Wednesday, 29 June 2022
Monday, 27 June 2022
Patty Carroll is a photographer based in Chicago, known for her "highly intense, saturated" colour photographs for decades. Her impressive project "Anonymous Women" is a series (heads, reconstructed, demise, draped) that addresses "women and their complicated relationships with domesticity". Carroll turns situations into hide-and-seek between the viewer and the Anonymous Woman by camouflaging the latter (via).
"This intial series of Anonymous Women began when husband and I moved to London for a few years, and I was having a very hard time adjusting to British society. As a photographer and educator I use my maiden name, but in England no one knew me professionally and I was addressed as Mrs. Jones. It made me acutely aware that in more traditional societies, most women are still seen through the lens of their domestic status. It was a situation that led to a small identity crisis. My response was to begin a series of photographs depicting a female model whose identity was hidden behind various domestic objects. These were ‘unportraits’ – about being unseen. This anonymous woman represented the situation in which very many women find themselves." Patty Carroll
Sunday, 26 June 2022
Abstract: Musical behaviours are universal across human populations and, at the same time, highly diverse in their structures, roles and cultural interpretations. Although laboratory studies of isolated listeners and music-makers have yielded important insights into sensorimotor and cognitive skills and their neural underpinnings, they have revealed little about the broader significance of music for individuals, peer groups and communities. This review presents a sampling of musical forms and coordinated musical activity across cultures, with the aim of highlighting key similarities and differences...
...The focus is on scholarly and everyday ideas about music—what it is and where it originates—as well the antiquity of music and the contribution of musical behaviour to ritual activity, social organization, caregiving and group cohesion. Synchronous arousal, action synchrony and imitative behaviours are among the means by which music facilitates social bonding. The commonalities and differences in musical forms and functions across cultures suggest new directions for ethnomusicology, music cognition and neuroscience, and a pivot away from the predominant scientific focus on instrumental music in the Western European tradition. (Trehub, Becker & Morley, 2015)
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- Trehub, S. E., Becker, J. & Morley, I. (2015). Cross-cultural perspectives on music and musicality. Philos Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B, Biol Sciences, 370, full text: link
- photograph of George Harrison via
Friday, 24 June 2022
French novelist and journalist Émile Zola (1840-1902) reacted to the Dreyfus affair (Zola called it "the most preposterous of soap operas") by publishing an open letter to the president entitled "J'accuse". In the letter, which ran on the front page of the newspaper "L'aurore", he accused the army of conspiring to convict Dreyfus using the public's anti-Semitism. 200.000 copies of the newspaper were sold in Paris alone, Zola was convicted for libel (via).
Letter to Mr. Félix Faure,
President of the Republic
Allow me, in my gratitude for the kind welcome you once gave me, to be concerned about your just glory and to tell you that your star, so happy so far, is threatened with the most shameful, the most indelible stain? You came out safe and sound from slander, you won hearts. You appear radiant in the apotheosis of this patriotic celebration that the Russian alliance has been for France, and you are preparing to preside over the solemn triumph of our Universal Exhibition, which will crown our great century of work, truth and freedom. But what a patch of mud on your name - I was going to say on your reign - that this abominable Dreyfus affair! A council of war has just, by order, dared to acquit an Esterhazy, the supreme bellows of all truth, of all justice. And it's over, France has this stain on its cheek, history will write that it was under your presidency that such a social crime could have been committed. Since they dared, I will also dare. The truth, I will say it, because I promised to say it, if justice, regularly seized, did not do it, full and whole. My duty is to speak, I don't want to be an accomplice. My nights would be haunted by the specter of the innocent who atones over there, in the most dreadful of tortures, a crime he did not commit. And it is to you, Mr. President, that I will shout it, this truth, with all the strength of my revolt as an honest man. For your honor, I’m sure you don’t know. And to whom will I denounce the harmful peat of the real culprits, if it is not you, the first magistrate of the country?
(...) O justice, what frightful despair sinks the heart! We go so far as to say that he was the forger, that he fabricated the telegram card to lose Esterhazy. But, great God! Why? What purpose? Give a reason. Is that one also paid for by the Jews? The beauty of the story is that he was justly anti-Semitic. Yes! We are witnessing this infamous spectacle, men lost in debts and crimes whose innocence is proclaimed, while the very honor is struck, a man with a spotless life! When a society is there, it decays. So there you have it, Mr. Speaker, the Esterhazy case: a culprit that was to be found innocent. (...)
And what a nest of low intrigue, gossip and squandering, has become this sacred asylum, where the fate of the fatherland is decided! We are horrified by the terrible day that the Dreyfus affair has just thrown into it, this human sacrifice of an unfortunate, a "dirty Jew"! Ah! all that has been agitated there about insanity and foolishness, crazy imaginations, practices of low police, mores of inquisition and tyranny, the good pleasure of some braided men putting their boots on the nation, entering it in the throat his cry of truth and justice, under the pretext liar and sacrilege of reason of State! And it is still a crime to have relied on the filthy press, to have allowed oneself to be defended by all the scoundrel of Paris, so that this is the scoundrel who triumphs insolently, in the defeat of law and simple probity. It is a crime to have accused of disturbing France those who want it generous, at the head of free and just nations, when one plots the impudent conspiracy to impose error, before the whole world . It is a crime to mislead public opinion, to use this opinion which has been perverted to the point of delirium for a death task. It is a crime to poison the small and the humble, to exasperate the passions of reaction and intolerance, by sheltering behind the odious anti-Semitism, of which the great liberal France of human rights will die, if she is not cured of it. It is a crime to exploit patriotism for works of hate, and it is a crime, finally, to make the saber the modern god, when all human science is at work for the next work of truth and justice. (...) I have said it elsewhere, and I repeat it here: when we shut up the truth underground, it accumulates there, it takes on such a force of explosion that, the day it bursts, it blows everything up with she. we’ll see if we don’t just prepare for the most resounding disasters for later. (...)
I have only one passion, that of light, in the name of humanity which has suffered so much and which has the right to happiness. My fiery protest is only the cry of my soul. So dare you put me on trial and let the investigation take place! I wait. Please accept, Mr. President, the assurance of my deep respect.
::: link to complete letter: LINK
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Saturday, 18 June 2022
Abstract: While the number of Asian Americans in the U.S. continues to grow and media use increases, misrepresentations of this group remain common in U.S. films. Examining representation of Asian Americans in the media is important because media can positively and negatively impact identity development, which is a fundamental cognitive, social, and developmental task related to understanding one’s place in the social world. Misrepresentations can also shape intergroup interactions by influencing how out-group members view and interact with Asian Americans.
This study investigated representations of Asian Americans in the media through a film analysis. Observations of the film analysis focused on identifying the presence of representation that either resisted or confirmed stereotypes portrayed by Asian characters in films over the past 25 years. Data were collected on the frequency and type of role (e.g., lead vs. supporting character), characteristics displayed, and the content of dialogue by Asian characters in the films. Results suggested that the frequency of lead roles increased over the last 25 years, with more diverse genres emerging in recent years. Stereotype-resisting representations were present (e.g., brave, loyal, mischievous), especially in more recent films. However, stereotype-confirming representations remained prevalent (e.g., emasculate, timid, nerdy), which affirms the historic trend of misrepresentation of Asian Americans in film. The discussion centers on how Asian American representations in media may affect identity development in Asian American adolescents and young adults and influence intergroup interactions. The authors conclude with recommendations for future research and implications for practice.
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- Besana, T., Katsiaficas, D. & Loyd, A. B. (2020). Asian American Media Representation: A Film Analysis and Implications for Identity Development. Research in Human Development, 16 (3-4), 201-225, abstract
- photograph by Dorothea Lange via
Friday, 17 June 2022
According to a report published by the United Nations, women - who account for about half of agricultural employment across low-income countries - are more susceptible than men to negative consequences of desertification and drought ... the very reason: sexism.
A lack of land rights (in more than 100 countries, women are denied the right to inherit property belonging to their husbands) and social equity bars women fom accessing capital, training and assistance which in turn makes or keeps them powerless. Often, they are not recognised as farmers due to gender norms. The lack of recognition keeps them from having access to protection against climate-related damages (e.g. access to information: climate forecasts are often shared in meetings women cannot attend). Women struggle to secure loans and credit to recover from these damages particularly if they have no land titles or assets. Having no financial resources and no technology also mean that there is no adaptation to sustainable land management practices to prevent further climate damages. Despite playing a vital role in the global food system, women's contribution is often unrecognised and unpaid (via).
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photograph of a Dust Bowl refugee taken by Dorothea Lange ("A mother in California who with her husband and her two children will be returned to Oklahoma by the Relief Administration. This family had lost a two-year-old baby during the winter as a result of exposure.") via, caption via
Thursday, 16 June 2022
She is known as an artist but - perhaps even more - as the woman who broke up the Beatles:. In an interview, Ono offers a different perspective: “I was used as a scapegoat, a very easy scapegoat. You know, a Japanese woman and whatever.”
“You think some of it was sexism, racism?”
“Sexism, racism. But also just remember that the United States and Britain were fighting with Japan in World War II. It was just after that in a way so I can understand how they felt.” (via). An Esquire magazine article published in 1970 used racist language to mock her accent and called her "John Rennon's Excrusive Gloupie".
Wednesday, 15 June 2022
In her article written for The Guardian, Zoe Williams describes the different terminology used for identical incidents, differences that are based on age (and ageism) alone and what impact language has on her stepmother's feelings.
"It’s the terminology that’s getting her down. When a young person falls over, they “fell over”, or more commonly “FOWT” (fell over while texting). Over 70 and you’ve “had a fall”. The nurses audibly describe patients as “breakfasted” when they have had breakfast, she says. It sounds quite cute, though, doesn’t it? A bit bucolic, as if they are little lambs. Nope, apparently this is not cute. She used to hate the word “sprightly”, but now it’s been so rudely, suddenly excised from her CV that she has changed her mind. Someone in her notes calls her “quite alert for her age”. I find this difficult to believe – call her “quite alert” if you like, doc, but I’d love to see you try to give her the wrong change."
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photograph by Jane Brown via
Tuesday, 14 June 2022
"I think I knew first what side I was on when I was about five years old, at which time nobody was safe from buffaloes. It was in a brownstone house in New York, and there was a blizzard, and my rich aunt - a horrible woman then and now - had come to visit. I remember going to the window and seeing the street with the men shoveling snow; their hands were purple on their shovels, and their feet were wrapped with burlap. And my aunt, looking over her shoulder, said, "Now isn't this nice that there's this blizzard. Now all those men have work." And I knew that it was not nice that men could work for their lives only in desperate weather, that there was no work for them in fair. That was when I became anti-fascist, at the silky tones of my rich and comfortable aunt."
Friday, 10 June 2022
...The freedom is: I better do what I want to do now, because I’ll be dead soon. So this is my last chance. Also, there’s a serenity that comes – I had the career I had, good or bad, I did the best I could, and now I continue pursuing what is interesting to me.”
Thursday, 9 June 2022
Barbara Beskind, born in 1924, is a designer and inventor who, in 2013 aged 89, saw David Kelley - the founder of IDEO - on TV and decided to send him a letter because she had the impression that he "accepted, and really respected, people from a varied background" offering her "unique kind of life experience and designing skills".
“The team I worked with at IDEO — all who had master’s degrees and Ph.D.s — was very receptive to having a 90-year-old consult on their designs, and they accepted me as an equal. Their respect and eagerness to have me collaborate with them was tremendously important to me.”
Wednesday, 8 June 2022
Tuesday, 7 June 2022
Monday, 6 June 2022
... where I will be holding a workshop on the impact of ageism on design. Title: The Impact of Visual Ageism on Design and Designing for Social Change: Some Very Good Practices and Many Very Bad Practices.
Sunday, 5 June 2022
The constitutional court has ruled that Italian children should be given the surnames of both parents (alternatively parents should choose one surname together) and no longer be automatically named after their fathers since this practice was "discriminatory and harmful to the identity" of the child (via).
photograph by Vivian Maier via
Saturday, 4 June 2022
... a follow-up posting with a few more excerpts from the highly interesting chapter "fashion meets discretion" in the highly interesting book "design meets disability" ... excerpts that focus on the development of glasses from "medical necessity" to fashion statement and compare this trend with the status and stigma of hearing aids. Generally, the latter are "developed within a more traditional culture of design for disability". There are, however, some designers celebrating deafness by creating high fashion hearing aids, for instance here and here and here.
Glasses or spectacles are frequently held up as an exemplar of design for disability. the very fact that mild visual impairment is not commonly considered to be a disability, is taken as a sign o fthe success of eyeglasses. But this has not always been the case: Joanne Lewis has charted their progress from medical product to fashion accessory. In the 1930s in Britain, National Health Service spectacles were classified as medical appliances, and their wearers as patients. It was dictated that "medical products should not be styled." At that time, glasses were considered to cause social humiliation, yet the health service maintained that its glasses should not be "styled" but only "adquate". In the 1970s, the British Government acknowledged the importance of styling, but maintained a medical model for its own National Health Service spectacles in order to limit the demand. In the meantime, a few manufacturers were offering fashionable glasses to consumers who could afford them. As recently as 1991, the design press declared that "eyglasses have become stylish."
These days, fashionable glasses are available in the shopping mall or on Main Street. It has been reported that up to 20 percent of some brands of glasses are purchased with clear nonprescription lenses, so for these consumers at least wearing glasses has become an aspiration rather than a humiliation. So what lessons does this hold for design and disability? There are several, especially in relationship to the widely held belief that discretion is the ultimate priority in any design for disability.
First, glasses do not owe their acceptability to being invisible. Striking fashion frames are somehow less stigmatizing than the National Health Service's supposedly invisible pink plastic glasses prescribed to schoolgirls in the 1960s and 1970s. Attempting camouflage is not the best approach, and there is something undermining about invisibility that fails: a lack of self-confidence that can communicate an implied shame. (...)
But neither is the opposite true: glasses' acceptability does not come directly from the degree of their visibility either. Brightly colored frames exist, although they are still a minority taste. This might serve as a caution to medical engineering projects that have adopted bright color schmes for medical products "to make a fashion statement" as the automatic progression from making a product flesh-colored. Most spectacle design, and design in general, exists in the middle ground between these two approaches. This requires a far more skilled and subtle approach - one that is less easy to articulate than these extremes. (...) (Pullin, 2009:15-17)
(...) many fashion labels design and market eyewear collections. Collections, labels, and brands: these words set up different expectations and engagement from consumers. And consumers is a long way from patients or even users. (...)
Eyewear designers Graham Cutler and Tony Gross have spent thirty years on the front lines of the revolution that turned eyewear "from medical necessity into key fashion accessory." It is interesting to note how recent this revolution was, given how much it is now taken for granted. (...), and their customer base transcends age and occupation.
(...) Certainly, fashion designers are rarely part of teams even developing wearable medical products, which is incredible considering the specialist skills they could bring as well as their experience and sensibilities. But if we are serious about emulating the success of spectacle design in other ares, we need to involve fashion designers, inviting them to bring fashion culture with them.
Compare glasses with hearing aids, devices developed within a more traditional culture of design for disability where discretion is still very much seen as the priority. Discretion is achieved through concealment, through a constant technological miniaturization. The evolution of the hearing aid is a succession of invisible devices: objects hidden under the clothing, in the pocket, behind the ear, in the ear, or within the ear. As the hearing aid has grown ever smaller, it has occasionally broken cover only to migrate from one hiding place to another. What has remained the same is the priority of concealment.
Such miniaturization has involved amazing technological development, but it is not without a price. (...) hearing aids' performance is still compromised by their small size and (...) they could deliver better quality sound if they weren't so constrained. This is how fundamental the priority of discretion can be. Yet for many hearing-impaired people, their inability to hear clearly is far more socially isolating than the presence of their hearing aid. (...) (Pullin, 2009)
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- Pullin, G. (2009). design meets disability. Cambridge & London: The MIT Press.
- image (Pierre Cardin) via
Friday, 3 June 2022
These are a few excerpts from the highly interesting chapter "fashion meets discretion" in the highly interesting book "design meets disability" (Pullin, 2009). In this chapter, the author discusses the tension between the notion of design for disability having to be discrete and invisible versus fashionable and a statement. The two approaches are exemplified by contrasting the development of glasses and hearing aid devices (see the following posting).
The priority for design for disability has traditionally been to enable, while attracting as little attention as possible. Medical-looking devices are molded from pink plastic in an attempt to camouflage them against the skin. The approach has been less about projecting a positive image than about trying not to project an image at all.
But is there a danger that this might send out a signal that disability is after all something to be ashamed of? If discretion were to be challenged as a priority, what would take its place? Invisibility is relatively easy to define, and may even be achieved through technical and clinical innovation alone, but it is more difficult to define a positive image purely from these perspectives.
Fashion, on the other hand, might be seen as being largely concerned with creating and projecting an image: making the wearer look good to others and feel better about themselves.
Eyewear is one market in which fashion and disability overlap. On the rare occasions that the words design and disability are mentioned in the the same breath, glasses are often referred to as the exemplar of a product that addresses a disability, yet with little or no social stigma attached. This positive image for disability has been achieved without invisibility.
Fashion and discretion are not opposites, of course; fashion can be understated, and discretion does not require invisibility. Nonetheless, there is a tension between these qualities because they cannot both be the absolute priority. There are also deep cultural tensions between the two designs communities. Perpaps fashion with its apparent preoccupation with an idealized human form is seen as having little to say about diversity and disability. The extremes and sensationalism of cutting-edge fashion can seem inappropriate in the context of disability, where discretion is seen as being so important. For some in the medical field, the very notion of being in fashion, of designs coming and going, is the antithesis of good design.
But learning from fashion might require embracing not only its design qualities but also more of its values. Fashion does not just arise from a particular set of skills but creates and requires a culture. The mechanism through which fashion design evolves, whether through haute couture or street fashion, ceates extreme designs that can provoke negative as well as positive reactions in different audiences. It may not be possible to have one without the other, to have the results without the culture and the values. (...)
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- Pullin, G. (2009). design meets disability. Cambridge & London: The MIT Press.
- photograph (Pierre Cardin) via
Thursday, 2 June 2022
In "The Beauty of Being Deaf", sign language is not a mere means of communication but turns into physical poetry. You can watch the three-minute short film on YouTube: link.
This expertise, this deaf gain that we are all granted come together to form community, culture, establishing a continuum of people who are different… yet connected. And how beautiful is it to be able to communicate underwater.
"I have manifested this film since childhood, but its actualization could not exist in scarcity.
Luckily, it has grown along with me, perspective and resources expanding.
Shooting this piece required both the cast and production’s full hearts as we waded into our vulnerabilities. This ease was translated into the final film; we carried that rawness with us.
And, when we stepped in front of the camera, it was just our hearts, you know?
I am forever grateful and proud of the healing and connections that were created this day."
Wednesday, 1 June 2022
According to the National Character Survey carried out among 2.000 adults across the United Kingdom who were asked to rank regions in terms of stereotypes, people from Wales are seen as the the most introverted in the UK, as the least ambitious, the least open to experiences, the least rude, the least arrogant, second-most stingy, second-least aggressive, second-least agreeable, and second-most anxious.
Londoners (38%) are most likely to perceive the Welsh as gloomy. In fact, more than 30% of the Welsh agree with this stereotype (via).
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photograph by Bruce Davidson (Welsh child with a stroller, Cymcarn, 1965, Magnum Photos) via