War: December 2006 Archives

Mary Mattingly Fore Cast: An Environmental Disaster Opera 2006 installation and performance [an image from the performance of December 19]

Because of the ambience (shadows, respectful movement and low buzz) of dozens of my fellow acolytes at the opening reception on Tuesday, "Fore Cast", Mary Mattingly's ambitious "Environmental Disaster Opera" currently in engagement at White Box seemed to me to play almost as much as a recreation of a narrow historic scene as a prediction of a much larger and horrible future world. It was my birthday. I was in a very good mood, so I found myself thinking of the legendary (and much-lamented) "happenings" of the 1960's Cold War era as I was contemplating the artist's somewhat less happy theatrical representation of a world engaged in the details of survival during World War IV.

An extended excerpt from the press release provides a little more context:

Entering a water-filled and truncated landscape, viewers witness the land's predicted end-state, a reversion to its primeval condition and a topographical perspective of a sick new world. The marshy waterscape is the setting for the future of a civilization ensnared in an unceasing loop of WWIV, a war Albert Einstein foreshadowed as being fought with sticks and stones. With an unparalleled innate sense of intelligence, wit and craft, Mary Mattingly creates an installation explains the tragic outcomes of this hypothesized war in the not-so-distant future.

Multiple video projectors arranged in a semi-circle fill the walls of White Box and present a "Fore Cast" that will loop for six days and one hour. (A new week, according to Mary Mattingly's proprietary uniform time scale, derived from ancient Assyrian and Babylonian astronomical methodology and translated to a system for future use.) The videos play continuously in White Box's waterlogged space. The main screen portrays WWIV, fought by six groups of combatants ---The World Economic Forum, The Council on Foreign Relations, Bechtel, Nestlé, The United Nations, and B.R.I.C.--- colluding to capture and assert political and economic control over a shattered and borderless world. The belligerents' leaders plot together in a corporate conference rooms, ultimately degenerating into intercontinental world-scale conflict fought with the weapons of Cain and Abel, the war unfolding in disastrous environments everywhere.

Unlike the war itself, "Fore Cast" is going to have a very short run: When it closes at 1:00 am on Christmas morning it will have been open to the public for only six days and one hour (the doors opened the morning of December 19). There will be another live performance during the closing reception at Midnight, December 24.

[the 67 year-old on the left, the replacement on the right]

Are they kidding?

Did they have to dumb-down one of the neatest and most recognizable logos* ever created? Is it too much of a stretch to argue that the corporate think and the poverty of imagination displayed by the new graphic reflects the incompetence of our public guardians?

In an emergency, brand recognition can save lives. We used to understand that.

There's more on this story in today's NYTimes. An excerpt, describing the origins and strengths of the original icon:

The CD insignia, which the association called “a relic from the cold war,” was eulogized by Richard Grefé, the executive director of the American Institute of Graphic Arts.

“The old mark fits in the same category of simplicity and impact occupied by the London Underground map,” Mr. Grefé said.

Tom Geismar, a principal in Chermayeff & Geismar Studio, a design firm, said the insignia was “authoritative and appropriate for the serious work” of civil defense.

The insignia was born in 1939, said Michael Bierut, a partner in the Pentagram design firm. Its father was Charles T. Coiner, the art director of the N. W. Ayer advertising agency, who also designed the National Recovery Administration’s blue eagle.

The CD insignia was called anachronistic in 1972 by the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency, successor to the Office of Civil Defense. “The image was World War II vintage,” the agency said.

. . . .

[Mr. Geismar however thought the stars and swooshes of the new logo seemed] “more appropriate to an upstart airline.”

The CD insignia is survived by countless metal drums, still languishing in school basements, with biscuits that have grown even staler.

“I will now go cry for Charles Coiner,” Mr. Bierut said.

[color version]

[top images from NYTimes; thumbnail image from Wikipedia]

This page is an archive of entries in the War category from December 2006.

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