The readings this week reminded me of a piece that was on “On the Media” in January. Hugo Campos had to fight to get the data from a defibrillator that was implanted into his heart. Now he’s become an advocate for patients like him. He jokingly calls it Occupy Health.
You can read the transcript for the interview here. Or listen to it here.
…you take your pristine high-tech photo and damage it, messing up its tonal balance, vignetting it, discoloring it. Why would anyone want to do that? Well, simple novelty, but novelty passes. The filters (like those on Hipstamatic and other photo apps) also compensate for an amateur shutterbug’s spotty craftsmanship, shifting emphasis from the composition and content to the treatment. But the real draw goes deeper than that. Instagram is tapping the sense—a sense that has almost been lost—that a photograph is itself a precious object….
More in Christopher Bonanos, “Instantly Old” New York Magazine (April 13, 2012).
When she went blind as a result of diabetes, Trish Vickers set out to fill the void in her life by writing poetry. Then she turned to writing a novel, her pen guided by a system of elastic bands stretched across the paper. With 26 pages written, and a plot that turned on a woman whose life implodes, she began to dream of finding a publisher.
Then the dream imploded, too. When her son Simon visited her at her home, near the town of Lyme Regis in the Thomas Hardy country of Dorset, she showed him what she had written, and he gave her the bad news: Every page was blank. Her pen had run out of ink before she began, and what remained was an empty manuscript, void of all her imagination had captured.
Then came a twist in the story of a kind that would serve in one of the detective stories that have entertained mystery buffs for generations: Mrs. Vickers, 59, and her son turned to the forensic service of the Dorset County police….
It all started with a broken coffee cup. “It was a totally meaningless thing,” remembers Rob Walker, “but it happened to be a coffee cup that I had bought on a trip with my now-wife.” The ceramic casualty made Walker realize that the stories we attach to objects may be more valuable than the objects themselves.
With a collaborator, Joshua Glenn, he set about testing the premise. They bought knick-knacks at thrift stores, and asked dozens of great writers to create fictional backstories for them. Then the items, each with its story, were auctioned on eBay. One hundred of the stories are collected in the new book Significant Objects, with entries by Jonathan Lethem, Lydia Millett, Neil LaBute, and Kurt Andersen, among many others. You can read many of the stories here.
Rob and Kurt visited Vintage Thriftin Manhattan to find three prime examples of junk. Your task is to make one piece of junk (or more) significant. Walker will judge the entries, with one winner for each object. The prize, of course, is the piece of junk itself
“…the National Security Agency is building the country’s biggest spy center. It’s the final piece of a secret surveillance network that will intercept and store your phone calls, email, Google searches…” [Wired's Inside the Matrix, April 2012 Issue]
“Today Bluffdale is home to one of the nation’s largest sects of polygamists, the Apostolic United Brethren, with upwards of 9,000 members. The brethren’s complex includes a chapel, a school, a sports field, and an archive (…) But new pioneers have quietly begun moving into the area, secretive outsiders who say little and keep to themselves (…) Just off Beef Hollow Road, less than a mile from brethren headquarters, thousands of hard-hatted construction workers in sweat-soaked T-shirts are laying the groundwork for the newcomers’ own temple and archive (…) Rather than Bibles, prophets, and worshippers, this temple will be filled with servers, computer intelligence experts, and armed guards. And instead of listening for words flowing down from heaven, these newcomers will be secretly capturing, storing, and analyzing vast quantities of words and images hurtling through the world’s telecommunications networks. In the little town of Bluffdale, Big Love and Big Brother have become uneasy neighbors”.
There current issue of Art Journal, the publication of the College Art Association, is focused on “print,” and features a fantastic article on the online “journal” Triple Canopy, which I’ve mentioned in class on a few occasions. The article, which is available online — and which touches on differences in the physical and virtual reading experiences, labor in online publication, preservation of digital artifacts, protocol, and loads of other fascinating topics — will likely be of great interest to those of you who are interested in print and publication formats.