Monday, June 19, 2017

Karl Blossfeldt: Superb Pioneering Botanical Photographs

Karl Blossfeldt made many of his incredible botanical photographs with a home-made camera that could magnify the subject up to thirty times its size, revealing details within a plant's natural structure. 

Appointed for a teaching post at the Institute of Royal Arts Museum in 1898 (where he remained until 1930), he established an archive for his photographs. 

Blossfeldt never received formal training in photography. The ingenious artist developed a series of home-made cameras that allowed him to photograph plant surfaces in unprecedented magnified detail. This reflected his enduring interest in the repetitive patterns found in nature's textures and forms.

Frances Glessner Lee: Deadly Dioramas

I ordered a copy of this fascinating book to see what's what...

"The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death" offers readers an extraordinary glimpse into the mind of a master criminal investigator. 

Frances Glessner Lee, a wealthy grandmother, founded the Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard in 1936 and was later appointed captain in the New Hampshire police. In the 1940s and 1950s she built dollhouse crime scenes based on real cases in order to train detectives to assess visual evidence. 

Still used in forensic training today, the eighteen Nutshell dioramas, on a scale of 1:12, display an astounding level of detail: pencils write, window shades move, whistles blow, and clues to the crimes are revealed to those who study the scenes carefully. 

Corinne May Botz's lush color photographs lure viewers into every crevice of Frances Lee's models and breathe life into these deadly miniatures, which present the dark side of domestic life, unveiling tales of prostitution, alcoholism, and adultery. 

The accompanying line drawings, specially prepared for this volume, highlight the noteworthy forensic evidence in each case. Botz's introductory essay, which draws on archival research and interviews with Lee's family and police colleagues, presents a captivating portrait of Lee.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Richard Haag: Landscape Architect

From yee Wiki: 
Richard Haag (b. 1923) is a Landscape Architect, famous for his work on Gas Works Park in Seattle, Washington, and on the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island. 

He is also noted for founding the Landscape Architecture Program at the University of Washington, and for holding multiple design awards. His designs call to mind the current trend of being one with and improving the environment. 

The social movement that created the hybrid car also demanded sustainable design, and Richard Haag provided it in the most distinctive and astounding ways. Richard Haag's Modernist and Minimalist ideals set the tone for Northwestern Landscape Design and has placed the Northwest on the road towards ecologically-minded design.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

On the Reading Table: "Against the Grain" by Richard Manning

On the reading table, amidst all the Design tomes:

"Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization" by Richard Manning
In this provocative, wide-ranging book, "Against the Grain," Richard Manning offers a dramatically revisionist view of recent human evolution, beginning with the vast increase in brain size that set us apart from our primate relatives and brought an accompanying increase in our need for nourishment. For 290,000 years, we managed to meet that need as hunter-gatherers, a state in which Manning believes we were at our most human -- at our smartest, strongest, most sensually alive. But our reliance on food made a secure supply deeply attractive, and eventually we embarked upon the agricultural experiment that has been the history of our past 10,000 years.

The evolutionary road is littered with failed experiments, however, and Manning suggests that agriculture as we have practiced it runs against both our grain and nature's. Drawing on the work of anthropologists, biologists, archaeologists, and philosophers, along with his own travels, he argues that not only our ecological ills-overpopulation, erosion, pollution-but our social and emotional malaise are rooted in the Devil's Bargain we made in our not-so-distant past. And he offers personal, achievable ways we might re-contour the path we have taken to resurrect what is most sustainable and sustaining in our own nature and the planet's.