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Where Are They Now? Part Three

August 27, 2014 | by

The third in a week-long series of illustrations by Jason Novak, captioned by Eric Jarosinski.image_8

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Where Are They Now? Part Two

August 26, 2014 | by

The second in a week-long series of illustrations by Jason Novak, captioned by Eric Jarosinski.

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Where Are They Now? Part One

August 25, 2014 | by

The first in a week-long series of illustrations by Jason Novak, captioned by Eric Jarosinski.

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The Zines of ABC No Rio

August 21, 2014 | by

“Zines + the World of ABC No Rio,” an exhibition on display through September 27 at the Center for Book Arts, draws from the extensive zine library at ABC No Rio, a social center founded on the Lower East Side in 1980.

ABC No Rio is maybe best known for its punk and hardcore collective—until recently, they hosted matinee punk shows on Saturday afternoons, and these were originally curated with the intent of avoiding the violence, racism, and homophobia that had come to dominant punk as it was practiced up the road at CBGB. But ABC No Rio was conceived as an art space; it has a darkroom, a silk-screening collective, and—no mean thing, back in the day—a computer lab.

The zines on display at the Center for Book Arts span more than two decades, and speak to the curious diversity of the medium, to say nothing of its endurance. As the Center explains:

By its straddling the line between functional brochure and works of art realized in book form, the zine has retained its popularity even as the internet has largely become the preferred method of self-publishing … [a zine] is usually a cheaply-made and priced publication, often in black and white, mass-produced via a photocopier, and bound with staples. The exhibit presents and explains a range of these self-same printed materials, mixing both artists’ original creations with items from the ABC No Rio zine library archives, covering subject matter from arts-community history to political commentary.

Above are fourteen highly various examples—between them, they feature stray bullets, quests for enlightenment, impromptu jaunts to Chattanooga, mosh pits, camo jackets, Aladdin, “dumpster insurgence,” and more.

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Its Light Was Prodigious

August 18, 2014 | by

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Paul Sandby, The 1783 Great Meteor, as seen from the East Angle of the North Terrace, Windsor Castle

As evidenced by its name, the 1783 Great Meteor was, yes, great and meteoric. At the time, not much else could be said about it with certainty—indeed, when it graced the skies of the British Isles 231 years ago today, it prompted a scientific (or pseudoscientific) crisis. Experts rushed to answer that burning—pun intended—question: What the hell was that?

On the night in question, Paul Sandby, a landscape painter, happened to be with Tiberius Cavallo, an Italian philosopher, hanging out on the terrace of Windsor Castle, enjoying the summer night, taking in the solemn spectacle of the sky, when, as Cavallo later wrote,

some flashes of lambent light, much like the aurora borealis, were first observed on the northern part of the heavens, which were soon perceived to proceed from a roundish luminous body, whose apparent diameter equaled half that of the moon, and almost stationary in the same point of the heavens … This ball at first appeared of a faint bluish light, perhaps from appearing just kindled, or from its appearing through the haziness; but it gradually increased its light, and soon began to move, at first ascending above the horizon in an oblique direction towards the east. Its course in this direction was very short, perhaps of five or six degrees; after which it directed its course towards the east … Its light was prodigious. Every object appeared very distinct; the whole face of the country, in that beautiful prospect before the terrace, being instantly illuminated.

I like the blend of specificity and awe here: Cavallo takes pains to describe the event as accurately as he can, but his account is suffused with the kind of wonder that only comes from confusion. How exciting it must’ve been, not knowing what was happening, not having the rote assurance of a scientific explanation. This was a time, after all, when one could still refer to the skies as “the heavens” without the slightest trace of irony.

In what amounts to an early example of crowdsourcing, artists and scientists came together to corroborate and dispute various accounts of the meteor. Sandby turned in an excellent watercolor of the phenomenon, and a schoolmaster named Henry Robinson made the engraving below. The meteor became the subject of wide speculation in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society; London Magazine ran an absurd account from a British lieutenant who claimed to have seen the meteor reverse its course, “moving back again, the contrary way to which it came.”

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Corpulent Coriolanus

August 13, 2014 | by

Yesterday, the Folger Shakespeare Library released some eighty thousand images into the Creative Commons, a deluge of bardic miscellany from which the Internet may well never recover. There are astrology charts, game boards, hornbooks, advertisements, illustrations, engravings, and more, all of it related, however tangentially, to Shakespeare. We’ve had TPR interns taking a fine-tooth comb to the collection for twenty-four hours now, with closely monitored breaks for water and gruel, and we present to you now the results of their exhaustive research. There’s a plump Coriolanus with a salty cheek, a lurid and seemingly shrunken Lady Macbeth, a King Lear who seems to have wandered off the Grateful Dead tour bus, and a plus-sized “Harlequin Quixote,” dressed in a modish, dance-floor-ready romper, attacking some puppets.

There is, perhaps best of all, this illustrated version of Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man” monologue, from Jaques in As You Like It. Click to enlarge:

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Oh, to be a lean and slippered pantaloon...

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