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Book news: Visions of the future

October 5, 2008 | 10:26 am


The dystopian film "Blindness," based on the novel by Jose Saramago, opens this weekend. io9 has a thoughtful (if spoiler-ridden) review. The upshot seems to be: consider reading the book first.

The Rutgers Center for Cultural Analysis held a Digital Humanities and the Disciplines Symposium on Thursday and Friday; Dan Cohen, a Professor at George Mason University, has a report on how the study of architectural history may evolve.

In the meantime, architectural history continues in old-style book form. "Naked Airport: The Cultural History of the World's Most Revolutionary Structure" by Alastair Gordon describes airports that have devolved from "Saarinen's breathtaking TWA Terminal at JFK, a swooping expressionistic fantasy ... the most emblematic structure of a semi-fictional world of allegedly willing air hostesses, fetishistic synthetic uniforms, and wildly futuristic designs" to "stealthy, paranoid structures, centered on shopping and surveillance." That's from this review, which concludes that the future of airports is not bright: "The constant expansion of the airport is as spatially rapacious as it is ecologically disastrous."

The robots of the future will probably not look like Jeremy Mayer's typewriter sculptures, but if they did they would be both beautiful and disturbing. Mayer disassembles and reassembled old typewriters — no soldering, no gluing — into human and insect forms (via).

The Institute for the Future of the Book compares and contrasts e-readers and considers why e-books, while practical, aren't more popular. "Is there some mysterious intangible thing that books have and eBooks don't? If so, can you describe it?" Or, in a larger sense, "Is it a control issue, a content issue, or an aesthetic one? Or something larger about the way we connect to digital literature?"

— Carolyn Kellogg

Photo of Julianne Moore with Mark Ruffalo in "Blindness" by Miramax.