Oana Stanescu (PUPPY )
1. Hans-Ulrich Obrist: Interviews
Hans-Ulrich Obrist. Charta/Fondazione Pitti Immagine Discovery, 2003.
This is a collection of interviews with artists, architects, curators, musicians, philosophers and other people from creative industries, taken by Obrist since the early 90s. I suggest you enjoy it with coffee or tea as the best thing about it is that it feels like a good conversation with amazing characters. Don't let yourself be fooled by the title: it doesn't have anything to do with the forced, standard, boring interviews you read in magazines. The book is truly what it says on the tin: a collection of 'conversations as a fruitful exchange of ideas'.
2. pressPlay Contemporary Artists in Conversation
Editors of Phaidon Press. Phaidon Press, 2005
This is also a collection of interviews held with 50 important contemporary artists between 1995 and 2005. As opposed to the book listed above, in this one the interviewers are always different and most of them are artists as well. Some of the conversation partners are Kim Gordon with Christian Marclay, novelist Dennis Cooper chats with Raymond Pettibon, painter Vija Celmins with sculptor Robert Gober, Benjamin Buchloh talks with his longtime friend Lawrence Weiner. I can give you some more names like Louise Bourgeois, Alex Katz, Pippilotti Rist, Maurizio Cattelan, but to be honest i knew at most 25% of the artists that are featured in pressPlay. Yet, or maybe because of that, it was a nice introduction to a world i rather know through other mediums.
3. Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp
Pierre Cabanne. Da Capo Press, 1987.
When asked about what his biggest accomplishment in life is, 79 years old Duchamp replies 'I've never worked for a living. I consider working for a living slightly imbecilic from an economic point of view. I hope some day we'll be able to live without being obliged to work.' The discussions flows and Duchamp always manages to take Pierre Cabannes (and the reader) by surprise with his extremely honest and simple answers when it comes to art, chess, bachelor life, creation and most of all luck. I was always a big fan of his, but this book just made me love Duchamp even more. There really isn't more to say. A must read for everyone interested in Duchamp. Or, for that matter, R. Mutt.
4. Jeff Koons:Easyfun-Ethereal
Robert Rosenblum. Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2001.
I am probably pretty late with this one, but i still find it a good time companion. This is the book that accompanied a series commissioned for Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin, series which 'features food, fashion and fun'. How can you object to that?! In addition to the illustrations the book includes an interview with Mr. Koons himself, in which he reflects upon his own work and an essay by art critic Robert Rosenblum on Koons' work.
5. The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
Bill Watterson. Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2005.
You may wonder how this got lost on the list but i can't think of any other book that will make you laugh out loud within half a page. And laughing is healthy if not necessary.
6. About Ideas and Blockings
H. R. Patapievici. Ed. Humanitas 2007
About Happyness in the East and the Vest and Others Essays
Andrei Plesu. Ed. Humanitas 2006
I am cheating a bit at this point since this isn't about one but two books, both of which are written and available only in Romanian. I won't get into the details of the writings, but wanted rather to refer to the issue of translations. I just finished reading these books and they are an excellent intellectual stimulant. They just add up to the list of books which I wish were translated and made available to other cultures too. Why? Maybe because they would say more about Romania then the press does, maybe because I just think they're a good read, maybe because I imagine there are amazing reads in so many other languages that I will never know about, maybe because I don't believe in the language as a barrier but, on the contrary, as a door to otherwise unknown places, maybe because I can't share some of my favourite books, maybe because I am upset that 'The Satanic Verses' by Salman Rushdie was translated only now (after 20 years!!!) into Romanian. And the list goes on and on...
7. Louis Kahn: Conversations with Students
Chronicle Unknown. Princeton Architectural Press , 1998.
Ever imagined how it would be to attend a class with Loius I. Kahn as a teacher?! Well, here's your chance. A very refreshing dialogue between the master and the aspirant architect. There is something terrible about this book though: it's has too few pages.
8. The Master and Margarita
Mikhail Bulgakov. Oneworld Classics, 2008.
I wanted to read this book for a couples of years now, but somehow it didn't happen until last year and now it's on my top ten favourite books. A good old classic, hence a must read.
Instead of mentioning another book, I am going to rat out some places where you can enjoy reading probably any book. Last year I had the chance to visit both the Exeter and the Seattle Public Library. I guess neither of them need any additional introduction. Though both offer very different experiences there is one point which they do have in common: in both of them I had the desire to just pick up a book and read. At Exeter I was jealous on those students napping at their tables, at the SPL I envied everyone in that town. It is so rare to have a place that just makes you feel good from the moment you walk in, but it's great to know these amazing places exist, even if not in your immediate proximity. It just makes it all worth it.
Mason White (OX )
1. KM3: Excursions on Capacity
MVRDV. Actar , 2006.
It is big. It is dense. Return of the tome, MVRDV’s KM3 collects the firm’s visions for an increased three-dimensional densification of our environments.
2. From Agit-prop to Free Space
Stanley Matthews. Black Dog Publishing , 2007.
Hard to think of an architect (or really, antiarchitect, as he preferred) with so little work that looms so largely over Architecture’s tinkerings with program and programming than Cedric Price. From Agit-Prop captures the ambitions and problematics of two of the most important unrealized projects of the later 20th century, Fun Palace and Potteries Thinkbelt. Matthews situates the aura, and madness and peculiarities of Price and his inner circle with clarity and verve.
3. The Strange Death of Architectural Criticism
Martin Pawley. Black Dog Publishing , 2007.
Few Architecture critics display the whit of Martin Pawley. Spanning almost 40 years, Strange Death is the definitive collection of Pawley’s writings from virtually every significant architectural journal during his sustained reign as a critic terrible.
4. Splintering Urbanism
Stephen Graham and Simon Marvin. Routledge , 2001.
An incredibly thorough account of the challenges facing our 21st century cities, Splintering Urbanism addresses technological and infrastructural influences on urban form. From networking and unbundling to seducing and fortressing, Graham and Marvin, demonstrate urban infrastructures primacy as urban puppeteer.
5. Network Practices
Anthony Burke and Therese Tierney. Princeton Architectural Press , 2007.
Network Practices is not so much a set of new texts and works (since many have appeared elsewhere) as much as a concise packaging of a recent history. It assembles 12 essays charting the hypnotic dynamics of our highly, yet often invisibly, connected environment. Many of the essays grapple with the challenges of the representation of networks (insert ubiquitous meshwork form) versus their effects (collapsed hierarchies, among others).
6. Alphabet City: Food
John Knechtel. MIT Press , 2007.
In its 12th edition, Alphabet City invites artists, architects and writers to address the complex thematic of food. From farm-scrapers to a photo-inventory of one year of meals to the evolution of astronaut food, Food offers a broad spectrum of impressions on the shaping of our contemporary consumption habits.
7. PA 28: Augmented Landscapes
Mark Smout and Laura Allen. Princeton Architectural Press , 2007.
An overlooked edition for Pamphlet Architecture, Smout and Allen were the 2007 selection. Smout Allen channels retreating villages, dessert-scapes, fluidic switches, and many other strategies that supplement a restless landscape.
8. Walrus–Artic Special Issue
I cannot rave enough about Walrus Magazine’s smart in-depth writing and reportage. Last November’s issue was exclusively on the contemporary Artic region. 4 million people in eight countries live in or close to the Arctic.
RAT The Ghost Map
Steven Johnson. Riverhead Books , 2006.
Johnson weaves a gripping account of the 1854 outbreak of cholera in London, and constructs a fascinating argument of its impact of urban form.
Orhan Ayyuce (RAM )
1. Acerol Three Story Man in a One Story Town
Richard Hertz. Minneola Press, 2006.
I'm more silly than great.
I'm a conceptual folk artist.
I have suffered well
In the warmth of fear.
I have lived long enough
To see the mountains grow.
L.A. is flat
But it's uphill.
I'm a three-story man
In a one-story town.
2. Human Landscapes from My Country
Nazim Hikmet. Persea Books , 2002.
Living is no laughing matter:
you must live with great seriousness
like a squirrel, for example-
I mean without looking for something beyond and above living,
I mean living must be your whole occupation.
3. Love is a Dog From Hell
Charles Bukowski. Ecco , 2002.
now, if you were teaching creative
4. New and Collected Poems 1964-2007
Ishmael Reed. Thunder's Mouth Press , 2007.
A crocodile don't hunt
They hunts him
All he do is
Open he jaws
5. Rock My Religion, Writings and Projects 1965-1990
Dan Graham. The MIT Press , 1993.
6. David Lamelas: A new refutation of time
David Lamelas. Richter, 1997.
Fiction is one of the most used elements in creative fields: painting, sculpture, non-painting, non sculpture, happenings, theater, TV, and cinema.
Any 'work of art' contains a mystery of elaboration/production which starts the work itself; that is, the artist or person who carries out something in a 'specilialized field,' limited by many conventions, is an accomplice to this mystery of production before execution. After conceiving the idea, the next step is to consider the means necessary for realizing the artwork. This step, the execution, which automatically tends to be rejected, exists between the idea and the completed work, and all further reasoning is aimed at hiding this 'intermidiate step'; then the work is fit for consumption.
7. The Literary Book of Economics
Michael Watts. Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2003.
8. Marcel Broodthaers
Michael Compton, Douglas Crimp, Bruce Jenkins, Martin Mosebach. Walker Art Center, 1989.
I, too, wondered if I couldn't sell something and succeed in life. For quite a while I had been good for nothing. I am forty years old... The idea of inventing something insincire finally crossed my mind, and I set to work at once. Marcel Broodthaers, Brussels,1964
RAT Dialogues With Marcel Duchamp
Pierre Cabanne. Da Capo Press, 1987.
CABANNE: When you were young, didn't you ever experience the desire to be artistically cultured?
DUCHAMP: Maybe, but it was a very mediocre desire. I would have wanted to work, but deep down I'm enormously lazy. I like living, breathing, better than working. I don't think that the work I've done can have any social importance whatsoever in the future. Therefore, if you wish, my art would be that of living: each second, each breath is a work which is inscribed nowhere, which is neither visual nor cerebral. It's sort of constant euphoria.
Israel Kandarian (TIGER )
1. Wim Crouwel: Typographic Architectures
Catherine de Smet and Emmanuel Berard. Éditions fsept , 2007.
This is the catalog of the exhibition of the same name, designed by Experimental Jetset , for the Stedlijk Museum in Amsterdam. Wim Crouwel was the Stedlijk's designer for many years, where he produced some of his most memorable work, including exhibition posters incorporating his custom grid-based typefaces. Crouwel is one of the living legends of Modernist design, and this little book is a must have for any serious student of design. The little cultural cloud that organizes Wim Crouwel, Experimental Jetset, Stedlijk Museum, and Helvetica is perfectly formed and ready to make it rain.
2. Petra Blaisse: Inside Outside
Cecil Balmond, et al. NAi Publishers , 2007.
Exhaustive monograph of Inside Outside designed by the great Irma Boom. The casual nature of the photographs coupled with the deceptively complex grid structure of the book is a wonderful metaphor for Blaisse's work, crossing textile design, landscape architecture, and object making.
3. After Dark
Haruki Murakami. Knopf, 2007.
Yes, there is a young man, sorta down on his luck, who's life is suddenly interrupted by a young woman with problems. Yes, she is described as only mildly attractive. Yes, there are cats. Yes, there are flourished descriptions of banal foods. Yes, there are characters that may or may not exist. Yes, there are references to classical music. Yes, there is a jazz club. Murakami is simultaneously one of the most original and predictable contemporary writers, and is also an addiction.
4. Project Vitra
Cornel Windlin and Rolf Fehlbaum, Eds. Birkauser , 2007.
This is a heavy-duty volume dedicated to presenting a "complete" history of Vitra, through 2007. There is a very good reason that their products have become ubiquitous - they are fucking GREAT! - and this book details a comprehensive history of the company, its campus, its collaborators, and all the stuff that surrounds it. Designed by Cornel Windlin, mastermind behind the always beautiful Vitra "Home Editions" ephemera.
5. Forms of Inquiry
Zak Kyes and Mark Owens, Eds. AA Publications , 2007.
This is essentially the catalog of the show of same name, curated by Zak Kyes, Print Director of the Architectural Association. The exhibition and book presents the work of graphic designers whose work intersects architectural impulses and trajectories, including texts by Paul Elliman and David Reinfurt (among others). As a side note, the AA was brilliant in its decision to bring in a young yet internationally recognized talent as its Print Director - we can be sure we will see an onslaught of graphically compelling and challenging ephemera over the forthcoming years...nostalgically, this reminds me of April Greiman's work with SCI-Arc during the 1990's and the more current work for Columbia GSAPP by 2x4 and Harvard GSD / Princeton SOA by Omnivore. Hopefully other high profile schools will catch on and stop putting out ugly shit.
6. Materials, Process, Print
Daniel Mason. Laurence King Publishing , 2007.
To put it crudely, this is the graphic designer's equivalent to "Transmaterial." This book presents materials and processes, both common and experimental, useful to anyone that produces printed matter (yes, that includes architects). I highly recommend this as a desk reference to all those interested in packaging, printing, and making.
7. Super Normal: Sensations of the Ordinary
Naoto Fukasawa and Jasper Morrison. Lars Muller Publishers , 2007.
The combination of well-designed / everyday objects, Jasper Morrison, and Lars Muller is a no-brainer.
8. 16 Months of Drawing Exercises in Microsoft Excel
Danielle Aubert. Various Projects, Inc. , 2006.
This book was published in 2006, but I spent an entire year saying "I'll get this next time" until Project No.8 was down to less than 10 copies. This is one of my favorite books that I own - as simple as it appears, I find new details every time I pick it up and it always makes me smile. This is a selection of drawings made during Danielle's MFA thesis, and the book is elegantly cloth bound with gold foil cover printing. Danielle is a Detroit-based designer that lives in a Mies tower and happens to be absolutely fantastic!
RAT Karel Martens: printed matter/drukwerk
Robin Kinross, Ed. Princeton Architectural Press , 1997.
Refusing to pay upwards of $1,000 for this highly collectible and rare book for nearly 10 years, I finally got a copy in 2007 as a gift from a coworker that had the foresight to purchase four copies in 1997 for the retail price of $40 each. Karel Martens is one of the most original Modernists still producing substantive work, and this monograph, of sorts, is a comprehensive look at his body of work (up to 1997). According to Karel, there is a third edition in the works, so availability and affordability will hopefully introduce his work to a fresh audience. Stay tuned...
Nam Henderson (COCK )
Alan Berger. Princeton Architectural Press, 2006.
What can we do with our leftover and polluted urban landscapes? Alan Berger refines the suggestion he began in his first book, a project on the abandoned post-industrial landscapes of the West. He argues that first we must re-conceptualize and think of this "dross" as potential. Waste is opportunity. And image, especially the ones produced by Berger are key to it's re-conception.
2. The Sacred and Profane: The Nature of Religion
Eliade Mercea. Harcourt Inc., 1957.
An old book. Quite good though. Mercea examines the role of religion in human life. How can humans' create sacred time and space? Why do we?
3. American Project
Sudhir Venkatesh. Harvard University Press, 2002.
I just finished this book and highly recommend it to anyone interested in “Project living”, the American urban condition of the late 80’s and 90’s or somone who enjoys “community studies”.
The key contribution of this work is the great emphasis Venkatesh places on the local community and it’s processes. He argues that it was not a collapse of the community itself but rather a failure of the municipal, state and federal government(s) to provide adequate support and services to the community’s residents that caused the inevitable social collapse.
4. Cradle to Cradle
William McDonough. North Point Press, 2002.
Birkauser , 2007.
A fundamental. Re-imagines the design process. Create only the needed, with only what is necessary and nothing more. And make it so the creation can be broken back down into basic components. Good for the architect, engineer or chemist.
5. a) Violent Geographies > "Vanishing Points: Law, Violence and Exception in the Global War Prison"
Derek Gregory. Routledge Press, 2006.
A look into current geographies of exception. What realities do locations such as Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib highlight within the realm of representation? Derek Gregory examines contemporary images of violence as related both to a colonial past and a shared potential future.
5. b) Border Postcards (pdf)
Teddy Cruz. CCA Press, 2004
A call to awareness and flexible ambiguity. The problems of urbanism, ecology and public policy that face metropolis of the future need to be addressed not through simple stylistic intervention. Rather, Cruz argues the real necessity is an architecture of intervention, in which the fundamental problems of planning and zoning policies are redressed through the "creation of a participatory practice(s) that can enter the politics of information and public debate about the city".
6. Deep Ecology
Bill Devall and George Sessions. Gibbs Smith, 2001
What if humans lived as if we were nature not apart from it? This is the simple proposition laid out originally by Arne Naess and presented here by Bill Devall and George Sessions. Revolutionary perhaps not. This book argues that for real ecological harmony to be achieved we must move beyond simple ecological conservation. The authors propose Deep Ecology "a philosophy that places human beings on an absolutely equal footing with all other creatures on the planet."
7. The Cradle of Humanity
Georges Bataille. Zone Books , 2005
Dense. A look at the power of Pre-historic Art. Was early art simply ritual? The Cradle of Humanity: Prehistoric Art and Culture collects essays and lectures by Georges Bataille spanning 30 years of research in anthropology, comparative religion, aesthetics, and philosophy.
8. Return to Beirut
Andree Chedid. Serpents Tail, 1990.
A short but meaningful read. Set in two periods of history in Beirut this book explores the tumultuous history of the modern Lebanese state. However, the story itself is about family, love growing up and memory. The conflict is not the focus however, rather an inescapable context.
Continue to Part II...
John Jourden is an (a)rchitect and pathological thinker living in New York.