Abbey Meyers’ first son, David, was born in 1968. By the time David was two, Abbey noticed something was different about him. David’s face would twitch. He sometimes made involuntary noises. His arms flailed around out of control, so he could barely feed himself. Other kids would make fun of him and David’s teachers often got upset with him in class. “You can imagine the torture he went through,” says Abbey, recalling David’s childhood. Doctors were puzzled by David’s symptoms and his condition seemed completely mysterious, until one Sunday morning, when Abbey just so happened to catch an article in the paper about Tourette syndrome. At the time, many doctors were not familiar with the disease. Not much was known about it. Meyers found a specialist who said there was a possible treatment for Tourette’s. It was a drug that was going to be marketed for schizophrenia, but had been used in Europe for treating Tourette’s. David got in on a clinical trial to possibly bring this drug to the United States, and it worked really well for him. However, the drug didn’t test as well for treating schizophrenia, which was supposed to be its more common use. Since so […]
Design is everywhere in our lives, perhaps most importantly in the places where we’ve just stopped noticing. 99% Invisible (99 Percent Invisible) is a weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture. From award winning producer Roman Mars, KALW in San Francisco, and Radiotopia from PRX.
It’s hard to overstate just how important record album art was to music in the days before people downloaded everything. Visuals were a key part of one’s experience with a record or tape or CD. The design of the album cover created a first impression of what was to come. Album art was certainly important to reporter Sean Cole, particularly one particular album by one specific band: Devo. Devo performing in Atlanta in 1978. Photo by Malcolm Riviera (CC BY-SA 3.0) A lot of people dismiss Devo as a silly band, but they actually took themselves very seriously. In their early days they had this considered philosophy that the human race was in a state of de-evolution (hence: “devo”). A lot of their early songs were about corporate control and blind conformity. But the band members were actually visual artists first. And Jerry Casale, one of Devo’s founders, says that originally they were trying to figure out what devolutionary art would look like. “We were very, very enamored and put off at the same time by pop culture,” recalls Casale, “like: the lowest end of ad graphics, terrible TV commercials — we were kind of drawn to kitsch.” In fact […]
With the spread of American train networks in the late 1800s, more and more hobos (individuals without permanent jobs or homes) tried their luck on the rails, riding illegally across the country to find work and leaving their marks along the way, including visual symbols scrawled or etched as messages to fellow travelers. The number of people living this way tended to spike during economic crashes, which drove the jobless to go nomadic and seek out temporary work — often location-specific construction and agricultural gigs. By the early 1900s, the US was home to over half a million hobos, who had to develop clever ways to communicate while on the move. It sounds like the stuff of fiction: secret markings telling fellow vagabonds where to sleep safely or find other useful resources for survival. Indeed, the fictional TV series Mad Men helped spark viewer curiosity about the reality of this practice just a few years back. In an episode titled The Hobo Code, the series protagonist recalls a scene from his childhood in which a hobo explained a few key symbols. But this fictional tale draws from reality. Part of the art of living from place to place was avoiding […]
In the late 1800s, Fusajiro Yamauchi founded Nintendo Koppai, a gaming company that would eventually produce some of the world’s most popular and influential video game consoles. But at the time, his venture was not an innovative technology endeavor. Instead, it tapped into a low-tech tradition of making and selling hand-crafted “hanafuda” (or: “flower cards”), subversive decks that were originally created to get around a strict and sweeping policy of Japanese isolationism. St. Francis Xavier, co-founder of the Jesuits and a missionary, in Japan When the Portuguese arrived on the shores of Japan centuries earlier, they had brought a number of influential things with them, from foreign products to religious beliefs. But on an early ship that landed in 1549, missionary Francis Xavier carried along something smaller and seemingly more innocuous: a deck of 48 suited playing cards. A Game of L’hombre in Brøndum’s Hotel by Swedish artist Anna Palm de Rosa, circa 1885 These cards proved to be portable and easy to learn — and to use for gambling. Over time, a traditional Japanese game of matching artistic images on shells called Kai-awase followed suit — a card-based variant of this game reflected the growing popularity of decks. Kai-awase […]
A recurring theme in Fujimoto’s work is the “primitive future.” This apparent contradiction refers to the primordial, intuitive moments that reconnect us with our own humanity, and open us up to new possibilities. SOU FUJIMOTO: FUTURES OF THE FUTURE invites viewers to participate in Fujimoto’s thought experiment surrounding the possibilities of architecture, and as a result, be inspired to reimagine the future in any shape or form. Fujimoto addresses many opposite concepts in addition to the “primitive future.” His designs often feature juxtapositions of outside and inside, nature and urbanity, objects and spaces, public and private. His work also considers the macro and micro: when does an object become a space? What is the distinction between a building and a city? The exhibition includes Museum in a Forest, where a path gradually leads visitors from a lush, green woods to the white walls of a gallery; Toilet in Nature, where public and private are brazenly mixed; House NA, where an accumulation of small, modular spaces forms a visually arresting family house, which pours directly out into the Tokyo street; and Serpentine Pavilion, where hard-edged white poles descend onto a London park in a pattern that is simultaneously natural and mechanical. […]