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The show currently running in the Cress Gallery is of a collaborative team, Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick. I had the pleasure of seeing the Visiting Artist Lecture given by them just prior to the show opening, and speaking with them at the show.

Kahn and Selesnick have collaborated since finishing college in 1986. They specialize in mixing narrative histories with elaborately constructed “artifacts” of the time period depicted. Characters and artifacts are captured in panoramic photographs for posterity.

The show in the Cress Gallery features The Apollo Prophecies and the newest collaboration, Eisbergfreistadt. The former details NASA’s discovery of a Victorian settlement on the moon, with the astronauts being greeted as gods, while the latter covers the 1923 founding of a city on an enormous iceberg that floated into port in Lubeck, Germany.

My favorite aspect of Kahn and Selesnick’s work is that the line between fact and fiction is ambiguous. Obviously, it’s pretty easy to tell in the Apollo Prophecies what’s fiction (almost all of it – astronauts did land on the moon, but that’s the extent of the facts), but Eisbergfreistadt is entirely different. The “memorabilia” from the iceberg city mix actual artifacts with those constructed by Kahn and Selesnick and there’s no indication of which is which.

I asked Mr. Kahn how much of the historical narrative/artifacts were real and was told the economy in Germany, 1923, did crash. Inflation was exponential and cities started printing their own money. However, the money was devalued almost as soon as it was printed and eventually the paper it was printed on was worth more than the denomination of the marks. For example, one day an egg may cost 500,000 marks and the next day the same egg would cost 1,000,000 marks. People started using the marks as wallpaper, etc. One of the items on exhibit is a beautifully crafted coat made from marks.

Kahn and Selesnick use black and white for most of their photography. I had a chance to ask Mr. Selesnick how they choose the palettes they work with. Mr. Selesnick said he prefers not to use color at all, but when they’ve decided to use it, in general the palette has low saturation. The point of their work is to make things look historical, so rich bold colors wouldn’t convey age.

Kahn and Selesnick take their inspiration from many sources. One of the artists that stood out for me was William Blake. They showed several examples of photographs that were finely detailed derivatives of William Blake prints.

The show is very impressive and ought not to be missed. Definitely see it before it’s gone. The show runs in the Cress Gallery through March 16th.


DIN (hopefully well-kerned) (Click for larger image.)

Albert-Jan Pool is a German-based, Amsterdam-born type designer. He studied type design at the Royal Academy of the Arts in Amsterdam and after graduating, moved to Germany. Pool served as the type director at Scangraphic in Wedel, near Hamburg from 1987 – 1991. He was then the manager of Type Design & Production at URW from 1991 – 1994. During his time at URW, he completed the typefaces URW Imperial, URW Linear, and URW Mauritius. In 1995, he started his own design firm called Dutch Design. This coincided with his redesigning the DIN typeface.

DIN is an acronym for Deutsches Institut für Normung, the German Institute for Standardization. The first version of DIN, a realist sans-serif typeface, was released in 1923 by the D Stempel AG foundry, based on a 1905 typeface for the Royal Prussian Railway Company, later becoming the pre-cursor to DIN-Engschrift. The Berthold Foundry released a version of DIN in 1929. Both versions were also released as stencils to be used on engineering and technical drawings, primarily as oblique typefaces.

In 1936, DIN 1451 was adopted as the standard typeface used for engineering, traffic, and business in Germany, mostly as DIN-Mittelschrift. The typeface quickly gained recognition as it was seen on traffic signs and building signage throughout Germany.

Even though the DIN typeface had only two weights, several top designers were using it extensively in print. Albert-Jan Pool was approached in 1994 by Erik Spiekermann to redo DIN 1451 to make it a more versatile typeface for modern use. Pool created a cleaner, smoother typeface in five weights (light, regular, medium, bold, and black) and later released a true italics and a condensed style, each in five weights. He is currently working on a rounded version.

References: The Story of FF DINWikipedia: DIN (Typeface)Wikipedia: FF DIN , Identifont: Albert-Jan Pool

When I moved a little over a year ago, I chose Lingo for my phone service because I have family in Canada and calls to Canada are included in the monthly service.

The phone service Lingo provided was very poor – ranging from the people I was calling not being able to hear me to dialing a number only to get a message that the number was no longer working. That was weird, considering it happened with numbers for people who had just called me and I was calling them back. I would dial 3-4 times and would finally be able to get through.

I did call tech support to try to get better service. I know I called at least twice, but after a while it was harder to call tech support than deal with the poor service, so I stopped.

I decided to switch to Comcast, because Comcast said Canada was now included and it would lower my bill for internet services. That seemed like a no-brainer.

I remembered when I switched phone service for my former employer away from Lingo that Lingo requires customers to cancel the service themselves as they do not accept other service providers requests for cancellation – so I tried calling yesterday. That turned out to be an exercise in futility. As soon as I pressed “6” to cancel my service, I was immediately switched to hold music. That music played for almost 10 minutes before the system announced the extension I had dialed didn’t answer. I was then switched to a menu system from which I could choose from several options, none of which would help me in my situation, but was not able to get to an operator or leave a message. I tried calling back several times and always got just the music.

I tried again today and was elated to be able to speak with someone right away. I stated my desire to cancel my service. I was told the cancellation would be effective immediately, that I didn’t have to return the equipment since I had had service for more than a year, and was asked if I was aware of the cancellation fee. I said I was and that Comcast was paying for that. (Lingo’s terms state that a disconnect fee of $24.95 is charged if a customer cancels service after the 30-day money back guarantee period or before the 24-month contract is up.)

Note there's only one "cancellation" fee is mentioned. (Click for larger view.)

I was told I would receive a confirmation email within 15 minutes. I was not given a cancellation confirmation number as stated in Lingo’s terms.

I was very surprised when the email arrived because it stated I would be charged a cancellation fee of $99.95. I called Lingo. This resulted in another round of hold music and being shunted around the system.

I called the FCC to file a complaint. I spoke to a very nice and helpful person who directed me to a form I could file online. I decided to try calling Lingo one more time before I filed a complaint against them and was pleasantly surprised to speak with a human.

III. Service, Rates, Term, and Fees: C Disconnect Fees

After giving my customer number and verifying the name on the account, I was told the account was canceled. What did I want? I wanted to know why the cancellation fee was $99.95. She said that is strange, let me transfer you to billing.

The guy in billing “researched” what I was told and then explained to me the extra charge. So, here’s the deal. If a customer cancels service after the 30-day money back guarantee period, but before the conclusion of the 24-month service contract, a Rebate Recovery Fee of $75.00 is charged. This is to cover the cost of the equipment, which they will NOT accept return of after the 30-day period. So, you’re locked into a 2 year contract or you pay $75 + $25 to get out of it. This is outlined in the Terms and Conditions, however the person I talked to to cancel service failed to state that. She just asked if I was aware of the disconnect fee. Note that the Disconnect Fee and Rebate Recovery Fee are separate items in the terms.

I won’t be filing an FCC complaint because, technically, Lingo isn’t hiding anything. They’re just dealing in deceptive business practices.

The only mention of the Recovery Rebate Fee, and it's not listed with the other fees. (Click to view larger.)

The Rebate Recovery Fee is clearly stated in the Terms & Conditions, although it is hard to find and the cost of the fee is only stated in one place while the term “rebate” and the cost of the Disconnect Fee are mentioned numerous times. Also, the confirmation email shows that Lingo deems the Rebate Recovery Fee and the Disconnect Fee as one cancellation fee. I think the price is arbitrary because Lingo sets the price of the fee and I seriously doubt that the modem actually costs $75. A Vonage modem from Amazon (D-Link VTA-VR Broadband Telephone Adapter with Vonage) costs $59.99.

Note that cancellation of service is ONLY accepted via telephone.

This looks like a scam. In reality, it’s Lingo’s under-handed way of retaining customers. If my phone service had been stable and clear, if the people I called weren’t constantly asking what was wrong with my phone, and if their customer service had been helpful and easier to deal with, Lingo would still have me as a customer. That’s a much better way to retain customers. As it is, I’m an unemployed, single-parent student. I don’t have the cash lying around to pay for their equipment, which I would be happy to return. But, I’ll find a way to scrape together the $75 to pay their Rebate Recovery Fee and be happy never to be a customer of their’s again.

So if you’re looking for VOIP phone service, do yourself a favor and don’t choose Lingo. The phone service is lousy at best and customer service is difficult to get a hold of and deal with. And, do your friends a favor and pass the word about Lingo.

The final part of this ligature project is taking the experimental ligature piece and applying color – specifically two complementary colors. Technically speaking, complementary colors are those colors directly across from each other on the color wheel, i.e., green and red or yellow and violet. (For a quick easy lesson on color theory, click and read Basic color schemes: Color Theory Introduction.) When doing my color study, I thought it interesting to see colors next to each other that really wouldn’t get any compliments from many people and were even quite painful to look at.

I worked with eight different color combinations looking for the best solution from those. The ideal solution would consist of two complementary colors that were balanced without one dominating the other, no matter which was foreground or background. In order to prove the colors are balanced, they have to be applied on a diptych of the ligature experiment and reversed from one to the other. “What exactly does that mean?”, I hear you cry.

color ligature thumbnails

Click for larger image

Well, check out the thumbnails of my color choices. You’ll notice that each color pairing is applied twice, but in reverse order. Also, note the art boards are arranged in pairs. Each pair of two colors could be called a diptych or 2-paneled piece of artwork. The beauty of this arrangement lies in the ability of the mind to complete forms from implied lines. I chose to maintain the orientation of the experimental piece from the feedback I received in class because I noticed that the forms naturally flowed into each other in the middle where the white space separated the two pieces. If the white space wasn’t there, you’d not see a nice flow. You’d see a train wreck.

Here is my final solution. I think the colors are balanced, although slightly jarring to look at after a while. It does look different when printed. I think not being backlit helps a lot.

Final solution

Click for larger image

In case you’re wondering what’s up with the middle pair in the top row, that was a happy accident that occurred when showing a classmate how to change the colors in Illustrator. I plan on printing it out and submitting it to the “Take Art/Leave Art” show opening Friday at AVA.

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