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The Face of the Earth ... Masked by Beard, Glasses and Wig

130 year-old man from Minnesota, from László Moholy-Nagy, Von Material zu Architektur (1929)In Von Material zu Architektur (1929) (later translated to English as The New Vision), László Moholy-Nagy introduced a remarkable portrait of a 130-year old Minnesota man to demonstrate a point about photography and the perception of time. Remarking on the deep...

A Reader's Guide To A Reader's Guide

(Left to Right) Dennis Wilson, Laurie Bird, and James Taylor, with a 1955 Chevrolet 210 Hardtop, from Monte Hellman's Two-Lane Blacktop (1971)It is easy to admire Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies, Reyner Banham’s 1971 inspired take on Los Angeles, once thought of as the most elusive of American cities. This book has a lot to answer for,...

Lines in the Air

Gaston Tissandier's and Jacques Ducom's aerial photograph, from Hippolyte Meyer-Heine, La photographie en ballon et la téléphotographie (Paris: Gauthier-Villars, 1899), 4.On 19 June 1885, the Parisian scientist and aeronaut Gaston Tissandier, with his assistant Jacques Ducom, ascended by balloon from his “atelier aérostatique” at Auteuil and flew towards...

1979 (Book Zero)

Spread from Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) (Source: The Newberry Library)1.Ponce, Puerto Rico was the world I once knew best. It was a small city nestled on a leeward coastal plain, intensely hot, strangely arid, and occasionally dusty. And within this world, there was our house. Small, marble-floored, with brises-soleil and a...

The Law of Levity is Allowed to Supersede the Law of Gravity

Cover to R.A. Lafferty, Space Chantey (1968)   It was an age of freaks, monsters, and grotesques. All the world was misshapen in marvelous and malevolent ways.Alfred Bester, The Stars My Destination (1955)Now this almost goes without saying: but why S, M, L, XL? Why this huge, unwieldy mess of a thing, poorly bound, weighing more than the stack of National...

Follow The Light

Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937), The Annunciation (1899), Oil on Canvas, 57 x 71 1/4 inches (144.8 x 181 cm) Framed: 73 3/4 x 87 1/4 inches (187.3 x 221.6 cm)Henry Ossawa Tanner’s The Annunciation (1898) is a study of illumination and intimacy. The angel Gabriel appears as a shaft of amber light, brightening the room where a young Mary humbly sits....

Centerville/Interzone, or: Map Ref. 41°N 93°W

(Figure 1) “Views of Centerville” (Source: L.L. Taylor, ed. Past and Present of Appanoose County, Iowa: A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement (Chicago: S.J. Clarke, 1913), n.p.)From the root of our national psyche, an Exhibit of sorts. The evidence is probative, sure, but what other admissible facts, what other morsels of conjured...

Thomas Pynchon's 115th Dream

Hibbing High School, Hibbing Minnesota, From The Air (Source: Minnesota Historical Society)"I think I'll call it America" / I said as we hit land"-Bob Dylan (né Robert Allen Zimmerman), Hibbing High School, Class of 1959 [1]Dear Reader, for this inaugural excursion into the American landscape, indulge me for a moment and let me parse the above epigram....

Attributing Modernism

Antonin Raymond, Summer House at Karuizawa, South and East Facades, Nagano Prefecture, Japan (1933) (Source: Kurt Helfrich and William Whittaker, eds. Crafting a Modern World: The Architecture and Design of Antonin and Noémi Raymond (New York: Princeton Architectural Press), 155)The idea of copying necessarily invokes problems of authorship. Before...

The Aerodynamic Lightness of Being

Louis-Pierre Mouillard (1834-1897), Nile Vulture (Otogyps auricularis), from L’Empire de l’air (1881)The year is 1881. Convalescing in Alexandria, sketching images of Nile Vultures gliding in the sweltering Mediterranean skies, the French ornithologist and engineer Louis-Pierre Mouillard writes of an air teeming with life. Appearing early on in his...

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