The best motel signs resist not merely subtly but also passivity. It’s one thing to decorate the night sky in a blaze of neon, but it’s another to beckon the traveller to your motel. It requires seduction or force — and often both.
Hence the prominence of arrows.
The Holiday Inn sign, with its pulsing directional lure, was surely one of the most deft, but others accomplish the task sheerly through size and pomp. Take the Capri Motel chain, with its towering and iconographic pointer: its forceful visual language says without even the hint of a stutter, “COME HERE NOW.”
The Serpentine Gallery presents the work of late American sculptor Duane Hanson in his first survey show in London since 1997. Throughout his forty-year career, Hanson created lifelike sculptures portraying working-class Americans and overlooked members of society. Reminiscent of the Pop Art movement of the time, his sculptures transform the banalities and trivialities of everyday life into iconographic material. The exhibition at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery presents key works from the artist’s oeuvre. (via Serpentine Galleries)
To enjoy more of his artistic background, click here
“You never see a positive drug story on the news. They always have the same LSD story. You’ve all seen it: "Today a young man on acid…thought he could fly…jumped out of a building…what a tragedy!” What a dick. He’s an idiot. If he thought he could fly, why didn’t he take off from the ground first? Check it out? You don’t see geese lined up to catch elevators to fly south; they fly from the fucking ground. He’s an idiot. He’s dead. Good! We lost a moron? Fucking celebrate. There’s one less moron in the world…
…Wouldn’t you like to see a positive LSD story on the news? To base your decision on information rather than scare tactics and superstition? Perhaps? Wouldn’t that be interesting? Just for once?…
“Today, a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration – that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There’s no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we’re the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the weather.”
Jewish wedding ring, 19th century. The symbolism of clasped hands or a heart on a betrothal or wedding ring is a Western European tradition, but the clasping of an architectural structure is an iconographic feature characteristic of Jewish marriage rings.
I really like the design of the Horn-Plant-Palace, on the previous page and this one. It looks like it would be a cool place to visit and explore. The drawing could’ve been a little more elaborate and interesting I think, though. There are little iconographic images in the last panel here: I imagine they’re Spatch’s ancestors, retroactively mythologized to lend support for his messianic pretentions. And there’s T-O-E and Calabash in the bottom-left image: mysterious means-to-an-end that can be thrown out the window at the first sign of disagreement.
“[T]he iconographic tradition represents Saint Paul with a sword, and we know that this was the instrument with which he was killed. Yet as we read the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles, we discover that the image of the sword refers to his entire mission of evangelization. For example, when he felt death approaching, he wrote to Timothy: “I have fought the good fight” (2 Tim 4:7). This was certainly not the battle of a military commander but that of a herald of the Word of God, faithful to Christ and to his Church, to which he gave himself completely. And that is why the Lord gave him the crown of glory and placed him, together with Peter, as a pillar in the spiritual edifice of the Church.”
Petros Koublis (PK) - I am working on a new body of work that focuses on the way we perceive this world through our senses. My research includes the study of books and ideas written by philosophers during the first half of the previous millennium. The philosophical thought of that period was consistently trying to express everything through unified theories that were including both their observations on the physical world and their studies on the intelligible one as well. These unified theories were performing an enchanting balance between scientific thought and the metaphysical ideas which dominated the world during the ancient times, resulting both to what became the foundation of modern science but also to a complicated corpus of allegories and obscured interpretations over the human experience. Through my new project, I am not attempting an iconographic visualization of this school of thought, but a leap to an autosuggestive process that overrides the reflexes of our mind and releases the perceiving force of our senses. It is a project that challenges the authority of the mind and ends up questioning reality itself.
Let’s talk about the project ‘Inlands’?
PK - This was something I made a few years ago, in 2012-13. In many ways it was like a prelude to the landscape series I did the last two years. Inlands is a projects that tries to investigate the landscape through small individual fragments. Those miniature scenes are approached as if they were completely independent existences, released from their surrounding space and identity, therefore they can be openly interpreted, as bearers of symbols and equivalents. When we abandon knowledge and familiarity we find ourselves disorientated, trying to rely only in our senses. The narrative of the project is based on this disorientation. The images examine the limits of a landscape, moving inwards, in a process that looks both perpetual and enchanted. The interpretation of the images as individual fragments remains open, but in the same time it aims to maintain a certain obscurity. This is also an element of the series’ narrative, the mystique, the unenforceable transformation that take place beneath the surface of things. As a process though, it was more of an instinctive exploration based on sense and intuition and less of an intellectual act.
How did you get the idea for the book?
PK - The initial idea itself belongs to the publishers. They had seen the images of this project and they felt it was fitting the aesthetics of their editions, so they contacted me with a proposal to create a book out of this series. Since this project was already a completed one and all the material was there, I thought we could actually make the next step indeed and try put together a book out of it.
It’s your first monograph. Why and how did you choose the editor Black Mountain? How did you managed it?
PK - Black Mountain Books consists of Raúl Hernández and Martha Kaputt, who recently moved their base from Spain to Hong Kong, where the book was actually printed. The initiative was theirs and when they contacted me they already had some ideas about how this book could look and feel like. There was the right chemistry from our first meeting and I felt really comfortable working with them. They had the desire to invest time and attention in detail in order to make this happen in way that would enclose both their vision about the design of the book and mine’s about the context of this series. I find it extremely important that they wanted to go through every step together with me and make sure that the book maintains the spirit of this series.
What about the process? Choosing and selecting images. And text? How did you participate in it? What about the graphic and design?
PK - Everything was the result of a constant cooperation between me and the editors. So in the end I think that somehow everything reflects this balance, from the selection of the images to the final layout. For the text I decided to use a poem I had written when I was working on the images for ‘Inlands’. I felt that it had an abstractness that was aligned with the atmosphere of the series and in the same time it was introducing the reader to the sensibility that runs through the rest of the book. In fact I think we approached the whole book as a visual poem. The narrative of the book is unfolded with the abstractness of a poem, as a sequence of verses. The beautiful texture of the matte paper, the delicate binding with the black thread, the dazzling scent of the ink and the whole feel of the book, they’re all part of this poem. I was also fortunate to have a beautiful introduction text written by Tom Griggs, photographer, writer and editor of Fototazo.
What did you learn from this experience, plus and minus?
Since this was my first publication, this whole process had a certain educative aspect as well. When it comes to publishing a book there are so many variables to take into account in order to be able to produce a solid aesthetical proposal. A book is more than just a sequence of images, it has more aspects to it and it requires a vision that will embrace them all. Through this process I was able to expose my thought in all of this and I certainly earned a lot on many different levels.
Plans for the future?
Besides the project I already mentioned, there are many others in progress which involve both new publications and collaborations.
Can you suggest us 3 photography books that you liked?
‘The Stanford Albums’ by Carleton Watkins (Stanford University Press 2014) ‘Islands of the Blest’ by Bryan Schutmaat and Ashlyn Davis (Silas Finch 2014) ‘Easter and Oak Trees’ by Bertien Van Manen (Mack Books 2013)
“The vampire was staring down at his iconograph. It was smashed.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” said William.
“I have ozzers.” Otto sighed. “You know, I though tit vould be easy in zer big city,” he said. “I thought it would be civilized. Zey told me mobs don’t come after you viz pitchforks in zer big city like zey do back in Schuschien. I mean, I try. Gods know I try. Three months, four days, and seven hours on zer vagon. I gave up zer whole thing!””
Tracing the historical trail is one of the most fascinating aspects of Shroud research. A challenging dilemma with the Shroud is that the historical trail is not continuous. There are gaps in its history as it traveled across countries and centuries. Piecing it together is like a grand jig saw puzzle. Here is an example. There appears to be a cloth discovered in Edessa, Turkey in 525 AD that bore a face image that was declared “The True Likeness” of Christ, “Not made by human hands”. Following this discovery, Byzantine images all began to conform to this True Likeness. That iconographic tradition still holds today in Eastern, Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches. The cloth that was discovered in 525 was known as “The Image of Edessa”. In later centuries it became known as “The Mandylion”. The Legend of King Abgar tells the story of how it came to Edessa from Israel in the First century…but that’s another story. There are remarkable resemblance’s between early Icon images and the image that is on the Shroud. Could these early artists have been looking at the Shroud image? Or was the Mandylion just another fabricated artwork that disappeared in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade? Critics have a legitimate claim because the documented history of the cloth does not begin in Western Europe until 1353 when if first appears in France. That date also coincides with the Carbon 14 date.
“Madonna was never a bigger pariah than in 1993, the last time she toured Australia. Her infamous Sex book had just given an enormous middle finger to the prudishness of ‘90s pop culture. Equally pretentious and tongue-in-cheek, it was a coffee table art book that had no place in most respectable living rooms. Of course, you didn’t actually have to read it – the point was just that it existed. But at the same time her complex, contradictory Erotica record suffered for it, reduced to Sex’s same hypersexual veneer. She’d become too good a provocateur. That punk rock incarnation of Madonna would feel right at home in 2015, now that Sex has paved the way for everyone from Miley Cyrus to Kim Kardashian. Popstars who weren’t alive for ‘Like a Prayer’’s release revere her. So why does it still feel like the general public can’t wait to prematurely wheel her to the retirement home?”
DEAR ICONOGRAPHERS, I wrote about Madonna for the first time since 2010! She remains my favourite human being in all history, but my feelings on Rebel Heart are… mixed.
I’ve written about a whole range of things since, but part of me still wants to finish this series. Pop might be relentlessly forward-thinking, but Madonna’s influence is more relevant now than ever. If you know somewhere that’ll pay to host Iconography, hit me up! Seriously!
A preview chapter of the BOOK on NATIONAL CORPORATE IDENTITY DESIGN & BRANDING BOOK/MANUAL, I am writing.
While the design of the ultramar sea-lion followed the decorum of the classical heraldic and iconographic tradition of Europe, the image itself is more ancient than previously thought. The leokampos was a popular image in the ancient cities of the Mediterranean Sea region, specially among the sea-faring Greeks, and the Etruscans of Italy. The leokampos, or sea-lion, with its brethren, the hippokampos, the sea-horse and a host of other hybrid aquatic creatures and denizens like Nereids (sea-nymphs) and Tritons (sea-gods), populate the Great Sea (Mediterranean), in other popular iconographies, for example in classical sculpture, the hippokampos and leokampos carry the souls of the good departed to the Isles of the Blessed, to be found in the western oceans, outside the Pillars of Hercules which marked the boundary of the Great Sea.