The Emperor of Presumption

History has seen to it that the number of artists we’ve never heard of far outweighs those which we have, and positively dwarfs, like a supercluster to a matchbook, the number which we revere. This is doubtless as it should be since every aimless young person without quantifiable interests or skills seem to eventually shuffle (or be herded) into the arts seeking refuge from reality. From among these ranks of artists destined to be forgotten I bring you the somewhat interesting case of Guglielmo Achille Cavellini, the self-styled “emperor of presumption,” who undertook a determined campaign to be remembered in the annals of art history.

01.27. filed under: art. history. observations. people. 5

Robert Edward Auctions, an auction house specializing in baseball memorabilia, recently came upon a document which is not only illuminating, but may represent the most amusing chunk of writing to be officially issued by Major League baseball in existence. Today the league is having some serious public relations problems wrestling with the use of performance enhancing drugs, in the 1890’s, when the document in question was issued, they were having serious public relations problems of another kind. Specifically they were wrestling with the constant stream of terrifically filthy language which evidently issued from their players’ mouths, in every possible direction- at umpires, opposing players, fans, women, kids, nuns, diapered toddlers…

01.26. filed under: history. misc. play. 6

Watermarks

Though the terminology is misleading a “watermark” is not at all what it sounds like, and should never be confused with a mark actually made by water on the surface of a piece of paper! Spots like these were considered ghastly errors in the glory days of artisan-made paper and were thus referred to by the altogether more dramatic term “papermaker’s tears.” Confusing the two, say in a shadowy tavern, over a flagon of mead, could very well result in the dreaded “papermaker’s fists” impressing themselves into the pulp of your face.

01.25. filed under: design. history. 2

Long Duration Love Affair

That cylindrical object you see pictured above is a roughly school-bus sized structure which was deployed into space in 1984. It orbited the Earth for five and a half years with nothing expected of it other than to float there, getting battered about by whatever the great black yonder saw fit to throw at it. You see, every inch of its outside surface was covered with Science. 57 separate experiments, mounted in 86 trays, involving the participation of “more than 200 principal investigators from 33 private companies, 21 universities, seven NASA centers, nine Department of Defense laboratories and eight foreign countries.” Its purpose was to study the effects of space on a multitude of materials. Its name is the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) and I am deeply in love with it.

01.20. filed under: design. science. space. 13

Histoire Naturelle des Indes

The Histoire Naturelle des Indes, created sometime in the 1590’s, is one of the earliest illustrated records of European contact with the America. Also know it by its informal title The Drake Manuscript it was donated to the the Pierpont Morgan Library in 1983, who after many years of study graciously produced a full color facsimile. I happen to have said facsimile, which was published in 1996, right here in front of me. Shall we take a gander?

01.19. filed under: art. books. history. humanity. 12

Miscellaneous Characters

I was looking through a Linotype specimen book today from 1920, glancing at the faces, the advertising figures, some info on “the Rogers Tabular Matrix,” that sort of thing, when I came upon a page in the “miscellaneous characters” section which made me pause. It was a page titled “party emblems” and featured icons meant to represent 10 separate political parties. I thought, “In 1920, less than a single lifetime ago, there were 10 political parties in America taken seriously enough to warrant a logo?” My my, how times have changed.

01.13. filed under: design. history. observations. politics. 6

Mechanismo

Or: praise of futures past

A few weeks ago I picked up a book in the bargain bin at Strand titled Mechanismo. When the guy ringing me up at the checkout counter came upon it in my stack, he stopped, flipped through it quickly and somewhat sheepishly, and alerted a buddy standing a few registers down. They admired it together. I remember thinking, “Well, guess that one is Nonist worthy.” The book, published in 1978, is essentially a collection of essays by the venerable Harry Harrison on all things science-fictional. What makes the book standout, however, is the bounty of 70’s era sci-fi illustrations contained within, and it’s some of these that I’d like to share with you.

01.12. filed under: art. books. science. space. 13

The Secret History Of The Revolving Door

The revolving door is most often thought of today, if at all, in connection to the various forms of workplace-related dread it has come to be associated with. As the entranceway to office buildings it’s the cause of pavlovian groans (Christ! Here I am again at this hell-hole). As metaphoric short-hand it’s a stand-in for conflicts-of-interest, matters of ethical oversight, and corruption. Like snapshots from your last colonoscopy, or a multi-million dollar Damien Hirst painting, the images conjured aint pretty. The revolving door has, of course, not always been saddled with such negative connotations. There was a time, not so very long ago, when it was a shining symbol of modern man’s ingenuity- evidence of an energized drive toward the future. Yet surprisingly, even in the glow of the revolving door’s youth, when it was being enthusiastically installed in buildings the world over, few people were aware of its true origins.

01.10. filed under: history. lies. people. 5

A little something for all my NYC readers in tha house… For a year now I’ve been wondering when some enterprising “urban fashion” brand would seize upon the T-shirt design just staring them in the face every morning and night, on the subway and on the bus flanks, but it never, to my knowledge, materialized. So today, coming across a New York Times article revisiting the subject, I decided to just whip the damn thing up myself. And thus, I give you- “1,944 Snitches.” Perfect for that hustlin’ New Yorker keepin’ it really really real. Larger image here, and see the alternate version, with underscoring MF Doom quote, here. Hands-off Sean John.

01.08. filed under: design. play. 7

Gaikotsu’s Postcards

Or: Aitch’s Pick

This post comes to us, not from the usual source, namely my own expeditions of internet spelunking, but rather from an altogether more novel source- a friend of mine by the name of Mr. H. Most of you will remember Aitch fondly from his revered and only recently shuttered blog Giornale Nuovo. Well, it so happens that Aitch came across some images which he felt needed to be shared with the populace at large. He went ahead and crafted a post, leaving it here on The Nonist’s doorstep like a beautiful and cooing orphaned baby. Who am I, and indeed who are you, to do anything but embrace it lovingly?

So, without further interuption from me, here is Mr. H’s post on journalist Miyatake Gaikotsu and his collection of humorous and often obscure early 20th century postcards-

01.06. filed under: design. history. people. 15

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