The Eye of History

The Eye of History

By Georges Didi Huberman

Georges Didi-Huberman’s Spring 2018 MIT Press title “The Eye of History: When Images Take Positions” is the second volume in the Ryerson Image Center Books series. It joins our shelves alongside Thierry Gervais’ 2016 edited volume “The ‘Public’ Life of Photographs.”

Being Ecological – April 2018

Being Ecological

By Timothy Morton

Bjork has a pithy endorsement of Timothy Morton’s new Press title Being Ecological:

“I have been reading Tim’s books for a while and I like them a lot.”

We agree!

Flintstone Modernism – April 2018

Flintstone ModernismFlintstone Modernism

By Jeffrey Lieber

“Deftly moving among architecture, film, philosophy, and politics, Lieber illuminates the artifice that resulted from the conjunction of high style and mass-cultural values in postwar America.”

Jeffrey Lieber’s Spring ’18 title, Flintstone Modernism, or the Crisis in Postwar American Culture, reads as wittily, stylishly, and bitingly as its subject suggests. Tricolor print run includes red, blue, and yellow covers.

Customer Pick – March 2018

Good call or bad call, referees and umpires have always had the final say in sports. Bad calls are more visible: plays are televised backward and forward and in slow motion. New technologies—the Hawk-Eye system used in tennis and cricket, for example, and the goal-line technology used in English football—introduced to correct bad calls sometimes get it right and sometimes get it wrong, but always undermine the authority of referees and umpires. Bad Call looks at the technologies used to make refereeing decisions in sports, analyzes them in action, and explains the consequences.

Used well, technologies can help referees reach the right decision and deliver justice for fans: a fair match in which the best team wins. Used poorly, however, decision-making technologies pass off statements of probability as perfect accuracy and perpetuate a mythology of infallibility.

Greg’s Pick – March 2018

PaidPaid Tales of Dongles, Checks, and Other Money Stuff Edited by Bill Maurer and Lana Swartz ($17.95)

Museums are full of the coins, notes, beads, shells, stones, and other objects people have exchanged for millennia. But what about the debris, the things that allow a transaction to take place and are left in its wake? How would a museum go about curating our scrawls on electronic keypads, the receipts wadded in our wallets, that vast information infrastructure that runs the card networks? This book is a catalog for a museum exhibition that never happened. It offers a series of short essays, paired with striking images, on these often ephemeral, invisible, or unnoticed transactional objects—money stuff.

Although we’ve been told for years that we’re heading toward total cashlessness, payment is increasingly dependent on things. Consider, for example, the dongle, a clever gizmo that processes card payments by turning information from a card’s magnetic stripe into audio information that can be read by a smart phone’s headphone jack. Or dogecoin, a meme of a smiling, bewildered dog’s interior monologue that fueled a virtual currency similar to Bitcoin. Or go further back and contemplate the paper currency printed with leaves by Benjamin Franklin to foil counterfeiters, or khipu, Incan records kept in knotted string.

Bernardo Bátiz-Lazo, Maria Bezaitis, Finn Brunton, Lynn H. Gamble, David Graeber, Jane I. Guyer, Keith Hart, Sarah Jeong, Alexandra Lippman, Julien Mailland, Scott Mainwaring, Bill Maurer, Taylor C. Nelms, Rachel O’Dwyer, Michael Palm, Lisa Servon, David L. Stearns, Bruce Sterling, Lana Swartz, Whitney Anne Trettien, Gary Urton

Amy’s Pick – March 2018

Programmed InequalityOut now in paperback

In 1944, Britain led the world in electronic computing. By 1974, the British computer industry was all but extinct. What happened in the intervening thirty years holds lessons for all postindustrial superpowers. As Britain struggled to use technology to retain its global power, the nation’s inability to manage its technical labor force hobbled its transition into the information age.

In Programmed Inequality, Marie Hicks explores the story of labor feminization and gendered technocracy that undercut British efforts to computerize. That failure sprang from the government’s systematic neglect of its largest trained technical workforce simply because they were women. Women were a hidden engine of growth in high technology from World War II to the 1960s. As computing experienced a gender flip, becoming male-identified in the 1960s and 1970s, labor problems grew into structural ones and gender discrimination caused the nation’s largest computer user—the civil service and sprawling public sector—to make decisions that were disastrous for the British computer industry and the nation as a whole.

Jeremy’s Choice – February 2018

Safe Spaces, Brave Spaces Diversity and Free Expression in Education
by John Palfrey. Foreword by Alberto Ibargüen (MIT Press) $19.95

Safe spaces, trigger warnings, microagressions, the disinvitation of speakers, demands to rename campus landmarks—debate over these issues began in lecture halls and on college quads but ended up on op-ed pages in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, on cable news, and on social media. Some of these critiques had merit, but others took a series of cheap shots at “crybullies” who needed to be coddled and protected from the real world. Few questioned the assumption that colleges must choose between free expression and diversity. In Safe Spaces, Brave Spaces, John Palfrey argues that the essential democratic values of diversity and free expression can, and should, coexist on campus.

Ryan’s Choice – February 2018

Communism for Kids By Bini Adamczak Trans. Jacob Blumenfeld & Sophie Lewis
(MIT Press) $12.95

This book uses a satirically whimsical method to educate the masses about an alternative, and often misunderstood, political ideology. Despite the title, this book is not meant for children. Much like Pixar films that insert jokes only adults will understand, Adamczak offers some humor in her plea to consider the flaws in our currently accepted form of financial governance.

John’s Choice – February 2018

Portraits of Resilience By Daniel Jackson. Foreword by David A. Karp
(MIT Press) $34.94

More than 15 million Americans grapple with depression in a given year, and 40 million are affected by anxiety disorders. And yet these people are often invisible, hidden, unacknowledged. At once a photo essay and a compendium of life stories, Portraits of Resilience brings us face to face with twenty-two extraordinary individuals, celebrating the wisdom they have gained on the frontline of a contemporary battle.

No one is immune to depression or anxiety; all of these narrators achieved success as students, faculty, or staff in the demanding world of MIT.  The pressures of a competitive and high-pressure environment will be familiar to many. And the mysterious and overwhelming grip of depression will be recognized by those who have suffered from it. But the search for purpose and meaning that pervades these stories is relevant to everyone. These wise people give us not only solace and reassurance as we face our own challenges, but also the inspiration that challenges can be overcome—and that happiness, while elusive, can eventually be found.

Jake’s Choice – February 2018

(Un) Precendented Pyongyang by Dongwoo Yim  (Actar Publishers) $39.95

In (Un)Precedented Pyongyang, Dongwoo Yim, assistant professor at Hongik University Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Design and a graduate in Master of Architecture in Urban Design from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, provides a developmental, historical narrative for Pyongyang’s postwar reconstruction. Yim’s study is unparalleled in its typological breakdown of Pyongyang’s urban built environment and expansion, and furthermore, in its models for future development resisting, or acquiescing to, market-oriented “blue investment.” This book is apt for those interested in learning about the relatively young architectural history of a nation whose own history is often dehumanized and elided by western media.