Objects (or: the museum as heterotopia)

Several weeks ago I was asked to re-tool the type treatment on the old US edition cover of The Archeology of Knowledge by the great philosopher, sociologist, and géneálogiste Michel Foucault.

When it comes to getting me to take on a project, I think the editors here know how easy it is to set the hook (especially when it comes to titles by hoary old giants of the lit-crit and philosophy curricula of my youth.)

"Just change the old designer's type so it's more readable." sez they. (The old edition is actually quite lovely- though the word "Michel" is nested, illegibly, inside of the word "Foucault").

"ok- but, can I redesign the whole cover instead?" sez I. (like I don't have enough to do)

"Sure," sez they.

"Just one Foucault?" sez I.

"Well...." sez they....

Long story short: here are some of the forthcoming Foucaults (the first mechanicals have gone out- so: coming to stores soon-ish).

Some of my references here are less obvious than others (for instance, The Archeology of Knowledge is Foucault's seminal work on the speech act- hence the megaphone.) But even the designs that seem upon first glance to be crude puns have some textual referent. (And I know: "I, Pierre" should be a pruning hook, instead of an axe- but the axe just looked cooler. If only it was Best Made.)

In all the volumes, the idea of having an interplay between the extreme specificity of the objects and Foucault's broad principles was enticing to me- or, to use the expression most (justifiably) detested by my esteemed colleague Barbara DeWilde: I enjoyed "exploring the intersection" of the specific and the general. So- borrowing from Orhan Pamuk: an imaginary museum of objects (Museums were of specific interest to Foucault, and, if you wanna know his thoughts on the matter- go out and buy The Order of Things.)




In which our hero fields some questions from the Death Star...

(actually, they were really quite nice)



And what are these beautiful things?


Via The Nonist

OMG: Ceskoslovensko

Late to this party (as usual) but...herewith- a primer on what great book covers should look like. From a journey round my skull (also: as usual)


Eva Truffaut

The awesome curatorial powers of Ms. Eva Truffaut...


& here,

& here!



Another from the Knopf list

And- because you asked, here it how it's done:

PImage img;
PImage img2;

// Size of each cell in the grid
int cellSize = 15;
// Number of columns and rows in our system
int cols, rows;
// Variable for capture device

void setup() {
size(370, 550, P2D);
cols = width / cellSize;
rows = height / cellSize;
colorMode(RGB, 255, 255, 255, 100);

// load an image

img = loadImage("skull.jpg");
img2 = loadImage("peanut.jpg");
img2.resize(8, 0);

void draw() {

// Not bothering to clear background
// background(0);

// Begin loop for columns
for (int i = 0; i < cols; i++) {
// Begin loop for rows
for (int j = 0; j < rows; j++) {

// Where are we, pixel-wise?
int x = i*cellSize;
int y = j*cellSize;
int loc = (img.width - x - 1) + y*img.width; // Reversing x to mirror the image

float r = red(img.pixels[loc]);
float g = green(img.pixels[loc]);
float b = blue(img.pixels[loc]);
// Make a new color with an alpha component
color c = color(r, g, b, 15);

// Code for drawing a single rect
// Using translate in order for rotation to work properly
translate(x+cellSize/2, y+cellSize/2);
// Rotation formula based on brightness
//rotate((2 * PI * brightness(c) / 255.0));
// Rects are larger than the cell for some overlap
//rect(0, 0, cellSize+6, cellSize+6);
//rect(0, 0, 10, 30);
//triangle(0, 0, -15, 15, 15, 15);
image(img2, 0, 0);

void mousePressed()

Joe Monty has an Album

Joe Montgomery
is more than just great book jackets




The Conurbation of Grimsby

The indefatigable Peter Terzian interviews David Pearson over at PRINT

Pearson is a footie fan (aren't we all), and his club is Grimsby Town FC (poor sod), described thusly by Wikipedia: "The club is located at Blundell Park in the seaside town of Cleethorpes, part of the conurbation of Grimsby on the Humber estuary."

It's directly between the Slithy Toves and the Tumtum trees.


Some more from last Knopf list

All of these are, happily, either just back from the printer, or on their way to the printer. In any case, all, thank the lord, approved...

Writings from the late architecture critic Herbert Muschamp. Glossy lam.

Stories. Photo by the brilliant Gala Collette, also featured in the photo. To you puctuation-Nazis out there: the reason there is no period after the author name, is that I was told to lose it. Let's pretend it's hiding behind Gala.

Printed on uncoated stock. The black oil is a black foil-stamp.

A Roberto Calasso arriving at last...

A new Nicholas Fox Weber...

Biography of the great art impresario and gallery owner Leo Castelli...

Two titles on War and Dreams...

By the author of WIZARD OF THE CROW. I was asked to give it the same kind of collage treatment...

A roman a clef, about Fellini- The title as subtitle...

For you sticklers of verisimilitude, here was a reject:

Russian poetry (in collaboration with the great Leanne Shapton)...

Bio of Churchill- an actual photo of Sir Winston watching an RAF fighter plane. In case you thought there was some Photoshoppin goin on...

Stories. A bear, a bike, what more do you need to know?

A history of the magazine CONFIDENTIAL.

A freaking brilliant novel from the bona fide genius Peter Carey. Printed on a laid stock. the gold is foil, baby.

And this one came in too:

And this one...

And finally, these- which were reprinted differently from their 2002 form (who sez there are no second acts?). The distressed paper has been removed and they now have pristine backgrounds.

That's some of them, more coming soon. And soon I can move on to Fall 2010.