The Interface: IBM and the Transformation of Corporate Design
In February 1956 the president of IBM, Thomas Watson Jr., hired the industrial designer and architect Eliot F. Noyes, charging him with reinventing IBM’s corporate image, from stationery and curtains to products such as typewriters and computers and to laboratory and administration buildings. What followed—a story told in full for the first time in John Harwood’s The Interface—remade IBM in a way that would also transform the relationships between design, computer science, and corporate culture.
IBM’s program assembled a cast of leading figures in American design: Noyes, Charles Eames, Paul Rand, George Nelson, and Edgar Kaufmann Jr. The Interface offers a detailed account of the key role these designers played in shaping both the computer and the multinational corporation. Harwood describes a surprising inverse effect: the influence of computer and corporation on the theory and practice of design. Here we see how, in the period stretching from the “invention” of the computer during World War II to the appearance of the personal computer in the mid-1970s, disciplines once well outside the realm of architectural design—information and management theory, cybernetics, ergonomics, computer science—became integral aspects of design.
As the first critical history of the industrial design of the computer, of Eliot Noyes’s career, and of some of the most important work of the Office of Charles and Ray Eames, The Interface supplies a crucial chapter in the story of architecture and design in postwar America—and an invaluable perspective on the computer and corporate cultures of today.
The second edition on Exhibition Prosthetics is published on the occasion of Joseph Grigley’s exhibition at the New York Art Book Fair, 2010. It explores the artist’s use of language and images as a means of representation that further the reach of the real. Grigely uses the term ‘exhibition prosthetics’ to describe an array of these conventions, particularly (but not exclusively) in relation to exhibition practices. Exhibition Prosthetics is the first in the Bedford Press Editions series of artist’s books edited by Zak Kyes. The series will engage with publications as a primary medium of practice, enabling artists to explore the inherent constraints and possibilities of the printed document.
On the morning after harvest, the inhabitants of a remote English village awaken looking forward to a hard-earned day of rest and feasting at their landowner’s table. But the sky is marred by two conspicuous columns of smoke, replacing pleasurable anticipation with alarm and suspicion.
One smoke column is the result of an overnight fire that has damaged the master’s outbuildings. The second column rises from the wooded edge of the village, sent up by newcomers to announce their presence. In the minds of the wary villagers a mere coincidence of events appears to be unlikely, with violent confrontation looming as the unavoidable outcome. Meanwhile, another newcomer has recently been spotted taking careful notes and making drawings of the land. It is his presence more than any other that will threaten the village’s entire way of life.
In effortless and tender prose, Jim Crace details the unraveling of a pastoral idyll in the wake of economic progress. His tale is timeless and unsettling, framed by a beautifully evoked world that will linger in your memory long after you finish reading.
Slouching Towards Bethlehem
The first nonfiction work by one of the most distinctive prose stylists of our era, Slouching Towards Bethlehem remains, forty years after its first publication, the essential portrait of America— particularly California—in the sixties. It focuses on such subjects as John Wayne and Howard Hughes, growing up a girl in California, ruminating on the nature of good and evil in a Death Valley motel room, and, especially, the essence of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, the heart of the counterculture.
Toothpicks and Logos: Design in Everyday Life
Design touches virtually every aspect of our lives, imbuing the most humdrum of objects with meaning. In Toothpicks and Logos, John Heskett illuminates a subject as vast and complex as human life itself, ranging from the earliest found implements in our history—the stick, the shell, the cupped hand—to modern advertising logos, software interfaces, and even the lowly toothpick.
Here is a truly groundbreaking book, one that will transform the way we think about design, revealing how integral it is to our daily lives, from the spoon we use to eat our breakfast cereal, to the car we drive to work in, to the medical equipment used to save lives. Design, Heskett writes, is one of the most basic expressions of what it is to be human—the reshaping of the environment to meet our needs and answer our desires, capturing both utility and aesthetics. Going beyond issues of style and taste, he describes how different cultures and individuals personalize objects—even simple objects, such as a toothpick, can have their design modified to suit the specific cultural behavior in different countries. Heskett examines architecture, multimedia, computers, software, and even the role of government in influencing design trends and he offers fascinating insights into how major companies such as Nokia, Ford, and Sony approach design. Finally, we are shown an exciting vision of what design can offer us in the future and especially its role in humanizing new technology.
Learned, thoughtful, and filled with lively examples, Toothpicks and Logos offers an entirely new slant on design, bringing clarity and insight to a sprawling and staggeringly complicated subject.
Forms and Meanings: Texts, Performances, and Audiences from Codex to Computer
In this provocative work, Roger Chartier continues his extraordinarily influential consideration of the forms of production, dissemination, and interpretation of discourse in Early Modern Europe. Chartier here examines the relationship between patronage and the market, and explores how the form in which a text is transmitted not only constrains the production of meaning but defines and constructs its audience.
Design and Crime (And Other Diatribes)
In these diatribes on the marketing of culture and the branding of identity, the development of spectacle—architecture and the rise of global cities, Hal Foster surveys our new political economy of design. Written in a lively style, Design and Crime explores the historical relations of modern art and modern museum, the conceptual vicissitudes of art history and visual studies, the recent travails of art criticism, and the double aftermath of modernism and postmodernism in an attempt to illuminate the conditions for critical culture in the present.
Notes From The Cosmic Typewriter: The Life And Work Of Dom Sylvester Houedard
Nicola Simpson (ed)
This book is the first since the early 1970s devoted to the extraordinary British Benedictine monk, scholar, translator, concrete poet and artist Dom Sylvester Houédard (192492). Edited by Nicola Simpson, with new essays by Gustavo Grandal Montero, Rick Poynor, David Toop and Charles Verey, ‘Notes from the Cosmic Typewriter’ offers a broad and richly illustrated introduction to this major artistic and theological figure.
A Schoolboy’s Diary and Other Stories
A Schoolboy’s Diary brings together more than seventy of Robert Walser’s strange and wonderful stories, most never before available in English. Opening with a sequence from Walser’s first book, “Fritz Kocher’s Essays,” the complete classroom assignments of a fictional boy who has met a tragically early death, this selection ranges from sketches of uncomprehending editors, overly passionate readers, and dreamy artists to tales of devilish adultery, sexual encounters on a train, and Walser’s service in World War I. Throughout, Walser’s careening, confounding, delicious voice holds the reader transfixed.
In Reinventing Bach, his remarkable second book, Paul Elie tells the electrifying story of how musicians of genius have made Bach’s music new in our time, at once restoring Bach as a universally revered composer and revolutionizing the ways that music figures into our lives.
As a musician in eighteenth-century Germany, Bach was on the technological frontier—restoring organs, inventing instruments, and perfecting the tuning system still in use today. Two centuries later, pioneering musicians began to take advantage of breakthroughs in audio recording to make Bach’s music the sound of modern transcendence. The sainted organist Albert Schweitzer played to a mobile recording unit set up at London’s Church of All Hallows in order to spread Bach’s organ works to the world beyond the churches. Pablo Casals, recording at Abbey Road Studios, made Bach’s cello suites existentialism for the living room; Leopold Stokowski and Walt Disney, with Fantasia, made Bach the sound of children’s playtime and Hollywood grandeur alike. Glenn Gould’s Goldberg Variations opened and closed the LP era and made Bach the byword for postwar cool; and Yo-Yo Ma has brought Bach into the digital present, where computers and smartphones put the sound of Bach all around us. In this book we see these musicians and dozens of others searching, experimenting, and collaborating with one another in the service of Bach, who emerges as the very image of the spiritualized, technically savvy artist.
Reinventing Bach is a gorgeously written story of music, invention, and human passion—and a story with special relevance in our time, for it shows that great things can happen when high art meets new technology.
All of us lead two parallel lives: the one we are actively living, and the one we feel we should have had or might yet have. As hard as we try to exist in the moment, the unlived life is an inescapable presence, a shadow at our heels. And this itself can become the story of our lives: an elegy to unmet needs and sacrificed desires. We become haunted by the myth of our own potential, of what we have in ourselves to be or to do. And this can make of our lives a perpetual falling-short.
But what happens if we remove the idea of failure from the equation? With his flair for graceful paradox, the acclaimed psychoanalyst Adam Phillips suggests that if we accept frustration as a way of outlining what we really want, satisfaction suddenly becomes possible. To crave a life without frustration is to crave a life without the potential to identify and accomplish our desires.
In this elegant, compassionate, and absorbing book, Phillips draws deeply on his own clinical experience as well as on the works of Shakespeare and Freud, of D. W. Winnicott and William James, to suggest that frustration, not getting it, and and getting away with it are all chapters in our unlived lives—and may be essential to the one fully lived.
Many Subtle Channels: In Praise of Potential Literature
Daniel Levin Becker
What sort of society could bind together Jacques Roubaud, Italo Calvino, Marcel Duchamp, and Raymond Queneau—and Daniel Levin Becker, a young American obsessed with language play? Only the Oulipo, the Paris-based experimental collective founded in 1960 and fated to become one of literature’s quirkiest movements.
An international organization of writers, artists, and scientists who embrace formal and procedural constraints to achieve literature’s possibilities, the Oulipo (the French acronym stands for “workshop for potential literature”) is perhaps best known as the cradle of Georges Perec’s novel A Void, which does not contain the letter e. Drawn to the Oulipo’s mystique, Levin Becker secured a Fulbright grant to study the organization and traveled to Paris. He was eventually offered membership, becoming only the second American to be admitted to the group. From the perspective of a young initiate, the Oulipians and their projects are at once bizarre and utterly compelling. Levin Becker’s love for games, puzzles, and language play is infectious, calling to mind Elif Batuman’s delight in Russian literature in The Possessed.
In recent years, the Oulipo has inspired the creation of numerous other collectives: the OuMuPo (a collective of DJs), the OuMaPo (marionette players), the OuBaPo (comic strip artists), the OuFlarfPo (poets who generate poetry with the aid of search engines), and a menagerie of other Ou-X-Pos (workshops for potential something). Levin Becker discusses these and other intriguing developments in this history and personal appreciation of an iconic—and iconoclastic—group.