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The Soviet Photobook 1920-1941
The Soviet Photobook 1920-1941
von Manfred Heiting
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 125,00

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5.0 von 5 Sternen A print revolution, 7. Oktober 2015
When I first saw this book and noticed that it only considered titles to 1941 I thought there must be a second volume but having read the introduction it seems that the best Soviet photobooks are in the twenties and thirties. Though it doesn't say so books from the early forties onwards relied on social realism for the photos and the layouts had completely lost the revolutionary and Constructivist design fervour that is on display in so many of these photobooks.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 swept away traditional ways of producing print media and with European artists and designers experimented with Futurism and Constructivism (and probably other 'isms', too) especially in the use of photographs. With print this was the ideal medium to put across a message in the new Soviet Union. Chapter three: The lessons of Constructivism shows some amazing spreads from photobooks published in 1929-1932 with photos angled, butted together, overlapping and bold use of headlines and page graphics, especially solid blocks of black and red. These books look so different and exciting compared to the traditional illustrated European titles of the period.

Several designers developed the photomontage as a clever and convincing graphic technique and they appear in so many books here. There are several dramatic montages in 'The industry of socialism' from 1935 and the introduction says that this publication was perhaps the finest example Stalinist picture propaganda. Designed by El Lissitzky with 312 pages (plus lots of inserts and fold-outs) spread over seven books in a slipcase. Fifty-seven pages from these books are shown so you can see just impressive it looked. Other publication designers like Valentina Kulagina, Varavara Stepanova, Solomon Telingater and Nikolai Troshin morphed photos from Vladimir Griuntal, Yeleazar Langman, Alexander Rodchenko (the husband of Stepanova) and Georgy Petrusov to great effect (and all before Photo Shop).

I mentioned that Soviet photobooks (and publications in general) after 1941were probably rather dull looking compared to those from the previous two decades but by the late thirties the visual lies took ever greater proportions, Stalin's purges and mass starvation clearly were not things the average citizen should know about, agricultural and industrial statistics became state secrets and an official myth of plenty was developed with help of photobooks. Chapter fifteen: Socialism's film set -- The All-Union agricultural exhibition in Moscow 1939-1940 features fourteen books which look at food and farms (which by this time had been a collective failure). The revolutionary photomontages had by now given way to one photo spreads and fold-outs showing vistas of cornfields and livestock tended by smiling females. Books on pig and sheep breeding, grain, cotton, sub-tropical crops, fruit all had titles available at the exhibition. Photographers were instructed to capture the countryside in the best possible light.

The intro makes a relevant point. The writers, photographers and designers threw their creative efforts into producing these extraordinary books in the early years of the Soviet Union believing in the new world order but near the end of the thirties this enthusiasm had evaporated in so many of them.

The book's production is as heroic and monumental as the contents. Designer Mikhail Karasik has created an impressive 636 page publication with 1860 illustrations (all with a slight drop-shadow to make them stand out on the page) and nicely used some design motifs throughout the book from these historical books. One hundred and sixty are considered, each with technical details, a long essay about the book's intentions and how the photos, graphics and printing put it across. This is followed by a very generous helping of spreads from each book which are big enough to appreciate the photos and graphics. Mikhail Karasik contributes a first class illustrated introduction and the back pages have a twenty-two page biography section of all the writers, designers and artists, followed by a comprehensive index.

I was struck by how much better this book looks when compared to Badger and Parr's three volume 'History of photobooks' published by Phaidon. These have rather small text types and an excessive amount of white page space which really should have been filled with pages from the photobooks.

This book will appeal to anyone interested in mass persuasion and the importance of photography during the early years of the Soviet Union.
Kommentar Kommentar (1) | Kommentar als Link | Neuester Kommentar: Oct 7, 2015 11:22 AM MEST

OfficeUS Atlas (Repository)
OfficeUS Atlas (Repository)
von Eva Franch i Gilabert
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 55,00

5.0 von 5 Sternen Export only, 21. April 2015
A remarkably comprehensive look at American's contribution to world architecture. The 1232 pages, divided into twenty chapters, use articles from the leading trade magazines to explore 169 companies (who each get a profile spread) and 675 examples of their overseas work. Though the book starts its historical look from 1900 it isn't until the Thirties when a large number of European architects (including Neutra, Pie, van der Rohe, Gropius, Breuer, Gruen, Sert) emigrated to the US to join existing or start their own companies, they all helped create the powerhouse of the American architectural office.

The years after 1945 provided a huge increase of overseas work with, for example, American oil companies and hotels chains expanding around the world. The Cold War and politics provided plenty of creative stimulus. US embassies and staff accommodation required contemporary structures in dozens of countries. At the end of each chapter there are spreads with thumbnails of overseas buildings plus details of the architectural office who designed them. All the embassies have a logo saying: United States of America Embassy, they keep appearing right up to 2010.

The Gulf States were another lucrative area. Pages 752--753 has a graphic with a map and timeline detailing seventy-four projects from 1948 to 1986. Riyadh, Kuwait City and Jubail are dotted with American designed structures. From the mid-nineties Asia and especially China, provided plenty of work not only the usual standout office buildings but museums, universities and schools, airports, stadiums, shopping plazas (the Jerde Partnership designed six) and the usual embassies and consulates.

I thought the book packs in a huge amount of detail, especially the essays, on a spread at the start of each chapter, the book's four editors clearly know their subject. There is though one annoyance I found with the book, frequently the spreads from the trade magazines have the columns either side of their middle unreadable because of the thickness of the book. The title was designed by the international design company Pentagram and they really should have known better. The easy solution would be to slightly separate the reproduced magazine spreads so that they don't go into the books spine.

'Office-US Atlas' is a huge compendium of American architectural creativity.

von Edward Burtynsky
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 98,00

5.0 von 5 Sternen Liquid through the lens, 10. September 2014
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Water (Gebundene Ausgabe)
This is the second liquid book from Burtynsky following on from his stunning photo survey of the oil industry published by Steidl in 2009. Both books are the same landscape shape and about the same number of pages. While 'Oil' used photos shot at ground level and just above, 'Water' required a bird's-perspective from a plane to capture the scale of the subject. The book's photos were taken over four yeas and Burtynsky makes an interesting point in his preface: the introduction of high-quality digital camera equipment allowed him to make crisp, sharp images from a moving aircraft, something that wasn't easily done with older analogue film.

Despite oil and water both being liquids they clearly don't mix. The photos in 'Oil' show massive despoiling of the landscape and the visual ugliness of the industry while water from above provides some remarkably abstract looking photos like pivot irrigation systems in the south west of the US, rice growing terraces in China and salt aquaculture in Spain. Oddly the most colourful abstractions are from the highly polluted water: phosphor tailings in Florida; the Colorado River delta in Mexico. Probably the most abstract are the last eight photos in the book revealing the glacial runoff and rivers in Iceland.

The chapter titled 'Waterfront' brings the photos to a more human perspective with shots of homes in Florida's Cape Coral, Punta Gorda and Verona Walk, all them show houses connected by roads and canals (Cape Coral has the largest canal system in the world) and predictably these rapid, sprawling developments create environmental and social problems though the photos don't reveal that except by implication. In less developed India water is revealed as a precious resource, four photos show the Kumbh Mela, a Hindu festival that can attract a hundred million people over fifty-five days, they all come to bathe in the junction of the Ganges, Yamuna and Sarasvati rivers. India also provides four remarkable photos of stepwells, large deep wells, sort of like inverted pyramids, with sides made up of steps and terraces leading down to the water.

With 112 beautiful photos Burtynsky has managed to capture the impact of water on our world and revealed the ongoing problems we have created with its usage. These problems are detailed in an twenty-eight mini essays (over fourteen pages after the photos) that correspond to the book's sections.

Like the 'Oil' book 'Water' is well produced with a matt art paper for the 175 screen printing and well designed as one would expect from Steidl. It has the minor annoyance though of having the photo captions in the back pages, so expect a lot of page flipping. The book's large landscape shape size allows most photos to be 12.5 by 9.5 inches with one to a page.

100 Years of Swiss Graphic Design
100 Years of Swiss Graphic Design
von Zürich Museum für Gestaltung
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 55,00

5.0 von 5 Sternen Excellence is normal, 5. September 2014
An excellent overview of Swiss graphic creativity. For such a small country and I read in the text that because of the mountains only about three-quarters of the land is habitable, so even more remarkable that in the last few decades the country exported and became famous for the 'Swiss Style'.

What I liked about the book was the comprehensive coverage and I think it's worth listing the Contents: Poster; Typo-graphics; Photo-graphics; Swiss style; Signs & symbols; Corporate design; Adverting; Public affairs; Type; Editorial design. Within each of these chapters, with essays and illustrations, there are some surprises, for example 'Signs & symbols' has sections on map making, traffic signs and banknotes (though surprisingly nothing on the countries stamps). The longest chapter is Corporate design, forty-three pages, dealing with Swiss international companies like Swissair, Geigy, Bally and Swatch, they generate a lot of printed material and of course company style manuals. Pages are shown from the manuals of Swissair, Swatch and Federal Railways.

For designers Swiss type needs no introduction and chapters 'Typo-graphics', a section in 'Swiss style' (by Lars Muller this book's publisher) and 'Type' look in detail at the designs that went round the world with Helvetica was the obvious winner. The country was, though, split into two camps, Zurich designers favored Helvetica while those in Basel preferred Univers, designed by Adrian Frutiger.

As the book covers a visual subject it is, of course, a pleasure to read and look through, the upright shape helps, too. Oddly all the text is in Akzidenz Grotesk, a German face designed around 1880, rather than Helvetica (or even Univers). There are 784 illustrations throughout the pages using numbers to identify them for the captions so avoiding the ungainly word directions (left, above, center right, bottom etc). The back pages have work related interviews with five contemporary Swiss designers, followed by a bibliography and Index (Bill, Gerstner, Hofmann, Lhose, Muller-Brockmann and Neuburg predictably get the most surprises there after all)

This could well become the standard reference on Swiss graphics and with a companion title: '100 years of Swiss design' (ISBN 978 3037784419) which looks at furniture and products, you'll have a comprehensive record of the remarkable creative output of a small country in central Europe.

DSC-W830 Camera Purple 20.1MP 8xZoom 2.7LCD 720p 25mm Carl Zeiss
DSC-W830 Camera Purple 20.1MP 8xZoom 2.7LCD 720p 25mm Carl Zeiss

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4.0 von 5 Sternen For that record-of-the-moment shot, 9. Mai 2014
For a basic snap camera the W830 is fine. Lots of tech features for various shooting modes but within rather limited shooting options and I think this what the majority of buyers for this type of camera want also I think the compact size is a strong selling point.

Outside on a bright sunny day it works perfectly and the zoom delivers good results. Movies and sound, for very basic shooting, are reasonable. The panorama option I thought was really rather superficial, far too short at a few seconds to do anything creative though maybe useful if you wanted to shoot a room interior or line of people. Nice of Sony to replace the rather ungainly zoom lever on the WX80 with a much more easy to use toggle lever on this camera.

The downside for me with the W-830 are not the images but a couple of other areas to do with the camera and Sony. The battery/card cover is rather flimsy and could easily be broken accidentally. It takes longer than I would have expected for the camera to get ready for the next shot. Sony persist in producing dedicated accessories for their products. Here you get a USB cable to connect the camera to a pc for charging or downloading images, this looks like a unique Sony connector (it wont even fit the slightly older WX80 camera) cable and as another review has said: don't lose it. Of course you can take the card out and download images with a reader but you can't recharge the battery without the Sony cable.

The Instruction Manual is just a concertina sheet of one-side printed paper and covers just the basic Basics. Even the two PDFs on the Sony website just repeat the same information (one PDF has it in several languages) to get any real information you have to click on 'Help Guide' and explore various pages. A worthwhile one is 'Before Use', then click on 'List of icons displayed on the screen'. Amazingly there are several dozen. Sony should really provide all the information in the 'Help Guide' as a PDF. I still have a 2004 Sony Manual to the Cyber-shot P100 (and to be honest I would still use the camera if the LCD screen was bigger) with 126 pages presented in numbered step-by-step illustrated instructions. The screen icons for the P100 numbered seventy-four!

If you want to take straightforward record-of-the-moment shots the W830 is as good as any other compact camera.

Paul Shambroom: Picturing Power
Paul Shambroom: Picturing Power
von Diane Mullin
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 40,88

5.0 von 5 Sternen Documentary power, 4. Mai 2014
The book is based on a travelling exhibition (during 2008-9) of Paul Shambroom's documentary photography. The photos are from five assignments between 1986 and 2007 and the fifty-eight plates clearly show what a great eye he has for capturing the visual essentials that pull you into the frame. The five are: Factories; Offices; Nuclear weapons; Meeting; Security and maybe it's unfortunate that the photos here can only give a brief overview of Shambroom's work.

'Picturing power' is slightly unusual for a photobook because it has fifty-two pages of text before the photos with six illustrated essays that look (somewhat exhaustively, too) at the photographer's assignments.

The photos in the book are printed on a matt gloss with a 175 screen with the essays printed on a light coloured stock. The book's designers indulged in a bit of whimsy by clipping the type of the essay headings and running a thin magenta upright line flush to the seond columns of type on the right-hand essay pages. Neither of these design affectations contribute anything to the appreciation of the book.

If you are taken by Paul Shambroom's photography 'Nuclear weapons' and 'Meetings' are available as books.

OXA Naturholz-Design Tragbare Wireless Stereo Lautsprecher NFC Bluetooth Lautsprecher mit austauschbaren Lithium-Polymer-Akku, Unterstützung für Micro-SD-Karten, integriertes FM-Radio und AUX Line-in-Anschluss für Laptops, Smart Phones, Tablets PC und mehr (blau)
OXA Naturholz-Design Tragbare Wireless Stereo Lautsprecher NFC Bluetooth Lautsprecher mit austauschbaren Lithium-Polymer-Akku, Unterstützung für Micro-SD-Karten, integriertes FM-Radio und AUX Line-in-Anschluss für Laptops, Smart Phones, Tablets PC und mehr (blau)

4.0 von 5 Sternen Square sound, 1. Mai 2014
At a bit over four inches this cube speaker delivers a reasonable sound and the Bluetooth option allows you to move about the house if you want to listen to your favourite music or radio station. Though there are three speaker grills I think the unit has two speakers coming out of the left and right-hand sides. Besides Bluetooth it's versatile enough to handle SD card, memory stick or plug and play your mp3.

Operation is via the front black touch screen and I found it quite sensitive. The symbols are in red and more or less invisible if you want to use it outside the house. The supplied cable also acts as the FM aerial though I could use it without it as I'm reasonable near two transmitters.

Four stars because of the following:
1 The very poor User Manual, OXA really should get their own done instead of relying on the Chinese manufactures inadequate English on the small instruction leaflet.
2 The design of the cube is rather tacky. Putting the black strip with the on/off, card, stick and line inputs on the top front was a design mistake. The obvious place for these is on the back of the cube.
3 Perhaps the real letdown is the short battery life. I expect something like this to play for more than ninety minutes or so, this was a real letdown for me.

Apart from the battery life the speaker delivers quality sound for the price but check out the OXA Mini Portable Bluetooth Speaker, this has quite remarkable sound reproduction considering its size.

OXA® 2600mAh Schwarz Tragbare (CE / FCC / ROHS genehmigt) Backup-Batterie Ladegerät Power Bank für Smart Phones und Digitale Geräte (Schwarz)
OXA® 2600mAh Schwarz Tragbare (CE / FCC / ROHS genehmigt) Backup-Batterie Ladegerät Power Bank für Smart Phones und Digitale Geräte (Schwarz)

4.0 von 5 Sternen Banking on power, 15. April 2014
A handy charger that does the job with my mp3 player and mobile which I've charged a few times. Unfortunately I can't give any accurate tech specs which should be the deciding factor in buying this sort of product. Charging and using is simple enough, it weighs seventy-four grams without any cables and it certainly looks well made. It came with a protective peel-off film either end.

It does seem to have a design flaw though. There is square metal button to press to start the charging process and a blue light appears (red when it wears down and charging). It really is so easy to press this button and I could see that it could easily be accidentally turned on if it moved in a bag or briefcase. A better solution would have been a slider that clicked into place or a much more robust button that clicked to on.

The User Manual is a concertina folded piece of paper really small and with unreadable type so it is useless in explaining the Power Bank's operation

Libraries (Roads Reflections)
Libraries (Roads Reflections)
von Bjarne Hammer
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 55,33

5.0 von 5 Sternen The public home of books, 8. April 2014
Forty-four of the world's leading libraries are revealed in this lavish photographic celebration of books in their public homes. Considering that all these buildings hold the same thing the range of architectural styles is quite amazing, even those built in the last decade. Just compare the sweep of the atrium in the 2012 built Sir Duncan Rice Library at the Uni of Aberdeen with atrium of the Library of the Faculty of Law, Uni of Zurich, built in 2004. Both have a fresh take on a similar idea. Perhaps the common element in most of the libraries in the book is a central huge space with shelving round the walls and reading facilities on the floor.

The majority of buildings are in Europe, perhaps as expected as some are centuries old: the Library of El Escorial, Madrid dates back to 1592; Joanina Library, Coimbra, Portugal from 1728; Austrian National Library, Vienna was built in 1726. Those from outside Europe tend to reflect local architectural styles and materials. The King Fahd National Library in Riyadh, built in 2013, has an external appearance of desert tents stacked on top of each other, the smallest building in the book, in Beijing and built in 2011 is the LiYuan Library which uses thin tree branches to cover its exterior.

All of the pictures are from a variety of photographers (some libraries are from two or more) and fortunately the colour and style doesn't vary too much. Each library has the architects name and construction date, the only other text is a deep caption (in four languages) and it is here that the book is slightly flawed because several captions have been printed on the photos despite having plenty of empty page space. Mostly the buildings get two spreads each with two or three photos, frequently a spread wide. They are, of course, beautifully printed (with a 175 screen) on a matt art paper.

'Libraries' looks at these fascinating buildings from an architectural angle but the book will intrigue any book lover.

Brainwavz S1 In-Ear Ohrhörer (Kabelführung über den Ohren)
Brainwavz S1 In-Ear Ohrhörer (Kabelführung über den Ohren)

5.0 von 5 Sternen Sounds like a good deal, 4. April 2014
I was surprised and impressed with the sound quality from these S1 earphones. I prefer to listen to fifties jazz so a strong bass is not something I'm looking for (and difficult to avoid with most average head or earphones) but I do want to hear plenty of top for the percussion and brass instruments. As another reviewer has mentioned it's worth getting the right buds for your ears and fortunately these come with eight pairs plus a foam set, an impressive set of options.

Apart from the sound another feature I really liked was the cable. The weakest physical part of earphones are the cable connections to the phones, pull them from your ears and cheaper sets just break in no time. The S1 uses a flat cable and a good, solid connection to the ear piece and handled correctly I reckon these phones should last and last.

The little zip case they came in was a good idea as was the adapter for use while flying. Overall a quality set of earphones.

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