Japanese Photobooks of the 1960s and ’70s

This beautifully-assembled collection has been an inspiration over the past few months. There are many amazing images, and beautiful repro/packaging on show, but it’s the sheer narrative surge, the urgency of the photobooks themselves as assemblages that grips me. Give me 90 minutes with Hosoe’s Man and Woman or Kikuji Kawada’s The Map over watching a film (other than Tarkovsky, maybe) any day. An essential purchase, though a frustrating tease for those of us without access to the original books. Shame that so many of the volumes lovingly-reproduced here havent’t been reprinted, and are only available at auction for crazy …

Blue Moon

…tonight. Beautiful over the Thames. Reading the encyclopedic The Moon: Myth and Image by Jules Cashford: Some North American Indians see a cat in the moon, unravelling the wool of the waning days.

Petrescence

Agricola, the seventeenth-century metallurgist […] spoke of a juice (succus) that was a stone-forming spirit (lapidificus spiritus). Robert Boyle, one of the founders of modern chemistry, called it a “petrescent liquor,” from the Latin word petra, rock; and he thought there might be special juices for metals and other minerals […] There were moments in the sevententh century when no one could admit that fossils might be the records of animals that lived before Biblical creation […] It was supposed that “stone marrow” (merga) “dissolved and percolated” through the earth, sometimes forming bone shapes and other fossils. Alternatively, people thought …

Where the Action Is

I’ve been reading Paul Dourish’s Where The Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction, a good introduction to issues and perspectives of designing with embodied action in mind, although he doesn’t really get very far with actual guidelines. Favourite quote (which opens the section on ‘Wittgenstein and the Meaning of Language’): Like Elvis Presley, Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) had a professional career that fell into two distinct phases. Vegas Wittgenstein? Maybe. Nothing radically new in the book, but a decent overview of the field, with a nicely phenomenological slant (no mention of Bachelard though). For me, the most interesting discussion was …