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Rick Smolan, creator of the epic “Day in the Life” photography books, is taking on a new challenge: Big data.

“Big data” has become a buzzphrase many people like to hate for its vagueness, but Smolan’s book format brings out all sorts of specificity and examples.

© Joe McNally 2012 / from The Human Face of Big Data

His new 7.5-pound book, “The Human Face of Big Data,” includes vignettes about wirelessly sensing disproportionate electricity and water consumption by individual home appliances, restoring human sight with a pair of computer eyeglasses that analyze light and other input in real-time, predicting repeat heart attacks by screening large samples of patients’ EKG data, and taking personal health tracking to the extreme. It will be released Nov. 20.

Smolan has been creating these massive photography projects for the last 30 years, but they’re usually about more naturally visual subjects, most recently President Obama and global water problems.

“This is the most difficult set of assignments I’ve ever worked on,” he told me. “How do you photograph data?”

Smolan also said he is well aware that the next step beyond “big data” is often thought to be “big brother.” He said the aim of the project is to get people to talk about the potential for big data, without ignoring the privacy implications.

While the book may be a static piece of work, Smolan is also trying to create a participatory experience that generates its own data, hopefully a big amount of it. Before the book comes out, he is releasing a Human Face of Big Data app for iOS and Android that asks people to measure themselves from Sept. 25 to Oct. 2.

The app will collect data about each user implicitly from smartphone sensors as well explicitly through quizzes, with everything promised to be anonymized (though I’m not clear on how exactly that will happen, given the depth of access a smartphone has to its owner’s activities).

For example, the app might count the number of contacts in people’s phone address books or track how far they travel in a single day. Then it will inform users about their “data doppelgangers” with similar attributes somewhere else in the world.

At the end of the week, all the data will be made available to scientists at Webcast “Big Data Lab” events in New York City, London and Singapore. And there’s a whole bunch of more ambitious (dare I say big) ideas beyond that, including a kids’ education day and a documentary film.

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Alberto Cairo's newly translated book on information graphics, The Functional Art, is a healthy mix of theory and how it applies in practice, and much of it comes from Cairo's own experiences designing graphics for major news publications. (I don't think Alberto remembers, but what seems like many years ago, I sat right behind him for two weeks at the New York Times when they brought him in to help illustrate Raphael Nadal's approach to tennis.)

His experience is hugely important in making the book work. There's a growing number of books on information graphics, and many are written and illustrated by people who don't have much experience displaying information, which leads to art books posing as something else. This isn't one of those books. Cairo knows what he's talking about.

As you flip through, you'll notice a lot of examples, with a focus on process and even a handful of pencil sketches. The last third of the book is interviews with those well-established in the field, which also walks you through how some graphics were made. There's a strong undertone of finding the balance between function (e.g. efficiency and accuracy) and engagement (e.g. use of circles).

Cairo comes from a journalism background, so the book is mostly in the context of presentation, but there's of course plenty that you can apply to more exploratory graphics. I would say though that Cairo's strength is in illustration and information, and so the book reflects that. This isn't a book that covers visual data analysis or statistical concepts, but it is one that explores and describes the making of high quality information graphics that lend clarity to concepts and ideas. If you're looking for the latter, The Functional Art is worth your time.

Check out the sample chapter on the publisher page, but then grab it on Amazon and save a few bucks.

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Years ago, the photographers Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel decided to put together a book about the work on which they had collaborated, decades worth of significant art made between the 1970s and 1990s. Each had been working on his own solo projects and Mandel had left California, where the two grew up and met and studied together, so the book was always meant to be a look back, a visitation from a place of finality. But then Larry Sultan got sick. Sultan succumbed to cancer in December of 2009 at the age of 63.

“We thought it would be great to take some of the work that people hadn’t seen a lot of or hadn’t seen anything about and bring that to light, and we just thought now would be a great opportunity to do that, now that we were kind of moving into a different part of our lives,” Mandel says. “We didn’t realize Larry was moving into leaving this place.”

The book project was dormant for a while after Sultan’s death, but his wife, assistant and gallerist—who continued to be involved throughout the project—helped Mandel get the idea going again. Because the book had always been about a collaboration that had ended, the form and structure imagined by Mandel and Sultan could still be implemented. The resulting book, Larry Sultan & Mike Mandel, will be released by Distributed Art Publishers in September.

The artists, who met as graduate students at the San Francisco Art Institute, shared an openness to conceptual and experimental photography. “We were lucky to be young and freshly in that world when so much was changing,” says Mandel. The medium was expanding—although Sultan later became known as a photographer, the work the two did together is photography mainly in a conceptual sense—and the community was small enough that the two had access to influential teachers and artists even outside their school environment.

Courtesy Mike Mandel

Larry Sultan (R) and Mike Mandel, circa 1997

Their collaboration began in 1973 with public art displayed on billboards, work that both interrogated the tropes of advertising and challenged art by placing it in a commercial context. They continued to make billboards for many years. They also worked together on books, including How to Read Music in One Evening, which re-appropriated advertising imagery, and the seminal Evidence, their best known work, which took documentary and archival photos out of their contexts. Later, the two turned their attention to the news media, applying their signature critical mindfulness to the subject. Alongside photographic highlights of their art career together, Larry Sultan & Mike Mandel features analytical essays and a metaphorical commentary by author Jonathan Lethem.

Mandel says that this new book was an opportunity to revisit some of their projects that had not been previously examined. “As time went on I think we recognized that a lot of the work we had decided at the time we didn’t need to talk about really ought to be talked about, for different reasons,” he says. “We did re-frame what we chose to put in the book based on this idea of looking back and being a little bit more generous toward ourselves.”

But even though the photographers had discussed the content of the book prior to Sultan’s illness, Mandel was left to make many decisions alone. He says that there were moments when he knew that there would have been a disagreement if Sultan had been there; the weight of sole responsibility was a heavy one. And they hadn’t yet decided how to end the book. Mandel chose the project Newsroom, a 1983 exhibit in which they used news tickers to edit their own versions of the days events, as the book’s stopping place. He says he felt that to stop there was to present the most coherent set of ideas, and it was also a chance to step back and look at a project that the artists had been such part of that they never got to see it from a distance. “If Larry had been with me it would have been really great to have done that together,” Mandel says.

In an essay that accompanied Evidence, Robert F. Forth, the dean of the California College of Arts and Crafts, examined the meanings of evidence, surprise and context. He wrote about the “yin/yang balance between the circumstantial and the evident,” the way that the two compliment each other to make one whole thought. If one has any defect, its relationship to the other can fill that whole. Likewise, says Mandel, his own introverted working process and Sultan’s gregarious quick thinking co-existed without one drowning out the other.

“We just had a very different way of being but we both trusted each other a lot and we both gave each other as much room to argue and promote our ideas as much as we could. That’s what the Socratic attitude was about. It was about testing these ideas,” says Mandel. “We collaborated as equals all the way through our relationship.”

Larry Sultan & Mike Mandel, will be released in September by Distributed Art Publishers.

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Yes, we’ve all laughed at Ted Steven’s “series of tubes” line—including Jon Stewart. But as Andrew Blum writes in his new book, Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet, the Internet may be more tube-like than most people realize.

Sure, if you’re an Ars reader, chances are that you have at least a basic understanding of how the Internet works. That is to say, of course, the computer you’re on right now talks to your ISP, which in turn talks to a central hub, which in turn connects to other networks, over fiber optic cables, and so forth. All in tiny fractions of seconds, all the way to its destination. You probably understand the basic principle of packet switching, that the route of data can change, and indeed, that this is its primary innovation.

But even the most geeky network engineers among us may not know that the very first original TCP/IP router, the “IMP,” was nearly tossed out of its original University of California, Los Angeles home. Or how oddly appropriate it was for an early porn site from the late 1990s, Danni.com [NSFW], to have a photo shoot at an important Internet exchange, called MAE-West. Or, who the current power couple of the North American Network Operators’ Group is.

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Though she went to Paris in 1921 to study sculpture, Berenice Abbott would transition to photography when she became Man Ray’s assistant in 1923. Three years later, she set up her own studio, photographing the French capital’s bohemians, artists and intellectuals—and famous friends such as writers James Joyce and Jean Cocteau—before moving back to the States in 1929.

For the next two decades, Abbott focused her lens on Depression-Era New York, producing a number of moving, black-and-white images that would become part of her book Changing New York. This series, along with nearly 120 other images, is being featured in a new exhibition at Toronto’s Ryerson Image Center called Berenice Abbott: Photographs.

“She was an underestimated photographer during her life and even today,” says Gaelle Morel, the exhibition’s curator and author of the accompanying book, Berenice Abbott. “But Berenice has this capacity of mixing different aesthetics, depending on the subject, which was really extraordinary. She can do a more modern, New Vision style when it came to photographing New York buildings, or take a more documentary approach for her portraits.”

Keystone-France / Getty Images

Berenice Abbot standing for a portrait, behind a view-camera, circa early 1900s

Abbott gained acclaim for her own comprehensive career, which would later involve photographic work on physics, commissioned by Boston’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But she also became famous for her staunch support of French photographer Eugène Atget, whom she met in 1925 while living in Paris. Atget died two years later, and it was Abbott who would photo-edit a book of his work and help stage an exhibition of his work in New York. She sold her Atget collection to the Museum of Modern Art in 1968.

“Berenice always said she had two careers—one of her own, and one championing Atget,” Morel says. “She wanted to be recognized as the Atget of New York, not necessarily his aesthetic, but his intellect.”

Berenice Abbott: Photographs, co-organized by The Ryerson Image Centre in Toronto and the Jeu de Paume in Paris, is on view through Aug. 19 at Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario. The accompanying book is published by Editions Hazan and Yale University Press.

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In 2005, I set out to photograph my home state of South Dakota, a sparsely populated frontier state on the Great Plains with more buffalo, pronghorn, coyotes, mule deer, ring-necked pheasants and prairie dogs than people. It’s a landscape dominated by space and silence and solitude, by brutal wind and extreme weather. I was trying to capture a more intimate and personal view of the West. I was trying to capture what all that space feels like to someone who grew up there. A year into the project, however, everything changed. One of my brothers died unexpectedly. For months, one of the few things that eased my unsettled heart was the landscape of South Dakota. It seemed all I could do was drive through the badlands and prairies and photograph. I began to wonder: Does loss have its own geography?

That first year of grieving was a blur of motel rooms, back roads, and dreams of my brother. I still remember, however, one particularly elusive, haunted, dreamlike image. One overcast day on a deserted country road in the Missouri River valley, I was startled by a flock of some thousand blackbirds. I was mesmerized by how the birds flew through the stormy, unsettled Western sky as if they were one huge, dark, undulating, ravenous creature, picking clean the remains of the corn and sunflower fields in the last days of autumn.

For days when I’d least expect it, I’d see the blackbirds descend upon a field. It didn’t seem to matter how quickly I stopped the car and raised the camera to my eye. Inevitably, the dark flock vanished as quickly as it had appeared.

For at least a week, I kept dreaming about those blackbirds. Finally, one afternoon near the small town of Gray Goose, South Dakota, I saw the flock hovering over a field of sunflowers. This time I was somewhat more prepared—I had my camera around my neck, and, thanks to the dirt road’s wide shoulder, I could quickly pull over and rush toward the field, crouching low to keep from scaring off the skittery birds. I remember wondering what I’d say to the farmer if he caught me trespassing on his land.

Then something happened that I wasn’t expecting—the flock lingered in the field. Were there more seeds than usual to feed on? Were the towering sunflowers hiding me from the skittish birds? Slowly I inched closer until I was standing directly behind one of the tallest sunflowers in the field. Beneath its large bowed head, I clicked the shutter again and again until the dark flock vanished once more into the cold, grey, blustery November sky.

They say your first death is like your first love—and you’re never quite the same afterwards. After my brother died, my photographs started to change. They were more muted, often autumnal. I remember saying to the writer, Linda Hasselstrom at her ranch house near Hermosa, South Dakota, where I did much of the writing for the book, “I see summer, fall, and winter, in the photographs, but not spring.”

“When you’re grieving, there isn’t any spring,” Hasselstrom replied.

Looking again at the work now that My Dakota is finally a book, I realize that I was photographing this particularly dark time in my life in order to try to absorb it, to distill it, and, ultimately, to let it go. Not only did my first grief change me, but making My Dakota changed me as well, both as a human being and as a bookmaker.

Rebecca Norris Webb is a New York-based photographer. More of her work can be seen here. My Dakota (Radius Books) will be launched at the International Center of Photography in New York City on May 24.  There will be an exhibition of the work at the Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City, South Dakota, from June 1 through October 13.

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The photographs in the gallery above are from the book Bosnia 1992 – 1995, available July 2012. The book will be self-published by the photographers who covered the Bosnian conflict—which began 20 years ago today—and printed in Bosnia. The captions below these photographs are the personal reflections of the photographers on their experiences in the region.

If the last lines of the 20th century were written in Moscow in December 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the prelude to the 21st century was written months later—and 20 years ago this month—in Bosnia’s capital, Sarajevo, as the disorderly break-up of Yugoslavia turned into genocide. In that bloody April, America’s moment of triumph over totalitarianism was transformed into a tribalist nightmare as Bosnian Serbs, determined to seize large parts of Bosnia as part of a plan to create a Greater Serbia, targeted Muslims for extermination. What some at the time hoped was just a communist death-rattle at the periphery of the Soviet empire, now looks like the birth cries of our current geopolitical reality.

In Bosnia the U.S. learned it would preside over a world where borders and ideology mattered less and transnational allegiances of ethnicity and sectarianism mattered more. Interviewed by TIME in August 1995, weeks after his troops had slaughtered more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys near the town of Srebrenica, Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic, now on trial for war crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague, declared he was acting out of fear of a new Islamic push through the Balkans to Europe. “By this demographic explosion Muslims are overflowing not only the cradle of Christianity in the Balkans but have left their tracks even in the Pyrenees,” Mladic said.

As the slaughter unfolded in Bosnia, and Europe and the U.S. belatedly mustered the will to stop it, Western attitudes towards the post-Cold War world took shape, as well. Neoconservatives and hawkish Democrats found common cause in humanitarian intervention. The media and the public learned from the NATO action in August and September 1995 and the Dayton peace agreement in November that American military might could impose stability—for a time. But 20 years later, with international military and police forces still keeping the peace in Bosnia, we have found there—and at much greater cost elsewhere—that an initially successful intervention by America’s unmatched armed forces cannot impose sectarian comity.

Massimo Calabresi covered the wars in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo as TIME’s Central Europe bureau chief from 1995 to 1999.

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Html css book

Most books on code are visually boring, but HTML & CSS designed by Jon Duckett makes the reading experience much more interesting and fun. I haven’t read the book, but I’d guess that the good design will help with the learning experience.

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You are used to see them on the runways or on your favorite glossies, but how do they look without makeup at the beginning of the career ? I would say prettier and innocent. Casting director Douglas Perrett of COACD released a book called «Wild Things» in which he unveiled Polaroid pictures from 2000 to 2010 of future models at their first castings. Watch trailer below

(...) Read More about Douglas Perrett’s “Wild Things” Book : Makeup-less Models from Casting Pola’s (191 words)

BOOK, MODELS, VIDEO | Permalink | One comment |

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In May 2011, Magnum photographers Jim Goldberg, Susan Meiselas, Paolo Pellegrin, Alec Soth and Mikhael Subotzky, as well as writer Ginger Strand, set out from Austin, Texas in an RV. Two weeks and 1750 miles later, they arrived in Oakland, Calif.

Together, they documented their experience, the result of which is a new, limited edition book that launches this week. Postcards from America is a collection of objects: a book, five bumper stickers, a newspaper, two fold-outs, three cards, a poster and five zines, all in a signed and numbered box.

“We knew each other through Magnum, obviously, but we’d never actually tried to work together,” says Soth. “We wanted to see what that would be like, to see if we could create a kind of polyphonic sound. Hopefully the box book achieves that. It also gave us an opportunity to push each other creatively and conceptually, which I think has carried over into our individual work.”

The book does not attempt to document the American Southwest in a traditional sense. Instead, it uses the prototypically western experience of a road trip as an entry point into depicting the region. “Some of us are used to working only on immersive, multiyear projects,” says Subotzky. “Obviously this was very different. Doing it collectively brought a great energy and looseness to the work. The box, with all its moving and arrangeable pieces, really reflects that and reflects what we found on the road—a divided and often contradictory society, unsure about its identity and future.”

The Postcards from America box book, in a signed edition of 500, is available exclusively at www.postcards.magnumphotos.com 

The second Postcards from America project is scheduled to begin this April in Rochester, New York.

To read more about the project background on Lightbox click here. To read a dispatch from the project click here.

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