Sunday, March 29, 2015

You probably think this picture is a mistake. That's how much you know. It's hip contemporary design! (With a brief "Godfather" "explanatory update")


You're probably figuring that the person who cropped this photo for publication was either thinking about something else at the time, or maybe drunk, or just plain stupid. Well, surprise! Apparently this is "contemporary design." (I know I shouldn't have centered it here, but old habits die hard.)

by Ken

Awhile ago, as some of you may remember, I got myself enmeshed in a profiile of defrocked Russian plutocrat Mikhail Khodorkovsky, by Julia Ioffe, which appeared in the January 12 New Yorker. Accompanying that profile was the above, er, photo. Maybe I should say "image," since I have to wonder whether it qualifies any longer as a photo.

Okay, I get what's going on here. This is new and hot. It's artistic, creative. Images that are centered or symmetrical -- feh! How old-fashioned! Why, it's as if the person publishing the photo thought he had something more important to do than to, you know, show the reader something -- like dazzling, or more likely hornswoggling, the poor bugger.

I don't mean to single out The New Yorker, because now that I've crawled out of my tightly constrained little media world, I see that I had somehow missed this trend. Now I see that it's all over. (Let's make it clear: I do mean to ridicule and despise the perpetrators at The New Yorker. Just because they're hardly the worst offenders doesn't mean they shouldn't be humiliated and fired -- and also the people who hired them. And oh yes, it's nothing personal, it's just business. [EXPLANATORY UPDATE: As some of you may recall, on Saturday I was scheduled to see a day-night double-header of Godfather I and II. Well, as you can see, I did -- and what a grand day it was!])

In case you haven't seen much of it yourself, it started with eccentric cropping of photos, losing most everything from mid-forehead up and from about bottom chin down. Then it leapt to positioning of images such that the nominal subject of a photo an image is scooted way the hell off to one side, or top or bottom, or corner, in addition to being bizarrely cropped so as to render the nominal subject more or less beyond recognition. And this is supposed to be chic, with it, hip as hell. Oh jeez!

In many years in and around publishing I've known a heap of art editors, art directors, graphic designers, or whatever they're calling themselves now. Some of them were brilliant, and I learned an unbelievable amount from them about how the eye "works" a page and how visual elements can serve and enhance that. They also produced a lot of damned fine pages. Interestingly, they were also the ones who cared most about what the editors involved were looking for in the design, what we were hoping to communicate. They were awesome.

Many more of those so-called designers, alas, were pompous hacks, producing more and more elaborate design garbage as the software enhanced their physical, but not artistic, capabilities. I saw "design," or just plain "graphics," take over magazines and even newspapers. I guess it has something to do with the prevailing assumption that so-called readers don't read, or apparently even attempt to receive information. They just look randomly and blindly.

Still, I was surprised by this new wave of graphic imbecility. Me, when I insert a picture or other graphics in these posts, it's 'cause I hope I have something to show you, and maybe to make the space look a little nicer. Nevertheless, here I thought I was beyond being surprised by crap like this. Well, surprise!

I don't suppose there's any point in asking if somebody can make this stop.


Take that, Mikhail, and that! You arty boy!



At 8:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...actually a very strong design based on classical diagonal composition.

- Wmxdesign


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