Monday, February 9, 2009

John Stilgoe

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Harvard professor John Stilgoe at the Thomas Cole House in Catskill, New York.

According to CBS News, which profiled him on 60 minutes, Stilgoe “teaches the art of exploration and discovering the built environment - everything from architectural history to advertising and design. He introduces his students to a method of discovering a hidden world that's always been right in plain view.

“ ‘I start by showing slides of things that they think they have seen, and it turns out they haven't seen. The white arrow that's on the side of every Fed Ex truck is a nice place to start. Almost everybody's seen a Federal Express truck, almost nobody's seen the white arrow,’ says Stilgoe.”

Mr. Stilgoe is currently teaching a seminar at Harvard called “Adventure and Fantasy Simulation, 1871 to 2036.” Here’s the course description:

“Visual constituents of high adventure since the late Victorian era, emphasizing wandering woods, rogues, tomboys, women adventurers, faerie antecedents, halflings, crypto-cartography, Third-Path turning, martial arts, and post-1937 fantasy writing as integrated into contemporary advertising, video, computer-generated simulation, and private and public policy.”

John Stilgoe’s website, link.

CBS News article, link.

9 comments:

Mr. Kinder said...

I noticed that white arrow a long time ago. I like to point it out to people just as you have here in the post.

Noticing the negative space in the visual arts is similar to noticing the silences in music or the pauses in speech or storytelling. What's not there is just as important as what's there. I'm beginning to sound like Lao Tzu here.

Anyway, what do you think: any significance to the fact that the Fed Ex arrow points to the RIGHT?

James Gurney said...

Zen answer: It only faces to the right from outside the truck.

Mr. Kinder said...
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Mr. Kinder said...

I like that answer! So we Americans are Dinotopians inside after all!

Kiolia said...

I'm curious - what's "Third Path turning"?

James Gurney said...

"Third Path Turning?" I have no idea. I guess you have to take the course to find out.

Kylie said...

Right now I'm trying to track down a copy of one of Stilgoe's books, but he sounds like he would be an excellent lecturer to hear.
Do you know if he ever lectures overseas, say in Australia?

Kylie said...

A brief thought - the FedEx arrow could point to the right as a visual metaphor of "we go where (in the direction) the words (letters people write) go"?

Kylie said...
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