one are extremely beneficial in not only helping to keep libraries and their collections relevant and accessible in the digital age but also contribute to the preservation of the physical objects by limiting handling of fragile and friable material. View the collection of Cuban maps here.

Source: Cuban Heritage Collection

Deceptive Street Art

Astroboy | OakOak

Astroboy | OakOak

Combing the urban landscape in France one finds the work of Street Artist, OakOak. OakOak’s interventions utilize found landscape as the backdrop and inspiration for the series of paste-ups. The resulting photographs are both poignant and playful, and in some instances thought-provoking.

Source: Visual News

All Things Giant Considered

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In 1952, Edna Ferber published, Giant, an extremely controversial novel depicting life in southwest Texas. Ferber was chastised all across the south for her portrayal of rural Texans in the satire. The novel was a runaway hit nationally and was rapidly sold for production into a screenplay. The subsequent film—starring James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor and filmed on location in Marfa, TX—brought the story greater acclaim and even more rancor in Texas.

In keeping with the theme “All Things Giant,” a recent NPR All Things Considered segment highlights a new documentary that tells the story of the families of Marfa, TX who were recruited to play the extras in the film.  Children of Giant explores the racial divide between Anglos and Mexican Americans in the Southwest and the specific experiences of the Marfa families during that period of filming.

Source: NPR All Things Considered

The Eames Shell Chair

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WHY Magazine released a concise history of the Eames Shell Chair—accompanied by a fascinating twelve piece GIF collection—to visually explain the construction of the modern day shell chair. The GIFs were inspired by the Eames’ 1970 film, “The Fiberglass Chairs: Something of How They Get the Way They Are.” The GIFs, filmed in the fiberglass manufacturing facility of Herman Miller in Ashtabula, OH, aim to “explore the ways in which Herman Miller is honoring the Eames original design and ethos by pushing the manufacturing process and quality to be the best and most sustainable it can possibly be.”

Source: WHY

A Forgotten Mural

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The greatest rewards resulting from restoration and renovation projects are the surprises that are revealed. In late March 2015 the contractors, designers, and residents of 5 Bryant Park Tower in Manhattan were treated to a forgotten tile mosaic by notable muralist Max Spivak. During renovation, the metal cladding came down to reveal a remarkably well preserved abstract ceramic tile mural, viewed for nearly a week by passers-by, building patrons, and the Spivak family. However, the mural has since been re-clad “…in a way that will preserve it for the future,” much to the chagrin of art conservation groups in New York and the Spivak family themselves.

Source: New York Times

Shaping the Visual Landscape: Water Colors

Toshio Sibata - Hanno City Saitama Prefecture, Japan, 2006

Toshio Sibata – Hanno City Saitama Prefecture, Japan, 2006

Japanese photographer, Toshio Shibata’s latest body of work Water Colors frames engineered water containment systems and divergent mechanisms to create mesmerizing abstract designs that show the symbiotic relationship between the natural landscape and man-made constructs. The images of earthworks, hydroelectric dams, and spillways are framed to mask context and distort perspective by hiding horizon lines. Shibata focused “…mostly on how the infrastructure of Japan’s postwar building boom interacted with the country’s natural landscape.”

An exhibition archive of the work is on view at the Laurence Miller Gallery in New York, NY.

Source: New York Times Magazine

Foreclosure Quilts

Artist—and former urban planner—Kathryn Clark uses hand-quilting methods to create foreclosure maps of U.S. neighborhoods. In an interview for The Atlantic’s CityLab, Clark describes her choice of quilting as medium, being drawn to both its cultural contexts and how visual craft can be used to humanize data. Clark’s Block Lab Studio seeks to more broadly explore how quilt blocks can continue their historical role embodying meaning through new designs reflecting modern social and environmental issues.

foreclosure quilts
Source: CITYLAB

Predatory Buildings

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CITYLAB’s article on avian causalities resulting from the built environment largely focuses on Lights Out DC, a Washington DC based citizen group that aspires to protect migratory birds. Lights Out DC members go to the streets during the spring and autumn migratory bird seasons to collect, tag, and bag deceased birds. The high fatality rate among migrating birds is due to the fact their ancient flight routes used in search of fertile feeding and nesting grounds now include heavily urban areas. Nocturnal birds are most vulnerable to the urban landscape as they rely on stars for navigation and are disoriented by the light pollution that obscures constellations and makes smooth, transparent surfaces difficult to see.

The article also chronicles the most dangerous buildings in DC and new buildings that are designed with birds’ livelihoods in mind. Also discussed are simple steps to reduce avian fatalities such as encouraging businesses to turn off or dim lights overnight. This intervention in DC is believed to have reduced bird fatalities by two-thirds. The deaths in DC are not an isolated event. The organization Fatel Light Awareness Program (FLAP) in Toronto—often seen as a pioneer in the movement—claims to have collected over 65,000 birds representing 116 species since its inception in 1993.

Source: CITYLAB

Sidewalk Salon Cairo

Over the course of four years, artists Manar Moursi and David Puig have been using Polaroid photography and informal interviews to document abandoned chairs on the sidewalks of Cairo. Together, these photos and stories illustrate the enduring, time-worn character of the chairs, their users, and the city’s social fabric. Moursi and Puig are currently fundraising to publish a corresponding monograph, Sidewalk Salon: 1001 Street Chairs of Cairo.

Sidewalk Salon Cairo
Source: City Lab