memory

Antiimperialistisch Solidaritat

Reagan

Like the international solidarity work of Cuba, the government of East Germany

“strongly advocated for anti-imperialism and declared general freedom and solidarity with numerous countries including Chile, Uruguay, Vietnam, Laos, Angola and Palestine among others up until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.”

Transnational Poster Art: International Solidarity and East German Poster Art is an online exibit of over 30 posters

“all of which were designed in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), and whose production was funded and encouraged by the East German government. The viewer will also encounter some posters produced in Nicaragua and Chile which compliment the East German ones in terms of content, and other types of artwork created by Germans as well as Latin American citizens. Our purpose is to show the GDR’s foreign policy towards developing countries during the 1970’s and 80’s, a foreign policy which the East German government strove to reinforce and legitimize through this popular art form.”

LiteracyThe introductory essay proposes that in addition to this legitimation, the posters fostered an awareness of international political situations, reminded the East German population of communist movements around the world, reinforced the idea of the U.S. as a common enemy to those movements, and that the foreign policy (and its promotion) were also an effort to “one up” West Germany and to gain approval and clout from the Soviet government.

The posters are organized as follows:

The poster up top is by Alexander Schiel, titled “‘In our hands, God has put the destiny of a troubled humanity.’ — US President Reagan,” 1983. The poster on the right is “Untitled (Literacy),” 1984, by Barbara Henninger. The American troops are saying “Drop your weapons and put your hands up high!” to the Nicaraguan boy, learning to write, spells out “Nicaragua my mother country.”


Other East German poster art and propaganda can be found at the German Propaganda Archive, see

>  9 November 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , , , ,

Center for the Study of Political Graphics

Uncle Sam Says 'I Want Out'

“There has never been a movement for social change without the arts — theatre poetry, music posters — being central to that movement. Political posters in particular are powerful living reminders of struggles worldwide for peace and justice. Communication, exhortation, persuasion, instruction, celebration warning: graphic art broadcasts its humanity through bold messages and striking iconography.

The Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG) is a nonprofit, tax-exempt educational archive that collects, preserves, documents, and exhibits domestic and international posters relating to historical and contemporary movements for peace and social justice....

The archive includes more than 35,000 posters produced in a staggering array of visual styles and printing media, dating from the Russian Revolution to the present. University, museum, and public collections of this material are rare, and because those that do exist are seldom accessible to the public, CSPG’s commitment to continually exhibiting this rich visual and social history is so critical....

The Center was recently awarded a major grant from the Getty Grant Program to implenient a state-of-the-art electronic cataloging system designed to make the collection even more accessible.”

I do hope “more accessible” includes publishing more of their collection online. On the CPSG site, the exhibit Presidential Rogues Gallery: Satrical Posters 1960 - Present features a mere 11 images. The Sixties Project has published another of the CPSG’s exhibits online. Decade of Protest: Political Posters from the United States, Cuba and Viet Nam 1965-1975 features 67 posters that were shown at the Track 16 Gallery in Santa Monica in 1996.

Though the center limits its collection to posters from peace and justice movements, a thorough study of propaganda technique would also include material from a right-wing point of view. Movements for peace and justice would also do well not to ignore grassroots conservative movements, their history and political graphics.

The image above is copyright 1971 by the Committee to Help Unsell the War, “a coalition of over 30 advertising agencies.”

>  4 November 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , , , ,

Save America’s Clocks

Save America’s Clocks is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to locating, inventorying and assisting in the preservation and maintenance of all of America’s public clocks. By public clocks we mean any and all clocks that the public sees. That includes street (post) clocks, tower and church clocks, digital clocks...you name it. Non-working clocks betray the public trust and send out a message that nobody’s home.¬†When these clocks are left to deteriorate, we all lose part of our rich heritage.”

Not much on the site yet, but there are lots of pictures of public clocks.

Is this ‘Social Design’? More design in the public interest. I should do a more substantive entry on public clocks. In the meantime, three days of meetings in Tokyo and the jet lag is still killing me. Still haven’t quite shaken the grip of U.S. time.

Found via Ruavista.

>  5 October 2002 | LINK | Filed in , ,

2002 MacArthur Fellows

The 2002 MacArthur Fellows were announced today. Here are a couple of bios of folks involved in projects I’d consider “social design”:

Camilo Jose Vergara is a photographer-ethnographer who uses time-lapse images to chronicle the transformation of urban landscapes across America. Trained as a sociologist, he reaches into the disciplines of architecture, photography, urban planning, history, and anthropology for tools to present the gradual erosion of late 19th- and 20th-century architectural grandeur in urban neighborhoods, their subsequent neglect and abandonment, and scattered efforts at gentrification. Repeatedly photographing, sometimes over the course of decades, the same structures and neighborhoods, Vergara records both large-scale and subtle changes in the visual landscape of cities and inner cities in the United States. Sequences reveal, for example, trees growing in abandoned libraries and decrepit laborer housing swallowed by advancing foliage. Over the years, Vergara has amassed a rich archive of several thousand photographs that are a rare and important cache of American history. These images, monuments to the survival and reformation of American cities, are a unique visual study; they also inform the process of city planning by highlighting the constant remodeling of urban space.”

See some of his World Trade Center related photos on the New York Historical Society site or a couple of photos from the New American Ghetto series.


Paul Ginsparg is a theoretical physicist widely known for creating a computer-based system for physicists and other scientists to communicate their research results. Ginsparg’s document server represents a conscious effort to reorganize scientific communications, establishing a marketplace of ideas of new submissions with minimal editorial oversight and abundant opportunity for commentary, supporting and opposing, from other investigators. Ginsparg circumvented traditional funding and approval mechanisms by developing the software in his spare time and running it on surplus equipment. This system [is] informally known as “the xxx archive,” currently hosted at Cornell University at http://arxiv.org.... All documents are available without charge worldwide through the internet, making the latest results available even for those without access to a good research library. Ginsparg has deliberately transformed the way physics gets done — challenging conventional standards for review and communication of research and thereby changing the speed and mode of dissemination of scientific advances.”

See some remarks about the project he delivered in 1994.


David B. Goldstein is a physicist with a passion for... improving global energy efficiency. His work, which consistently refutes suggestions of inherent conflict between economic growth and environmental quality, touches on a broad spectrum of energy-related issues — from appliance design, to building construction, to governmental policies in developing industrial nations, to housing and transportation planning — and on developing effective policies to address these issues. Goldstein recognized, for example, that early refrigerators wasted a significant fraction of U.S. electrical output due to poor design. He led the effort to hold an efficiency design contest and then successfully lobbied regional and national regulatory agencies to establish energy consumption standards based on the new design, thus creating a market for the more efficient devices. More recently, he has initiated a project to encourage people, through mortgage lending incentives, to minimize the amount of energy they waste driving unnecessarily. Over the last decade, moreover, he has sought to influence and improve building efficiency standards in Russia and China. Throughout his work, Goldstein draws from his scientific training to eliminate political and economic obstacles to greater energy efficiency, with constant attentiveness to the environmental penalties of energy waste....

Since 1980, he has co-directed the Energy Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in San Francisco.... In addition to his work at the NRDC, Goldstein serves on the boards of the Consortium for Energy Efficiency, the Institute for Market Transformation, the New Buildings Institute, the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, and the Institute for Location Efficiency.”

The mortages mentioned above are run through the Institute for Location Efficiency. The Location Efficient Mortgage is designed for “people who would like to purchase a home in an urban neighborhood and who would be willing to rely on public transportation and to use locally available services and amenities rather than own a personal vehicle.” Definitely not your typical envrionmental NGO.


Brian Tucker is a seismologist whose work focuses on preventing readily avoidable disasters in the world’s poorest countries by using affordable civil engineering practices. He founded GeoHazards International (GHI) after recognizing that multi-story residences, schools, hospitals, stores, and offices built from adobe, stone, or unreinforced masonry in many regions of the world are death traps when earthquakes strike. GHI is the only not-for-profit, non-governmental agency dedicated to preventing structural failures in developing countries. Tucker works on-site with local governments, artisans, and citizens to implement cost-effective measures to construct or upgrade schools and other public service buildings and to educate residents about damage-prevention measures. He is an expert at adapting techniques used by developed countries in risk-mitigation projects so that they fit within the social, political, and economic constraints of at-risk communities in the developing world. GHI’s principal focus on schools is particularly important because their typically poor construction makes them a common source for earthquake casualties. His current work to develop and apply a Global Earthquake Risk Index is designed both to estimate risk and to motivate risk-reduction measures. His efforts have dramatically reduced the potential for death and injury to children and others from earthquakes in vulnerable cities around the world.”


Stanley Nelson is a documentary filmmaker with over 20 years’ experience as a producer, director, and writer.

“His award-winning film, The Black Press: Soldiers without Swords, synthesizes biography and history, bringing clarity and dimension to the often neglected role of black journalists in chronicling American history. In Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind, Nelson examines an enigmatic African-American icon, illuminating character and cultural context. With Puerto Rico: Our Right to Decide, he probes still farther afield, considering the implications for political democracy arising from the historical trajectory of confluence and conflict among Anglo, Spanish, African, and indigenous social structures. He is currently working on a documentary about the murder of Emmett Till; other projects include the heritage of the African-American middle class on Martha’s Vineyard and on the international anthropology of the transatlantic slave trade.”

More of his film credits are listed here.

>  25 September 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , , , , , ,

Art from the Great Depression

Art from the Great Depression, on the University of Illinois Web site. A very graphics heavy page that will take a while to load. Images of resistance, agitation, work, leisure, politicking, eating, striking, staring down The Man, mourning, and rest. Check the photo page, too (also very graphics heavy).

Found via Coudal Partners.

>  16 September 2002 | LINK | Filed in ,

Scarcity of Pencil Wood

“The day is not far distant,” remarked a Florida gentleman not long since, when talking with a reporter, “when the term ‘cedar pencil’ will become quite a misnomer. At the present time the average annual consumption of lead pencils is at the rate of about four for every man, woman and child in the country. During the last ten years the quantity of cedar which has been cut in our state to supply the demand of the American and German pencil makers has been enormous, the product of more than 2,000 acres of ground being consumed every year. The cedar of the state will not hold out many years longer against demands of this kind, and already experiments are being tried with other wood. Very cheap pencils are generally made of poplar, which answers fairly well, but which will never be so valuable for the purpose as the old-fashioned and long-tried cedar. Of course, Florida has not a monopoly on the supply of cedar wood, but in adjoining states, where some is to be found, the work of the destruction has been going on quite as fast as in our little commonwealth, and I doubt very much whether any of our children will use pencils made out of the most durable and most easily polished and trimmed wood we know of at the present time.”

Minnetonka News, December 14, 1894

Reprinted from Wrote.

>  10 September 2002 | LINK | Filed in , ,

Kyoto No Space at All

These photographs, which are from a series entitled ‘No Space at All’, were taken in Kyoto during the bubble and post-bubble eras of the last decade. They document spaces in the city that are defined by concrete, asphalt, cars, metal or chain-link fencing and the absence of what once occupied them — usually an old house or traditional Kyoto machiya. These spaces, which more often than not are used as parking lots to accommodate the growing number of cars, are replacing the warmth of traditional Kyoto blocks with a kind of emptiness. Such spaces are rapidly increasing and can be seen in every part of the city. They are now becoming a characteristic feature of Kyoto’s urban landscape.”

>  1 September 2002 | LINK | Filed in , ,

Posters and Japanese Social Movements

The Ohara Institute for Social Research at Hosei University has an enormous collection of 20th century Japanese poster and propaganda art online: 2600 posters from before 1945, 400 posters of labor and social movements in the post-1945 period, posters and handbills from the 1930’s and an essay on the virbant history of the Japanese social movements between the two World Wars.

Found via coudal partners

>  24 August 2002 | LINK | Filed in , ,

AIDS Memorial Quilt

“In June of 1987, a small group of strangers gathered in a San Francisco storefront to document the lives they feared history would neglect. Their goal was to create a memorial for those who had died of AIDS, and to thereby help people understand the devastating impact of the disease. This meeting of devoted friends and lovers served as the foundation of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Today the Quilt is a powerful visual reminder of the AIDS pandemic. More than 44,000 individual 3-by-6-foot memorial panels — each one commemorating the life of someone who has died of AIDS — have been sewn together by friends, lovers and family members.”

If you’ve lost someone to AIDS, find out how you can contribute a panel to the Quilt.

>  15 August 2002 | LINK | Filed in ,

When I Hear the Word “Gun”

“Slavoj Zizek also mistook the origins of the inversion of Goering’s - or Hanns Johst’s - remark (Letters, 15 April). ‘When I hear the word “gun”, I reach for my culture’ was not a ‘leftist slogan’ but a remark made by Malcolm Muggeridge in an article published, I think, in the New Statesman around 1967. He was writing in response to the revelation that the CIA had been financing a number of literary and cultural magazines around the world, including Encounter, and funding the export of Jackson Pollock and other exponents of Abstract Expressionism from America to Europe. It was meant as a joke, but it throws a useful light on a period when art and politics were rather more intimately linked than they are perceived to be today.”

Richard Gott, letter to the London Review of Books.

Props to Drapetomaniac for the link.

>  11 August 2002 | LINK | Filed in ,



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