Designing Pornotopia: Travels in Visual Culture

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9781568986074: Designing Pornotopia: Travels in Visual Culture

Explicit sexual imagery has erupted in every medium and on every surface. While some react to it by pointing and laughing, hardly anyone has stopped to seriously consider its impact. Behind this phenomenon lies the normalization of pornography, which along with the complete turnaround in social attitudes to it, has been one of the most momentous developments in contemporary life. In Designing Pornotopia, Rick Poynor explores recent advertising and design and the invasion of sexual imagery into everyday life, revealing how advertising walks the fine line between prudish and vulgar imagery.

Developing the discussion of Poynor's previous anthology, Obey the Giant, Designing Pornotopia covers a wide area of subjects, from magazines, billboard advertising, branding, illustration, photography, tattoos, and music graphics to architecture and includes interviews with architect Rem Koolhaas and maverick American graphic designer and performance artist Elliott Earls. Along the way Poynor reassesses the early work of Peter Saville and tracks the unstoppable rise of Stefan Sagmeister, among others. Poynor's concise, riveting prose constantly challenges the reader with strong and thought-provoking arguments. In its timeliness and poignancy, this anthology is a truly indispensable addition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in visual culture and its effects on our daily lives.

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About the Author:

Rick Poynor founded Eye magazine in 1990 and served as its editor for seven years. He contributes a regular column to Print magazine and has written two previous essay collections, Design Without Boundaries (1998) and Obey the Giant: Life in the Image World (2001).

From Publishers Weekly:

In this sharp collection of design and advertising criticism, Poynor explores the aesthetic value of and the meaning behind the unending visual stimuli that dominates today's consumer culture. In the title piece, Poynor ties increasing sexual content in the mainstream media to increased availability and acceptance of hardcore pornography. In other essays, Poynor sharply rebukes the presence of billboards as excessive eyesores, laments the lack of variety in women's magazine covers, and lambastes the advertising industry's steady encroachment into the personal lives of consumers. Poynor's measured, no-frills style and his detailed understanding of the design industry give his judgments authority; he rarely relies upon purely emotional or abstract arguments, instead referring to specific images and documents to make concrete arguments. The collection also includes profiles of important design figures such as Stefan Sagmeister and Rem Koolhaas, who benefit from Poynor's well-reasoned praise and journalistic skill. Though beautifully designed, the volume would have benefited from a few more illustrated examples of the myriad objects that Poynor references. Poynor overstates the thematic consistency of the book in his introduction by focusing on the ad industry's briefly discussed sexual obsession, but his insistent and convincing distaste for the unimaginative and the crass in visual media carries the book nicely.
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