Thursday, September 27, 2012

Center Paige: Crumpling a Thin Sheet

Crumpling a Thin Sheet (2007) is Rutherford Witthus' scientific publication paying homage to John Cage, who practiced chance-determination as a part of his art. Witthus was infatuated by a piece of paper that he crumpled up and threw away. After studying the paper and its crumples, Witthus went on to explore the crumples of various types of papers, and found that every paper and crumple had their own distinct, special quality.

Image by Rutherford Witthus
Witthus went on to photograph his crumpled creations and meticulously wrote down their construction. "Crumple 19. Crumpled for 20 seconds on 22 June 2007 at 09:43:02 AM." Witthus even goes so far to document Crumple 19's internal construction by bisecting and dissecting the paper. Witthus continues with his scientific investigation by reprinting a 2001 study by a group of physicists from the University of Chicago titled Crumpling a Thin Sheet. The group was composed of research assistants Rachel B. Wiliams and Kittiwit Matan, Dr. Thomas A. Witten, and Dr. Sidney R. Nagel. Dr. Nagel gets inspiration to take unusual studies because "many complex phenomena are so familiar that we hardly realize that they defy our normal intuition; we forget to ask whether or not they are understood." The study goes on to focus on how the sheet gets its strength and its size depending on the force that is applied to it.

Image by Rutherford Witthus
Of course, this is all Greek to me, but what stands out about the text is how Witthus highlights the text and enlarges it, sometimes overlapping the other text. These are statements that stand out to him that he found particularly interesting, for example, "sheets of different size were also used with no obvious change in result," or statements that gave the personified the sheets, like "relaxation continues to even if the compression is stopped." It's these changes in the words' sizes, font, and color, and Witthus' attractive black-and-white photographs, make this an aesthetically interesting book that will appeal to both artistic and scientific persuasions.

The book is housed in a wooden box with a photograph of Witthus crumpling a sheet. It is bound in a traditional sewn binding using twisted paper as support, which is a genius way of incorporating crumpled paper in the binding. It was printed on velin arches blanc paper using an Epson Stylus Pro 4000. There are 11 copies that were up for sale, 4 presentation copies, and the Jaffe Center has copy #6.
Image by Rutherford Witthus "Crumple 20. Crumpled for 9 seconds on 1 September 2007 at 14:09:31 PM."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Graphic Novel of the Month: Sin City: The Hard Goodbye

Marv is a massive, imposing & heavily scarred man, which is why he is more than surprised by the fact that the mysterious & beautiful Goldie takes him home to bed. Marv is completely smitten with Goldie & can't believe his luck, but this quickly changes when Marv wakes up to find Goldie dead next to him & cops are already on their way. Marv knows that it is a set up & he isn't going down until he gets his revenge on Goldie's killer. "It's the old days. The bad days. The all-or-nothing days. They're back. There's no choices left & I'm ready for war," Marv states. He rampages through Basin City's underbelly & quickly learns that Goldie's killing has connections to some very prominent & important people.

Sin City: The Hard Goodbye is not a graphic novel for children. It's violence & sex is relentless. That being said, the violence & sex is extremely stylized & over-the-top. Written & drawn by Frank Miller, The Hard Goodbye could have been almost too much to handle if it had not been for his stark use of black & white. Many of the details get lost in the shadows, which is what makes this so aesthetically pleasing. The heavily shadowed & sharp illustrations give grit to the book & are reminiscent of film noirs.

Still, this is no The Maltese Falcon. Marv is perfect example of an anti-hero & his actions are absurd, which is why he may be Miller's greatest character to come out of the Sin City series. He is a savage, stubborn & easily angered & is a product of his urban environment. So, if you don't Marv, then you must not like the city.