Category Archives: ideas

Wednesday Inspiration: Man Ray and Surrealism

Noire et Blanche, 1926This photograph by Man Ray encapsulates the inspiration of the time that pervaded the visual arts, literature, music and thought. In this photo, the use of the mask brought over from somewhere in the continent of Africa shows what stimulated the abstraction that would soon give way to Cubism.

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The Passion of Frida & Diego

Detail of a photograph by Nickolas Muray

The Toronto exhibit featuring the work of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera is heartwrenching, beautiful and inspiring. The months leading up to my first glimpse of any of either artist’s work were excruciating but being immersed in their realities as people and as storytellers made the experience more moving than thought possible.

The exhibit was curated with a mixture of photographs, videos, Mexican indigenous sculptures, canvases and one of Frida’s corsets with a hammer and sickle and an unborn fetus; both artists inspired each other and at certain points in the exhibit, canvases were paired and the styles were undistinguishable. It was an interesting experiment that would have an enthusiast scratching their heads only to find the subtle differences to be nagging. This experiment should be kept internally since such conversations in public end up being ‘scenes’ in public. Just sayin’.

Up to this moment, there are ideas that Frida and Diego ponder about on their canvases that are still relevant today: feminism, equality, oppression, post-colonialism and chauvinism, among others. It’s a thrilling feeling to have access to the thought process that goes behind the otherworldly images that Kahlo presents in what one can call mental ‘landscapes.’ It was thrilling.

With Google images being two clicks away, I am only including the one image for this post. Ideas after all live in the air around us. It is up to us to leave traces of thoughts. Frida and Diego accomplished this with their canvases and murals. It’s up to us now to do the same. Go ahead. Read. Contemplate.

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Finally Frida!

The Art Gallery of Toronto is bringing Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera to Canada for the first time in an exhibit called ‘Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting.’ This event has been on my iCalendar since it was announced so ‘anticipation’ would be the word that first comes to mind.

I will be at the Members’ Preview so please watch this space.

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Brad Pitt for Chanel: What do you think?

So I hear that Brad Pitt is the new face of Chanel No. 5 and the iconic scent’s first male spokesperson. A question comes to mind: if the epitome of Eurocentric/American masculinity is used as a medium to question gender norms and conventions, is he biting the hand that feeds him? More importantly, did Mrs. Jolie-Pitt have a hand in convincing him?

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We’re on Pinterest!

For those who are on Pinterest, Urban Peanut: A Gallery has a board! Come and check it out here.

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On cartography

Ork Map of Toronto

Christopher Columbus' Map of the New World from c.1490

Christopher Columbus_Map_New World_1490

By Mike Baldwin

Directions are either helpful or confusing, maps included. Visual cues are meant to minimize interference by by language and this is where design comes in. Conventions and cultural references are used to help in this experience but there are still shortcomings.
The visual that a map presents to its beholder is spatial; ingenious use of other elements like colours and texture gives the said beholder a space for personalizing the experience of wayfinding. One good example of this visual map is the ‘You Are Here’ map that can be found at any shopping centre. By using the beholder’s relative starting point, the hunt for the shoe sale is a little closer for someone shopping with daddy’s credit card which is a blessing (for the current teenager) and a curse (for the same teenager but ten years from and now also for the unknowing father).
Maps are documents of discovery. Without blazing trails, maps would not exist and without verifying accuracy, maps could very well be drawings mazes that can be filled with colour using wax crayons. Navigators commissioned by kings earned a living heading to the unknown seas brought back trophies as well as roughly plotted maps of their routes to get from one place to their destinations. Christopher Columbus had an estimated idea of how to get to the New World but confusion about where exactly his ship landed has born a huge influence on our present geographic references.
Recently, experimentation in cartography has come from graphic design. The maps are neither topographic, geographic or political; they have become typographic. Looking at the Ork maps of cities, including Toronto, the intention is to visually represent the different neighbourhoods and districts in urban centres through kerning and letting. They are useless if you are a tourist trying to navigate the streets but heck, they are beautiful.
Present-day collectible maps are great to serve as art and design pieces. Nothing else. They are visual references and approximations that could be slightly helpful. One can argue that this is a design failure; another can rebut by asking if we even need maps still. The analog/puritan in me would say ‘yes.’ The tech enthusiast in me asks, ‘don’t I have an app for that?’.

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Reimagining Mickey’s Mouse Ears

Visual communication is inescapable and we have accepted this situation. Ads are part of the visual clutter that encompasses urban living and brands are looking for a piece of the most important real estate there is: your brain.
Some of the brands that have made their imprints run the challenge of reinventing themselves to stay relevant, to widen their reach and to remind people how great their childhoods were because of this one particular brand.
Disney today release a new Joy Division inspired version of Mickey Mouse’s ears for the band’s Unknown Pleasures from 1979, designed by Ian Saville. With this logo, a new generation of Disney fans witness a reinvention of the popular mouse-ears silhouette meanwhile arousing the nostalgia of those who are, ahem, mature enough to know, recognize and appreciate record art. I will be ordering one because for the mouse ears.

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January 24, 2012 · 00:13