While Western letterpress printing has made a recent revival, what was once considered one of the Four Great Inventions of Ancient China is no longer a sustainable practice in its country of origin.
Wai Che Printing Company, preserved by its 81-year-old owner Lee Chak Yu, has operated on Wing Lee Street with its bilingual lead type collection and original Heidelberg Cylinder machine for over 50 years. Curious to learn more, I visited Wai Che—one of the last remaining letterpress shops in Hong Kong—to understand how Chinese movable type differed and why this trade has become obsolete.
Many of us today probably use the Web to book tickets and find information about movies. By selling tickets and entertaining visitors, websites help movies succeed at the box office and earn public approval. And yet, website developers don’t get any public recognition for the success of movies. Isn’t it a bit unfair in the Internet era not to bestow a single bit of appreciation for the presentation of movies online?
Most modern movie websites are built in Flash, even when it’s totally unjustified. The websites often lack usability standards and require users to click through splash pages and introductions in order to access content. They have the luxury of being able to neglect common principles and standards because they garner attention merely by their association with the movies they promote. Let’s suppose, though, that these developers got their own Palmes d’Ors, Oscars and Bears. Wouldn’t this be strong motivation to create outstanding and usable websites?
Progress is good, but we need to make sure that we’re progressing in the right direction. Our fundamental skills and the craft of design have started to take a back seat. Using the right tools and techniques is certainly an important part of design. But do our tools and resources make us better designers?
As a teenager, I loved comic books: the art, the stories, the super-powers I wished I had. I remember the point when I went from reading and enjoying comics to wanting to create them. I became obsessed with being able to draw exactly like the great comic book artists of that time, people like Jim Lee. Taking books like How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way out of the library was like having the artists themselves sitting next to me, showing me the way. Many designers can relate to this, because today through blogs and Twitter we can follow those whom we consider to be the best designers in the world, learning what they read and where they go and maybe even getting a glimpse of how they create the work we so admire.
Contemporary art, architecture, and design can take on unexpected manifestations, from digital codes to Internet addresses and sets of instructions that can be transmitted only by the artist. The process by which such unconventional works are selected and acquired for our collection can take surprising turns as well, as can the mode in which they’re eventually appreciated by our audiences. While installations have for decades provided museums with interesting challenges involving acquisition, storage, reproducibility, authorship, maintenance, manufacture, context—even questions about the essence of a work of art in itself—MoMA curators have recently ventured further; a good example is the recent acquisition by the Department of Media and Performance Art of Tino Sehgal’s performance Kiss.