May 24, 2019

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Corita Kent’s That They May Have Life, 1964

Hi! It’s been a week of sweating (Maryland pls), drawing, playing with pets, and reading reading reading. I’m also fighting a cold which feels rudely unseasonable, but it has forced me to slow down, drink lots of water, and breathe through my mouth at night, to my husband’s delight I’m sure.

  1. Design plagiarism: Myth or reality? “My advice to students and young designers: Inspiration is all around you. Yes, looking at and even recreating the work of others can be invaluable. Study the details, add the methods to your personal tool box. But most importantly, ask yourself how and why the visuals worked to communicate a concept or story. Think about how you might apply the ideas in a different way or put your own stamp on it. When it’s time to design something real, put the examples away and clear your mind.” I’ve been thinking a lot about plagiarism (or copying, appropriation, whatever you might call it) in graphic design. I see a lot of digital illustrators with the same style: matte, dusty-pink, sans serif, abstracted anatomy…And maybe that’s what their clients are looking for since that’s such a major trend in web articles and social media. But as I’m learning to work in this medium, and because I’m a librarian, I’m naturally interested in the ethics of creating art and using inspiration. This piece, “Following Trends: Homage vs. Design Plagiarism,” had some great concrete advice for avoiding plagiarism and/or becoming a copier: Don’t use just one source, make improvements on your source material, and give credit. The line between inspiration and plagiarism does exist in visual media, but I think it can be confusing sometimes.
  2. 20 Hand Gestures You Should Be Using, Science of People. Love the visual aids in this article, especially the one for ~ jazz hands. ~ Also, I had never thought about #19 before: “When you flash your palm at someone, you want them to pause or stop. You can do this while anyone is speaking and they almost instantly will be quiet. (Use in emergencies only!) I was with a CEO once, and he had the habit of doing it to his employees when he was done listening. It was horribly offensive. Alternative: You also can do this when asking a question–it’s a universal attention-grabber.” Reading about hand gestures makes me feel like a Martian doing research on how to pass among Earthlings.
  3. Corita Kent Was A Pop-Art Pioneer—And A Catholic Nun, Bust. This is the artist from this week’s blog image, and I think her art is so cool. She makes the ordinary extraordinary. “In 1962, Kent attended an exhibition of Campbell’s Soup Cans by the then-unknown Andy Warhol. After seeing the paintings, she began incorporating the language of advertising and pop lyrics into her work. One month after seeing the Warhol exhibit, she began creating pieces that combined the familiar Wonderbread packaging with images of the Host, the circular wafers used during the Catholic sacrament of the Eucharist. “By taking bread out of its ordinary form, and presenting it as his body, He [Jesus] originated pop art,” she explained in a 1966 lecture, as quoted in Corita Kent and the Language of Pop, edited by Susan Dackerman. Kent saw the hand of God in the vernacular language of everyday life. She took the Exxon catchphrase, “Put a tiger in your tank,” and used it as a channel to the higher spirit. “‘Put a tiger in your tank,’ I really think of as saying [that] the spirit , whatever the spirit means to us, is inside of us,” Kent said in the oral history.”
  4. How the News Took Over Reality, the Guardian. This (very long) article talks about “the much newer feeling of actively participating in [the news], thanks to the interactivity of social media. If you are, say, angry about Brexit, it is possible to be angry about Brexit almost all of the time: to encounter new and enraging facts about Brexit, and opportunities to vent about Brexit, in ways that would have been unthinkable as recently as the mid-2000s. If you had fulminated then to your family and colleagues as even respected peers, novelists and philosophers now routinely fulminate on Twitter, you’d have alienated everyone you knew.” And although sharing and commenting feels like it might have some effect on the outcome of the story, we aren’t feeling particularly empowered by the urge. The article calls it “a low-grade sense of panic and loss of control,” and that is really how it feels sometimes. I’ll read about current events and feel stress reactions piling up in my body until the only thing to do is shut everything off and breathe deeply (or jiggle my leg until my anxiety drills a hole in the floor). He suggests that we “dedicate attention to nurturing domains in which politics cannot intrude. From this perspective, to decline to talk about Brexit or Trump at the pub or the watercooler isn’t a matter of burying your head in the sand, but of proactively protecting some parts of life from becoming overwhelmed by current affairs.” Although my eyes glazed over while the author traced the history of the news, I thought these pieces were interesting food for thought.
  5. What Happens to Your Brain When You Eat Junk Food. CW: food/calorie talk. There are so many funky phrases in this article, which quotes a food scientist named Steven Witherly: “Foods with dynamic contrast have “an edible shell that goes crunch followed by something soft or creamy and full of taste-active compounds. This rule applies to a variety of our favorite food structures — the caramelized top of a creme brulee, a slice of pizza, or an Oreo cookie — the brain finds crunching through something like this very novel and thrilling.” It gives me some insight as to why Utz Sour Cream & Onion chips get me on such a primal level. I wanted to mostly share the quoted Steven Witherly parts of this article with you all. The author of the article, who is specifically interesting in researching habits, goes on to talk about how to banish junk food and reprogram your diet. I’m not here to moralize on good and bad foods, and junk food is fine in my opinion — but the food science here is fascinating. My monkey brain loves the crunch!

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