I’ve recently discovered an 1847 volume entitled The First Six Books of The Elements of Euclid (“in which coloured diagrams and symbols are used instead of letters”), thanks to the always enlightening Public Domain Review. They report that Byrne’s unique volume “has become the subject of renewed interest in recent years for its innovative graphic conception and its style which prefigures the modernist experiments of the Bauhaus and De Stijl movements”. Nowhere is this amazingly modern sense of data presentation more apparent than when contrasted with the period decorative capitals used throughout the book. Because everything I know about geometry could be written on the palm of my hand (which it incidentally was, during exams), I have wilfully decontextualised the diagrams to highlight their graphic impact and minimalist elegance; you can find them in situ here.
“Shadow boxes become poetic theater or settings wherein are metamorphosed the elements of a childhood pastime. The fragile, shimmering globules become the shimmering but more enduring planets—a connotation of moon and tides—the association of water less subtle, as when driftwood pieces make up a proscenium to set off the dazzling white of sea foam and billowy cloud crystallized in a pipe of fancy.” – Jospeh Cornell
“Using the Surrealist technique of unexpected juxtaposition, Joseph Cornell’s best-known works are glass-fronted boxes into which he placed and arranged Victorian bric-a-brac, old photographs, dime-store trinkets, and other found elements. Generally referred to as “shadow boxes,” the resulting pieces are dream-like miniature tableaux that inspire the viewer to see each component in a new light. Cornell often used the shadow boxes to address recurrent themes of interest such as childhood, space, and birds, and they represented an escape of sorts for their creator, who was famously…
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High and low point: When I took care of my son, 12 years ago, I was not producing anything because I was absorbed in domestic duties and at a low point as an artist. Then the artist Jake Miller discovered my work, and I gained recognition.
Tip: Don’t listen to the nonsense you get from art historians, teachers and critics. Just follow what your eyes tell you and what moves you.
• John Stezaker is nominated for the Deutsche Börse photography prize 2012, at the Photographers’ Gallery, London W1, until 9 September.
CV source: the guardian