Books May 14, 2013 By Nalina Moses

Entree Alpine Panoramic Structure, Alice Studio/Atelier de la Conception de L'Espace, Valais, Switzerland.

Entree Alpine Panoramic Structure, Alice Studio/Atelier de la Conception de L'Espace, Valais, Switzerland.

rocktheshackheader Rock the Shack
In the same way that we need a vacation to rest after a vacation, we might need a home where we can chill out after spending time at home. Even modest houses and apartments today are so richly furnished and plugged-in that we can barely rest when we’re inside: we’re streaming TV shows and music, working remotely, and connecting electronically with loved ones around the world. Home can be as demanding and draining as the workplace.

Perhaps the answer really is another home, a small shed in a quiet, out-of-the-way place, where we can retreat from both professional and personal demands. There are some spectacular options inside the book Rock the Shack: The Architecture of Cabins, Cocoons and Hide-Outs. These refuges are, for the most part, small, freestanding structures on rural sites, most of them located so remotely that there are few other structures, or even roads or walkways, in sight. But unlike typical country homes these places aren’t programmed for leisure: they don’t have great rooms, tennis courts, patios and pools. Instead they offer spare interior spaces for living, windows to stare out of, and immersion in a powerful landscape.

The most dramatic homes have been designed to support one single activity. Some are studios for painting or writing, some are playhouses, and some aren’t much more than elaborate sleeping chambers.

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Books August 22, 2012 By Jennifer Pappas

from <em>Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon</em> by Paola Gianturco, powerHouse Books.

Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon Paola Gianturco, powerHouse Books.

grandmotherpower interview Grandmother Power

One summer morning when I was about eight years old, my grandmother told me she was going to teach me how to make diples, a deep fried Greek pastry topped with honey and powdered sugar. In her cramped, Formica-filled kitchen, we also made koulourakia – plump hand-shaped twists she simply referred to as Greek Cookies. Together, we rolled up our sleeves, rolled out the dough, plastered our hands and forearms in flour, and went to work. We made tray after tray, more cookies than anyone could eat. But the eating wasn’t the important part; it was the making – the passing on of food, culture, history, tradition.

As I type this memory into existence, I’m suddenly left with another thought: nobody does that anymore. Or do they?According to an article in the April issue of Esquire, the only thing grandparents (aka Baby Boomers) are doing now is systematically disenfranchising the youth of America via decades of self-serving economic and social policy. But Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon (powerHouse books) may just prove all the cynics wrong. Paola Gianturco, author and documentary photographer of the new book talks to PLANET about grandmother activism, survival, and the global movement going on right now in kitchens, villages and courtrooms across the world.

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Jerry Bauer

Jerry Bauer

header11 Edward O. Wilson
Now that he’s approaching 83, Edward O. Wilson, the Harvard biologist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, has decided the time is at hand to publish a culminating work that wraps up many of the things he’s spent his distinguished career studying and to once again put himself at the center of heated scientific debates. In truth, he’s probably energetic enough to continue well on into his nineties. We’d expect nothing less from the man who can credibly call himself the Darwin of the present day. The book, titled The Social Conquest of Earth, presents some of the important discoveries that Dr. Wilson has made in the subject of advanced social behavior, many of which have had their origins in the study of ant colonies.

It turns out that we have much in common with ants and a small number of additional insect species. Mainly, there’s our shared inclination to be altruistic toward others of our kind, a phenomenon known as eusociality. It’s that behavior that forms the basis for so much of our success, but its origins haven’t always been understood. Especially puzzling is its rareness. E.O. Wilson spoke to Planet about the themes explored in his new book, including the notion that exploiting our eusocial instincts may turn out to be the key to saving our planet.

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Books, Greenspace February 15, 2012 By Jordan Sayle

future 1 Eat Like a Princetitle 1 Eat Like a Prince
It’s not as if the food message hasn’t been delivered convincingly before. But when it’s coming from a monarch whose country’s delicacies include something called spotted dick and something else that looks suspiciously like bottled oil slick but is actually a yeast extract paste known as Marmite — well, it’s getting pretty clear that something has to be done about the way we eat.
     Last May, the Prince of Wales delivered a speech to an audience at the Future of Food Conference in Washington D.C. about the dire state of our food production systems. Making elegant quotation signs with his fingers as he spoke of “sustainability” and its prospects in “the real world,” His Royal Highness drew from his three decades of experience with the issue to present the case that in the 21st Century, as global population escalates and as strains on agricultural land intensify, it is time for us to begin rethinking how our food is produced. Soils are being depleted, water is becoming scarcer, and climate change stands to make these problems considerably worse.
     The lecture now takes the form of a newly published booklet, which environmental activist Laurie David was inspired to help put together after attending the conference and hearing the prince in person. She tells PLANET that just as she sat and listened to Al Gore’s presentation of the climate crisis years before and had the vision for a film, she was motivated in this more recent case to spread the prince’s speech more widely.

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Books, Design January 30, 2012 By Nalina Moses

Caption

RENDERING RED Voiture Minimum, 1936, by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret. Virtual reconstruction by Antonio Amado Lorenzo.

filler29 Voiture Minimumvm title Voiture Minimum

Like movie stars who really want to direct, there were modern architects who really wanted to design cars. For early twentieth-century designers the automobile was much more than a vehicle; it was a powerful symbol of mobility, technology and progress. Walter Gropius and Adolf Loos both designed automobiles, and Le Corbusier’s design for a car called Voiture Minimum is documented in a new book of the same name. The narrative is less about the technicalities of automotive design, though, than about the great architect’s ambitions to build a car that embodied the ideas about space and form expressed so powerfully in his buildings. Le Corbusier designed Voiture Minimum with his cousin, architect Pierre Jeanneret, in 1936 as an entry to a competition sponsored by the French car manufacturer’s consortium SIA (Societe des Ingenieurs de l’Automobile). The competition guidelines didn’t govern style, but only specified the vehicle’s exterior dimensions, motor power, and retail price. Le Corbusier and Jeanneret put a great deal of effort into their design and, after it was submitted to SIA, approached different manufacturers and engineers to help put the model into production. While Le Corbusier built hundreds of structures throughout the world during his lifetime, he wasn’t able to build this car. All that remain of the project are pencil sketches and technical drawings, which historians have used to construct physical and computer models.

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Books, Music December 30, 2011 By Sara Roffino

ps 11 Patti Smith Woolgatheringps title1 Patti Smith Woolgathering
Part poetry, part memoir, part journey into the ethereal spaces between reality and fantasy, Woolgathering is Patti Smith’s story of being a child, and becoming an artist. Moving from her working-class childhood to her years of poverty and burgeoning creativity in Greenwich Village, Smith recounts her life through its curiosities and epiphanies, sentient experiences and ardent images. Rather than tell the linear tale of her life, she brings the readers into the intimate, personal moments that have shaped her as an artist. Like the child’s discovery Smith describes, Woolgathering is ‘a crazy quilt of truths– wild and wooly ones, hardly bordering on truth at all.’
     Woolgathering, originally published in 1992, was recently re-published by New Directions with additional writing, photos and illustrations. Smith will be reading and signing Woolgathering at St. Mark’s Bookshop on January 3, 2012 at 7pm.

Art, Books, Greenspace December 6, 2011 By Nalina Moses

All photographs by Mathias Braschler and Monika Fischer, courtesy of Hatje Cantz. Juliana Pacco Pacco, llama herdswoman. Paru Paru, Peru.

All photographs by Mathias Braschler and Monika Fischer, courtesy of Hatje Cantz. Juliana Pacco Pacco, llama herdswoman. Paru Paru, Peru.

title shift The Human Face of Climate Change
Climate change is notoriously difficult to illustrate. Shifts in sea level, soil acidity, and air composition occur slowly and over such long periods of time that they can’t grab headlines the way more dramatic, photographable events like wars, debates and protests do. Photographers Mathias Braschler and Monika Fischer have brought the issue to the forefront by documenting men and women in rural communities around the world whose way of life has been unravelled by climate change. Their book of portraits and interviews, The Human Face of Climate Change, is a powerful political document, giving an inescapable, emotional face to the issue.
     The color photographs of these men and women are vivid, but what’s more powerful is their personal testimony. Each one has made a brief, page-long statement, that’s been translated into English in simple, declarative sentences that emphasize the gravity of what they’ve seen. All have observed climate change in their own communities and in their own lifetimes, over a span of just ten or twenty years. And all of them – in the Americas, Africa, and Asia — have the same stories to tell: their bodies of water are shrinking, their shorelines are eroding, their glaciers are melting, and their soils are becoming less fertile. Some of the evidence is tragic.

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Art, Books November 30, 2011 By Sarah Coleman

Berenice Abbott, Zito’s Bakery, 259 Bleecker Street , 1937, from Changing New York, 1935–39, gelatin silver print.  The Jewish Museum, New York, Purchase: Mimi and Barry J. Alperin Fund

Berenice Abbott, Zito’s Bakery, 259 Bleecker Street , 1937, from Changing New York, 1935–39, gelatin silver print. The Jewish Museum, New York, Purchase: Mimi and Barry J. Alperin Fund

title72 Radical Camera
Small, light and fast, the Leica was the cellphone camera of its day. When it launched in the 1920s, professional photographers took to the streets with it and captured quick, spontaneous images that hadn’t been possible with their lumbering view cameras. Perhaps no group used the camera better in its early days than the New York Photo League, a ragtag band of urban photographers who were equally passionate about politics and aesthetics. In the 1930s and 40s, their documentation would provide a vibrant record of everyday life in New York City.
     The Radical Camera: The New York Photo League 1936-1951, now at the Jewish Museum, pays tribute to the ninety-some photographers involved in this short-lived, feisty little organization. Notably, most Photo League members came from modest backgrounds (a lot were first-generation American Jews). Their aim was to throw light on their own poor neighborhoods and others, and by doing so, to effect social change. Not for them the beautiful, static landscapes being captured by Ansel Adams in the same years; instead, they turned their lenses on the teeming streets of the Lower East Side and Harlem, where children played in abandoned buildings and garbage littered the streets.

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Architecture, Books November 7, 2011 By Nalina Moses

All photographs copyright David Adjaye, African Metropolitan Architecture, Rizzoli New York, 2011.

All photographs copyright David Adjaye, African Metropolitan Architecture, Rizzoli New York, 2011. Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

aa title African Metropolitan Architecturefiller29 African Metropolitan Architecture
For many of us who’ve never been there, Africa is a myth more than a place, an imaginary landscape of unspoiled deserts, grasslands and forests. So David Adjaye’s new book of photographs of the continent’s cities, African Metropolitan Architecture, is revelatory. Adjaye is a celebrated London-based, Tanzania-born architect who has traveled through Africa since he was a child. This seven-volume set collects thousands of photos he took when visiting fifty-two different cities over the past decade. The book is organized geographically, with separate volumes featuring cities in the Maghreb (the northwest shore), the Sahara desert, the Sahel (the zone just south of the desert), the forest, the savanna, and the mountains.
     Adjaye’s photographs aren’t rigidly composed, as one would expect from an architect, and have a snapshot-like immediacy. They look as if they were taken by a traveler moving comfortably and inconspicuously through these places, with a personal rather than academic interest. But Adjaye is highly deliberate about what he chooses to photograph, focusing on buildings, streets, parks and plazas that capture the spirit of each city’s life.

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Art, Books October 18, 2011 By Chloe Eichler

filler29 Richard Rothman   Redwood Saw

Richard Rothman

Richard Rothman

filler29 Richard Rothman   Redwood Sawtitle64 Richard Rothman   Redwood Saw
Richard Rothman began what would become his latest book in a tent in northern California, with a 4×5 camera and the intention to photograph old-growth redwood trees.
     Redwood Saw, out on October 14th, is the story of Rothman’s five years photographing that forest and Crescent City, the depressed town that was cut out from it a century and a half ago. In ponderous black and white, Rothman juxtaposes the grandeur of the ancient trees with the harsh reality of a logging and fishing town that no longer has the natural resources to log or fish.
     The forest photographs are arresting in their depth; Rothman consistently finds the junction at which branches, trunks, leaves, and stalks from all different plant species meet, forming a gorgeously textured tableau that speaks of the rhythms of the forest. By contrast, the images of Crescent City are divided between shots of dilapidated architecture and portraits of citizens in their homes and workplaces. The town is portrayed in a stark, almost stylized manner, as if by draining the area’s forests the logging industry managed to visibly bleed dry its own life force. If these pictures are a ruthless return to the human scale, we get some reprieve in the photos where nature and society meet. Where locals stand at the edge of the undergrowth or charred tree stumps stretch into the distance, Rothman succeeds so completely at finding a harmony and balance in the landscape that even in shots of what is undoubtedly a tragedy—a ruined forest of stumps—the regality of the natural world remains.

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