Infinite Thirst

Or: The Misadventures of Yorick’s Skull, Part 1.

The skull of Yorick, deceased jester to a fictional court, rolls into a bar, occipital bone over frontal, until it comes to rest at the base of a bar stool. It stares upward and though sans-mandible calls out to the barkeep none the less, “What Ho goodman Carl!” The words are slightly slurred, whether for lack of larynx and lips or because this isn’t the first stop on the skull’s boozey itinerary it’s hard to say. The bartender, Dave, turns to see who’s calling him “Carl” (not being versed in Elizabethan slang) and sees no one.

12.02. filed under: !. fiction. 6

Reintroducing: Hella Basu

Picked up a 1980 design annual today put out by the venerable (but soon after to fold) U.K printing house Penrose. In it I found many amusing bits about then state-of-the-art computer graphics technology, articles of interest to the design dork with a historical bent, purty pictures, etc. The most striking bit by far, however, was a feature on a calligrapher by the name of Hella Basu. Beautiful work which put me in mind of everyone’s current fave Marian Bantjes, except Basu was born in 1924. A subsequent internet search for information on her work came up empty. Judging by the samples in the feature that’s a real shame. It’s my pleasure then to reintroduce her here, on the web, with the following 10 pieces culled from the Penrose annual.

Night of the Ground Stars

Or: urban shoe-gazing finds a purpose

Electric light, Concrete, and Chewing Gum, what have they in common? Though, admittedly, both concrete and chewing gum can ultimately trace their roots to antiquity, all three of these items, in something akin to their modern form, entered the American stage in the 1870’s.

Edison invented the first commercially successful incandescent lamp around 1879. At the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876 David O. Saylor exhibited the first American made portland cement, though it was not until 1891 that the first concrete street in the United States was paved. Thomas Adams opened the first chewing gum factory in 1870, and a year later Adams’ chicle based New York Gum went on sale in drug stores for a penny apiece. By the beginning of the 20th century all three of these items had become popular and were on their way to being staples of American life.

“It is only possible to succeed at second-rate pursuits - like becoming a millionaire or a prime minister, winning a war, seducing a beautiful woman, flying through the stratosphere or landing on the moon. First-rate pursuits - involving, as they must, trying to understand what life is about and trying to convey that understanding - inevitably result in a sense of failure. A Napoleon, a Churchill, a Roosevelt can feel themselves to be successful, but never a Socrates, a Pascal, a Blake. Understanding is ever unattainable. Therein lies the inevitability of failure in embarking upon its quest, which is none the less the only one worthy of serious attention.”
-Malcolm Muggeridge.

The Picture Frame

Or: the humble boundary between Art and reality

Recently I went on the hunt for some reference on picture frames and a trip to the Strand rewarded me with The Art of the Picture Frame by Jacob Simon. It was created to accompany an exhibition of the same name held at the National Portrait Gallery (UK) in 1996. Looking through the book It dawned on me instantly that I actually had no idea whatsoever what the history of the picture frame was, or indeed, why frames were invented in the first place. Since I picked up the book I’ve been intending to do a post on the origins of the frame. A concise summation of the info contained within the book, however, would be prohibitively difficult so instead I’ve decided to simply share some of the frames themselves and offer, instead of a summation, some related links. See below.

11.07. filed under: art. !. history. 5

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