Photos from our Pyramid Atlantic letterpress course this past weekend. Click any of the images for a more detailed look (we plan to use these in our teaching).
Type in a California Job Case and a galley tray.
Drawers of type with two small platten presses.
Language in the palm of my hand (12-point type).
Using a composing stick.
A bit further along.
Standing type (note the blanks for white space).
Locking up (the type is transferred from the composing stick to the bed of the press and wedged in place by the small pieces of wood, called “furniture”).
The pressure on the furniture is reinforced by tightening the quoin key.
At last we’re ready to pull the press!
Where the furniture, quoins, and quoin keys are kept.
Two tiny little platten presses.
The fruit of our labor (excerpt from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, as translated by John Dryden—a passage from the Procne and Philomela myth).
Outside Pyramid Atlantic on Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland.
Random observations from the first day of our letterpress workshop:
The Mav’s Classic Microgames Museum. Car Wars anyone?
I run a Dell Latitude L400, Windows 2000. Recently I’ve had a string of really nasty crashes—I mean brutal—and I’m hoping someone reading this might be able to shed some light.
The scenario: it typically happens when I’m doing something fairly memory-intensive: Photoshop, creating a PDF, browsing a really dense Web site. But it has occassionally happened on more vanilla sites too. Not restricted to any one browser, though Mozilla seems most vulnerable. The system shuts down—shuts down completely, screen goes blank, fan dies—with an audible “click.” That’s it—I’ve got to reboot and of course I lose whatever was in progress. Sometimes it’s repeatable—I go back to the same Web site, re-open the image I was working on in Photoshop and perform the same operation . . . wham, down we go again.
Needless to say this is freaking me out. I fear it may be hard drive-related, which is something I ought to know something about, but being able to talk about the ins and outs of aerial density and RLL encoding doesn’t necessarily mean you can troubleshoot your own platter. So, ideas anyone? I’d be grateful—and, ahem, I don’t need to be told to go get a Mac or run Linux!
One of the great good fortunes of living in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland: just down the street from us is Pyramid Atlantic, a comprehensive book arts studio where Kari and I are starting a two-day letterpress and lino-cut course tomorrow:
This weekend workshop provides an exploration of text and image through use of the age old process of letterpress as a fine art medium for the 21st century. Come spend two days creating a collaborative pamphlet binding book for you to keep. Learn letterpress basics from the composing stick to the tympan sheet. Technical instruction in type setting by hand, locking up, ink modification, editioning, chine collè experimentation, and Vandercook press basics will be covered. This class will also delve into the area of relief printing processes through the creation of black and white linocuts.
The link above takes you to a write-up in the local paper.
In the comments, Francois notes that I’ve been making progress on my to-do list. Not as much progress as I’d like mind you, but it was almost 80 degrees here today and well, you know . . . in any case, one of the real accomplishments of the last few days is not reflected on the list below. There are few things, in my experience, more satisfying than doing one’s laundry. All of one’s laundry. The task is, of course, Sisyphean in the extreme, but we suppress that awful knowledge once the clothes are neatly folded and stowed, the laundry bag limp and empty. Done.
Yeah, it’s been a while. Like George and Liz and maybe others, the ol’ blogging well’s felt a little dry of late. Copying a pasting a conference CFP once a week does not a compelling blog experience make, I know. So what’s been going on? Well, classes for one thing: undergraduates and grad students this semester are all hard working . . . and smart. I’m having a great time with both groups. My class blogs are also thriving: my undergraduates have left 300+ comments (and we’re still only half way through the semester) and the group authoring experiment with my graduate class is turning out well too. The blog is a nice way for us touch base in between our once a week class meetings.
Still, it’s spring break here all next week, and it’s nice to have a little time off; hopefully I’ll be able to catch up on some things. Here’s my to do list, in no particular order:
If I can get all or most of this done then that will clear the decks for writing for the rest of the semester and the summer.
A little more reading it’d be nice to get to. Jay Clayton’s Charles Dickens in Cyberspace (Oxford 2004), which is not the sequel to Hamlet on the Holodeck but rather by all accounts a smart and prescient attempt to grapple with continuities between the Romantic and Victorian age and our own postmodern present. Babbage and his engines, Shelley’s Frankenstein, and the telegraph all make appearances. The Victorians seem more and more with me: partly its because I’m such a Gibson fan, and Gibson has a pronounced Victorianist fetish; but it’s clear, from Clayton’s book as well as recent work by Lisa Gitelman (just down the street at Catholic U.) and John Picker (who I knew at UVa—see his Victorian Soundscapes, also new from Oxford) that the Victorian age was a point of major technological rupture, and certainly the most relevant of recent “information revolutions.”
Also picked up Scott Bukatman’s Matters of Gravity: Special Effects and Supermen in the 20th Century (Duke UP, 2004). Bukatmann’s first book, Terminal Identity, has long had a place of pride on my shelf, and this volume collects a number of great essays (including “Gibson’s Typewriter” and “The Artificial Infinite: Special Effects and the Sublime”). All fun stuff, and it’s a gorgeous production job. Thanks to Andrew in my grad class for tipping me off.
Then there’s George Pelecanos’s new novel, Hard Revolution, set on the mean streets of DC during the ‘68 riots. Pelecanos fans know how important music is in his writing, and Hard Revolution comes with a CD soundtrack (Wilson Pickett, Albert King, the Impressions, and of course, Otis). Mmm. This’ll likely be my next read after The Bug (students, take note: work before play).
And last, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hope to get some gaming in this week.
Well. I guess I better get started on some of that. Thanks for (still) reading, and I’ll see if I can get back some of that old blogging mojo.
The Society for Textual Scholarship, which holds a fine biennial interdisciplinary conference I’ve attended multiple times, has issued its 2005 CFP. Recommended.
Call for Papers
The Society for Textual Scholarship
President: W. Speed Hill, Emeritus, City University of New York
Executive Director: Richard J. Finneran, University of Tennessee
Thirteenth Biennial International Interdisciplinary Conference
March 16-19, 2005, New York University
Program Chair: Theresa Tinkle, University of Michigan
Deadline for Proposals: October 31, 2004
The Program Chair invites the submission of full panels or individual papers devoted to the implications of contemporary textual scholarship: the discovery, description, bibliographical analysis, editing, and annotation of texts (be they musical, verbal, visual, etc.). The Program Chair is particularly interested in papers and panels on the following topics, aimed at a broad, interdisciplinary audience:
. digital text and editing projects,
. the marketing of books and digital texts,
. texts for teaching-challenges and opportunities,
. property rights,
. gender and editing.
Papers should be no more than 20 minutes in length. Panels should consist of three papers. Individual proposals should include a brief abstract (one or two pages) of the proposed paper as well as the name, e-mail address, and institutional affiliation of the participant. Panel proposals should include a session title, the name of a designated contact person for the session, the names, e-mail addresses, and institutional addresses and affiliations of each person involved in the session, and a one- or two-page abstract of each paper to be presented during the session.
Abstracts should indicate what (if any) technological support will be requested. Such support may be limited, so please request only what is truly needed.
Inquiries and proposals should be sent to:
Associate Professor Theresa Tinkle, Program Chair
Society for Textual Scholarship
Department of English Language and Literature
University of Michigan
3187 Angell Hall
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1003
FAX: (734) 763-3128
Email: tinkle @ umich.edu
All participants in the STS 2005 conference must be members of STS. For information about membership, please contact Secretary-Treasurer Nancy M. Goslee, Department of English, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
37996-0430 (firstname.lastname@example.org). For conference updates, see the STS
I’ve just acquired a container of Geneva Magview, which is basically a magnetic suspension in aerosol form. Spray it on the magnetic strip of a Metro fare card or a 3.5” disk exumed from its plastic housing and—violla—the pattern of bits or tracks is revealed. “Visibility itself is not a measure of inscription, modification of the substratum is”—so says Marcus Novak, and the Magview proves him right.
I’m going to do this during my talk
Subject: E-mail account security warning.
Date: Tue, 02 Mar 2004 15:37:04 -0800
Dear user, the management of Umd.edu mailing system wants to let you know that,
Your e-mail account has been temporary disabled because of unauthorized access.
Please, read the attach for further details.
In order to read the attach you have to use the following password: 86364.
The Umd.edu team
What’s interesting about this, I suppose, is that on the one hand it goes to great lengths to represent itself as an authentic communication—discursively—yet at the level of individual words and sentences it’s riddled with solecisms that cause it to fall flat on its face. You see this sort of thing over and over again online. Once the virus writers figure out to spell (or spell check), look out.
I just scored, on eBay, for about 60% the retail price, a near mint copy of Clash of Arms’ Fear God and Dread Nought.
Be still my heart.
Thanks to my student Kelly I’m four issues deep into Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson’s (very) graphic novel Transmetropolitan. For those not in the know, it’s a neo-neuromantic cyberpunk romp through a superdense urban core, with the Hunter Thomposoneqse journalist Spider Jerusalem at the center of it all, gonzoing his way through the muck and scum and the info-trash (female assistants and two-headed chain-smoking cat in tow). It’s also outrageous, dripping with too many lines too funny to pick one to quote here, and weaponry such as the ever popular bowel disruptor (three settings: loose, watery, and prolapse). Well, okay, having mentioned that, here’s one line; quoth Spider: “There was a time when I liked a good riot. Put on some heavy old street cloths that could stand a bit of sidewalk scraping, infect myself with something good and contagious, then go out and stamp on some cops. It was great, being nine years old.” But I digress. The series is an object lesson in the post-human, particularly apropos since we’re reading Kate Hayles and Haraway in my grad class tomorrow night. It’s also a glimpse of what cyberpunk looks like when the dominant strain is visual culture rather than information culture. Transmet’s a world of information bombs and nano-memes, to be sure, but it’s also, and more obviously, a world of screens and mirrors. Over and over images calcify into reality, as in the two issues that focus on Presidential politics—in this future a primordial struggle between rival candidates named the Beast and the Smiler. It’s the latter who wins out, his Bobby Kennedyesque choppers gleaming out at us from countless iterations of his image, the very vision of some whitelight Colgate™ hell. Transmet’s the society of the spectacle writ large, and Spider sees (and records) it all through the shades of his signature green and rose colored lenses—which I want.