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running words around
design education and visual communication
authored by chris m hughes

There Was Music from My Neighbour's House

Monday, 30 August 2010



...so opens Chapter Two of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby', and over the following few pages we get the greatest party scene ever published.

And earlier this month, on the 7oth anniversary of Fitzgerald's death at just 44, Penguin released his key works in a series of elegant new covers by Coralie Bickford-Smith.

Bickford-Smith is a senior cover designer at Penguin Books, studied typography at Reading university and currently teaches at London College of Communication. Her website features the full set of covers in a nice horizontally scrolling webpage.

Her designs use a transitional serif typeface and pleasing geometric patterns to produce a languid Art Deco look that perfectly fits the mood of Fitzgerald's ragged visions of late 1920's East Coast America. At same time it has the contemporary simplicity we tend to admire - the music of design, one might say.

Penguin have really been pushing the revival in interest in book cover design - they recently issued new cover designs as part of a series of classics by the likes of Dickens, Dostoyevsky and Zola for the (RED) campaign, and one of the D&AD briefs for the 2010 Awards was to create cover designs for a set of H.G. Wells novels.

Its Over for 2010



That's the Edinburgh Festival over for another year. It's been a good few years since I actually attended anything (it was possibly the now defunct T @ the Fringe), but each year things seem to get bigger and louder, though not necessarily any better.

In terms of visual art, there was very little to report. In fact, the Edinburgh International Festival logo was the most interesting thing I saw during the whole three weeks. It comes in a variety of colours and features a swiss-style arrangement of primitive triangles and uppercase typography (in Helvetica of course). The banner in this photo is hanging on the outside of the Omni centre and features the logo in orange.

One exhibition I would recommend (which isn't part of the Festival) is 'Another World' at the Dean Gallery - a major selection of Surrealism and Dada by the likes of Miro, Dali and Magritte. As well as paintings and sculpture, there is a large selection of correspondance between the key artists of the era, and a bunch of fascinating magazines, posters and ephemera.

More:
Edinburgh International Festival 2010
Another World – Dali, Magritte, Miro And the Surrealists, Dean Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 10 Jul–Sun 9 Jan.

Crank Calls @ The Fringe

Monday, 9 August 2010

Invisible Dot Phonebox

I was on the phone to the writer Will Self on Sunday.

I've been to see him read a couple of times, but I don't know him personally. I just stopped at a phonebox in Edinburgh's Bristo Square and answered the call.

The phonebox is a Fringe Event - an elaborate visual communications hoax. It's one of several that have been erected across Edinburgh during the last couple of days by a theatre company called The Invisible Dot.

Invisible Dot acquired the ex-BT kiosks, had them fitted with the appropriate software, then installed them on the streets of Edinburgh.

They have been slightly tweaked to make it obvious that they aren't the real thing - they have a slightly pinkish livery, not the standard red, they carry the INVISIBLE DOT name in the top section, and they don't accept coins.

When you pick up the receiver, instead of hearing the dialling tone, you get a recording of someone reading a short story. Which is how I heard Will Self.

Apparently, other writers who have recorded their work for this project include DBC Pierre, Paul Muldoon and Julia Donaldson.

The phoneboxes will run from the 6th till the 30th August.

More:
The Invisible Dot
Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2010

HTML 5 and Quake II

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Both the Apple iPad and iPhone don't support Flash, but this hasn't affected their sales.

As for developling animation and interactive content, HTML 5 is heralded as the alternative to Flash. It allows similar functionality directly in a compatible browser without a plug-in. As I posted back in March, simple games and complex applications have already been written in HTML 5.

But HTML 5 can also support video without any plugin, and just recently, Google announced that its engineers had managed to port the seminal 3D shoot-em up Quake II, allowing it to run directly in a browser. In effect, this is the proof we need that HTML 5 is going to revolutionise browser content. And here it is:



First the technicalities.
The version in question has been ported from a Java port of Quake 2 that already existed called Jake2. The team used Google Web Toolkit, the Canvas API, WebGL, and WebSockets to recreate the game in its HTML 5 form. The results allow versions to run at 60fps on a Linux laptop, 45fps on a Mac Pro, 30fps on a Windows PC, and 25fps on a Macbook Pro.

Now the fun.
Not only does the game run well in a compatible browser (Chrome or Safari), but sharing a game is as simple as sending someone a URL.

If you would like to try Quake 2 in your browser the code can be downloaded from Google Code.

What Does This Mean?
It means that a full 3D game can run directly in a browser at a very good frame rate - something that would have been unimaginable 10 years ago.

HTML 5 has hit the ground running in terms of gaming, and no doubt it is going to become a popular way to create games. A standard install of a browser like Chrome will allow HTML 5 games to run. This also means the forthcoming Chrome OS will be compatible with all HTML 5 games and apps.

Flash is hanging on by the skin of its teeth, but this is another nail in its coffin.

More:
Quake II in Your Browser - PC World
Quake II In A Browser - TechCrunch
One Last Flash In the Pan?