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The Design Observer Group
Design Observer

WEEKLY EMAIL: SEPTEMBER 19, 2013


The Enchanted Highway

FEATURED THIS WEEK : JOHN FOSTER

The Enchanted Highway

The Enchanted Highway is a 32-mile stretch of highway starting at Interstate 94 (Exit 72) in North Dakota, about 20 miles east of the town of Dickinson. The display features some of the world’s largest scrap metal sculptures. In fact, the sculpture “Geese in Flight,” is currently listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “Largest Scrap Metal Sculpture” in the world. It weighs in at 78 tons.
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OBSERVER MEDIA : NATALIE FOSTER

Natalie Foster on Sharing

Natalie Foster is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Peers. She spent the last decade at the intersection of social movements and technology. On this episode of Insights Per Minute, she explains sharing.
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OBSERVER MEDIA : ADAM HARRISON LEVY

Adam Harrison Levy on Questions

Adam Harrison Levy is a writer and filmmaker. For the BBC he has interviewed artists, actors, and writers. He was the U.S. producer for Selling the Sixties, a cultural history of advertising and Close Up, about the artist Chuck Close. He is the author of essays for Hiroshima: Ground Zero 1945, at the International Center for Photography, and Saul Leiter: Retrospective. On this episode of Insights Per Minute he asks questions.
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NEWS FROM DESIGN OBSERVER GROUP SPONSORS

The School of Visual Arts MFA Design Program students work individually and collaboratively during two intensive years to develop objects of value through electronic and handcrafted means.
Online Information Session October 12 >>
Design For Social Innovation >>
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OBSERVER MEDIA : THOMAS FISHER

Thomas Fisher on Survival

Thomas Fisher is dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota, a rpolific writer and author of four books: In the Scheme of ThingsAlternative Thinking on the Practice of Architecture; Salmela Architect; Lake/Flato: Buildings and Landscapes; and Architectural Design and Ethics: Tools for Survival. On this episode of Insights Per Minute he speaks about survival.
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PLACES : DAVID SALOMON

The Highway Not Taken: Tony Smith and the Suburban Sublime

"We don’t often think of avant-garde art and suburbia as related," writes David Salomon. "The artist’s urban studio — not the superhighway — is supposed to be where aesthetic inspiration takes place. But from the late '50s through the early '70s, many American artistic developments had their roots in the suburbs — specifically, in the roads, marshes, quarries and universities of North New Jersey." Here Salomon focuses on some pivotal years in the life of artist Tony Smith — including his epiphany on the New Jersey Turnpike.
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OBSERVATORY : RICK POYNOR

Bohumil Stepan's Family Album of Oddities

Bohumil Stěpán published Familienalbum in 1971 after leaving Czechoslovakia and settling in Germany. This small, inexpensive, long-out-of-print paperback is every bit as curious as his earlier book of collage-drawings, Galerie. Familienalbum makes new use of several of the earlier book’s images and introduces a series of surreally equipped and irreverently modified family members, mostly based on old portrait postcards.
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OBSERVATORY : JUDE STEWART

The Tricky Science of Color Perception

Color is infinitely shifty. It’s unstable in the presence of nearby colors. It’s vulnerable to tricks of the light. It acts like it’s moving when it’s not. It can act like it’s there when it’s not. Put another way, color is subject to a thousand kinds of distortion as it travels from an object, through light, through your eye to your (acculturated) brain. Yet the tricky, interwined science and art of color perception still goes under-appreciated.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : CHERYL HELLER

Forget Poverty. Let's Talk Business.

In a recent article on the future of design, I used Paul Polak as a case for why generalists are so important to the world right now. I said, “For example, it would be easy to think of global development pioneer Paul Polak as an expert in alleviating poverty, but he has been successful at that because he’s also a shrink, an inventor, an entrepreneur, a writer, a researcher and a self-made engineer. Polak is a generalist of the highest order.”
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OBSERVER MEDIA : MARK LAMSTER

Mark Lamster on Complaining

Mark Lamster is the architecture critic of the Dallas Morning News and a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington School of Architecture. A contributing editor to Architectural Review, he is currently at work on his third book, a biography of the late architect Philip Johnson. On today's episode of Insights Per Minute, Mark contemplates the importance of complaining.
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OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER

Artful Mourning

This past week, our nation mourned the 2,753 lost lives of the cowardly terrorist attack against innocents in New York. Statistics show that approximately 3,051 children lost a parent, and 20 percent of Americans knew of someone hurt or killed in the attack. Mourning a loved one is shared by all people sooner or later, which took me to investigate our earliest photographic examples of mourning.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : JOHN THACKARA

Ways of Knowing

Humanity’s troubles did not begin with the industrial age, nor even with agriculture. Our problems began when we embraced symbolic culture and placed language, art, and number above other ways of knowing the world.
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OBSERVER MEDIA : MARVIN HEIFERMAN

Marvin Heiferman on Photography

Marvin Heiferman, a curator and writer, develops exhibitions, websites and publications that explore visual culture for clients including the Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian Institution, New Museum, International Center of Photography, and Whitney Museum of American Art. On this episode of Insights Per Minute he speaks on Photography.
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PLACES : CHRIS BALLANTYNE, LAUREN MARSOLIER, BAS PRINCEN & AARON ROTHMAN

Landscape and Illusion

In a recent article in Places, Belmont Freeman wrote about the dissolving line between reality and representation in architectural photography. Digital imaging technology has become so powerful that it's often hard to tell whether a building exists as concrete and glass and steel, or as a series of ones and zeros in the ether. Aaron Rothman continues the exploration with a gallery that brings together the work of Chris Ballantyne, Lauren Marsolier and Bas Princen — paintings and photographs in which meaning is created in "the gap between the real and its representation."
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OBSERVER MEDIA : JOANNA RADIN

Joanna Radin on Potential

Joanna Radin is Assistant Professor in the Section for the History of Medicine at Yale University. Her research and teaching examine the social and technical conditions of possibility for the systems of biomedicine and biotechnology that we live with today. She is at work on a book about the history of frozen blood. On this episode of Insights Per Minute, she discusses potential.
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OBSERVER MEDIA : JOHN MAEDA

John Maeda on Loops

An artist, designer, energetic advocate of creative leadership and President of Rhode Island School of Design, John Maeda imagines how design can simplify technology and help leaders respond to new challenges in the era of social media. On this episode of Insights Per Minute he contemplates loops.
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OBSERVER MEDIA : WENDY MACLEOD

Wendy MacLeod on Fasting

Wendy MacLeod is a playwright and author whose works have appeared in the New York Times, Salon, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, POETRY magazine and on NPR's All Things Considered. On this episode of Insights Per Minute she considers food and fasting.
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PLACES : MARK HOUGH

Champion Trees and Urban Forests

In The Man Who Planted Trees, Jim Robbins writes: "Planting trees may be the single most important ecotechnology that we have to put the broken pieces of our planet back together." Mark Hough reviews the book, and then broadens his focus to explore the rise of the U.S. environmental movement and the current campaigns to plant millions of trees in cities across America.
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OBSERVATORY : MARK LAMSTER

High Net Space: The New International Style

In a now classic post on bldgblog, Geoff Manaugh coined the term "Nakatomi Space," a reference to the action film Die Hard, in which supercop John McLain navigates a fictional L.A. skyscraper (the Nakatomi Building) through its infrastructure, suggesting an alternate and largely invisible urban environment that we rarely think about.
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OBSERVER MEDIA : RICKY JAY

Ricky Jay on Collecting

While Ricky Jay has long been considered one of the world’s great sleight-of-hand artists, his career is further distinguished by the remarkable variety of his accomplishments as an author, actor, historian, and consultant. In this installment of Insights Per Minute he speaks on collecting.
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OBSERVATORY : RICK POYNOR

Bohumil Stepan's Gallery of Erotic Humor

Bohumil Štěpán’s Galerie, an exuberant collection of collages and drawings about the relationship between the sexes, is a great example of the way that Surrealist influences permeated Czechoslovakian visual culture in the 1960s. The book was a sign that old taboos had disappeared and that literature could deal with subjects once confined to forbidden works of pornography. Mapp Editions has released a digital version for the iPad and Mac.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : PAUL POLAK

Achieving Scale

Scale is the single biggest unmet challenge in development and impact investment today. About the only big business to reach poor people at scale is mobile phones, and that happened pretty much by accident. I think it’s entirely feasible to help 100 million poor people at a time move out of poverty with technologies they need to raise their incomes, with the right distribution systems, and with business incentives at all levels.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : JOHN THACKARA

Speed? What Speed? Prisoners of Speed, by Ivan Illich

Part 3 of 3
If today you are still hurried, it is a mark of your privilege, a sign that you have not yet been forced from the culture of time-scarcity into a new period of the megahertz and unemployment. Transformations in production, switching from employees to computers, from classroom to the Internet, from clerks to credit cards, have not prepared us for this new culture, the age of the megahertz; it is based on the speed of light.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : JOHN THACKARA

Speed? What Speed? The Belly-Dance Drummer, by Matthias Rieger

Part 2 of 3
The first machine to measure musical tempo, the ‘Chronomètre’, was invented in 1698, by Etienne Loulie. However, it was only later, with the commercialization of the metronome by Maelzel and the support of famous composers like Beethoven, that an instrument for measuring musical tempo was widely used.
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OBSERVER MEDIA : ALICE TWEMLOW

Alice Twemlow on Home

Alice Twemlow is chair of the design criticism MFA Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York and an M-Phil/PhD candidate in the design history program at the V&A Museum and the Royal College of Art in London. In this Insight Per Minute she speaks about home.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : JOHN THACKARA

Speed? What Speed? The Falcon, by Sebastian Trapp

Part 1 of 3
Frederic II was a truly remarkable character. The biographer of Pope Gregory IX wrote that ‘he (Frederic) turned the title majesty in a hunting-tenancy and, instead of being decorated with arms and laws, became surrounded by dogs and shrieking birds, a hunter instead of an emperor. He traded in the sublime sceptre for the hunting-spear and released the eagle of triumph, setting aside the revenge on his enemies, on hunting birds.'
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Audio: Design Matters Archive

AUDIO: DESIGN MATTERS ARCHIVE

Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger is an artist whose work has been exhibited in major museums throughout the world.
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CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE

Project

Acumen Sexy Sanitation Challenge

Acumen Fund announces winners of its "Sexy Sanitation" challenge.
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OBSERVATORY ARCHIVE

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PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2003

Portfolio: Timothy Hursley

Tim Hursley photographs the pro-bono buildings of the Rural Studio and the legal brothels of Nye County, Nevada.
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