OBSERVERS ROOM : JESSICA HELFAND
The funny thing about deceit is that it's the opposite of truth, which is one of those things, for some reason, that we've come to expect from our government. And along with deceit comes denial, which becomes an utter travesty in the wake of eventual confession: together, they result in the lip-biting, mouth-stretching and inimitable frowning that have become the public face of disgrace.
OBSERVERS ROOM : ROB WALKER
Some symbols achieve at-a-glance familiarity status without, evidently, having been designed to do so. The Google Maps “pin” is an example. It’s iconic by accident — or at least by stealth.
PLACES : ALICE T. FRIEDMAN
Earlier this week Despina Stratigakos described the feminist politics that inspired the early 21st-century Architect Barbie. Now architectural historian Alice Friedman examines the early 20th-century career of Marion Mahony Griffin, the first woman licensed to practice architecture in Illinois, and for more than a decade a valued associate of Frank Lloyd Wright. But as Friedman emphasizes, Griffin's accomplishments were extraordinary. "In the late 19th century and much of the 20th," she writes, "women architects were often viewed with contempt and suspicion, not only by fellow practitioners but also by members of the building trades and potential clients."
OBSERVATORY : ELLIOTT EARLS
“Vainglory,” an anachronistic term meaning an unjustified and excessive pride in one’s own achievements or abilities is one of the primary forces animating and shaping contemporary culture. The phenomena that is American Idol
owes its considerable popularity both to its role in discovering legitimate, almost freakishly superhuman singing skill, but also as a window into contemporary culture’s vainglorious soul.
OBSERVERS ROOM : ALEXANDRA LANGE
One month left to see the future of the past (via World's Fairs) at the National Building Museum.
CHANGE OBSERVER : BARBARA FLANAGAN
Last year, when I moved to Santa Barbara, California, home of numerous ocean-saving foundations plus Jacques Cousteau’s relatives, the Pacific looked just fine to me. In fact, it was gorgeous: blue, fragrant, and vast. Coldness was its only flaw, but that kept it empty of everyone but its most elegant fans, surfers.
OBSERVERS ROOM : RICK POYNOR
The Collector’s Cabinet at the Frederic Marès Museum in Barcelona defeats your powers of perception and understanding. Everything is beautifully displayed in these subdued, elegant, atmospherically lit rooms, but nothing is labeled: no dates, no confirmation of what the item is, no explanations about its use. You are compelled to consider the unknowably limitless profusion of human-made artifacts.
CHANGE OBSERVER : JANE MARGOLIES
An interview with Jeremy Heimans, founder of the website Purpose.org.
OBSERVATORY : LOUISE FILI AND STEVEN HELLER
“No one person ever invented an alphabet,” wrote Type-maven Tommy Thompson. Script typefaces are no exception. During the letterpress era they were in such great demand that many people “invented” them, and many others copied them. In many commercial printing shops, composing cases filled with scripts were stacked floor to ceiling to the exclusion of other type.
OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER
Accidental Mysteries, a weekly cabinet of visual curiosities curated by John Foster, highlights images of design, art, architecture and ephemera brought to light by the magic of the digital age.
D-Crit: Design as subject matter.
Criticism as literary genre.Learn at SVA >>
CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE
GlobalTap water station update.
PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2006
A veteran city planner and educator analyzes the anemia of U.S. planning, and detects signs of life in neighborhood activism.