Fish Porn

I am a desperately addicted fly fisherman, (click here to see my favorite fly fishing blog, Sexyloops) and I recently took note of the pornographic qualities of a genre of angling pictures. In an era of catch-and-release fishing it's customary for fishermen and fisherwomen to pose for impressive shots with their catches before returning their catch (hopefully) safely to the water. Consider this typical example:

angler posing with large trout

Crowd Sourcing for Context

Anatomical model of a human headFirst spotted at boingboing, the Lane Medical Archive at Stanford University has posted some mystery photos to Flickr hoping someone out there might be able to provide some context. Although I love the idea of harnessing the power of the Internet to enrich the context of the archive, they may not get what they were looking for: one of the first commenters reaches for snark, the official language of the web:

I may be a layman but it appears these people are examining X-Rays of a patient's abdomen. If this information was helpful I may be able to speculate further as to the color of their lab coats and the genders of the people shown.

Image credit: boingboing via Flickr via Lane Medical Archive, Stanford University (copyright holder)

Promotion: CWRL on Vimeo

Hardworking Assistant Directors in the CWRL have posted videos of this year's lecture and workshop series to, including this presentation on using Google Maps in the classroom. You can subscribe to the "CWRL Lecture Series" channel and the "CWRL Workshops" channel to see future updates.

Using Google Maps as a Writing Tool from CWRL on Vimeo


Terror and Visual Semiotics

The March 9, 2009, issue of Newsweek Magazine inadvertently draws attention to a pathic characteristic of graphic design: the capacity of visual images to create emotional appeals.

newsweek cover radical islam

The design of this magazine cover uses color--the pure green background--to evoke the political flags of nations like Libya and Saudi Arabia and political parties like Hamas. The surprising thing is the text itself. The Arabic script here, though meaningful in itself to those who can read it, is reduced to a simply visual signifier as its 'literal' meaning to the readers of Newsweek is made parenthetical. The Arabic text here seems geared solely toward evoking fear and apprehension in the non-Arabic speaking audience.

However, I would certainly praise Newsweek for their decision to avoid the stereotypical images that have become iconic of radical Islam in Western media (chanting crowds, burning flags and effigies, suicide bomb vests, 'Quranic' calligraphy, etc.) in favor of a simple textual presentation.

But why the seemingly gratuitous use of the Arabic script?

The article in question is available to read online.

New Interview Posted -- Roberto Tejada

A new interview has been posted to our views section. Viz. contributor Dale Smith speaks with author Roberto Tejada about Twentieth-Century Mexican Photography.

Roberto Tejada is a professor of art history at the University of Texas at Austin, and the author of Mirrors for Gold and National Camera, as well as a founder of the periodical Mandorla.

Check out the interview. alt="sexist helvetica ad" class="center" width="180">

Are some protest images too graphic?

*Today's post is more of a question, and rather than reproduce the images of the discussion, I will write about them.

Helvetica and Shapes of Things to Come

A few weeks ago I caught an episode of Independent Lens on PBS about the font Helvetica.

In the undisputed manifesto of modern graphic design, The New Typography, author Jan Tschichold argues in vaguely Heideggerian terms that modernity requires a typeface consistent with its worldview. In fact, typeface has always been consistent, in his opinion, with the worldview of the civilization that used it, insofar as he sees that worldview as an expression of the relationship between with individual, the whole of society, and the technae they employ to shape and frame the world around them.

Then over the last week I caught sight of this pair of advertisements for the typeface Helvetica font featured on alt="sexist helvetica ad" class="center" width="180">

Image from

neue helvetica ad

Image from

Witness the artifact of the process

Derek Mueller over at Earth Wide Moth posted an interesting meditation on Google's recent mapping of the famously lost city of Atlantis.
image from Google Earth

Google's spokesperson addressed interest in the image by clarifying the lines, taken for ruins, that mark the ocean floor. S/he said in an email: "What users are seeing is an artifact of the data collection process...The fact that there are blank spots between each of these lines is a sign of how little we really know about the world's oceans."

Derek's post (found here) focuses on this very issue of method, of the discovery of the trace even if it is not the trace of a lost civilization. Instead, on the map, we are left with signs or remnants of the mapper. Derek says:

"The conspiracy doesn't interest me all that much. Instead, I'm struck by the impression: the stamp left by the "systematic" tracing, the residue of the surface-to-sea-floor method (a term others have smartly untangled it into meta-hodos or something like 'beyond ways', even 'ways beyond'; this etymological dig lingers with me). The deep blue grid of "bathymetric data" elicits questions: why don't we see these in the adjacent areas? What was it about this boat, this collection process, this translation from sound to image, that left behind the vivid trails?"

The Magic of Photography (and Photoshop)

An idealized picture of the Egg McMuffinImage credit:

A friend sent along a link to this story at touting a web site with side-by-side comparisons of the official photographs of fast food menu items alongside their rather depressing real-world counterparts. The Platonic Ideal has never seemed so far away.... Meet the *real* Egg McMuffin, after the jump.

Written on the Body

A tattoo on a woman's eyelid advertises a web site
Image credit: via NYT

Well, after today I will absolutely stop poaching all my Viz. entries from the The New York Times, but their home page is currently trumpeting a story on "The Body as Billboard" that I imagine any reader of this blog would be interested in.

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