Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lewis Wickes Hine

I've wanted to talk about Lewis Wickes Hine for a while, but I haven't gotten to it yet, until now. Hine was a photographer & sociologist that used his photographs as a means for social reform & is one of the better known photojournalist. Starting in 1906, Hine photographed the working conditions faced by immigrants & children & his photographs were highly influential in changing child labor laws. Other projects of Hine's included his work with the Red Cross during W.W.I. & photographing the construction of the Empire State Building (which he risked his life for.) You may not have actually known his name, but I'm sure you have seen his photographs. Here are a few of my favorites, some awe-inspiring, others horrifying, but always powerful.

For more of Hine's work, the New York Public Library created a digital library from their collection.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Two View Movie Review: Gosford Park

Set in 1932, Gosford Park (2001) is a multi-layered story about wealthy Britons & their servants who go to a Manor in the country for a hunting party. The servants get together & gossip about their bosses & each other, while the upper class reveals the skeletons in their closets more & more as the weekend goes on. Things reach a climax when someone winds up murdered & everyone is a suspect.

The movie plays out like a whodunit, but it is more than a murder/mystery. Similar to the film The Rules of the Game, Gosford Park studies the class system in Britain & focuses on how much the upper class relies on the lower class; or in the film, the people who lounge upstairs & the people who work downstairs. A number of other themes include the decline of the British Empire, British life between the two World Wars, & sexual issues like homosexuality. The film would be considered  a humorous, mystery drama. The film takes itself quite seriously, but that hard-to-imitate British wit is infused in every scene (Maggie Smith is a perfect example of this quality.)

Gosford Park was Robert Altman's second-to-last film before his death in 2006. Altman & cinematographer Andrew Dunn filmed the film in subtle yet interesting ways. During scenes with a large group, they had two cameras running at the same time, out of each other's shots, of course,  which would require some choreography, as the filmmakers also never had the cameras standing still. Altman stated he did this in order to create a natural setting for the actors, causing them to talk amongst each other & not to the camera. The actors also wore portable microphones instead of using a boom mic so that the dialog could be overlapped, again, so that the scenes are as natural as possible.

The film is without a doubt convoluted, as the film contains over 20 characters, each with their own progressive storyline. Still, Gosford Park is the perfect "Two View Review" film, as it requires a second view, but don't get me wrong, the first view is enough for the actors (which includes every great British actor working at the time) & the filmmakers to convey their love for their craft. The subsequent viewings are just layers added to a delicious cake.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Celebrate Harvey Milk Day

May 22nd is the second annual celebration of Harvey Milk Day. For those who still may not know, Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man to be elected into public office in California when he was appointed the position in 1978. Harvey Milk fought for a civil rights law that outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation in San Francisco, where Milk held office. Milk also fought against the Briggs Initiative, a proposition that required the firing of gay teachers & teachers who supported gay rights. Milk campaigned long & hard against the proposition & the proposition didn't gain enough votes.

On November 27, 1978, Harvey Milk & San Francisco Mayor George Moscone was shot & killed by former Supervisor Dan White. Milk only served as a supervisor for eleven months & he accomplished so much in that short period of time that benefited the LGBT community. Without Milk's tireless campaign against the Briggs Initiative, the proposition may have gone into effect & if a state like California was signing anti-gay laws into effect, then it could have easily spread out the whole U.S. This is all rhetorical, but I can't help but wonder what would have happened if he was still around. The LGBT community definitely needed a leader during the early years of AIDS/HIV. Fighting against Proposition 8 would have been Milk's main objective in 2008. Maybe Milk would have moved onto bigger things, like becoming a Representative for California, fighting against policies like Don't Ask Don't Tell in the House. All I know is that he left too soon & there is still work to be done. That is the purpose of Harvey Milk Day: to remember what one man did in a short period of time; what can you do in order to carry on the fight?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Looky Lookie: Triumph eines Hosenverkäufers

Triumph eines Hosenverkäufers (Triumph of a Trousers Salesman) was created by Veronika Schäpers in 2002. It is an edition of 15 copies. The book contains inkjet text & images printed on clear polyethylene foil pages. The pages are held together with gum cords that also bend the cover. It is housed in a clear polycarbonate cover housed in a inflatable air-cushion with red titling on front & black titling on back, which is also housed in a white fleece bag.

The book is inspired by the text, which is a poem written by Heiko Michael Hartmann. When the book is first viewed, it looks like blurs of red & the text becomes lighter as you descend to read it. But, as you turn the first page, you realize that the red is a silhouette of two boxers fighting & the lines of the poems appear one at a time on each page. So, as you turn the page to read the text, you see the two boxers continue their bout. But what does boxing have to do with selling pants? The poem, which is in German, is in the salesman's point-of-view, who approaches the job as a boxing match.

Here is a rough translation of the poem:
Immediately after I 
stumbled into the ring unguarded
there was I have something for you
certainly you may
the sheer force of springy ropes pushed me
in the dressing-room I turned weak
rather than suspicious
my suggestion for outside I staggered
under the cuffs of his endless
concern to settle the score
I kept nodding keep going I thought
only the price kept me on my 
feeble legs just feel the 
high-quality material & the excellent
workmanship will look fabulous 
after some alterations
with my city shirt mustering
what strength I had left I whispered I'll take it
you have made the gong saved me
chosen well

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Graphic Novel of the Month: Gods' Man

A poor, struggling artist makes a deal with a mysterious, masked stranger. The stranger gives the artist an ancient paintbrush used by the greatest painters of the past. All he has to do is give the stranger his previous art & sign a contract. After this meeting, the artist's luck changes when he moves to a big metropolis, where he starts to gain attention because of his artistic depiction of the city's monumental buildings. The artist is quickly seduced by his new upper-class status, but quickly realizes that fame & fortune is abusive. He escapes back to nature in order to find the innocence that he lost in his craft & himself, but it may be too late.

Lynd Ward's Gods' Man is the first of six "wordless novels" he created. Made in 1929, Ward's novels, along with the novels of Franz Masereel & Otto Nuckel, are thought to be some of the earliest graphic novels, despite Ward reporting that he never read comics. The novels are made out of wood engravings & Ward's woodcuts are dramatic, featuring a combination of Art Deco & Expressionism. Ward's greatest strength is creating rays of light with these woodcuts that not only radiate through the darkness of the clouds but also radiate off the pages, despite being stark black & white images. Gods' Man is a breathtaking piece of work. Truly a masterpiece in a class & medium of only a few.

Check out Judith Klau's analysis of the book here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

New Exhibit: Time Flies When You're Having Fun

Hey, blog readers! Sorry for my staggering appearances during the last couple of weeks. It has been rather busy here at the Center. Fans probably already know, but Arthur Jaffe's 90th birthday was Saturday, May 7th, & he's retiring, too, so we threw a big party this weekend in his honor. We also asked artists from the collection to donate books for the celebration. We received many great items & we placed them on display along with some of Arthur's favorite items from the collection. The Time Flies When You're Having Fun exhibit will be on display all summer long throughout the whole library.

Also, you can celebrate Arthur's birthday & retirement by coming to the Time Flies Open House on Saturday May 21st. From 1PM to 4PM, you can chat with Arthur with a side of cookies & coffee, create a print with our Vandercook Printing Press, & receive one-of-a-kind poetry from the Miami Poetry Collective. Members of the Collective will be scattered across the Center so you can buy a poem (name your own price) based on a topic or theme of your recommendation. While you're here, you can look at the Time Flies When You're Having Fun exhibit & the Stories on the Skin: The Photos exhibit on the first floor, west wing of the library. No need to RSVP; just come, have fun, & leave with some cool pieces.