I came across an enticing headline this morning. “What is ‘The Whiteness Project?’,” asked the always-relevant Colorlines. Their tagline—”News for action”—is precisely what journalism should be about. Here’s another example of a story that invites anyone, regardless of race, to enter a discussion about race in a deliberate, structured, meaningful way.
When I discovered that The Whiteness Project was actually a multi-platform conversation from PBS about the white identity, and that it was produced in Buffalo, featuring interviews with many Buffalonians about their city’s top-ranked segregation, and that it also featured a few familiar faces, then I realized this was a bigger story than just another glancing read on the morning blogroll.
I urge you to watch the videos on the project’s homepage, and to listen to these statements. They reveal things about white people that may never have been discussed in such a way. There are things said I definitely don’t agree with, and there are things said that I had never contemplated until now. Any conversation about race is going to bring with it a slew of debates and disagreements, but maybe we can take a chance to listen, too. Maybe there are other viewpoints that are worth hearing. Maybe those viewpoints are still against our personal constitutions, maybe not. But I think giving people the floor, and listening with open ears, is a good place to start.
Fascinating work here. Take a few minutes and give this a shot.
-Ben

I came across an enticing headline this morning. “What is ‘The Whiteness Project?’,” asked the always-relevant Colorlines. Their tagline—”News for action”—is precisely what journalism should be about. Here’s another example of a story that invites anyone, regardless of race, to enter a discussion about race in a deliberate, structured, meaningful way.

When I discovered that The Whiteness Project was actually a multi-platform conversation from PBS about the white identity, and that it was produced in Buffalo, featuring interviews with many Buffalonians about their city’s top-ranked segregation, and that it also featured a few familiar faces, then I realized this was a bigger story than just another glancing read on the morning blogroll.

I urge you to watch the videos on the project’s homepage, and to listen to these statements. They reveal things about white people that may never have been discussed in such a way. There are things said I definitely don’t agree with, and there are things said that I had never contemplated until now. Any conversation about race is going to bring with it a slew of debates and disagreements, but maybe we can take a chance to listen, too. Maybe there are other viewpoints that are worth hearing. Maybe those viewpoints are still against our personal constitutions, maybe not. But I think giving people the floor, and listening with open ears, is a good place to start.

Fascinating work here. Take a few minutes and give this a shot.

-Ben

Dieter Rams looks back on his career in this short documentary from publisher Gestalten. Released a while back in conjunction with the publication of Less is More, it’s a nice compliment to the immense Rams collection. Always a nice treat to refresh one’s self on Ram’s Ten Principles for Good Design (which Patrick posted about earlier in the year after a trip to SFMOMA). 

Elsewhere, a quick related (though old-ish) read: Dieter Rams, Jonathan Ives and the evolution of Apple design.

- Maggie

Woman Feeding Man an Apple Person with Guitar Stonehenge

"The godfather of conceptual art," John Baldessari is widely considered a historical giant in the contemporary art world, known for rearranging found images and texts - forcing one to wonder how, and what exactly, the images are communicating.

Appropriately, when Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman of Supermarché (the pair behind 2010’s much buzzed about documentary, Catfish) set out to create a small look into John Baldessari’s life and career, they turned the conventional profile documentary format on its head. Instead, Baldessari’s immense career has been compressed into six amazing (and somewhat disorienting) minutes, as Joost and Schulman jump between mundane images of Baldessari’s everyday life, jumbled narrative, and a playful back-and-forth between Baldessari and the story’s faceless narrator - the deep grizzled voice of Tom Waits (requested specifically by Baldessari).

The film, from start to finish, is a playful and clever sendup to the self-aware artist’s signature tongue-in-cheek tone, and it’s more than worth its short six minutes of play time. I love the jumping details of Baldessari’s life - the shots of pencils, the peep holes, the “this is John Baldessari waving goodbye.”

- Maggie

This year’s Art & Design Issue of Block Club focused on the reuse of old objects and the revitalizing power of art. Artist Patti Harris was quoted, saying, “I feel like this old stuff needs to be brought back, or that it needs to be remembered, or utilized, or shown that it is quite beautiful. Or that you can make it beautiful.”

Indeed, the same notion applies to the power of public art - the reclaiming of the monochrome urban landscape as something more reflective of the vivid undercurrent and heartbeat of city life. 

Here Comes the Neighborhood is a wonderful short-form docuseries that explores the power of public art. This installment focuses on the Wynwood Wall of Miami, following the key players of this outdoor street museum project.

It would be truly amazing to see a similar effort unfold across Buffalo’s urban canvas - lush with fantastic old warehouses and grain elevators. Buffalo News arts writer Colin Dabkowski explored the public art of Buffalo last year, lamenting the government’s slight of the vibrant artistic community that thrives in our city. Perhaps Buffalo, in time, can too see a successful public reclaiming and reuse of its urban landscape - have you checked out Omaha lately?

- Maggie

Little Scraps of Paper is a series of short documentary films about how people develop ideas and the places they keep them in. This segment follows artist and illustrator Paul Bower as he explains the relationship between his sketchbook and impromptu inspiration: 

 "I like the chance, the haphazardness. When two things are on a page together, and they shouldn’t really belong. But they do… the instant feeling of things."

- Maggie