Something Wicked This Way Comes


Posted in studio by Christina Jenkins on November 30, 2008



There’s a piece by James Gleick in this Sunday’s NYT about the future of books. He weighs in on the conversation we’ve had several times about the consequences of technology for physical objects. Remember bicycles? Right. His argument is that books are perfectly suited to the task they’re intended for – reading print – in the same way that hammers and bicycles are. So, he predicts that books will not go extinct in the same way that the phonograph did and CDs will, because those devices are good for something (projecting sound) that other things can do better. Books, though, are the best way of reading print.

That isn’t to say that they’re the best way of communicating information. Obviously, he writes, telephone books and encyclopedias are dead; they’ve been reinvented, in a better way, online. And, related to Google’s scan-every-book-in-the-world project, books that were previously relegated to a dead zone between public domain and bookstores (that is, books that are out of print but not yet copyright-free) may now see a new life if they’re made available online.

So I think Gleick’s point is that books aren’t going anywhere. Changing, yes (some of them might be reincarnated online) but that just frees the book from mass-market obligations. The book won’t be interested in mass appeal, cheapness or comprehensiveness – the Internet is good at that. Let’s instead think about what the book is good for.

I’m so optimistic!

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Taking pictures of pictures.

Posted in studio by Christina Jenkins on October 21, 2008

Moving on to our second studio project: I’m working with Michael and Iva, and we’re looking at the park in DUMBO between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. We’ve been studying the site and are proposing a few different concepts for public space projects. My own idea comes out of the most-photographed-barn-in-America problem, which I’m sure has been articulated in a thousand different ways but which I read about in DeLillo’s White Noise. DeLillo writes about two of his characters who visit the most photographed barn in America, and one notes that the tourists who are taking pictures there can’t help but “take pictures of pictures.” That is, we – the picture-takers – have bestowed on this barn the very celebrity that makes us want to take pictures of it in the first place. What? So we see the same thing in Paris (is that whole city a picture of a picture?), or the Empire State Building, or whatever. We also see it in this park (officially, the Fulton Ferry State Park), with visitors taking pictures of (and maybe not even taking pictures of, just facing) the Manhattan waterfront.

So that – the most-photographed-barn-in-America – has become the challenge for us to overcome at this site, and our first response to that involves hiding Easter eggs that include “information” (stories, pictures?) about the landscape across the water. I’m not completely set on this yet; I think it needs to be rethought before we start going into different iterations. It’s pretty important to me to see the value in this project myself (and not just shrug, and say hey, I’m not the typical user, but someone would do it …), and I’m not quite there yet. I’ve started thinking about the water, and our relationship to it – as New Yorkers who live on islands, as park-goers who skip over it to admire those buildings on the Manhattan side, as tourists who don’t see the water when we see it.

You are what you eat.

Posted in studio by Christina Jenkins on September 11, 2008

So our first assignment in studio:interface was to create a self portrait. Any medium, any scale, etc. Mine’s below. I was thinking about what kind of image, aside from a straight-up realistic picture, would, well, invokeĀ me. What can do that better than icons of my nine favorite foods? I do eat more adult items, but these nine all make me really happy whenever I can get my hands on them. From the top left to right, those are: Kraft Singles processed cheese slices; a McDonalds’ filet-o-fish; a corndog; a bahn mi (vietnamese sandwich); a burrito (of any sort); mayonnaise; a chrysanthemum tea juice box; Ā Kraft macaroni and cheese; and Totino’s frozen party pizza, which IĀ can’t locate anywhereĀ in New York City.

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