Speculative Fiction, Speculative Design
I had barely walked into Out of This World: Science Fiction But Not As You Know It
, an exhibition at the British Library, when I noticed a book cover that blew me away. Never having seen the strange dust jacket of England Swings SF
before, I wanted to know who had created it, but there was no information. The design is one of those prescient imaginative leaps into the future that vaulted so far it disappeared from the historical record.
On the Threshold of Sebald's Room
In a post about W.G. Sebald’s use of pictures, I reproduced a spread from Austerlitz, showing a room with a grid of shelves from floor to ceiling — the records room at the Terezín concentration camp located about an hour from Prague.
Recently, I happened to see Daniel Blaufuks’ book Terezín
and there on the cover was a photograph of the same room. The Portuguese photographer is haunted by the image. But where did it come from?
Lost Inside the Collector's Cabinet
The Collector’s Cabinet at the Frederic Marès Museum in Barcelona defeats your powers of perception and understanding. Everything is beautifully displayed in these subdued, elegant, atmospherically lit rooms, but nothing is labeled: no dates, no confirmation of what the item is, no explanations about its use. You are compelled to consider the unknowably limitless profusion of human-made artifacts.
Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?
For the cover of a new DVD of the classic film noir Kiss Me Deadly, the Criterion Collection designers have used publicity shots from 1955 rather than imagery from the film, or some other visual interpretation. It’s a counterintuitive piece of art direction because at no point in the movie does Mickey Spillane’s infamous private eye Mike Hammer menace the Lily Carver character with a gun while she’s tied up in a chair.
On My Shelf: Stefan Lorant's Lilliput
Stefan Lorant, one of the founding fathers of photojournalism, was already a highly experienced editor and art director when he launched Lilliput
magazine in London. He would take two pictures that resembled each other in some formal and/or thematic manner and place them side by side on the spread. These unexpected pairings can be wry, funny, bizarre, whimsical, satirical and not always kind.