By Nina J P Evans

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Haruki Murakami: Behind the Book

These are three objects that kept Haruki Murakami company as he wrote the brilliant and bewitching Kafka on the Shore. Sinchosha Murakami’s Japanese publisher asked the author to take them behind the scenes of the book. He selected things from music to books to objects that helped maybe subliminally maybe not to inspire the story. Here, the objects that he chooses to sit on his desk as he wrote this piece, including his apple laptop. Whilst some of these have a personal significance to Haruki Murakami others he clearly enjoyed! I greatly appreciate him sharing these little gems.

Behind the books: Find out what Murakami eats, drinks and listens to while he writes.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

This is Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) visualized through book jackets and notable illustrations. Based on the novels Alice in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1872). These are two of the most famous most quoted books in the world. The beginnings of ‘Under Ground’ to ‘Wonderland’ originated as a gift to Alice Liddell. Following the advice of friends Carroll developed the story into the much loved whimsical adventure that it is. In the Oxford edition in the back pages you can see how the title comes about. I love how everything’s thrown into confusion, nonsense and clever mayhem. “The most neglected and important fact about ‘Wonderland’ is that it is not a ‘land of wonders,’ but rather ‘a land where one wonders.”

I selected pieces that looked interesting in the way that the illustrations were far from being skin deep and superficial. In these illustrations I felt there was a slight edge to them of darkness combined with comedic satire; in the illustration by Camilla Rosa Garcia there's a delicate balance between the soft purples and greens with the black tipped inked lips and lashes. In comparison is the penguin classic, where a little girl standing in such a way when confronted by the queen with her playing card assembly. The queen’s head is seen rather enlarged compared to the rest of her, her crimson colouring strongly hinting at her foul tempered character. There is a black inked finer detailing and strangely mystifying less detailed darker background. Both covers satires the different characters very successfully — not an easy commission for an illustrator to venture, in a list of the most esteemed Tenniel, Rackham and Steadman.

Though considered primarily as a children's storybook… adult readers enjoy it too I think that the illustrations aesthetically re-imagined interpretations are always welcomed. There's openness to new commission’s keeping the book at the forefront of literature. The reader is transported back into childhood fantasy again. Seeking the essence to Carroll’s nonsensical world itself helps us in understanding our own world and the bits of it that just don’t make sense.

I have additionally included further links to the pieces, The British Library have an online page-by-page edition of the whole of Alice’s Adventures Underground, well worth checking.

illustration by Camilla Rosa Garcia
Alice in Wonderland illustrations - Ralph Steadman 1986 here
illustrations by Arthur Rackham - colour plate from 1907 link here

First published edition in 1865. The Dalziel brothers were commissioned to engrave the boxwood blocks on which Tenniel had made his drawings. John Tenniel illustrated both Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking glass. V&A collections

Lewis Carroll’s original handwritten story written for Alice Liddell 1864 titled Alice's Adventures Underground now found in the British Library.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Kulula Airline Rebranding

This morning on a brilliant design blog I saw this newly designed info-graphic created by Kulula’s in-house creative team. For South Africa's Kulula airline. The green plane shows 101 interesting facts about the plane you possibly didn’t know.

Apart from the colour, the thing that instinctively hit me—is that in my mind—is how quickly it turned something that was a quirky, fun idea into something somewhat ill-considered and very questionably appropriate! Fear of flying is a common psychological problem among travelers. The info-graphics with a font size so big that I can’t calculate (I’d be surprised if there’s space enough to cover anywhere near 101 facts, even on a 737 passenger jet) the whole thing is ridiculous.

The most obvious association with that number is George Orwell’s brilliantly nightmarish dystopian novel Nineteen Eight-Four, first published in 1949. In room 101 a prisoner is subjected to his or her worst fear or phobia, and that’s why’s it’s so scary, it’s a different treatment depending upon the individuals’ inner fears. The idea of being locked up in the air in a craft titled ‘Flying 101’ dose not inspire much confidence. Likely the designer got the idea from an infographic kind of thing, I don't feel that its appropriate on a commercial vehicle, in a pub quiz sure! Now more than ever all sorts of dangers are associated with flying, risks include environmental volcanic ash clouds and the unforgettable airline terrorist attacks. People have good reason to suffer a genuine phobia from flying, or am I being too paranoid? Is bad publicity good publicity? 

Kulula airlines obviously wanted something very daring, eye catching and playfully cool. Graphic design can deliver clever and witty solutions and a plane is an excellent vehicle for showcasing graphic arts. All these other prominent and competitive brands from cars to mobile phones compete using number associations such as: Peugeot 206, 406, 407, Levis® 501’s and 3™ Mobile. I wonder if this was a missed opportunity for Kulula Airlines?

On Wiki Surprisingly, I found other transport using 101 (number) as listed, though combined with a combination of letters before the number is not quite the same:
  • Land Rover 101 Forward Control - vehicle produced for the British Army
  • STS-101 Space Shuttle Atlantis mission launched May 19, 2000
  • U.S Route 101 runs from California to Washington
  • DBAG Class 101 is a class of German electric locomotives
  • The R101, a British airship, which crashed in 1930
  • 101 series, a Japanese commuter train type
In films interestingly the 101 number is used somewhat subliminally to evoke fear: The Terminator and in Terminator 2,  a T-800 Model 101. This makes perfect sense, as it plays on our imaginations in a thought provoking manner.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Photography: Light Patterns

Peeking out of one of the upper floor windows waiting for my son to take the dog out for a walk and wanting to checkout the direction he was heading in, one way meant a very short walk for the dog the other a much nicer park space. I noticed the low sunlight reflecting our house window on to the window of the house opposite. Moving the camera at an angel from the window glass, created interesting patterns of light and distorted the reflection. I would have spent longer experimenting as the light was fantastic, but a guy came to the front door, now impossible to ignore since he had seen me looking out.