Eric Baker | Today Column

Today, 10.31.09

Here are Today’s images.

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TODAY is a weekly jewel box of seemingly random, yet thoughtfully selected, images. At times tender, wicked, nostalgic, amusing, and dazzling, each edition is presented without narration, editing or explanation by its author, designer Eric Baker. "It all began as a goof. One day I sent a good friend about 50 random pictures of cheese. I don't know why, but to me cheese is funny, perhaps it is the word itself and its various connotations. Eventually I began looking closer, or should I say broader at 'things'. Things lost on the fringes...ordinary, odd, beautiful things. Esoteric images, old diagrams, typography, cartography — visions of a once promising but now extinct future."

Editor's Note: All images link to their original source and are copyright their original owners.

Comments [8]

Am I the only one who sometimes feels that these images are very nihilistic? They are reminiscent of times past where people thought they knew how the world should be... and now we think very differently. Particularly that image above the lion. What is that showing? And is it still valid?

So creepy!

(Happy Halloween everyone!)

The strong line and color in some of these images just make your heart sing!
Kathy Crowe

The image above the lion is of Rolly Crump demonstrating how to properly construct and set up the mobile he designed. I believe it's from an issue of Popular Science Monthly, which included directions and cut-outs for making your own Crump mobile.

About your question/point about the images being "nihilistic". How exactly are you using the term nihilism? From a philosophic sense, nihilism is understood, in a very basic way, as a belief in nothing or a nothing in belief. From this perspective I'm not entirely sure I see the connection between these images and nihilism. I see more connections between these images and our being interested in them, and nostalgia.


S.Lemon, a good point.

"Nihilism" is a word I use to describe (perhaps inaccurately) the feeling of prominent "mortality" if you will. These images are all aged and old; many of them are ambivalent in what they are displaying—the meaning seems lost. It is therefore eery—disconcerting—that images made by humans less than half a century ago are now meaningly and marginalized—visual relics as opposed to objects of information. We point at them for the beauty of the line and printwork while cocking our head to the side wondering what the meaning was. I'm studying Art History in an introductory course right now, and we do the same to Egyptian and Roman art; what is this scene depicting? How did it once have meaning and now it has none? The limited human life—at least for me—seems augmented.

There's more to it, but I'd just be spouting irrational nonsense if I continued! I think aged images just evoke very specific allusions and ideas, and that's partly because of my own developing concept of history and what happened "way back when"—which as I've indicated—may or may not be the case. I'm very much apart of the Millennial generation, so any history before my lifetime seems fuzzy and dark—go figure!


To me they are a refreshing reminder that many people came before us and did amazing design. Keeps your game up.

Devin, it sounds like you need a crash course in the purpose of history (EH Carr 'What is History' is a good place to start) followed by a crash course in reading images: John Berger's seminal (1972?) book 'Ways of Seeing' is a good introduction.

What I love about Eric's selection of images each week is that they simply make one think. Sometimes it's about the nature of the design, others it's the message. The opening image in the current crop is fantastic for making you think about historical events, possibly how people thought at the time etc..

My personal favourite this week is a juxtaposition of a book cover 'Change of Life' followed by an advert exhorting the viewer to 'Smoke Grey's cigarettes' Incongruous in the modern age. However, every one has to reinterpret the visual world around them everytime they engage in looking at images (new or old).

Mark Cotter

Creepy but thought provoking. In a reflective or nostalgic mood?
Kevin Blackburn

I don't take old or creepy as being nihilistic it is simply sublime. The past is part of everyone and our world whether you've discovered that yet or not. But as you learn more it becomes more beautiful. A dirty grimy past can be just as intriquing or more so than the polished glossy present. Keep searching with an open mind.

Jobs | June 19