In August 1950, the CIA secretly purchased the assets of Civil Air Transport (CAT), an airline that started in China. CAT would continue to fly commercial routes throughout Asia, acting as a privately owned commercial airline. Under the guise of CAT Incorporated, it provided airplanes and crews for secret intelligence operations. Naturally, with any substantial covert gaslighting operation, graphic designers were needed to really seal the deal. Seemingly an entire brand identity was developed (at least the typeface, dragon logo, and colors seem consistent) specifically for this fake CIA airline and these are some of the artifacts that were produced.
During the Chinese Civil War, under contract with the Chinese government and later the CIA, CAT flew supplies and ammunition into China to assist Kuomintang forces on the Chinese mainland.
At the time the families of the pilots were told, in order to keep the CIA’s covert actions in China secret, that they had crashed into the Sea of Japan on a routine flight to Tokyo.
Air America happened later on (after I suppose things with CAT went downhill or became no longer useful). Running after or parallel to the original operation, it is not to be confused with Radio Americas, another CIA front operation in the form of a tropical radio station that would materialize years later and a few thousand miles away.
The artifacts and designed objects are pretty well-rounded as far as applications and branding goes. The wicker basket for instance is a pretty odd material design choice but it is quite elegant in execution and doesn’t really seem that unbelievable.
This Civil Air Transport (CAT) lighter is from the Hong Kong-to-Bangkok inaugural flight of Civil Air Transport on July 20, 1957.
One of the cooler and more useful/practical items might be the CAT-branded zippo lighter, steel-pressed and engraved from some likely-very-real company called Penguin.
And should biologic time run out and some plastics remain, there is always geologic time. The upheavals and pressure will change it into something else. Just like trees buried in bogs a long time ago—the geologic process, not biodegradation, changed them into oil and coal. Maybe high concentrations of plastics will turn into something like that. Eventually, they will change. Change is the hallmark of nature. Nothing remains the same.
‘Plastic is like that,’ Oliver was saying. ‘It never biodegrades. It gets churned around in the gyre and ground down into particles. Oceanographers call it confetti. In a granular state, it hangs around forever.’
Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being
most plastics in use today are simply not biodegradable and are in fact, highly resistant to degradation. Indeed, the billions of tonnes of plastics already released into the environment, since the origin of their creation, remain with us to the present day in one form or another and may take thousands of years to completely degrade.
Christopher Blair Crawford, Microplastic Pollutants
Country-level searches for “Biodegradable” over the past 5 years via GoogleTrends data
While some of the objects in Extinct: A Compendium of Obsolete Objects are actually very much still around, it is true that all of them more fully belong to a now distant period of time that appreciated them more. Advertised by the University of Chicago Press as a “visual tour through futures past via the objects we have replaced, left behind, and forgotten”, the book is a fascinating and curious read. It is host to accounts, conclusions, and warnings from the ghosts of deceased inventions and their often-haunting lives that float on beyond the grave. The authors use natural selection and evolution as an analogy to the birth, death, mutation, and rebirth of designed or ideated objects as they cycle through their usefulness and ultimate obsolescence.
All 85 of the object accounts—each written by a different person with a distinct perspective, story, and voice—sound interesting and are at the very least eccentric and unique. Objects and chapters range from the obscure and questionable like something called a “moon tower” or “arsenic wallpaper” to the more familiar and loved zombies of the now/recent past (not quite dead yet but not really living) like the Polaroid SX-70 or the warm and comforting incandescent lightbulb.
Remember the memo? According to Adrian Forty if you worked in an office before 1990 you should certainly be familiar with it. Forty goes on to explain the basic mechanisms and life cycle of a typical office memo and how it was the precursor to email. The memo would be passed around an office and physically marked as read by recipients. In less hierarchical organizations memos could be carbon copied (with real carbon paper!) and distributed equally amongst intended recipients. And Finally we are hit with the phrase “skeuomorphic anachronism” when Forty explains how this whole system was adopted by modern email as the ‘c.c.’ On the other hand, blind carbon copy (b.c.c.) did not exist in the epoch of the memo apparently—this is a new phenomenon unique to our digital age.
In the 1960’s the writing case was a suitable, even coveted, present for a bookish child who might, one day, aspire to engage in ‘correspondence’
Barry Curtis, excerpt from Extinct: A Compendium of Obsolete Objects
Charles Rice writes about the origins of the famous Clapper device and posits all kinds of wild ideas about how it basically paved the way for the modern day internet-of-things and home-connectedness devices. In its eulogy, Rice reflects somewhat nostalgically about the dumb and joyful object—exhuming the harmless idiot spirits that must have haunted its clappers for years. He preaches: “It comes from a time before the data threshold. It is just an enhanced switch, not a device that gathers and shares information…Do we indeed underestimate the dark side of home automation?”
In another chapter we see writer Tacita Dean recollect her visceral and cerebral experiences with Kodachrome through her early experimentation with the medium. Many of the historians in this volume have deeply personal and often emotional connections with what are now just the bones and ashes of once mighty giants.
I later started using Kodachrome Super 8 film: the perfect short form, like a celluloid haiku, that was a synthesis of time, place, and experience distilled into three minutes evanescent magic.
Tacita Dean, excerpt from Extinct: A Compendium of Obsolete Objects
Walking through the halls of this unnatural history museum awakens our own sense of nostalgia when we remember briefly brushing paths with weird stuff like the MiniDisc, a kind of obvious transition or missing-link in the evolutionary chain of digital media.
…the protagonist in one television advert that aired in Britain in 1997 manages to make the sun go down while his MiniDisc is playing fast-paced techno, suggesting that the thing could give its users special powers.”
Priya Khanchandani, excerpt from Extinct: A Compendium of Obsolete Objects
Extinct is 400 pages, 85 objects and essays, and many more brilliant original and archival photographs and illustrations documenting humankind’s fossilized record of object evolution.
Extinct was edited by Barbara Penner, Adrian Forty, Olivia Horsfall Turner, and Miranda Critchley and published by Reaktion Books and the University of Chicago Press (US distribution). You can buy it at the University of Chicago Press website, from Reaktion Books, or just haggle your local bookshop (while they are still relevant and not extinct!) to order it and stock it.
Interpassivity is a widespread, and yet mostly unacknowledged, form of cultural behaviour. Rather than letting others (other people, animals, machines, etc.) work in your place, interpassive behaviour entails letting others consume in your place.
Robert Pfaller, Interpassivity: The Aesthetics of Delegated Enjoyment
New concepts are rare in social thinking, and interpassivity is arguably the only true concept that emerged in the last two decades. The idea that others can not only act for us but that they can also be passive for us, that we can enjoy, believe, laugh and cry through others, provides the key to understand the paradoxes of our cynical-hedonist era.
Country-level searches for “Interpassivity” over the past 5 years via GoogleTrends data
Ruben Pater and Amsterdam-based Valiz Publishers’ CAPS LOCK: How Capitalism Took Hold of Graphic Design, and How to Escape From It is an extensive (552 pages) but very engaging, accessible, and portable account of graphic design’s current and historical relationship with capitalism (and theories on how, as a designer, to potentially decouple the inextricably-linked duo).
The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.
Jeff Hammerbacher, former Facebook employee (excerpt from CAPS LOCK: How Capitalism Took Hold of Graphic Design, and How to Escape From It)
Pater’s first book The Politics of Design: A (Not So) Global Manual for Visual Communication (which is also a great read) feels almost like an introductory or warm-up to this more dense and detailed book, though both stand firmly on their own.
Pater is at once a professional designer, writer, and educator which is helpful to keep in mind as you read along since the tone is through both a historical and critical lens. While the book is broken up into four main parts and 12 sections, perspectives, or “roles” (Designer as…”Scribe”, “Engineer”, “Brander”, “Salesperson”, “Worker”, “Entrepreneur”, “Amateur”, “Educator”, “Hacker”, “Futurist”, “Philanthropist”, and “Activist”) it is also an effective and very enjoyable read when flipped through casually and randomly.
Just like Politics of Design, CAPSLOCK is printed as a portable paperback in full color on soft/matte/newsprinty-feeling paper. It is full of real world examples of posters, photographs, logos, advertisements, screenshots, and quotations from (sometimes anonymous) designers, philosophers, brands, cultural icons, thinkers, and other relevant bodies.
The layout itself is very clean and practical. Bold, monochromatic color fields adorned with obsessively kerned sans serifs (appropriately set in ALL CAPS) let you know which section you’re heading into. These spreads are supplemented with delightful and amusing photographs, illustrations, and quotes. Subsection headings are also in ALL CAPS and painstakingly-kerned but set in a striking condensed modern transitional serif. Graphic designers, who are famous for not being able to read actual books, will find this book very readable.
One of the more foundational sections of the book describes the origins of design being used for financial literacy and record keeping. From ancient grid patterns used on clay tablets (think ancient Microsoft Excel) to track financial records, to paper banknotes (first appearing as woodblock-printed paper in seventh century China), to the first plastic credit cards, Pater uses historical evidence and research to demonstrate the complicity and importance of designers in establishing and maintaining authority, credibility, and competency for capital institutions since the beginning of time.
An important message, deputized and legitimized by phrases like Philanthrocapitalism, Causewashing, and the White Savior Industrial Complex, can be found in the chapter The Designer as Philanthropist (as well to an extent in The Designer as Futurist and really all of the chapters). Pater lauds but warns against the often good intentions of Design for Good as a practice. Robert Reich is cited as saying that while philanthropists outwardly seem well in most cases their charity is often indirectly transactional and a “competitive and strategic act”.
While negative examples are drawn from some of the obvious larger players in the space like IDEO, the United Nations, UNICEF, etc. for running tone-deaf or often incompetently negligent campaigns or models, Pater positively encourages designers to localize their efforts (mutual aid), recognize their privilege, and be a part of the community they are serving (rather than designing for a disconnected cause half-way around the globe).
While laying out the evidence demonstrating capitalism’s hijacking and reliance on design to extrapolate and manipulate market and labor, Pater offers alternative ways of thinking for the concerned reader or designer. This frames the book in an optimistic and hopeful light, which is refreshing since so much of the content can feel a bit overwhelming and hopeless at times.
The fantasy being that western consumerism, far from being intrinsically implicated in systemic global inequalities, could itself solve them. All we have to do is buy the right products.
—Mark Fisher, Philosopher (excerpt from CAPS LOCK: How Capitalism Took Hold of Graphic Design, and How to Escape From It)
CAPS LOCK: How capitalism took hold of graphic design, and how to escape From it by Ruben Pater is published by Valiz Publishers out of Amsterdam. Whether you’re a designer or a consumer or both, the book is an excellent addition to your library (plug it in right next to Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style) and an essential read for anyone interested in understanding how society got to the place it is today and how to potentially course correct it to a better, more equitable future.
Buy it from the publishers site or demand your local bookstore to order a whole stack of them—this is one book you really shouldn’t get from Am**on.
First introduced by French philosopher Jacques Derrida in his 1993 book Specters of Marx, hauntology is a portmanteau of haunting and ontology. It usually refers to the return, celebration, or persistence of elements from the past, as in the manner of a ghost and in anticipation of a future that never occurred.
At a time of political reaction and restoration, when cultural innovation has stalled and even gone backwards, when “power…operates predictively as much as retrospectively” (Eshun 2003: 289), one function of hauntology is to keep insisting that there are futures beyond postmodernity’s terminal time. When the present has given up on the future, we must listen for the relics of the future in the unactivated potentials of the past.
The great sonic-theoretical contribution of The Caretaker to the discourse of hauntology was his understanding that the nostalgia mode has to do not with memories but with a memory disorder. The Caretaker’s early releases seemed to be about the honeyed appeal of a lost past: Al Bowlly’s aching croon in the Strand ballroom in prewar tearoom London, buried beneath the sound which constitutes something like the audio-correlate of hauntology itself: crackle.
The Miami-based Islandia Journal offers a refreshing and strange look at some of Florida’s more eccentric angles and anomalies through the hazy, sun-drenched, and mysterious lenses of local visual artists and writers. It is focused around the paranormal, weird, historical, and uniquely Floridian. The 8 ½’’ x 5 ½’’ limited-run journal’s first issue was published in spring 2021 and is a delight to hold, read, and flip through even if you’re unfamiliar with the idiosyncratic nature of life in and around Florida.
The periodical begins with a sincere and storied indigenous land acknowledgement which also acts as a kind of preface, setting the stage for the reader in a way that suggests Florida/Islandia has a complicated and deep history of human habitation.
Islandia acknowledges Florida and the Caribbean are the ancestral homes of a myriad indigenous tribes including (but not limited to): the Miccosukee, Seminole, Calusa, Muspa, Tequesta, Timiqua, various Arawak and Calib tribes including the Taino and Lucaya.
Land acknowledgement in The Islandia Journal: A (Sub)Tropical Periodical
What does Miami look like after ten years of sea level rise? A couple spreads of beautiful watercolor paintings by Raymond Fort help the reader visualize this uncomfortable but seemingly unstoppable imminent-future waterworld scenario.
The paintings–which appear to show impossible geometric buildings and structures floating off in distant bodies of water–are loose, a bit abstract, colorful, and calming.
What is hopefully a recurring segment in Islandia is the section devoted to “Cryptids of the Caribbean”–a reference to cryptozoology and the field of theoretical but unproven and often mythical and strange creatures. Here we are patiently taught about the Chickcharney–an “owl-humanoid creature known for its trickery”. The island on which it haunts, “Andros”, is “the largest, but least populated Bahamian island… Andros is also home to the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center where the U.S. Navy simulates underwater warfare.”
The illustration of the Chickcharney by Miami-based illustrator and printmaker Russel Beans (@are.beans), who also drew the Everglades Griffin cryptid on this issue’s cover, is ominously delightful and thoughtfully detailed.
A very succinct and prideful essay on health and Haitian food by Haitian nutritionist, Olguyne Fernandez-Fraga, called The Haitian Nutritionist is translated into Haitian Creole on it’s opposite page which is a beautiful and fascinating language to see on the printed page.
Gen santye pi dwat pou rive an sante. Manje ou pa Bezwen foto-pafe pou konsidere li kom an sante. / There are more straightforward paths to a healthy lifestyle. Your food doesn’t need to be picture-perfect to be considered healthy.
Excerpt in Haitian Creole and English of The Haitian Nutritionist by Olguyne Fernandez-Fraga in The Islandia Journal: A (Sub)Tropical Periodical
Amongst more essays, poems, and illustrations is a very old and storied flag of Fernandina Beach that extends across a full spread and supplements, both visually and literally, a story about the region’s tumultuous and dense history of colonization. It also introduces a mythical con-artist anti-hero figure from the 1800’s that feels uniquely Floridian.
Themes and tales of the strange, wonderful, and uncertain persist throughout the colorful, eerie, and fascinating 53-page journal including a full spread illustrated map of author Karen Russell’s Swamplandia! by Marcella May.
For more information on Islandia including purchasing this or future issues (or re-issues), visit their website islandiajournal.com or check out their instagram @islandiajournal where they are very active and tuned-in to the Florida weird.
Similar to many indigenous cultures’ relationships to land, bioregionalism is first and foremost based on observation and recognition of what grows where, as well as an appreciation for the complex web of relationships among those actors. More than observation, it also suggests a way of identifying with place, weaving oneself into a region through observation of and responsibility to the local ecosystem.
Jenny Odell, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy
What is bioregionalism? To achieve sustainable development, to halt the forth coming extinction crisis, to mitigate & adapt to climate change we must reconnect with the world around us. Consume less, live more #sdgs4all
Mark Twain once said something along the lines of, “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A government logo who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” And over the years since our countrymen first started drawing circles with eagles inside of them, many logos–along with their organizing bodies–did die.
Plucked from university digital library troves, Google Books, Wikipedia, the National Archives, obscure depths of government websites, creepy personal blogs, and other dusty corners of the internet we do not recommend visiting, these are some of the retired, dormant, or long-dead federal agency logos we found the most interesting (both visually and existentially). Cropped, edited, enhanced, and sometimes reproduced entirely, they are presented below in no particular order:
National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC), 1961-1996
Dwight Eisenhower created the NPIC in the final days of his presidency in 1961. A scrappy agency under the leadership of the CIA at the time, it would probably have been most occupied by matters involving the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. The seal reveals the defining moment our national symbol the bald eagle, became an omniscient and self aware photographic analysis expert, entangling itself in an old film strip of random vacation photos. The eagle was trained to interpret images as it saw fit in the name of national security.
United States Information Agency (USIA), 1953-1999
The USIA was a very large public relations agency–the largest in the world at the time–whose primary target audience was everyone alive. Established by Eisenhower in 1953, the boutique experiential creative studio would spread cheer, good vibes, and decidedly anti-Soviet propaganda across the globe (mostly in the form of radio broadcasts and media pieces) until 1999 when it extended its usefulness beyond practicality and was dissolved.
The logo displayed here was not the official seal but an alternative and much cooler version used on John W. Henderson’s thick historical account of the agency. According to Robert Elder’s The Information Machine: The United States Information Agency and American Foreign Policy, “[t]he USIA flexed it’s PR muscles with “personal contact, radio broadcasting, libraries, book publication and distribution, press motion pictures, television, exhibits, English-language instruction, and others”.
United States Office of War Information (OWI), 1942-1945
OWI was created during WWII to control messaging through radio broadcasts, newspapers, posters, photographs, and other forms of media. The serifed font along the perimeter of the seal is actually typeset really well by most standards–let alone for a 1940’s-era government design–with tight kerning and thoughtful balance. Per usual, the eagle is present doing anthropomorphized tough-guy poses.
Office of Strategic Services (OSS), 1942-1945
The OSS was a WWII-era precursor to the CIA and had a pretty bad logo all around. The beloved cooking teacher and television personality, Julia Child, would likely have seen this underwhelming and frankly quite phoned-in logo on many of the documents she would file and transcribe when she worked at the agency as a typist and shark-repellent expert. In this logo the beloved eagle appears more like a squab, which Julia also made famous with a recipe paired with liver canapés.
United States Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), 1972-1995
The Office of Technology Assessment was created in 1972 as a mechanism for Congress to understand the advantages and pitfalls of technology as it relates to national security, bureaucracy, and government-doing. The logo is pretty standard as far as 20th century federal seals go. The eagle is there, spread, holding some weapons and leaves, surrounded by his favorite dead-language phrase. The type treatment and kerning is pretty decent and stylistically above average on this particular logo.
United States General Land Office (GLO), 1812-1946
GLO was a federal agency created in 1812 to handle “public domain” land. It is anyone’s guess what this actually meant in the context of a continent under occupation by colonizers. Regardless, the department appears to have made use of the new nation’s favorite opportunistic seabird, the bald eagle. It is really hard to decipher what the eagle is doing in this ancient logo–every copy online is extremely low res and poor quality. The bird is either carrying a lost duck to safety or tearing its head off.
United States Grazing Service, 1939-1946
The US Grazing Service, an outfit of the Department of the Interior, was created in 1939 to enforce regulations on farmers and ranchers grazing on public lands. The ancient and kind-of cool logo uses at least two appropriated symbols from the Native American culture that was destroyed and colonized by its founders. The original arrowhead shape of the logo is still used by the National Park Service but has since been simplified down into an upside down triangle by the Bureau of Land Management.
United States Metric Board (USMB), 1975-1982
The United States Metric Board is exactly what it sounds like. Set up under Gerald Ford as a response to the The Metric Conversion Act of 1975, it would attempt–and ultimately fail–to encourage or achieve metrication in the US. We’re still on the empirical system of measurement and the USMB logo is still extremely cool. Ronald Regan, notable UFO-enthusiast and failed actor, abolished the board in 1982 when he learned what the metric system was.
United States Life-Saving Service, 1848-1915
The US Life-Saving Service was apparently some kind of humanitarian effort at the time to help “save the lives of shipwrecked mariners and passengers”.
United States Revenue Cutter Service, 1790-1915
The Life-Saving Service would ultimately merge with the US Revenue Cutter Service in 1915 to form the Coast Guard. These two maritime-focused agencies did a pretty decent and pragmatic job of using symmetry, typography, and symbology to craft their logos at a time when people still believed in sea monsters.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), 1933-1942
The CCC was possibly the most popular of the New Deal programs. It would give work and hope to hundreds of thousands of young citizens who would be out developing and maintaining natural resources across the country. Missions included tree planting, firefighting, stream improving, trail building, mosquito control, among other outdoorsy pursuits.
The seal uses a geometric sans-serif typeface that kind of resembles Futura. The symmetry and kerning of the arch is pretty good and holds it’s weight as a mark even by modern standards. The interior illustration–some kind of idyllic natural landscape–resembles a lot of contemporary design trends but the typographic-based triple crescent moon situation reveals the age of the logo.
The Reconstruction Finance Corporation appears to have been a massive money pumping machine created to stimulate lending into the battered economy during and immediately after the Great Depression. It is unclear what the 13 stars around the flat-headed eagle represent–one can assume these inappropriately reference the original colonies, which had their own economic issues, or perhaps the 13 circles of hell small businesses would find themselves in once owing back interest on their federal loans.
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), 1915-1958
NACA was founded in 1915 to undertake, promote, and institutionalize aeronautical research. It was dissolved and merged into NASA in 1958. Most iterations of the logo are some variation of a central shield flanked by two wings with the geometric sans-serif acronym in the center.
The Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), 1887-1996
The ICC was established by the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 in order to reign in the completely out-of-control railroad industry, which at the time abused its monopoly on power and transportation by taking over towns and bribing politicians and journalists with free rides. The seal itself is not entirely surprising for an agency of the time and pretty standard as far as eagle marks go.
Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA), 1972-2004
The SLMA was set up in 1972 as a federal entity to issue student loans. This would later become fully privatized and given the disarming, misleading, and haunting name Sallie Mae. The illustration below was taken from a 1980’s era bond certificate. While not technically a logo, it is at least what some hapless prospective education-havers at the time would come to know as the face of the organization and as the face(s) of their nightmares.
Farm Security Administration (FSA), 1937-1946
The FSA was a New Deal agency created in 1937 to combat rural poverty during the Great Depression. Its logo features an outer shield and a very hand-drawn, folksy-feeling geometric sans-serif.
This list of logos is not exhaustive and if your favorite logo is missing let us know. Many government logos that came to power and were dissolved into other agency emblems were not mentioned here (like the original Social Security Administration logo, the NASA logo, and others). Please keep paying your taxes and pay your logo designers a living wage.
Eindhoven, Netherlands’ Onomatopee Projects, with Nicolas Nova and Dislocation.org, use reflective silver ink on 255 pages of matte black paper to illustrate and explain to us what kinds of strange, wonderful, and terrifying things we might expect to encounter in the latest epoch of geological time.
The A5 size publication, while quite thick, feels accessible and reads more like a field guide than a dense scientific paper. If you like rubbing your fingers over shimmering silver-capped embossed reliefs of predatory birds wrestling drones out of the sky, leafing through thick black pages of scientific knowledge while inhaling deeply what can only be described as the pungent metallic-like odor of darkroom chemical soup, and knowing how to tell the difference between a normal dragonfly and a cyborg dragonfly, this book may be for you.
The illustrations throughout the book are delightful, consistently weird, and have a vintage science book quality about them. This feeling lends itself to the method in which they were produced. Each illustration, by Disnovation.org-affiliated designer Maria Roszkowska, began as a digital image collage of some kind. It was then turned into a hand drawing and finally digitized back into original vector art and printed with beautiful silver ink.
The eagles did not always do what was expected of them and were occasionally distracted by other things happening around them during training sessions
Nicolas Nova, A Bestiary of the Anthropocene
The conclusive excerpt on World War II-era rat bombs, “However, their discovery prompted a continent wide hunt for hundreds of potentially explosive rats”, somehow seems to encapsulate both the fragility of the human spirit and the essence of life within the Anthropocene at once.
The core cases, or specimens of the book are split into categories or “Kingdoms” (“Kingdom of Minerals”, “Kingdom of Animals”, “Kingdom of Plants”, and “Kingdom of Miscellaneous”). These kingdoms are somewhat loose and playful (i.e. “Kingdom of Miscellaneous”), binding and reinforcing the book’s seminal emphasization of the hybridization of our environment.
[this bestiary] aims at encouraging us to pay attention, to perceive the nuances and assemblage of a dark ecology that arose in the last decades.
Nicolas Nova, A Bestiary of the Anthropocene
For instance, “Artificial Snow”, “5G”, and “Radioactive Mushrooms” were placed in the “Kingdom of Miscellaneous”, as they are kinds of post-natural phenomena existing somewhere between natural and artificial.
Notably, the book has a case study on SARS-COV-2 complete with a really wonderful and terrifying illustration of the corona-shaped, crown-covered profile that has been burned into all of our brains by this point in time.
Also notable is the book’s observation that while the virus itself is of zoonotic origins, the COVID-19 pandemic is a disaster product of the Anthropocene “due to our actions that contribute to weakening natural ecosystems, thus promoting the spread of pathogens.”
A keystone and important block of this book’s DNA lies dormant beneath the “Disclaimer” section in the back. The author invokes the right to make the book and its contents exist in the public domain. Furthermore, details on the acquisition of imagery–as found or acquired objects, reappropriated artistically beyond recognition without permission–in the name of science, freedom of expression, and not-for-profiteering, are revealed.
This is a really wonderful and refreshing approach to independent publishing and we hope to see this kind of boldness and transparency in future works of art, literature, and information sharing.
In the lengthy section dedicated to “ferality” Nicolas Nova ruminates on his love/hate fantasy with the “feralisation” (U.K. spelling) of nature and robotics. Using musings brought on by public experimentation with the feralization of Roombas (via Twitter posts and “missing Roomba” posters), he goes on to explain “Ferality allows border tempering, It interrogates the way the things are, it is possible because the feral has agency.”
‘A Feral Roomba! So Cool!’ But is it?
Nicolas Nova, A Bestiary of the Anthropocene
A Bestiary of the Anthropocene was published in 2021 by Onomatopee Projects, an editorially-led public gallery and print shop in Eindhoven, Netherlands. It was edited and authored by Nicolas Nova and Disnovation.org, a kind of post-growth-forward situation-developing art collective and working group. The design and wonderful illustrations were done by Maria Roszkowska.
You can purchase a copy from Onomatopee directly on their website.