The Edison Talking Doll is just what it sounds like: a doll, with a small phonograph in its body, mass-produced by Thomas Edison’s lab in the 1890s -- and it … shrieks. It’s like an unearthly Carol Kane screaming in a wind tunnel, trapped in the body of a lifeless totem. Listen at your own risk. Even more Edison Talking Doll recordings.
Soviet concept vehicles. "GAZ-A-Aero, designed by Alexei Nikitin Osipovich, 1934" is the first in the line-up, but I like the "Cyclops-like ZIS-112 with a single headlamp and an experimental 6005 cc engine, that could run the car with 126 mph (204 kmh) in 1951," and the Moskvitch G2, which once reached the speed of 139 mph and looks like it will bite whatever's in front of it. [more inside]
I’ve found that while Japan has always been a significant force in the world of design, not many people are familiar with the names or faces behind the distinct aesthetic. In this edition I would like to briefly introduce some of the notable* industrial designers of the 20th Century that have made meaningful contributions to what we know today as Contemporary Japanese Design. by the ever wonderful Spoon & Tamago [more inside]
The last man to have been imprisoned in a concentration camp for being homosexual under the Nazis has died, his obituary is more interesting than that sounds.
Donald Barthelme’s Syllabus: I was given secondhand a list of eighty-one books, the recommendations of Donald Barthelme to his students. Barthelme’s only guidance ... was to attack the books “in no particular order, just read them.” Two of the books, Knut Hamsun’s Hunger and Flaubert’s Letters (numbers 15, 40), were written in the twentieth century, most in the past thirty years. And all have that dizzying sense of otherness and surprise common to great books, an affluence of vitality. There’s not a dull read in the group. [more inside]
The Early Television Foundation and Museum Website covers the nascent days of the nation's pastime, with interesting items like mechanical TVs and programming schedules from 1939.
"What Have We Learned, If Anything?" Historian Tony Judt in the NYRB wonders if we have forgotten the lessons of the 20th century.
Old Tokyo. Photographs from the early decades of the twentieth century.
I was wandering around the internets looking for early twentieth century ephemera and look what I found. Digital Dada Library “This page provides links to some of the major Dada-era publications in the International Dada Archive. These books, pamphlets, and periodicals are housed in the Special Collections Department of the University of Iowa Libraries. …Each document has been scanned in its entirety.” EphemeraNow “is a family-friendly Web site dedicated to the commercial art of mid-century America.” The Ephemera Society “is a non-profit body concerned with the collection, preservation, study and educational uses of printed and handwritten ephemera.” and more! For those of you who have complained that this place is getting too “US politics-filter” I give you Glasgow Digital Library Collections which has all sorts of stuff including a great history of the labour movement in Glasgow 1910-1932
Vanished America If you've ever wondered what to do with all of your old vacation photos and slides, wonder no more. A fellow named Charles Cushman bequeathed his collection of over 14,000 slides and photos taken over a period of three decades, from 1938 to 1969, to Indiana Univiersity. IU has decided to create an amazing digital archive of his photos as a history project. The photos are nothing special in themselves. He took countless pictures of things he and his wife saw as they took driving tours across the United States, mostly near their home in Chicago and in the West. They are no different than and no better than anybody else's amateur photos. But, as the director of the project points out, without realizing it, Cushman captured an America already beginning to disappear in the middle of the 20th century, and did so by documenting its disappearance unwittingly over a thirty-year period. I lightly perused the slide show of 120 images and the photos are indeed both banal and compelling all at the same time. A very nicely done site with a lot of rich material. (via The Cartoonist)