OBSERVATORY : KAREN GREEN
More than four years after her husband's suicide, Karen Green has put together a transcendent book about surviving him. Aesthetically, it's as good as anything. Formally, it's like nothing else, with a brilliant mixture of art and prose poetry. We've excerpted below the book's beginning — including its cover, a work of art in itself — and we're also reproducing some images from "How On Earth," a series of paintings Green made in which text from the book is a part of the landscape.
OBSERVER MEDIA : NICHOLAS CHRISTAKIS
This installment of Insights Per Minute features Nicholas Christakis on networks. "Social Networks are like carbon. You can take carbon atoms and connect them one way and get graphite, which is soft and dark, or another way and you get diamond, which is hard and clear."
PLACES : ADELHEID FISCHER
"In August 1905, Louie Muir, wife of the conservationist John Muir, died of cancer. Among those who sent condolences was President Theodore Roosevelt, who had once camped under the stars with Muir in Yosemite Valley. Roosevelt himself was no stranger to loss. When he was 26, illness claimed his mother and young wife on the same day. To Muir, he offered this tonic: 'Get out among the mountains and trees, friend, as soon as you can. They will do more for you than either man or woman could.'" A century later Adelheid Fischer, struggling with her own grief, got out among the mountains and trees — in her case to the Grand Canyon, a dangerous and redemptive place that by turns epitomizes and defies the expectations (and clichés) of the famous landscape.
OBSERVER MEDIA : RALPH CAPLAN
Our third installment of Insights Per Minute features Ralph Caplan commenting on titles: When people ask "what do you do?" they are really asking, "what are you called?"
CHANGE OBSERVER : JOHN THACKARA
I’m sad. The family of swallows that spent the summer in the eaves behind my office have headed south for the winter. Most of them will follow the west coast of Africa to avoid the Sahara; a few may travel further east down the Nile Valley. They’ll take it easy and stop every few miles at first to build up their fat reserves — but then they’ll speed up. In four months, as Christmas beckons here in the north, they’ll reach their destinations: Botswana, Namibia or South Africa.
OBSERVER MEDIA : ROB WALKER
The second installment of our new series — Insights Per Minute — features Rob Walker on seeing. What if we judge what we see on whether or not we like it?
OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER
The American Worker is celebrated the first Monday of September with the observance of Labor Day. It is also the day that marks the symbolic end of summer, the closing of most swimming pools, and the beginning of school for most children. Labor Day became a national holiday in 1882. This week we look at a selection of images that personify the hard work and dedication of the American worker.
OBSERVATORY : ROB WALKER
Here's a brief and possibly ridiculous appreciation of an unquestionably ridiculous object: The Number One Hand. Its history popped up in the "news" recently, and I can't resist using that as an excuse to make the case for a thing that is so silly, it's perfect.
OBSERVATORY : ALEXANDRA LANGE
Today's obsession with digital renderings sparked two exhibitions that suggest a handmade, but far from quaint, corrective. At the Museum of Modern Art, “Cut ‘n’ Paste” gives pride of place to Mies van der Rohe’s large photo collages, then mixes in postwar graphic design, contemporary photo-manipulation, and projections of digital renderings on a movable scrim. At the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, “Composite Landscapes” offers a similarly interdisciplinary look at the history of landscape collage, mixing working drawings and client-driven renderings with Mrs. Gardner’s travel scrapbooks and artist-made collages.
OBSERVATORY : MARK LAMSTER
I began teaching a course in architecture writing last week, an occassion that forced me to think about critics and writers I might recommend as exemplary. The usual suspects naturally came to mind (Lewis Mumford, Ada Louise Huxtable, etc.) but I couldn't quite figure out where to begin until I came across a copy of G. E. Kidder Smith's Source Book of American Architecture
, a compendium published by Princeton Architectural Press in my first years working there.
AUDIO: DESIGN MATTERS ARCHIVE
Podcast interview with Milton Glaser, graphic designer, illustrator, Lifetime Achievement Award recipient from the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, and 2010 recipient of the National Medal of Arts.
More Design Matters Archive >>
CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE
Report on Food Not Bombs, an activist network, now about to turn 30, that distributes free vegan meals.
PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2009
The second coming of Detroit.