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Posts Tagged ‘Nicholas Blechman’

Graphic Homage: John Cage Meets Offset Printing in Project by Nicholas Blechman and Friends

In 1948, John Cage paid a visit to the anechoic chamber at Harvard University, an echo-free room that had recently been built for the purpose of physics research. Surrounded by foot-thick concrete walls that bristled with sound-absorbing wedges, he had an epiphany: “I heard that silence was not the absence of sound but was the unintended operation of my nervous system and the circulation of my blood,” wrote Cage. He credited that experience, along with the white paintings of his Black Mountain College chum Robert Rauschenberg, with leading him to compose 4’33”. The composition, divided into three sections, consists of four minutes and thirty-three seconds in which the performer plays nothing. On the occasion of Cage’s 100th birthday, his most famous work gets a graphic design twist from Nicholas Blechman (art director of The New York Times Book Review), Irene Bacchi, and Leonardo Sonnoli. The trio created “Heidelberg Speedmaster” (below), an offset print interpretation of 4’33” and named for the industrial printing machine at work in the video, recorded last Friday at La Pieve Poligrafica in Rimini, Italy. Each of the composition’s three parts are also interpreted in posters designed by Blechman, Bacchi, and Sonnoli (two of the posters are pictured above). And now, your moment(s) of Zen:

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New York Holiday Party Report

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Thanks for the invitations, New York design community (or in some cases, not having a list at the door). Here’s where we found ourselves drinking free toddies this week…

Rockwell Group
Address: Bowlmor Lanes
Crowd: Rockwell Group employees
Specialty Cocktail: Bullshot, served by “celebrity bartender” Laurie Rosenwald
Big Sightings: Maira Kalman, Tucker Viemeister wearing a Santa hat
Just Missed: Chee Pearlman
Highlight (pictured here): A video kaleidoscope created by James Tichenor and Joshua Walton that projected snowflakes cut by partygoers onto huge screens around the room. No word on how many Bullshots were served before bare butts were also projected around the room.

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Debbie Millman’s SVA Class
Address: Millman’s swank pad
Crowd: Students, former “Design Matters” guests
Specialty Cocktail: Champagne (for those of age), as double-fisted by Felix Sockwell
Big Sightings: Chip Kidd, James Victore, Tobias Frere-Jones
Just Missed: Joyce Rutter Kaye
Highlight: Millman giving signed copies of 100% Evil to her students, which were doodled on more by Christoph Niemann and Nicholas Blechman, both in attendance.

The Architect’s Newspaper
Address: The well-appointed loft of William Menking and Diana Darling
Crowd: Architects, writers, architect-writers
Specialty Cocktail: Real egg nog, with fresh grated nutmeg
Big Sightings: The lady design journalist power trio of Julie Lasky, Julie Iovine and Eve Kahn
Just Missed: Teddy Cruz
Highlight: The view.

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Good Design Party
Address: Good pop-up store
Crowd: Green design consultants, graphic designers, Mr. T fans
Specialty Cocktail: Organic wheat vodka with Izze sparkling clementine juice in biodegradable cups made from corn
Big Sightings: Emily Oberman, supercute young’un Jonathan Harris presenting the Whale Hunt
Just Missed: Bobby Martin giving his slam-dunk presentation again
Highlight: Mike Essl showing off his world’s largest Mr. T memorabilia collection, including a clip from VH1′s “Totally Obsessed” where he and his co-collector eat a 20-year-old box of Mr. T cereal.

More Highlights and Reflections From Cause/Effect

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It must be some kind of record: 70% of the speakers at the one-day AIGA NY conference Cause/Effect brought us to the brink of tears. But until the end, we really weren’t sure why.

We even found ourselves pretty much speechless at one point. The presentation that went beyond words, meaning a blog post really couldn’t do it justice, was Alan Jacobson’s powerful work on a memorial in Rwanda as part of the Barefoot Artists program. Read up on the project on their site and don’t miss a chance to catch Jacobson present in person.

Although we missed Steven Heller‘s propaganda parade, Seymour Chwast‘s poster-rama and Mark Randall discussing the Urban Forest Project (catch coverage over at Core77), we have more detailed reports about Carin Goldberg, Bobby Martin, Frank Baseman, Phil Patton, Nicholas Blechman, Marc Alt, Scott Stowell, and Chris Hacker, who were truly all great.

All the young designers were stars. Seth Labenz and Roy Rub presented the fascinating results of their experiment “Uniting.” And the final panel of the day, a three-fer of social entrepreneurship had the always delightful Randy Hunt and his Amazing Project, and two extremely eloquent show-stoppers: Kristin Johnson‘s Practical Small Projects, bringing solar energy to Mali, and Lara McCormick‘s Stop and Start Over (another Sappi grant winner!), an addiction recovery site and community that’s designed to appeal more to the young audience looking for help.

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The only minor disappointment was the One Laptop Per Child presentation by Lisa Strausfeld. Cute as they may be, we got little, if any, insight into how the laptops really work, and we’re still not sure why the beautiful interface is appropriate for kids who have never used a computer, especially since a CBS News story showed kids easily using regular laptops. Also puzzling was that they did no testing of the interface with African kids. They had just gotten their shipment of laptops that day, so maybe they need to play around with them some more before presenting again.

But overall, the day was expertly assembled and orchestrated by chairs Mike Essl (who doubled as an on-stage tech guy) and Emma Presler (wearing a tres snazzy scarf). We noticed a similar thread running through both Cause/Effect and Designism 2.0 (without the “banal-retentive,” of course): The most striking projects were really not about design in the traditional sense, echoing Milton Glaser‘s sentiments at Designism about the dissemination being more important than the device. In fact, we thought, these people didn’t really act like designers at all. More like MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipients, Nobel Prize winners, UN ambassadors. And that realization was simply overwhelming.

Nicholas Blechman’s Nozone Is Still All Too Resonant

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Nicholas Blechman‘s Nozone is a brilliant little zine with a star-studded roster of contributors. Issue 9, Empire, which was published in 2004, is probably the most famous, but as Blechman went through the highlights at today’s Cause/Effect, we were like, dude, this could have been published yesterday. The issues of imperialism are handled with grace and wit by people like Paul Sahre, Stefan Sagmeister and Christoph Niemann (his flags from fictional countries are a hoot). You can see some of the issue online here, by clicking Empire, then clicking the contributor names.

If you haven’t bought it already, we still say Empire would make the perfect Christmas gift for the social activist/graphic novel fan in your life. Or you could always wait until the next issue, which will be arriving at an undisclosed time: Forecast.