Side Issues Info 1

Side Issues is about ideas
arising alongside
everyday usual business.

Side Issues Info 2

It is a series of publications about
science, history, art and visual
culture from the point of view of
a committed dilettante.
    A road trip through contemporary photography by Stéphanie Gygax
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    Car, Character, Camera

    As part of a study exploring the image of the car passenger through contemporary photography, Stéphanie Gygax compiled exemplifying portraits and created a typology based on their various viewing points. This book is composed of a single photograph, the one of her workboard.
    How do we look when we are driving or passengering? Who is looking, who is being looked at? What is the gaze at play between a human being and two mechanized extensions of the body, such as the car and the camera? To give an insight into the complex dynamics of this gaze, Xerox copies were tacked and arranged into the shape of a car outlined with a piece of string.
    Most of the pictures displayed on the board belong to a larger body of work usually dealing with the road in the United States of America – but not only. With an apogee in the 1960s, their number decrease after 1973 and the first oil crisis that put an end to motorized insouciance. This typology highlights the inside of the car as a capsule, a privileged scene for portrait and performance. Offering at the same time a private room and a public backdrop, it combines the two antagonistic traditions of street and studio photography. Indeed, this confined space reveals many paradoxes. But whether it protects or destroys the characters, frees or imprisons them, it faithfully accompanies them in their quest for the self while holding one permanent component: the sense of drift.
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    Cast of Characters
    A selection of
    100 faces by artist
    Sam Porritt.
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    Cast of Characters

    Collected here are 100 faces by the artist Sam Porritt, drawn between the years 2005 and 2008. These drawings, selected from over 300, have all been made using the same materials; china ink applied with a brush to sheets of A3 paper. The immediacy of working with brush and ink and the range of possibility inherent in the blank page allowed the artist space to follow the direction his initial marks dictated. Through the undulating line of the brush and the tapering off of the ink we read speed and tone, the arch of an eyebrow or the crease of a cheek, and inevitably temperament and expression.    


    Looking at page after page our eye adjusts to the language of marks. Some are drawn with a certain economy; a decisive line while others are over-wrought, unsettled and barely resemble a face at all. It is striking how quickly the lines become animate, how little time it takes us to recognise a face, assess its character and its mood.    
    Porritt has said that his only guiding principles were that he make the first mark when his mind was as blank as the piece of paper before him, and that each face should be different to what had gone before. The cumulative effect of his search for unexpected expressions and characters is this drawn assembly: an invoked cast or an audience of self-portraits? Perhaps each is a fleeting facet of himself that looks on as it joins the ranks of those that have come before.
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    A collection of engraved trench Art.
    GI Zippo lighters from the Vietnam War era
    by Ivan Liechti.
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    The hieroglyphs of the confused

    Imagine being one of the young American soldiers caught up in the Vietnam War. You would have had a Zippo lighter with you, an indispensable ‘tool’ and an unfailing companion. After buying it at a supply shop from the Army, you probably would have had it personalized by a local Vietnamese engraver, or maybe you would have bought one on the black market already decorated with an engraving popular amongst your brothers-in-arms.
    Ivan Liechti collects pictures of engraved GI Zippos from the Vietnam War era. In this issue, he presents a collection of those artworks, redrawn and transferred onto paper in order to preserve their rather crude original appearance. The work represents a kind of modern day epigraphy.
    On this small metal objects, one can discover a whole world of images, a direct insight into the mind of the soldiers thrown into battle, on average only 19 years old, as well as a reflection on a troubled period of war and socio-cultural shift in the history of the USA. The pictures, apart from countless images of naked girls, explicit sexual drawings or military insignia, show that you could also have chosen a design related to your civilian life, inspired by songs you were listening to or by comic books you were reading.
    But in the end you might have decided simply to have your Zippo engraved with the terribly accurate:
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  • SALT
    The wonder of
    geometric shapes
    and love
    crystallization by
    Fabio Parizzi.
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    the love crystallisation

    As you see on the front cover of this issue, one can easily grow one’s own salt crystal at home, using a glass of salted water and a string attached to a pencil. Within few days the evaporation of water induces a shifting of matter from the water to the string as the less energetic way for sodium chloride to reorganise itself.
    After discovering the principle of natural salt crystallisation near Salzburg were miners used to offer to tourists dry branches
    covered with a shining deposit of crystals, French writer Stendhal in his essay ‘On Love’ (1822) used it as a metaphor to describe the ‘birth of love’ in human relationships.
    According to Stendhal, the mental process when one sees flattering illusions in a new love, hiding the unattractive characteristics of this person, is quite similar to the sparkly diamonds covering a leafless piece of wood after the natural crystallisation of the salt.
    Exploring the same phenomenon, Fabio Parizzi intended in this book to describe this chemical reaction with 50 sketches.
    This visual attempt to understand the basic structure of matter in space and its physical behaviour embracies the fascination of mankind for the primary form of solid structure first described by Plato more than 2.300 years ago.
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    Side Issues – Salt Crystal Overview
    The fascination for
    lost civilisations
    in an increasingly
    virtual society by
    Philippe Desarzens
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    a photo album
    While some call them ‘sulky babies’ while others described them as ballplayers heroes of a ritual sport played by the pre-Columbian peoples, those sculptures are widely thought to be portraits of great rulers of the Olmec civilisation dating from about 1000 BC. But if one looks at online pictures of these antediluvian faces on the Web, they appear more like a group of celebrities beside which people like to strike a pose.
    The customs of this lost civilisation as well as the original meaning of those colossal statues discovered in 1938 in the south of Mexico are largely unknown until the present day.
    It is amazing to observe how our virtual modern culture embraces the Olmec heads, giving them a new part to play on the Web, appearing alternately as a close friend, a family member, the star for the occasion, or breaking down on the ground. From the early pictures of their discovery to holiday snapshots next to replicas in public spaces, the interaction of those mysterious characters with individuals in the same frame adds a piece of modern mythology to their interrupted past glory.
    By reminding us that every civilisation is destined to disappear and occasionally to be rediscovered, we can ask ourselves if our increasingly virtual society will leave such powerful symbolic objects to posterity.
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    Side Issues – Olmec Heads Overview